How 8 Words can Get You Fired

Posted in Personal Story, Random Thoughts with tags , , , , , , , , on December 6, 2017 by bigtuna185

wordsI’ve been feeling the itch to write again lately, although I’m not entirely sure what to say at this point. So much has passed and changed since the last time that I updated anything on here. My about page and profile are so outdated that at this point they might as well be about a different person. But writing never really leaves you, it just kind of waits for you to come back.

The last time I wrote about something personal I got a great response from it, even though the subject matter was less than enjoyable to write about. There’s been a topic that I’ve been meaning to come around to and address, but I’ve felt that there would be more backlash than support should I decide to publish the post. I’m at a point now, though, that I don’t care for what readers might think, just that I know it’s something that needs to be said.

What follows is an account of how I was pushed out of a job that I loved. All parties will remain nameless because it isn’t so much about who was involved as it is about the need for the full story to be told, lest egos and man’s pride get in the way.

It’s important to start with where I am now in relation to the events that are yet to told. I’m married to my beautiful wife, I have a son on the way, we have an apartment that we live in comfortably with landlords who not only understand and empathize with what happened to me, but have gone through it themselves, and I work 3 jobs so that we can continue to maintain this standard of life. Where I am now isn’t the end of the story, but it serves as a guidepost as to how difficult it has been when it needn’t be so. Don’t get me wrong. We live a GREAT and BLESSED life, but I can’t help but wonder what it would be like had events transpired differently. Anyway, onward. Continue reading

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Trial by Fire

Posted in Personal Story with tags , , , , on June 19, 2017 by bigtuna185

I’m not quite sure how to write about this, but I know that I need to. Yesterday was one of the hardest days I’ve ever had to watch my family go through.

We were coming home from our vacation in Florida, away to be at a gaming tournament for my brother’s birthday. It was a great weekend for all of us, my dad, my step-mom, me, and my brother. It was one of those weekends where you felt the stress of the past year just kind of dissipate and evaporate into the humid Orlando skies.

We arrived back at the airport without any issues, and, being that we were in Newark, we had a long drive back through New York traffic in order to reach my dad’s house on Long Island. Save for a few expletive filled moments directed at the various idiots driving on the road (as there are many), there were also no problems driving home.

As we made the turn onto the street where my father lived, I put away my copy of A Game of Thrones that I was re-reading, carefully dog-earring the chapter that I had left off on. I know you probably shouldn’t do that to books, but it’s better than using a bookmark and worrying about whether or not you lose it. Then I have to worry about the bookmark instead of the book, and I refuse to e-read, so here we are. All I could think about was getting to go home and see my wife, who I hadn’t seen for the past four days, her parents, eat some good food, relax on my couch at home, and feverishly look and apply to jobs for the summer. I never got to do that though.

The funny thing about plans is that they are never real until they happen. What happened next was not planned.

The car coasted down the bumpy, neglected road, and the first thing you noticed was the yellow tape. You know, like police tape stretched along the fence and lack of fence where a tree had previously fallen a few months ago. Then you look up from the tape and see what appears to be a house, but it no longer is. It takes a few seconds for the brain to add up and process the situation. Charred black, windows and doors blown out, a skeleton of its former self, my father’s house was destroyed. Burned.

I can’t tell you how much it hurt to hear my step-mom cry out to God or anyone for an explanation. To see them walk among the ashes of their now former life, coming to terms with the fact that things would never be the same again. The tears didn’t come to me, nor to my dad, as shock started to set in. Duty took over as a first born son, moving to try and do anything, say anything that might alleviate the situation. But mostly I couldn’t help but just stand there and look at it all.

Brown leaves from the trees overhead swayed in the branches from the gentle wind that blew that day. Brown I realized because the smoke and flames had been so high that it had killed a portion of the tree in a neighbors yard, suffocating it. The surrounding homes were still okay. Luckily, the fire was contained to the middle of the house and didn’t spread. Luckily is a bitter word here. Neighbors came out, anxious to know that my family was alright, that there was no one trapped inside when it happened. They didn’t know we had been on vacation, but they saw that a car was missing from the driveway. Cars drove past trying to see the spectacle that was my family’s tragedy. And you know they went out of their way to look at it. The house is on a dead end street.

My car had been in the driveway when it happened, the entire front, passenger side of the frame melted and drooping into the ground. Cracks and bubbles covered the windshield, straining under the intense heat that surrounded it earlier. The interior was all completely unharmed, so I was able to salvage everything from it, but the smell of burnt plastic was thick in the air inside. My dad’s car, sitting next to mine, useless due to a flat tire for months, wasn’t so lucky. The entire hood of the car was melted and gone, the engine looked like an ice cream cone left out on a hot summer’s day, the fabric on the inside of the car was torn apart and burned, and the rear window of his car looked as if it had been blown out. I didn’t have a car anymore, but that was nothing compared to what my family lost.

They attempted to sift through the wreckage to try and find what little things they could: in the end a few photo albums and a lock box with all of the house paperwork were the spoils. Nothing else could be done for it though. Unfortunately there were some kittens inside that didn’t make it, but the other cats were rescued and taken by a neighbor. The outdoor cats, meanwhile, all wandered along the front lawn, specters from a past life sent to comfort the grieving.

There was a man who showed up at some point who specialized in home fire aftermath repair/consulting, and things of that nature. A tricky business to get into. You don’t want business to be good, but you also need to make a living somehow. It’s a fine line to walk across. This guy did not even come close to finding the line. We realized that at some point the night before, he had tried to call us and tell us what happened, but at 1 in the morning when a random number calls, you don’t pick up. And so we didn’t. Anyway, this guy gets out of his van and tries to shoot the ol’ bull with everyone, asking people where they went to school just to see if they knew the same people that he knew. He was extremely outgoing, and charismatic, and picked the wrong time to showcase these qualities. I didn’t know how to tell him to leave, because we kind of needed him in order to figure out the next step. Eventually one of my dad’s friends showed up and told him to give us at least 24 hours to work through this.

It was a weird process. The initial emotion gave way to focused responsibility on what to do next, followed by more bouts of emotion, followed by action. Family showed up to support us. It was all very strange. To add to it, we still don’t know how it happened. The fire marshal had no answers, and the only information that we got from the situation was a 40 second clip on the news.

I think the hardest part about all of this for me was that I knew that I got to leave and go home. For my dad, my step-mom, and my brother, they couldn’t do that. Home was gone for them. Home was now ash in the wind, and I felt bad. They had nothing left, and there was nothing I could do except go home to my still moderately comfortable life. I prayed while I was there because it was the only thing I could do. Through that time, I heard God tell me “there’s a plan in this,” and that gave me comfort. Our plans may not be concrete, but His are, and hearing reassurance that there was purpose and love behind this was enough. It gave me strength to be there for my family.

At one point I asked my dad how he felt, which was dumb considering the situation, but I wanted to get a handle on his stability. The words seemed to get stuck in his throat, like he was preventing himself from processing the situation: “I don’t know how to feel!” And I just left it at that. This mental portrait, of my dad, silver gray ash covering his shoes, with a streak of red that trickled down, blood from a cut he had gotten while looking for the lock box key in the remains of the house, functioning, yet broken at the same time. I would wish for anything to give him back what he has now lost. But for right now, all we can do is rebuild and remember.

And by the way, did I mention it was Father’s Day?

“Under”-standing

Posted in Poetry with tags , , , , , , , , on May 11, 2017 by bigtuna185

I am substitute
I am somehow lesser
I have more ambition and greater passion
And somehow I am lesser
I replace, I fill in, I take up space
I am matter but I don’t seem to matter
I am required to be more flexible
To take more abuse
Receive less respect
Settle for less fulfillment
And yet what separates me
Other than the thought that I am more while being treated like less
Is a plastic ID badge
A better paycheck
Facial recognition amongst people who don’t care to know me
I grind and scrape myself away
Sharing thoughts and emotions
With an audience that will forget me a moment later
Washing their memories like the tide claiming footprints in the sand
There is one fact that I won’t let myself forget though:

I am substitute
But they will not drag me below who I was meant to be

Happy Accident?

Posted in Random Thoughts with tags , , , on May 10, 2017 by bigtuna185

The short story that I wrote months ago, “A Gathering of Exes” (https://bigtuna185.wordpress.com/2016/09/23/a-gathering-of-exes), is suddenly getting a ton of traffic thanks to a link on Reddit. Like hundreds of views. That’s insane.

I’m not complaining, it’s just odd that my story would be linked to in that thread since I’m not what I would call a “well-known author.” I’m not entirely sure how you would find it unless you were one of the 3 or 4 people that read it (numbers not exaggerated), or you dug deep to find some source material for the post.

I think the most ironic part of all of this is that I wrote the story based off of a prompt that I found on, you guessed it, Reddit. How’s that for a full circle ending?

Anyway, if you’re seeing this and you’re new to the blog, mind the cobwebs from the lack of frequent use, and feel free to give some feedback to my writing. Thanks!

Conditioning

Posted in Poetry with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 6, 2017 by bigtuna185

rustic-gold-and-black-silver-mens-wedding-ring-6mm-wide-hammered-surface

Someone once said to me
“Marriage is a heavy burden”
That to wear a ring is a weight,
Not something to be taken lightly
And that may be true
The trials of matrimony
Were never meant to be simple
When you fuse two souls together
Pain is part of the process
Pieces of yourself die off
No longer able to be sustained
When your systems need to be redirected
In order to compensate for two being one

We are Siamese now

To support only one is to destroy both
And so it helps to imagine that we were always this way
To condition yourself into thinking this is normal
Until the muscles and thoughts become second nature
And the lactic acid build up from carrying this extra weight
Subsides and dissipates into new strength

The band around my finger no longer feels foreign
The smooth metal which used to constrict
Now feels as though it is vital
That I might not truly live without it

It is Life
And so is she

The Siren’s Lullaby

Posted in Poetry with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 23, 2016 by bigtuna185

*This was my first attempt at ever trying to write a sonnet in its true traditional form. It was a process, but an enjoyable one.*
  
If only there were other ways to stay

In close proximity for sleeping eyes. 

A cushion left behind, indeed it cries, 

“Come home to me, for I will soon repay

Your company with shelter from the day.”

The bitter sun, with golden hands it pries

My slumber and rest, unwillingly dies. 

This forceful torture makes this poet crazy. 
However, there is more than just this plight. 

This life alone is built for greater things. 

I can’t bemoan my weak and wearied state

While people daily defy their twists of fate. 

For privilege remains common and trite

To those whose only problems are alarm rings.  

 

A Gathering of Exes

Posted in Short Stories with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 23, 2016 by bigtuna185

“Good evening everyone, and welcome to the annual gathering of Dominick’s Ex-Girlfriends!” A voice boomed over the PA system. Applause erupted across the audience. “I’m your host for tonight, Dom’s first love, Rachel.” More stringent clapping now. A few grumbles can be heard. “Hey now ladies, no matter how it ended, we’re all winners here tonight. We’re on the same team.” Pleased with the explanation, the crowd of females clap once more. A few can be seen giving high fives and taking selfies.

“I’m so glad you could all be here today. Before we kick this off, I’d like to hand it over to our keynote speaker, Dom’s mother!” Enthusiastic cheers rise from the audience, with some saying audibly, “Awwww, I love her.”

“Hello to all of you wonderful, wonderful girls. I’d like to thank each and every one of you for the impact that you had on my sweet baby boy. I know that he’s rough around the edges, but little by little you’ve slowly been softening him up…except for you, Arcadia. I’m pretty sure you were just a phase.” Arcadia, dressed in all black, flips off the crowd with a forced smile. His mother continued.

“Who could forget you, Sandra? He loved spending time with you at the beach.” Sandra stood up.

“Uh, obviously he forgot about me. Several times actually. He called me Kendra more times than I can count.” At this, Kendra stands up.

“At least you got a full name. He couldn’t remember who was who, so he just called me ‘Dra.'” Murmuring sweeps across the congregation. Dom’s mother looked horrified.

“Well, you see, love keeps no record of wrongs, and apparently no record of names either. Luckily, I do. Like Tiffany! Your relationship was the most adorable 7 days I’ve ever seen.” Naturally, Tiffany had something to say about this.

“Yeah, that jerk just used me for my beach house during Spring Break. The moment we got home, I never heard from him again!”

“Are you sure you didn’t just change your phone number, dear?” his mother stammered.

“I didn’t,” Tiffany said. “But he most certainly did!” Multitudes of nods are seen in the audience.

“That’s a classic Dom move,” whispers Rachel into the microphone. His mother is speechless once more. Just then, a door crashes open from the back of the room. A petite redhead confusedly walks into the conference hall.

“Hi,” she called out. “I think I’m lost. A car just randomly picked me up from my boyfriend’s house and brought me here.” A hush of sorrow fell across the room.

“Oh, sweetie,” said Rachel. “Come on up here and we’ll get this sorted out.” The girl gingerly made her way forward and onto the stage. “Now why don’t you tell us your name and what happened to you,” Rachel said in a therapist’s tone.

“Well, my name is Miranda, and I’m not quite sure what to say. One minute I’m with my boyfriend, Dominick, who has been wonderful to me from day one. We were kissing in his car in his driveway, I told him I couldn’t wait to spend my life together with him, and then he told me that he just had a lot of things going on and needed a break for once.”

“Did his phone ring?” shouted a voice from the crowd.

“Did he run directly inside?” shouted another.

“Yes and yes,” answered Miranda. “How did you know?” A tall girl with a blonde bob seated in the back stood up.

“Sorry! That was my bad. He was with me after that.” The color drained from Miranda’s face. She looked to be on the brink of tears. Rachel stopped her before it got ugly.

“It looks like he was as inconsiderate to you as he was to all of us.” Her arm swept across the group of girls. “Luckily, we have a panic room filled with ice cream and various items that we’ve stolen from Dom over the years that you can destroy.” Miranda still seemed upset, but perked up at the thought of ice cream and destruction. She seemed to now wield a carpenter’s hammer out of nowhere and nobody knew how she got it.

“I think she’s going to be okay,” exclaimed Rachel. “Mama, do you have any final words for the people?” Dominick’s mother stood there dumbfounded.

“Um…well, I’m sorry for everything that he’s done to you, but now I know you’re all better off.” At these words she received a standing ovation.

“And that’s the reason we have this convention,” shouted Rachel over the crowd. “We are all better off. Now onto a special segment of the night. May I ask the first person who was ever intimate with Dom to please step forward.” Girls from all over the room stood up and started making their way forward, sparking fighting, name calling, and other colorful actions detrimental to the sisterhood. “Still didn’t figure this out from last year, huh?” whispered Rachel to herself. Dom’s mother nearly fainted.

“Okay my lovable crazies,” called out Rachel. “Everybody back to their seats.” The ladies overcame their spell of jealousy and went to go sit back down, complimenting the others on their hair, shoes, and outfits on the way. “I think we may have to cut that segment for next time. But the fun keeps rolling!” Rachel was undaunted by the mishaps so far. It was shaping up to be the most eventful gathering yet. “This is my favorite part of the night, the Wheel of Vengeance!”

A trap door in the stage opened up. A fog machine and laser lights set the mood. The music was pounding and the girls were going wild.

“One lucky contestant will get a chance to spin the wheel and inflict some sort of misery on Dom for the near future.” Rachel licked her lips in anticipation. “I wish it could be me, but I’ve saved the fun for all of you. If you could look under your seats, then we’ll find out who the winner is!” The ladies frantically flipped their chairs. Cries of anguish could be heard. One of the chairs caught fire somehow, Arcadia laughing maniacally a short distance away. Finally, a shrill voice.

“I GOT IT!” The girl made her way to the stage while everyone else clapped politely. In reality, they were just eager to know what tragedy would befall Dom. On the wheel were many options. One sliver read that you could have medical documents falsified to say that Dom had an STD (which, given who he is, might not be false). Another read that you could have a copy of all of his keys made for you. Still another was for the passwords to all of his social media and Internet accounts. Damage could most certainly be done here. The women he had wronged had used their struggles wisely, breaking into many different walks of life, which made all of these choices on the wheel possible.

“What’s your name, sweetie,” Rachel asked the lucky winner.

“Myra,” she replied in the same shrill voice from before. Her excitement was getting the better of her.

“Well, Myra, are you ready to spin the wheel!?” She nodded eagerly and gave a great big heave to it. Round and round it spun, the TLOK-TLOK of the ticker hypnotizing everyone into a trance. It seemed to not slow down for many minutes, but in actuality it was only seconds. Finally, it began to ease up, little by little, until it came to rest on a yellow slice of the wheel.

“Wow!” shouted Rachel. “You sure got a great one! Develop a pathogen to make Dom allergic to all of his favorite foods! Non-lethal, people. We aren’t murderers here. Congratulations Myra!” Myra walked away more than pleased. She had been the one that Dom gave mono to, then dumped her when she got sick. This would be even retribution in her eyes.

“Well ladies, it’s about time to move on to our sing-a-long portion…” Rachel stopped midway through her sentence. The back door was flung open once again. “Not again,” muttered Rachel. “Two in one day? That’s low, even for Dom.” However, upon closer inspection, it appeared to be a man who walked through the doors. It was Dom’s best friend, Bryce.

“Bryce, what are you doing here!?” demanded Rachel. A host of boos and hisses came from the crowd. Bryce had been responsible for many a girl being ensnared in Dominick’s web. He had a dumbstruck look on his face.

“I don’t know what happened,” he started. “I was hanging out with my boy, Dom, doing guy stuff. Next thing I know he’s kicking me out of his house and there’s this blacked out car waiting for me. Now I’m here.” He stopped to ponder his surroundings. “Man, a lot of you girls look familiar.”

A chorus of “Oh’s” escaped the crowd, in sudden understanding of who Dom really was. Rachel was quick on the draw.

“Oh sweetie, why don’t you follow those girls to the back to get some ice cream.”

Bryce was puzzled, but went along with it. “Okay, yeah. That sounds pretty good.”

“That about wraps up our annual gathering of Dominick’s Ex-Girl…sorry, Dominick’s Exes. Stay tuned for the newsletter coming in the mail with changes about next year. I hope you enjoyed yourselves. Be sure to take your complimentary gift, a book detailing all of Dom’s strategies for getting to women called ‘Dominating Dom.’ See you all next year!”