Category: Misc

On the Turning Away

My new house is dead silent. I can’t sleep at the moment, a minor issue I find has cropped up since my coma. It’s not a bad thing, I don’t feel anxious or physically bad. Neither too do I feel energetic or purpose driven as if this is some psychological replacement for both the time I was nearly asleep for good or the second chance I was given. I’m just… awake.

Living in the country allows a lot of time for quiet and reflection and I suppose that’s a part of it. I’ve finished up my question list for Wil for Sunday’s Rose City Comic Con panel, and I’m making the drive down to Portland tomorrow to see my friend Mark before I hit the event.

It is, as I said, dead silent around me.

Except for Basil’s snoring, a reminder of the life I’m a steward of and how much happiness he brings me. And the clicking of my keyboard as I write, reminding me these same tools I use to write this are the tools that provide my livelihood. The house itself occasionally makes noise, a squirrel or wandering cat on the roof or the simple sounds that all houses make when talking to you if you remember to stop and listen and not tune them out. (They have their own languages, Houses. Some of them shout like Ollie the weather man, and others whisper.) I can hear my own breathing, a reminder I’m still here. My stomach growls loudly because my medication often makes me want to eat something at odd times.

I go downstairs to grab a piece of fruit from the fridge, conscious of the sound of my bare feet on the wood floor. I can hear the soft whir of the fridge. Outside, despite the late hour, a car drives up the gravel main road.

All these noises and sounds happen all around me typically while I sleep, and now I feel pleasantly sleepy having gotten to sit and experience them for a moment. I finish my snack, turn away and go back to bed.

No there ain’t no rest for the wicked, till we close our eyes for good.

I’m sitting in a posh hotel bar in San Francisco. Just a couple of months ago, I was looking at the city from a much different view, that of an ICU bed at Pacific Medical Center.

I sit here now, like I sit each day, wondering a little bit about what I am going to do with the gift I have been given. You see I was dead for a short bit. Well, mostly dead. At one point the Neurologists had concluded they could detect little electrical activity in my brain, my foot and ocular reflexes were zero: no response, that of a person brain dead or with severe brain damage. An ammonia buildup in my brain combined with a septic infection in my lungs had put me into a coma. The verdict was that I was either already gone, or so far gone I would not return in anything resembling a normal state.

Then something happened. Thanks to the charity of my friends and followers on Twitter and Facebook and just awesome people in general, my family was able to all fly in to San Francisco from Dallas to say goodbye and decide when to pull the plug. Things were that bad.
Then I woke up. Then I got better. Then I got a lot better. Then I got almost normal. Then I got pretty much normal. And now I sit here awaiting my dinner (Salad!) and a ginger beer three months later, and I stop often to think about this continue button I got to press.

When I was out at the deepest level, the “he’s pretty much brain dead” level, I was locked in. I was aware, but unable to communicate or move. I was able to prove this later by recounting conversations around me that happened at that time that I otherwise could not have known about. During that, I lived other lifetimes. I had no temporal sense at all. It was the single worst thing I have ever experienced, by far, because I was just gone enough mentally to be so confused I thought it was normal. When I awoke they could have told me I had been out for 5 years, 5 weeks, or the 5 days I was actually out and I would have believed them. It is, for all methods I could possibly think of, impossible to describe. This isn’t a case of “It felt like forever”, this is a case of being left out in forever entirely, so deep you have no frame of reference for the word “forever.” I moved from fragments of lucidity to dreamstates to…well something I simply cannot describe to you.

There was no tunnel with a light at the end, there was no sense of anything guiding me or spiritual. There was simply this existence out of time, experiences so far reaching sometimes they hit me out of the blue, not in a traumatic way, but in a way that makes me feel somehow much older. I feel, on occasion, weary mentally. Not unlike I’ve been around in this universe way way too long. It’s not especially unpleasant, and some of the experiences I remember were positive. But it tends to take me by surprise when it happens and it’s sometimes hard to shove aside.

Again, these…reveries I suppose they could be called, are not unpleasant or traumatic. I recovered physically such that I am out of any apparent danger, exercising and trying to eat well. They serve to give me pause and reflection about what happened to me, which is a good thing because I don’t want to forget and become complacent about getting a second chance at so many things. I’m extraordinary lucky to get my health back. I live in a beautiful house on a large plot of land in a beautiful part of the country. I have my dog Basil whose unbridled joy at discovering a simple rock in the back yard never fails to make me smile, and I have a life and more full of friends and people who care about me who I inadvertently scared the shit out of.

Being a writer I am of course mining as much of the experience as possible for pieces to perform, believe it or not there is a tremendous amount of humor to be found in the situation once you’re past it. There will be news on that version of events pretty soon.

But for some reason tonight I thought it best to think about the poignant part of what happened to me, that sense of immense age that hits me out of nowhere sometimes. I’m still me, I escaped any lasting brain impacting issues. My follow-ups are all a-ok.

And even with all the time I felt like I lived in that very weird block of darkness, it still would not be enough time to thank everyone properly who came to my aid, from family to friends. From people I’ve known for decades to people I don’t know at all, but who know me through my writing or performances or work. From people I’ve worked with in the past, and people I work with now at HackerOne. The Internet is a wondrous and complicated thing, full at once with 1’s that are angry at 0’s and vice versa. But it also brings us closer together, and I like to think that as loud and painful as the bad parts are, they are still overall in the minority. Something I try to minimize but sometimes falter at.

Next to me a couple is arguing, from the snippets it sounds like a breakup. Across the restaurant there’s a guy sitting alone like me, reading what I think is the latest Jack Reacher book. My salad is half gone, as is the ginger beer. Moments feel immeasurably longer than that every once in a while, just for a brief bit. But that’s more or less where I’m at too.

I’m only half done.

And We Give Thanks So That There May Be An Accounting In Our Hearts Of Blessings

First Thanksgiving alone and spent it awake all night.

That doesn’t mean I’m not thankful for things. I’m thankful for all the good parts of my marriage to Rochelle. I’m thankful for all our pets here and gone (Illusion, Isabeau, Hennessey, Adia, Buddy, Remington Martin, Eowyn Marie, Medallion, Basil Hayden, and Aspen Blue).

I’m thankful for family, heroes, and friends both here and gone (quite literally too many for my brain to hold)

I’m thankful for HBO and Microsoft and the opportunities they have afforded me. I’m thankful for my job now at Black Tusk Studios getting to work on Gears of War. And the apartment I’m in that bridged a difficult gap into a new little place that has a nice sandy beach for Basil to play on that I start moving into this weekend.

I’m thankful for Ikea. If nothing else I will have a bed.

They don’t celebrate Thanksgiving at the same time we do up here in Canada (Canadian Thanksgiving was in October), so today is a work day. I have not decided what bird to cook tonight, it can’t be a turkey of course, too big. But I’ll have my tiny celebration nonetheless and begin to pack for the weekend move.

I hope you and yours have a wonderful day.

In which a marriage ends.

Some of you know this, some of you do not.

Rochelle and I have decided that we’re better apart than together. This is an amicable split. No one person did anything wrong. Instead, over time, we became different people. Neither one of us want anyone to choose sides, and neither one of us want people to feel like they have to. We continue a shared love of our dogs, and we wish each other the best for the future. We’re both going to need pillars of support, Rochelle in Seattle and me in Vancouver. Over 17 (almost 18!) years, amazing adventures were had, pets loved and lost, many friends gained.

Now, new amazing things hopefully await us both.

I’m up in Vancouver, and will have Basil Hayden and Medallion with me while Rochelle takes care of Aspen Blue, Adia, and flyball girl Eowyn Marie.

Explaining all this is always awkward. Yes we did “all the things!” people say to do re: counseling etc. It just didn’t pan out.

It was a great run. Better than most actually, because we decided to end it before it went down too many darker paths. Relationships are complex, and it’s always best to optimize towards happiness. That’s what we’re doing. We both think it’s a good thing.

I’m looking out over the Vancouver skyline and missing Basil, he has to be fixed before he comes up. We’ll walk in the park across the street. And everything will be ok, eventually.

50 Word Ghost Story

I did something I’ve not done in too long given life events and work and conventions and sickness: do a writing challenge. I have other obligations I am working on so this one cropped up and was the perfect 15 minute exercise for the creative side of my brain.

The fine folk over at Scottish Book Trust are running a 50 word fiction competition. This month’s theme is a write a ghost story in 50 words. I love ghost stories so I thought, why not? I don’t expect to win, but thinking about this story made me want to write more of it, and I’m actually happy they capped it at 50. Here’s my entry:

The table stands next to an overturned chair. The eyes of the woman in the portrait on the wall seem to gaze directly at it. I feel a tap on my shoulder and turn. No one. Looking back, the chair is upright and the woman’s eyes now gaze behind me.