Tag Archives: non fiction writing

Mom, Dyslexia and How I Came to Perceive Words

My mother is dyslexic. Really dyslexic. Needless to say, this is by no means meant to belittle her. Dyslexia is something she didn’t choose, so I don’t hold it against her. It is, quite simply, a part of her, something she was born with, akin to her penchant for breaking out in song and dance a la Gene Kelly, as I’ve written about before, in a story that I never seem to finish:

It was that way once. Long ago. Lampposts, then, were not just the large candy cane flashlights they appear to be. Then, so very long ago, with a smile on my face and my cheeks as the rosy red warriors they so often seem to be, I swung from those metal cylinders, like Gene Kelly in Singin’ In the Rain. And I reckon, the response is in fact instinctual; or rather, to be more specific, it’s genetic.

I can thank my mother for that. She had a penchant for Mr. Kelly. He danced like one should dance, she had always said.

Anyhow, I bring this bit of information up for one reason: it is through her dyslexia (she struggles mostly with spelling) I learned to look at words in a way I had never experienced before. It was unique. Life-altering. But, of course, I didn’t really know it then. Sure, I recognized that I was learning how to spell. And not just the simple words (although she had trouble with those as well). But the more challenging words too; the ones with the “silent” non-emphasis and the ones that seemed to go on forever and ever without the loving respite of a vowel insertion.

I think fondly of the chores, handwritten, on the sad, yellow legal pad she would give us every morning. Letters traded places with one another, or were never found. But it didn’t matter. For the most part, I could figure out what she was trying to say.

And after a while, I didn’t really see the spelling mishaps. The jumbled letters were (still are) simply a result of a broken filter between her thoughts (always quite clearly articulated orally) and the paper upon which she was writing.

So I became her own personal spelling machine.

And yes, even though the spelling machine poked fun at the dyslexic from time to time, it mostly helped remedy the filter of a mother he loved (still loves!) dearly.

Thank you, mom.

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In Dire Need of a Pill Box

After yesterday’s visit to the allergist, I am now taking four separate medications. Four separate pills. Three of which are to be taken in the morning and the evening. And one, the new one, is to be taken in the evening only.

I am not yet thirty and I think it might behoove me to invest in a pill box.

You see, the allergists – yes, both of them, a tag team of medical strength and intent – are content, at this juncture, to throw the kitchen sink at me just to see if anything sticks. Along with the kitchen sink comes dirty dish water that stains my t-shirts, or the side effects of yet another pill- the headaches and hot flashes and journeys into the great big wallow.

So I think I just may purchase a pill box. It is, I think, the rational thing to do. I could carry it in my satchel, or fastened to the side of my leg, like the knife of a pirate world adventurer, ready to be drawn at the first sign of its enemy.

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My Dream Home

My dream home sits on a parcel of land large enough that if you looked out into the distance, there wouldn’t be another house in sight. Wrapped around the house is a porch with an overhang to keep the winter snow from its surface, and a porch swing that fits four people at once. A raised garden would be built in the back, and there we’d grow lettuce and tomato and green beans and all kinds of fruit and herbs. Perhaps we could grow corn, or have apple trees too. The house itself would be a one-story, with three bedrooms, a large kitchen, dining room, living room and a vast library – one similar to that in Beauty and The Beast, with nooks for reading, giant globes and leather bourbon sipping chairs. The interior of the house would be known for its open space, not unlike something Howard Roark would build. To the right of the house would be the barn, with the horses. There would be four. Dogs, three or four of them, would scamper around the land, chasing rabbits and other furry creatures. And I believe they would be Labradors and Bloodhounds, for a fine melange of playful and serious. Towering trees would be interspersed across the property, with enough low limbs to build a tree fort and hang a tire swing. Out back, as the parents (Rich and Cynthia & Mom) grew older, perhaps we’d build a guest house for them to stay, and we could take care of them, make them fresh pies, show them the progress our kids are making with the horseback riding. But that’s not all they’d learn. We would teach them how to garden and till soil. We’d teach them how to shovel snow and build a fire. We’d teach them how to build tree houses and use their imagination. We’d teach them how to explore and channel their inner adventurist. We’d teach them, above all, to be independent, to find their unique presence, their own unique voice and to use it, and be proud of it.

In my dream home, I’d be working from home. Jessica says that, to her mild chagrin, I am the better stay at home parent, because I can clean, cook, and do laundry – and I do so with glee. Jessica would be teaching, and enjoying every last bit of it.

In my dream home, I’d grow my beard as long as I damn well please. 🙂

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The Day I Stopped Eating – Volume Four

It isn’t sufficient to say that my parent’s marriage, the lack thereof, had been the reason I had stopped eating. Nor is it entirely accurate. The impetus may have been the dichotomy between the two of them, but I was the one managing and propelling and exacerbating my own mental deficiencies.

Surely I couldn’t have contributed anything of considerable weight or importance. Surely this was the delusion that I convinced myself of.

The marriage, the deterioration of, was running on its own steam. It’s only in retrospect (in fact, and quite frankly, all of this is in retrospect; could you see me trying to save it with the sound rationale to no better? I think not) I realize this. Which is to say, the success and the failure of their bond was wholly within their power, within their choosing.

No amount of worry, or desperation, or hand holding, or screaming, or crying was going to change its direction. No amount of heartache, or withering, or destitution was going to help.

I had to realize this. But I couldn’t. The desire to throw myself into the fire was immeasurably powerful. I had to do it, or so I thought.

And I think back on this; I think back to the comforting, warming, health instilling fat that abandoned my frame with such expediency, the result of which dressed me in aching joints and bones, wherein the ligaments of my knees slipped from side to side, like a rubber band rolling back and forth against a smooth river stone.

My knees seemed to ache at a constant, as though the bones were grinding themselves into the pumice stone that was my kneecap. My heart wasn’t any better off, it seemed. I remember, quite distinctly, something my mother had said. In regards to the healthy layer of fat I had lost, “it went to protect your heart.”

I also remember thinking what that would look like. If, for instance, Warriors of Fat, those little opaque blobs of goo, swung their tiny little misshapen bodies around in defense of the last vestige, the vital organ of a dying boy. In this make-believe world of mine, the Warriors of Fat fought bravely against the Stress Monsters, those harbingers of death, and acquaintances of such wicked beings as the Doomsayers of Depression-dom and the Assholes of Atrophy.

In the end, as I realize today, the effort was perhaps mildly courageous, but ultimately flawed, childish, irresponsible. And there really isn’t much sense in wondering about the what ifs. The end result, that of divorce, would have been the same regardless of my tampering.

But I would be remiss if I did not put aside my cynicism, and say that I am better for having experienced it.

After all, experience, if used aptly, can lead to gained perspective, insight into oneself, knowledge and wisdom.

See earlier entries in the series (Volume One, Two and Three)

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The House Beneath the Earth

The familiar sharp tap between my eyes causes me to pause, propels me back to a place removed from this fairytale. And before I can block it out, the memories come flooding back.

Head over the sink. Bottle of antihistamines beside the faucet. Their pink oblong bodies. They never could quite dry me out. Render me groggy, surely. But remove the pain, remove the deep, internal itch, not a chance.

For years I battled the itch. The allergens that invaded my nasal cavities, my pores and eye ducts- so invariably persistent and cognizant of my discomfort. Even though I spent countless hours in the doctor’s office, blood spots on my arms from when they injected the serum that supposed to render me immune; even after all of that, it was a fight I couldn’t win. They said the injections would make me immune. But after three years, twice a week with the cat and dog and tree and plant and mold and dust in my arms, without any noticeable improvement, I gave it up.

I blame it on the house; the house with the second floor underground, and the walls that stank of mold, and the wood wrought with dew, and the blankets that never could quite bother themselves to stay dry. The house with the upstairs on the first floor, the main entry on the top, our bedrooms, our VHS player, our play area on bottom, under the earth.

The house was one of those pre-modern homes without any of the chemicals, or fancy materials that make building today so goddamn easy. No, it was a house of wood. And mold. Wood and mold. Surely it couldn’t exist without timely comments regarding its odor and the way said odor lingered long enough to taint the clothes of its inhabitants. With all of the time we spent down there, sleeping in our bunk beds, playing tripper ghost near the mini-auditorium fireplace, sitting in the dark to gain night vision, it’s no wonder I’m in this place, alongside the faucet and my pink, oblong comrades.

But the house beneath the earth lives. It lives on in my memory.

Well, It Wasn't Quite This Far Beneath the Earth

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