There is an old adage that we hear what we want to hear. I think it is a good adage. It speaks to the deep human propensity to disturbed and muddy the clear, still waters of reality. But like much of the world, belief is a complicated force. Perhaps it is all in how we use it. Where would we be without the believers and the dreamers? I know my life would have much less meaning and fun without belief in the yet proven–in other words, faith.
When I was a child, I came across a film one day flipping through our limited selection of channels on TV: The Legend of Boggy Creek, a docuhorror about a bigfoot-like creature supposedly sited in Fouke, Arkansas throughout the 1940s and 1950s. It was both terrifying and fascinating. Perhaps it was the first horror movie I ever watched. It has long been one of my favorite genres. I was convinced that the movie was absolutely true–perhaps it was.
I’m grateful for medicine.
Without meds to help me regulate my moods (bipolar), I’m quite certain my life would be a series of disasters. But as all people dependent on medicine know, there is often a trade-off. There are side effects and there are dangers. There is no one more compliant with psychiatric medicine than I am, and that comes with a cost.
In the fall of 2017, I needed a med change–a regular occurrence in the treatment of Bipolar Affective Disorder. My doctor increased one drug and added a new one–something brand new on the market. It’s a drug you’ve seen in commercials a dozen times and I was hopeful that it would level me out–and it did. But as a person who was already struggling with anxiety, it began to get out of control soon after starting it. I never connected the two. The doctor then put me on an anxiety medicine to help with that.
July has become a natural time for me to think about Christmas. I, as do many, absolutely adore the Christmas season, and I begin to long for it in the hot month of July for so many reasons. So why not?
I’m a believer.
When there is inadequate evidence to support something I want to believe–something which enriches my life in some way–I often choose to believe it anyway. I’m good with Bigfoot, psychic powers, magic, aliens, ghosts, and God. Most adults believe in at least one of these. But what about Santa Claus?
I’ve written extensively of my memories of Lonoke, Arkansas and Norman, Oklahoma, but my memory goes further back to Texas. In fact, my first memory is around one-and-a-half years old, and it involved Batman in a small way. We lived in a trailer home somewhere near Houston. One summer evening, my mother had some friends over for coffee. My twin and I were riding down the gravel drive of the trailer on little plastic scooters. No peddles, just powered by our sandaled feet. Mine was green and it was a nominally akin to a tractor. My mother had cut the rubber head of a toy tom-tom drum into a mask just like Robin’s from Batman. I recall coming in from the humid night air to have her retie it for me a couple of times. This tells you how deep my roots with the Batman franchise grows.
I grew up at a time when the brand of your clothes you wore was a major factor in you determining social status. Polo, Izod, Gant, OP, Jams, Guess, Reebok–it didn’t matter if the off-brand clothing item was identical; without the brand, it was absolute TRASH and you were better off not even trying.
I learned this in my days of middle school in Norman. I moved from a small farm town in Arkansas where I was aware of name brands, but so many of us were poor and I think we were more forgiving about clothes. In that town, Lee jeans were the standard. You looked for that genuine cowhide patch with “Lee” branded on it. They weren’t expensive. They didn’t promise any kind of status. We just liked them. But Lee was not cool in 1984 Norman. I was set straight very soon at Whittier Middle School. In a panic, I begged my mom to buy me a couple pairs of Levis, but I had to wait.
It’s a little early to think about Halloween, but this story is ultimately about growing up with an extraordinary father.
Eighth grade is a weird time for Halloween. Eight-graders are caught between childhood and adolescence. They want to enjoy all the fun of a childhood Halloween and also enjoy the teenage and adult age fun of parties. It was the last year I tried to trick-or-treat. Over the summer, I’d become a six-foot-tall bass-baritone. I wondered if I could still pull it off one last time. I blew what little money I had on a hobo mask. Yes, this was a day when dressing like a homeless person for Halloween was acceptable. The mask was replete with a tattered cigar protruding from a weather-worn, unshaven rubber face.
In the mid-nineties, my wife and I decided to go see a couple of our favorite bands at the Zoo Amphitheater in Oklahoma City: The Doobie Brothers and the Steve Miller Band; staples of the 70s and early 80s. Naturally, The Zoo Amphitheater derives its name from the Oklahoma City Zoo where it is located. It is Oklahoma City’s premier outdoor music venue, and mostly features older rock bands touring the country with the hits that made them the superstar giants of my youth.
I was newly married, and although we had our spats including one where a tub of Turtle Wax was hurled against our apartment wall with a great splat (by which of us I cannot remember), this was a wonderful time in our lives together; before kids and mortgages–just the two of us developing our style with each other which consisted of humble apartment living, healthy eating, card games, church family, singing in the choir, Franzia box wine, Roseanne and Nick and Night, and classic rock.