Malaise:  noun - a vague or unfocused feeling of mental uneasiness, lethargy, or discomfort.

You know, I'm starting to wonder if this cold and cloudy weather has something to do with my mood.  I've never been one of those 'aw, shucks' kind of cloudy day guy; in fact, I love rain and thunderstorms.  But I'm so tired of the cold.  It's supposed to warm up a bit this week and I cannot articulate how pleasing that is to me.

I went out last night.  One of my best friends sent me a text letting me know he was playing a local music show and I replied with my usual, "I may show up" non-committal response.  I didn't want to go anywhere.  I just wanted to stay in my house and wander aimlessly.  But, no, that's not right.  That's depressing.  I didn't want to do that either.  What DID I want to do?  I then realized I didn't want to be ANYWHERE.  This realization led me to the decision that I'd rather be around friends than just myself, and went to the show.  It was a local battle of the bands competition with several poor acts and a few decent ones.  I spent most of the time standing around on my own, as concerts lend themselves to.  I was beginning to think I'd made the wrong decision.

However, once the last band wrapped, a plan formed to grab a bite to eat with my friends.  I happily drove us to a local eatery and enjoyed an exceedingly normal late night meal, talking about random stuff and experiencing life as it used to be.  Afterwards, I thanked them for their time and returned home.  I felt better.

Bad dreams.

I awoke this morning to the familiar feeling of unease and general lethargy.  I felt the return of unfounded paranoia into my thinking and lack of satisfaction out of the state of things; I made another decision.  I'm seeing a grief counselor on Monday morning.  I have no frame of reference to this; maybe I'm doing well, maybe I'm not.  A friend at work lost their spouse last year and spoke very highly of their experience with my workplace's employee assistance program.  I am thankful to have it, and am looking forward to my first appointment.



As I sat in my living room this morning, listening to old Creedence Clearwater Revival records, drinking coffee, and awaiting the cable company to come hook up my internet, I smiled in the contentedness of the moment.  It was early.  The coffee was good.  The music drifted through the air, having been trapped in a box for the last few years.  I missed my father, but it wasn’t a wrenching grief type of miss.  I was filled with nostalgia for times past, a place where Tony Martin is now a resident.

I don’t wish to give the impression that my entire life is a ball of sadness and despair.  It isn’t.  I just tend to write when I’m the most grief stricken.  It helps me cope.  I think it’s equally important to write when I’m not going through such a swing of emotion, though; when I look back on this chapter of my life, I want a true representation, not a one-sided misrepresentation.  After all, why else do I write if not for a true accounting of myself? 

Now that I’m firmly out of my one room efficiency apartment and into this classic 1920s era two bedroom house, there are a few things I didn’t realize I missed.  I have a table.  I have a living room big enough to have friends over for a movie night or a card game.  I can hear music drifting from one room to another, bouncing off the hardwood floors and curling around the door frames.  Although mowing is not my favorite activity in the world, once spring hits I’ll be able to sit on my porch and enjoy a job well done. 

Atticus has a lot more room to run around.  As a matter of fact, at the moment he is running from room to room, meowing and playing an invisible cat game that brings him satisfaction.  Life goes on.  My brother came over the other night and we sat and talked awhile.  It was good to spend some time with him; hadn’t really seen him much since Dad’s passing.  Haven’t seen a lot of anyone, actually.  I’m ready to rejoin the world as an intact person today.  I feel good.



I was in the middle of a conversation with a good friend last night when I came to a realization.  Over the last few months, there have been several emotionally traumatic events in my life:  the failure of my marriage, the death of my grandmother, and the death of my father.  I've had this nagging feeling of exhaustion but I've not been able to really nail down what it is.  Part of it, I discovered last night, is a sense of emotional wandering and instability that has me spinning in circles.

Growing up, I was not a very confident fellow.  I didn't go out for any sports, spent a lot of time playing video games, and kept mostly to myself and my small circle of friends.  After high school, college never came together for me and I focused on work.  Dating Indi was the first time I'd felt like I really stepped out and took a risk, thus increasing my confidence.  Throughout my marriage, I had an ebb and flow of confidence and self respect, culminating in our trip around the world.  Once I got home, I felt like a new man.  Sure of myself.  My own man. When things fell apart in November, I had this creeping fear that I would revert to my old hermit self but have not been able to deal with those feelings.  They've been buried underneath everything else that's happened.

Yesterday I completed the majority of my move into my new home.  Among other things, I kept seeing Dad shuffle out the door the last time we spent time together.  I was eager to get myself in new surroundings.  What I failed to account for is the other side of that equation.  Although I became sad when I was reminded of Dad's worn down gait as he returned to Pawhuska, it is also one of the last connections I had with him.  I stood in a doorway in my new house and wept.  It's not fair that the memories that cause me such anguish are also the memories I desperately don't want to lose.  Good, bad, or indifferent; they are all I have left.

Which brings me to last night.  As I talked about my emotional state and what my mental life has been like, I realized that I am at a point where I don't know what I want.  Out of myself, out of my work, out of my friends, out of my family.  I feel simultaneously angry and relieved that some people have distanced themselves from me.  I'm standing on shifting sand; I don't want anyone to get too close or I'll instinctively grab onto them and drag them down with me...but I don't want to go down alone either.



Have you ever felt you know something about somebody, but later find out that you didn't know the true depth of knowledge that you thought you did?  Dad was really good at hiding things.  If he didn't want you to know something, he would really pull out all the stops to keep things under control, his way.  Among the little things about the man I didn't know, as time is progressing there are other things that I knew of, somewhat, but not nearly in the way that I thought I did.

For the last few years, Dad had two episodes that I knew of where he'd passed out inexplicably.  He chalked it up to blood sugar or some such thing.  I also knew that his kidneys were nearly in failure and he had a strict diet to keep them working as long as possible.  What I was unaware of was the fact that he was passing out more often and was having memory issues.  My aunt would walk in his apartment and find him in his chair in a bit of a daze.  He collapsed at the car wash the week before he died.  He had several instances of traveling to a place and then just sitting there for hours because he completely lost track of everything.  There was even a time he went out to his car, but once he was in it he was looking at his key in such a way that he didn't understand it's purpose.  I had no idea that Dad was having such severe problems.  Most people didn't.  He played it off as if he'd just fallen asleep watching TV, or had been on the phone, or was tired.  He didn't let anyone into his problems that he didn't want into them.  And he didn't want a single person to worry about him.

I think about all of this, but I do not think, "If only someone had said something!"  Dad was quite the stubborn man.  It didn't matter what anyone else thought.  If he didn't want to go to the doctor, he just didn't go.  He waved off any concerns about his health and kept on trucking.  I know I never saw it.  I never talked to Dad on the phone or spent time with him in person and saw him have any kind of memory or cognizance issue.  He kept it together for me.

Part of me is thankful that he didn't continue to deteriorate.  The last memory I have of my grandfather (Dad's dad) is in the hospital, hooked up to countless tubes.  He smiled at me and reached out to shake my hand.  Here was a man that had an iron grip his whole life and could tear apples into two pieces with his bare hands, and he was shaking my hand to show me he still had it.  Only he didn't.  His illnesses had made him weak and frail.  I loved my grandpa very much, and it hurt me to see him in such a state.

Before I left Pawhuska today, I stopped out at the cemetery to visit his grave.  His marker isn't there yet, but the Martin Family one is.  I stood there in the fog and just stared at the ground.  I knew his urn was down there, and figured it would be no big deal.  I told Dad I loved him and went back to the car before I totally lost my mind again.  I've always been sensitive, but I've never felt so emotionally vulnerable in my life.  It's like vomiting sadness.  Although my day to day life is more or less back to normal, those moments still hit as hard as they did on day one.

It gets better, and it will.  There is still so much to do.



It's strange how I can have the exact same thought or say the exact same words and get entirely different reactions.  For example:  I have a picture on my desk at work of my family.  Mom, Dad, Tyler, and I at Grandma's funeral service this past December.  I'll look over at it occasionally, and sometimes I'll say, "Miss you, Dad."  I'm okay.  It's just a fact.

I went out for my lunch hour at six and was greeted by a beautiful sunset.  The heavy snows are well into melting mode and the beautiful orange and blues of the dusk were reflected in the dark parking lot puddles.  I got in Dad's car and sat there for a few minutes. "Miss you, Dad" and it hurt a lot more.  As far as I'm aware, Dad wasn't particularly bowled over by a pretty sunset, but I certainly appreciate them.  I'm not sure why it was one of those moments that had such an effect.

Given the transitional nature of my last month, I'm continuing the trend by preparing to move into a new home.  The one-room efficiency has treated me well, but for a variety of reasons (some new, some old) I need to get a slightly bigger place.  It'll be nice to have a place for Dad's things as well as a safer place to park his car.  I like having company and this will allow all of those things to happen.  Same neighborhood, too.  A promotion at work has helped make this move a reality.  Timing is everything, and I still believe everything happens for a reason.

I've been making a concerted effort to NOT just stay at home.  Though the past week was spent at Indi's apartment due to the snowstorm (I still had to get to work and the neighborhood street was AWFUL) the time previous and since I've caught myself just wanting to go home and turtle, but I've worked to avoid that.  Thank you to the friends that have helped keep me afloat.  I think I'm doing fine most of the time, but when the time comes and I need you most, I always have someone to reach out to.



I've spent the last several days stuck in my apartment.  This horrible blizzard has cut me off from the rest of the world, it seems.

My apartment is behind a house in a residential area in the middle of Tulsa.  Typically, I park on the street, take a sidewalk around the back of a small house, go through a chain-link gate, and enter a doorway into a concrete breezeway that separates my apartment from the front house.  It's about 500 sq ft, one main room separated by a half-wall with a small kitchen, bathroom, and closet.  Not bad, eh?  Except I had to carve a path through the 14" of snow we were blessed with just to get to the front of the house.  My front neighbor was gracious enough to allow me the use of her car port on Monday night as this awfulness started.  I haven't been anywhere since.  I tried to get out today, but made it as far as the bottom of the driveway before high centering and taking an hour and a half to get BACK up in the driveway.

Yesterday, as I partially cleared the driveway out of cabin fever boredom, I was struck with a sudden urge to call Dad to ask his advice for driving on these severely snowy roads.  Maybe ask him what he would do in this situation to assure safety.  Of course, I knew I did not have that luxury.  But it's the first time since his passing that I felt not only the loss of a parent, but the loss of a friend.  Sitting in my apartment the last few days, my mind settled on thoughts of Dad in his own efficiency-style apartment.  He didn't have anyone that came to visit or places he needed to go, even when the roads were perfectly fine.  Is this how my Dad spent the last part of his life?  Watching movies and hoping his phone would ring?  I have Atticus, at least, even if all he does is curl up next to the wall heater.

Those that know me best know I rarely have good dreams.  They are mostly either confusing jumbles or bad dreams.  Last night I had several dreams, all involving Dad.  In them, he had either just died or was about to.  In one of them, he was even driving away, waving at me as he left.  I woke up each time, extremely sad and sometimes already crying.  I'd have a brief moment of, "Oh, thank goodness, that was only a dream" only to remember that, no, it's not a dream.  I cannot reassure myself with, "Whew, at least Dad's still here."  Those are really rough moments and do not help my low spirits.

I think tomorrow I'll make the half mile walk to the grocery store and pick over what's left.  I still have a little food, but I need more and it'll be good to feel like I've accomplished something.  I'm supposed to go back to work on Saturday and I am not really sure how that's going to happen, either.