What Thanksgiving Means to Me By Way of CHILDREN OF ENDWORLD, Hans Zimmer and the “Interstellar” Soundtrack

Good Evening, Afternoon or Morning, fellow Sh*theads. Happy Thanksgiving Eve to all of my fellow denizens of this side of the proverbial wormhole of existence. It’s been a while since I last wrote… almost too long. For those of you that have been waiting patiently for a new blog entry I’m sorry. Thank you for your tolerance of me and my inconsistency as a writer, lately.  As before, I assure you that it’s not for lack of wanting. I want to write every day. But sometimes, life gets in the way and this aspect of me has to take a backseat to other aspects of me. Husband, father, friend and working stiff. Not to mention laundry, chores, homework and playing princesses with my minions. Birthday parties, holidays… you name it. I do what I must. But tonight? Tonight it’s me, my trusty old laptop, the soundtrack to “Interstellar” and a blank page. And it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without another of my yearly “What Thanksgiving Means to Me” entries.

I promise not to be too long winded. I’ve been accused of that in the past. And really? I don’t feel the need to be so anymore. There’s no need for embellishment to tell you how I feel right now. In short? I feel blessed. Thankful this year more than I’ve been in years past. It’s not that my life has changed much. It hasn’t. Short of my kids being a year older, my marriage being a year stronger and my new-old career coming up on it’s one year anniversary things really aren’t that much different than they were at this time last year. On the surface. Inside? I don’t know. I just feel… what’s the word I’m looking for? Ah, yes. Two words actually…

At peace.

As I sit here tonight with the soundtrack to an incredible movie playing in the background (Hans Zimmer is so very, very good for the soul) I type these words with a sly grin upon my face beneath my bushy, salt and pepper beard. Why? Because I’m at peace. It’s nothing concrete… substantial. Like I said, my life isn’t much different than it was a year ago. But I feel it. I felt it at my daughter’s Thanksgiving Feast today and I felt it as I watched my girls play in the snow outside this afternoon. I felt it when I closed my eyes and took a brief, half hour nap this afternoon and when I woke up and started baking for Thanksgiving tomorrow–Pumpkin Bread and Corn Bread from scratch; I accept no substitute. I felt it watching “Caillou’s Holiday Movie” for the first of many times this season earlier and I felt it when I read my girls their nightly story, tucked them in, kissed them on their respective foreheads, told them “goodnight,” “sleep tight” and “I love you.” It was gul’darned serendipitous, friends. Like now as the composition “Stay” soars.

Serendipity.

I could type a laundry list of the things I’m thankful for this year. I could. But I won’t. Because really? There’s only one way to explain it without filling up Kilobytes upon Megabytes of text here on WordPress. I think I’ve mentioned this before and if I have, sorry for repeating myself. Yet if I haven’t? Well heck, now’s as good a time as any. I’ll admit: I’ve been stymied on CHILDREN OF ENDWORLD lately. Again, not for lack of wanting to work on it. Life, man. It just gets in the way sometimes. But there’s the scene in CHILDREN that I’ve always looked forward to writing. I call it “The Thanksgiving Scene.” It happens around page 300 of 400 or so and without giving anything away, it’s the scene where my hero, William MacNuff is reunited with his brethren in totality for the first time. Past, present and future: All intermingled, as some in Endworld would say. All one.

The other night, after not working on the book for weeks I sat down and finally… finally wrote it. I’d always had an idea of where it would go and who would be involved. A few things have changed from the moment I re-wrote the first words of ENDWORLD until now (sarcasm fully intended; the whole damned thing changed) but surprisingly? The same people that were in it the first time I conceived of it were in it again. Through a hundred and one twists and turns… new characters, unplanned demises et al, the same people showed up the other night in my living room to eat wild turkey, drink Wild Turkey and toast each other on an undetermined day of an undetermined month in the year BLANK of the BLANK (come on; I can’t give that away, can I?). The same people went around the table and said what they were thankful for. And yet when I got to William’s moment I stopped typing. Because really, what was he thankful for? His loved ones. Sure. His life. Definitely. But how could he… how could I rank the things I’m thankful for? Fact: I can’t. And neither could he.

So what did he do? What did he say? That, I can tell you because it applies this cold and snowy night here on my side of the proverbial wormhole of existence. Art imitates reality and vice versa. And what follows sufficiently answers the question posed by the title of this blog entry, “What Thanksgiving Means to Me,” perhaps better than any laundry list ever could:

There was not a lot to be thankful for in Endworld. Living under the proverbial boot of a totalitarian Administration bent on suppressing humanity? Constantly running for our lives to a hypothetical freedom? There once was a poet, whose name I cannot remember that wrote that “nothing gold can stay.” “So Eden sank to grief, so dawn goes down to day.” I believe that’s how it goes. And yet at that moment as I sat there amidst my brethren… my friends after so much time apart an undetermined day of an undetermined month I knew. I knew that there was one thing I was thankful for… the same thing that we were all thankful for, originality be damned. Slowly, I stood from my feast. All eyes followed me as I did so. I picked up my half-filled glass, raised it to the ceiling and spoke.

“I’m thankful,” I began, paused, and completed, “for now.”

Smiles graced the faces of all those assembled around me. A few people nodded. I heard someone sniffle. And then, in a rousing chorus, all of my counterparts spoke in unison.

“To now,” they all said as time moved onward without check, as time always does in Endworld.

Okay, so I edited it down a bit. There were a few “tells” in the passage and I don’t want to give away what’s coming. But that statement? “I’m thankful for now?” That’s really the crux of it for me. Let’s face it, gang: You never know what tomorrow will hold. Carpe Diem, baby. I’d like to think that I’ll be here in the morning to see my wife off to work and watch the Thanksgiving Day Parade with my minions. I’d like to think that I’ll be eating store bought turkey at my mom’s house tomorrow afternoon and thereafter watching the Eagles beat the stuffing (pun intended) out of the Cowboys. But who knows? Anything is possible. If life has taught me anything over the last 39 plus years it’s to expect the unexpected. And if the world ends sometime between now and when I wake up on Thanksgiving morning to a snow-bleached world and a bright, blue sky at least I’ll be able to say that I did. I lived for now. I’d urge you all to do the same. That, friends, is my Thanksgiving wish for you. Seize your respective days and make them your b*tches and b*stards. Booyakasha. Respect.

And that? That’s the end of this little piece of pre-Turkey Day mental flatulence. Thanks as always for your time! May your turkey be warm, your mashed potatoes and gravy be un-lumpy, your stuffing be… well, awesome (’cause stuffing is just awesome) and your yams be sweet. May your afternoon be filled with love and high fives every time the Eagles score. In short?

Happy holiday, fellow Sh*theads. Winky emoticon. Smiley face.

A Pseudo-Madman’s Double Life (Guest Starring Clark Kent/Superman, the Fisher Price Little People, Susan Lucci, the Genie from “Aladdin,” Jerry Siegel, Joe Shuster, Professor River Song and Some Guy Named Frank Marsh)

I lead a double life. Kind of like Clark Kent/Superman but without… well, super powers. I’m not faster than a speeding bullet. Nor am I more powerful than a locomotive. I am unable to leap tall buildings in a single bound unless said buildings are my youngest minion’s Fisher Price Little People play sets. If you look up in the sky, you will see birds and planes, but you will never see me. I dwell here upon the humid, oft times soggy surface of Terra Firma on this side of the proverbial wormhole of existence, somewhere between a little town in eastern Pennsylvania called Broomall and a little town west of Broomall called Royersford, Pennsylvania, with the occasional foray even further west to York, Pennsylvania or south to Baltimore, Maryland.

Despite all this, I do lead a double life. Sadly, mine is not nearly as interesting as the son of Jor El’s so really, why even claim it? Simple: Because it’s true. If you want to know why, I invite you to read on. If not? Thanks for playing. You win nothing! I’m not cruel. I just don’t have anything to give away. But if you’d like a copy of my debut novel, ENDWORLD drop me a line either here, or on any of the myriad other sites that I whore myself out to and I’ll hook you up in exchange for an honest review of my “big, meaty book for summer reading.”

No sexual innuendo intended, guys. I’m a happily married man. That’s what one reviewer called it, though. “Five stars in my log,” she said with an exclamation point. Apparently, a few people agree with her though I wouldn’t know because I’ve only got five total, published reviews between Amazon (four) and Barnes and Noble (one)Which is an incredibly uncouth way of saying “please read and review my book because unless I get 10 positive reviews on Amazon it will never be featured as anything other than an afterthought on any site and will be doomed to obscurity.” I may be biased… ah, who am I kidding? I am biased. ENDWORLD is better than “doomed to obscurity.” I know it.

Seriously, guys. I know I’m not supposed to self-promote on here if I ever want to get Freshly Pressed but I need you on this one. One free copy of ENDWORLD in exchange for an honest review. That’s all I’m asking for. You choose the e-platform: EPUB or MOBI. I can do PDF, as well. Up to you. Get in contact with me and you’ve got it. I’m at 424K on the Kindle Best Seller list currently, which isn’t bad when you consider Amazon’s got over two million titles on their site, but my ranking has been steadily dropping since the end of May after plateauing at 11K. I’m starting to get depressed. I don’t know if I can go on… 

Okay. I admit it: I’m over exaggerating. A lot. It’s all I can do to keep up with my oldest minion who, I have officially concluded, is four going on 14. There are established drama queens less dramatic then her. Don’t get me wrong: I love her and think she’s hysterical, but if nothing else, she’s got quite a career ahead of her on “General Hospital.” Susan Lucci? Eat your heart out. And watch out.

But I digress. This blog entry isn’t about ENDWORLD. Well, not directly. And there’s no better means of turning people away from your product than by whining about it. So I’m not going to whine anymore. I’m going to “stick with the plan.” And that is?

I lead a double life. Really, I do. The truth of this fact really hit home for me earlier today. I was “tweaking” the ENDWORLD site with some new info, and I got an email from a prospective vendor asking me for my name and my title. In the past, I’ve simply written “Office Manager/Inside Sales” without a second thought, but as I wrote it today, I realized that I wasn’t being entirely truthful. And I pride myself on bring truthful. I was being pseudo-truthful–that’s what I am from eight in the AM to five or 5:30 in the PM every Monday through Friday, plus every fourth Saturday–but it ended there. Pseudo. The truth?

The truth is that I am an Office Manager/Inside Sales representative during the time frame specified above.   But from the moment I leave work to the moment I return? I’m something far different. I’m a father/husband/homeowner/”indie” author/eternal optimist and hopeful dreamer. I’m also an avid sports fan though right now, I’m not exactly enchanted by what’s going on in Philly sports. Seriously, Phillies? You win six games in a row, get over 0.500 for the first time all season, get your fan base fired up and then you lose three games to the frackin’ Brewers? They’re the Brewers for God’s sake! They haven’t been better than “slightly above average” since the mid-1980’s. That’s not a knock on Milwaukee, nor is it one on Wisconsin. I love both. Really, I do. But the Brewers? Really? 

Okay. Enough about that. Rooting for the Phillies… h-e-double hockey sticks, rooting for any of the major Philadelphia sports franchises has been a tiring task these last few years. Almost as tiring as self-publication though without the sublime joy of knowing that something you wrote is now available for purchase via Amazon, Barnes and Noble and multiple other sites (links to buy at www.theendworldseries.com under “Where to Buy ENDWORLD – A Novel“)! Pick up your copy TODAY and PLEASE post a review when you’re finished! End the shameless self-promotional portion of our program. I now return you to your regular blog entry, already in progress.

The specter of 2008 still looms largely in my mind. I remember watching my Phightens hoist the Commissioner’s Trophy and thinking that the drought was over… that we were ensured multiple championships not just in baseball, but in football and hockey, as well (basketball? Not so much). How many have we won since? Survey says?

Zero. New York, Pittsburgh and Baltimore have all won at least one. Even Boston’s won one. But Philadelphia? Nada. Zilcho. Zip-a-dee-doo-da, zip-a-dee-aye, my oh my what a crap-tastic time to be a Philadelphia sports fan. And it’s not getting better anytime soon. The Eagles are rebuilding, the Flyers are chronic underachievers and the Sixers? Yeah. Not so much. Dare I pin my hopes on the Soul, again? They started what I thought was going to be a championship renaissance in my hometown back in 2008 by winning the Arena Bowl. Might they be able to do it again? Maybe, but even they’re pretty bad, right now. Which is really just a drawn out way of welcoming you, my readers back to the drought. See you in another 20 or so years on Broad Street. End parenthetical, sports related aside.

I lead a double life. I’m not Clark Kent/Superman. My secret identity is not a costume that I wear beneath the t-shirt and jeans that I sport to work every day, or the dress shirt and slacks that I wear when I visit my York office or travel to Baltimore. It’s the extra Google Chrome screen that I keep hidden on my second monitor. It’s the Word Document that I oft times edit during “down times” like today. You can never see it: It’s hidden beneath a proverbial bank of windows that contain pertinent information to my daily existence. And I rarely do anything but edit or “tweak” while working because despite what you might be thinking, I actually like my job, alias my mundane, routine existence. I’m proud of all that I’ve learned and how good I’ve gotten at what I do in the last almost eight years and I’d rather not risk losing it. So I refrain.

But admittedly? On occasion, one or more of the developing characters in my head–my own, mental Peanut Gallery–cry out for help or attention, much like my youngest minion is fond of doing when she’s playing with her Fisher Price Little People play sets and I’m rehearsing Shakespeare with my older, diva-licious minion, tears and all. Those times? I minimize everything from Outlook to my company Intranet and I answer the call. I may not be faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive or able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. I may not be a bird or a plane but in the subjective universe that exists inside my oft times ridiculed, “big” head? I’m a god. Not the God. There’s only one of them and you’ll know I’m referring to him or her when I capitalize the “G.” But god. A lesser deity with immense, cosmic power… 

And an itty bitty living space, otherwise known as my cubicle. Thank you, Genie from “Aladdin.” Those times? Not even the son of Jor El can stand toe-to-toe with Frank Marsh, though in the grand and not subjective scheme of things, my “power” is nothing compared to his. Assuming, of course, that Superman is a real man. Which he is. Or isn’t. I’m not really sure, but I like to think that somewhere out in the vast multi-verse that is… well, this he exists. Maybe through one of the many other wormholes that pseudo-madmen like me can cross through. Maybe not me, per say, but another one? Most definitely.

I’ll let you in on a little secret, guys. The wormhole that I’m always referring to? The wormholes? It’s… they’re not real. Not tangible. They’re a metaphor for imagination, something that people like me and the guys who created Clark Kent/Superman, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster know about. This side of my proverbial wormhole of existence = IRL. The other side is where ENDWORLD and all my other ideas come from. If you didn’t know that before now there you go. I’ve just revealed a little known secret about me, myself and I. There are others, but I’ll leave them for another time. I can’t give away everything now. As Professor River Song is so fond of saying, “spoilers.”

When I leave my Monday through Friday, and every fourth Saturday mundane, routine existence, there’s no need to wear my disguise, though. I’m like the son of Jor El returning to his Fortress of Solitude. The place where I can just. Be. Me. Not the guy that’s had to learn how to be an engineer in the last almost eight years, but the guy that existed before that. The husband. The father. The homeowner. The eternal optimist and the hopeful dreamer. And the avid, albeit long suffering Philadelphia sports fan. I like that guy too. He’s the guy that’s writing this blog entry, presently. His words? They’re not appearing on a secret Google Chrome screen on his second monitor. They’re appearing on the 13 inch screen of his Samsung, I5 laptop, the same one that he… that I wrote 75 to 80 percent of ENDWORLD on and the same one that I’m currently writing CHILDREN OF ENDWORLD on. Which, by the way, is 70+ pages “to the good.” Part One = Done. I’m taking a day or two off before I begin Part Two. Unless my mental Peanut Gallery cries out in distress before then. Then, like every other super hero that leads a double life, I’ll be obligated to answer the call.

So long as it doesn’t conflict with my youngest minion’s desire to play with her Fisher Price Little People play sets or my oldest minion’s desire to reenact “MacBeth.”

Susan Lucci? Eat your heart out. Watch out. And if you’re reading this? Drop me a line. I’ve got a book I’d love for you to read and review.

😉

Why I Hate February – An Anti-Appreciation

It’s no secret that I always get a little morose around this time of year, guys. To be fair to February, a month that I have panned for many, many years and am planning to pan in this blog entry (try saying that five times fast) my mentality starts to shift in mid-January, reaches its antapex around Valentine’s Day and begins to gradually improve thereafter. Generally by mid-March, I’m back to my oft times holly and jolly self. Cue Easter, baseball season, the hockey playoffs, playing outside, et cetera et cetera. To be fair to January and March, though? Generally only 50% of each month sucks. The other 50%? Not bad at all. 100% of February completely blows.

I’ve always been this way. I guess its just something about the Dead of Winter that gets me down. Granted, it wasn’t always this bad. Pre-the mid-1990’s, I would get slightly bummed out but not overly so. In truth? I’ve had my fair share of good experiences in January, February and March throughout my life. Even a few of the overwhelmingly bad experiences have been tinged with a silver lining or two, i.e. happy memories nestled amidst the sh*tty ones. But for the most part? The aptly named Dead of Winter has been a time of pain and disappointment for me on this side of the proverbial wormhole of existence.

Why do I hate February? I guess I should start with a definition of the Dead of Winter. In actuality? The Dead of Winter refers to the coldest part, or the middle of winter which, chronologically, is more the end of January/the beginning of February than just February. Alright. I’ll concede it: Point, February. That said, it has seemed that over the course of my life, January has actually been pretty nice. Normal. Temperate. Higher then average temperatures; little or no snow save for the Blizzard of 1996 which buried the tri-state area (Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware for those of you not from around here) under three feet of snow for a couple of weeks.

February, though? Without fail, the temperature generally plummets an extra 10 degrees on the outskirts of Philadelphia and the sky almost immediately starts chronically crapping hard or loose–depending on the track of the storm–white stuff. This year has been no exception. While we here in the tri-state area have been spared a major storm thus far and are dodging another bullet tomorrow and tomorrow night whilst points north of us get a “historic blizzard,” we’ve been subjected to multiple… what we call “Nuisance Storms.” We’ve seen the sun for about an hour total since February first and the temperature has barely been above 32 degrees Fahrenheit (it’s 34 degrees Fahrenheit now per my Weatherbug phone app; conceded, then: Another point for February). The fact that that overrated groundhog Phil predicted that Spring was right around the corner this passed weekend is lost on me. Really? What the hell does an over sized rodent know? He doesn’t have to shovel his walkway, dig his car out or occupy a three and a half year year old and an eight month old because he can’t go outside. He gets to hang out, warm and cozy in his Hilton of a tree stump whilst the good people of Punxsutawny, Pennsylvania cater to his every whim. Freeloader. He reminds me of my Biological.

All together now: Ouch. 

No sooner had I written the above paragraph then the National Weather Service revised their forecast for this area and issued a Winter Storm Warning. Christ, I hate Karma. I probably shouldn’t have talked trash about my Biological. When will I learn? One to three inches of snow tomorrow night just became three to six inches tomorrow afternoon in to tomorrow night with one to two inches per hour possible at the height of the storm which, incidentally, will be during my drive home tomorrow night and which which, if history is any indication, will be further revised by the time I go to sleep tonight in to a Blizzard Warning. Jesus, February. Thank you again, sarcasm fully intended. And Phil? Thanks for nothing. I’m sure you were right and Spring likely is right around the corner if you live south of Virginia. But the rest of us? We’re likely screwed for another six weeks regardless of whether you saw your damn shadow or not.

It’s not just the environment on this side of the proverbial wormhole of existence in February that gets my goad, though. There are other aspects of it. Take sports, something which you may or may not know per what you’ve read on this blog I am an avid fan of. Guess what? I am. Anything and everything Philadelphia sports-related save for the 76’ers who for the most part have been a non-entity in this town since 2001. February marks the end of the football season with the Super Bowl, something that the Philadelphia Eagles have only participated in twice–in 1980 and in 2004. Both times they were favored to win. Both times they lost. Furthermore, the one team that has managed to bring home a championship since the mid-1980’s, the Phillies, are still in off-season mode and while Spring Training does start up in mid-February, it’s not enough to satiate the need for something. Anything. The Flyers? I love them. I always have and I always will. But I’ve got to be honest, here: They’re a disappointment. Yes, they’re competitive every year and yes, they rarely miss the playoffs but really? They haven’t won a championship since 1976. Even the 76’ers have won one more recently. Bernie Parent got old, Pelle Lindberg unfortunately got dead and Bobby Clarke got fired by the organization a few years ago (though I believe he’s back now in some capacity). The glory days of Flyers hockey are, I’m sorry to say, far behind us. Remember how many Stanley Cups we were supposed to win with Eric Lindros? We were supposed to be a dynasty. How many did we win? Nada. Zilcho. Zip. Meanwhile, the Sh*tsburg Penguins have won a couple.

One more time with feeling: Ouch. 

My point is that February is, for the most part, a dead time for sports here in Philadelphia and always has been. The Wing Bowl? It’s not a real sport. The Big Five? March Madness, guys, not February. When you’re down… when you’re bummed out, sports has a way of filling the hole that exists within your heart, mind and soul. Unless your teams stink. Then, you just feel worse. Hopefully you see my point. Yet another kick in the nads from February. Thank you, sir. Can I have another?

Sure. Why not? I should note before I continue that yes, my approach to this blog entry is different than it normally is. That’s because I’m a different me at this time of year. I’m not always the living and breathing facsimile of a smiley face that I hope you know and maybe even love a little. In truth? I’m actually pretty damned depressive, as if this composition up until this point hasn’t proven that. Amazingly enough, though? Most people crawl up in to a ball and wait for the moroseness to pass. Me? I’m actually more prolific when I’m like this. If you enjoy reading this little pseudo-psychotic musing then that’s a good thing. There may be more. But if you like your your blogs light and fluffy, maybe you should redirect your browsers elsewhere. I honestly don’t know how bad it’s going to get.

Relationships. I’ve actually been in many relationships at this time of year. I am, in fact, in one currently. It’s called a marriage. Roll snare drum. Oft times in the past, even before my wonderful wife entered my life, I had a warm body to cuddle up to in February. Most February’s I had a Valentine. But most times the relationships in question were anything but warm and fuzzy like my teddy bear, Ixo Facto. Yes, guys, I have a teddy bear. I don’t sleep next to him and never really have. He occupies an almost permanent place in my Man Cave/Cara and Natalie’s supplemental playroom/office next to stuffed Yoda and stuffed Pikachu. He rarely emerges from the depths of the Marsh Household save for on the rare occasions that Sultana Cara carries him to bed with her and he joins, for a night, the stuffed harem that occupies her toddler bed. Ixo? He’s been a fixture in my life since the mid-1990’s and he is the last, remaining product of, surprise surprise, a February relationship.

Said relationship was intense, but short lived. I generally don’t think or write about it but at this time of year? When the cold impinges upon me from all sides and “Nuisance Storms” become Winter Storm Warnings before they become Blizzard Warnings? I’ll admit: I do. I’m helpless not to. I spent a handful of years ruminating upon its failure. Mine. In the end, though? I realized that ruminating upon it was destructive and counterproductive. I purged it from my mind as best I could and moved on with my life. And boy oh man, am I glad I did. Had I not… had I instead decided to dwell upon it I never would have met Nicole. Scratch that: I likely would have met her but I never would have embraced her as a partner and companion the way I did. We never would have married; we never would have bought a house; we never would have produced two beautiful, though at times troublesome daughters, one of whom–Cara–is a Sultana in training and the other–Natalie–is currently on a hunger strike and is perfecting her projectile vomiting skills (ah, parenthood). My life would not be what it is today and while I cannot be 100% sure, I’m pretty sure that I would be miserable. I once believed, as Bob Dylan said, that “chaos [was] a friend of mine.” Now? I believe that it is my own, worst enemy, especially with my well-documented idiosyncrasies. Normalcy, though? It is my closest compadre. My bro’. That said…

Death. The big finale. The ultimate journey. Call it whatever you want to call it. Death has not necessarily been a constant companion of mine in February’s passed but it has been an ever-present concern. Ever since 1997. Back then, I and my brethren all lived in State Pen, Pennsylvania and even the ones that didn’t were frequent weekend visitors. Back home, the only father figure that I had known since my Biological skipped town was fading fast, a victim of the Big C (that’s Cancer for those of you that have never heard the term or seen the Showtime series). There was nothing I could do. Said father figure actually didn’t pass until the end of March, 1997 but those days? February? Those days were the toughest. In the waning days of his life he was little more than an unresponsive figure in a hospital bed but in February of that year? He was still cognoscente of what was happening to him. And he was suffering.

I guess in a way it was good that I was a hundred plus miles west of him but deep down inside, I wanted to be there. I wanted to be beside him at the end but he, always strong-willed, wouldn’t have it. “Stay where you are,” he said to me in one of the last real conversations we had in, you guessed it, February, “finish school. It’s what you’ve been working toward. Whatever happens, don’t worry about me. I’ll be fine.” I knew that it was lip service but I agreed to do as he asked. I guess it was the last request he made of me for I cannot remember any others. A few weeks later, he was gone.

I wasn’t there when he passed. I was working on my senior thesis–“Job, Melville, and the Abandonment of the Human by the Almighty”–when my sister called me to give me the news. I remember being equal parts saddened and relieved: Sad that he was gone but relieved that his pain had ended. And I was speechless. I couldn’t write; couldn’t vocalize what I was feeling, not even to my State Pen brethren. But I remember thinking backwards in disgust. Another sh*tty February, I thought over and over again as I drowned my sorrows with Red Deaths and Long Island Iced Teas. And that thought? It has stuck with me since despite the fact that his big finale… his ultimate journey didn’t commence until almost a month later.

Many others have passed from this world to whatever world lies beyond “this mortal coil,” “this insubstantial pageant,” at this time of year since. I’ve heard many explanations why. Some argue that it’s a question of loneliness because of the “Post-Holiday Doldrum.” Others say it’s simply the deep, winter chill claiming it’s rightful victims. Me? I believe that it’s February. F*cking February. There is something inherently base and decrepit about this month that defies explanation and while I honestly don’t have any proof outside of the speculation that has filled this blog entry thus far, I know it in my gut and I feel it deep within my sometimes cramped fingers. Like tonight. There’s a dull throbbing something going on deep beneath my skin that I hope is nothing more than the impending weather making its presence known. No “dry twist,” I hope (thank you, Stephen King) though admittedly, it does run in my family.

Speaking of the weather, it is now 12:21 AM on Friday–the day of the storm, alias “Winter Storm Nemo”–and the National Weather Service just revised their forecast again: 6-10 inches in and around Philadelphia, Pennsylvania which includes mine, Nicole, Sultana Cara and Natalie’s little homestead in Broomall, Pennsylvania. I’d have continued this blog entry sooner but I had to run out and buy some gas for my snow blower which I will at last be able to use. I’ll give it to you, February. Another point, albeit a reluctant one. At least I have a new toy to play with tomorrow night. More good news: The worst of the storm is also not supposed to arrive until after I get home from work. Sh*t. Point, February. I’ve got to hand it to the current bane of my existence: It’s managed to rack up a few positives over the course of this composition.

Still, I will always hate February. This blog entry? It is an Anti-Appreciation of a month that has, over the course of my life, taken on mythical status in my pseudo-mad mind. If you’ve followed “Random Musings” for a while you know about my Appreciations. “The Mix Tape – An Appreciation” and “Contrary – An Appreciation” to name a few. All are linkable via the handy, dandy little “SEARCH” box on the right hand side of your screen. Just type in “appreciation” and watch what happens, Andy Cohen! Or don’t. It’s entirely up to you. If you choose not to please, forget that I mentioned Andy Cohen. In fact, forget that I mentioned him entirely, even if you choose not to look at any of my previous work. Thank you.

If anything deserved an Anti-Appreciation it was this. February. The Dead of Winter. Right now, Phil the Groundhog is rolling over under his hand-knitted covers in his five star, tree stump Hilton Garden whilst the rest of us prep for a “historic blizzard.” It’s not going to snow much in Punxsutawny, Pennsylvania, one of the perks of being a couple of hundred miles west of the tri-state area when a Nor’easter like “Winter Storm Nemo” comes roaring up the Atlantic coastline. Earlier tonight, the Flyers lost to the Florida Panthers in a shootout and the Eagles informally announced the signing of their new Defensive Coordinator. Um. Yeah. Okay. Is it baseball season yet?

I glance out the window beside where I write these words at the red sky overhead. What’s the old adage? “Red sky at night, sailor’s delight?” Wow. That seems pretty counter-intuitive since most nighttime, red skies that I have seen in my life foreshadow a nasty spell of upcoming weather. I briefly wonder what that person that gave me Ixo Facto so many years ago is doing right now. But then I look over at the sleeping figure of my wife and realize how insignificant those thoughts are presently, and have been for well over a decade. I further wonder if my Biological is glancing up at the sky from wherever he is, currently. But then I realize the truth: Whether he is or is not does not matter. He has his own Karma to contend with, independent of mine.

And the lone father figure that I gave a sh*t about? He is long gone, a victim of the Big C almost 16 years ago tonight. God rest his soul. He used to love nights like tonight: The silence outside, like the silence I beheld an hour or so ago when I ran out to the gas station to get fuel for my previously unused snow blower. “The calm before the storm” he and the people on this side of the proverbial wormhole of existence called it and will likely continue to call it for many years to come. Admittedly? I see the truth in their assessment then and now and despite the time of year…

Despite the way February is crowding me currently with its frigid embrace…

Despite the way that I cringe at the prospect of another couple of weeks of it…

Well, guys? It could be worse. I could be a 76’ers fan.

Goodnight, all. Winky emoticon. Smiley face. Roll snare drum.