Dear Mom,

I tried to help, I'm sorry I dropped the diaper pail down the stairs. I just felt that you needed my help. You know, when my sister showed up, we had to deal with her poop, right? Elementary school, thank you for moving us to NC!!! Next stage in life, I probably was not the most studious middle school person. I think I did OK, but I should have done better. And high school, oh my. I apologize for all of the things that I did that you may (or may not) know about. Most were stupid. Most were irresponsible. Let's sweep that under the rug. After that, well, you supported my decisions, although they may not have been the best decisions in the world. But Mom, I would not be who I am, where I am, what I am today if it had not been for you (and Dad). I know I call too much, pretty much every day. Hopefully you don't mind. You are my anchor, my role model, my everything. I could not be raising your grandchildren without your advice and input and support. Life is not easy, but you make it feel that way even when it's not. Thank you! Happy Mothers Day!!! Love, Your Son

Life, interrupted

To know a person is to walk in their shoes. To know Ian was to drink coffee (lots of coffee) with him and learn to move at his pace. At a young age of twenty something, he walked with a cane. He was an artist and had a brilliant mind with a take on life that surpassed anything I could ever imagine. We shared art class together and countless nights of me not coming home until well past curfew. We spent many late nights cruising Raleigh in his Blazer, getting into trouble, drinking coffee, getting into more trouble and drinking more coffee. We went camping at the beach, sitting up all night drinking the mixer for strawberry daquiries  because we were not quite of age for the alcohol part. I have many memories of "visions" we BOTH encountered when the moonlight danced it's magic on the moving ocean waters. White horses and giants. The sand. We lost touch for a few years, but found each other and once again, enjoyed coffee. The last time I saw Ian was in a photography studio where we did a photo session with some (I think) hot gals. We stepped out back of the shop after the session and cracked a couple of cold ones (we were finally of age to drink). After that, life happened and we lost touch. He seemed generally well, still with cane, but good. And we toasted to being over 21. Over the years, I haver tried to find Ian. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google, People Search. I had people asking me if I'd been in contact. The answer always turned up as no, no one has heard from him in years. And today, I learned he has moved on from this world.  Almost 7 years ago, I lost a friend, a dear friend, and I didn't even know it at the time. We all lose touch for periods of time, but we expect that we will sync back up in a few months, or even years. Sometimes... that doesn't happen. I spent the afternoon in tears. I called the one person who loved Ian as much, if not more than I do. And yes, it was a call peppered with many tears. Life is short. Cherish every single fucking minute of it, because you never know when your best friend will be gone. Ian Sean Bennett, rest in peace my friend. All my love and we'll meet again on the other side.
"Ian Sean Bennett, 31, passed away Friday, October 12, 2007, at his home in Rocky Mount. He was born May 23, 1976, in Watauga County, Boone, NC. Ian was an Artist and previously employed with Lake Boone Photo Lab and Tri-Color Photo Lab in Raleigh. He leaves to cherish his memory, three brothers, James Tyler Diacont of Rocky Mount, Brian Cary Bennett of Prescott, AZ, Langdon S. Bennett of Los Alamos, New Mexico; his father, Brian C. Bennett of Alamos, New Mexico; his mother, Jennifer L. LaShorne and stepfather Jeffrey of Ft. Pierce, FL; stepfather, Dale W. Diacont of Waynesboro, VA; sister, Sabrina H. Bennett of Carbondale, IL. The family will receive friends and family Tuesday, October 16, 2007 from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. at Johnson Funerals and Cremations on English Road. A graveside service will be held 2:00 p.m. Wednesday, October 17, 2007 at Oakwood Cemetery, 701 Oakwood Avenue, Raleigh, NC 27601 with Pastor Hank Vandergrift officiating." ~  source:http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/newsobserver/obituary.aspx?pid=96233871#sthash.qjc7wvGX.dpuf

To my dearest sister

Remember those times when we picked the eyeballs out of locust? Remember when I blamed you for drawing with crayons all over the closet walls? Or did you blame me? Remember the hole in the wall from the recorder? Remember front porch sitting and talking all night long? Remember carting kids to the beach? Remember the aquarium trips? Do you remember Meatloaf and Nashville (That was an EPIC night). Does your butt itch? 'Cause mine does. Yes, we had a few rocky spans of time, but hey, we are all human. All in all, we have a rock solid relationship, I know I can tell you anything. Anything! And you only tell Mom some of it :) And you know I am always here for whatever you need. I wish I could be there for your birthday, to give you a big hug and say, "Thank you." Thank you for being a wonderful sister, friend, front porch buddy, my favorite front porch buddy. Thank you for having such a wonderful family and all that you do for them. So... Have a... 1. wonderful 2. awesome 3. epic 4. super 5. kick ass 6. crazy cool 7. supercalifragilistic 8. beautiful 9. gorgeous 10. relaxing ...day. Make it count and have a happy happy birthday! All my love!

Sober

I haven't shaved in 22 days. The facial hair is past the itchy stage except for the few mustache(ish) hairs that twice a day decide to tickle my lips. I just brush them out of the way and carry on. They say that facial hair grows faster when you think about sex all the time. I suppose that's why I don't have a full beard or anything like that, it's more like brown fuzz on my face. Three months ago, stranded in an airport bar in Phoenix, AZ, I bought a drink for a lady standing next to me. Both of us were waiting for a flight to different destinations. In the random of the world, turns out, we had mutual acquaintances. Small world. She called me last week, she needed a favor. I executed. After the "use me" conversation was complete, we decided to stay in touch with travel plans and meet up soon for a drink in a random airport. Random airport. Who the fuck does that? My bags are always packed, always ready to go, but 22 days no shave, 3 months later? And I think I'm wearing dirty socks since the dog has done a real good job of finding all the clean ones. But in the end, it's just a drink. And a drink is just a drink. And dinner is just dinner. Why is it so hard to relay to people that most things in life, well, they don't have strings. Even if you admit that you would like strings. Ten things are 10 things.

Don’t step on my snow

One acre of a gazillion snowflakes. A pretty blanket of pristine. Every snowflake different. Every one adding to the fluff that makes tomorrow impenetrable. Impossible. Probable. Practical. Ten inches, they predict. If… no… there is no if, there is when I shouldn't love you, but I do - as the best of friends

Oh the hats in Chi – happy new year

The beginning. Pajama party. The end. 2013. You have been good to me. Challenging. But good. Thank you 2013. Dear 2014, you better be fucking amazing. And epic. And completely amazing. And epic. My third year in Chi for New Years, I wouldn't have it any other way. It's snowing out, the air is thick with alcohol. It's New Year's! It's a stay in party. An all week prep for a warm cozy night with old friends and new friends, all good friends. I love this crowd. Especially when they put up with my southern ways. What a spread. The food, simply amazing. The wine. The beer. The whiskey (see, they do know the southern boy). North side Chi-town hardwood floors. Perfectly cleaned with love and elbow grease. The reward. Purple Cowboy! The whole place smelled of heaven. It's the end of the year. It's actually an end to a lot more. It's a start of a new year. A start of a new adventure. They say you can either sink or swim. And I say that you cannot do either if you don't get in the water. So I jump in. My life is changing drastically in the next few weeks, and in times like these, traditions of being with true friends as the ball drops, yeah - that's what keeps me alive and awake. He drinks a whisky drink The future is not always certain. But I do know that the days will march on. And if I choose to not react and simply let time fly by. And if I choose to have no passion. And if I choose to be in the audience rather than the show. Well, then. Fuck me, I'm screwed. He drinks a vodka drink People are real. I swear. Cross my heart. I just found out myself, therefore will completely understand if you have a hard time believing me. Really, they are living and breathing the same air as you. Even in 3D (without any special glasses), which is pretty cool if you ask me. But because of this, it also means they can get hurt. Which also means that they will bleed. It can happen. He drinks a lager drink Men shoveling snow. It's still snowing. Are you chasing your tail? Is anything ever complete? Back home it is leaves. Do I rake every time a leaf falls or do I wait until they are all laying dead on the ground.  If you wait, will the sun melt the snow, the wind blow the leaves away. I don't have time to wait. It must be now. He drinks a cider drink Smile. Do you know how fucking much it means to someone when you smile at them. Even if it's just a friendly passing smile in the airport. There's energy. Compassion. Love. A simple "Hey, how are you.?" Get your heads out of your text message. In person. Be there. In the NOW! He sings the songs that remind him I think this year has taught me one big lesson Love me, hate me, I don't care. But regardless, I will love you in some capacity. I've had the deepest conversations with people I had never met before. Partially because I just wanted to talk. Something on my mind. I'll never see them again, so what does it matter. I no longer believe in bull shit. Let it come out. You have friends and family when it becomes a life issue. But really, who is to say that a random stranger can't offer another view point that opens up the reality and help. Unbiased. Honest. True. Brutal sometimes. Of the good times Southern comfort. Some nights. I count my blessings every day that I wake up in a bed. And every cup of coffee I pour myself. And every pair of jeans I pull over my tired feet. He sings the songs that remind him Maybe I don't have the best plan. But I have a plan. And that plan is to work hard and play hard. And worker harder. And I refuse to go down without trying. And if I fail. Well. Then I try again. And if I fail. Well. Then I try again. And one day... Of the better times The year 2014 will not be easy. If it were easy, everyone would do it. But. It will be real. And real is what I want. Need. Crave. So here's my real. Right in front of me. And I cannot do this without family and friends. Those that listen to my crazy ideas and support me. They may not believe in ny ideas, but they believe in me. It's balls to the wall. It's try to keep up or I'll leave you in my dust. To the hats in Chi, I love you. I live on the edge of insanity. You put up with me. I may act irresponsible. I'm the most grounded person you will probably ever meet. I got this shit. Yes, I fuck up often. I'll admit that when it happens. I'm out there. Trying. For me. If you want to go for a ride, hop in. Cheers & Happy New Year, Me (10)

Dad wants pie

Well, he does! I suggested that I would bring the normal drunken pumpkin pie for dinner tonight. And then I called him the other day and told him about the mamey sapote I had ordered for what I hope to be the last batch of wine this year (no, that's a lie, lavender is also happening this year) and somehow he got on the subject of sweet potatoes. And raisins. So the request changed to "Dad wants sweet potato pie with raisins" and my Caribbean rum loving self says, "and rum." Because what pie isn't better with rum! So yesterday, off to the store for sweet potatoes, milk and eggs. Yeah, no, I came back with all sorts of goodies. Ground lamb for chili tomorrow (unless Mom sends home leftovers and then it's Saturday chili night). Oh, and raisins. Which reminds me once when my sister and I were much younger, still living in Ohio, Mom had these little pie dishes and we made raisin pie. I don't recall if they were good or not, my 6 or 7 year old taste buds probably thought they were delicious. Or maybe it was just the fact that I was baking with my sister. I think we also made Cheerio pie once, who knows. Which then got me to thinking about where I am now. And yes, also about the Thanksgiving holiday. If there really even is one. I mean Black Friday was bad enough, only once in my life did I venture out. But no, now it's Fucking Thursday. And I don't mean the thing that happens in bed (or on the kitchen counter). Sure, you go line up at 7 PM at that Wally place to get your $69 LCD TV and your  $10 deep fryer. Because you know, that shit is more important. Damn, just come to my house and you can have my TV for free. But you will stay and have a drink and we can chat and hang out because I could give 10 shits about my TV, but I give a shit ton about you. All of you. Those people in my life that are friends, family, acquaintances. No, I don't "need" the holidays. I need my kids, my family, my friends, the people that make life rich and full of awesome sauce. The ones I would drop anything for and they would drop anything for me. That is what I am thankful for. And I can celebrate that every day of the year. But I am looking forward to sweet potato pie.

Save the queen, aw hell no!

I've been battling fire ants for what feels like ten years now. I finally found some good stuff to kill them, but it only partially works. And the bad part it that it smells like pure crap, rotten eggs, sweat and beer farts all rolled into one disgusting odor. What has been happening as of late is that I sprinkle the white nasty powder on a huge ant hill that mysteriously appeared overnight. Then I watch the worker ants slowly die. Then a few days later, no more ants. Then a day or so later, damn, another ant hill a few feet away. So what I'm wondering is if the queen counts her workers and if a large enough quantity do not return from their daily duties, she tells the whole colony to pick up and move. So yes, a queen in any other sense should be saved, but I'm ready to kill this bitch!

Epic technology fail

Well, my friends, it has been awhile. I come to you tonight a little emotionally distraught. You see, my phone took a beating (it's the cats fault). I received a replacement that didn't work. Then I received a replacement for the replacement that worked. Sounds all good and happy, right? Nope. Somewhere in the transfer of contacts and apps, I lost something near and dear to my heart. I lost my friend Ana. We met in Belize. In Placencia, she's gorgeous and sweet and kind. She was moving to Belmopan two weeks after I left. I have a Bible (Latin American in Spanish) for her that I was going to ship to her. We were going to meet for dinner in the spring when I return. We texted the traditional method a few times but she could not keep her phone after the move, so all correspondence was through a "chat" "text" app on her sisters phone. And then my phone died, and I lost the contact details for her sister. All I have left is the 10 memories and her original phone number on a small sheet of paper forever tucked away in my travel notebook. And her Bible. Thinking it's time to buy a plane ticket.