Archive for March, 2011


I used to think that I’d be married by the age 25. At age 28, I’m no closer to being married today than I was at age 18.

I used to think happiness was something that just happened. Now, I know differently.

I used to think that gays should be forbidden to marry. I was wrong.

I used to think that I’d always be close to my friends and family. Today, I find that isn’t always true.

I used to think that homeless people were lazy and didn’t deserve help. It’s embarrassing to know I was capable of such a lack of empathy.

I used to believe in God, pray every day, and have faith that all of my troubles would be taken care of if I just believed hard enough. These days, I believe in me and the kindness of the human heart.

I used to think people who did drugs and drank too much were pathetic.  Today, I think they’re just looking for answers and a way to deal with problems that go beyond their current means.

I used to think I’d figure out what I wanted in life “later”. Later is taking longer to arrive at than I would have imagined.

I used to think I could never let myself down. Forgiveness has become something I have increasing trouble showing myself and others.

I used to think that the things I believed then would be beliefs I’d always hold true. I used to be extremely short sighted.

Today, I’m someone I may not be tomorrow.

This was inspired by the following writing prompt. You are given the opportunity to talk to one dead person and tell him/her one thing that you didn’t get to before they passed away. Who would you pick and what would you tell him (or her, of course)? If you have a similar story, please share below.


Without a doubt, if there was one person no longer living that I could have one more conversation with it would be my mother. My mom passed away December 11, 1998. As cliché as it is to say, I can’t believe it’s been so long since she left. I was a 16 year old boy when she died and today I’m 28 year old man. Quite a lot has changed since then and unfortunately quite a few things remain the same.

One of the many things I’m thankful for was my mom passing down her love of music. As a kid the last thing I wanted to do was practice the piano, play drums in the band, or sit through my sister’s singing and piano recitals. Going to plays and other musical shows weren’t my idea of fun either, but I went and while I was distracted with my own complaining the appreciation for all types of music was brewing in my subconscious.

Through her, I learned to relate to life through lyrics. I can remember my mom telling my brother and sister and I when various songs reminded her of us.  The songs sticking out right now are Ballerina Girl by Lionel Ritchie being my sister’s song and Todd Rundgren’s Bang on the Drum All Day being mine.

Another song that reminded my mom of me was Tori Amos’s Winter. The album this song was on released in February of 1992. I wasn’t even 10 years old yet, but somehow she was able to see what kind of person I had the potential to grow into. As a kid, I had no idea what the lyrics meant. All I knew was that they sounded pretty and my mom liked them and that was good enough for me. It’s scary to see how accurate my mom was now that I’m old enough to understand the message behind this song. It’s also very disheartening that the fear she had as a parent ended up coming to fruition.

Some of my favorite lyrics from this song are below:

When you gonna make up your mind
When you gonna love you as much as I do
When you gonna make up your mind
Cause things are gonna change so fast

When I read those lyrics and I think about my mom telling me they remind her of me as a 10 year old boy it’s a bit shocking. All she wanted was for me to learn to love myself. At 28, I’m afraid I’m still as far away from getting to where she wanted me to be as I was 18 years ago. I’ve never thought highly enough of myself. No matter what I was doing I never gave my all because I knew someone would be better.  I was content to sit on the bench in sports, get C’s in school, and watch girls end up with guys that wouldn’t treat them right all because I was convinced nobody would ever pick me or that I couldn’t be the best.

Hair is gray and the fire is burning
So many dreams on the shelf
You say I wanted you to be proud of me
I always wanted that myself

And here I am, 28, single, college graduate, good job, and I still have no idea what I want. Or maybe I do know what I want but I’m afraid to go for it. I’m afraid to put myself out there and be let down and hurt again. I’m really trying to reach that break through point. I’m doing almost everything “they” tell you to do to get out of the rut I’m in. But I’m still stuck.

If I could talk to my mom one more time, there isn’t any one thing I’d want to tell her. She knew I loved her. But if I could talk to my mom just once more I’d want to ask her a simple question. Am I going to be okay? There is nothing on earth I’ll ever miss more than my mother’s reassurance. My mother is the one person that always believed in me no matter what.

I hear a voice you must learn to stand up
For yourself cause I can’t always be around

Eighteen years after she originally told me about this song, I finally realize what she was trying to say. I can’t keep waiting for my mom to come around and tell me everything is going to be okay. She isn’t here anymore. I need to be strong enough to stand up for myself and go for the things I want. The only person that ever needs to believe in me is me. And if there is something I want out of life, it’s up to me to grab it myself.

Mom, I bet you didn’t think telling 10 year old me about this weird Tori Amos song was going to have much impact on me. You probably thought it was going to go in one ear and out the other. But I remembered. I can even remember the parking lot we were sitting in when you told me. Thank you so much for being the mom you were. I’m still learning new things from you all the time even if you aren’t here talking to me.

This was inspired by a writing prompt asking us to choose between yesterday and tomorrow, which would we pick and why? If you have a similar story, please share below.

To choose between yesterday and tomorrow, at first glance, seems like a decision that I should be able to make rather easily. The kings of cliché would have you believe that the only way to live is with an eye towards the future. And while there is truth to that statement, who you are tomorrow is determined by the decisions you made yesterday. The “you” that exists inside your mind is formed from years and years of experiences that happened in the past. Without yesterday, “you” don’t exist.

Though, the other side of that argument is that without tomorrow we run out of opportunities to live through new experiences and no longer have the ability to progress any further in our development. The thought of never growing beyond where I am today is one of the scariest thoughts I can possibly envision. My sole purpose for being is to continually grow as a person. Learning about myself and my place in the world is one of the most satisfying parts of my life and something I would hate to see come to a halt.

The best days of my life happened quite a few years ago. From day 1 until age 16, I’m pretty sure I lived one of the best lives a human can possibly ask for. When I see the way the majority of people grow up I almost feel bad when I compare my upbringing to those of others. How I was so lucky is beyond me, but it’s something I remind myself to be thankful for as often as I can. My family life was literally picture perfect. I had a fantastic mom, a dad who provided way beyond our needs, a brother and sister that always had my back, and grandparents who loved me beyond anything I can imagine. Even my aunts, uncles, and cousins were great.  Somehow, I found ways to complain about damn near everything at that point in my life, but when I look back I can’t remember a single time where I was anything less than happy.

In more recent times things have changed a bit. The picture perfect family I once had still exists, but at least from my point of view, it’s a bit fractured these days. My mom passed away when I was 16, my relationship with my dad isn’t nearly what it should be, and the tight knit unity my family once had is less than I remember.  That’s not to say I’m living in some shattered universe where every day is a hard day, but the happy days are surrounded by many average days, and at times a few days make appearances and muddy up the whole picture. If you believe in the ebb and flow of life, as I do, then maybe the wave I’m on now is a way of balancing out the overabundance of luck I had to start life off with.

Don’t feel bad for me. I don’t. Even though the best days of my life were long ago, the hope that tomorrow will bring me something close to what I experienced as a kid is what keeps me going. Every day I wake up, I do my best to continue observing my actions and the decisions I make, and try to grow into the kind of person I can respect. I’m looking for things, people, and a myriad other things all the time just waiting for that day when everything comes together again. And while I miss yesterday and respect the fact that I’m “me” because of all those experiences, I’d choose tomorrow every time if I had the opportunity.  If I’m not growing, I’m not living and staying stuck in the past is no life for me.

Brain Control Officer

This was inspired by a writing prompt asking us to pretend that there is a small man/woman operating the control system of your brain. Write about your day from his/her perspective. If you have a similar story, please share below.

The name is James…or at least that’s what I like to pretend. Anyone who really knows my boss knows that I could never be confused for him. My real name is Monty Eigo. I’m what is known as a mind munchkin (MM) and I’ve been the chief brain control officer (BCO) for the big guy for the past decade.

For the first 26 years of my boss’s life he ran the show from up top (at least that’s what I can tell from reading through his memories).  Things seemed to be going well. He had good friends, a great family, a good job, a girlfriend, and a dog. On the whole, there isn’t too much more a guy could ask for. I decided to move in to my boss’s place when he was about 16. I wasn’t invited, but I needed a place to live and his brain seemed as good as anyone else’s at the time. Since I wasn’t invited, I decided to lay low for a while before I made my appearance. The last thing I wanted to do was surprise the guy and stir up any commotion.

For those that don’t know, a BCO’s work is all pro-bono. We aren’t asked to move in before we help our bosses out. In fact, nobody but mind munchkins really knows about mind munchkins. We move from owner to owner throughout our lifetime. Occasionally, if we like our owner enough we’ll stay for the duration of their life and move out when their brain expires.  Typically, when we first move in with a new owner we spend a few years getting to know our boss and lie dormant before we go to work and look for areas where improvements can be made. Through years of MM research, we’ve found that the best time to move in is during the late teen years. We take the next 5 to 10 years to get acclimated with our boss and then make our improvements after our research is complete. It should be noted that a MM can move in with a new owner at any age depending on the circumstances. It should also be noted that most of our owners don’t seem to appreciate our help despite our best intentions, and often go through great efforts to remove us. Though, they aren’t aware that it’s a mind munchkin they’re looking to remove.

Anyways, it’s time to get back to what I’ve been doing with the boss. After 10 years I decided I had been quiet enough and it was time to make my presence known. And besides, it gets pretty boring up there just lying around. I’d been getting free rent for 10 years now. The least I could do was pay him back with some free labor.  Unfortunately for my boss, with 10 years passing by a lot of my skills went into decline.  I tried to ease myself back into everything one area of the brain at a time, but I was about to find out that stepping back into the “real world” wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be.  I decided to start with the motivation center. That was the one area I suspected my boss needed the most help.  When you spend as much time as I did with my boss, you really get a keen sense of someone’s shortcomings.

From the first day I moved in, it was apparent my boss was lacking motivation.  As a kid he half-assed his way through sports and high school. And in college, other than a brief 6 month time frame, his effort was largely the same, if not worse than it was when he was younger. He liked to blame his lack of drive on his inability to narrow down his true passion in life. As his resident BCO, I knew he may have been right, but I also knew I hadn’t been operating his brain as efficiently as he would have liked (on account of him not actually asking me to be there) and that with a few tweaks in the motivation center I could have him driven enough to move mountains.

And that’s exactly what I did….except it didn’t work.  I guess after 10 years of vacation, the techniques I used in the past to create drive weren’t as effective in today’s complex world. Typically, a little increase in dopamine is all it takes to create a little motivation. For any aspiring BCO’s reading this, “motivation center” is the generic term we use for the anterior cingulated gyrus (part of the limbic system).  What little drive my boss showed before was quickly depleted to unprecedented lows. Admittedly, I was a little concerned about the damage I’d caused my boss, but as one of the world’s elite brain control officer’s, I knew I’d right the ship before too long.

With the motivation center under construction for the time being, I decided to move over to the emotion department, also known as the amygdala (part of the medial temporal lobes), to see what needed improving over there. Since the big guy had been a bit withdrawn lately, I thought a nice dose of sensitivity would be just the trick. It turns out I may have gone a little high on the emotion promotion and sent the boss into overdrive. All of the sudden, the guy everyone knew as one of the most even keeled people in their life was suddenly crying over every little thing or ready to argue over even the most trivial of points.

And that was failure number two. I knew my days as an elite BCO were coming to an end, but I liked living in his brain and there was no way I was going to leave on my own volition. It was always a very welcoming environment, and after all this time it had become home.

Over the next 2 years, my boss took a deep interest in philosophy, reading, writing, and vowed to live life to the fullest even though the damage I’d caused inside his brain made it exceedingly difficult. The more he read, wrote, and simply lived the happier he became and the less inviting his brain became for me. I’m sticking around for now, but the idea of looking for a new place to live has been sounding better and better all the time.