Fail, fail, fail, fail, succeed

Monthly Archives: April 2018

Death Fucking Freaks Me Out

I guess I should clarify and say that the death of a loved one (including animals, or, let’s be real – myself) is what freaks me out.

It’s so weird, tragic, and sad. Especially if you are holding them when they go. It’s like one minute they’re here, and then they let out their last breath, and they’re just gone. And when you, even with the best of intentions, are the one giving the go ahead and carrying it out, it just breaks something in your soul that can never be fixed. Your sweet loved one, with whom you shared the most intimate moments of your life, is gone. This creature who you shared the most pure love and devotion with, spent the most time with, and who you were responsible for protecting and caring for, is gone – just like that. And you caused it, even though it was meant to protect his suffering.

Wow – it’s a bitter pill to swallow.

One minute you’re here.

And then you are just gone.

I don’t want to be morbid here, but this fate is waiting for all of us. No one gets out of here alive.


I know I use this word a lot, but here’s the thing – it truly reflects how I feel. It’s good to stop and remind yourself how many things you have to be grateful for, especially if you’re feeling shitty.

So let’s see…

  1. I met my soul mate at 27 and we’re still together and in love after 34 years.
  2. I didn’t die of cancer at 54.
  3. I didn’t die of sepsis at 58.
  4. My brain is still firing on all cylinders and I’m as close to ripped as a 61 year old can be.
  5. I have at least 3 friends I could count on to have my back, for real, no questions asked.
  6. Although I just lost him, I had perhaps the best all-around dog in the history of the world ever (my previous dogs were all special too – in their own way).
  7. I have a job I love, where I actually get paid to help sick people – and where, every once in a while, I get to be part of a team that saves someone’s life.
  8. I very much like the people I work with.
  9. I had a childhood that taught me to be very resourceful, independent, and resilient.
  10. Did I mention I am alive?

Desire + Grit = Change

If you remember nothing else, remember this: the game is won – or lost – not by the infrequent big changes, but by the frequent, deliberate, and repeatable small ones. This is where grit comes in.

If I want to win, I need to train.  If I’m going to train, I need to train deliberately and persistently. Even on the days I don’t want to.  When I miss a workout or have a bad one, I can’t beat myself up over it. I have to let it go and remember that tomorrow is a new day. The sum of my days determines my success.” – Peter Attia

Fake It Till You Make It

It’s my second day back at work, and I would be lying if I said I felt I was performing at 100%. But in the environment of the ER, each person must perform competently at the very least or the whole team suffers, which can affect patient care. It is very important to me that I function at the highest level I am capable of, so I just pretended like everything was normal and threw myself into my work.

It’s astonishing how effective and therapeutic this concept can be. I’m actually starting to feel better…


Under normal circumstances, I have a very, very long fuse. It’s like I have a huge stress reserve, so no matter what happens, I remain eerily calm and focused. As you might imagine, this comes in very handy in life.

But after taking care of a loved one for a prolonged period of time culminating in death, I just feel raw. It’s like I have no reserve to fall back on – my tank is on empty. It’s at these times it’s so important to be kind to yourself.

You need to refill your soul with the things you love, by trying to help others, and most importantly by exposing yourself to art. High art, low art, trash art, pop art – it doesn’t matter.

It’s time to feed your brain. Refill your tank with the good stuff…

”If We Don’t Fight, Who’s Going To Fight?”

Perhaps I have been wrong, and need to reconsider my stance on the futility of fighting human behavior at its worst. True, our government is hopelessly broken and corrupt, and large swaths of the population seem quite happy with that state of affairs. The concept that all men are created equal seems as ridiculously antiquated and out of touch now as it did in 1776. And let’s not forget our founders saw fit to leave women out of the equation. This country made it quite clear what it’s core beliefs were in the last national election. There is a sad ring of truth to George Carlin’s statement that “This country was bought and paid for a long, long time ago.” And yet…

I refuse to believe that it’s hopeless because I am a product of what can happen when you fight,”… “If we don’t fight, who’s going to fight?” asks Anthony Ray Hinton, who spent 28 years on Alabama’s death row after being wrongly convicted of two murders by an all-white jury.

A lynching memorial is opening in Montgomery, Alabama tomorrow, April 26, 2018. Reporter Campbell Robinson writes: “The National Memorial for Peace and Justice, which opens Thursday on a six-acre site overlooking the Alabama state capital, is dedicated to the victims of American white supremacy. And it demands a reckoning with one of the nation’s least recognized atrocities: the lynching of thousands of black people in a decades-long campaign of racist terror.” (From the New York Times article “A Lynching Memorial Is Opening. The Country Has Never Seen Anything Like It,” by Campbell Robinson, April 25, 2018.) The article goes on to state that records of of 4,400 lynchings have been verified so far.

“You might feel judged yourself,” asks Bryan Stevenson, the founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, the nonprofit organization behind the memorial. Many of the victims have never been named. “What are you going to do?

I honestly don’t know, but I feel compelled to do something. Acknowledging how wrong racism is in all of its manifestations just doesn’t seem sufficient.

The Lynching Memorial is a start, though. It shines a light and says, look! – look closely at what white people did. This happened. And it’s still happening, just in different forms. What are we going to do to stop it?

What am I going to do to stop it?

More Valuable Than Gold

Lauren is a wonderful lady who walks dogs and boards a select few in her home when their owners travel. She helped take care of Logan since he was a puppy – at that time she was newly married. Over the years she had two beautiful daughters, both of whom became quite infatuated with him. Although he was a large and powerful dog, I remember she once told my wife she was always comfortable having him around the babies. He was just that trustworthy.

Judi used to laugh telling me that when she would pick him up after a trip, the girls would be putting him through his paces – “sit” “down” “stay” – and he would be minding them just as he would me. The youngest was three!

So at the end, Lauren wanted to come over and say goodbye. When her daughters heard what was happening, they wanted to come too. Lila was six and Sienna was three. When he saw them, he jumped up as best he could on three legs, kissing all three of them with his tail wagging at full speed. He couldn’t have been happier, hopping back and forth from me and Judi to Lauren and the girls.

When they first came in, Lauren had brought some flowers and the girls handed us this:

Two hours later he was gone, but not before being surrounded by love from those who knew him best. It was the greatest gift we could have given him.

And every time I see a rainbow I’ll know he’s at the end of it.

Remember This When You’re In Pain

“Pain or damage don’t end the world, or despair, or fuckin’ beatings. The world ends when you’re dead. Until then, you got more punishment in store. Stand it like a man — and give some back.”

Spoken by Al Swearengen in Deadwood (IMHO the greatest and most original long-form drama ever broadcast on television), written by David Milch.

Rest In Peace, Logan Peacock

You taught me that joy can be freely given, like a gift, to whoever will accept it. And not only is it a resource that never seems to run out, it actually increases the joy of the one giving it.

You taught me how powerfully people are attracted to positive energy – how it draws them to you like a magnet.

My life was infinitely richer with you in it, and for that I will forever be grateful. You brought out the best in this very flawed human, and showed me how to be a better person. No small feat Mister.

But my heart aches with you gone, knowing I’ll never see or hear or smell or feel you again. I just start crying thinking about you, and it fucking pisses me off. I want to stop but I can’t. It’s frightening to hurt this bad, so much worse than a simple beating. But this is the pain of life, the overwhelming pain of losing those we love the most.

Was this heartbreak and pain worth the ten short years we had together?

I wouldn’t trade it for the world, buddy.

You were the best.


Sometimes it’s a long, torturous road, with many detours and dead ends, that eventually leads you to the point where you feel undeniably prepared to make some horrible fucking decision.

It’s time.


This one requires some humility – but the payoff is priceless. What am I talking about here? Learning from those who know more than you. Here’s how it works: first, in your own mind, be honestly aware of what you don’t know. This requires self-awareness and insight, but if you’re an adult then you should have some concept of your strengths and shortcomings. Don’t worry if this isn’t completely clear – truly understanding who you are is a life long process.

Secondly, learn to be a good judge of character, so you can tell who is full of shit and who isn’t. This will make it easier to completely ignore those assholes who are full of shit, so you can get to the main point of this post, which is this: When you find someone who possesses useful knowledge that you don’t, make friends with this person and listen very carefully to what they have to say. It won’t all be gold, but you can learn more from someone like this in five minutes than you could reading an entire textbook. Pay very close fucking attention without seeming like a dick.

Listen and learn.

Observe What Is Interesting And Process It

Look, listen, and carefully pay attention to the world around you. Observe it through the lens of curiosity and not fear.

Try to look at it as if through the eyes of a child – in other words, unbiased.

What do you see? What do you think you understand, and what are you willing to admit you don’t know? Which of these things you don’t know would you like to learn?

How will you begin this process?


Rook, rook, gaze in the brook
If there’s a secret, can I be part of it?
Crow, crow, before I’ll let go
Say is that my name on the bell?

Music and lyrics by Andy Partridge

Recently I saw the documentary “XTC: This Is Pop,” which started me down the XTC rabbit hole, having only been a casual fan at best. On my journey I found a wonderful book “Complicated Game: Inside the Songs of XTC,” which has a somewhat unusual format. Each chapter is a selected XTC song where interviewer Todd Bernhardt let’s Andy free-associate about what he remembers concerning the song in question. To say it’s a fascinating read is a bit of an understatement, at least if you’re an art nerd.

Having been unaware of many of the songs discussed, I would listen to the tune in question on YouTube before I read each chapter. This is how I discovered “Rook,” an astonishing piece of work by any measure. As a musician, let me start with the chords, if only because they immediately caught my ear – mind you, a trained ear that has heard over 60 years of music. The first time I heard the tune I was just entranced – my mind snapped to attention and I thought “WTF is happening here?

By his own admission, Andy knows fuck-all about music – he taught himself to play guitar by ear, and reports that he was three or four records into XTC’s career before he could play piano with more than one finger. So what are we to make of the impressionistic chords that comprise the verse of this song? After spending an afternoon listening, learning, and checking my interpretation against Dave Gregory’s transcription, I am still utterly delighted and amazed at this tune – playing it is like finding a new toy as a child where every time you play with it you feel delighted and just want to do it again, like a magic trick that never grows old.

In essence, it’s just four chords played on an acoustic piano in slow 6/8 (approximately 71 BPM). With my background in jazz I’m calling them Bb maj7#11 – C6 maj7 – D min6 flat7 – E min7 sus4; but someone who was classically trained might call them something different. But it’s the way they’re voiced that makes them sound so impressionistic (see the link for transcription above).

Then there’s the words, sung in Andy’s plaintive voice, that just send chills up your spine. In the book, Andy talks about how he hadn’t written anything in a while and had a bit of writers block. He states: “Then, after three months, out fell ‘Rook’… I remember thinking ‘Where did this come from?‘ It was like I hadn’t thought of it…”

I’m A Bit Lost

I’m finding a heavy heart has me struggling to function normally throughout the day. To make matters worse, I’m on vacation, so I have endless time to think about this shit. When a loved one is dying, it’s like life just stops.

This situation is  affecting my wife in a heartbreaking way. She’s the strongest and smartest person I know, and this is just breaking her. I wish there was something I could do to ease her pain, but all I can do is be there to support her. If it wasn’t for the gym, meditation, and alcohol, I’d be royally fucked.

Psychic pain is interfering with my thinking – so I’m afraid there’s not much to say today. I’ll be back tomorrow with something…

Traumatic Events Don’t Make You A Different Person, Life Makes You A Different Person

People like to say they were different after some major event happened in their life, but that’s not exactly true. We’re a different person five minutes from now, because life happened. It’s a continuous and ongoing process.

You can’t help but be influenced by everything you experience – and this influence changes you whether you are aware of it or not. Of course some of these changes are going to be larger and more significant than others, but you are different nonetheless.

This is why it is so critically important to surround yourself with positive influences, because what you think and who you surround yourself with become who you are.

Life just keeps rolling along – be it good, bad, or indifferent. But here’s the critical point: We get to choose how we will interpret this experience.

Traumatic events happen to everyone, because they are just part of life.

How you are changed by them is up to you.

The Pros Of Aging Part 1

Relevance is no longer a concern of mine.

I am interested in making things, learning, thinking, spending time with people and animals I find interesting, discovering new experiences, and hopefully helping others.

I could give less than a quantum of shit what anyone else thinks about anything I do. This frees up lots of time for me to do the things I find important.

The older I get, the more the bullshit just falls away, leaving only the things that really matter.

So there’s that.

Life Is Not An Either Or Proposition

Life doesn’t come with a rule book saying you can only choose to be one thing. You can be as many things as you want to be, limited only by your energy, time, discipline, intelligence, and creativity.

And here’s another thing: you get to decide which parts of yourself you want to expose to the world. You may choose to assume an identity that only exists in your mind.

Are you starting to see the point here? You can be whoever and whatever you want to be – limited only by your imagination and work ethic.

Get busy!

Good Times Gone Wrong

There’s nothing like the first warm day of the year to bring out a parade of the intoxicated casualties of good times gone bad. By 11:00 PM in the ER the ambulances are lined up like busses waiting to drop off the wounded – some unconscious, some subdued, and more than a few ready for a fight they’re not going to win. It’s quite a scene, so pull up a chair for a front row view of humanity in the throes of all its raucous and debased glory.

It’s quite a show.

Life Will Break Your Heart

Don’t get me wrong, life is filled with great joy and beauty, especially if you take the time to look for it.

The problem is, everything ends. When you are young, your understanding of this is kind of hazy, but as you age it begins to become all too real.

On a good day your awareness of this can actually enhance your appreciation of life. But when you’re in the middle of loss, it can almost seem unbearable.