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/

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Saturday, February 8th, 2020

Honestly

“You don’t like me very much,” Rudy said to me.
How to answer? On the one hand, I didn’t like him. People who talk too much without listening, and drama kings/queens tended to be my least favorite people. Rudy was both.
On the other hand, I was gaining a new respect for him. He was trying to stand up for himself. He’d given up alcohol, the one thing he had turned to for comfort. I admired his loyalty to MaryJo.  Knowing his father and stepbrother had made his life miserable, I understood his pufferfish defensiveness.

Before I could answer he said, “It’s Ok. I don’t like me very much either.”  It was like watching the pufferfish deflate, not back to normal size, but to a flattened, lifeless, sad version of itself.

Twelve Step programs stress rigorous honesty. Lie about little things and before long you’ll be lying to yourself about big things, like why you’re holding onto the painkillers from a surgery you had two years ago. I didn’t want to lie to Rudy.

“There are things I’m learning to like about you,” I said, “but I’m not sure you should worry about my opinion.”

Today I will try to find something to like about someone I don’t.

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/