Rapid Eye Reality -- Home of Brad Willis' writing on family life, travel adventures, and life inside the poker world

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Friday, October 24, 2003

More on my dad...

I'm only concerned with my dad right now. When I have a few minutes to write something, it will only be about my dad and our family's current fix.

If you don't want to read about that, I understand.

If you do...please click here for updates on my dad's battle.

Until he wins...I'll be over there.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

My dad

I wish it were easier to write those title words right now. I wish it were easier to fill all of you on what's happening.

In the coming days, I hope to be able to report more. For now, time is at a premium and I need to get back to the hospital.

The short version goes like this: Sunday morning fate took a wicked whack at my dad. He suffered an aneurysm in his brain, just behind the left eye. It could've killed him immediately, but did not. Since then, he's been in and out of conciousness and lucidity.

This odd word of brain medicine is not an easy one to understand. If the doctors don't repair the aneurysm, Dad only has a 50/50 shot at living. They tried to repair it Monday morning, but the swelling in his brain wouldn't allow it. So, now, the doctors have to wait for the swelling to go down before operating. The bad part is, as the swelling goes down, the aneurysm has a greater chance of breaking and killing my dad immediately. The swelling is so bad right now, it's affecting dad's ability to communicate. It's not an easy thing to watch happen.

Since Sunday, I've been sure my dad was going to die about three times. I've also had pretty sure feelings he would live and return to normal.

The fucked up part about all of this is that either of those things could happen. He has a chance of living through this and returning to the guy I know as the smartest and stongest man in my life. He has a chance of living, but turning into somebody I don't know. And he has a chance of dying at any moment.

So, I've temporarily moved back to Springfield. As of right now, I'm planning to be gone for at least a few weeks. As this situation gets better or worse, that time frame could ahcnge dramatically. I just don't know. I'm living in 12 hours blocks now and only sleeping in a bed 6 out of every 48 hours. I'd feel sorry for myself if it weren't fr the fact that my mom has only been in a bed for 3 out of the last 72 hours.

I'll try to keep an update here as often as possible, but I don't have access to the internet at the hospital and I don't make it to my parents house but every once in a while.

To everyone who has been thinking about my family, I love you all. My mom and brother appreciate all the nice thoughts.

People...I love my dad. If I've never typed that here, I guess it's about time.

I love my dad.

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

This post brought to you...

...by a product we call "I'm Outta Here."

Rambling to continue when I bring my ass back down off the mountain.

Until then, I invite you to stop surfing the net and go outside for a few days.

That's where I'll be. You'll find me a few feet away from the lake's shore, likely in a camping chair, more than likely with a beer in my hand, and absolutely with a smile on my face.

Monday, October 13, 2003

Sometimes...an interest piqued

I'm not a guy who links to a lot of things. If you want to read it, you'll go find it. However, there is an interesting story out of Big Sur that compels me to be a linker.

There is something about two women found dead in a posh beach resort that immediately makes my eyebrows go up.

While some residents -- relying on news reports and conversations with each other -- believe the deaths are the result of suicide or murder-suicide, Kathleen Millsap, a store manager at the nearby Lucia Lodge, said, "I'm thinking we might have a weird person around here."

The fact that they were both found duct-taped and their heads covered in plastic bags makes it even more odd. The fact that one of their heads was covered with a smiling halloween mask pretty much seals the deal.

I figure it is something about my childhood that fuels my morbid death compulsion (is that redundant?). The first movie I ever remember seeing was a drive-in showing of "Friday the 13th." After that, I remember "Prom Night" and "The Thing."

Sometimes, I think I'm a sicko at heart.

Thursday, October 09, 2003

Closing in, closing out, breaking down

Something is about to happen to me. It's actually been happening for more than five years now. But now it's really about to happen. I don't even want to talk about it right now. However, I happened to read this today and it scared the color right out of the hair above my ears (or maybe that was happening already).

What I craved was simple: conversation. I didn’t care whether it was with jocks, dorks, hippies, frat guys, sorority belles, math nerds, longhaired granola chicks, airheads, rockers, preps, druggies or losers. I just wanted someone — anyone — to approach me and talk to me as a peer, an equal, a member of the collegiate clan. I didn’t want to be addressed as “sir.” I didn’t want to hear questions about what a guy like me was doing in a place like this. I wanted to fly under the radar, to be seen, acknowledged, spoken to and accepted.

Click here to read the whole horrifying account.

And pray for me.

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

The bannnd, man.

So, the chances of me ever actually being in a band are pretty slim. I'm a mediocre musician and my only band experience ended very badly. The memories of my departure from The Flaming Puppies are not good ones. It's pretty humiliating getting kicked out of a band that had never actually been paid to play a gig. It's not much better watching the bass player marry your childhood girlfriend. It's even worse when you're in the wedding. I'd love to hear the VH-1 voice tell the story.

All the humiliation and small-town silliness aside, those four years are the reason I've continued to play and sing. I remember long nights in basements working out harmonies, trading instruments, working up song after song. At the time, Dave, Dan, and I shared something wonderfully intangible. While it wasn't always good, we were able to start a song and actually finish it. I didn't realize it at the time, but there was something pretty special about that.

In the years since I found myself packing up my toys and going home, times like that have been few and far, far between. More often than not, it's just been me sitting in an alcove or room with hardwood floors (natural reverb is neat).

In the past few years, there have been great moments though. They almost always happen spontaneously and can very rarely be replicated. One night it was a couple of guitar guys and an angel-voiced recent college grad. Another night it was a few guitar guys and a crowd of sing-alongers. Another night, it was three guys, late at night, playing off each other, trading songs, and not quitting until their fingers hurt. Another night, it was a back yard and a jam session that involved more people than I can remember (that one ended with a fairly inebriated but neat version of a capella Amazing Grace).

The other night as I slipped into bed to recount a fantastic night of poker, my wife looked at me and said, "You know, poker is the only thing that makes you smile anymore."

Not so, I said, my mind slipping back to those nights where I'd rather be embarrassed than quit playing. Those nights where I look up from my fingers and see another musician actually smiling at how things sound. Those nights when I look up and see that, for some reason, conversation and laughing has stopped--if only for a second--and people are actually listening.

There was a time when I would've been embarrassed to admit that I actually like it when people listen. I've realized that it's not so much that I want to entertain people. It's more that I like the idea of creating something that people actually want to consume. It's the same with cooking. It's the same with writing.

So, there.

I as going to write about tigers attacking their owners. I erased that post. I actually began this post with the idea of writing about silly band names I come up with. About two paragraphs in, I guess I decided I write about what was really on my mind.

There is something about creation that is better than sex.

That's what I'm talking about.

Monday, October 06, 2003

This space, again, intentionally left blank

I don't feel much like writing. I do, however, feel like moving down the brief moment of fiction so you don't have to keep looking at it.

Oh yeah, and I feel like improving my life a little bit.

More on that as I figure out how to do it.

Possible steps toward that goal: More guitar playing. Less drinking. More writing. Less poker playing. More home improvment projects. Less sleeping. More work ethic. Less working for the weekend.

That's a start, eh?

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

Another brief moment of fiction


The steps they took seemed to slow as they reached the front of Charles' house. Their heads--almost imperceptibly--turned toward the second floor bedroom window. They knew he was up there. What's more, they wanted him to know they were down there.

That's what worried Charles.

Reverend Brown didn't bother slowing or shifting his eyes toward the window. The man stopped dead in front of the white fence's gate and raised his chubby fingers in the air.

He's waving at me.

Charles shuddered in his pajamas and stepped away from the window. His foot brushed the empty prescription bottle on the floor. It rolled across the room and under the unmade bed.

There was no easy way to stand at the window and not be seen. For the last two weeks Charles had tried everything. Peeking out from the edge made the curtain move. An angled shaving mirror worked fine for a couple of days until the sun hit it wrong and nearly blinded the pretty pharmacist from Drake's Drug.

This morning, Charles had resumed a bi-hourly five minute watch, standing in the window with the curtains pulled back. So far he'd spotted the Reverend and Tommy Grace from The Spigot. That was only two before noon, but it was still early. He was sure he'd see more before second shift started at the mill.

They've got to make sure I'm still here.

At first, before he stopped going outside, Charles thought he might be getting a little loose in the noodle. He'd heard of paranoia before, but had never really tried it out. It wasn't until he refilled his prescription at the pharmacy--for the second time--that he realized he didn't need paranoia.

Who needs paranoia when you have an entire town keeping track of every move you make?

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Rapid Eye Reality is the personal blog of writer Brad Willis, aka Otis.
All poker stories, travelogues, food writing, parenting and marriage advice, crime stories, and other writing should be taken with a grain of salt. It is also all protected under a Creative Commons license