Wednesday, December 19, 2007

"Happy Fucking Birthday" He Said

Yesterday was my birthday. On my way to work, I got rear ended really hard by a young girl who wasn’t paying attention. “Happy fucking birthday!” That’s what the cop said to me when he handed me back my license. My car is totally screwed up. They think the frame is bent and it might be totaled. I think she was going about 40 when she hit me. I don’t think I got seriously hurt, but today, I’m sore as hell. All my joints hurt and I’m going to the doctor shortly. Needless to say, I’m really unhappy about this. I’ve only had this car since June and I love it (or did.) It’s the first new car I ever had. I’m still in shock. I had my camera and snapped a few pictures including this one above.

It could have ended up ruining my whole birthday, but I didn’t let it. I tried to look for the positive in the event. I’m not sure I’ve found it yet. The only good thing to come of it is the rental car I was given is a Ford F-150 Supercab with all kinds of features I don’t understand. It’s big its black and it looks very mean. So it’s not too bad. Also, those clogs I was talking about before in an earlier posting . . .well I got them for my b-day as well. I don’t know how I feel about wearing them when I drive the truck. I don’t know if that’s a good combination. But I’m very happy to have them. My daughters think they look gay. Maybe they do. But I don’t care. They make me happy.

Anyway, wish me luck. My right arm and elbow are really hurting. It feels like I bench pressed my whole car.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Visions of Sugar Plums

At the firm's Christmas party last night, I . . .

1. Got there FIRST and was overheard saying to the Hostess, "No! I'm not this evening's entertainment . . . well not yet anyway."

2. Had nothing alcoholic to drink.

3. Stepped in a huge pile of mashed potatoes that fell off someone’s plate near the mashed potato bar (YUCK!)

4. Looked down a hot waitresses’ blouse as she scraped mashed potatoes off the floor with a butter knife.

5. Answered a phone call on my cell phone from a woman who was given my number by an associate of mine who had previously ditched the woman at the pre-Christmas party party, by giving her MY name and MY cell phone number. (Thanks Mark you dick!)

6. Ate the best piece of carrot cake I’ve ever had (my favorite).

7. Watched a 6’2” tall gorgeous blond haired Russian girl eat 7 chocolate covered strawberries and got caught staring at her several times.

8. Got hugged three times by a drunk law clerk who I’m going to enjoy firing on Monday.

9. Got kissed by an absolutely beautiful woman who’s name I couldn’t remember for the life of me and spent several uncomfortable minutes chatting with her while ransacking my brain for her name.

10. Spent most of the evening trying to avoid the company of a particular female co-worker who apparently decided that I was the entire dessert menu. (She also called me first thing this morning to “thank” me for a wonderful evening and wanted to know why it seemed to her that I was trying to avoid her at the party. – Huh? What are you talking about?)

11. Watched my 70 year old secretary of 17 years get so drunk (AGAIN) that she should have died of alcohol poisoning (her breath singed off my eyebrows). Unfortunately, I was her ride home, which could be an entire blog entry of its own.

12. Wrestled a Poinsettia away from my secretary because she decided that it, and the pot of dirt it was planted in, needed to come home with her, and there was no fucking way I was letting that drunk woman sit in my Infiniti G35 with a pot of dirt! She was shrieking like an 8 year old girl, “NO! It’s Mine!!! Gimme Thaaat!”

13. Won a hundred dollar bet that my secretary would grab one of my partner’s wieners before the night was over.

14. Got unexpectedly kissed on the lips by an ugly-drunk-off-her-ass-merry-Christmas-wishing-female-associate, and had to pull back very quickly when I started to feel tongue. (Whoa!)

15. Was called a useless-no-good-mother-fucking-worthless-attorney by a particular B-partner who was so drunk he sat down at the wrong table and started eating someone else’s dinner (which was already partially eaten. YUCK!!)

16. Was accosted by the partner from whom I won the hundred bucks, when he later realized that he actually lost the hundred bucks and tried to convince me that “we were just kidding around!” We got into a shoving match, which I won by simply stepping aside when he lunged at me. He was totally trashed and see number 2 above. The partners got together and voted on whether or not I should give back the money. It was unanimously agreed that the drunk partner was an asshole. (I still have the money).

17. Walked into the men’s room to go potty and saw two sets of shoes inside one of the stalls with the door closed. One pair had pants bunched up on top of the shoes and the other pair was accompanied by a nice pair of stockings, which were in a squatting sort of position. I took a good look at the female’s shoes, quickly left (without going potty) and spent the rest of the night trying to pick that pair of shoes out of the crowed.

18. Was spit on, in the course of conversation with drunk people, more fucking times than I care to remember. One time I was so grossed out I just grabbed a napkin out of the hand of the guy who spit on me and wiped my face AND neck, dropped it on the floor and walked away in a huff. You wouldn’t believe how many times I was spit on.

19. Walked up close behind the Russian girl and smelled her hair without her knowing. (Is that legal?)

20. Had a pretty darn good time in spite of it all.

So how was YOUR party?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

I’m forever reminded that logic is just an organized way of going wrong with confidence!

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Cha Cha Cha Changes . . .

Click To Enlarge!
It’s Saturday. That means I’ve been in the office since 7:00 a.m. and I’m bored. I’m tired of my old blog image/moniker and thought it was time for a new one. This blog doesn’t let you get a good look at it so I thought I’d post it in case you want to take a look. Yes. I stripped off all of my clothes and stood on my desk wearing only my underwear and took this picture. It was a deliciously insane moment. I assure you there’ll be more.

Speaking of insane and apropos of nothing, I have an associate who’s worked for me for about 10 years. He’s a super nice guy and more loyal than a dog rescued from the SPCA. I think he’s actually incapable of lying as well. I think he’s autistic or something and is like one of those Rainman idiot savants but very high functioning. I just keep him in the office and let him work on stuff. He doesn’t try cases or meet with clients and rarely goes out, unless it’s just to keep his mouth shut and take notes. I think his biggest problem is that he’s socially retarded. I believe he functions emotionally somewhere between a ten and twelve year old. Don’t get me wrong, I love this guy and would take a bullet for him. He can’t say an unkind word about anyone and is very loveable.

But he drives me fucking crazy. It’s hard to work day in and day out with someone who’s retarded and more immature than me. Here’s what I have to deal with to one extent or another on nearly a daily basis. He’ll come to work and will have only shaved half his face. The other half is bleeding from dozens of nicks. I don’t think he brushes his teeth. He had green stuff visibly growing on them at one point and I forced him to go to the dentist. He regularly forgets to use deodorant. His shirt always comes out of his pants and he often forgets to wear a belt. His fly is usually undone first thing in the morning and now I have developed the horrible habit of checking his crotch first thing every morning. This is an actual conversation that took place:

DENNIS: Tom, your fly’s down man. What did I tell you about that?

TOM: [Says nothing while his expression deteriorates into a mass of uncontrolled tics and grimaces].

DENNIS: Tom. Where’s your belt? No belt today?

TOM: [More grimacing and tics] Um . . . Well, I had to take the bus today.

DENNIS: [Says nothing but wonders if a belt is acceptable bus fare these days].

He laughs like a mental patient (picture Herman Munster laughing) and always to loudly and at things that aren’t even funny. He lived with his mommy until he was around 35. Then I finally forced him to get an apartment because his mom was interfering too much in his life (i.e. work). He won’t drive a car because his mommy wouldn’t let him get a license because she was afraid he’d get hurt. He also can’t throw a ball of any kind and will always drop whatever you try to throw to him regardless of how gently you throw it. He can’t ride a bike and walks with a fucked up gait. His shoes are always untied and he’s bald on top. I don’t care about the bald on top part, but he grows his hair long on one side to sort of do a comb-over, but he doesn’t know how to do it. So he just has this long hair on one side that has a mind of its own and does weird shit.

He has fucked up rules about everything and will come in my office every morning at the same time just to say “Good Morning” even if he’s already greeted me at the coffee machine and exchanged pleasantries. I’ll say, “Tom. Why did you come in and sit down just to say good morning, when we already said good morning at the coffee machine?” Then he’ll give me a really strange look and then say, “But I come in here every morning and sit down and say good morning. I hadn’t done that yet.” So he sort of has to stick with his routine or he’s fucked. (I said he’s brilliant and loyal that’s why I keep him – and he works for next to nothing.) I have to force him to wash his coffee cup. There’s always shit growing in it. I’ve been after him for 10 years to carry a hankie or some tissues. He wipes his nose in traditional five-year-old-style. If you tell him he has something on his face, he immediately will lick his hand and start wiping wildly – without even knowing where the offending schmutz is. Here’s a typical conversation. This happens almost every day:

DENNIS: . . .and don’t forget to check whether service of process was properly effectuated by plaintiff’s counsel with respect to . . .

TOM: [Deep sniffing sounds followed by his sleeve rising up to his face.]


TOM: [Pausing with his arm three inches from his nose and staring at me like a dog about to steal a chicken leg off the kitchen counter.]

DENNIS: Tom! I’ve told you fifty million times! Get a hanky. And stop wiping your fucking nose on your sleeve god-damn it! You’re not five!

He owns hundreds of DVDS and videos and watches several every night and all weekend long. He’s never had a girlfriend or a date or anything like that. He has no social life and I was over his apartment once and can understand why he has no life. It’s gross. The other day he stopped in to tell me he was up to “S”.

TOM: I’m up to “S.”

DENNIS: Huh? What the hell are you talking about?

TOM: “S.” I started “S” last night.

DENNIS: What do you mean?

TOM: I finished Running with Scissors – that was my last “R” movie. Now I’m watching the “S” movies.


TOM: Yes. Santa Clause Is Coming To Town. That’s my first “S” movie.

DENNIS: Yeah but Tom, that’s a cart . . .[pause]

TOM: [Blink Blink]

DENNIS: [Blink Blink] I need some coffee.

Anyway, this is every day. Day in day out – every day for the last 10 years. I’ll let you know why I don’t eat lunch with him anymore – but that’s a separate blog. He actually stopped in my office while I was typing this. He works Saturdays too. We were chatting about a case not 5 minutes ago when all of a sudden I smelled something really rank. Far worse than anything I’ve ever previously caught a whiff of associated with my associate. My first thought was, “That’s fart! He just farted in here!” It was so bad I had to keep my mouth closed to avoid tasting it. And I knew he could smell it because he started sniffing the air like a dog that just shit on the floor. And I don’t think I’m too far off here, because after he left I noticed the air was still ruined. It hadn’t recovered like air is prone to do even after the worst farts – which could only mean one thing . . .Tom shit his pants and leaked a little onto my guest chair. I’m afraid to go over and check. And now I don’t know what to do, god damn it! More to follow. I promise.

Yes - those are Reindeer on his tie.
Shirt tucked out again . . .

I love you she said, like a shattered dish, the words spread at my feet like so many shards of porcelain. Impossible to take back and beyond mending. Her eyes changed three times waiting for my response, which never came.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

This was said at dinner . . .

DATE: Why aren’t you using your knife?


DATE: You’re not using your knife. Why aren’t you using it?

DENNIS: What? [Looks down at his plate of fajitas wondering.]

DATE: You made the waitress go get you a knife so you could cut your meat and now you’re not using it. You’re cutting the meat with the side of your fork.

DENNIS: [Agape.] Um. I only used the side of my fork to cut the chicken. It’s softer than the strips of flank steak. I’ve been using my knife to cut the steak. See? [Points to several pieces of cut-up flank steak.]

DATE: Well, it didn’t look like you were using your knife from over here.


Have you been high today? This is hysterical!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Ha ha ha ha!

According to the experts . . .

cash advance

Could be worse . . .

Friday, November 23, 2007

See this?
This is how you have
to look at the Universe
Peer at it through the
and the space between.
Otherwise, it’s just too overwhelming.
I also recommend

a good pair of sunglasses.

Sedona Sun on the CowPies trail - 9/25/07

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Just Another Saturday Morning Cartoon

I’m sitting cross-legged three feet from the TV watching cartoons. I’m four. I’m so close to the tube, my baby-fine hair stands away from my head from the static electricity. I can actually feel the picture, dancing on my face, tingling it with static. I’m somewhere else, lost in the make-believe world of Technicolor.

Mom’s in the kitchen feeding my baby brother. He’s one and sitting in the high-chair pushed against the wall. And then I’m aware she’s screaming at the top of her lungs. No words. Nothing discernable. Just that Janet-Leigh-Psycho-high-pitched-he’s-killing-me-with-a-huge-knife-in-the-shower kind of scream. A scream so full of terror, there’s no room for words.

My mother’s scream doesn’t just get my attention, it transports me into her world of terror and suddenly, there are two lives at stake. I’m in the kitchen before she can take another breath. Heart pounding, hands and feet full of the impulse to do something, anything, but I have no idea what’s wrong or what I can do to save us both. I know all the way through to my core that death is close. Nothing else could possibly make that sound. I’m terrified. Frozen. But also too frightened to do nothing.

Strange as this sounds, mom’s screams are coming from up near the ceiling. I look quickly up and to the right and attempt to assemble the puzzle of images into sense. Mom’s rear-end is three feet above the counter and she’s wedged between the wall and cabinet, like a rock climber shimmying between two vertical surfaces. She’s as high as she can go and she’s all crammed up near the ceiling. Had it been in my vocabulary, I’d have said, “What the fuck?” But instead I just breathe in and out very fast, eyes wild and searching. I look around the kitchen quickly. My little brother was eating elbow macaroni off of the high-chair tray, but now he’s crying – that open-mouthed squinty-eyed no-sound-coming-out kind of cry. One elbow macaroni noodle still held between his thumb and forefinger. Holly crap! When was the last time he took a breath?

I look back at my mother but I’m too scared to talk. My eyes are begging her to tell me how to put the world back together. She can’t speak either. And oh my god, that screaming! Terror has her by the throat and it’s squeezing the life out of her. She makes a fist, and with her index finger extended, she punches the air repeatedly pointing towards my baby brother. I steal a quick look at him and he’s still locked in mid-cry, Grouper-mouthed and beet red. Then I hear my mother try to say something over her shrieking. She chokes out “KILL IT!!!!!” still punching the air towards my brother.

I look at my brother again. I’m pretty sure she doesn’t mean him, so I look at mom again having now added a venire of confusion to the look of terror already plastered on my face, which is quickly hardening. Having found her words again, I’m suddenly inundated with a barrage of “KILL IT”s.“

Kill it! Kill it! Kill it! Kill it! Kill it! (punching and pointing – punching and pointing) Killitkillitkillitkillitkillitkillitkillit!!!!!” I take a step towards my brother’s high-chair and my mother’s screaming returns, but with a higher intensity – a greater sense of urgency, if that’s even possible. And then I see the “it” from which she’s making her escape. I don’t really see it as much as I detect a streak of movement, quick – jerky and down close to the floor, not far from the high-chair. My eyes instinctively follow and I finally catch a glimpse of my mother’s nemeses.

It’s a baby field mouse, no more than two inches long. I squat down, my butt resting on my heals, and look at it. It’s breathing faster than I am and desperately looking for a way to escape my mother’s screaming. I stare at the mouse and think to myself that I have no idea what to do or how to make her stop. I suddenly recall the Tom & Jerry cartoon I was watching and my four-year-old brain makes the necessary connection. Suddenly I realize we need a cat. I look more closely at the mouse and all I want in that very moment is to pick him up and take him away with me – away from the screaming, somewhere we can play together. I want to put him in a box and just watch him eat. In my mind, I’ve already named him.

My mother again finds her words. “KILL IT!!!! KILL IT!!! GET THE BROOM! GET THE BROOM!!! GET THE BROOM!!” She’s holding an imaginary broom and through pantomime, she’s showing me how to jab at the mouse with the bristles. She keeps repeating this exaggerated motion while screaming, “GET THE BROOM!!!” Twenty-five years later, when I tell this story to my therapist, he winces as I stand in front of him stabbing at the wall with my imaginary broom. The empathy on his face makes me cry.

I run through the kitchen, past my mother into the laundry room to get the broom, not because I plan on killing the mouse, and not because I’ve figured out that doing so will save us both from her private hell, but simply because she’s commanded me to do so. As I pass my mom, I notice how she’s managed to climb up between the wall and the cabinet and think to myself that it looks like fun. I make a mental note to myself that when this is over, I’m going to try that.

I come back with the broom and by now, my mother’s emotional state has deteriorated. She’s sobbing uncontrollably and I finally can hear my brother crying out loud as well. I stand over the mouse and suddenly in my mind, everything is quiet. I completely understand what needs to be done. I’m going to kill this mouse and save myself, my mom and my brother. The life of everyone in this room depends on me following through with this. I’m in a world of complete silence. In my mind, I apologize to the mouse. I say, “I’m sorry I’m going to kill you now. I wish we could have played together. But if I don’t kill you, I’m going to die, because my mother is going to die apparently, and I can’t live without her. Do you understand? I’m only four. I need my mom to live. And therefore, you can’t. Your name is Peter.”

The broom feels awkward in my hands. Have I ever held one before? I hold it at a forty-five degree angle, like my mom showed me, and I reluctantly touch the bristles to the side of the mouse – just a tap. These many years later, I think that I was simply wishing the mouse dead – wishing he would die with just the touch of the broom, to spare me the awful task of killing him. I feel his soft body yield under the bristles, ever so slightly. I think it hardly disturbed him. I pull the broom back and see that Peter is in the same place, sniffing for a way back home.

I look over to my mom for reassurance. I don’t want to do this. But my mom makes huge jabbing motions with her hands in an effort to kill vicariously. Her teeth are clenched and here eyes are wild with a hunger for murder. I sense something evil but don’t have the words required to describe what I am experiencing. Her wild movements implicitly urge me – compel me to kill.

Breathing deeply, I take a serious stab at Peter. This time there is no question about my intention. I feel the softness of him give way to my thrust. It is horrible and I remember it still. The squeak that escapes him rings in my ears even now. One short chirp at the highest register of sound. In my mind I hear these words, “I made him make that horrible sound. I’m killing him.” And in that moment something inside of me clicks in an awful way. A switch is thrown and suddenly I am bathed in a new and unfamiliar light. And from somewhere unseen, I fill with hatred. My next thrust at Peter is all business. His squeak is terrible. But I jab at him again, even harder – another squeak. I hate him now for scaring my mom, but mostly for thrusting the responsibility of saving my mother’s life into my four-year-old hands. I hate him for suddenly making me old. And so I jab at him repeatedly. With each thrust, I see my mother mimicking my movements out of the corner of my eye – her actions, somehow comforting her and reassuring herself that the killing business is in full swing.

Peter’s third chirp is his last and the only sound after that is the noise the bristles make as they scrape against the baseboard under my brother’s high-chair. Eventually, I stop jabbing at Peter with the broom. It doesn’t feel so big in my hands anymore. When I stab at him the last few times, I don’t feel his body yield. I know I’ve crushed him and it’s time to stop. I don’t know at what point during Peter’s murder I started crying, but I realize now that I am. I stand there with the broom wishing that my mom’s powers would return so that she can make me feel safe again. But she just sits there on the counter, crying – sobbing hysterically, and I feel like I will never be ok again.

I get the dust pan and gently sweep up Peter’s broken body. It takes several tries, and with each attempt, I quietly whisper to him that I am sorry. My tears so abundant, I can hardly see what I am doing. I take Peter outside and hide him behind the air conditioner in the back yard, so I can burry him later. I simply have to – to hide what I’ve done.

When I get back inside, mom’s holding my brother and rocking him – shushing and cooing him quiet. All I can think about is how badly I need a turn in her arms – how desperately alone I feel. And then the reality of the situation settles on me. It stabs me into a dark corner in my own mind and crushes me like the corn-broom must have felt to Peter. Mom can’t keep me safe. In fact, she needs me to keep her safe. It’s almost too much for my four-year-old self to handle. And I’m crying again.

Mom scoops me into her arms and holds me tight against her cheek. Her face is wet with tears and she stinks. I realize terror has a smell. I stop crying and for the first time in my life, I push her away. I ask her if I can go play outside and she asks me if I’m sure I’m ok. “Yes.” I say, and run up to my room to get a Band-Aid box. I dump all the Band-Aids in the drawer and take it outside and gently wrap Peter in tissues. His body is still warm, but his bones move inside of him in a way that even a four-year-old knows they shouldn’t. I imagine the damage I’ve caused. I inspect his little body further, looking for any sign of life – not because I hope he’s alive, but because I’m afraid to burry him if he isn’t completely dead. I look closely into his eyes. I inhale deeply and hold my breath for as long as I can, the whole time watching Peter’s chest for any sign of the tell-tale rise and fall of life. There’s no question that he’s gone. I burry him. And when I’m done, I can’t help but wonder if something has also broken inside of me.

By Dennis Tkon Copyright 2007

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Infinite Season

The infinite season of my life’s story is learned
like a sofa lesson, worn thin as God’s name.
And over there [pointing] my drinking hangs
on the wall like a crooked family portrait
- perpetually in need of straightening.
It’s not in nature’s peace that I find solitude
but in the hell of my prayers. And in their frail
words I hear the sound of his eternal laughing.

And through the curtains of my dark dark room,
comfort calls through sorrowed panes singing hope,
while other seasons more infinite pass without me.
I call out to him again. His name passing through
my lips leaves the bitterest taste on the tip of my tongue.
And somewhere – somewhere else,
some wheel turns the ing of being.

But here, where I catch fire and die in a pyre
of unearthly screams, I curse my flinty heart,
collect my bones and count them. Lay them out
in neat rows by memory, at last giving life some order.
And once I’m straight, I wait with the desert
for the forgiving rains which never amount to more than a taste.

Is that a fever burning? Or has the cool of me simply been
called away? I don’t need answers to these questions.
I simply quench the appetite of my curiosity with proof.
And soon enough, I have a dull awareness that my portrait
is askew. My flinty heart sparks against my chest.
And I wait for tongues of flame to lick me clean.

by dennis tkon Copyright 2007

Thursday, November 08, 2007


Keeping with this week's theme, I'm posting one of my more evocative poems. It's short, but I love the direction this pulls me.

Sapphire clouds
Hypnotic moon
I am mirrored in brilliant reflection
Helpless as I am to the breathless sky

By Dennis Tkon Copyright 2007

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Look what's in the discount rack!

One of my best friends sent me this LINK. After you click on it, you’ll understand why he’s one of my best friends. This is funny as shit! Someone has managed to compile the 10 most insane album covers of all time. The comments below each one are pretty funny too. I noticed my face hurt from smiling when I was done viewing this link. I hope your face hurts too.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007



Take this little piece of me, he said,
wondering how a thing so small
could bring her any joy at all.
But keeping for himself the whole world,
upon which she would surely choke
if only given a taste.

It’s always in the center
where you’ll find the softest spot
and the gentlest heart, he said.
The rest is all just make believe.
But he was content to sit there
with her all day anyway,
explaining love without
using any magic at all.

Their lips were so close they shared
the same air, which for them
was like food. Nourishing each other
with their breath till neither could
breathe without the other.
Only then was it decidedly love.

How long does love last? She asked,
unaware of her mistake.
Forever. He said, looking at his watch.
But you’ll have to hurry.

By Dennis Tkon Copyright 2007

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Leave My Pretzels Alone

Who decides which snack foods should support breast cancer awareness? Is there a committee of junk-food purveyors who get together once a month and decide which snack is going to be this month’s poster child for breast cancer awareness? What’s the criteria for being chosen? Why do I care?

I’ll tell you. I only eat one snack food – Herr’s Whole Grain Pretzel Sticks. They’re made with 12 Grains, Flaxseed and Honey. They’re amazing! Well, they were. That was until Herr’s decided to turn them into the equivalent of an edible pink ribbon. The pretzels used to be about 2” long and had a lovely braided twist to them. They were light and crunchy and, like I said, amazing.

It’s not bad enough that Herr’s turned the bag PINK and adorned it with one of those annoying pink ribbons, they smashed the pretzels flat FLAT FLAT!! And twisted them into the same shape as the ribbon on the front of the bag.

I guess they had to do that to make sure you didn’t forget about the awareness campaign, between the time it took you to look at the bag and shove another handful in your mouth. Now the pretzels taste and feel stale even though they’re not. All of the gluten in the flower is compressed and rock hard. Gone is that light crispy crunch and the wonderful mouth-feel of baked pretzel flaxseed and honey. (Damn it.)

I’m all for breast cancer awareness and applaud any corporation that donates a share of their proceeds to fight cancer. But can’t you just change the bag without screwing with the product? What difference would it have made if they had just left the pretzels alone? If they wanted to make a real statement and educate us, then they should have put ribbon shaped pretzels into the bag with the normal shaped pretzels in proportions similar to the actual occurrence of breast cancer. If one out of 20 women is diagnosed with breast cancer, then one out of 20 pretzels should be in the shape of a ribbon. That would at least have been sufferable. Hopefully, this won’t last long and I’ll get my pretzels back soon.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Why I Write MEME

I’ve been tagged by M at PWADJ to list my five greatest strengths as a writer which, in my opinion, is an invitation to brag about myself on a subject I have no business bragging about. Therefore, in order to complete this assignment I had to engage in some mental masturbation around the word “Strengths.” My solution? I’m going to list my top five reasons why I bother to write.

1. I have to. On Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, writing fits in somewhere between breathing and eating. However, much like a camel, I can go for long stretches doing without. And then it comes. And when it does, I feel pregnant and full – uncomfortable. And once the water breaks around my idea, I have to grab a pen and get to the task. It doesn’t matter what I’m doing. That’s what emergency shoulders are for, aren’t they? I’ve given birth on the side of the road many times.

2. So I can exaggerate. When I was little, every spider my mother needed me to kill was THIS BIG!!! (Dennis is holding his arms open as wide as they’ll go). In some ways my entire childhood was an exaggeration – in the home of an addict, everything is out of proportion. Every story we’ve ever heard is somehow based upon an exaggeration. I love telling stories, especially tall tales. Writing gives me the opportunity to spin yarns of delicious proportion. In the process, I feel very much alive, connected and nourished.

3. To give insanity a voice. There’s not much I have to say about this. We all need to speak our truth. For me, my fingers will betray me much faster than my mouth. I can’t always say what needs to be said, but usually I can write about it. Speaking my truth, especially through poetry helps me to be sane again. When I feel crazy, I grab a pen.

4. Validation. If I write it down, there’s a record. Often I’ll write about feelings. Reading my own words, especially many months or years after I’ve written them helps to make my experiences more real to me. I can read a poem or a story and say, “Yeah. I remember. That was a very bad time for me. I’m so glad I’m not in that space now.” Validating feelings and experiences is extremely healthy. When others read my words, I’m further validated.

5. The trip. I said this before in a previous post, that writing takes me places I can’t get to with an SUV or a rope. For me, writing is a sensory and emotional experience of unimaginable proportions. When I enter my mind armed only with a pen (or keyboard) amazing things happen. Words are given new or unusual meanings and language becomes a toy. I am both the artist and the subject at the same time, and the master of my universe. I make the rules and then break them. And the experience of truly turning a meaningful phrase is intoxicating. And believe me, I’m an expert when it comes to highs. This is about as good as it gets.



How many more times
must I forgive you
before my life is mine?

Do wishes grow stale
in the belly of hope
perpetual, unfulfilled?

Can I cry enough tears
to summon you, mother
or must I suffer the eternity of night
alone with my heaving?

Do you know the sound of my cry?

Is it etched somewhere?
An inseparable part of you
without which you could not survive?

Or did you allow me
to perish so as not
to risk love?
Out of fear it
would not be returned
in equal measure.

It doesn’t matter.
The irritation is complete.
Grain of sand in my heart.
Oh mother of pearl!
Your jeweler’s tongue
cleaved such sharp edges
but I shall never know diamond.

dennis tkon copyright 2007

Saturday, October 13, 2007

A Touch of Death

Certainly you remember death
I recall your wedding day
Bridegroom that you were, adorned in black

Your faceless bride, hollow. Veiled.
The smell of rot
Laughing through cracked yellow teeth
You pledged your love in silence

Six guests danced the pallbearer’s waltz
for you both. It was your song after all.
And was followed by a funeral dirge
Heard by no one

Oh! The honeymoon suite!
That splendid one room chamber
But they forgot to embalm you
So you did it yourself
And spent the next four years perfecting your skill

And when you were good and ripe
You split open spilling loneliness
from your gut until you were drowned
I forget how we marked the passage of time

One hundred and twenty credits I think
was what we needed for that psychology degree
But by then we’d been dead for so long. Remember?

By then you could recall effortlessly what
the business end of a gun felt like in your mouth
The smell of black powder

Thank god for cowardice
You only ever danced with her

Dennis Tkon Copyright 2007

Friday, October 12, 2007

My Shadow-Self Dream

Last Sunday night I dreamt that a dark figure - my Shadow-Self - led me through the streets of an unknown city to a ramshackle structure on the edge of town. At the base of the structure was an opening that led into a crawlspace – an underground chamber. My Shadow-Self encouraged me to lower myself into the dark below. I didn’t even hesitate. I climbed through the opening and lowered myself down. My feet didn’t reach the floor. I couldn’t see the floor below. It was so dark. I let go of the opening and fell several more feet to the ground below. I looked up at the rectangle of light above, waiting for my Shadow-Self to accompany me. He didn’t. He promptly covered the opening with a piece of wood of equal size. The light was extinguished like a spent match. I could hear my Shadow-Self heaping shovels full of dirt against the opening. My eyes suddenly felt too large for my head as I strained for any remnant of light. I waved my hand furiously in front of my face barely missing my nose. I could feel the moving air but otherwise, I was blind. Darkness tightened around me like a Boa Constrictor.

“I’m going to die" was all I could think. It was impossible to search for a way out due to the darkness. The chamber was filled with junk. Every effort to move caused something heavy to fall. My hands found what felt like a tabletop or a desk. It was clear of debris, so I sat down on top of it. My heart pounded inside my chest like a drum. My lips and fingertips went numb from hyperventilating. "I'm going to die!"

I wondered how death would come. Would I die of thirst? Hunger? Was one better than the other? How long do these things take? "Oh my God! I'm going to die in here." It seemed as though I pondered my fate for a very long time. I struggled in my mind for a solution and groped the darkness for an answer. Several times I cried. I sobbed. Finally, I was quiet in the darkness, and began the long process of waiting for death to come. I don't know how much time passed. Was it seconds, hours or days? At some point, I stopped fighting in my mind – planning solutions. I accepted my impending death . . . and I surrendered.

Almost instantly, a tiny dot of light appeared far off and away. The dot offered no illumination, it just was . . . there . . . hovering. Less than the head of a pin if that's possible. I'm on my feet and moving towards it. For all I know, its a hundred miles away. As I approach, it grows larger. Still not giving off any light, just shining in and of itself. Finally I am at its source. It’s just higher than my head and in front of me. I swipe at it with my hand, which connects with debris knocking it aside. More light appears. My heart is pounding again! I claw at the light again and again, until I've cleared an area roughly the same size as the hole I used to enter this place. The junk I've been moving was simply blocking the light. The opening was apparently there all the time – just blocked from view, but not at all sealed or closed to me in any way. Light is flooding into the room now, like air. The hole is clear and I can get out if I can only reach it.

Suddenly a small boy's face appears in the window. He reaches his hand in towards me and effortlessly pulls me through the opening. We're standing together now in an ancient city. I don't recognize this place but I'm struck with the feeling that this place is holy. We walk through the city and come to a door that's ajar. He pushes it open and invites me in. Several candles dimly light the room. A small fire burns in an arched hearth. A family I do not know is taking a meal together at a plain wood table. They are wearing ceremonial robes of white linen tied at the waist. Sandals on their feet. The surroundings are very simple, but inviting, nonetheless. A place is set for me and I join them. The dream ends.

[Surrender is a glorious feeling. I learn this over and over again in both my wakeful life and in my dreams. Surrender is the moment when suddenly, you can breathe under water, you can fly without falling, and the crushing press of darkness is unveiled by a torch on the horizon.]

Thursday, September 06, 2007


Click on Image

The following is a true story.

Thursday September 6, 2007. The time is 7:02 PM. I’m inspecting every room in our house for leaks. I’m trying to make sure that I’m not about to relive what I just went through during the last two hours of my life. The plumbers will hopefully be gone soon. The kitchen floor is drying and warping. Water is still squirting out around my sliding glass door in the kitchen. My daughter has finally stopped crying as a result of witnessing me lose my mind for a full 20 minutes. We just had over 600 square feet of plumbing torn out and replaced because we were unfortunate enough to buy a house with polybutylene plumbing. On Sunday we had a very bad leak. On Monday I got one of those huge-phone-book add plumbers to come out and “take a look”. The rest is history.

Thursday September 6, 2007. The time is 7:04 PM. My chest hurts enough that I probably should consider a visit to the emergency room, just to be sure. I don’t think I’m quite dying yet, but I’m not ruling it out yet either. You need to know that over the last two hours, I’ve cried three times, lost my temper worse than I ever have in my entire life and said some of the most horrible things I’ve ever said to another human being (living or dead). The phone rings. I storm over and pick it up ready to take on whomever it might be:


VOICE: Yes. Is this Mr. Tkon to whom I’m speaking?


VOICE: Mr. Tkon, I’m calling on behalf of the American Federation of Homeless and Disenfranchised Persons and . . .

DENNIS: Well guess what pal? My house looks like a fucking water park amusement ride right now with water shooting everywhere, and the god-damn plumber fell through my attic ceiling all the way to my second floor landing. You should see the size of the god-damn hole in my ceiling!!! And you know what else . . .

VOICE: Oh! I’m terribly sorry to hear that. Perhaps now might not be such a . . .

DENNIS: You’re god-damn fucking right now is not such a good time. Unless you’re looking for a good right-hook to the nose. I’m feeling pretty generous with those at the moment. How’d ya like one of those? Huh?

VOICE: Dial tone . . . . . .

DENNIS: YEAH? FUCK YOU MR. CHARITY! (grumbling – when did the homeless get a union anyway?).

I pick up my note pad and storm off into the girls’ bathroom. I turn on the faucet to the tub. It seems to work. I pull the little thingy to make the shower run and the shower head falls off and water starts shooting everywhere like in a three-stooges movie.

DENNIS: (at 120 decibels) FUUUUUUUUUK!!!!!!!!

Thursday September 6, 2007. The time is 7:07 PM.


DENNIS: (dripping wet) WHAT!

VOICE: Hello? I’m sorry, but is this Mrs. Tkon? I was looking for . . .

DENNIS: NO! Who’s this!!!

VOICE: Mr. Tkon? Hello and how ARE you this evening? My name is Beverly and I’m calling from the cancer federation. I just wanted to let you know that our truck is going to be in your neighborhood this weekend and . . .

DENNIS: Beverly? Can I ask you a personal question?

BEVERLY: Um . . . Well sure, I guess. What is it?

DENNIS: Have you ever had a fucking plumber fall through your god-damn ceiling and turn your fucking kitchen into a water-park all in the same day?

BEVERLY: Um . . . (silence).

DENNIS: See Bev, because if you haven’t, then you have abso-fucking-lutely no clue what-so-ever as to just how fucking mad I am at the moment. And if by chance you did, you’d completely understand that I could give a rat’s ass that your fucking-cancer-mobile is making the rounds, in my neighborhood, this weekend, because I JUST DON’T GIVE A GOOD-GOD-DAMN!!!!! (pause) Beverly? Hello?

DENNIS: (Slams phone down, pulls it out of the wall, and throws it across the room and smashes it against the wall that needed repainting anyway.)

At this point, I’m feeling completely out of control. It’s not a question of am I going to drink, it’s a question of am I ever going to stop (or at least so it seems at the moment).

I pick up my pad of paper and continue making notes about the plumbing deficiencies that remain to be fixed. And yes. The phone rings again for the 3rd time in less than 10 minutes.


DENNIS: (Screaming) HELLO!!!!

VOICE: I’m sorry, is this . . . I was trying to reach a Mr. Dennis Tkon.


VOICE: Um . . . Sir. If this isn’t a good time, I could call back perhaps.

DENNIS: No. I’d rather you annoy the shit out of me right now while my mood absolutely blows. I think that would be much better than you running the risk of fucking up one of my good moods. So tell, just what can I do for you?

VOICE: Well, if now’s a good time sir.

DENNIS: I’m listening.

VOICE: Well, you may not be aware, but if you’re showering in or drinking plain tap water, you’re exposing yourself to millions of unwanted microbes and foreign particles which are unhealthful and suspended in the very water you drink.

DENNIS: Can I ask you your name please?

VOICE: Um, yes. My name is Sandjeep.

DENNIS: Listen Sandjeep. Right now I’m exposed to a whole fucking house full of unwanted microbes and foreign particles because they’re pouring through my light fixtures in my kitchen, computer room and bathroom. Microbes in my water is least of my god-damn troubles at the moment. I’ve got more water than I know what to do with. Plus, I’ve got a wounded plumber lying on my second floor landing waiting for medical assistance. You got any fucking products that can get rid of klutzy plumbers with shitty balance? Does your fucking product stop microbe-laden water from streaming through every orifice in my god-damn house? Because if it doesn’t Sandjeep, then I’m not interested!

SANDJEEP: Yes, Yes. Well, I’m very sorry to hear that of course Mr. Tkon. However, our product will definitely reduce your microbe problem most definitely. Now if you can just give me a date sometime next week when I can have a representative . . .

DENNIS: >CLICK< (Hangs up) Stay tuned. Somewhere there’s a bottle with my name on it and it’s calling me. . .

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Working Working Working . . .

I love how peaceful it is here in my office.

On a Sunday.

Like every Sunday.

Except this one is part of a holiday weekend.

Labor Day.

Or so I’m told.

How can one tell?

Oh yeah!

I got up at 6:15 AM this morning.

Instead of 6:00 AM.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

December Heart

Two months have passed in utter darkness. The unlit sky begs reprieve from the total eclipse of my December heart – slow with cold and unaware that it still beats in August – Unaware it still beats at all. What good is my apology now? On whose ears would it fall? Surely not upon the woman who loved me once, whose promises of love were so deeply branded into my heart - the scar of unrequited love.

Apologies trip and stumble through my mind, unacknowledged, unspoken, and hopelessly undelivered. Their door to you frozen with the cold of endless night. Stars once brilliant and dazzling mock me in a constellation of pain.

In my dreams you touch me there – your unmistakable touch! Your doe eyed passionate gaze still, with no hint of hatred. Your lips deliver convincingly your message of love – an unspoiled kiss with the taste of forever on your breath. Your curves resume their familiar place against me – two puzzle pieces into one. And in my ear you whisper “Why?”

“I have no answer for you.” I say, and wait for your reaction. But you say nothing – nothing at all, and simply fade into the endless night and into the shadow of my December heart.

by dennis tkon - copyright 2007

A Question of Birds

The temple walls they crumble bricks
Surround me like prayers gone awry
And rice once scattered strewn on steps
Cannot attract the birds who fly

And blade their wings against the air
Their song through motion silently
In search of sweeter bread and sky
With no regard for gravity

But tied to Earth I am with questions
Born of need to know you so
My hands reach skyward for the birds
And helplessly I watch them go

And then in time a child to
A man I’ve turned and hope to find
A truth beneath it all which flows
Like love to which I have been blind

Enough years are assembled now
And sweeter things I’ve come to know
The light it falls upon the bricks
And through the cracks I start to grow

Forgiveness love and gratitude
I’ve gathered up each grain of rice
Consumed them hungrily like food
Now beats a heart once made of ice

And through my veins sweet water flows
Like love and all these things I’ve found
I’m ever closer to the birds
My feet no longer touch the ground

My heart sings pure a song heard only
By the birds who blade the air
In search of sweeter bread and sky
With questions few and love to share

by dennis tkon - copyright 2007

The Space Between

When it comes upon me when
The skies are open like balloons
And songs spill from the ends of birds
And carry soft and then and soon

I try and hard as it might be
To embrace this philosophy
And failing fast though I may try
There’s always time enough to cry

So sing the song of broken hearts
A desperate beating in my chest
And cast off hurtful memories and when
I’m done forget the rest

And build a column to the sky
Till time folds in upon itself
Then rest my head upon the earth
Till blue commands and nothing else

If eyes could see the shadow world
A topsy arch all golden love
And blessings spilled like seeds unsown
Into an earth I’ve never known

Then wishes fall into my cup
A toast to you my thankfulness
And joy unbridled drink it up
Consumed but there is never less

Upon me now it has arrived
The sky and earth they touch just so
And in the space between I’m loved
Much more than I will ever know

By Dennis Tkon - Copyright 2007

Tuesday, August 07, 2007


Day 2 and counting . . .

Friday, August 03, 2007

Coffee? No Thanks! I'm Crazy! (Part II)

This is the continuation of yesterday's post about my therapy session on Tuesday. Read the prior post first or this won't make sense to you.

To be continued . . .

: Tell me what you remembered.

DENNIS: (Complies – verbatim. I tell him everything as I remembered it.)

CARL: Can you talk from the anger?

DENNIS: (Sounding puzzled.) Anger?

CARL: Yes. You must have been very angry – being treated that way by your mother when you were so sick and needed her love and comfort.

DENNIS: It wasn’t just when I was sick that I needed her. When I needed her most, she was physically and emotionally unavailable. She was as insubstantial as air – like a ghost.

CARL: When was that? When was it that you needed her most – that she was like a ghost?

DENNIS: (Struggling to hold back the tears – tearing and twisting a tissue. Long pause.) The beatings. (Pause.) When he’d beat me and scream at me. She did nothing to stop him. She made excuses for him. She justified his insanity.

CARL: (Stares at me.)

DENNIS: She turned her back on me.

CARL: So tell me how this relates to being sick and the way your mother cared for you? How do these feel connected or related?

DENNIS: Well . . . I can’t help thinking about how when I was sick, one minute my mom would be crazed with anger over having to take care of me, and the next minute she’d be saying all of the “right” words – comforting words, and would seem like she cared or at lest would be doing things suggesting she cared. I don’t know. I could never tell with her.

CARL: I see.

DENNIS: And that’s sort of the problem I guess . . . that I was getting a very mixed message. One second she’s being a bitch and the next minute she’s being “mom-like.” It was impossible to know which of those two women was really my mom. Letting her love me and take care of me felt so so risky and so unsafe – like I couldn’t trust her.

CARL: You couldn’t.

DENNIS: I know!

CARL: And then when you’d find yourself in a “truly” life threatening situation, her true colors would always be shown.


CARL: She never failed to disappoint you. She consistently never came to your side.

DENNIS: (Says nothing.)

CARL: And then when you were sick and suddenly she seemed to care, you couldn’t help but wonder if it was genuine, because after all, if she really loved you and really cared for your well being, then she should have thrown her body between you and your father and “saved” you from his wrath each time, right?

DENNIS: Absolutely!!!

CARL: So, in all likelihood, your anger response to “caretaking” gestures, like being offered a cup of coffee, is all about feeling unsafe, because you’re used to being confused about the intent of the so-called caretaker, right?

DENNIS: Yeah. Like when Beth offered me the coffee, I felt angry and confused, because I didn’t know what she meant by that gesture.

CARL: That’s exactly my point. In your mind, it couldn’t just be that she was offering you a cup of coffee. The gesture had to mean something more than that, and it couldn’t possibly mean, in your mind, that you just looked like you needed a cup and she felt like doing something nice for you.

DENNIS: Right.

CARL: Because who would want to do something nice for you – someone whose own mother couldn’t even love him or protect him from a spiritual death.

DENNIS: (Quietly.) Yeah.

CARL: But what do we really know about your mother’s situation? Truthfully.

DENNIS: That she was really just as much a victim of my father’s rage as I was and just as powerless to do anything about it because of her own issues and complexes that would be activated by his rage.

CARL: Exactly. And what about her anger towards you when you were sick?

DENNIS: That was just her acting out how her own mother treated her when she was sick as a kid, and really had nothing to do with, because, um . . . my being sick was just a trigger for her that would activate her response to her own complex?

CARL: You’ve been paying attention all these weeks! You’re a wonderful student.

DENNIS: Thanks. But that doesn’t change how I feel. I still react badly when someone tries to take care of me.

CARL: And you probably will for some time. But remember. And I’ve told you this many times. Awareness of a complex is the first step towards healing that complex. You have to learn to recognize it; what triggers it; what the reactions look and feel like; how long it lasts; and a dozen other things, before you can begin to be the master of your mind when you’re activated. Most people have difficulty just acknowledging and accepting that they even have a complex.

DENNIS: GOD! This work is so difficult and demanding sometimes.

CARL: But it’s worth it. You know how much of a difference it’s made in your life already.

DENNIS: Don’t worry. I won’t stop. I’ll keep working on me.

CARL: Well, for today we’re going to have to. We’re out of time.

I get up and walk over to Carl’s desk and lay my check on top of his day-timer. We exchange further pleasantries and then end our session as we always do – with a big hug.
It looks like we’ll be working on the mother complex issue for a while. So stay tuned.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Coffee? No thanks, I'm crazy! (PART I)

This is Part I of Tuesday’s therapy session. I hoped to get the whole thing out in one sitting, but it’s getting long so I decided to cut it into two. I’ll be back to finish this later (hopefully).

I’m sitting in my psychologist’s waiting room reading People Magazine before being called into the safety of Carl’s office, with its heavy paneling and darkly stained wood. The space is completely stuffed full of leather furniture. Books, ceiling to floor. Carl doesn’t smoke a pipe, but it smells like someone did a long time ago. With me in the waiting room are two large coffees from Dunkin Donuts – one for me and one for Carl. Mine has cream and sugar. Carl likes his black, which my mind translates into “I don’t need any help and can do this alone.” Silently, I curse my coffee for being needy. Bringing him coffee is new and this is only the second time I’ve attempted this. I’m anxious. I haven’t been here in two weeks and I worry that bringing Carl coffee is somehow a breach of the imaginary boundaries which shape the doctor-patient relationship.

Carl appears suddenly, as if conjured, and bids me a hearty “Helllll-OOOOWWW”, which always triggers a sudden release of adrenalin, mildly throwing me into the fight-or-flight response.

DENNIS: (Thinking to myself) I pay him for this?

CARL: Come - on - back! (He says, in brisk staccato as if each word were a complete cheer in the game of my well-being).

I pick up both cups of coffee and comply. Walking back, I hear the electric whirring of the sound machine, parked on the floor by Carl’s doorway blurring the sound of conversation which might leak out of a session. I look at it and feel sad – sad that there are so many secrets in need of blurring. And in that moment, I feel the weight of my own shame, worn like a backpack full of lies. I step into Carl’s office and look around. It’s my routine. What am I checking for? I don’t know. I guess I just need it to be the same. I look some more. Everything is where it belongs. I stop next to my favorite leather chair, the one that swivels and reclines and supports me when I fall apart. The one I’ve rebuilt myself in over and over again. The one that knows more about me than any other chair in the world. I study it too. For the briefest moment I imagine someone else sitting in my chair talking to Carl, using my tissues, from the box on my table next to my chair and I feel the sting of jealousy sizzle down my spine. Suddenly, I remember that I’m holding two coffees and hold one out toward Carl.

DENNIS: Oh! I almost forgot. I brought you a coffee. I figured you wouldn’t have had any yet since it’s so early, and I had to stop to get mine anyway . . . (my voice trails off, nervously watching for any sign of disapproval.)

CARL: Well! Thank you! How kind. I don’t mind if I do sir. (He says this in a sing-song sort of voice, as if he were telling a children’s story full of magic lands, giants, and enchanted gardens.) Can I pay you?

DENNIS: (Subconsciously I become aware of the word “patronizing”, but the thought fails to form fully in my mind.) Nah. It’s on me. My treat. It’s nothing.

This exchange is followed by a few more reassurances and I settle into my chair. Carl sits in an identical one across from me and we move into the next phase of my routine – the staring game. The silence makes my ears feel full and I wait for him to speak, like always. Eventually, he asks how I am and in no time, ten minutes of my fifty minute session have been wasted on small talk. And then we get to work.

DENNIS: . . . I know! It’s like that mother complex thing we were working on last time. I just have so much trouble asking for help – especially if it’s help for me personally.

CARL: What do you mean?

DENNIS: Well, in my world, there’s a huge difference between “Can I help you with that?” and “Can I help you?”

CARL: (Stares at me.)

DENNIS: I mean, I don’t have any trouble letting people help me with stuff – you know, work on my cases or do things that need to be done if it helps me out. Again, No problem with, “Let me help you with that.” I just go nuts though if someone tries to help ME!

CARL: Can you give me an example?

DENNIS: (Makes a loud puffing noise somewhere between exasperation and surprise.) PUHH! Yeah! Definitely. Last night. Perfect example. I’m sitting in my office preparing for a deposition when my paralegal, Beth, walks in at around quarter to five.

CARL: Is this the new paralegal?

DENNIS: Yeah. So Beth walks in and asks me if there is anything that I need for my deposition. Do I have my file, Do I need any last minute filing done, any copying? I tell her, “No.” Not because I don’t want her to do those things, it’s just that there really isn’t anything that needs to be done. She was just being helpful.

CARL: (Stares at me.)

DENNIS: So she mills about my office putting things away and tidying up and looking after me in a way that starts to feel a little mothering (cue the psycho violins). Then she turns towards me and just looks at me very compassionately. She’s observing how tired I look and is measuring my pile and doing the mental calculations which allow her to conclude that I have many long hours ahead of me. She cocks her head to one side slightly and in the sweetest most compassionate voice asks me if she can get me a cup of coffee.

CARL: (Stares at me.)

I pause here and feel myself burning with anger. I’m angry that Beth offered me coffee and I’m furious that Carl is just staring at me and saying nothing.

CARL: What did you do when she offered you the cup of coffee?

DENNIS: What did I do? (I ask, stunned that he’s asking.) I told her, “No!” But not just “No” like a regular “No.” It was a “No” like “Whoa! How could you ask me such a question?” I said it with a lot of force and in a way that hopefully told her that she shouldn’t ever offer me coffee again. She looked hurt and a little scared and I imagined that she was wondering what the hell was wrong with me.

CARL: (Carl looks back and forth several times at his cup of coffee and then at me – pausing for emphasis.) What did she do when you told her “No” like that?

DENNIS: She smiled a funny smile and said, “Ok.” And then she left.

Several minutes pass as we both ponder the exchange between me and Beth and my reaction to her gesture of kindness.

CARL: So? What do you think this is all about? What would have happened if you had accepted Beth’s offer? (Pause) Can you close your eyes and imagine Beth again offering you the coffee and you just feeling how good that feels to have someone look after you in that way? Can you imagine accepting the coffee from Beth?

As Carl says these words, the hair on the back of my neck stands up, my teeth gnash and my hands clench the armrests on my chair. I imagine Beth’s syrupy-sweet offer and experience her words flowing through me like a lethal injection. Every cell in my body arches and resists as if my life depended on it. Fury rises in me and suddenly, I see my left hand firmly around Beth’s throat and all I can think about is choking her. I close my eyes to the image and feel drops of sweat sliding from my underarms down my sides. I answer Carl in a small whisper – almost the voice of a child.

DENNIS: No. (Still whispering I continue.) I don’t want that. I don’t want any of it.

A tear rolls down my cheek but I hardly notice. I’m back in my bedroom and I’m five years old. I’m sick. I’m sure I have a fever of over one hundred degrees and I’ve just thrown up in the bathroom. Before waking up my mother to tell her, I’ve assembled everything she could possibly need to take care of me. I’ve gotten out the aspirin, thermometer, a cold rag, a glass of water, a trashcan with a bag in it to catch my vomit and tissues. God forbid my mother should have to get any of these things herself. I’d feel so much more like a burden – even more than I do now, just needing her to know that I’m sick and maybe take my temperature. After several minutes, my mother stomps into my bedroom carrying her bathrobe. She doesn’t slide her arms into each sleeve. She punches her fists into them in quick jerks, while muttering under her breath. She ties her robe violently with sharp dramatic movements, and I can actually hear the fabric protesting as it slides across itself. It makes an angry zzzzzziiip sound.

Still muttering, she comes over to my bedside and observes my “handiwork” – my collection of things one needs when one is sick. My mother looks at me with disgust and says, “You’re such a hypochondriac! You don’t even know if you’re sick yet! I’ll tell you if you’re sick!” She picks up the thermometer and removes it from the case. She starts shaking it down violently. I can hear her wrist snapping and cracking with each shake. It’s a horrible sound – a precursor of a certain kind of death. I watch in horror. I’ve seen this before and I know what’s coming but I dare say nothing. And then it happens – again. The thermometer flies out of my mother’s hand and shatters on my nightstand. Glass and mercury go everywhere.

MOM: SHIT! GOD DAMN IT! GOD DAMN YOU! UUUHHHH! You have to go and get sick, don’t you! I tell you not to touch filth – to wash your hands, but you don’t listen. I tell you to button up your neck! GOD DAMN IT!!! (She’s lost her mind).

I feel the need to throw up at this point but somehow my body knows better – knows my life depends on not getting sick. I offer to clean up the glass and mercury but my mother ignores me. Her silence says it all. Her silence is worse than words – because I supply the words for her in when she fails to rise to the occasion. In my head I hear clearly, “I hate you. You’re such a fucking burden. How did I ever get stuck with you? I hate you. You’re an un-loveable piece of shit!”

After a moment, I realize I’m looking down at two wet spots – one on the top of each of my thighs and I’m back in Carl’s office. I’m on fire with shame and feel the urge to leave. I need to get out of here. I can’t look up at him.

CARL: Where’d you go?


CARL: Dennis?

DENNIS: (I look up at him for a second)

CARL: Where’d you go?


CARL: (An understanding nod).

To be continued . . .

Friday, July 06, 2007

Ok. So Maybe I Didn’t Think This Through Entirely . . .

The title says it all. But I’ll elaborate anyway, since bitching is our national pastime and because my entire career is derived from the bitching and suffering of other people. The move from my old firm to the new one has not been smooth. More precisely, anything I delegated to myself for handling has gone like clockwork – impeccably – flawless. For instance, the recruiting of all of our employees and clandestinely moving them to the new space – without a hitch. The gathering of our clients and shepherding them to the new digs – perfect. Keeping everything a secret for months through the controlled dissemination of information – a home run.

Everything I delegated to others however, has been a disappointment. The phones don’t work right. Our clients can’t get through to us when they need to. The computers have been a major disappointment in many ways. I relied on other people to make sure these things worked. Little things like ordering file folders. The person who ordered the file cabinets was not the same person who ordered the files that go inside them. Needless to say, they don’t fit. Do you have any idea what 400 legal files look like when they’re on your floor? We were having so many problems that working on cases became impossible. It seemed that all I did was troubleshoot problems. It got to the point where I actually lost count of how many times I’d say “Houston, we have a problem” in a single day. We don’t have systems, procedures or routines for getting things done. I hear “DENNIS, HOW DO WE . . .?” in my sleep.

I’m doing more administrative/managerial type things in the course of day than anything else. And I’ve woken up to find myself in the middle of a nightmare. You see, I owned my own business once before – during the three years right before rehab. I watched everything go down the drain as I struggled to keep it together for three years. But the stress and fear was too much – so my drinking and drugging got way out of hand. Finally, everything came apart and I landed in an addiction center. I spent the next 8 years working for a firm I thankfully didn’t own. I was so happy not to be the man. I was thrilled not to have any of the risk and not to have to worry about the burdens of running a business. I was safe.

I don’t know what happened. But this feels frighteningly familiar. Suddenly, I’m the man again. But I don’t want to be the man. I have checkbooks in my drawer. I’m reconciling bank statements. I’m negotiating contracts with vendors. I’m making decisions about letting people work overtime. I’m interviewing and hiring people. I’m answering the landlord’s questions. I’m deciding whether we go with the 20 lb or 28 lb bond paper. What happened to my safe place? What happened to my world where all I had to worry about was whether or not I handled cases properly? Suddenly, I’m a businessman again. And I’m scared.

True, I don’t have the ultimate responsibility for making payroll and paying the rent – that headache belongs to the managing partners. But I am the managing partner for this office. And I’ve certainly taken on much more than I thought I’d have to. Other people were supposed to make all the stupid decisions about hiring and 28 pound bond paper and stuff like that. I barely have time to practice or handle my cases. I’m still working seven days a week. And every day I get more behind.

It’s not all bad though. I’m not at all sorry I made this move. I absolutely had to get out of the other place. The pay and benefits here are much better than what I had before and the people are fantastic. It’s just scary to be back in a place that was responsible for triggering the darkest period of my life. I feel like an alcoholic who just took a job as a bartender. I keep hearing these words in my head. “Its not ‘if’ its ‘when.’” And I know what that means.

I clearly remember thinking to myself, a few months back, the following thought: “You know that the stuff you’re handling will be fine. It’s the stuff you’ve left for others that will be the problem. I guess when we get over there, we’ll find out just how big of a problem it will be.” I knew I had no idea what to expect other than a big headache. Well, I got it and it’s a whopper.

My options? Simple – I have to ride this out just like everything else. It’s really just more of the same . . . dealing with life as it’s presented. Meeting life on life’s terms. None of us really have any control over our lives. Control is just an illusion. You can argue otherwise, if you like, but it’s just the ego in you refusing to acknowledge what’s true. And if you need more persuading, then answer me this question. If you are in control and able to influence the outcome of things in your life (or most things), then why are you not happier? Why isn’t your life better than it is? Why such problems? Think about it.

In the meantime, here’s a couple pictures of the view out of my new window. It’s not as nice as when I was overlooking the old cemetery, but it’s still nice. Notice the giant clock on the front of the big building to the right . . . I always know what time it is!

And here’s a picture of my desk. Didn’t take long to get all cluttered up, huh?

And now for some cake . . .

No. It doesn't say Happy Sphincter Day. It says Happy Splinter Day. What? You don't celebrate Splinter Day in your office? You don't know what you're missing . . .

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Not Gay 2.0

My good pal Melissa left a comment on my last post "Reveal Eight Things About Yourself" that got me thinking. I had listed a same-sex tongue-touching incident (at age 5) along with my burning desire to own a pair of clogs as two of my secrets. Predictably, M laughed at me and jokingly questioned my sexuality with five conspicuously placed question marks. So I wrote this letter to her and found it appropriately revealing and deserving of its own post. So enjoy.

Dear M:

You really made me laugh when I read that. So is that it then? If you participate in some age-appropriate same-sex-play (like age 5) and then decide around age 40ish that you want a pair of clogs, that its time to get “honest” with yourself about your “true” sexuality?

You know what’s really funny? After I thought about your comment, I really had to stop and think about it. And then I found myself saying, hmmm, it’s nice that they have a way to test your blood type so they can know definitively whether you’re A+ or B+. But there’s no blood test for sexuality. OH! But if there was!!! How fun would that be? Especially if you could sneak up on people and take a sample? Anyway, I digress.

Ok. What’s impossible for you to know is that before starting this paragraph I stared at the page for 20 minutes thinking to myself, SHIT! How do you tell someone who is gay that you’re not gay without sounding like an ass and at the same time not sounding like you’re trying to deny (too strongly) that you are!

(Giving it a whirl) – I’m not gay. The thought of sex between men repulses me. The men don’t repulse me, but what they do does. However, I find the thought of two men loving and caring for each other beautiful. In fact any two people who love each other is a beautiful thing in my mind – how can it be anything but? I just try not to picture what men who are in love with each other do. BLEH! (My secret truth is that I don't know how ANY woman can like being with a man, which in some ways makes being a lesbian the only sane choice!!!! So help me god I believe that!!!)

I can’t help but be pro-gay. I’ve had (and lost) too many family members who were gay not to be of that mind. I think my problem is not that I’m gay, but that I’m a friggen momma’s boy. Growing up I did everything possible to avoid my dad. I refused to play sports that he liked (which was most of them) and took shelter under my mom’s wing. I think that I lost out on the effects of being around his “testosterone” during my formative years. Instead, I learned to cook and sew (yes I sew awesome!) and to love and to tell stories and be creative (all from my mom) all the while avoiding boy things. I didn’t like to get sweaty or risk skinning my knees and was afraid of heights. So basically, I was a big sissy growing up. I also wasn’t allowed to fight (dad’s rule) so that meant weekly beatings at school because I was the resident six-foot tall jewish punching bag that wouldn’t fight back. I think I spent more time lying on the playground than walking on it.

So all through school, I was this very tall jewish friendless guitar-playing computer-programming self-loathing dork. By the way, I’m none of those things anymore (except tall).

So, I’m sure I’m not gay, but I do favor the feminine side of things. I love to shop and love watching cooking shows. Anything creative or artistic inspires me. I love classical music and animals and a hike in the woods brings me so close.

Now if I can just get my hands on a friggen pair of clogs I’ll be all set!!! Every time I try on a pair in the shoe store, my wife wrinkles up her nose and says, “The bag AND the clogs? I don’t think so.” My two daughters just scream, “NO DAD! Not again!!!” The other problem is, I’ve reached a height of six-foot-two-and-a-half. Do you have any idea how large a pair of clogs are for a guy that size? Any shoe over a size 10 ½ looks like a boat to me. I wear size 12s. I put on a pair of clogs, look down and think “ridiculous”.

But I want them still! And Augustan Burroughs would be proud of me! (I wrote him a letter after I read his books and he wrote me back! No. I don’t keep his letter under my pillow. That would be gay!)


Thursday, June 28, 2007

Reveal 8 Things About Yourself . . .

Ok. I’m psyched that PWADJ thought to include me in her "you've been tagged" game because I haven’t let the ink flow for so long. And yet, this is the last thing I have time for (ESPEICIALLY AT THIS MOMENT!!) And therefore, it’s probably the perfect time. By the way, did you know that a pen is a hollow tube which operates like a straw and allows your soul to leak out on the paper?


1. When I was ten, I stole a twenty dollar bill off of my dad’s bureau. When I got questioned about it, I blamed it on our maid. I’m still burdened by guilt to this day. Fortunately, she wasn’t fired.

2. When I was in nursery school, me and some other five year old boy used to touch tongues whenever we stood in line out in the hall. I don’t remember why we did it, but I remember how thrilling it was. Sometimes it worries me that I still remember doing that.

3. Believe it or not, I know things about people (things they’ve done, things that have happened to them and what they’re thinking) that are impossible to explain. My explanation is that the information came to me through the Universe and that’s what happens when you’re plugged in. Example. I told a woman I didn’t really know very well that when she was twelve, her mother tried to drown her in a bath tub, when she lived in Pennsylvania. All I’ll say is that I’ll never ever assume again that it’s ok to share that kind of information with someone. She lost her freaking mind that I knew that about her and didn't accept my explanation.

4. I want to buy a pair of clogs really bad.

5. I’m a terrible person when I drink too much sometimes.

6. I drink too much sometimes.

7. I wanted to be an astronaut and a professional guitar player when I was a kid. My dad said, find something else to do because jews don’t do either of those things. So to show him, I became a damn good guitar player and earned money playing while in school. I never became an astronaut, but I did a lot of drugs and still made it into outer-space on several occasions. I swear to god I know what it’s like to go up there.

8. I’ve discovered the “real” me in the last couple of years and have been practicing very hard at being that person all of the time. I love that person a lot. And I’m not quite sure who the hell I was before I became him.