Bart’s Amazing Disappearing Cloak*

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Bartimaeus threw his cloak aside.

Bartimaeus was blind.

Raised in the Christian tradition, I had heard this story more often than even Mark must have told it. But it wasn’t until I was well past 40 something or another that I finally heard the words as they were originally said.

Bartimaeus threw his cloak aside.

Bartimaeus was BLIND.

As such, he had hopes few whatsoever in finding the damned thing again, should his take on this particular Jewish carpenter-turned public speaker prove to be wrong.

According to the new testament at any rate, we know that his gamble paid off. And maybe that’s where the story gets watered down for us. Winning always does look so easy in retrospect, doesn’t it?

Now my point here isn’t to address the dogmatic diatribes of who’s god-head is true, or who’s god-head is false, or even the idea that the whole lot of them might just be a case of communal wishful thinking. No, my point here is that Bartimaeus was blind. And he threw that blessed cloak away anyway.

Again, being raised in the Christian tradition, I am fairly certain that there are already camps forming for either side over a potential upcoming schism, as to whether he did so because he felt he no longer needed it, or because he felt that in a few short minutes he would be able to find it himself. Not the point here, kids. Why he did it doesn’t matter, that he did it, does.

You see, what he had was faith. True blue, potentially pie in the sky faith. In something, or in someone, or in his own good self doesn’t matter either. What matters is that he had it. Enough so that he could throw away the one thing that was guaranteed to protect him otherwise. The only thing that had proven itself to him up until that point.

And assuming that Mark wasn’t blowing total theological smoke, it carried him through to the end, this faith, making him presumably a happier guy who could now find his own cloak without any assistance, thankyouverymuch.

I don’t know why I heard it this way today, but I did.

The verse doesn’t expand on any back stories in regards to his possibly also having had a spouse who deceitfully broke all their promises to him, nor if he had had children who had also seemingly summarily dismissed him from their lives. It doesn’t even go into whether or not he was more than broken as a result of all these things.

In short, there was scant anything about him at all, sans a desperate plea for help and the fact that he and I both have cloaks – mine being woven much more with fear than fabric – that provided me with any sort of kinship with the man.

And still…

Still, I feel that as if this cat Bart could have faith – faith enough to literally toss aside the only protection a blind person of his day might have had against the elements – then I might also find this sort of power in me as well. I might also find the faith needed in some Thing, some One, hell, maybe even in some Me, someday as to be able to throw aside my personal cloak; carefully hand-woven over these past 40 something or another years. Maybe.

Bartimaeus was blind.

Bartimaeus threw his cloak aside any way.

Pray this cat someday has vision similar to do the same.

* Based on Mark 10:46 – 52.

In A Pickle

Obviously, the sandwich could hardly be blamed for the fact that the pickle that adorned it was homemade, and as such, Glorious.

But still, the simple fact of the matter was that it was. Homemade that is. Crisp, and hard, and green. And deliciously so.

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And this made the remainder of the sandwich – all of the contents sans one of course – very jealous indeed.

The pickle for its part simply sat there, in full knowledge of how good it was. Relishing if you will in the fact that of the entirety of “meh” contained in the remainder of the bite, it alone was the splash of “YES!” that would have the eater’s taste buds leaping up eagerly to attention.

Against the processed meats, preformed bread, packaged lettuce and pumped up and out mayo, the pickle alone was the only thing that was truly real; the only portion of the meal that was original, singular, and created with love.

And even had the pickle tasted like shit (and it indeed did most definitely NOT), that alone would have made the sandwich as a whole well worth the gastronomical adventure.

A bit convoluted in tale, the pickle stood out. Not because it fit in, but rather because it refused to. It refused to be anything other than what it was. It refused to – as pickles are oft to do – sacrifice its own unique flavor in order to be “dumbed down” by the remainder of the more bland-taste citizens that shared it’s space and existence. And the entire sandwich, processed meats, preformed bread, packaged lettuce and pumped up mayo be damned, hated it it for that very reason while at the same time being enhanced by its mere presence.

So, is all this set up of a cautionary tale simply a combination resulting from having an actual homemade pickle provided by a dear friend, plunked daringly upon an otherwise “pedestrian” handheld bite, and an overactive imagination in halftime overdrive? Or is it something more?

I for one, will never tell.

Today…

hawaiiIt’s Easter. And everything starts anew today. Though in actuality, it’s tomorrow when that will occur.

But that’s another story.

The day is belligerently bucking the usual tradition of Buffalo NY cold and wet, for that of sun, warmth, and cloud-free endless blue sky. I am enjoying this change of pace with a change of pace as I mosey along for a Sunday stroll, wrestling into knotted position around my waist, the sweater that I initially felt I needed – until the very moment that I was too far away from my starting point, as to actually return it.

As I cinch the sleeves into the hug they’ll embrace me with throughout the duration of my walk, I first spy them. A family. Another multi-generational, happy and utterly complete family. Gayly smiling and playing all on the front yard. Almost as if to say, “yeah, where’s yours?” Hell, they might have even been carrying around their own personal white picket fences, as they were so perfectly Rockwellian in their nature. And as I passed them, I once again felt plainly the epiphany that I have felt so many times over these past several months: Your father is dead. Your marriage, equally so. One due to his inability to quit smoking, and the other, due to her inability to ever stop looking for the next “big thing.” Combined both with your inability to ever give either a good enough reason to just stop.

Stupid people making stupid choices. Stupid choices that hurt others, and stupid choices that hurt you. Stupid choices that you couldn’t altar. Stupid choices that you at times even emulated, because you yourself are stupid.

Withholding a preemptive mood-ruining hiss, I passed the family without harming them via the daggers being launched at that moment from my jealous eyes. But as I did, these thoughts came to mind:

• I can’t bring dad back. But I can learn from him, both in his victories and in his defeats. So that his life will live on in me, and in the lives of my children, and – should trees prove to drop apples once-to multiple times more – in the lives of my grandchildren and great as well.

• I don’t want to bring the marriage back. No, not anymore. For I have already learned that I will know love one day, and it will be a love that is bound not by a contract, but by Love itself. It will be a love that ends, if it ends, not because of foreign men with interesting names, nor because of my fear of me standing up for me.

As I continued on my walk, I saw another family. Again, multi-generational, again happy. But this time I thought: maybe both members of that couple aren’t the birth parents. Maybe their love was a love first realized only after failed earlier attempts elsewhere. Maybe the people before me were happy in earnest, only because they had known times when happy was woefully absent before. Maybe these people decided upon celebrating Easter long before Easter came. And maybe – just maybe – my life can be like that as well.

It’s Easter. And though in actuality, it’s tomorrow when this will occur, everything starts anew Today.

•••

Love Anew

I’m pretty sure that we’re all aware of my current opinion regarding marriage in general.

And I’m pretty sure that we were all aware that I would still post this, the very first chance I got.

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Same love.

One love.

Love begets love.

Please, stop keeping score already, and simply let Love.

•••

Bad Old World

Where some see doors, others hear voices. And just as doors can be either opened or closed, voices too, can be listened too or ignored. And in either scenario, every once in a great while, a person can have that glimpse backward, one just long enough as to realize that they will never return to the bad old world…

That was where this week’s Friday Fictioneer prompt took me, and here is the hundred plus words that resulted from that train of thought. I hope you enjoy…

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Copyright – Rich Voza

Justin… I can’t stand it anymore, the jumble-fuzzy goin’ on up in me ‘ead. It’s too noisy, a right muffled-roar cacophony, it is.

C’mon, you’ve gotta get yerself outta there, is what.

Outta where?

Outta your ‘ead, is what. You’ve a bad case of listening too much to yer own voices, mate, n’ not nearly enough to others.

What others?

Yer friends. Yer tribe. Yer voices of reason. Y’know, all them blokes what tells you how nice n’ good n’ beautiful on the inside you is.

Oh… But they’re just being nice.

Right they are! And why’dya think they’d be doing that, then?

Hmmm. Supposin’ it’s maybe they be taking a shine to me?

The real You, they do!

Justin… Are they right in doin’ so?

I suppose you’ll never know, not until you do likewise.

•••

(yes, you’ll have to listen to the song to see how the story ends.)

Little Things

There has been something I’ve been struggling with about telling you. It’s a subject that those of you who have been following along for a while now, will know everything about. And those of you who have been following along since around 3/21/13, will not. I was still on the fence about discussing this subject, until The Daily Post begged us today to talk about Little Things.

You see, as a result of the recent life changes that have been tossing me about (again, if you’ve begun following only since late March, you’ll just have ask the person seated next to you what I’m speaking of, because you’ll no longer find any mention of it here), there was one final – and heartbreaking – decision that had to be made.

The children we were tasked with caring for, while their mother got back on her feet, were no longer best served by living in our house. We – I – had to let them go. As was the case before we initially brought them in, I once again asked my kids their opinion, and ensured that we were all first in agreement. The little ones were slated to be reunited with their mom in June anyway, but that in no way made the decision – nor the subsequent call to Child Protective Services – any easier.

I explained the current situation, and broke down slightly, apologizing while saying we were going to have to back out. The case worker was very kind in thanking us for everything we had already done (especially considering there was no kinship involved), and said that she would be happy to try to get the children relocated promptly.

As fate would have it, of all the life tossing going on just now, this solitary item may have turned out to be the one blessing in disguise; as it was determined that instead of placing them anew, the children would simply be reunited with their mom (who is doing well) earlier than anticipated.

So they are gone now, and out of my life. Most likely forever.

After we had packed their lives into the over-sized pickup truck that their mother’s friend trundled into our driveway and had seen them on their way, Ian (my youngest) and I retreated to the house where I, in an extraordinary feat of extreme manhood, fell to the bed weeping. Ian, being just about one of the most empathetic people I know, softly patted my back and in response to my moan of being sorry that I was failing everyone, said simply and calmly, “daddy, you are not failing anyone.”

I hope he’s right. And I hope that these two little things – these two precious and beautiful little things who invaded my life for almost a year, and opened my eyes to a whole different world – will never be overlooked again. Not by their mother nor the system sworn to protect them.

I still don’t know what it was all about – us taking them in, that is – or if it helped in the least that we did. And please don’t tell me blindly that it will all just be worth it in the end. There hasn’t been one soul yet who has been able to make me buy that line. I have a sort of a “Now just what were You thinking?” finger wag list that I’m compiling, and when I do meet God, “whatever became of these two little things” will be one of the questions pretty damned high up on that list.

Yamil and Delilah, I know you’ll never see this. But I want you to know that I hope you have fond memories of your time with us. I hope that God continues to bless you on your journey, and I hope – I pray – that whatever it was I was supposed to do for you, I did.

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I will miss you Little Things. You crazy, obnoxious, pains-in-the-ass and simply beautiful little things. Please, go in peace.

Changes.

And no Lance, this does NOT mean that I will be ending today’s post with the Bowie song of the same name.

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Hey, did you know that I now have 200 followers? Pretty cool, that! And yeah Renee, I know that you average about that amount in new followers per week, but it’s a big deal for me, OK? So anyway, my point was, I have over 200 followers (did I mention before that it was actually over 200 followers?) But instead of writing for them, and enjoying myself with them, I’m just whittling my time away by moping about in an internetless corner. Sucking my thumb while rocking to and fro with the usual “woe is me’s.”

Not cool t, not cool.

So back to the keyboard I’ll be going. Seems to make sense, especially as I am getting ready to have a LOT more “quality me time” than previously enjoyed these past 17 years. I know, I know, “That’s not a change t, just a schedule update.” And right you are. No, the change has to deal with my focus. Moving forward I plan on sticking mostly to writing fiction from this site. This is in part because I truly enjoy it (even if my stories never actually go anywhere), and also because the bad feelings I have to express, I will no longer feel comfortable doing so here.

Those feelings will still have to come out – painfully plucked one by one, lest there be even greater future distress, should they be ignored now – so I plan on starting a second (anonymous again) blog to address these. Should you wish to read along there, please send me an email, making sure you tell me whose Blog parent you are (cue the announcers deep and woodsy voice: sorry, but this offer is only available to current friends and followers of aslongasimsinging.wordpress.com), and I can get you a link to the new address once it’s up and running (4/25 update: in fact, I’ve already pulled the last three posts from this site detailing the recent events, and placed them over there for continuity sake).

And speaking of anonymity, this site will no longer be so.

Yay!

First off, you’ve all been so good to me, and I’ve been blessed with so many “wouldn’t know you in a crowd, but I love you out here in Blogsville” friendships, it seems a shame to continue on with the charade. Secondly, as I knew that C was a private person, and as I also knew that I intended on writing about her often, I originally left names out of it. But seeing now as I can’t fathom any more posts of that nature coming across your screen from here, I think we’re good with retiring the whole “man behind the curtain” routine.

One last change as well kids, and then I’ll let you go. I am going to try hard to provide you with quality over quantity, so I may not be as regular as I was before in my schedule (say it with a soft “c,” it’s a hell of a lot sexier that way). Please know that  won’t mean that anything is necessarily wrong, it’ll just mean that I haven’t yet found for a particular post, the best words to, umm, well to… I mean, well – oh hell! You get the picture, right?

Listen kids, I’ve been a little weird as of late, and I’m sorry about that. I’m still not 100%, but I now see that someday I will be, just in a fashion wholly new and different from before. It’s taken me a while to recognize this, but as David Bowie once said, I’m “just gonna have to be a different man,” and be cool with that fact.

Oh crap! Now I DO have to end this post with his song of the same name!

Peace,

t