Thursday, February 28, 2013

Who'd You Be Today?

I see your smile,
I see your face,
I hear you laughing in the rain.
I still can't believe you'regone.

                                                                                                          ~WilliamLuther & Aimee Mayo 
Who’d You Be Today?
Recorded by Kenny Chesney

“I want to go to Art School or Film School.”  Tim said when he was 13.
New Year's 2011
“I want to be like Steven Spielberg or George Lucas.”  Tim said. 
I thought for a second.  “Is that what you want for high school?  We can look into that…”
“No, daddy, for college – I want to study film making.”

Tim and I were driving to the movies to see The Dark Knight, the second of the Christian Bale Batman movies.  All his life he was fascinated with special effects – from Jaws to the reboot of Star Trek, Iron Man, and The Transformers movies.  He had started watching Robot Chicken on the Cartoon Network and loved how Seth Green’s production would use action figures from my childhood and some from the 80’s to make stop-motion shorts poking fun at some of the old movies, current events, celebrities, and television shows.  There were weekend nights when I came home from working the 4-to-12 shift and find him giggling and cackling at the show.

“I have no problem with that,” I said.  “But you will take some business courses.”
Tim looked at me, changing the radio station on the pre-set buttons.  “Why?”

I glanced at him for a moment, caught a few notes of Pink Floyd’s Comfortably Numb and tapped his hand away from the stereo.  “Stop, its Pink Floyd.”

“Why do you want me to take business courses?  Didn’t you hate that you had to take business instead of writing courses?”  I could feel his eyes on me.  Ah, the defiance years…where the boy starts to question what he’s told to do and find out consequences.

“Because I am not going to have a starving artist living in my basement like Maynard Krebs, no sir.”

“Who?  Who is he?”

I don’t even know why I thought of Maynard Krebs.  All I remembered of him was that he was played by Bob Denver who later played Gilligan.  Krebs was a friend of Dobie Gillis, a show from the late 1950’s to early 1960’s – before my time, but I caught repeats on the UHF channels growing up.

“Maynard Krebs was a beatnik who avoided work at almost all costs, almost like Shaggy from Scooby Doo is a close second.  But that’s not the point.”

Tim threw his arms up in the air.  “So what’s the point?”

I thought for a second.  I was losing my cool and so was Tim.  “It’s because I want you to be able to have a career…not a pipe dream.”

Tim huffed and mumbled under his breath.  “You don’t want me to be who I want to be.”

“What?”  I leaned over, keeping my eye on the road.


“What did you say?”  I turned down the radio.  “What did you say?” I repeated.

Tim looked at me.  He had a painful look on his face.  “You don’t want me to be who I want to be; I want to go to film school.”

“Whoa,” I said.  “Back up. Number one that is not what I said! I want you to have something to fall back on.  If I was allowed to study what I wanted to study, and have business as a fall back option I would be writing for some company; but pursuing writing a novel to outshine Hemingway.  If I was allowed to…”

“Okay I get it.”

“No Tim you don’t.  I will never deny you what you want to study.  You get an interest in something, I am the one that goes out and gets everything under the sun about it.  Mummies…I got you books and movies about them.  Urban legends… I got you everything on that.  You wanted an art kit?  Your mother told your grandmothers to get you one for Christmas…and guess what you got another one from me.”

“Okay.  I’m sorry. Geez.” 

“You want to study film.  Fine, but you will have something to get  you a job in marketing or advertising.  You have a long way to go before we get to that point…you have to get past 8th Grade and high school.”

“So you’re okay with it?”

“Tim you can be whoever you want…you’re just not going to be a bum.”  I smiled.  “Then I would have to kill you.”

On the day Tim was killed I was asked who he wanted to be.  The first thing I thought of was his addition to Film Maker, was to be an author – he discovered Michael Crichton.  Crichton had done it all – author, investigator, doctor, movie maker, and television developer – and a friend of Stephen Spielberg.

 It ain't fair; you died too young,
Like the story that had just begun,
But death tore the pages all away.
God knows how I miss you,
All the hell that I've been through,
Just knowin' no-one could take your place.
An' sometimes I wonder,
Who you'd be today?


Tuesday, February 26, 2013


I watch the ripples change their size
But never leave the stream
Of warm impermanence and
So the days float through my eyes
But still the days seem the same
~David Bowie

After Timmy died, I found it hard to go into his bedroom.  I could still smell his scent – the body wash, deodorant, and even his musk and sweat on the sheets.  I could almost hear his laughter from when he would be watching Robot Chicken on Cartoon Network, or saying “Oh my God!” when he was watching Walking Dead or Super Natural.  I would walk in and see the constellations I put up on the walls back in 2001, after his mother painted the room in a cobalt to resemble the night sky; how sick I felt – feeling dizzy because I felt I was in space.  I wrote Timmy’s name in the remainder of the glow-in-the-dark stars.  I told him a great person has his name written in the stars.  Over the years, as he grew into a teenager, there were the names of the Bionicles, lines from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass, and the proverbial Spider-Man stickers.  On the wall, next to his bed, hung a zombie calendar for 2011 – frozen, for at least until today and open to May 2011.

Over the past twenty-one months since he died, if I wanted to watch one of his many movies on DVD, I would go in and select one.  I would find myself saying “I just wanted to watch a movie Monk.  Want to watch it with me?  I’ll bring it back as soon as it’s over – I promise.”  I did this several times.  I would look at his stereo that I got him for his 13th birthday, with five CD changer filled with CDs either I burned for him, he burned himself, or I bought him – Green Day, 3 Doors Down, Rise Against, The Beatles … the list continues.  I found my copy of American Idiot in the carousel.

I wondered, many times, if it was the last CD he listened to when he drifted off to sleep May 16th.  I remembered I had to explain to him that Wal-Mart refused to carry the album because of the title alone – missing the point and exemplifying what Billy Joe Armstrong wrote the song about “Now everybody sing the propaganda.”  How excited he was on a trip to New York with his 8th Grade class, noticing on Times Square, to see the flashing LED screen displaying an announcement for a Broadway show based on Green Day’s songs.  He asked several times if we could go see it…he wanted to see Green Day in concert as well.

The night of Tim’s death, as I went to lie down in his bed and cried myself to sleep; Jun, my brother, partner, friend, and appointed care-taker for that time, threw a blanket over me.  I woke the next morning feeling guilty for sleeping in my son’s bed.  I remembered how excited he was when he graduated from his toddler bed that his grand-father, John, built to the “big boy” bed we purchased with a tax refund.  I bought Spider-Man bed sets and fleece blankets, and whatever movie was his current favorite – Bugs’ Life, Toy Story, and etcetera.  His room was his domain – soon he had his Play Station, DVD player, VHS player, toys, games, books, and art kits taking up nearly every inch. 

I was envious, in truth, because I never had my own room – at least not since the age of 18 months after my sister was born – later having a brother and step-brother to share bedroom space with growing up in Ventnor.  Space was a commodity in my mother’s home raising eight children; privacy was a premium.

So now, our house is being renovated.  Tim’s room has just been demolished to be rebuilt. Despite agreeing the necessity to do so, to give my daughters their own room,  I’m feeling like I am erasing a part of Tim – even though I know I am not.  Still I’m feeling anxious, trying to stifle tears, and feeling nauseous. It’s not exactly guilt…more like a panic attack as I’m sitting, looking at a picture I had taking of his name written in glow-in-the-dark stars the night before.  I tried several times the night before attempting to take a picture of the stars, with the lights out, just to capture the effect – my camera didn’t agree with me.  I know nothing is meant to last forever – change is sometimes needed, even if it is painful.   I only know the love I have for my son hasn’t changed.

Just gonna have to be a different man
Time may change me
But I can't trace time

Friday, February 15, 2013