Dear Dad

I don’t even know where to start.

So much has changed since you left, dad. But too much is exactly the same. I still listen to Here Comes the Sun exclusively twice a year; once to honor when you came into the world, and once to mourn when you left it. I cry each time.

I keep waiting for it to get easier. I keep waiting for the day I stop reaching for the phone to call you. I keep waiting for any of it to make sense.

I’ve tried so hard to make you proud, dad. I hope you felt pride for me while you were still here. I like to think you did. I’ve made a lot of mistakes, been through some pretty dark shit, but I’ve always come out of it trying to live by your example.

I’ve been at the same job for twelve years now. I learned that from you. Been with Danielle for over fifteen years. I learned that from you, too.

I’m trying to better myself every day. Losing weight, meditation, etc. I’m trying to be as positive about the world in general as I possibly can. All of this has been difficult, but I’m still trying.

The main thing I can say I’m very proud of is I haven’t lost my sense of humor. I still find joy through laughter, both my own and that of others, and I often find that laughter through memories of you. Things you have said or done, all to make me laugh and bring me happiness, stay with me. One of the few shining lights in the darkness is my ability to laugh and to love. Meeting everything with a chuckle is a wonderful way to live in this world.

I’m sorry if I’ve failed you. I’m sorry if you ever felt anything but love and fierce admiration from me, if you had ever felt the sting of betrayal as a result of my actions. I know I was a difficult teen, as so many are, but if you know only one thing, please let it be that you were and are my hero.

Tomorrow is another day without you, another moment in time I wish I could pick up the phone and hear your voice, to say happy birthday with a joke and a belly laugh. But I can’t and I don’t know how to deal with that knowledge yet, it feels too complex for my brain to process, like an optical illusion.

Wherever you are, I hope you still see me, dad. I hope you know I think of you every day, that I still say good night to your photo every night and I hope you’re somewhere saying it back.

I’m gonna say it now, since I won’t be saying much tomorrow. Happy Birthday, dad. I love you and I miss you.

Love,

Robby

Microsoft Acquires Bethesda for $7.5b

Well, I didn’t see that one coming.

It was announced on Monday that XBOX parent company Microsoft has bought powerhouse developers Bethesda, known best for their blockbuster video game franchises such as Doom, Fallout, and Elder Scrolls, for a whopping $7.5b.

This is massive news. No one knows what this really means now, going forward. If Microsoft decides to sign exclusivity deals with Bethesda for future installments of Fallout or Elder Scrolls, meaning they can only be played on an XBOX console, it would solidify their brand as nigh invincible in the game console landscape.

Don’t misunderstand me, people will still buy the PS5/PS6/PS7 etc. as well. But I often end up buying a new console based almost entirely on the exclusives. If you tell me the only way I’ll ever play an Elder Scrolls game again is if I buy the new XBOX, then guess which console I’m buying.

The other thing to consider is just what a very clear power move this really was. If Microsoft has the money to throw nearly $8 billion at one of the largest and most prestigious developers, it can buy whatever company it wants. With this purchase, Microsoft is reminding the world just how much power they have.

I can’t say this news makes me particularly nervous, but rather cautiously optimistic. I look forward to seeing what comes from this partnership in the future.

Nirvana v. Foo Fighters: A Question of What Could Have Been

Had Kurt Cobain not been tragically crushed by the weight of his own success, would Nirvana go on to be as consistently growing and changing as the Foo Fighters have become in Nirvana’s absence? Or would they follow a course similar to their brothers in grunge, Pearl Jam; being hailed as one of the most influential bands still making music today?

It’s telling that in Nirvana’s all too brief time in the sun, they’re still widely regarded as one of the best bands of all time. But is this a case of the potential outweighing the achievements? Is Nirvana inherently better in theory than practice?

My own opinion is that, were Nirvana to still be recording music today, they would have transcended their grunge beginnings and evolved into an experimental musical force to be reckoned with. Multiple lineup changes, more than likely.

Foo Fighters, as a band, is a prime example of what occurs when a group of musicians blends their passion in a way that makes their sound timeless. You know when a Foo Fighters song is playing. Dave Grohl is one to grab your attention pretty quick. Their catalogue is staggering in scale and diversity, all while maintaining a significant and unique audio profile. Something very few bands have mastered over the years.

It’s obvious that comparing these two bands in a competition of historical value or cultural impact is impossible. I am in no way trying to pit these two powerhouses against one another in a battle for your endearment. Both bands are favorites of mine for a variety of reasons.

But sometimes we must weigh what could have been and contemplate what a sort of miraculous thing music is. How lucky were we to have The Beatles? David Bowie? Prince? Tom Petty? All in the same flashbang stretch of time in the universe we just so happen to be living through. It’s mindboggling.

How do you think Nirvana would have continued had Cobain remained with us? What’s your favorite Foo Fighters song? Sound off in the comments!

So, 2020 huh?

What a fucking year. So far. So far!

Aside from the general worldwide chaos of civil unrest and a pandemic both taking place during an election year in the US, I have had a trying time personally.

While cleaning my kitchen, one fateful night in April, I slipped on some folded boxes and ended up injuring my back. The pain was excruciating and was only getting worse, so it was an ER visit for me.

After a number of x-rays and some very lovely pain killers, the doctor entered the room.

“You have a comminuted fracture of the L2 vertebrae.” He said, “Do you know what comminuted means?”

“I do not.” I answered. I was fairly drugged up by then and was uncertain of most things.

“Well, it’s what happened to Humpty Dumpty.” The doctor said. Great. A doctor who moonlights as a comedian. Perhaps the other way round?

What followed were physically the most challenging months of my life. Stuck in a recliner, unable to climb the stairs to bed, it was obvious I couldn’t work either. All without surgery, thankfully.

Between numerous doctor appointments, changing my pain meds, and going in for scan after scan, it was a slow recovery. I am still not a hundred percent. Returning to work, two hour shifts, three days a week, has been an uphill climb, but a rewarding one. It’s nice to see the faces of regular customers light up when they see me behind the counter the again, nice to be greeted by coworkers who say they’ve missed me.

I still have a long way to go, but I would not be as far along as I am without the love and support of some truly wonderful friends and family. We were helped financially, we were gifted a bunch of groceries by an anonymous savior, and regular contact with loved ones has all really helped pull me out of a very dark place and I can’t thank everyone enough.

I’ve spent much of this year working on myself. I’m trying very hard to become a better person, both physically and emotionally, to feel as though I actually deserve the love and support I’ve received these few months.

I have started to lose weight, be more active and eat much healthier than I ever have before, I’ve begun meditating and taking initiative to stay as positive as possible. It’s a rocky ride, lots of ups and downs. I’ve gone over my calorie budget more than once, I’ve opted not to walk around the neighborhood (another change I’ve made recently, in conjunction with my physical therapy) simply because I was too tired. Staying positive is not an easy feat when one is still in pain on a daily basis.

But I soldier on, every day is a new beginning and a new chance to fix my bad habits and hopefully replace them with good ones.

Another way I’m looking forward is by finally buying the domain RobKaas.Com

Right now, it’s just a home to this blog, some videos I’ve made (both from YouTube and Byte), and a few photos. Eventually it will turn into something else, but for now, that is what it is. I’m not very good at the whole website thing, but I am proud of what I have so far.

It’s currently almost two in the morning and I’m very tired and in quite a bit of pain from work, but I am eager to greet the day and see what’s in store.

Thank you for reading. Thank you for being you.

Shadows

The sky was stark white and the wind licked at your skin like a frozen flame. Clouds edged in, dark as the abyss, and spread across the blinding naked sky like oil in water. Cold is cold, but not as cold as a midwestern winter.

I have had a lot of time to think lately. In recent days, sleep has eluded me, remaining just out of reach.

Life is a series of trials, each one specifically designed to break you. Specifically designed as a test you likely will not pass. For many, these act merely as speed bumps. A moment of reflection upon how we had to change, for the sake of accommodating these accomplishments.

For others, these tests prove to be more. Hurdles too high to clear, goals too high to reach. It feels as though someone had held you down and ordered a room full of people you do not know to kick the ever loving shit out of you.

The pain sets in. The lies of a broken mind whispers in your ear, telling you no one really cares. No one will miss you or indeed even notice you’re gone, while you shake hands with the devil in your heart.

Your heart races, the tears begin to form and cloud your vision of the world around you. The darkness will consume.

The time comes when one must stand and fight for their beliefs or lie down and admit defeat.

One can only run from shadows for so long before the shadows catch up.

The piper must be paid his due.

My Personal Shadow

Everyone, no matter how big or small, has a shadow. A little piece of darkness that never leaves us, following us through our lives like an obsessed puppy. For some, coexistence with their shadow is such that they are barely even aware of its presence. For others, the shadow grows far beyond the reach of their control, ever spreading, ever consuming. For others still, the shadow consumes all they have to give until only a battered husk remains.

For those locked in battle against their personal darkness, it is a daily struggle to stay on top. A daily fight, tooth and claw, to see the sun. A fight some of us will never win.

The shadow moves swiftly and silently, it shows a cunning and resilience commonly reserved for large predators, but that is what it truly is, at the end of the day, the largest and most deadly predator of all. It circles us, taking shots at our hearts, tearing our soul from us, bit by bit. Toying with us, making us wish it were over. Making us beg for it to end.

The world and those in it are particularly cruel to the kind, the warm and receptive to the pain of others. Those of us who ignore our own shadow to help quell the insatiable hunger of those around us. The darkness takes aim at these warriors of emotion, adding fuel to the fire and causing our shadow to grow even more restless while we dare not look. We dare not see what our own monster has become, we dare not notice how far our own shadow has stretched whilst distracted by trying to heal someone else.

For some, it stretches and stretches, ever expanding until all light is obscured. Until only darkness remains.

The weight of ones shadow can fluctuate by a daily measure. On the lightest days, the pain is but a whisper in the recesses of the mind, kept at arm’s length. But other days, it carries the weight of the world. Crushing, always crushing. Souls, as bones do, become brittle with time. They cannot carry the same weight they used to. They break and shatter, like hearts do, only the healing can seem impossible.

Sometimes we find ourselves at our breaking point. We find ourselves standing at an emotional precipice, unsure which way is up and which way is down. Lost within the shadow itself, ever floating, ever spiraling, never again meant to feel the solidity of ground beneath our feet.

Some of us have been battling our shadows for as long as we can remember. For some of us, the time before the darkness is a simple but clouded memory of better times.

Brittle souls and dull weapons. War can last too long. Sometimes the end is a reprieve.

The Smoke-Kissed Air of Autumn

The cold is creeping in slowly this year. Leaves flash fiery orange and red at the end of the day, the literal color of the sunset. Autumn expressing its role as sunset of the calendar year, the last dying embers before the bitter winter shadows come howling in from beyond.

I stand outside, breath visible in the wind as an ethereal swirl of fog, and breathe in. The air smells as though kissed by smoke. Rain coming, the leaves above my head play their windsong, and children in sweatshirts and boots run laughing through the street.

Looking up, past the trees, the clouds shift from stark white to a melancholy gray, signaling the coming storm. The hair on the back of my neck stands up and I retreat inside to warmth.

This is my favorite time of year.

I’m Fine

It’s a seemingly innocuous phrase. Two words, direct and to the point, crafted specifically to ease the concern of others. On some days, its genuine. Some days, a lie to yourself as much as to those around you.

I’m fine.

It’s commonly used in response to statements such as “you look tired” or “how are you holding up”. A shield and a mask, a deflection of true feelings.

I’m fine.

This week has been uncommonly rough for me, for reasons I will not go into here, and I have admittedly leaned on the magic phrase more than once. I still catch myself saying it, on the outside looking in, and I suppose I always will.

I’m fine.

This entry is really meant to be twofold:

  1. To express gratitude to those precious few who have checked in on me. Who have gone out of their way to be an emotional crutch that I have so desperately needed.
  2. To use this post as a means to remind you, dear reader, that life is all too short and while the world continues to spin without you, you do matter to those around you. You are important and you are loved.

Hug your loved ones, hold them close and cherish what precious little time you have with them. Because life is at times as cruel as it is beautiful and nothing is promised.

I’m fine.

Harlan Ellison

ellison

Harlan Ellison has passed away. I don’t even know why I’m writing this. There’s nothing I can say about Ellison that won’t already be said countless times in other areas of the internet today, but in a month during which we’ve already lost Anthony Bourdain, it felt right to say something.

If there is a pantheon of writing gods out there, Harlan has been in it for decades. His list of accomplishments is staggering, the influence of his work and voice is far reaching.

No one can sell Harlan Ellison better than Harlan Ellison, so here are a few clips that sum him up perfectly.










 

If you have the ability to watch the 2008 documentary DREAMS WITH SHARP TEETH, I highly recommend doing so. It’s such an interesting look into Harlan’s world and his life.

Godspeed, Mr. Ellison. I’m going to drink a beer and read some comic books. I like to think you’re doing the same, somewhere.

Life Is Weird

I’ve slept a lot in the last twenty-four hours. Made the climb up the stairs, glance out the window before climbing into bed, wrapping myself up in blankets and drifting into unconsciousness. I’d woken up a few hours later, come downstairs and made myself a sandwich, then repeated the process listed above. Then again, then again.

I’ve lost track of how long, broken up over a day, that I’ve slept. It feels like too much, it feels like not enough.

Sleeping is a coping mechanism for me, as it was for my father. When things got to be too overwhelming, when everything seemed it’s bleakest, my father would turn off the lights, turn on the fan, and crawl into bed. Now, I do the same. I’m a lot like him, in a lot of ways. Some of them make me proud, some of them make me wonder.

Father’s Day is today, as of this writing, and I just never know how to feel on this day anymore. Every time it comes around, I reach for the phone to call my dad and tell him I love him. Every time I do, it hits me all over again that he won’t be on the other end of that phone.


bourdain

Anthony Bourdain passed away last week, another life claimed by suicide, and it has hit me considerably hard. I did not know Bourdain, had never met him or spoken with him in any capacity, but through reading his books and following his television shows (No Reservations/Parts Unknown), I felt like I did. Through reading various articles he’d written, various interviews with him, I felt like we all got a glimpse of his soul. A soul that was scarred and embattled.

Bourdain’s struggle with mental health was never a secret, was never kept hidden from viewers of his shows. No, in fact, Bourdain was always a champion of speaking out, be it in interviews or on Twitter, about depression and mental health issues. He always seemed like someone who had been deep in the fight for many years, always punching upward, but that made him one to admire and respect.

For someone who suffers from depression, for someone who has dealt with this pain his whole life, to see someone like Bourdain going out there and shining a light on so many problems in our society (the #MeToo movement and harassment/abuse in all industries, causes dealing with mental health, being critical of political regimes including our own what are bordering tyranny) and doing it with such wisdom and charisma… It made an impact. It gave me hope.

But to lose such a vital voice in this time of strife, to lose such an important warrior in the current culture war blowing up outside, is devastating. I had said on Twitter that losing Bourdain now is very much akin to losing Hunter S. Thompson during the G.W. Bush administration at the beginning of the (latest) Iraq war. A modern scholar who has a unique take on life and the world around them because they have had unique experiences, had survived unique trials and tribulations, and were made better for them.

My heart hurts, not just for the loss of a television travel host, but for the loss of one of the most vocal proponents of the fact that we are all the same people living on the same planet. We should respect one another, we should care for one another, we should put all this strife and pettiness behind us and focus on healing the world and making it a better place. Showing us the beauty of different cultures, their histories and art, to make it less scary that these cultures are “them”. In fact, that there is no “them”. Only “us”.

To know that Bourdain’s death was self inflicted, that his demons had finally overpowered him, that the darkness was too strong for him to fight it anymore, is what has hit me the hardest. To know that a man like Bourdain, who had been through so much, seen so much, been connected to the entire world in such a unique and powerful way, was still taken over by such sadness that he would hang himself… It scares me to my core.


It’s raining again.

I think blogging about things is helping. I think I’ll continue.