Thursday, April 30, 2015

Hopefully
The next day I ran the morning group for The Other Ken, who was stuck in traffic.  I wrote on the white board:

Faith without works is dead. 

Hope without work can be deadly.

Almost everyone in the group recognized ‘Faith without works is dead’ was from the Bible.  They were able to discuss the passage’s meaning without much input from me.
I had to explain what I meant by ‘Hope without work can be deadly.’   I told group members problems start when you don’t do all you can to make something happen in your life.  Hoping will lift your mood, and make waiting for that something to happen less painful.  The pain might have been the motivation you needed to change. 
“Sheesh Ken,” Terry said, “you’re anti-hope?”
“No, I think hope is a powerful force.  But like most powerful forces, it can be misused, with deadly results.  The guy who only hopes he’ll get sober this year, but does nothing to change his behavior, is likely to feel hopeful right up until he drives through a red light and kills a family of four.”

Today I will remember hope without work can be deadly.


Life on Life’s Terms II © 2015 by Ken Montrose

(Just a reminder: LOLT II is a work of fiction.  Any resemblance to anyone you might know is purely coincidental.)

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Teacher
When we walked back into the gym, the kids were spread around the gym practicing foul shots.  KC was walking from kid to kid, correcting their shooting form.  He told the kids with the worst form their accuracy would get worse before it got better. 
“You’ve learned to shoot 50% the wrong way,” KC said to a blond kid. Being Pepper’s best friend he had been destined to earn the tab “Salt.” Salt listened intently to everything KC said. “You’ll probably shoot 20% when you fix your form, but by the end of the season you’ll shoot 70, maybe 80.” KC added.  
All the kids tried to shoot the way KC showed them while he was standing next to them.  Most of them kept shooting correctly for five minutes or so after he moved on to the next kid.  All but a few of them went back to their old form in ten minutes or so. 
Salt and a couple other kids followed KC’s instructions to the letter.  They accepted taking a step backwards on KC’s promise they’d take two steps forward.  I thought ‘these are the kids who deep down see KC for the teacher he is.’   
 I remembered the few teachers I had truly listened to, and how I had always benefitted for doing so.  Many of them had never taught in a classroom, but somehow I had recognized their wisdom.  I tried not to think of all the wise men and women whose counsel I had ignored, always to my detriment.  Too often I hadn’t listened because they didn’t work in a classroom. If I wasn’t going to be tested on it, if the information wasn’t going to help put some initials behind my name, what was the point?

Today I will look for and listen to the teacher, no matter where they teach.

Life on Life’s Terms II © 2015 by Ken Montrose

(Just a reminder: LOLT II is a work of fiction.  Any resemblance to anyone you might know is purely coincidental.)

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Right and alone
Mikey brought his nephew Chad to practice.  After I put them through warm-ups and wind sprints, I stepped outside with Mikey.  He told me Suzanne was finally sticking to her guns.  Betsy lost big at blackjack, and asked her family for help.  Their father said of course they’d all help her pay her bills, that’s what families do. Suzanne said she wouldn't give her sister Betsy another dime.  The family pressured her with threats and guilt, but Suzanne didn't budge. 
Mikey said, “I couldn't have been more proud.  She knew not enabling Betsy was the right thing to do.  She also knew she’d have to take that stand all alone, and she did.”


Today I will do the right thing even if it means standing all alone.


Life on Life’s Terms II © 2015 by Ken Montrose

(Just a reminder: LOLT II is a work of fiction.  Any resemblance to anyone you might know is purely coincidental.)

Monday, April 27, 2015

Proxy Wars
I felt sick as I left the hospital.  My legs felt heavy.  The clenching of the small muscles in my head gave me a headache and narrowed my vision.  I couldn't think straight.  I went to practice early, hoping the kids’ upbeat spirit would lift my mood. 
As I walked into the gym, I overheard a mom say she had given her son an energy drink to get him ready for practice.  I wanted to tell her that rather than saving for college, she should start a rehab fund for him.  She just might squirrel away enough to send him to a prestigious treatment center.  ‘Stash the money you’d waste on dental care ‘cause he’ll probably lose his teeth,’ I wanted to say. ‘You know how these kids give each other nicknames, how they call them ‘tabs’? How does Tweeker sound to you? How about Speedy for a tab? Skinny? Scabby? One of those tabs grab you?’
didn't say any of those things because I knew I’d be yelling at her when I really wanted to yell at Teller.  As rationally as I could manage, I told her what I did for a living, and why I thought pumping her sixth grader full of caffeine and other chemicals was a really, really, bad idea.  I talked about precedent and patterns, and how they’re set early.
She thanked me.  She said she’d think about what I’d said.  I was fairly certain she thought I was completely off base with my ‘energy drinks as a gateway drug’ speech.  I couldn't blame her, but I felt sad about not getting through to her.
On the other hand, I hadn't unloaded my anger with Teller on her.  Too often I had seen people use loved ones as proxies for people they wanted to confront.  I had witnessed many parents venting their anger with one another on their children, and adults who used friends and family as stand-ins for coworkers they couldn't or wouldn't confront.   I was glad not to have used her as a proxy for Teller.

Today I will not use anyone as a proxy.
  
Life on Life’s Terms II © 2015 by Ken Montrose

(Just a reminder: LOLT II is a work of fiction.  Any resemblance to anyone you might know is purely coincidental.)

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Aftertaste
I stopped to see Teller on my way home from work.  I had known him for years.  We hadn’t been close, but I had always liked him. 
His condition assaulted all five senses.
The sight of IV’s and monitors, and tubes disappearing under the sheets turned my stomach. I knew they kept Teller alive, but they reminded me of a picture I’d seen of a lamprey attached to a salmon, sucking the life from it.
The rhythm of the ventilator could barely be heard over the oppressive hush pressing down on the ECU.  I knew the machine was breathing for him but to my ears, it sounded like the air was being sucked from his lungs.
The smell was of an antiseptic attempt to cleanse the air of all smells. Everything felt cold.
The way pills and alcohol had wasted this smart, kind, and funny man left me with a bitter taste in my mouth.  

Today I will remember many pills have a bitter aftertaste.
Life on Life’s Terms II © 2015 by Ken Montrose
(Just a reminder: LOLT II is a work of fiction.  Any resemblance to anyone you might know is purely coincidental.) 

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Thinking
Terry was standing in front of the building by himself again when I got to work the next day.  I asked him why he was all alone.
“Didn’t want to be distracted.  I’m thinking about something,” he said.  “I don’t want a drink today. I can’t figure out why.”
“Couldn’t you just be glad you’re not craving today?” I asked.  “Why think about it at all?  You’re just making yourself miserable.”
“There’s got to be some underlying reason for me not needing or wanting a drink today. Yesterday I wanted drink myself into a blackout, get thrown out of a strip club, and snort cocaine off a police car.  I didn’t do any of those things – in fact I’ve never been thrown out of anywhere and I’ve never touched cocaine – but I really wanted to get drunk. Today no desire to do anything but smile.  Why?”
“Why not?” I said.  “Quit thinking and start enjoying.”  He shook his head and walked away.   

Today I will try not to overthink things.

Life on Life’s Terms II © 2015 by Ken Montrose

(Just a reminder: LOLT II is a work of fiction.  Any resemblance to anyone you might know is purely coincidental.)

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Managing my gratitude
I called KC to tell him about my conversation with Mikey.  Like me, he was thrilled with idea of having Chad back, but uneasy about Mikey sneaking his nephew into practice.
“Teller’s wife called me,” KC said, changing the subject.  “They can’t be sure, but it looks like Teller suffered some serious damage.  Not likely he’ll recover much functioning.”
“Will he live?” I asked, not certain I wanted to hear the answer.
“Not really. He has some brain functioning, but not a lot.  Machines will keep him from dying. He’ll need a ventilator, IVs, and a feeding tube.”
I thought about the way Twelve Step programs talk about life becoming unmanageable.  Teller’s life couldn’t be any less manageable.  He controlled nothing, including his own breathing.  I wondered how his wife’s life would change.  How would she manage? Thinking how Teller could have avoided this nightmare did nothing to lift my mood. 
After KC hung up, I sat down to write a strange gratitude list.  I drew a stick figure, my house, and my office.  Next to each one I wrote everything I got to manage in each sphere of my life.  I listed things like breathing, walking, sleeping, eating, reading, typing, writing, and speaking.  As I looked over my list, I thought how one accident, or a disease like ALS, could erase items.


Today I will be grateful for the things I can still manage.

Life on Life’s Terms II © 2015 by Ken Montrose

(Just a reminder: LOLT II is a work of fiction.  Any resemblance to anyone you might know is purely coincidental.)

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Good
I ran into Mikey at the gym.  I told him about Chad, how he had started to lighten up.  “Now he’s not even coming to practice,” I said. 
Mikey swore Chad would be at the next practice.
“His mother seems determined not to let him play for me or KC,” I said.
“If Betsy isn’t out gambling, she’s getting high while her husband Bob gets drunk.  They won’t even notice Chad’s gone when I take him to practice.  If you can find someone to take him home, it’s all set.”
“Seems a little sneaky,” I said.  I didn’t want to think about the ethical issues raised by Mikey’s plan.
“Sneaking Chad off to practice is the only good we can squeeze out of the chaos that is his life.  I think we owe it to the kid.  Besides, in a couple of weeks Betsy and Bob won’t care who’s coaching Chad.  They’ll be too busy taking credit for how well he’s playing. ”
I still wasn’t crazy about the whole idea.   I was grateful Chad might get a chance to have some fun and improve his game.

Today I will be grateful for whatever good can be squeezed from a bad situation

Life on Life’s Terms II © 2015 by Ken Montrose

(Just a reminder: LOLT II is a work of fiction.  Any resemblance to anyone you might know is purely coincidental.)

Monday, April 20, 2015

Lessons learned
When I got home, Blondie and Brat boy were sitting in the living room, on opposite ends of the couch.  Calculators, pens, pencils, and books cluttered the coffee table.  I scanned the scene from the doorway, warning sirens blaring from my subconscious.  Something was terribly, terribly wrong.  It hit me all at once, like a sonic boom in reverse, an overwhelming awareness of the absence of sound.  No TV, no YouTube video playing on a cell phone, no arguing, no radio, nothing. At first, the stillness was unnerving.
Just when I was getting used to the quiet, my son said, “Names of the bones in your hand.”
“Good one,” Blondie said. “Like you’d ever need to know that.”  She explained the two of them were playing a game they called ‘useless information.’ They tried to top each other naming what each thought was the least useful information they had learned that week in school.
“You never know what might be useful information someday,” I said. “Every day of my junior season I wanted to quit basketball.  I was miserable.  I spent more time on the bench than some Supreme Court justices.  Every day I talked myself out of quitting. I thought the whole year had been a waste. You know what it taught me?”
“You should have gone out for the debate team instead?” Brat Boy suggested.  
“That I could persevere. When I first got sober and I was really struggling, that lesson, that season, saved me.  Besides, sometimes you don’t even know that you’re learning.  You’ll probably never need to know the bones in your hand, but you might have to memorize something.  Now you’ve got some memorization skills.”
My son laughed. “The bones in your hand? Phalanges – distal, intermediate, and proximal; metacarpal, carpal. Phalanges, that DIPstick, met a carpool in the tunnel.” 

Today I will remember the lesson may be hidden in the experience.

Life on Life’s Terms II © 2015 by Ken Montrose

(Just a reminder: LOLT II is a work of fiction.  Any resemblance to anyone you might know is purely coincidental.)

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Addict OCD: Obsession, Compulsion, Desperation
A couple of weeks went by. We won our first game by twenty.  Chad started to relax.  Pepper proved his tab was well-earned.  Hardwick picked up the tab “Hard Work.” All seemed to be going well.
Suzanne’s sister Betsy blew through the money she had won and couldn’t pay her debts. Once again the family rallied around Betsy, all except Sam and Suzanne.  Suzanne told Betsy she wouldn’t pay her bills.   A week later Chad stopped showing up at practice.
Another week went by before we found out why. Suzanne had tried to sell the family on cutting off Betsy.  She had used my name.  Betsy told Chad he couldn’t play on any team coached by a drunk, meaning me.  Somehow she had forgotten KC was the coach and he hadn’t had a drink in decades.  On the other hand, her husband was an active alcoholic.  Betsy was deep in a gambling addiction.
“Using her kid like a pawn,” KC said. “What’s wrong with her?”
“One of the ways you tell if someone is addicted is how they react when separated from the drug or activity of choice.  The same holds true for their co-dependents and enablers.  We say addiction is compulsion and obsession.  It’s desperation too.”

Today I will remember addiction and desperation go hand-in-hand.

Life on Life’s Terms II © 2015 by Ken Montrose

(Just a reminder: LOLT II is a work of fiction.  Any resemblance to anyone you might know is purely coincidental.)

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Reflections
KC took over practice after they ran their sprints and finished a few shooting drills.  Anyone watching could see he loved the sport and enjoyed coach.  The boys had to feel some of that happiness.
KC reminded me of a history teacher who was passionate about the subject.  I doubt the teacher had any great affection for me, smart aleck slouch that I was, but I truly felt his love for the subject when he answered a question or made a comment. 

Today I will be grateful for reflected love and joy.

Life on Life’s Terms II © 2015 by Ken Montrose

(Just a reminder: LOLT II is a work of fiction.  Any resemblance to anyone you might know is purely coincidental.)

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Attila the Run
When I got to practice that night the boys were standing in a circle.  Not one of them had a basketball in his hands. 
“What are you doing?” I asked making it clear from my tone I wasn’t happy.
“Working on tabs!” a boy named Hardwick said.  He explained a tab was a nickname you gave yourself, but your friends could veto.
“I play like I could be Kevin Love’s kid – call me the Love Child!” Hardwick said. I wasn’t sure Father Tim, the school’s principal, would like that tab.
“You like Kevin Durant?”  I asked. “How about Durant Durant?” He stared at me blankly, not getting the reference to the 80’s band with the similar sounding name.
One boy had been given the tab ‘Pepper.’ I was afraid it was because he was built like a pepper shaker, but the boys had given him that tab for his ability to shake a defender.
Several of the boys didn’t have tabs yet. None seemed upset because as they explained to me, you could get a tab anytime, but you were smart to wait until you had earned a really good one.
At that moment I wanted to live my life as if I were trying to earn a tab for which I could be proud.  Tabs I thought I’d like to earn someday included:
·         ‘Father Time’ because even as I grew older, my kids could count on me every time I was needed.
·         ‘Poe DM’ because  as I stood at a podium, I would know I had worked hard to become a scarily good presenter and teacher,
·          shortened to ‘Poe’ because I had become a scarily good writer
·         ‘Sun’ because I brightened my father’s day, or
·         ‘Law Firm’ because I was my wife’s partner in all things.

I smiled, liking the idea of earning tabs.
“He’s not gonna make us run,” Pepper said, misreading the reason for my expression.
“Sure I am,” I said.  “Everybody on the baseline for wind sprints.”
“Attila the Run,” Chad muttered, giving me a tab I could live with.  

Today I will earn a tab I can be proud of.

Life on Life’s Terms II © 2015 by Ken Montrose

(Just a reminder: LOLT II is a work of fiction.  Any resemblance to anyone you might know is purely coincidental.)

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Going back going forward
Terry and I talked about some of the things he wanted to do, including repairing old relationships.  He planned to fix them by convincing loved ones they were just as wrong as he was. This hadn’t worked in the past, but now that he was sober he thought he could be more convincing.  I tried to explain the NA slogan ‘if nothing changes, nothing changes.’   When that didn’t work I asked him, “Are you putting the car in drive to go back or are you going in reverse? Putting the car in drive means turning yourself around so you see things from a different perspective. It means correcting your mistakes, and making amends.  Driving in reverse means going back and repeating past mistakes, rehashing old arguments. 
I suggested ‘putting it in drive’ meant accepting responsibility for his part in past arguments and moving on no matter how his loved ones reacted.  He wasn’t thrilled with that idea.
“What about my friends at the bar?” he asked.  “I think I should go back one more time to say goodbye.”
“Some places we shouldn’t go back to in forward or reverse,” I said.  He liked that suggestion even less.

Today I will go forward, even if I’m going back.

Life on Life’s Terms II © 2015 by Ken Montrose

(Just a reminder: LOLT II is a work of fiction.  Any resemblance to anyone you might know is purely coincidental.)

Monday, April 13, 2015

Hangin’ on
The next day Terry was sitting on the concrete steps in front of the building when I arrived for work.  I asked him how he was doing.
“I’m tired, disgusted with myself, in a deep hole at work, and just barely hanging on. That’s it. Just hanging on, and nothing more.  Tell you the truth, I’m a little ashamed of myself.  A man of my caliber should be doing a lot more.”
“You ever rowed a boat? I asked him.  He had and we talked about how tiring it could be.  I asked him if he had ever hung onto an overturned boat in rough seas.  Neither of us had, but we agreed that doing so might be even more exhausting than rowing. We also agreed he was in rough seas.  “Be proud you’re hanging on.  That’s more than many people do.”

Today I will be proud of the times I was able to hang on.

Life on Life’s Terms II © 2015 by Ken Montrose

(Just a reminder: LOLT II is a work of fiction.  Any resemblance to anyone you might know is purely coincidental.)

This Week's Freebie
The ebook version of Hauling It To The Curb: Cleaning up your life in early recovery is available for free at: http://www.amazon.com/Ken-Montrose/e/B001K8MG0S

Sunday, April 12, 2015

The little train that wouldn’t
Suzanne, Mikey’s wife, called.  I had met her once or twice, but didn’t know her well. She thought she should stop giving her sister money, but wanted to talk to someone familiar with addiction.  I advised her not to not to give her sister another dime.
“But,” I said, “don’t say you’re not going to bail her out unless you really mean it.  The more times you say you’re going to do something without doing it, the harder it is to convince yourself you’ll ever really do it.”  
“So you think if I say I’ll cut her off now but don’t, I never will?” Suzanne asked
“I wouldn’t say never, but I will say cutting her off will get harder to do.  You’ll have to hit some milestone, like realizing you’ve been supporting her for ten years.  Maybe things will have to get worse, like your sister hitting the lottery and gambling away the money in one night.”
Suzanne choked up a little, but said, “I know.  I have to stop bailing her out.  I have to stop now while I still believe I can.”

Today I will make the changes I promised to make while I still believe I can make them.

Life on Life’s Terms II © 2015 by Ken Montrose

(Just a reminder: LOLT II is a work of fiction.  Any resemblance to anyone you might know is purely coincidental.)

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Cliffside II
I called Teller’s cell phone.  His wife answered.  She was at the E.R. Between her sobs she told me Teller’s heart had stopped.  The paramedics were able to revive him, but there were complications.  They weren’t sure how long his brain had been without oxygen.
“Yesterday his only concern was some stiffness in his shoulder,” she said. “Today he might be brain dead.”  She disconnected the call without saying goodbye.
The trouble with cliffs is there’s no way of knowing how steep they are until you get right up to the edge.  There’s also no way of knowing how you’ll land if you go over them.

Today I will stay away from the cliff.


Life on Life’s Terms II © 2015 by Ken Montrose

(Just a reminder: LOLT II is a work of fiction.  Any resemblance to anyone you might know is purely coincidental.)

Wednesday, April 8, 2015


Cliffside
“Your boy Teller called me yesterday,” KC said as we reached our cars.  “First time we talked, he made perfect sense.  He really made me think about why I was holding onto my guilt.  This time I think he was high.” KC went on to say Teller admitted he was drinking a couple of beers with his Xanax and painkillers.  Teller had dismissed KC’s concerns about mixing medications with alcohol.
“That’s the same combination of drugs his brother used to kill himself,” I said. “You think he’s suicidal?”
KC shook his head.  “No, I think he’s one of those guys who are drawn to danger, but can’t see how close they are to the edge.  If he keeps going this way, he won’t realize he’s going over the cliff until his rear tires are airborne.”
I knew KC was right. My heart sank thinking about Teller, but I told myself as long as he was alive there was hope he’d stop before it was too late. I decided I’d call Teller when I got home.

Today I won’t lose hope, I won’t give up trying to steer someone away from danger.
Life on Life’s Terms II © 2015 by Ken Montrose


(Just a reminder: LOLT II is a work of fiction.  Any resemblance to anyone you might know is purely coincidental.)

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

What matters
We did twenty minutes of conditioning.  KC took over practice.  He was part band director, part choreographer, and at times part military commander. Everything flowed, everybody moved.  The kids worked hard.  And even when they struggled to master some new skill, they had fun.
After practice KC and I were walking out of the gym together.  The boys and their parents were walking ahead of us down a long hallway.  I heard one of the boys say “I like Coach KC.”
“He’s supposed to be your coach, not your friend,” his dad snarled.  “Let’s see how much you like him when your team’s getting beat by twenty points every game.”
I looked at KC.  He shook his head, but his smile didn’t fade. “Whether we win by twenty or lose by twenty,” he said to me, “I promise you these kids will learn the game.” 
Looking at him, I realized what made him a great coach was knowing what mattered.  Winning, losing, and the opinion of a disgruntled parent weren’t important to him.  Teaching sixth graders to love the game was.  Because he knew what mattered, he was focused. He had no time for drama.  I couldn’t imagine him wasting energy being petty or vindictive.
He reminded me of wise people I’d met in AA.  Mostly oldtimers, they had told me what mattered in recovery.  Focusing on what they taught me kept me away from the distractions many people trip over in early recovery.

Today I will be grateful for people who know what matters.
Life on Life’s Terms II © 2015 by Ken Montrose


(Just a reminder: LOLT II is a work of fiction.  Any resemblance to anyone you might know is purely coincidental.)

Monday, April 6, 2015

Step, shuffle, bounce
I got to practice early and started the boys on some light stretching.  Betsy’s son Chad seemed more relaxed than he had the week before.  I thought it no coincidence he was less tense after his mother won at the casino. 
They formed two lines facing the hoop for a shooting drill.  After they made a shot, almost all of them took a triumphant half step, or hesitated a millisecond, or shuffled a little. Most of them probably weren’t even aware they were doing it.   I recorded Chad swishing a short jump shot.  He bounced on the balls of his feet for a second before jogging over to the rebounding line.  I called him over.
“What’s wrong with my form?” he asked. Chad had made every one of his shots, and still he expected me to criticize his shooting.
“You don’t do enough of this,” I said as we stared at my phone.
“I don’t hold the follow-through long enough?”
“You don’t bounce enough after you make it,” I said.  “You have a little bounce today, but the last two practices you didn’t celebrate at all.”  He looked at me as if I had two heads, but he was smiling, just a little.


Today, if only in my mind, I will celebrate small victories
with a half-step, a bounce, a slide, or a shuffle.

Life on Life’s Terms II © 2015 by Ken Montrose


(Just a reminder: LOLT II is a work of fiction.  Any resemblance to anyone you might know is purely coincidental.)

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Freebie
The eBook version of my novella, Dancing with Rachel, will be available free of charge from 4/6 to 4/10/15 at: http://www.amazon.com/Ken-Montrose/e/B001K8MG0S

 Two very different narrators voice the novella Dancing with Rachel. Voices torment the first narrator, David an ex-football player just trying to make a life for himself. He calls his auditory hallucinations “The Chorus.” They have names and even personalities. While na├»ve staff members claim the voices aren’t real, David knows otherwise. He can hear The Chorus clearly. He can point to where they are coming from. How could they not be real?

Taylor, the other narrator and David’s therapist, struggles to stay sober and fight off depression while his wife lies in a coma. He bounces between his job at St. Joe’s, a psychiatric hospital, and the adjoining Lazard Memorial Hospital’s Extended Care Unit. Taylor spends much of his time traveling the cold, antiseptic tunnel between the two hospitals, always seeing the light at the end, but knowing he’s far underground.

Their lives intersect on an inpatient psychiatric unit run by Dr. Rainey, the medical equivalent of an absentee landlord. While at the State Hospital, David meets a patient who knew Doc Rainey when he was an intern struggling with his own boundary issues. 

'Regulars' on this unit include Tom, a rapist and master manipulator, whose benign appearance hides true evil. (David describes him a cross between Fred Rogers and a serial killer.)

A patient named Simon wants nothing more than to find peace with God. His size and religious fervor make him the perfect cat’s paw for Tom. This scares David’s ex-girlfriend and fellow patient Monica, as well as their friend Kai. The one patient not afraid of Tom or Simon is Marc, an entrepreneurial genius suffering from bipolar disorder. 

As Taylor worries about David, Taylor's friends worry about him. They watch his spirits and his weight drop as he wrestles with his own demons. An insurance company balking at the cost of a new respirator for his wife doesn't help.

Life outside the hospital can be chaotic, especially within Kai's family. His father, a born middle manager nicknamed BiMM, declares bankruptcy, accuses his mother of killing his father, and refuses to believe his wife had an affair. Kai has no doubt his grandmother tampered with the garage door lock, trapping Kai's grandfather inside. He's not at all upset when they find the old racist asphyxiated, but he wonders if he's the only sane person in his family.

If you do download a free copy, I would greatly appreciate it if you would post a review on Amazon.
Forgetful dogs
Mikey called me as I was getting ready for basketball practice.  His sister-in-law Betsy had taken the money her family raised, gone to the casino, and made a bundle.  To my surprise Mikey told me his wife admitted giving her sister money was a mistake.
“I don’t get it,” I said to Mikey. “Betsy lost money at the casino, so Suzanne gave her cash to pay her bills.  She bet that money, and made enough to pay her expenses for the next several months.  Betsy losing money didn’t convince Suzanne she has a problem, but winning money did.  Am I missing something?”
“It was the amnesia.  Betsy forgot all her past troubles as soon as she won. She was high on winning.  She called Suzanne to give her financial advice.  She told their brother Sam he should grow up and get a real job.   It was like hitting the thing that was destroying her life made her forget what a mess her life was. Do you see that a lot?”
“When I was drinking I’d forget about all the things I had messed up while I was drinking.  I knew a guy who had affairs to forget the guilt he felt over having affairs.  I know several people who eat to comfort themselves when they feel bad about overeating.  It’s common for people to induce amnesia with the hair of the dog that’s mauling them.  The trouble is many people don’t recognize their addictions, or even just their bad habits, are the dog.”

Today I will beware of addict’s amnesia and hairy dogs.
Life on Life’s Terms II © 2015 by Ken Montrose


(Just a reminder: LOLT II is a work of fiction.  Any resemblance to anyone you might know is purely coincidental.)

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Gratitude
When I got home that night, Blondie was heating up Chinese leftovers while Brat Boy stared into the refrigerator. She suggested they share the leftovers, but he wasn’t interested.
“Why don’t I make you a grilled cheese sandwich,” I suggested. 
“I love chilled grease!” he said.  His sister laughed and pointed out he wasn’t getting filet mignon.  “I know, but nothing beats grilled cheese with ketchup!”
Shakespeare wrote, “How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is to have a thankless child!”  (King Lear Act 1, scene 4). How sweeter than a puppy’s kiss it was to have a thankful one, I thought.  I remembered the lady who had waved to me after I had let her into traffic on my way home.  It had been a small gesture of gratitude, but one that had made me smile. 
I never wanted to get into the habit of doing things just to be thanked.   I did want to add ‘being appreciated’ to my gratitude list.

Today I will be grateful for grateful people.
Life on Life’s Terms II © 2015 by Ken Montrose


(Just a reminder: LOLT II is a work of fiction.  Any resemblance to anyone you might know is purely coincidental.)