Not All Days Are As Good As Pie

Josh Blaney and I with a truck full of Iraqi men with sandbags over their heads and their wrists flex-cuffed behind their backs.

Yesterday I had a rough day. My counselor asked me what I was angry about and I said, “I’m angry about my fucking parents dying; I’m angry about going to war; I’m angry about still not being a paid writer; I’m angry about not being a paid farmer; I’m angry about feeling insufficient.”

I never learned how to process the grief that came from the death of my mother. And while people tell me, and I often feel, that my mother is still with me. How does one get over the loss of somebody so important in your life? And not feel that life is unfair because she died at 56…

And who knows what else I said, while my lovely wife cried beside and our baby crawled around the tiny cabin’s dirty floor. Not being able to sell eggs set me off. Triggered me and brought out my disappointment about resigning from the director position of a nonprofit organization called, 907VETS. I didn’t realize how bad I had wanted it to work out, how bad I felt after being pushed and pushed and pushed and not listened to and not trusted and bossed around by one of the board members. Until I just couldn’t take it anymore, and I resigned. I had one of those days where I feel like nothing I do will ever be successful. Where I felt like a “pussy bitch”, in my words. Not being able to hold a steady job to pay for my family’s dreams, and not wanting a steady job because I want to be a writer and farmer, the reasons I bought this place and moved out here in 2012. Because of those feelings of not being on the right track, I lost all sight of God’s plan for me, whatever that may be. While Savanna kept reassuring me that all will work out as it should and that we don’t need the money right now and that I’m doing the most important thing I can by being here for her and Primrose, I couldn’t shake the feeling of being a less-than-man.

I played the ukulele and officiated my friends’ wedding. While it was and is a highlight in my life, can I say that it was a “manly” thing to do? The definition of “manliness” is such a confusing concept to me, and I know that I am not the only person who feels much torture because of these made up gender roles.

My counselor said, “You did the manliest thing possible. You were a soldier during war time, and a good one at that.”
He is right. But those skills I used during the military don’t come in handy at all, and I can never talk about it with anybody, so nobody really knows beside my comrades who I never talk to, and myself. Instead, I’m sitting here worrying what people NOW think about me, and it makes me feel less than… I don’t want to be the hyper-aggressive man that I was…

Look at that baby face. It doesn’t matter how old you are, you can be trained to fire a grenade launcher.

I can’t begin to understand how I am not supposed to compare myself to people. That’s what people tell me to do, all the time. I was raised comparing myself to siblings and neighbors, to other skateboarders, athletes, students and boys trying to get the girl. I compared myself to enemies in Iraq and to my comrades by trying to be the best soldier so I could not only stay alive and keep my buddies alive but kill the other guys and get quality training beforehand that was only reserved for the bad boys. Then in college, I was constantly comparing for scholarships, attention, rental places, and the like. And then after, I’m comparing for jobs, careers, jobs, spouses, and sending my writing to agents, publications and the such that reject me because they have somebody better. So all of the sudden I’m supposed to not compare myself to people? What?! I am a member of a culture that severely competes with our own people, and now it’s all supposed to change?
How am I supposed to do it?

It’s so damn easy to pray to God when things are good, to cry to God when things are super bad, to say I have Faith in the afterlife and all that jazz, but what about the in between states… When they’re not really good and not super bad… What about having Faith in not only the afterlife, but in the here and now? I kept repeating the paraphrased scripture in my head today, from Matthew 6:26-34 that says:

26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 Which of you by worrying can add one [a]cubit to his [b]stature?

28 “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29 and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not[c]arrayed like one of these. 30 Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will Henot much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

31 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

If I could only full embrace these teachings and live them instead of worrying every single day about nothing and everything at the same time.

Sometimes I wish I could just sit on a seat like this in the sun and forget about all of my plans, dreams, and hopes for the future. How do you find a balance between pursuing dreams for the future and living in the glory of the moment?

Yesterday, after the counseling session where I was so damn close to breaking into tears, my two girls and I went out to the Homer Spit where I parked the car and Savanna sat inside with her seat leaned back while Primrose and I walked the beach for at least two hours. Listening to the waves, watching the birds fly freely without backpacks full of traveler’s checks and books, enjoying life instead of worrying about the future.

I loved watching these birds soar only inches above the waves in Mexico. They didn’t seem to have a care or worry at all.


No Person Should Treat People Like I Did In Iraq

I like to feel pain—
Not constantly for weeks on end,
but for a couple hours
every couple weeks
as a reminder for 
pain I caused.

I felt pain last night
During a Columbia University colloquium
about institutionalized racism against Palestinians & Muslims
in which I played a part.
A bayonet stabbed my heart,
it felt good to bleed.
I woke up at five unable to fall back asleep. 
Memories whipped around like tracers and shrapnel. 

The difference between thought and memory is the inability to control.

Life is constant-
Babies grow and poop.
Some days easy, others hard.
Smile, laugh, cry.
Smile, laugh, cry.
Smile, laugh, cry.

(Pause…Deep breaths…Sips of Coffee…Stare…Release…)

My baby fat cheeks flush with embarrassment
“Sorry my gun is in your face— you see— 
I’m terrified you’ll kill me.
Are you hiding explosives under that hijab? Take it off!
Oh, you can’t understand me? 
Here, let me help you…
Please don’t scream— It’s only hair—
I won’t get turned on by your hair alone— I swear—
You people smell funny anyway—
I don’t think I could #$@! you if you wanted me to—
Please don’t cry— It’s only temporary—
Your husband and sons will be back in a few days, weeks, years—
-Please, stop screaming- –
Don’t make me push you to the floor and put my boot in your back
You fucking bitch. Shut up!
Go stand in the corner with your forehead to the wall and back to the room!
We are not here for you, so shut your trap or I’ll shut it for you.”

My cheeks are sunken with malnutrition of spirit, mind and body.
I cannot eat enough, exercise enough, 
Pray enough or take enough vitamins
To become healthy like I wanted
Before war
Destroyed me. 


Published by secretgardenalaska

We love each other, we love our family, we love our planet, we love our sobriety.

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