Ah, Jared's Java. Pleasant taste. Slight Monsterism.

Welcome to the home of my mind, where I brew my intellectual and spiritual joe. Sit back and let me pour you a cup or two. I promise not to cut you off, even after you get the caffeine jitters.

Friday, May 04, 2012

Good Death!

Paula is dead. Harry is soon to join. The way Paula died was pretty sad and dramatic. We were expecting a recovery, but it turned out to be a quick, tragic end. Harry is going through chemo, but he doesn't want to. His wife and sons have strong-armed him into it. It's hard to blame him; the kind of cancer he has is incredibly aggressive and only 15% survive to live for five years.

I lost great-grandpa and great-grandma McCaw early last decade, but they had always been old to me. It seemed very matter-of-course. But, as a young man, I saw Paula and Harry both very virile, strong and aged closely in relation to my folks. And now...they're dying.

It brings me one step closer to death. I've always seen those older than me as standing between myself and the grave. It's almost as if they were protecting me from it.

Now, as they pass, I feel the pallor of the grand equalizer draw closer, which is alarming as I think of this all from Guinevere's perspective concerning those around me. However, what I fear more, is the thought that I may die, as others I've known have, with grand regrets. I fear I might die without opening my brewery, or getting my Ph.D. I fear that I might royally screw up as a parent and have my child set against me for years, or that she might grow up with some major emotional dysfunction that I could've prevented by merely loving and supporting her.

And so, it is, that I think of the Klingon salutation when departing company with another for battle: Good death! That's what I want. A good death. When I hit the point at which I am preparing to cross over, I want to look back with joy, pride and satisfaction on a life well lived and feel as if my work in this realm is as complete as I could make it, given my years. I want to know that I loved well, lived humbly and worked at fulfilling my goals and dreams, whether I crashed and burned or succeeded beyond my greatest expectations.

So, it is with that I continue to move forward with an even greater sense of urgency. All our todays become yesterdays in the blink of an eye. Now is the time to do and act. Don't settle for less than all you want from life. Love much and do good, not evil.

Today is a good day to live, so that tomorrow may be a good day to die. Good death! Good death to you all.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

On Being

I’ve been spending a lot of time and energy over the last few years exploring my genealogy. I’ve been grateful for the experience, and I have loved learning more about my family’s history.

However, I have learned something profound from the search, apart from my rich and diverse cultural heritage: you can search your family tree and know your roots; you can travel the world and discover things unknown; you can find meaning in identifying with your ethnic roots; and you can do all that without ever understanding who you are as a person or knowing where “home” is for you.

Knowing where you come from can be wonderful. It certainly has been for me. But, it is little more than a cloak with which to wrap the “self” one truly is.

It’s a bit odd, looking back, as I explore this. I once thought that I was on the hunt for the person I truly am. I’m far from the end of the road of exploration of my genealogy, but I’ve come to see that the times I’ve made great discoveries about who I am have not been on genealogy.com or in researching the family line. They’ve been the times that my character has been tested. They’ve been the times when love or hate has filled my being from the top of my head to the bottoms of my feet. It’s been when I’m at the end of myself or on my knees. And, lately, it’s been when I’m standing tall and take what is rightfully mine, rather than allowing it to be taken from me.

I am Jared King. I’m a Scotsman. I’m an Irishman. I’m a Ger-man. And I’m proud of all of these things. But, I’m more proud that I’m a husband of 12 years, most of which have not been easy. I’m a father of a beautiful little girl who had a harrowing journey to start her life in this world. And, I’m a weldor/fabricator, for which I trained hard and earned the right to take my place among my peers.

I’m still searching for “home,” but I’m getting really close to finding it. I’ll have plenty on that when I do.

So, who are you? How did you discover it?

Monday, May 02, 2011

Life and Death

Last night, the news came, and boy did it come hard. At first, I was just really annoyed that something seemed to be wrong with the new episode of the Simpsons. But, when I realized that actual "breaking news" was occurring, I was somewhat excited. If I were a cable news watcher, I'd not have been phased, but we haven't had cable or satellite TV for years now.

We sat in silence, eyes glued to the screen with the same intensity we felt almost ten years ago when we watched the second tower fall. The analysts on CBS kept saying the same thing: Osama Bin Laden had been killed by a US Joint Ops Task Force and we were awaiting word from the President.

A flood of memories came rushing back. I thought back first to the waning days of the Clinton presidency, when he had ordered missile strikes against a couple of bases that this terrorist guy named "Osama Bin Laden" had been operating out of. Apparently, he was the mastermind behind the strikes on a couple of US embassies in Africa the year before. I thought it was trumped up crap because Monica Lewinsky was taking the stand when Mr. Clinton interrupted all national broadcasts to speak to the American people about the military actions being undertaken on our behalf.

The next time I heard that name was in the days following the 9/11 attacks. I didn't leave my house until three days after the towers fell. I couldn't quit watching the TV, hanging onto some hope that there would be more survivors, that they would dig up some of the living. When it became obvious that nothing would change, I started to try to figure out how I was going to live life again. But, I remember watching this bearded weirdo with a turban on his head delivering an exultant speech about how we finally got ours. Watching the weeping talk about how their life will never be the same because their daddy died on a plane in a field in Pennsylvania, or their brother was buried under the rubble of the south tower, I felt a burning anger for the injustice at their suffering, and a rage toward the man who pulled it all together.

For the next two years, it seemed like it was "All Osama, all the time." More words of hatred and vitriol flowed from him toward us. We saw more footage and heard more tape of his anger toward "the West" as embodied by the United States. Then, as our forces mounted for a long engagement in Afghanistan, the Taliban told us that he said he was sorry in an attempt to save their own asses. We stormed in and scoured the country for him, chasing him into the Tora Bora mountains where he slipped through our grasp, seemingly forever.

Over the last decade, we've seen occasional video, heard tape recordings from him, but all slowly metered out. As if to give just enough of a ghostly presence to embolden those who would take up arms in the name of hatred and unnerve the general public in the US. After a while, many considered him dead somewhere, either in quiet solitude or blown apart and unrecognizable by a blast from the armed forces.

Then, awakening our emotions over this ten year relationship with hatred, as if slapped hard in the face, came the news last night that he had been killed in his compound in Pakistan just that morning. I was confused and saddened. After the president finished his prepared speech, I looked into the eyes of the woman who had been with me through all of this, I teared up and said, "I love you." I'm not sure why, but it just seemed to be the right thing to do. I believe the end of a decade plus in this queer dance with a madman should feel confusing. And the death of another soul, no matter how evil, should never feel good. Death isn't something of which to be jubilant. It is always a sad affair.

Jen got up off the couch, no small task at 21 weeks with child, and meandered into the kitchen to filter some water. The coverage on the television began to shift to the crowd outside the White House, a bunch of younger, college-aged kids chanting "USA! USA! USA!" outside the gates. It seemed odd to me. They were just young children when this all began. A ten year-old does not have fully developed emotions. They couldn't have known what it all meant when this started.

She waddled back in with a small glass filled with the water and began to tend to the plant starts we have sitting on top of the entertainment center, her now very large belly protruding in front of the upper left corner of the TV. I watched her as she, full of our new life, tended to the seedlings that we planted together, as the images of those celebrating death flashed across the screen.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Reflections on family

Spending time with my brothers is very, very difficult. To say that they drive me crazy would be a dramatic understatement.

My older brother, Jeremy, left home at 15. He had some pretty serious behavioral issues and an extreme love for drugs. So, one thanksgiving night after a huge knockdown drag out with my folks, I helped him count all the change he'd been saving. Why I helped him, I'm not sure. We never really got along. He only wanted to be around me when it was convenient for him and he could use me in some way. Generally, blackmail, on his part, was involved. But, after the change was counted, he went to bed. The next day, he cleaned out his savings account at the tiny bank in town, hitched a ride to the nearest train station and left town.

He never finished high school, did plenty of drugs, continued his abusive behavior with others, and I rarely saw him. He showed up dirty and completely unkempt, with long, uncombed hair to my wedding. It was like getting pictures taken with a strung out Bozo the clown.

I left home at 18. My parents didn't want to let me go, but I went. I got married, and eventually finished college and settled into my life.

My younger brother left home shortly after I did. He's younger by almost 4 years. Drugs, violence and hatred messed him up at a very young age. He was always angry, a fighter. If he didn't get what he wanted, he found a way to force your hand to make you give it to him. And, to top it off, he’s never wrong. Just ask him. He’ll gladly shout you down until you give up any attempt to reason with him and then claim victory. He’s essentially like Eric Cartman, from South Park, except there’s little that is comical about my brother or his behavior.

Both are now off the junk, but little about them is changed. It is like having broken shards of glass stuck in my ears, listening to my younger brother arrogantly spout racial epithets about "those illegals" while he gets drunk at my mom's birthday party. My old brother is better, only mildly. He's burned his brain out on drugs pretty badly. He doesn't talk much. He just sits around and then, every 45 minutes, steps away to a distant part of the lawn to light up a cigarette. He mostly talks to the dogs.

I look at them and wonder that we came from the same parents. I don't get it. I sure don't see the resemblance.

Now, just to be clear, don't feel sorry for me. I couldn't be more grateful for my life. I could've ended up like them, but I didn't. That is happiness and joy enough for me every day. I'm a better man for the pain and struggles I've been through. I wouldn't go back, but I also wouldn't trade them off for anything.

Go mbeannai Dia thu