Brain Weasels Attack!

Editor’s Note: I really can be quite humorous at times but lately, as you might have noticed, things have not been going well at all. I write the way I feel and I write, not on a schedule, but when so moved. Sometimes I write an entire piece and then deep six it because while the feeling and emotion is authentic, the piece itself is not written well enough to be clearly understood.

Tomorrow, I will have my yearly review at work. I expect it to be an issue. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to write anything about it tomorrow if I’m too bad an emotional state. There is another issue festering today that will have to be handled delicately, but it has rocked my world to the core.

And now,


A handy excuse to use this cover, except the weasels are in my head

This all started with my last trip to my therapist where she wanted me specifically to talk about my family and my childhood. What happened this time was different from the last time I spoke about my father to a therapist. This time, everything about my father and my family came out; that is, all of the demons came out to play.

And I had a very negative reaction to it. Those of us with mental conditions understand that recounting a series of incidents connected to the past can cause the person telling them to mentally be right back into the mindset you were at the time these things happened. It wasn’t the telling of one thing in isolation – it was pretty much the ‘Worst Hits of my Childhood’ – and it wasn’t even all of it.

I yelled, I cried, I made grand gestures with my hands and arms. My therapist was quite pleased with me and said that I looked much more in control of myself than the last visit. I reminded her that in the last visit I was coming from work.

I came home and wrote my last blog entry to try to person a quick exorcism of the feels. It didn’t work. I’ve been carrying the shakes since then and my sleep has been disturbed, I have not had the strength to work out, and my behavior at work has also raised eyebrows, yet again.

What I have to conclude is this: despite referring to these incidents in passing as trials that had to be endured to reach adulthood, it is clear that my childhood relations with my family has a much more severe effect on my life than I had ever been willing to admit.

You see, I grew up in an environment in which people my father’s age literally bragged about how much their old man ‘beat the crap out of them’ and that they deserved it and it made them the men they are today.

There has also been a blistering debate in America about the effectiveness of corporal punishment (from spanking to being beat with a belt) in which many on the right have derided those who oppose capital punishment as ‘snowflakes’ who are going to raise a bunch of girlie men who will not be able to fight the hoard of (name a stereotyped group the right hates here) and America will fall. Or at least not be ‘great again,’ whatever the Hell that means.

And finally there is the mentality that young people in these kinds of families adopt – that of normalization.  My thinking was that most families were like mine. Sure, there were ‘Ozzie and Harriet’ and ‘Brady Bunch’ types of families, but they were on TV. Having a tyrannical father, an emasculating mother and a hateful sibling, mixed up with generous doses of violence or threatened violence and other aberrant behavior, had to be how many if not most people grew up. It had to be because most of my father’s friends’ families seemed to operate the same way.

I looked at our high school football team and imagined that their fathers probably knocked them around a lot to make them as tough as they were. My father just didn’t do it right or enough or I was just too much of a girlie man to be a football player.

And now on the eve of my 55th birthday, this shit just erupts out of the pits of seven deep hells and I’m walking around like someone hit me over the head with a cartoon mallet. The devils are riding brain weasels all around my noggin.

So can this be the final cleansing? Hardly: there is so much more to unpack before my shrink and I can deal with it. And, quite frankly, I have a real fear now that I won’t be able to handle it with spending time in the bedroom with a lot of Scotch and pills. Walking around with the brain weasels is getting to be a liability for me at work and home now.

To quote Neo in The Matrix, I didn’t come here to tell you how this is going to end. I came here to tell you how it’s going to begin.

I can only hope to come out in one piece at the end.

Posted in birthday, Borderline Personality Disorder, counseling, existential dread, growing up, meds, men, mom, my father, parenting, parents, PTSD, violence | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Echoes through the years

Big honking ass trigger warning: child abuse.

“All these cold and rude
Things that you do
I suppose you do
Because he belongs to you
And instead of love
And the feel of warmth
You’ve given him these cuts
And sores that don’t heal with time or his age”
                                            — Natalie Merchant/10,000 Maniacs

childabuse_Stock_0000068464My appointment with my new psychologist was over and I was still shaking.

After 30 or so mental health professionals, this was the first time I really talked about my father and the way he was and the way my mother was and the way our family was and how it affected me so deeply.

It was 12:30 and I was driving with a dead head – that is, I was on automatic pilot, driving safely enough but with the fog of all we had talked about circling my head. I was a zombie driver.

I was supposed to go work out. I knew I should work out and I debated it with myself the entire way down route 8 until I came to the turn off by my house.

It was almost 1 p.m. My wife would come home at around 5 p.m. I had four more precious hours to spend before the reality of going back to work would sink in and I desperately needed those four hours of quiet.

And I desperately needed to write about this.

And so here I am at 1:08 with my fingers hammering staccato-like on the keyboard – very uncharacteristic of someone who taught himself how to type with four fingers.

What did my dad do? How was it like to live in my house.

So I told her. She had to hear it for therapy to do any good. So many therapists did not want me to dwell on childhood but what happened back there directly affected what I became.

So, I told her about my dad’s backhand and his meaty hand coming at my face. I realized this was a memory I had long suppressed. But it happened – this I know for sure. I remember the contact; I remember the pain and humiliation. I remember him yelling at me as I recoiled from the blow. Just the vision of that arm coming at my face.

But that was OK, I told Joy (my therapist). He only had to do that a couple of times and then all he had to do was raise his voice and that was enough to send me cringing upstairs to my room. Now my sister – she would goad him into hitting her.

The dinner table – my sister, upset at the sounds my mother was making while eating – would say things like “mom, would you just stop breathing you’re annoying.” I was, say 13, my sister was 12. I could see my dad rouse himself. “Don’t talk to your mother like that,” he would growl.

But a few minutes later she would do it again. I would sit horrified – why are you doing this? Don’t you know he’s going to hit you?

When the hit would come it would sent her flying against the wall between the dining room and the kitchen. I would leap from my chair and rush up the stair on all fours for better speed. Downstairs, I could hear my sister screaming . . . screaming and my dad yelling, and I would think this is the day he kills her.

I would bury my head in the pillows trying to make it all go away.

After it was all over, my mother would call up the stairs that it was OK to come back down and finish dinner. After all, it was a sin to let food go to waste. Imagine how you would feel having to walk back down the stairs into that charged atmosphere? Imagine doing it several times in your childhood.

My mother once said to my father, in a futile attempt to get him to curb his temper, “Ed, when you yell and go off like that the kid goes up the stairs like a beat dog.”

It didn’t help. My mother was helpless to stop my father’s volcanic temper.

Of course, there was more to tell, and I told it – the ‘tickling game’ under the covers at night, my father, when I was older, standing right outside the door of the bathroom while I was using it.

And more. And more.

Fifty minutes of me getting, frankly hysterical, gesticulating all over the room, voice rising and falling and near tears. Joy was more than supportive and thanked me for going over all of this.

But when I left I was shaking. And as I write these words, I am still shaking.

My dad died when I was 20 – 35 years ago. But as Shakespeare wrote “The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones.”

And that evil that is done to children reverberates throughout the decades. If you have bpd, or are a sensitive person with any other related mental illness, you just can’t forget. Kids like me are human tape recorders – we can quote chapter and verse from what was said to us back when we were six and we remember the angry faces, the words, the fists. Our wounded brain will not allow us the luxury of forgetting. And like many with this illness, instead of forgetting the bad things, I’ve forgotten the good.

As Faulkner wrote “the past is never dead. It’s not even past.”  For those of us whose BPD got its start in the abuse of the home in the school, it is always with us like a shadow, making its presence known when we experience just the right trigger – a word, a look, a slight – or any authority figure that becomes my father. Like hitting keys on a piano, we can be played without our even being aware of the trigger.

This is my last chance to bury the dead. I can’t spend the rest of my life being affected by these incidents. I have no idea how Joy and I are going to work together to turn the images and the triggers down where I can deal with them without getting in trouble. But first, I must re-live, as I did on the couch, all the harsh words and deeds that a sensitive child could not handle and pushed them down deep, deep inside him where they haunt him.

And I am still shaking.

Posted in abuse, Borderline Personality Disorder, BPD, childhood terror, children, fear, growing up, my father, parents, shame, violence, When we were very young | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Facebooking Borderline

facebook emotional triggers sensitiveI haven’t written much lately because I recently joined a Facebook group for people with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD).

Let me tell you a little about this group and the people in it.


Roughly 95% female

Age distribution:

Under 20            10%

20-30                   45%

30-40                   25%

40-50                   15%

Over 50               5%

Since BPD has a fatality rate of 10% that might account for the lower numbers by age or, perhaps, those in my age category don’t feel comfortable being online sharing their feelings. The older you get, the more conservative you supposedly get. These are just my estimates based on days of observation. There are roughly 3,000 people in this group or soon will be.

Outside of demographics here are some other observations.

There is a world of hurt here – many, many people in so much pain. And when you read the stories, it’s all understandable. Including myself, there are many people in the group whose lives have been some form of a train wreck because that’s what BPD does.

A fair number of people have been in psychiatric hospitals, jail, or homeless. Some have lost their children, many more have lost spouses and friends along the way. I have never seen such hurt.

But I also see some of the toughest people alive, alive being the key word. A walk through some of these lives is truly a walk through seven Hells. The fact that so many of them are still fighting is a testament to the human spirit.

Since there is also a dearth of support groups on and offline for BPD sufferers, people in this group are very grateful to have found it. Many of these people, having found others willing to talk are hopeful (to a certain degree) for the first time in a long time.

It’s not a paradise. It’s inevitable that people with BPD will react very negatively to perceived slights or being left out and that happens here. People join and later leave the group and perhaps sometime later, they will join again. The same issues that play out in real life play out here as well.

When I was very involved in an American Online fan group for Mystery Science Theater 3000 way back in the 90s, it almost seemed like we had formed a genuine community. Of course, it later all blew to Hell because of the usual petty human jealousies and perceived slights. I genuinely grieved the loss of the group, believing, for the first time, that I had found a place where I finally fit in. I met my second wife in this group.

The moderator of the group and others online have often made the observation that there will never be a true, successful community built anywhere online and if there is, it will be unified not by the best of the human spirit, but the worst.

It’s probably true.

But I hope this group will survive, at least long enough to maybe save some lives (no I am not being overly-dramatic). There is so little out there for people with BPD as it is.

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This (wasn’t) us

I’ve gotten hooked on a network TV show which almost never happens.

You might have guessed by the title of this piece – ‘This is Us.


My father never read to us. 

I usually don’t watch this kind of schmaltz but I got hooked. Maybe it’s because it’s based in Pittsburgh (a little) but maybe it’s also because the storylines are causing me to do a lot of reflection on my own life and family – where we came from and how that makes us what we are.

My father was the anti-Jack.

Well, when my sister and I were very little he was more like Jack but something happened as we both approached the age of 10.

There is a particular family movie that shows the three of us at a nearby pay lake and dad is teaching us to fish. I think I must have been six or seven. What strikes me about the movie is how much my dad was smiling and how happy he was.

And then one day, he wasn’t.

Speaking for myself, I think know what happened – I didn’t turn out to be the son he wanted. You see my dad’s father used to beat him mercilessly. My mother told me long after my father died how bad it was in my dad’s house. I never would have thought my paternal grandfather would have been like that but there were many family secrets I didn’t know – and were deliberately kept from me.

Anyway, my dad actually looked forward to his stint in the Marines and time in Korea in 1953 – to escape his family life.

The only solace he found was in the woods, being an outdoorsman. He loved to camp, hunt, fish – all of that.

And he wanted desperately for me to share that with him. And I didn’t. I found it all boring and pointless – after all we had grocery stores and didn’t need to shoot our food. I was a bookworm who lived for libraries and reading. I would literally spend summers shuttling books between the local library and my bedroom; reading them all and then returning them for another stack.

When my father figured out he wasn’t going to make an outdoorsman out of me, he pretty much emotionally abandoned me. And my sister, who he called his ‘peaches and cream,’ turned out to remind him too much of his own sister, who was a free spirit to say the least. She died young of drinking and drugs.

So by the time I turned 11 or so, my father turned into the surly, explosively violent person I most remember; not the grinning, ecstatic father of those long ago home movies.

My dad also hated his sales job at Sears. He had trained to be an artist but he wasn’t good enough to make a living at it, so to support his new wife he took a sales job.

Life didn’t really get better for my dad. And he took it out on all of us, my mother included.

It took me a long time to understand why he became the person he did, but in my mind, that did not excuse some of the things he did to me. No, I wasn’t beaten mercilessly; I was only smacked around a few times and then all he had to do was raise his voice and that was enough to make me cringe. Between his and my mother’s general dissatisfaction with their lives, it’s not an exaggeration to say I spent my family years walking on eggshells.

He died when I was 20.

I didn’t cry at his funeral.

This, of course, is too short a treatment of my father and my family dynamic. But it always made me envious of what I perceived to be the ‘perfect’ families of many of the kids I went to grade school and high school with – and see on Facebook today.

I know there’s grief and trouble in every family that is generally kept hidden from outsiders. Facebook is the shop window most people dress their best for.

But I know there were many families where the father did his best to be close emotionally to his children and the mother took as much interest in her children at 18 as she did at eight.

That’s what makes ‘This is Us’ so hard for me to watch even though I can’t turn away. There were families out there that were like that. Mine just wasn’t. And I feel that I missed something very special in my life that the children who had that kind of family experienced.

I mourn that to this day and wonder how that experience shaped me and contributed to my emotional issues? There’s not ‘blame’ per se here – it was what it was. It’s just . . . why couldn’t it have been just a little closer to the Pearsons?



Posted in Borderline Personality Disorder, BPD, childhood terror, getting old, growing up, mom, movies, my father, parenting, regret | Tagged | Leave a comment

Distractify Me

One of the hallmarks of Dialectical Behavioral Theory (DBT), which is recommended for people with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is distraction techniques. This can take many forms under many guises but simply put: it’s anything that takes your mind away from the trigger that is making you ‘Hulk smash.’

When I’m home alone and the ‘thoughts’ get to me, I clean house, do the laundry, or yard work. Since the ‘thoughts’ generally come from too much Internet angst, once I can get off the couch and stop looking at the damn screen, I’m on my way.

I’m on my way to the thrills and chills of vacuuming cat hair off everything.

There is another technique known as ‘soothing skills,’ which are part of a larger rubric of Distress Tolerance Skills (this is all BPD-speak by which we recognize each other). Basically, think masturbation. If one cannot masturbate where one is, the rest of the soothing skills come in to play – soft music, guided imagery, benzos, that kind of stuff.

Yes I wrote benzos. Get over it.

My wife suggested exploring the possibility of getting a therapy animal, perhaps a dog, to take to work. Even if this were allowed by my workplace (it is not), the stigma of being the office lunatic will not be helped by being followed around by a dog, as comforting as it may be.

I can see it now:

“Who the hell brought a dog into this office? I didn’t know it was ‘bring your pet to work day.’”

“Um, that’s you-know-who’s ‘therapy pet.’”

“Oh for chrissakes.”

No. And besides, I’d have to walk the dog and let it pee and poop on the government shrubbery which I’m sure our groundskeepers would not appreciate. And of course, after cleaning up the poop, what do I do with it? Take it home? No one around here, to the best of my knowledge, has dropped poop in a waste receptacle. After all, this is a hospital. And no, plopping Fido’s turd into a toilet would also not be appreciated.

Now there are times when distraction techniques and soothing skills merge. Observe below:


No one has yet named it. 

This cheap little plastic device is intended for those of us who had to have our busy boxes pried from our hands around the age of six. Captain Queeg had his ball bearings, I have large coins:


FYI that’s a 1972 Eisenhower dollar and a 1965 UK Churchill crown

But there are numerous devices to both sooth and distract — again, masturbation being chief among these despite the approbation from various religious authorities and the need for privacy.

I had a particular little game I played from when I was about 11 to early adulthood and somehow grew out of. I had one of my father’s small beat up Philips screwdrivers and would toss it in the air with the game being I had to catch it on the handle. When I didn’t have the screwdriver, I used a pencil – tossed it into the air with the trick being to catch it on the eraser side. In both cases, the penalty was possibly getting poked.

I would literally toss these objects many times a day. If anyone was watching they would have sworn I was autistic. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

So – if you’re one of the 16 people who will read this, what are your favorite distraction/soothing instruments/activities? I could always use new ideas.

Posted in anxiety, bipolar, Borderline Personality Disorder, BPD, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, Distractions, self care | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

BPD for me

OK my psychiatrist didn’t exactly lie. She was just ‘groping for a diagnosis.’

In my life, I’ve been diagnosed as following by a host of mental health professionals:

Major Depressive Disorder
Incorrigible Asshole
General Anxiety Disorder
Mood Disorder NOS
One Really Fucked Up Jerk
Histrionic Personality Disorder
Bipolar 2

But NOW! After 40 years! The absolute (perhaps), final (but who can really say?), definitive (as much as the others) diagnosis has finally been made by the third psychiatrist in my history (next to the 27 other psychologists).the-fact-that-you-have-borderline-personality-disorder-does-not-shock-me-its-that-it-took-so-long-to-diagnose-you-take-your-meds-psycho-1c16b

Frankly, this is really not funny, no matter how hard I try to lighten it up.

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

158fff5d544f3de5b891b2320a9f0e61I have been able to be at peace with every other diagnosis (I am comfortable with ‘asshole’) but not this one.

If it is true that it runs in the family, then there are several, by which I mean more than four, on both sides of my family that were likely candidates. They were (and in one case are) assholes most of the time. One might have been my father. His father. My maternal grandmother. My aunt. It goes on and on. As you can imagine, holidays were fun with this group, no matter which side of the family was celebrating.

So I have the ‘family stain.’ Wonderful. But I should have known. The diagnosis was in front of my face all this time but I didn’t want to look at it.

Because BPD is bad. Really bad. Many mental health professionals do not even want to work with people with BPD because they are resistant to most treatment modalities and they tend to be assholes, even if they don’t mean to be. And the meds I’ve been taking? Yeah, they really don’t have much of an effect on BPD. Basically we need a treatment program known as Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT).

Here is a brief description of BPD from the National Institute of Mental Health:

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a serious mental disorder marked by a pattern of ongoing instability in moods, behavior, self-image, and functioning. These experiences often result in impulsive actions and unstable relationships. A person with BPD may experience intense episodes of anger, depression, and anxiety that may last from only a few hours to days (even a few minutes – ed.).

 Some people with BPD also have high rates of co-occurring mental disorders, such as mood disorders, anxiety disorders, and eating disorders, along with substance abuse, self-harm, suicidal thinking and behaviors, and suicide (10% mortality rate – ed.).doug-ferrari-quote-what-makes-bpd-different-from-any-other

By the way, all my other conditions (my little friends as I am wont to call them) are still trundling along with me, just in the background, behind big bad BPD.

I was right in the middle of recounting my last major problem (the job interview that went awry) when my psychiatrist looked at me with one of the ‘my God, why didn’t I get this sooner’ looks and interrupts me to say “actually what you’ve been describing sound a lot like borderline personality disorder.”

She went to get her annotated People’s Guide to the DSM V, and went to the page describing the nine basic symptoms or behaviors of people with BPD. To get the diagnosis you need to answer yes to five of them. I had nine of nine. I handed the book back to her and – bingo – diagnosis.

Here are the nifty nine if you’re interested:

  1. Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment.

images (1)

  1. A pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation.
  2. Identity disturbance: markedly and persistently unstable self-image or sense of self.
  3. Impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging (e.g. spending, sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, binge eating). This does not include suicidal or self-harming behavior.
  4. Recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures, or threats, or self-mutilating behavior.
  5. Affective instability due to a marked reactivity of mood – intense feelings that can last from a few hours to a few days.
  6. Chronic feelings of emptiness.
  7. Inappropriate intense anger or difficulty controlling anger.
  8. Transient, stress-related paranoid ideas or severe dissociative symptoms.

2Nine of nine. Who am I to argue with the DSM V?

And, of course, in expressing my rage to co-workers on the Thursday I returned, I got in trouble again. I won’t go into details; let’s just say it was the old ‘I didn’t know you perceived my ranting as a threat’ routine which I seem to be so good at.

Of course, I caught myself (too late) and apologized profusely as I do. But the employee in question had to twist the knife anyway. She did back in 2015 and I guess that sort of thing comes naturally to her, even though she knows full well of my condition. Some people are just like that. These people are regarded as normal.

Anyway, once again I am awaiting my possible career execution although my boss is recommending no action be taken because, well, I have a condition now regarded as an official Federal disability.

It ain’t easy being the office crazy, but now I have the paper. It may save me from termination.images

My boss has already suggested possible work environment modifications which are going to be very difficult in my case since I work in a section where contact between employees and clients are expected. I had suggested being sent so deep into the bureaucratic cubicle maze that I wouldn’t hear the dogs bark and be given mind-numbing paperwork to shuffle with a minimum of human contact. There are always those jobs in the Federal Government and despite what politicians say, they are not going away.

In the interim, I could move my desk back to where I was or to a more isolated hole in the wall. I just moved back here two months ago. I sit right across the cubicle wall from the person who reported on me. She knows I know and therefore I am not speaking to her not out of spite but fear.

It feels like the bad old days all over again. Perhaps in reality, they never left.

In any case this is a diagnosis no one wants including me. I have to deal with it before my behavior, which I can’t seem to control at times, paints me into a corner I can’t escape from.

Posted in bipolar, Borderline Personality Disorder, BPD, counseling, depression, shame, stigma | Tagged | 4 Comments

Field of Dreams


This close

Ray Kinsella: Fifty years ago, for five minutes you came within… y-you came this close. It would KILL some men to get so close to their dream and not touch it. God, they’d consider it a tragedy.

Dr. Archibald “Moonlight” Graham: Son, if I’d only gotten to be a doctor for five minutes… now that would have been a tragedy.

Of all the lines in the movie Field of Dreams, this is the most poignant and painful for me.

From the spring of 1999 through June 27, 2003, I was on the radio. It was like a dream come true. From the time I played ‘make believe disc jockey’ when I was a kid, spinning 45s on my plastic turntable, I wanted to be on the air.

And for a little while I was. I had my own call in talk show. I interviewed some famous people, make a lot of headlines and got decent ratings.


Me! Younger. Happier

Around three or four weeks before I got fired because of my then out-of-control mental condition (let me be clear – I would have fired me too), I spoke to one of our ownership’s consultants from Providence R.I. He liked my tapes and wanted to set up a meeting soon to discuss my future.

If I had been able to keep that appointment, God only knows what could have happened; where I might have landed up. I’m not going to be modest here – I was good. It was a small market station and I gave them a big market talk show experience straight from the memory of the Cleveland radio I grew up with.

I produced my own comedy bits, scheduled my own interviews, screened my own calls, ran my own board (that big thing with all the sliding knobs), did my own show prep, created my own promotions and even, in one instance, got my own sponsor for the promotion.

Nobody could tell me that with a little more polish and the right guidance I could have made it big.

This close.

I got blackballed from the business and never worked in radio again.

Long ago I converted my hours of air checks (tapes of my show) to digital. I have not listened to them since I prepared them for resumes over a decade ago. It’s too painful.


Sometimes I look at the photos to remind me it really happened once

For years after I was fired, I would have the most vivid dreams of being back on the air again, running the board, talking to people.

And then I’d wake up – just not right away. There would be that twilight zone of disbelief between sleep and wakefulness where for 20 seconds or so I would believe it was real. And the crushing disappointment when I realized it was just another one of those dreams.

I have never known such psychological pain before or since, and I’ve experienced some real gut-wrenching times.

Unlike Dr. Graham, I can’t say with a straight face that if I had only gotten to be a government flack for five minutes that that would have been a tragedy.

I bring all this painful shit up because of a piece I read from therapist Annie Wright in The Mighty titled 15 ‘Adulting’ Truths You May Relate to If You Struggle With Mental Illness.  It’s a good read so, if you can, give it a few minutes of your time. I could write a piece on each of the 15 truths, but I want to concentrate on this one:

  1. There comes a point where you have to grieve the paths you didn’t take.

It’s not quite the same because I did take a path – I just self-destructed and was never able to go back. THEN I took the convoluted paths that led me to where I am now.

But the chief concept here is the one about grieving. Annie says its right and proper to grieve about these paths not taken or paths derailed. What she doesn’t say is how long one should grieve them; when does a health grieving give way to a lifelong funeral dirge?

The radio dreams stopped about eight years ago. But sometimes, when I can’t fall asleep and stare at the ceiling, I think about those times – the only time in my life I couldn’t believe I was being paid to do a job I considered fun.

And it still hurts 14 years later and I still grieve. I understand and have come to terms with how and why it happened but that doesn’t erase the memories, the ‘being on top of the world’ feelings I experienced for a brief period in my life.

Earlier this year my wife and I were at Rockefeller Center in NYC and took the studio tour. At the end of the tour, the tour group gets to take the places of people on a recreation of a Jimmy Fallon-like Tonight Show. I landed up as host. I probably shouldn’t have done it, but I did.

See, I did really well. No, I KILLED it. For a few brief moments I was on stage again, engaged again. This time I was making love to a camera instead of a microphone but it was all the same. It felt natural, like I was born to do this.

NBC sent everyone a video link to the five minute show.

I have never watched it.

Shoeless Joe Jackson: Getting thrown out of baseball was like having part of me amputated. I’ve heard that old men wake up and scratch itchy legs that been dust for over fifty years. That was me. I’d wake up at night with the smell of the ball park in my nose, the cool of the grass on my feet… The thrill of the grass. . . Man, I did love this game. I’d have played for food money. It was the game… The sounds, the smells. Did you ever hold a ball or a glove to your face?

Ray Kinsella: Yeah.

Shoeless Joe Jackson: I used to love travelling on the trains from town to town. The hotels… brass spittoons in the lobbies, brass beds in the rooms. It was the crowd, rising to their feet when the ball was hit deep. Shoot, I’d play for nothing!


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