Tree Theory

January 14, 2019 § Leave a comment

Growth is slow.

Not always, certainly; some things, some feelings, some people grow seemingly overnight.

Often, though, growth is frustratingly, annoyingly, painfully slow. So slow, it’s imperceptible—especially to yourself.

I’ve been trying to grow in … well, several ways, really, but in one way in particular, and I’ve been frustrated at how slowly it’s going. It’s been over a year of self-help books and therapy and talking with people who have dealt with or are dealing with issues similar to mine.

At times, I felt like I’ve made no growth at all and said as such. Fortunately, others told me they’ve seen growth, even if I didn’t.

This weekend, though, I didn’t have anyone to tell me that. Snowed in for two days, I had plenty of time to beat myself up for not “getting there” yet. For not evolving fast enough. For not being wired right.

It lingered still this morning, through my ablutions and chores and the drive to the office. But then, sitting at my desk, a thought hit me out of nowhere: Personal growth is like growing a tree. « Read the rest of this entry »

How Mo Did I Grow?

December 1, 2018 § Leave a comment

I said at the beginning of the month that I was attempting to grow a lip copilot like my brother Rich’s:

So, how’d I do?

Remember, this ‘stache is to remind you to think about your health and the health of the men in your life. Check yo’self before a serious disease wrecks yo’self. Early detection saves lives!

I’ll leave you with one last reminder:

Doctor Atomic

November 27, 2018 § Leave a comment

I was promised Rachmaninoff.

His most difficult work (Piano Concerto No. 3, nicknamed, she claimed, “the Rach”), played by Denis Kozhukhin “with precision and poetry” despite its difficulty.

She hooked me. I heard the intro in my car as I arrived home, Kozhukhin talking about how it was the first piano concerto he heard as a kid. How he tried to learn to play it before even learning scales, a little boy grasping at a star far beyond his reach.

Because it enthralled him.  « Read the rest of this entry »

Hey, Mo!

November 9, 2018 § Leave a comment

Normally, the month of November is a month of writing for me. It is National Novel Writing Month, after all.

While I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo in the past—and found it useful—I haven’t written much lately. Which is a good reason to participate, honestly, but I’ve got too much going on to be able to sit down and write 1,667 words a day. Hell, I intended to write this blog post on November 1, and I’m only just now getting to it nine days later.

So instead of tackling a novel, I’ve started in on a project that’s a bit more organic—literally.

I’m growing a mo. A ‘stache. A lip warmer.

In other words, I’m participating in Movember.

I’m not really doing it to raise money, so this isn’t a funding pitch. I’m growing a ridiculous bourbon strainer A) to prod my guy friends to think about their health, and B) because I’ve wanted to grow a mo for a long, long time.

Not Why, But Which?

So the question for me isn’t really “why the hell would you grow an ugly lip mat,” but rather “which uncomfortable face merkin should I grow?”

Because there are so many wonderful options.

My first thought was to adopt Sam Elliot’s recently orphaned nose caterpillar.

The Sam Elliot

That reminded me of the movie Tombstone and Kurt Russell’s fabulous Wyatt Earp handlebar.

The Kurt Russell

Once I was in a Wild-West-Lawman frame of mind, however, I recalled Timothy Olyphant’s Seth Bullock in Deadwood, and man, do I love his kisser tickler.

The Seth Bullock

But then I started thinking about the primary reason for Movember: to stop men from dying too young.

Too many people I’ve known—men and women—have left our mortal party too early. They died from cancer, from random illness, from suicide, from overdose. They died in accidents.

And with each bright flame extinguished, the world grew a little darker.

So I thought I’d honor their lip brooms. My dad had a walrus once, but that seemed overreaching for my first foray into facial foliage. And Bardi’s crumb catcher wouldn’t be the same without his signature gray.

But then I remembered the photo of my brother Rich, taken at 20,000 feet as he piloted a Embraer EMB 120 Brasilia for Comair. Rich, who died when he was only a few years older than I am now.


So that’s the mo I’m going to try to grow. That’s going to be my nose neighbor for November.

If my furry face ferret can get the people I love to think about their health, maybe I won’t lose more. Maybe they’ll get a checkup for that weird pain that’s been bothering them. Maybe they’ll get a regular health screening.

And by “they,” I mean you.

So laugh at my lip wig. Mock my mouth brow. Snicker at my snot mop.

And then make an appointment to get a physical, ask about that cough that just won’t go away, and get that weird mole checked. See a therapist, if the world has been pressing down on you too hard.

Because I like having you around. And I want you to see the glorious Seth Bullock I’m going to grow next November.

Learn more about Movember and men’s health at

The Coffin Lid

October 2, 2018 § Leave a comment

The end of summer is the day I close my pool, which this year was last Sunday. With the help of Aaron and Anneliese, I drained the veins, poured in the embalming anti-freeze, and put the coffin lid on the season, fastening it down with straps and anchors and buckles.

I spent most of this year looking for a job—which was, in itself, a full-time job. But it was a full-time job that involved not-working from home and getting paid for it.

Not paid, y’know, a lot, but enough to keep the house from going into foreclosure and me from resorting to eating the cats. I call it a win. « Read the rest of this entry »

Dive In

June 10, 2018 § 1 Comment

It wasn’t the perfect morning for a swim.

The clouds moved in as soon as I stepped outside, blue-gray and portending rain. The sun became a pale circle impotent of warmth, then was swallowed completely.

Knowing storms were forecast for the rest of the day, I dove in anyway. The water hovered at 80 degrees F, about the same temperature as the air. « Read the rest of this entry »

The Shape of the Year, Part 2

May 24, 2018 § Leave a comment

I live. Which amazes me, given the past year and a half.

“2018 will be a year of repair, of redirection, of rebuilding. Changing the landscape.” That’s from my New Year’s Day post, but I had no idea how much the landscape would change; eight days later, I was laid off.

Flash forward nearly six months and I’m still looking for a new job. And fighting the brain weasels that come part and parcel with rejection after rejection.

But I’m still here. Still flyin’. Inches off the ground, but I haven’t crashed and burned yet. « Read the rest of this entry »

Bar 6

March 16, 2018 § 1 Comment

He’d come in every night around 6:30, stay for the space of two drinks and maybe a burger. Middle-aged, not a snappy dresser but no slob, either. He knew the owners well enough that they said hi to him, but not enough for special treatment; no free drinks or anything like that.

Always grabbed the same bar stool, if it was open – sixth from the end, by the bend.

Had a name I should remember, but so vanilla it never stuck. Eric, I think, or Allen. I don’t know, I’d only been working there a couple weeks. To me, he was just Bar 6, because that’s how we entered orders in the register.

I called him “boss” to his face, just like everyone else. It’s easier than remembering names.

He wasn’t much for conversation. Some folks want to spill out their problems or chat about the music that’s playing or whatever sport is on the TV behind the bar. Bar 6 would talk to other patrons if they started it, but otherwise would just hunch over his drink until it was gone.

Bar 6 liked his bourbon. Usually neat, unless it was Jack Daniel’s, and then he’d want a rocks pour. I think the longest conversation he had with me was the night we added a couple new bourbons to the shelf, and even that only lasted a minute or two.

Every once in a while, I’d catch his eyes following a woman’s ass as she strolled past. He never made it creepy, though; he’d look, and then he’d turn his attention back to his drink. When the girls served him, he looked them in the eye and thanked them. I never saw him hit on anyone, touch anyone, nothing.

Come to think on it, I never saw him come in with anyone. He was always on his own, but never gave off that hook-up vibe. He came, he drank, he left. Veni, vino, vamoose.

Darrell? I think his name might have been Darrell. Damn, it bugs me I can’t recall.

Anyway, what I’m saying is, he was just this guy, you know? I never expected him to do what he did. Jesus. « Read the rest of this entry »

The Shape of the Year

January 1, 2018 § 2 Comments

The borders between the years are meaningless from a “things are bound to change” point of view. Luck and Chance and Fate don’t care what the date is, be it Monday or January or 2018. There’s absolutely no reason why anything should suddenly get better.

But we stick up a new calendar and turn the page, and we sigh in relief that we survived the past 12 months. We hope for a better dozen to come.

I began to see the vague outline of this year around the beginning of December. I know this will be a year of hard work. Boards need pulling up and earth needs moving and what last year broke still needs to be fixed. Root causes need to be uprooted to allow for new growth.

With luck and perseverance and a little help from others, 2018 will be a year of repair, of redirection, of rebuilding. Changing the landscape. Making improvements that are long, long overdue.

I’m going to try to shape it into a productive year. Apart from the pulling and hauling, I want to start creating again. My litany every January First is always “read more and finish writing the book.” This year, it’s “start reading again and finish writing a book.”

My nightstand staggers beneath an epic to-read pile, and a few unfinished manuscripts wait for me to finish writing them. Lately, one story in particular has been tugging at my sleeve. I’ll take a look at it soon to see if the book in my memory is as good as the one I put onto the hard drive.

I’ve slowly started eating better (shut up, I hear you laughing at the leftover charcuterie I ate for breakfast; I said “slowly”). I’ve begun moving more. Hitting the elliptical machine, doing pushups, trying to de-flab this aging body. That, too, will be part of the pulling and hauling this year.

What the year ahead looks like other than that, I don’t know. I’m going to try to fully enjoy the good times while they last, and endure the bad times with patience and kindness. I’m going to try to not worry about what’s to come until it gets here. I won’t always succeed, but I’ll keep trying.

I hope you will, too, and that together we shape something beautiful.


Yes, You

November 23, 2017 § 1 Comment

The Plymouth colonists boarded the Mayflower for an ill-planned journey to a land in which they had no idea how to survive. Half of them died in the first year, and the other half would have died, too, had it not been for the friendship of this land’s indigenous people. The Abenaki. The Pawtuxet. The Wampanoag.

And especially Squanto, who’d had a terrible history with white people: he’d been taken into captivity by an English sea captain, sold into slavery, escaped, and made his way back to his home as part of an exploratory expedition.

And yet, offered his friendship to the Pilgrims. Taught them how to survive.

That’s why I see Thanksgiving as a celebration of friendship.

Richard Bach once wrote, “The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other’s life. Rarely do members of one family grow up under the same roof.”

I’ve quoted that often and I’ll quote it again, because I believe it.

I’m thankful for the family of friends I’ve gathered around me. Whether we’re linked through blood or shared passions or work or any of the other myriad ways people come into our lives, I’m thankful for you.

I’m thankful for the love I have in my life.

I’m thankful for the support I’ve been given, and the second chances, and the friendships that haven’t broken even when I’ve been distant or angry or terrible or all of the above.

I’m thankful for the forgiveness I’ve been shown, even when I’ve been unforgivable.

I’m thankful for those who’ve shown me how to survive, each time I’ve stumbled into a new land for which I was woefully unprepared.

I’m thankful for more than I know how to put into words.

If I had a TARDIS or a DeLorean that could travel through time, I’d visit every one of you today and hug you until our eyes leaked. Because I am thankful for you.

Yes, you.

We may talk every day, or we may only exchange a few words now and then. We may see each other often; we may not have seen each other for years. Maybe we’ve drifted apart. Maybe we’ve only talked once, for a few minutes. Maybe we’re just “Facebook friends.”

Regardless, I am thankful for you. I am thankful to have you in my life.


Thank you.