15 April 2018

I am Sam: Piece Four

           There were horse ranches of immense size all around us. I never would've guessed crop farming and animal husbandry would be such a big theme outside of upstate New York. Small side roads cut in between the agricultural masses. Curvy and cracked, we manuevered our way to the designated coordinates on the GPS. We affectionately call her "Karen". At times Karen tells us to, "....get out of your vehicle and finish walking to your destinaton". That's either a really good or really bad thing to hear. Dependent upon which kind of adventure we're having of course.
This morning isn't one of those adventures.
 I've got very little information to go on. An online website, two addresses and some input from Eric was about all I needed to deem it worthy of at least, an attempt.
   The last driveway at the top of the hill was where we needed to park. I am sweating bullets inside. No matter how skilled you are at small talk; convincing strangers ~that do not know you're arriving, to share personal information with you, is a bit intimidating.
 I will start with what I know best, "I am Sam." Eric convinces me that exactly that will be enough. We turn the jeep off and head for the door.
   At one time I think someone loved the property. There is evidence all around of gardening and typical miscellenous home projects left unfinished. Bird feeders hang sideways from willow trees.  All appear empty. A wood splitter hiding under blue tarps, ripped and frayed. Such a cute little home, drenched in abandon. After the initial walk up nerves, I finally settle into my skin after no-one answered the door. Eric, a bit more cautious, advices me to get out of the windows.
Still, he asks what I see inside. It looks as if someone had vacated the place back in 1980. There are shades of brown on everything. The floor, the couch, the wallpaper. It's all super retro. "This" would be the perfect house for a single cat lady.
Interestly enough though, that's the exact opposite of what I am looking for. I am seeking an aged man. Big stature and about 60 years of age. His parents were immigrants from Poland. I had found the records from Ellis Island. An attribute only rare names can offer.
I traveled a long ways to find an abondoned house with a "bird sanctuary" surronding it. Adjusting from the varying levels of anxiety and curiousties, we both plop a spot on the steps of the failed house. There's something okay about taking this break. Maybe while we sit someone will come along and claim the property. At this point I'd even take a tresspassing risk to get another lead. Stubbornly defeated, I rise to make my departure. I feel somewhat at a loss. Eric again- ever so clever, has a last ditch attempt to make sure someone knows we were here and what we are looking for. Even though we don't know who will find our note of desperation, I attach it to the squeeky front door. Head down, I take a big breath and clear my mind for the next address on my list.
         This time we are looking for a woman. I have no idea what she looks like, nor how old she should be. I have only a name...which indicates to me that she is married and a news article about events in the area that she lived in. The drive is not far. Maybe 20 minutes from our current location. We are coming down from horse land into what appears to be a more developed area. Churches stand ornate and strong, on many of the street corners. I wonder if this is how everyone feels when they're searching for something.
An unexpected sadness creeps in.
I do not know these places. I have never been to this state.
But, it feels as if I've missed them.
People would say that you can never miss that which you never knew. I disagree. With enough subconcoius proof now to back my beliefs up, I will find everything that's been buried here. In college once a professor told me that, "...a lie stuck to, is as good as any truth." Getting to this point has been like seperating salt from ocean water. I believe that as long as you're in control of the lies, you can shape them into whatver you like. But, it takes only one other person to unbind it all. Human error can be vile and atrocious. At the right time however, this will lead to something beautiful and tragic. This time the stories are me.

03 April 2018

Petty Payment

Today, I'm dwelling on my own stupidity and the only way to make any good sense of it seems to be to share it.....Let's start where I should have.

~~~~A prenuptial agreement can be obtained at almost any law office and is defined as an agreement made by a couple, together, BEFORE they marry, concerning the ownership of ALL respective assets should the marriage fail.~~~~

Boom! Plain and Simple.
It's a preplanned divorce! No surprises, no big burns!
Mature Sam loves this idea!
(Young and dumb Sam would've asked what the sense in getting married was if we were already betting on divorce and gotten defensive.)
Big..Big.. slip on my part at 18.
But don't mark me down as being bitter and spiteful just yet!
 I LOVE weddings!! The excitement, the emotion, the flowers, the food..the chance of uniting a relationship meant to last. It's big stuff! For two years now I've been an ordained minister and I've enjoyed EVERY wedding.
My only personal advice I can give to couples though, that is without a doubt- tried and true is that if you do get married; get a pre-nup as well. It's not about not loving that person at that time. It's not even about money. It's about having the safety and security of a document that states how you'll dissolve your marriage while you still have a SHRED of respect for that person. I promise you, no matter how well you can think you know someone....divorcing that same someone could be hell on earth. There was enough tension at any one of my court appearances that even the judge needs therapy afterward. There's a reason so many people applaud the survivors of a contested divorce.

This isn't necessarily a "fun" discussion to have but----

 #1 - if this person really is your "true love" neither of you should have to worry about this pre-nup            ever coming up again!
#2 - if you really plan to go through the entire rest of your life with this person then one awkward              discussion about break-up technicalities isn't going to through a wrench in your plan.

Pre-nuptials can also give a clear and land out plan for any existing assets and any new ones that may come. Men will say their ex-wives "took them to the cleaners", but never once did they think of using this simple piece of paper for the "what-if" protection. Women will say they were left high and dry by an irresponsible ex-husband but, it was those women that didn't need a pre-nup because they'd never "need" a divorce.
I know people and situations are each unique.....I promise my divorce was not the norm regarding the demands put on the woman, but it was worth every penny to get that "Freedom Decree".
It can cost as little as $100.00 to file one of these agreements together. Without it you could pay thousands for years to come.
(If you want to get really in depth, technically, you can put things like "cheating" or "excessive weight gain" clauses in the document as well. The world is your oyster BEFORE the wedding. After the vows, that freedom of simplicity is all taken away by governmental garb.)

Oddly enough I am a believer in the human heart and all things love and gush, but I've also seen the dark side of someone you think you know and I wouldn't wish that shit show on anyone....
While I sit here filling out my FINAL alimony payment, I am as disgusted with myself as I am relieved to not have to write another one of these checks. After this blog post, this requirement will be dead and gone to me.
It's about time.

You are not weird for needing a pre-nup. It doesn't make your love any less or your wedding a complete flop.
 Love yourself enough to know that a nasty divorce is in NO-ONES best interest. Life's not always fair and sometimes people just suck.

I didn't have anyone's advice when I was 18 and signed that one paper. I wished so badly that I had.
So for any of my local friends that need a connection but don't know where to start:

My divorce attorney, Krystal was one of the best. I highly recommend her as a lawyer and as a person. You can even use my name as a reference! I know she does Pre-nups because she lectured me on them after every nasty courtroom battle we had to go to! Use my bad examples as the reason you are there PRE-wedding. She'll applaud your decision.

The Rupert Law Firm is located in Lowville, NY and her phone number is 315-874-4173.

27 March 2018

I Am Sam: Piece Two

I haven't seen my father in months. Seasons and holidays have come and gone. Strangers show up at the door more than my kin. The last day was a hot summer evening in August. Unannouced, but always welcome, he showed up while Eric's family was visiting and roasting marshmallows in the fire pit. The kids always enjoy the antics he encourages, but before he could leave one of the girls had snatched, and broken, a small piece off of his sunglasses. We searched and searched but, the tiny part was never found. He was awfully upset. Part of me felt guilt. It was like being five years old again, I might as well have done it myself for how bad I felt. He left without the piece. The girls didn't understand. I wasn't sure how to explain it.
My little sister is a lot like my dad. Even though she's on the other side of the country their traits they carry are eerily similar. Not that these were bad. I've had to learn and adjust over time to the fact that we're just different. They need their own space. They don't need people, and desire very minimal social interaction. The more commitments they feel pressure from, the more unhappy they are. It's funny. I don't think they see it from each other. Only from the outside looking in, could you tell how identically they choose to live. For years I have been the bridge between the two, passing bits of information here and there. Letting one know that the other is alive and well when I talk to them. At first I'd think it odd to not see a (living) father for more than half a year. Then I start to realize it's probably been 2 years or more since he's seen my sister. Her moving out of state even put me down to just a beach vacation with her once a year. I grew up with an immediate family that preferred to be the exact opposite. The less immediate we all were, the better everyone's lives seemed to be.

I had always felt like the sponge placed in between them all. I was the only one absorbing anything. And anything I retained, had no other place to go. I have years of useless information banked away. I am in the game, but I was never one of the main players. Something more like a silent referee. Watching everyone's choices and keeping a tallied score. I prefered it this way. I am not an active part in the story, I am simply the story teller. Out of all the traits my family members got that I did not, I was the only one given words.
Everyone else values the actions (or lack thereof). I value the story.
 It wasn't until my 23rd year that I realized I was more than an absorbant center piece between all of these people. I needed to learn their stories to learn my story. Without these big pieces and the reasons people did what they decided to do, the little pieces never would've made sense. Unlike many, I had to dig for the truth behind mine. A lie stuck to well, is no different than the truth. I had my work cut out for me.
If you could know the exact way you will die, would you want to know?
It's kind of like that.....
If you could know exactly who you are and how slim the likelyhood of your existence was, would you want to know?
For years I could not tell you much. I am Sam. I am here and I enjoy living. I am a teller of stories, and a seeker of truths. I fought harder for my truth than any one person should ever have to. My journey has given me a respect for all. The good, the bad and the ugly. It's all of value and it's all necessary. Life is similtanously more complex and more simple than you could ever imagine. Digging for skeletons that aren't your own may very well lead to your destructive ruin.
This didn't bother me anymore. Constantly turning a blind eye led to a rattling in my heart.
I needed to know who these people were. I needed to know what they've done.
It's on me to take over and carry the story. These will be my discoveries, cruel and beautiful. I can't look away. Like witnessing a fatal car crash, you know there's a good chance someone has died, but you can't bring yourself to turn away. You need to understand. You're personally invested in the disaster now. The outcome of everyone involved will have an effect on all of the bystanders.
Maybe you should go inside and close the drapes....

I wake Eric gently. We slept in the jeep again. It's never easy on the human back. Fairly normal when we are on a non traditional adventure though. He packed the survival snacks and hunting knives, I pack the data and information necessary for what we are trying to find. We drove all night through a mountainous region we could only imagine. The massiveness of it hid well in the darkness. We parked ourselves near some type of water. Only when the sun rose did we get to see the lake beside us. I was too anxious to sleep well. This time we needed to use a different skill set. We weren't hunting waterfalls. We were hunting people. People that could very well end up being ghosts. Armed with nothing more than a few papers and the names I had memorized we began my search. To find the stories I desired I needed to find elders. The closer somebody was to the truth in "real time", the more accurate the information would be. For the first time in years, I felt what it was to be truly nervous. I lacked my typical confidence. In exchange for the new information I was seeking, I had to leave my old perspectives on the waterbank. I had to let go of the rhyme so that I could find the reason.
The next 12 hours would change many peoples lives.
Regardless of anything cooked up, I had to stir the pot.

11 March 2018

At the Mouth of a Monster

I was only a girl. Maybe about six years old. My grandparents would kick me out into the mud and fresh air, only to come back when called in for dinner. I had been claimed by a mother killdeer this week. She had five healthy, happy babies, who traveled behind her as well. Up until this time my memory remains somewhat neutral as to the potential evil in the world. There was nothing that provoked ill feelings in me. Somewhat confused about the end goal of life sometimes, I was genuinely content.
 Until this day.
I was following behind my adoptive family. There was a whole forest to cover. Halfway through our trek we circled my grandfather's three ponds. He had each pond dug for a type of fish. A particular habitat for particular creatures. We were on the banks of "Trout Pond". The dry heat of summer made for thirsty babies.

Without notice, a giant head gulped out of the water and into the air.
It took one of her babies. One swallow.
Tachycardia immediately took hold in my little heart.
There was nothing I could do.
I waited and waited to see bubbles, signs of a fight, or even a way to grab that baby eating demon and yank the bird from its belly.
The surface again grew still. Momma killdeer had finally seemed to understand that her baby was gone. It felt like an eternity, but after about five minutes she seemed ready to trudge on with the surviving offspring.
In my afterthoughts, I began to wonder if grandpa could come save my friend. I then worried that he would blame me for being with the animals in the first place.
Or worse, he wouldn't even be hurt by what happened to baby bird.
That's if I could even get him to believe me that a giant mouth came out of the water and on to the bank just to eat that baby in one gulp. I was  mortified.
I spent the rest of the day on the bank of that pond, alone.
 What good was a world where the babies get eaten and the monsters are real?
To this day my developed adult brain cannot fathom the true identity of the killer. Giant trout, rouge muskie, homicidal turtle....I couldn't pick him out of a line-up. This small afternoon occurrence scarred me for life though. It's something I'll never really let go of and it was my first instance of realizing how terribly wrong things can go. 
My heart was broken and nobody understood. Best to work through it myself than babble nonsense to my elders. (They were savage. My grandpa had been in the war and traveled the world. I'm pretty sure they'd eat the dog if they had to. I can't throw a rock at a nuisance squirrel.) I wasn't upset that the bird had to die, I was upset that I could do nothing to change what happened.
A horrifying realization, but a necessary truth. Fast forward twenty or so years.

Another year has gone by and my struggle of dealing with small minds, continues to grow. Complacency makes me ill. My eternal patience grows thin.
People who see no deficiencies in themselves, are not my kind of people. I myself am fully flawed.
Regardless of your god or belief system, you must know by now that negative people and negative interactions are as toxic as drinking a self made poison.
If I do not guard my weak spots, the rot will get in. I have gotten good at this over the past few years. What I thought was a phase of life, has actually turned out to be an immense period of growth.
I am "shedding skin" again.
 I can feel it.
While I am no fan of constant change, I do believe in necessary change. My life is best when I embrace it, rather than fight the pull.

But there's a nagging realization that I am just a baby on the shore, and there's monsters just waiting to pull me in.
My absense would only be noticed temporarily. While the belly of my enemy will be full. Everyone else around the pond will say,
"That's the price you pay...."

Inner strength creates the outer foundation and I'm in the midst of a big build. Ironically after all the things I've seen, I do not fear death.
The fact that I am mortal gives me no anxiety.
There is clarity in permanance.
This is part of the fuel for my drive.
I have no time to waste.
 Adventure is calling and I must go.
And for the first time in all of my years, I know my head and my heart are in the right place.
If  I am to be swallowed, I hope it's in one gulp.


06 February 2018

I am Sam : Piece One

      West Leyden is a small town. Only about 1,500 people are here living ordinary, small town lives. The school is not far from my house. We never do it often, but this evening must have been special. My parents have brought me down the street so that I could swing. I didn’t need anyone to push me. I’m not sure if I ever did. The sun is fading fast. It casts a golden hue over everything it’s touching for these last few minutes. My mom is abnormally happy. Dad’s got an arm around her waist, twirling her about. The oddity of it all makes me feel awkward. Displaced.
I kick my legs harder at the knee and imagine doing a full flip on the swing. How crazy that could be. My hair is as long as my legs. I bet it would get caught.
They’re walking together on the pavement, hand in hand. I’d hate to feel judged for my lack of sensitivity, but it’s the first time I remember seeing such gross displays of affection from them. A lot of the time that I’m not right here at this school is spent with my Aunt Joy or my grandparents. Mom works days. Dad works nights. In between they argue about who should or shouldn’t be out drinking with friends. 
 I have a half sister on my dad’s side. She is ten years older than me. Ecstatic to think I had a gender ally that could teach me all the things I needed to know as a girl, I was somewhat disappointed when it didn’t turn out that way. I’m pretty sure her childhood self, hated my existence as much as my mom disliked hers. Both sides arguing greedily…. Who needs the paychecks more? Who should get child support less? How can someone be so ungrateful?
I remember mom arguing with dad once that “we don’t even have money for Sam to get breakfast cereal, but Amanda got new basketball shoes!”
I didn’t want them to argue about me. Honestly, I can’t even stomach cereal. The milk turns my belly sick. I’m fairly petite for my age and I could go without needing breakfast. Amanda is older, and bigger. She probably needs more things. I don’t play basketball. I bet the shoes are cool though... 

I would never hear the story from my parents, and I still haven’t. But the story went that dad left Amanda’s mom for my mom, and to many in town, that wasn’t allowed in this aged out society. Either way, I was too young to ever be valued for my opinion. I never hated Amanda though. I never held bias towards her mom. I understood why people would hurt in different ways than others hurt. 
I believe my mom tried…. she just couldn’t let everything go. 
I believe dad tried…. he just wasn’t meant to operate that way under immense pressure.

You can’t change people. You’re far better off changing your expectations of them.

 I came to understand at about the age of six that Amanda wasn’t going to be my “super close, awesome, big sister”, instead she was just trying to survive her parental drama. I could respect that. There was a huge blow-out during a family camping trip. Mom and dad would argue in the tent over who he took preference to and defended more. I can’t recall all the details, but it would be 15 years before I ever saw Amanda again. Her high school prom picture would sit on the mantel forever. She wore a beautiful, floor length gown and had long dark hair. I imagined how things could’ve been if people weren’t so self-serving and if parents didn’t need to spill toxins into their child’s ears. It’s hard to understand why adults would set their children up with unnecessary dilemmas. We are much more resilient than any of them. We are also less spiteful and petty.
 In an alternate set-up Amanda and I could’ve been closer. I thought of her often, and always hoped that she wasn’t sad. I'd always felt like I ruined her expectation of how she pictured her life. For that I was sorry. 

A few months after that odd day at the park, my aunt is taking me to the hospital in the near-by city. Mom and dad were already there. Rushing through the parking lot my aunt tells me I have a baby brother. In utter shock at all of this news I try to hide my immense disappointment, but I start to cry my eyes out.

 In some sick turn of events this causes my aunt to laugh and tell me it was only a joke. I am indeed a big sister to a little sister. Pride swallows my whole heart. I don’t know if there was ever a greater feeling than this. I will finally get to be the sister I know I can be. Elizabeth is beautiful and healthy. She screams obnoxiously loud, but it’s okay. We’re both new to each other. We are learning. I don’t care where she came from. I smother her with promises. My instinct takes over almost immediately, no one is going to take this one away.