My Tiny Rodent Heart

“…what the hell am I thinking putting this out there, for any and everyone to read and know about me?…”

Okay folks, so this is just gonna be one of those brutally honest, fly by the seat of my pants, non-edited blogs – one where I ooze uncomfortable honesty and vomit vulnerability but at the end of the day, this is my therapy. And I need it right now – I mean I really need it.

I realized as of late that I spend less than two hours a week expressing myself wholly and as thoroughly as possible. And those precious minutes are ones I spend with my therapist behind closed doors, in a very small room that could be pronounced as a walk-in closet for some and in a professional setting – not with a close friend or a loved one. I mean I’ve been seeing my therapist for nearly three years so I suppose friend is a word one could use to describe her though I don’t observe our relationship as such. Don’t get me wrong – I like her but I like the boundary, too.

The truth is I don’t feel comfortable reaching out to most people anymore. I feel as if everyone has more important things to be concerning their selves with than my redundant depression. In therapy, we call this the voice in my head that “keeps me safe,” while constantly putting me down.

Just writing all of this out is creating this sense of grave anxiety – like what the hell am I thinking putting this out there, for any and everyone to read and know about me? I think the only faith I still maintain is the faith that I’m not alone. If that ever goes, I am unsure of what will become of me.

With that being said, I am lost and ironically enough, feeling utterly alone – longing to be somewhere where I can speak freely, openly without feeling insecure – longing to be with my mother. That is not to say that I wish myself dead – I just want my best friend and her unconditional love back.

Yes, yes, it’s the holidays. * roll my fucking eyes * It’s that time of year and yes, that fucking intensifies whatever feelings I may have been feeling prior and believe me, I was feeling this shit prior. The so-called “holidays” have never been easy since 2010 and have increasingly, seemingly gotten worse for my psyche each year.

I find myself hating everyone and every thing, lacking hope. Every day, world war three is congregating in my brain. There is this constant struggle between rationality and emotion, hate and love, wrong and right, just and unjust. They overlap, they intertwine, they contradict and they drive me fucking mad. Then begins the quest to dissociate, to block it out followed by the newly learned, oftentimes confusing notion that attempting to block it out inevitably worsens it.

I always liken myself to a hamster, in its little cage, on that stupid wheel, spinning ‘round and ‘round but not making any gains – a fucking rodent! – My tiny rodent heart pounding with every miniscule leap and bound on the plastic wheel, beating toward its imminent death.

 

Q&A with a Bonafide Army Brat

On December 7th, 2004, I completed a college English Composition assignment to interview one person about their childhood. The person whom I chose was my dad. I recently came across the Q&A in a pile of the belongings I brought back with me from Kansas City this past September.

Whenever I think about how I wish I had known more about my dad, I think about this assignment and how it is probably one of the most, if not the most, intimate conversations about his past, his history, that we ever had. I always wished I had expanded upon this conversation post college English assignment. At the time, I guess my grades were the good excuse needed to conduct a well-rounded, structured conversation with him and I do hope you’ll enjoy what I uncovered.

Q: You were an “army brat,” correct?

A: Yeah

Q: How long were you an “army brat?”

A: From birth to sixteen years old.

Q: Name all the different countries, states and cities you have lived in.

A: Spokane, Washington, Colorado Springs, Colorado, Fort Watchuka, Arizona, San Antonio, Texas, Vicenza, Italy, Honolulu, Hawaii and Kansas City, Missouri

Q: Were there any places that you were going to live or be stationed in but were not?

A: Okinawa, Japan – Dad didn’t like the weather there because he was there and went through a typhoon and didn’t wanna bring his family there.

Q: Out of all the places you were stationed in, which one was your favorite?

A: Vicenza, Italy

Q: Why?

A: Because I got to learn the language, the customs. I got to see the beautiful country, plus we got to see our family a lot more because they lived in Caserta.

Q: How long were you based in Italy?

A: Two times in two years. I was about four and five years old the first time and eight and nine the second time.

Q: What can you tell me about Hawaii?

A: Very beautiful…

Q: Come on dad, elaborate…we all know that…

A: We would climb coconut trees and pick coconuts. One time, my brother John picked a hornet’s nest thinking it was a coconut and he dropped it on the ground near me. (pause) I was scared half to death of flying cockroaches. They were about 1 ½” long and ½” wide. They were crunchy when you stepped on them.

Q: Any other experiences in Hawaii you would like to share?

A: I was throwing rocks at cars one day, with friends, and the first car I hit was a cop car. Mr. Cop Man took me home.

Q: How old were you when you were in Hawaii?

A: Six and seven the first time. Eleven and twelve the second time…Oh, in three days, I lost both of my big toe nails riding a bike when my foot came around and caught on the asphalt. I sat in and recouped and went out the next day and did the other one… (pause, thinking) Every time we got transferred, within the continental United States, to another station, there was thirty days of vacation in between, so we’d just travel the country.

Q: Was there any place that you wanted to go and be stationed, but didn’t get the chance to?

A: Another foreign country woulda been cool.

Q: Continue with anything else you can think of…any anecdotes, stories, happenings, etc.

A: We were in Yellowstone one year and dad flicked a cigarette out the window and we were driving down the highway when we started smellin’ something’ burnin’ and it turns out, it (the cigarette) flew through the window and landed on a sleeping bag. Another time, up in Spokane, we lived in army housing and me and a friend of mine went out in a big grass field to watch the B52s and we were playing with matches and we started the whole big ass field on fire.

Q: What happened?

A: I got my butt beat.

Q: Let’s talk about Texas…How old were you when you lived in Texas?

A: Thirteen.
Q: How long did you live there?

A: About four years. Actually I guess I was about twelve.

Q: Is there anything significant you could tell us about San Antonio?

A: That’s where I started playing the drums. Me and some friends got a band together.

Q: What was the name of the band?

A: The Click.
Q: Out of all the places you lived, if you had to choose one to make your permanent residence now, which would it be?

A: Hawaii

Q: Why?

A: Self-explanatory – beautiful, warm weather, ocean.

Q: What would you say is the worst part about being an “army brat” in your mind?

A: Moving around too much. You just get to know people and then suddenly you’re gone, ya know?
Q: What was the best part about being an “army brat?”

A: Got to see the world or a big chunk of it.

Q: If you could change one thing about your childhood during these experiences and that time, what would it be?

A: Wouldn’t wanna be stationed in Fort San Houston in San Antonio, Texas.
Q: Why?

A: Because it had one of the major hospitals for amputees and stuff.

Q: And you saw a lot of that?

A: Yeah, they were all over the place. Dad taught ROTC and then he became a cryptologist for the Nike Hercules missiles, which means he had the codes for launching the nuclear missiles. 99% of the time, we were stationed on air force bases even though he was in the army. My dad also worked, one time, at the NORAD in the mountains of Colorado.
Q: And what is NORAD?

A: That’s where they watch the entire air traffic for the world.

Q: You, of course weren’t allowed inside?
A: No, they wouldn’t let us in there, though I was standing at the front gate one time.

Q: In conclusion, can you tell me about one life changing experience or event?

A: War sucks. After living in San Antonio and seeing people in wheelchairs and seeing people without arms and legs walking around – that was pretty rough for a thirteen, fourteen year old kid to see everyday. So, yeah, I’m opposed to any current and/or future wars.

One More Game

Growing up, I watched A League of Their Own repeatedly, excessively. It’s one of a handful of favorite movies that I can recall character names and lines verbatim.

THERE’S NO CRYING IN BASEBALL!” I’ll do my best impression of Tom Hanks as Jimmy Dugan when someone complains about, well, just about anything.

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I daydreamed about, one day, being a part of the new all American women’s baseball team. In middle school, when my physical education teacher encouraged me to try out for softball, I promptly declined. Softball was just that – soft. If I was going to play any ball, it was going to be hardball – baseball.

Baseball was in my genes. It was a part of my family, not to mention America’s favorite pastime. Some of my most treasured childhood memories took place at numerous Kansas parks on summer evenings, cheering on my cousin, alongside my mother and aunt, as he basically grew up with a baseball bat glued to his hands.

Infinitely cherished were the summer outings to Kauffman Stadium with my dad to cheer on a team that most likely, in the early nineties, was going to lose – the Kansas City Royals. But that didn’t matter – it was tradition, or at least that’s how I recall it as an adult. The truth is it probably wasn’t traditional in the most literal sense but the summer that my dad declined my desire to witness at least one Royals game live – “Come on dad! We go every year!” I pleaded – That rejection sticks out like a sore thumb in all of those summers of my youth.

It was one of the only seemingly meager things my dad and I shared and he didn’t want to do it anymore. I recall thinking if I had known the summer before, then I could have made that unknowing last game more memorable, more meaningful. It could have been enough.

Alas, my dad and I never attended another Royals game together but I know if he were here with us today, he would be so fucking proud as am I of our Kansas City Royals for winning the World Series last night. He would say, “I’ve been waiting thirty years for this” and maybe, just maybe, we even would have gone to one more game together.