Tuesday, December 26, 2017

2020 Vision will return Tuesday, January 2, 2018.

In the meantime, here's an excerpt from Writing My New Story:


22. Lightening the Load
“What does burden you?” Blondie asked.  “Other than the shame of being Brat Boy’s father.”  
My son snorted.  “Raise your hand if your team won the summer league championship,” my son said, raising his hand. “What? Just me?  I’m the only one who gave his poor father something to be proud of?  Wow, the burden of carrying a non-championship-winning daughter.  That’s gotta weigh heavy, huh Dad?”
“Ignore him,” Blondie said.  “What does weigh you down?”
I told her how not accepting certain things added to my burden.  “I hate getting older.  Political shenanigans.  Heroin dirt cheap and easily accessible.  Docs handing out painkillers like they were jelly beans.   There’s no such thing as an Oreo and buttered popcorn diet, to name a few.”  I added, “The good news is that to ease my burden, all I have to do is let it all go. I just need to do what I can, and accept what I must.”


Today I will ease my burden, I will let go.

Writing My New Story (c) 2015 by Ken Montrose
Writing My New Story is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.

Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com https://www.pinterest.com/kenmontrose/mt-rose/
2020 Vision will return on Tuesday, January 2nd,  2018.

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy excerpts from past publications:


Hill Climbing (from AArdvarks)
Later that night my daughter was sitting next to me, reading a book for school. I had my laptop open.
"Whatcha doing?" she asked.
"Writing," I said.
"Writing is when you tap the keys and words appear," she said.  "What you're doing is staring at the screen." 
"Sometimes writing is all uphill.  I can't find a topic and I can't make the characters speak."
"So why do you write when it's uphill?  Why don't you wait until it's easier?"
"Because when I finally write something, it's like getting to the top of the hill.  My mind opens up and the writing gets easier.  Topics appear and the characters speak to me.  It's like running downhill when you're feet can't move fast enough to keep up with your body.  I can't type fast enough to get the words on the page. I think a lot of life is like that.  If you climb the hill you get to coast a little until the next one."
"Well Daddy, stop staring and start climbing that hill!  Why don't you write something about me?"
"I think I will, kid."

Today I will climb the mountain, knowing I may get to enjoy a downhill run.

AArdvarks ©2013  by Ken Montrose

AArdvarks  is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.

Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com https://www.pinterest.com/kenmontrose/mt-rose/

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Sunday, February 23rd, 2020

Replacement
Out of the blue, MaryJo said, “Hey, you drink coffee like a fiend, but you never eat donuts.”

“About three years ago my sugar levels were elevated,” I said. “Diabetes runs in my family so I cut out sweets, and cut back on carbs.”

“That sucks,” Rudy said, “You quit drinking, and then you had to give up cookies and cake.”

“Not really,” I said. “I learned early on you don’t give things up, you replace them. I replaced drinking with family, work, and the gym. I replaced sweets with spicy food. Both have made a lot healthier.”

Today I won’t give up, I will replace.

2020 Vision ©2017 by Ken Montrose

2020 Vision is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.


Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com https://www.pinterest.com/kenmontrose/mt-rose/

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Saturday, February 22nd, 2020

Awful or Unknown
“What’s up with you?” I asked Rudy.

“Something strange, something bad,” Rudy said. MaryJo punched him.  “Okay, I don’t know it’s bad, but it is strange. My stepbro offered to drop the charges if I let him sell my share of the dealership.”

“That’s it?” I asked. “He sells it, but you keep the money? Doesn’t seem so bad.”

“He’s up to something. Remember what Michael that Viking-looking guy said?”

“He probably IS up to something,” Mary Jo said, “You don’t know what it is, but worst case, he sells your half of the dealership and you walk away clean, money in your pocket.”

“No, he’s going to end up with all my money somehow,” Rudy insisted.

MaryJo rolled her eyes and said, “Rather than seeing a dermatologist, why don’t you just assume that freckle is cancer? Don’t talk to a financial expert, sell all your stocks, and stuff the money under your mattress because the next great depression might be right around the corner.”

“What’s she saying?” Rudy asked me.

“She’s saying you don’t know what’s happening so you’re filling the blanks with something awful.”

Today I won’t substitute the awful for the unknown.

2020 Vision ©2017 by Ken Montrose

2020 Vision is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.


Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com https://www.pinterest.com/kenmontrose/mt-rose/

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Saturday, February 22nd, 2020

Break Uneven
When I got to the meeting Mary Jo and Rudy were in their usual spots.
I sat down next to Mary Jo and pointed to her empty plate. “You ate a whole donut?” I asked. “Progress.”

She said, “Yesterday I had a grapefruit. That’s all. I didn’t even finish it. Today I ate three big meals and two donuts. I’m getting better, but it’s two steps forward, one step back.”

I said, “I remember my first year clean. Some days I couldn’t believe how much fun I was having sober.  Other days I wanted to punch the next happy person I saw.”

“You ever break up with someone, and you know it’s the right thing to do, but a couple days go by and a song on the radio reminds you of what you liked about them, and then you’re all sad, and thinking maybe I shoulda given her another chance?” Rudy asked.  “No matter what you’re recovering from, it never goes evenly. Up and down, happy and sad, until you’re finally better.”

Today I’ll remember the pace of recovery is almost never even.

2020 Vision is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.


Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com https://www.pinterest.com/kenmontrose/mt-rose/

Monday, December 18, 2017

Saturday, February 22nd, 2020

What I Meant to Say …
Before I left for the AA meeting, Luke called to see what I thought of his book. I meant to say ‘Your book shines a light on the workings of a deeply disturbed mind. Confederate veterans sank the Titanic? Burn all copies, scatter the ashes, and never speak of this again.’  What came out of my mouth was, “I thought it was an interesting theory.”

“You did?” he said. “Thanks! It means a lot to me. I can’t wait to see the revisions you made. Check the Acknowledgements page when it gets published, your name will be on top.”

And there was my punishment for lying, by what I didn’t say rather than what I did say.  I could see Luke’s acknowledgment in my mind:  “The author would like to thank Ken Montrose, who spent his career helping people with mental illness and addiction find and deal with reality. Without him, this farfetched, paranoid, stroll down conspiracy lane wouldn’t be possible.”

Today I’ll say what needs to be said.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2020 Vision is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.


Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com https://www.pinterest.com/kenmontrose/mt-rose/

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Friday, February 21st, 2020

Healthy Routine
By Saturday, restlessness gripped me. Nothing much had happened that week. I started telling myself I was in a rut.

I turned on the news -- people destroying their lives in the old familiar ways: sex, drugs, gambling, eating, etc.  Flipping through the channels I saw people using advanced technology to ruin their lives. Some of them had really been creative, certainly those who combined alcohol, a cell phone, and the internet to become famous for all the wrong reasons.

Living a productive life seemed like much more of an accomplishment. Maybe in today’s world a rut was just another name for a healthy routine.

Today I won’t mistake a healthy routine for a rut.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2020 Vision is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.


Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com https://www.pinterest.com/kenmontrose/mt-rose/

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Monday, February 17th, 2020

Of Harnesses, Cough Syrup, & Snakes
It wasn’t until I hung up that I remembered Jack’s first draft wasn’t due until the 28th. He had two weeks with nothing else to do, except curl up with a good book and a bottle of prescription cough medicine. Probably without the book.   

I knew what he was feeling.  Deadlines used to be snakes coiled in the corner. A smart person would, sooner rather than later, harness their energy, knocking off the snake before it got bigger and nearer. Not me.

As a deadline slithered closer, my anxiety would grow.  I’d hide by doing less important things. My anxiety would red-line.

In college I’d start a twenty-page paper, on something I knew nothing about, on a Friday at midnight. Thirty-five cups of coffee later, I’d finish it 3:00 a.m. the Monday it was due, shaking and swearing I’d never procrastinate again. Or, I’d get drunk instead, and hope I could get an extension. I got really good at weaseling second chances, extensions, and make-up exams.

When I got sober, I knew anxiety drove a lot of my drinking. I’d have to quit putting things off. That’s when I learned a lot of anxiety is unharnessed energy. It can be used to kill the snake, avoiding the need to get drunk, and/or beg for another extension. The trick was to harness it early, before it became red-line fear.

I called Jack again.
Today I will harness my anxiety.

2020 Vision ©2017 by Ken Montrose
2020 Vision is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.


Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com https://www.pinterest.com/kenmontrose/mt-rose/

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Monday, February 17th, 2020

Playing the System
I called Jack every Monday to compare notes on our writing careers. That Monday’s conversation didn’t go well.

“I’m going to miss my first deadline,” he said. “But, I can get a note from my doctor saying I was too sick to write.”

“Why don’t you just tell the publisher your dog ate your homework?” I asked. “Tell the publisher aliens abducted you, probed you, and now you can’t sit at your desk to write.”

“If I’m sick I can get an extension. It’s in my contract.”

“Jack you and I have been friends for a long time, but I gotta tell you, you’re playing the system. You got a prescription, but you didn’t really need that cough syrup. That’s playing the medical system. If you hadn’t gotten the cough syrup, you wouldn’t need an extension.  Using that extension is playing the contract system. This isn’t going to end well.”

Like a man clinging to a life raft, he clung to his original argument. “It was prescribed. It’s in the contract.”
Today I won’t play the system.

2020 Vision ©2017 by Ken Montrose

2020 Vision is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.


Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com https://www.pinterest.com/kenmontrose/mt-rose/

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Sunday, February 16th, 2020

No Kidding
After Jill hung up, I opened my laptop. It had been a week since I had left my job to write.  I hadn’t written a line.

“I’m doing research,” I said to the dog. She stared at me, disbelieving. I opened my browsing history to show her.  The articles I’d read and the sites I visited didn’t seem to be related to recovery: “Basstrological Signs: Your Fishing Horoscope,”  “Today’s Ferret Farmer,” “SHTF Cooking: Recipes for the End of the World.”  The only site remotely tied to addiction was “Political Junkie” a website for addicted people wanting to run for office.

The dog looked at me, disappointment written all over her face.  “I know what you’re thinking,” I said. “You think I’m kidding myself. That I didn’t do anything all week.”  She yawned.

“Fine,” I said. “I’ve been frozen in the headlights, wondering if I really want to spend my last days writing. I’ve been stalling, but I’m done kidding myself. Tomorrow I’ll start writing.” I found a website on being your own blacksmith.

Today I won’t kid myself about what I’m doing.

2020 Vision ©2017 by Ken Montrose

2020 Vision is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.


Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com https://www.pinterest.com/kenmontrose/mt-rose/

Monday, December 11, 2017

Sunday, February 16th, 2020

Heart, Mind, Brain, and Bad Places
“Jack’s going to miss his first deadline,” Jill said. “His publisher wants a revised first draft by the end of the month. I hate him.”

I laughed. She didn’t. “You still love him,” I said.

“I do,” she said, sounding none too happy about it.

“He loves you.”

“Then why did he relapse? He knew it would hurt me.”

“Relapse is like a computer virus,” I said. “The brain is the computer. The mind runs the computer, with the heart looking on.  Sometimes the mind takes the brain to places it shouldn’t, places infected with the relapse virus. Those places can be real, like a bar where the alcoholic thinks she’ll just drink Pepsi. They can be thoughts, like the sex addict lost in erotic daydreams at work.  The heart and mind want to do the right thing, but the virus hijacks the computer.”

Jill said, “Maybe.”

I said, “Once you got the virus, your priorities change. When you’re dope sick, you can have the most loving heart, and the best intentions, but you gotta get it in you, no matter who gets hurt. ”

 I reminded myself I wasn’t immune to the relapse virus.

Today I will keep my brain away from sketchy places.

2020 Vision ©2017 by Ken Montrose

2020 Vision is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.


Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com https://www.pinterest.com/kenmontrose/mt-rose/

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Sunday, February 16th, 2020

Not to Worry
Jill called to see if I could give Jack a ride to an NA meeting. She asked if he’d really gone to AA on Saturday. 

Like me, Jill had a vivid imagination that leaned to the dark side. Years of teaching grade school had convinced her disaster lurked around every corner.  

“I worry that Captain Codeine is home burning his lunch, trying to decide which cough syrup, red or purple,  goes with red meat,” Jill said. “He’ll probably set the house on fire.”

“Red,” I said.  “Purple goes with fish.”

She chuckled, but let out a sad sigh.  “I picture KC and his pregnant girlfriend living in a New York bus station, fighting rats for the leftovers he’ll bring ‘home’ from his job bussing tables in one of the Big Apple’s finest soup kitchens.”

“I think you’re getting a little ahead of things,” I said.

“I know. But they’re worrying me to death.” She sounded like she might cry. 

Today I will give loved ones less to worry about.

2020 Vision ©2017 by Ken Montrose

2020 Vision is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.


Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com https://www.pinterest.com/kenmontrose/mt-rose/

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Sunday, February 16th, 2020

Imagine That
Blondie called the next day. “I heard a few things about the office in Bleak,” she said. “Living in the desert has some drawbacks.”

I braced myself. Since the first time she told me about Bleak, I had been torturing myself, imagining the horrors may baby girl might face. Rattle snakes and scorpions. Coyotes the size of St. Bernards, Devil-worshippng biker gangs. An alien landing zone. One-eyed drifters with mysterious radiation burns.  The Walking Dude from a Stephen King novel. Mad Max.

Years earlier, I delayed getting sober because I imagined sobriety would be miserable. I had thought I was staring into a boozeless abyss of boredom and sadness. I had expected to meet a few nice people at AA, but mostly toothless old men who had burned holes in their livers drinking rubbing alcohol. I had pictured myself staring at a wall calendar, waiting for the sun to go down so I could cross off another dull day, a glass of cold water in hand.

“People get a little bored sometimes, especially toward the end of the year,” Blondie said. I felt some tension drain from my body.

“No giant coyotes?” I asked. “No secret alien meth labs? Just boredom?”

“Just boredom,” Blondie said. She paused and added, “I worry about you, Daddy.”

Today I won’t let my imagination ruin my day.

2020 Vision ©2017 by Ken Montrose

2020 Vision is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.


Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com https://www.pinterest.com/kenmontrose/mt-rose/

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Saturday, February 15th, 2020

By Comparison
Michael gave Rudy a long look as he shook his hand after the meeting.

“I know your brother,” Michael said. “I knew your dad.”

“Stepbrother,” Rudy corrected him.

“What you did was #@%@ing stupid, but I got some advice for you. Hire a forensic accountant.  Somebody to go over the books.” Michael paused and looked around. “Can’t say more, but working the ambulance crew you get to know some cops.  They have a really low opinion of your jackass stepbro.”

After Michael left, Rudy said, “I hate my stepbrother, but I always thought he was a pillar of the community. Never thought I could step out of his shadow.    Now I wonder what Michael was talking about.”

“I don’t know,” I said. “I do know you should stop comparing yourself to your stepbrother, especially since you don’t know who he really is. They say you should only compare yourself to who you want to be.”

Today I will compare myself with who I want to be.   

2020 Vision ©2017 by Ken Montrose

2020 Vision is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.


Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com https://www.pinterest.com/kenmontrose/mt-rose/

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Saturday, February 15th, 2020

Smart Enough?
The speaker was a friend of Phil’s from the Army named Michael.  He bounced to the podium and hugged Phil. Gripping the podium with his massive hands, he lifted it two feet off the ground, letting it slam back down. He grinned from ear to ear at the sound.

 His name was Michael, but he could have said “Holgar Skullsplitter” and nobody would have been surprised.  I wondered if he’d leave the meeting early to row his Viking longboat down the Ohio River, pillaging as he went.  

“My name is Michael, and I’m a @%(*&$#  alcoholic!” he said.  Michael should have died more times than he could count.  When he got out of the Army he tried to stay numb, but his addictions led to him being shot, hit by a car, and beaten. He’d OD’d several times.

The last time he OD’d “a  *#&^%$#  light went the  *&^#^$  off.”  He didn’t want to die trying to stay numb. Good or bad, he wanted to experience life. At first, life was mostly bad. Because he’d survived, he felt he owed the world something.  Michael worked as an EMT, volunteered at an animal shelter, and sponsored a dozen recovering men. He helped coached grade school wrestling, and I couldn’t help but wonder what new words the kids added to their vocabularies at his practices.

“I’m a stupid &%$#@*,” he said near the end of his talk. “I had to damn near die a boatload of times before I embraced the *&^$ing *&^# out of life. No more numb for me. I hope you guys are smarter than I was.”
Today I hope I’m smart enough to embrace life.

2020 Vision ©2017 by Ken Montrose

2020 Vision is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.

Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com https://www.pinterest.com/kenmontrose/mt-rose/

Monday, December 4, 2017

Saturday, February 15th, 2020

Nothing Personal
Jack didn’t really stumble into the AA meeting, he shuffled.

“Before anybody says anything,” Jack said, “I’m on prescribed medication, that’s why I’m moving a little slow.”

 “Have you talked to your sponsor about the cough syrup?” I asked. “You’re not taking it as prescribed.”

“He said I relapsed, and I should change my clean date. He wanted me to start working the steps again. I told him I was getting a new sponsor.”

Jack’s sponsor was a Korean War vet named Emilio that everyone called Yoda because he was wise and looked a little like the Jedi master. I couldn’t believe Jack had rejected his advice.

I thought I’d learned to detach from other people’s recovery and addiction, never taking anyone’s relapse personally. Jack’s relapse was killing me.  “Jesus is going to be your new sponsor,” I said. “I swear, I’m gonna send you to that big rehab in the sky.”

“You’re making a mountain out of a molehill,” he said. We argued until the meeting started. I had to let it go.

Today I won’t take it personally.

2020 Vision ©2017 by Ken Montrose

2020 Vision is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.


Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com https://www.pinterest.com/kenmontrose/mt-rose/

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Saturday, February 15th, 2020

At this moment
Rudy and MaryJo were both at the AA meeting. Rudy sat quietly, completely out of character for him.

“What’s up?” I asked Rudy.

He said, “Something. Something strange. Something bad.”

“His brother hasn’t said or done anything since Rudy got arrested,” MaryJo said. “Rudy’s making himself crazy worrying about what he’s planning.” She smacked him in the back of head with a bony hand.

“You don’t understand,” Rudy answered. “My stepbrother never misses a chance to rub my nose in it. I should have gotten a ton of phone calls and texts telling me how he was gonna drag me through court, take all my money, and send me to jail. He’s up to something, something bad.”

“Or,” MaryJo said, “He’s got a reason not come after you. Did you ever think of that?”

Rudy shook his head, too beaten down to hold onto that much hope.

“You don’t know what he’s up to,” I said. “You do know you’re OK right now, in this moment. Drink your coffee, eat your donut, and to hell with your stepbrother.”

Rudy shrugged. It was the best he could do. 

Jack stumbled in.

Today I will live in the moment.

2020 Vision ©2017 by Ken Montrose

2020 Vision is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.


Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com https://www.pinterest.com/kenmontrose/mt-rose/

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Friday, February 14th, 2020

My Responsibility
Blondie called me the next day. “I have to ask you something about the wedding,” she said.

Wedding? This couldn’t be the little girl who loved to sleep on my shoulder. It certainly wasn’t the toddler, who had looked up at me, giggled, and asked, ‘You gonna make me take a bath, tough guy?’ The days from then to now had passed too quickly.

“Do you want us to have a dry wedding?” she asked.

I was touched by her concern, but I said, “You should have the wedding you want. I haven’t stayed sober this long without learning a little about recovery.”  I’d already gone over the evening in my mind, knowing staying sober was my responsibility.

That settled, she told me about all the arrangements.  I couldn’t remember her sounding more excited.
“Sounds wonderful, kid,” I said, choking up a little.

“Are you crying, Daddy?”

“Allergies,” I said, even though I wasn’t allergic to anything.

Today, a day that will pass too fast, I am responsible for my sobriety.

2020 Vision ©2017 by Ken Montrose

2020 Vision is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.

Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Thursday, February 13th, 2020

Accidental Learning
On the drive home the traffic stalled. Up ahead I could see flashing lights. We formed a single lane and crawled up to the accident site. Three cars were on the side of the road, partially blocking the right lane. The driver of the car two vehicles in front of me stopped to take a picture with his cell phone. The guy behind him, and front of me, almost rear-ended him.

After the accident, traffic started to pick up speed. As I passed the driver who had taken the picture, he swerved into my lane barely missing me.  I looked over to see he was texting someone, probably sending a picture of the accident. 

I didn’t know what caused the first accident.  Possibly one of the three drivers had been careless. The guy texting clearly hadn’t learned anything from the wreck, and was working on creating his own pile-up. Seeing the accident reminded me to be careful.  Seeing the guy texting hammered home the importance of learning from other people’s mistakes before I made my own.

Today I will learn from other people’s mistakes, and from people who don’t seem to.

2020 Vision ©2017 by Ken Montrose

2020 Vision is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.


Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com https://www.pinterest.com/kenmontrose/mt-rose/

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Thursday, February 13th, 2020

Nice Enough
After the match, Brat Boy came up into the stands to hug CharChar and say hello to KC and me. A few minutes later the kid with the wild hair approached us. We sat three bleachers up, he stood on the gym floor, hands on his hips. He wasn’t smiling.

“In three weeks I’m going to embarrass you,” he said, referring to their upcoming rematch.

“When I come into the gym, should I use the side doors?” Brat Boy asked. “Last time I was there the front doors were blocked.”

At the reference to being blocked the kid looked as if he might explode. He stomped off like a third grader denied recess.

CharChar nudged him. “What happened to your endless smile approach?” she asked, laughing.

“Clearly the boy has issues,” Brat Boy said, “I was nice enough to him, but there’s a limit to how much anyone should put up with.”

Today I’ll be nice enough.

2020 Vision ©2017 by Ken Montrose

2020 Vision is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.


Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com https://www.pinterest.com/kenmontrose/mt-rose/

Monday, November 27, 2017

Thursday, February 13th, 2020

The Versatile Smile
We sat in silence. The other team subbed in a lanky kid with wild hair, a gold headband, and impatience written across his face.  I wondered if he’d been a high school star who couldn’t understand why in college lesser mortals were starting in front of him.

The new guy hit the inside corner with a rifle shot. He barely acknowledged his teammates congratulations, staring across the net at Brat Boy with a look of utter contempt. He hit another kill shot. Brat Boy smiled. Let a smile be your umbrella.

Brat Boy blocked the new guy’s next shot.  In Brat Boy’s shoes, I might have returned the new guy’s look of contempt. Brat Boy smiled at him instead. Two points later he blocked him again. Bigger smile. The new guy yelled at the ref that Brat Boy had touched the net. He hadn’t.  

I almost felt sorry for the new guy. As the match went on, he played worse, touching the net, jumping too early, hitting ferocious shots four feet out of bounds. Brat Boy didn’t say a word, he just smiled more. Let a smile be your argument. 

Today I will let my smile be my umbrella and my argument.

2020 Vision ©2017 by Ken Montrose

2020 Vision is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.


Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com https://www.pinterest.com/kenmontrose/mt-rose/

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Thursday, February 13th, 2020

Ever Ready
I went Brat Boy’s volleyball game and sat with his girlfriend CharChar.  KC strolled in a few minutes later and sat down next to me.

“I guess you heard the bad news,” KC said.

“Your girlfriend’s pregnant and you want to drop out of school,” I said.

He shook his head. “The really bad news – my dad finished that bottle of cough syrup in three days. It was supposed to last two weeks.”

“That sucks, but no offense, the pregnant-girlfriend-no-job-sketchy-plan thing isn’t great news either.”

 We watched a few points before he said, “Maybe I got myself into this, but I really need my dad and he’s not ready. All those years he stayed clean, he was always ready if I needed him. Now I don’t feel like I can rely on him. To me, that’s the bad news.”

I didn’t know what to say. Maybe someday cancer or an accident or something else I couldn’t control would leave me unready, not able to help.  But, that day I wasn’t going to do something within my control take me out of the game. I wasn’t going to pick up the first drink.

Today I will be ready.

2020 Vision ©2017 by Ken Montrose

2020 Vision is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Monday, November 20, 2017

Wednesday, February 12th, 2020

If the Right Thing Goes Wrong
As we pulled in front of his house I asked Rudy why MaryJo was in the hospital.
“Food poisoning,” he said. “She finally started eating again and she got food poisoning.”

“Well there’s a little bit of irony for you,” I said. “Will she be OK?”

“They think so. She texted me from the hospital bathroom: ‘Ordered oysters, they were my husband’s favorite seafood, and ended up here, bucket at my feet, sitting on the throne! Can’t wait to see what happens if I start dating again.’”

“Do you think she’ll go back to not eating?” I asked.

“No, she said she knows she has to eat, even if her first attempt didn’t turn out so well.”

Today I will do the next right thing even if the first right thing doesn’t go well.

2020 Vision ©2017 by Ken Montrose

2020 Vision is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.


Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com https://www.pinterest.com/kenmontrose/mt-rose/

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Wednesday, February 12th, 2020

Blowing up the Past
Rudy’s lawyer had arranged bail and Rudy was processed out when I got to the jail.

“Thank you,” Rudy said, extending his hand. He couldn’t look me in the eye. “I didn’t think you’d come.”

“You’re in deep,” I said. “Seemed like the thing to do.” We walked to my car in silence.

“Someone could have been killed,” Rudy said as he sank into the passenger seat. Another long silence.

At the first red light, I turned to him and smiled. I couldn’t help it. “I wish I could have seen the look on your stepbrother’s face.”

Rudy said, “He saw the flames and came running just as his car exploded. Boom! It was like our entire past was gone. Every humiliating thing he’d ever done to me blown up. Do you know the best part?”

I shook my head. “When the other cars exploded he raised his fist. Like when we were kids and he’d punch me for no reason. My dad would say ‘knock it off,’ but Dad would be laughing. Not this time. He raised that fist and I stared him down.  He’ll never intimidate me again.  Maybe you can’t change the past, but you can blow up the parts holding you back.”

I laughed. “Better not to blow it up literally,” I said. “Maybe not use gasoline.”

“Well if you’re going to be nitpick…”

Today I will blow up anything from the past holding me back.

2020 Vision ©2017 by Ken Montrose

2020 Vision is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.


Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com https://www.pinterest.com/kenmontrose/mt-rose/

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Wednesday, February 12th, 2020

Err on the Side of Kindness
I didn’t want to go get Rudy. I hadn’t known him that long, hadn’t liked him when I first met him. On the other hand, I thought I had some insight into why he was the way he was. Setting his stepbrother’s car on fire wasn’t a bright idea, but it showed just how frustrated Rudy was.  I had to give him some credit. The fire sent a clearer message than the strongly worded resignation letter I might have written if I were in his shoes.

I wasn’t sure what to do until I started thinking of all the times I’d messed up, and someone had cut me a break. The world hadn’t always been kind, but for the times it had, I thought maybe I owed it the benefit of the doubt. I’d be kind and give Rudy a ride.

Today I will err on the side of kindness.

2020 Vision ©2017 by Ken Montrose

2020 Vision is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.


Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com https://www.pinterest.com/kenmontrose/mt-rose/

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Wednesday, February 12th, 2020

Sometimes A Man is an Island
The next day Brat Boy texted me. He had a few classes with Jack’s son KC. KC’s girlfriend was pregnant. KC wanted to drop out of school and support her while he pursued an acting career. He thought the plan was terribly romantic. Brat Boy thought KC’s plan was just terrible, and KC should contact his parents and her parents immediately to come up with a better one. He wondered what he should do.

Luke’s book arrived. The Titanic, he argued, couldn’t have been sunk by an iceberg. A ship that big made of thick steel would have pushed the iceberg aside. He’d added an illustration with an ice cube and a straw. Luke noted that during the Civil War the English had betrayed the Confederate states by not siding with them. This made the South and Germany natural allies. He theorized that Germany gave them the U-Boat that sank the Titanic as the first step in rearming the Confederacy.  The book included a lengthy chapter on a German prince, his ties to the Knights Templar, the Masons, and Hitler’s father. I wondered if Luke had smoking meth when he wrote his book. I had no doubt he’d sell thousands of copies.

Rudy called me to say he was in jail. He was too embarrassed to call family, and really didn’t have any friends other than MaryJo, who was in the hospital. He wondered if I could come get him. He’d been arrested after alerting his stepbrother he was leaving the dealership by setting his stepbrother’s car on fire. Rudy had only meant to burn an obscenity into the hood, but had gotten carried away. Several cars in the staff parking lot caught fire after his stepbrother’s Mercedes exploded. Rudy was proud he’d been stone cold sober at the time.

“Sometimes the whole world goes crazy at all once,” I said out loud. “The best I can do is try to be an island of sanity.” I realized I was talking to myself again.

Today I will try to be an island of sanity.

2020 Vision ©2017 by Ken Montrose

2020 Vision is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.


Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com https://www.pinterest.com/kenmontrose/mt-rose/

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Tuesday, February 11th, 2020

Climbing
“Look, I know you don’t think you’re that bad,” I said to Jack, “but you’re on a narrow ledge.”

Jack said, “When the cough is gone, I’m done with the cough syrup. There’s no ledge.”

I ignored him. It’s what friends do when one of them is making no sense. “The ledges get narrower as you go down. It gets easier to fall to the next one. Cough syrup daily, or maybe painkillers to heroin.”

“It’s cough syrup. Prescribed medicine. No ledges.”

“The good news is as you climb the ledges, they get wider. Life gets more manageable. Getting to the next one is more about growth than survival.  Now, you gonna climb out this mess now or do you have to fall down a ledge or two?”

“There’s no ledge,” he insisted. I quit arguing with him. Instead I wondered if I hadn’t gotten too comfortable on my ledge. Maybe it was time for me to do a little climbing.

Today I’ll climb the next ledge.

2020 Vision ©2017 by Ken Montrose

2020 Vision is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.


Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com https://www.pinterest.com/kenmontrose/mt-rose/

Monday, November 13, 2017

Tuesday, February 11th, 2020

Worsers
As we spoke, I realized Jack was high. My heart sank.
“Jack, you drank the cough syrup,” I said.
“I have a cough,” he said. “It’s prescribed.”
“You drank the bottle,” I guessed.
“I only drank half a bottle,” he protested. “I’m a big guy, I need a bigger dose.”  There was a long pause. Jack changed tacks, “OK, maybe I had a little too much cough syrup, but I’m not as bad as Luke.”
“So that’s your plan? Not worry about it until you’re the worst?”
“It sounds bad when you put it that way,” Jack said.
Today I won’t wait until I’m the worst to get better.
2020 Vision ©2017 by Ken Montrose

2020 Vision is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.


Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com https://www.pinterest.com/kenmontrose/mt-rose/

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Tuesday, February 11th, 2020

Evidence
The next day I got an email from an old acquaintance named Luke. Luke asked if I’d review a book he’d written exposing evidence Confederate Civil War veterans and their followers sank the Titanic.

In ten years Luke had racked up three DUIs and two divorces.  He had a plate in his head from a bar fight. He’d starred in a YouTube video, urinating into the fountain in Point State Park, at noon, surrounded by tourists and office workers eating their lunches. He saw no evidence that he was an alcoholic.

I called Jack to tell him about the email. Jack had tried to convince Luke he needed help, but without much success. “He wouldn’t look at all the evidence,” Jack said.

Today I will look at all the evidence.

2020 Vision ©2017 by Ken Montrose


2020 Vision is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Monday, February 10th, 2020

Level Ground
Just as I was about to hang up, Jill got on the line. “Did he tell you?” she asked. Before I could answer she said, “Tell him.” Before Jack could tell me, Jill said, “He got cough syrup, the kind with codeine.”

“I have a cough, and a prescription from a doc who knows I’m an alcoholic,” Jack said, mostly to Jill, as if he was explaining himself to a disbelieving child. “I haven’t taken any yet, and I might not ever.”

“You think that’s a good idea?” I asked.

“Not you too,” he said to me. “Didn’t I just say I have a prescription? The doc knows I’m an alcoholic? That I haven’t taken any? I think I’m on level ground here.”

After I hung up, I said to myself, ‘the path leading to the slippery slope might seem level, but is slick with excuses and rationalizations.’

Today I’ll beware of the slick ground leading to the slippery slope.

2020 Vision ©2017 by Ken Montrose

2020 Vision is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.


Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com https://www.pinterest.com/kenmontrose/mt-rose/

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Monday, February 10th, 2020

Fear of Success
The next day, I called Jack to see how his book deal was coming along. He had signed the paperwork. It made him happy, but sent his anxiety through the roof. We laughed about how many people we knew who feared success.

“How many times do you see people get shaky as they get close to their first year sober?” I asked. “They can’t seem to accept they’re doing well.”

“My brother couldn’t sleep at night for the first two months after he got promoted at work.  He was worried he couldn’t do the job. Turned out he could do it half awake.”

“I couldn’t count the people who relapsed on their last day of outpatient treatment. The worst was over, but the fear of success got to them.”

Jack snorted, “Before Jill, I killed every successful relationship. Happiness made me nervous.” He thought for a moment, and then asked why people sabotage their successes.

“I’ve known people who questioned whether they deserved success. They saw failure as inevitable so they wanted to get it over with. They were afraid the more successful they were, the more would be asked of them. Most people get past their fear and are glad they did. Never a good idea to give into the fear of success.”
Today I’ll try not to fear success.

2020 Vision ©2017 by Ken Montrose

2020 Vision is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.


Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com https://www.pinterest.com/kenmontrose/mt-rose/

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Sunday, February 9th, 2020

Oh Deer!
By February of 2020 my wife and I had been together thirty years.  As she slept in the passenger seat, I remembered some of the good times we’d had.

And that’s when we hit a deer. We didn’t bump the deer, or graze it.  The deer didn’t struggle to its feet a few minutes later, and run off into the woods, dazed but wiser.  We left a deer stain on the highway, and destroyed our new car.

“Of all the damn luck,” my wife said, standing on the shoulder and looking from the highway to the crumpled hood of our car. Tears streamed down her face.

“We were luckier than the deer,” I pointed out, shaken but grateful.

Today I will remember luck comes and goes.
Lasting relationships are something to be grateful for.
  
2020 Vision ©2017 by Ken Montrose

2020 Vision is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.


Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com https://www.pinterest.com/kenmontrose/mt-rose/

Monday, November 6, 2017

Sunday, February 9th, 2020

Talk to Me
Brat Boy played well. During his junior year in high school, he’d realized to play in college he’d have to focus on one sport. He chose volleyball over basketball.  It had been a painful decision that paid off.  He was beaming.

On the drive home, my wife kissed my earlobe. She whispered in a sexy voice, “Talk happy to me.”

I talked about Brat Boy’s game, and what an upbeat kid he’d always been. She talked about Blondie’s wedding plans. We wondered how long after graduation Brat Boy and CharChar would get married.

As our parents aged, as we aged, as our children established their own lives, we knew there would be bittersweet and outright sad times. It made no sense not to squeeze every drop of happiness from that moment.

After she fell asleep, I kept listing things we had to be happy about.

Today I will talk happy to someone, even it’s just to me.

2020 Vision ©2017 by Ken Montrose

2020 Vision is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.


Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com https://www.pinterest.com/kenmontrose/mt-rose/

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Sunday, February 9th 2020

Because I Want To
We hadn’t told Brat Boy we were going to his game.  Getting to the gym early, we sat where he he’d see us. The teams came out to warm up, and his face lit up as he waved.

“Makes the trip worthwhile,” Dr. Deb said.

I laughed. “What if we’d driven three hours and he had rolled his eyes when he saw us?” I asked. “We’d have to leave.”

“No, we’d stay. I’d strangle him after the game, but we’d see him play.” She leaned into me, squeezed my hand, and added. “Love to see my baby play.”

We’d driven three hours because we wanted to.  His smile was icing on the cake.

Today I’ll happily do something because I want to, grateful if someone else appreciates my efforts.

2020 Vision ©2017 by Ken Montrose

2020 Vision is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.


Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com https://www.pinterest.com/kenmontrose/mt-rose/

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Sunday, February 9th, 2020

Recalculating
The next day, my wife and I were driving to Brat Boy’s volleyball game.  Where the road split, the GPS wanted us to take the southern route.  We took the northern route. It was eight miles longer but had almost no red lights. For the next twenty minutes the GPS tried to get us to turn around or take a backroad to the southern route. Every time we ignored it, the GPS announced ‘recalculating.’

It reminded me of that little voice that brings so many people back to addiction. It convinces them to try a side road. Their inner addict recalculates, bringing them back to the main road they thought they’d left behind.  

 A friend of mine was addicted to unhealthy, controlling, relationships. After years of abuse, she finally broke up with a narcissistic attorney. A month later she had joined a cultish church. The scared little girl in her head had recalculated, and found a new path back onto the same rocky road. 

I knew someone who kicked heroin, started drinking, convincing himself he was a social drinker. He sobered up, and recalculated how he’d fill the emptiness inside. He slept with every AA newcomer he could seduce. It took him forever to recognize sex was his new addiction.

Today I won’t recalculate my way back to addiction.

2020 Vision ©2017 by Ken Montrose
2020 Vision is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and anyone you might know is purely coincidental.


Other works by Ken Montrose are available at: www.greenbriartraining.com https://www.pinterest.com/kenmontrose/mt-rose/