December 30, 2019: Journal Entry #28: New Years Past and Present
I find old advertisements interesting and scary at the same time. The thing that hasn’t changed is pumping up smoking, that it’s something glamorous and makes you look sexy. Sure, they pick thin women with long fingers, but have you ever smelled someone’s breath after they smoke and drink coffee. It reeks and then some. No one uses models with yellow teeth and feathered hair because then no one would buy cigarettes. 2020 is the Year of the Rat. They weren’t responsible for Bubonic plague that ravished Europe. If you want to blame anyone, blame fleas and the humans that carried them on their bodies. Just think how the people experiencing the year 1900 felt, a new century starting with new inventions. The Eastman Kodak company started in this year and the American postage stamp cost one cent. Forward 120 years later as we’re already 19 years deep in experiencing a new century for those of us born before 2000. Kodak has evolved many times over and the American postage stamp is not one cent but 55 cents. The moral of this sentence is buy Forever stamps. The photos by Dorothea Lange during the Great Depression of the 1920s are still remembered. They tend to last forever even digital ones unless you accidentally drop your phone in the toilet and watch it for a while or worse lose it and have no way to find it because turning on the locator thing is too much work or you do a combination of something and don’t store your information on an external drive. As I head into 2020, I’m less interested in reaching my goals for the whole year in the month of January and focusing on what I need to do each day in January. There are 31 days in the month so I better prepare myself to use every minute of every day and of course, have a little fun along the way. I’m ready 2020. Come and get me.
If only gum was five cents again. What’s with scythe carrying white bearded men?
What is kind of gum flavor is P.K.?
Heinz Ketchup has been around for a while, but let’s be honest, this baby doesn’t have the strength to hold a ketchup bottle this big. I also don’t remember ketchup being something you use for the holidays.
Welcome 1949! Instead of getting electric shock therapy, have a cigarette and kiss a man instead to celebrate the New Year? What is a Treatment? What a play on words? We have Gold Rush, great Rush, and Old Gold.
Ride ’em Cowgirl. Time moves fast in Las Vegas. Come to The Sands Hotel for a New Year’s Eve celebration. Bring your cowgirl hat or else you won’t get in.
Another cigarette ad telling you to watch your weight and instead of overeating, grab a Lucky Strike. We know nicotine helps you stay thin and Lucky Strikes less dangerous because of its heating process from this ad.
I’m going to end this with me having the desire to go out every New Years’ Eve to see the fireworks, but every year I watch them on the comforts of the TV the older I get. The same will happen probably this year so to everyone around the world, Happy New Year very soon!
December 23, 2019: Flash Fiction: We Were Worms
It just wasn’t sitting in the classrooms that I loved. It was the whole process taking place before I sat down on the uncomfortable wooden chairs in elementary school that became even more uncomfortable plastic chairs in middle school. Every year I got a new box of Crayola Crayons. You know the one with the sharpener in the back of the box. How a kid could ever use it is beyond me because I was never wanted to peel away the paper. Besides, it was much easier to go back to one of my old boxes and pick out the used color I needed. I liked a brand-new crayon as much as the next kid, but very few of us wanted to take the time to sharpen it after breaking it.
Every year I got a new Trapper Keeper, wanting to show it off to my girlfriends, but never doing it because I feared they wouldn’t approve. I sat in my first class on my first day, glancing at all the other Trapper Keepers. I had convinced myself that mine was the best. Mine never sparkled like some did, but they didn’t have the compilation of puffy unicorn stickers. I might not have been my class leader, but people did listen when I talked.
When I reached high school, everyone focused on things you couldn’t talk about in front of teachers. I realized no one gave a damn about what chairs they were sitting in anymore. The shortened, dull pencils were replaced with mechanical pencils and BIC pens that everyone wrecked their teeth on when pulling out the end. Hardly any freshman focused on what the teachers were saying because they wanted to be thought of as cool especially those that were starving for that higher level of reputation. If you weren’t part of the cool crowd in middle school, there was little you could do in high school to reach it. No one dealt with it that well.
There were many chances to embarrass oneself. It didn’t take much. Stand on stage in the auditorium during Homecoming and fart. Everyone will remember that. Grab the microphone before classes started and tell a dirty joke over the airwaves. Everyone will laugh and remember that too. In all honesty, when I decided to show Henry how I really felt about my future, he wasn’t all that surprised. He was a playful person. He juggled. He mimed. He joked. He was what you called the class clown without having any class or the clown uniform. He was bright enough to be accepted into the best universities. The only problem was he belonged with his own kind and his parents made sure he wouldn’t linger far from his origins.
I didn’t care how many people you kissed or slept with. He didn’t care who was dating whom. I didn’t care about your popularity. He didn’t notice what you participated in or if you were part of the in crowd. I simply didn’t care. It wasn’t lost on him that freshman break away from loser friends and sophomores and juniors act beyond their age to impress seniors. He understood as graduation approached, everyone was fully absorbed in their futures and wouldn’t see me for what I was inside. Nothing I absorbed through his skin mattered anymore. Henry didn’t wonder what would happen at my twentieth reunion or even his twenty-fifth. He wasn’t going, plain and simple, because no one would invite him. I wouldn’t be going to my tenth reunion either because he wouldn’t be in the vicinity. This I promised myself when it was my turn to graduate.
As much as he secretly wished his dreams to come true, a worm was always a worm. It wasn’t fair to the worm to be stepped on when it rained, but kids do that. Well most kids do, but not Henry. He was never here nor there but somewhere. He sat outside everyone and looked around for someone. I sat outside too but looked for no one.
December 23, 2019: Short Story: White Light
This is loosely based on a dream I had and then it morphed into something different. My original dream was being stuck in underground tunnels with zombies and having to fight my way through them to survive. It went from luring them into rooms and locking them inside to this short story. I completely made this up as I went along. I had no clue where it would start or how it would end although is any story ever done. Not really and especially not this one as you will see when you get to the end. This is where I stopped it because I’m tired and need to go to bed.
When I woke up that morning, I was not expecting my family to be at the windows. They were looking outside our large glass windows. We have been living here longer than I care to remember. We had lived through many invasions. You could say the invaders looked like aliens, but they were more a cross between zombies and aliens. They were stiff and wooden, but unlike traditional zombies, these had sparkles in their eyeballs. They weren’t deadened inside. They had ragged clothes, similar to a person you’d see on the street that was clearly homeless but still had a functioning zipper and no holes in their jeans. The alien part came into play with their antenna sticking out on their bodies. Their flesh would change colors when you were in close proximity, the antenna would lock together, and a solid wall would form around them. I’m not talking about pretty colors but ugly ones. They spoke a few words in a different language and gave you nothing else to deduce what their purpose was, where they came from, and what kind of harm they wanted to impose.
Here I was, trying to rub the sleep out of the corners of my eyes when my knocked me over as I sat up. I shoved her hard off the bed. She was the one to almost injure me, but I was the one who got into trouble for touching her. This was how my mom put it. Hurtful way? There was nothing hurtful about it except her silliness. My sister has been a pain since her birth.
“Come see what’s outside!” she said, scrambling onto her feet. “They’re getting closer and closer.”
I got out of bed, my straight hair still straight and plastered to the side of my head. Damn the static machine that stopped working. Again, my sister had to mess with the dials and break it. It was the last one my dad said he’d buy. At least my parents blamed her for it. It was all her. My stupid little sister. Her punishment wasn’t as severe as it should been. My brother agreed.
I was behind him the first time I saw these invaders, my chin resting on his shoulder as I was taller than him. He hated that, but he had the strength I didn’t have. The story goes my parents knew I was would be the tallest about five months into my mom’s pregnancy. As she put it, I had those “long arms” to punch her better. I let out a groan of what I would have to do and what my whole family was going to have to do, neglecting what was outside weren’t the average invader. We had become a part of this larger family, ours one out of thousands of families, to protect this and we called home. It was our duty, but I was tired. I was only seventeen.
While my parents had made the right decision to become a part of this bigger family when it became too dangerous to live outside, I desperately wanted more sleep. I wanted peaceful sleep. I hadn’t had that for a while. We were no longer “minted G’s,” the name for new immigrants, and I’m convinced by the time I reach my parents age, I will be living off of less than four hours of sleep a night.
Like my parents, the other minted G’s were sick of seeing people they knew getting killed and strangers dying in front of them in public areas. They were willing to leave their home unpaid for and take their essentials, which amounted to water and food in a small backpack. Many of them traveled for miles and soon they would call this home too if they proved themselves to our leaders and gave them additional reasons to stay. If you couldn’t strengthen our family, you had little options left but to fend for yourself in the society we wanted no part of. There weren’t any other colonies around, and the closest ones were too far away to get to with little water and food. I made the mistake of wandering close to the entrance to see my dad. I heard wails from people I never wanted to hear again. I saw frightened expressions on people that heard they weren’t allowed into any of the three main long structures called “collection dumps.” It was here where some of them got sick and died, masking their pain and weakness. Most of them were strong and able-bodied people or had skills our family could use.
The few times I went outside with my siblings, we would find dead bodies of those that were rejected. It was sad to see, but my dad called it survival of the fittest. Those not fit had to die. He was strict in his principles.
He would stand there with his hand stretched out to me and say, “If you don’t take my hand, bad things will happen to you. I don’t tell you these stories to make sure my mouth still works.”
By then I would have reached for his hand and his would be tightly wrapped around mine, able only to see the tips of my fingers if I dared look at the right angle. He had monster hands and an appetite for unsolicited advice.
“When you see Zombiens and Allbies, the only thing you have to do is run as fast as you can to me. No matter where I am, you come to me.”
Don’t ask me the difference between Zombiens and Allbies. My dad used the names interchangeably and sometimes on the same day. After dinner, he was more inclined to use Zombiens. I stopped running to him when I turned old enough to carry swords and knives. He never wanted me to carry a gun because they were unreliable. He told me more often than not people he saw had decent aim when he first arrived, but if you don’t want others getting killed you needed perfect aim. He wasn’t one of them. The only people who could use guns were those with perfect shots.
“Leave the bullets to the ones who like to be surrounded by trees and grass.”
I saw their drills once. They train all hours of the day and night. We have snipers strategically placed along the edges of our land, but I’ve never seen one nor has any of my friends seen one. I suppose they remain hidden for a reason. My dad is far from their caliber of marksmanship, but he carries a sword as if it was another appendage and excels in speed and accuracy when using knives in close combat.
By the time my dad put his hand on my shoulder and squeezed I was already mentally gearing up for what would be another battle with a new kind of invader. What was outside getting closer to our bulletproof glass window was something I had never heard before. They were the most frightening creatures any of us had seen from far away. We were told they had neither sparkle nor hunger. They were smaller than the average person but bigger than a vertically challenged person. We wouldn’t be able to see their faces because they had none. They were boring in color but made up for in structure. They could contract in size to fit through small spaces. I wondered where their brain was or if killing them the conventional way would work. How many of them were there? We hadn’t gotten an accurate count yet. The only thing I knew was this: they would fall and die by the hands of whatever weapons my dad handed me. He had that fighting instinct but more important he knew what would work the best against something we’ve never fought against.
While struggling to get my hair back into a ponytail, I heard him bark orders into the tiny microphone embedded into his shoulder. This was something I had to look forward to when I was old enough to command my own team. If I was one of the chosen for this role, it wouldn’t be only coincidence I was given this honor. I had been my dad’s left hand to his right hand for two years now. I had spent years training and protecting this land as much as my dad and brother. My younger sister was sent elsewhere, which usually meant she went kicking and screaming on the way to the main establishment we called X because it was built in the shape of an X. The main underground tunnels were only used as a last resort and the people too young to fight sought refuge there if by some off chance the outer layer was broken. Not a moment was wasted even in battle. During this time, certain trainers went with the young children and taught them the skills necessary to be brave, successful, and honorable fighters.
After I was fully dressed, I gathered my personal weapon of choice, the knife my dad gave me on the 16th birthday and placed it on my belt. My dad had changed out of his comfortable clothes too, but he wore black from top to bottom with three thin red stripes on his right pant leg and two thin green stripes on his left sleeve, and one purple thin stripe on his right sleeve. If anyone every forgot the orders she or he was given, you remembered the stripes and colors. Three red meant clear kill any invader on the right first because they seemed to favor the right when there was danger. Two green meant these invaders seemed to stay close to the ground and were probably not capable of leaping high into the air. One purple strip meant the likelihood of needing further reinforcements was not likely but a possibility. If there was a change in tactics, it was broadcast into the ears of everyone fighting. If you heard the word “BLACK,” it meant retreat. It didn’t mean we were giving up and even if we felt that way, we couldn’t say anything about it or challenge who said it.
The invaders had gotten close enough to our house. I could see them clearer now. My dad stopped looking at his screen. He studied them through the window and thirty seconds later, he spit out what he had concluded.
“This is a gang of females. The males are here, but they’re waiting to see what happens.”
“How do you know this?”
“I just do. Listen up.”
“I’m all ears” my brother said behind me.
“It doesn’t matter if you go to the right. I should’ve known better. These invaders aren’t related to the last ones like I thought. Before we leave, I’ll notify the leaders to change from red to orange. I have a feeling they are going to try to drive us toward the males. I heard from enough snipers they are twice the size and the scariest thing they’ve seen in a while. They don’t want to shoot yet because they are using echo location from the looks of it. The females seem to not have this ability, which is good for us, but bad for the snipers. This tells me they aren’t faking not having heads. I say we leave through the secret exit and surprise them enough so we can get to where we need to go.”
“I was born ready,” my brother said.
I rolled my eyes. He was still compensating for his shortness.
My dad laid on the floor and poked his head inside the secret door. He did his usual of looking in all directions with his flashlight before anyone entered. I jumped down, then my brother, and my dad was last. He waited, looking up, as it closed. We never heard our mom bolt it shut, but we knew she was making sure to make it hidden from everyone in the house. When my dad tapped on a section of the wall, a cover came down and disguised the door.
We followed our dad to the end of the tunnel. We only had one mission and that was to kill as many of these invaders as we made our way to the rendezvous. Different families had certain locations to meet and ours was about twenty feet away. I pressed my eye to a tiny hole. I saw a few invaders in my view and signaled there were five. When my brother looked out his tiny hole on the other side, he drew his hands behind his back and signaled about fifty. My dad, who had been looking straight out the door’s tiny hole, he backed up and went to the ground. He pressed his head against the packed dirt and listened. When he got up, he went to wall and pressed on it.
I heard something move on its gears. A side door opened to a hallway. My brother shined his flashlight into it. My dad had been holding out. He wasn’t telling the truth. We had considered ourselves the most self-sufficient family out of them all. He had been given orders. I remember it clearly. This monstrosity sitting in front of me intrigued and confused me. I touched the cold metal and its long snout.
“I thought you were supposed to get rid of these?” I asked.
My dad shined his flashlight to the entrance behind the anti-tanker. “We need to get going if this is going to work.”
“If what’s going to work?”
“You’re asking too many questions. Get going.”
I made my way to the entrance and in the long hallway as I listened to my dad, I realized for the first time I was scared for all of us, my family.
December 23, 2019: Journal Entry #27
What’s the Real Debate Here? Should There Even be One? NY Resolutions Anyone?
Not too long ago, I asked my mom to send me two books from my “original bedroom.” The one still in the MN with a lot of my belongings still there. I loathe for the day when my parents sell the house as they did recently with their cabin. I don’t have the space to store my things anywhere and I’m not going to get rid of books and other keepsakes. I told her sell a wooden rocking chair I don’t even remember that was mine, given to me by a family friend who came here from Germany as a child during World War II. While I would have loved to keep it, I parted with it and got 75 dollars. It’s already been cashed and spent. It got me to thinking about one of the books she sent me. I dove into it last night instead of watching more Orange is the New Black. Great show by the way. I can’t believe I didn’t get invested into it when it first came out although some of it is not realistic in any way. The book I started reading is written by Whoopi Goldberg. It’s the kind of book I want to write when I’m much older. I’m rereading parts of it as I stopped reading it in 1998. I seem to have this problem of buying books, reading them halfway through, or not reading them at all. Surprisingly, I remember reading basically every page over 21 years ago, soon to be 22 years ago. I also am thinking of what I want to do to better myself as I did last year with New Year Resolutions. I have to say I only lost some weight and definitely not all I wanted. I didn’t eat better or less out of the 12 months or else I would’ve lost all my weight. I did spend time with my family, paid more debts, found a deeper appreciation for my roommate/partner, and saved money. I really didn’t get a new hobby, travel more, or get out in nature as much as I wanted. I plan on fulfilling some of these things when my parents visit in February and yes, that’s a gingerbread cookie my mom sent me (one out of a bag full).
Back to the topic at hand, the 2019 winter and the holidays. I’ve never been too much into holidays. There’s the food my parents cooked when I lived closer to them and the presents were nice, but I never really adhered to Christianity. I sort of want to be true to my beliefs, but I never pass down money which my parents give me every year. They basically give me what I ask for, which is money. If anything I find inspiration and advice from many different religions out there: Judaism, Buddhism, and even Shamanism. Only until the last ten years did I truly make it a part of my life, well sort of in a way. I don’t attend any services no matter what religion. This is why when the whole Starbucks fiasco, which wasn’t even Starbucks fault, happened with their cups that I thought people really have lost their minds. I’ve never seen more backwards, hating individuals today based on religion and their texts. Christianity and Islam come. This is what I thought when the ultra religious people started complaining on social media about their cups. Don’t you have better things to be concerned about? (the respectful thought). Who gives a flying fuck what’s on the cup? At least you have money to afford a cup of Starbucks coffee? And I see it’s a Venti too! Great! Buy one for the homeless person you saw earlier! (the sarcastic thought including wanting to respond with shut the fuck up but that would get me nowhere). You don’t see me throwing a fit because Judaica cups aren’t offered with Magen Davids (Star of David), dreidels, and menorahs. Even better, you don’t see me waging a social media war about ice tea. Why can’t there be Merry Tea on their cups? Or Happy Tea but with blue and white? Represent ice tea for once.
Only One I’ve Been Given
Have Yet to See This One
Have Yet to See This One
Have Yet to See This One
What my point is that out of the four designs, I only have seen one and I usually don’t get one at all because the company is money conscious as they should. They don’t decorate Trienta cups with holiday motifs. Where am I going with this? I’m not really sure except to say chill the fuck out, people. I get you have a right to be upset, but put things in perspective. It’s not easy to do, but this is one of those times. As much as I would love to be able to get ahead in life (earn more money, not have to pay bills, not have to pay my loan, and be able to afford better things and take more vacations), I could if I didn’t drink so much damn ice tea but more I didn’t have my stupid loan. But reality is reality and I have my stupid loan that will be paid off when I’m in the mid 50s and I won’t stop drinking ice tea no matter how hard I try. I’m giving myself the courtesy of still having it in 2020 while cutting out other things that continue to not make me lose weight. I’m reading more and more that older people more are watching what they eat instead of exercising all the time. I’m beginning to see their point and advice. These are the things I need to work on as well as resuming all these doctor visits I put on hold.
So, it’s almost the end of the year again. This time 2019 instead of 2018. I’m not watching any holiday movies this year. I’m not traveling this year. I’m not making cookies. I might make chocolate covered pretzels, but on my time. I haven’t put up a tree for years nor will I ever. I don’t drink egg nog, which I think is gross. I don’t have anything planned. You could call me the Scrooge. I don’t put up a Menorah as I wouldn’t feel comfortable with it until I actually converted to Judaism. It probably won’t ever happen because while this is the religion I’m most tied to (based on some long ago past genealogy and present feelings), there are too many things I want to accomplish in life. Organized religion is not for me. For being such an independent and like my own space kind of person, it’s a miracle I went to visit my brother last year at all. Whether it be Merry Chrismukkah or whatever else people adhere to, I may not be the most consistent blogger out there. But, I definitely am fairly honest and have no problem with saying I’m an evolving freak of nature at times. And yes, that is a picture of me trying to emulate those ugly sweaters you see on people during the holidays. See, I’m not serious all the time. Charge ahead in 2020! It’s not only the summer Olympics, but many new things are around the corner like warmer weather and hopefully a vacation squeezed in there somewhere (for me at least). Like I keep saying to myself, there’s more than enough for me to do every year.
Happy Holidays Everyone!
December 18, 2019: Journal Type #26: Finally!
For the last month, I’ve been battling major tiredness and not because I can’t sleep but because my body wouldn’t let me sleep for some reason. I kept waking up at least four or five times during the night, only to feel beyond tired when I woke up. It literally felt like someone sucked all the energy out of me. Yes, I should’ve done the sleep apnea test when it was first recommended to me. Now, I’m deciding to wait until the new year as my new insurance kicks in because I can’t justify paying so much money for something under a PPO plan. Needless to say, I’ve had to keep busy during work (busier than normal) just to stay awake and that is no fun. It sucks not having any energy, which is why I haven’t been hitting the gym. Let alone having bouts of nausea and dizziness didn’t help the cause. Today was the first day I didn’t have to take a nap and I slept fairly well the night before. I’m inching my way to finishing my rewriting so I can be done with it and start working on my second novel idea. Finally some progress was made today and hopefully a fairly easy rewrite before I publish it. I would say I’m 90% done with my rewrite. I’ve pretty much flushed it out to the point of no return and while I disagreed with my roommate when he tried to throw a wrench in it, I work better with some outline that allows for changes along the way. So, yes, I might not be reaching my workout goal right now, but soon I will return to it. In due time and at least, I’m doing something rather than nothing.
December 15, 2019: Old and New #4
My shrink gave me a list of questions to answer. He still hasn’t received them yet from me because I haven’t even looked at that piece of paper since our meeting. He likes to call them sessions. I prefer to call them a waste of time, but my parents insist I continue to see him. They sure came around full circle. Back when I was a kid, they loved to point out how our cousin Marta turned out to be a failure and how she was in a mental institution for a while. This is my mom’s brother’s middle child. While it never has been proven by anyone in my family, my uncle says the middle child feels the most left out. The first child is the best because they were first born. The last child is the one that gets away with the most stuff because by then his parents don’t give a crap. The middle child feels like the black sheep in the family. I asked my uncle when I was young what if parents only have two children. His response was parents who only have one or two kids shouldn’t have kids at all. I vaguely remember looking at him confused. I later asked my parents why he said that. Their response was uncle bob never means what he says. He was joking. I doubt he was. After his kids grew up into adults, I heard from them some interesting stories. I sort of wish he had been my dad.
You know the same friend who visited me a few days ago. He set me up on a blind date with this woman named Vicki. I’m not too fond of her name, but Ryan said she’s everything I’m looking for in a woman. In case he’s wrong, I decided to go out for lunch with her instead of dinner and told him he better call me 15 minutes into it. The deal is if I pick up and ask hello mother, is everything okay? that I’m ready to move onto the next single woman somewhere out there. I’ll say to him I’m coming over right now and apologize to Vicki for having to cancel. If I pick up the phone and say hi Larry, actually I’m on a date right now that things are okay and going to give it another 15 minutes before making the decision to stay or leave. I can always angle it where I can pretend later, I need to leave. If I don’t pick up at all, then things are going great and more than likely will get laid later. Jeez, I hope so. Better go pick up condoms later.
I decided to buy a new shirt for the occasion. I dusted off my jacket, the one that brings me the most luck, and my favorite pair of shoes. They’re a little worn out, but you can’t go wrong with Italian leather loafers. A gift from my grandpa when he visited Florence. My date with Vicki is today. I’m ready for lunch to be over so she can come over to my place. I’m willing to give her shot. She looks pretty enough from the photos Ryan sent me. I was going to snoop on her Facebook page, but I don’t want to come across as a creep. Plus, she might have some weird fetish that will turn me off and what’s the fun in knowing it will be over before it’s even begun.
December 14, 2019: Old and New #3
So much has gone on in my life since I wrote last and yet I feel like nothing much has happened. I seem to be a walking conundrum to my parents right now. They have no problem supporting me and yet they feel I’m not meeting my full potential. I sometimes wonder if they regret ever having me. I had a high paying job in Silicon Valley to only lose it later to drinking and cocaine. I guess you could say I’m a high functioning addict or at least that is what I saw myself to be. Lately I’ve been feeling out of sorts. I wonder if I deserve to live. I had something happen to me a few days ago I shouldn’t talk about. It has to do with these feelings I sometimes get when I walk down the street. I’m minding my own business, but there are times I feel things coming from outside of my body. I know this sounds weird. I don’t know how to describe it. I don’t even mention it to my shrink because he’d find me even more maladjusted than he thinks I am. Sometimes I wish I was a different person, a radically different person. I wish I was one that didn’t have so many problems. I thought about what my parents would think if I was gone. They probably wouldn’t care because I have oodles of other brothers and sisters for them to hassle and annoy. My dad called me the other day telling me he knew someone who knew someone who knew someone that could get me a job at some awful place I’ve never even heard of and don’t want to work at. They must think I’m stupid or something. Like I’m some retard that can’t tie his own shoelaces. I think I know what is bothering me. The thing poking me in the ribs. It’s the part that I don’t know about myself that scares me. It scares me to the point of me overcompensating for it. I become unbearable to those around me. I know I have everything in to live for but shit. Do I really? What does life mean? What does a person mean? Why can’t I stop thinking about the woman who left me for another woman? It was ten fucking years ago. Why did it take me a year to get over her? She’s no longer attractive. She cut her hair and quit wearing dresses. She grew out her armpit hair. She’s the stupid feminist I can’t stand. She’s a bra burning feminist. If you ask me, put on your fucking bra, a lace one if you have it, and shut up. No one wants to hear about how you became the great woman on the 21st century. Shit, I could go on and on about this . Is it wrong to be traditional? I knew a girl in high school and all she wanted to do was get married and have babies. I didn’t find her attractive, but she wasn’t ugly. I’m sure she found someone who gave her all the babies she wanted. I think her name was Cindy. From what I remember she was in cheer leading and could do the splits. Compared to me, she’s doing a lot better and that’s not saying much. I mean how hard could taking care of kids really be. I guess harder for some. They might end up with someone like me but when you think about it, I’m easy to get along with. You don’t bother me, and I won’t bother you. Simple as that.
December 7, 2019: Old and New #2
Something weird happened to me as I was sitting on the bus yesterday. I had spotted a woman with brown hair. It stopped just past her shoulders. She should’ve had it up instead of down. I was mesmerized with her neck. It was elongated like something you’d see in a television commercial. You know the one with the beautiful woman holding hands with her handsome looking fella. I was quickly reminded by my therapist, as I just left his office, that I shouldn’t be so fixated on random women. I could tell he was afraid of me turning into some psycho killer. I’m way past my twenties but young enough to still turn into one according to him. He said anyone can exhibit personality traits of a killer, but you need to keep them in check when they do appear. Sometimes it becomes so overwhelming for the person that it becomes the only thing he thinks about when he wakes up and when he falls asleep, if he even is sleeping. Most killers I’ve read about like to prowl around at night for their prey. My parents thought I was a little weird, but they knew me enough to know I wasn’t a crazed, psycho killer. My session with my therapist was the usual. We said the given hellos in the beginning. I sat on his leather chair, well past its prime, and spilled out what had been bothering me in the last month. I never thought I would go to a shrink as my dad calls them, but my mom was so worried from all my past suicide attempts that I needed regular therapy. I suppose in a way that I don’t have a purpose for living and I don’t mean this is a negative way. From grade school I never felt I belonged even though I had all the money in the world thanks to my parents’ inheritance they received from their parents and picking careers that pay them boatloads of money Don’t get me wrong, they worked hard to get where they are but what bothers me is the persona they display in public versus when they are alone in their empty house. This is what I told my therapist. I guess I should call him by his name, but I’m afraid too. It makes it too real. When I sit in his waiting room, I stare at his name etched on his door plaque, which is stupid because he’s the only person you can see once you enter the room. The other therapist left so he’s the only on there now. Word is the other therapist got a little too flirty with my therapist’s wife and so they went their separate ways. It was probably for the better. I didn’t like how he looked at me when he opened his door and realized there was more than his patient in the waiting room. It was similar to the face one makes when your sibling realizes he’s not the center of attention. I know I’m bouncing from one topic to another, but no one is going to read this except me. Who fucking cares! I should’ve given that woman with the brown hair my phone number, but she’d never meet with me. She’d find me too weird. I wonder why I went from being that cute kid wearing the trendiest to clothes to the awkward looking teenager to the unsure adult without any direction. I think I realized what it was that was bothering me in the shower. I told my therapist I felt someone, or something was out to get it. Whoever this person or thing was wanted to hurt me. He or it wanted to cut me down to size, make me small, make me suffer, and make my life a living hell. He said it made sense due to my underlying anxieties about life. It was a representation of what I couldn’t control, something I conjured in my head. I’m trying to keep it together. One of my friends says rich people shouldn’t have problems because we’re too good for that. He’s now a lawyer complaining about how much his wedding is costing. I’d like to get married one day to make my mom happy, if nothing else.
Finally!!! I’ve been waiting for this to come. My little sister sent me these strawberry Kit Kats from where’s she’s living. She’s in Japan for a few weeks on business. She’s the shining star in my family. She’s made my parents proud unlike me. She tries to get me to be more like her, but I don’t have her ambition. I love her though and would do anything for her. She promised she’d stop by and say hello to me. It gets lonely around here. I could buy a dog somewhere, but I really don’t have the urge to take it outside so it can pee and poop. Man, these Kit Kats are so good. I can’t stop eating them. She better have some when she visits.
I hate the rain and everyone who walks in the rain. Okay, I take that back. I hate parents who let their kids jump in puddles when I’m standing close by. Let’s talks about that, shall we? Why can’t parents keep control of their kids these days? They let them run wild in stores. They break things. They touch things they shouldn’t. It’s not cute that your kid broke whatever it was on the shelf. I can’t tell you how often I see the snot ridden brats who make my life a living hell. I was so pissed that I confronted the parent whose kid ran right into me. He almost knocked me down. It wouldn’t have been such a big deal, but her kid was fat. I shouldn’t have been surprised to find the mom was even fatter. I told the kid to lay off the cheeseburgers and fries. His mom glared at me and was about to say something to me when her cry baby of kid broke into hysteria. I thought for a minute his mom was going to eat me. It wasn’t one of the best moments in my life, but shit teach your kids some manners and feed your kids properly. She clearly had enough money to buy him a decent lunch at the grocery store instead of being lazy and sitting in her car at the drive thru. When I have kids, they will behave because I’ll make them.
December 3, 2019: Mixture of Old and New Idea
I’ve been thinking about ways to get myself to write more without the fuss of editing later. I need a good massage, but back to my old/new idea. I started writing in my journal several entries about a character and what s/he goes through and thinks about. I plan on continuing this until I feel it is done. It probably won’t make much sense as I’m not going to edit it as I go. I plan to use this journal format on one of my novella ideas. I’m looking to find new ways to make my life exciting. I’m not sure if writing more on my blog is the right way to go. There aren’t enough hours in a day or days in a week to get everything done. I plan on scaling back some of my blog entries so I can get done with my rewrite. My new mantra when reality hits me in the face is this: “it is what it is.” Without further babbling on my part, here are the journal entries based on a character I have so far, not fully thought out. When it is done, I will put them in one blog and maybe after I’m done with my rewrite I will dabble MAYBE in rewriting them. Who knows? In the meantime, enjoy my nonsense writing and remember I have completely made this up. I love dogs and while I prefer medium to big dogs, smaller ones aren’t so bad although I’m not a fan of non-stop barking dogs. Here’s a really old picture of me with Baggins. Yes, I named him because of J.R.R. Tolkien’s great creative mind. Jeez, I really need to get out of my apartment more and do something else.
I wasn’t going to start this type of thing, but my stupid therapist told me to do this. I know he’s sick of my suicide attempts, but I keep telling him to drop me like a bad habit. You know the one where the potato is too hot, and you have to drop it from your fingers. I had a dream about putting a potato in the microwave and because I forgot to poke holes in it, the potato exploded all over. I didn’t have to clean up that mess. I saved that for my enemy. His name was Rex. When I woke up, my mouth formed a smile. It was upturned at the corners. My big smile stayed on my face after I got out of bed. There was something within me, bothering me, as I took a shower. It poked me in the ribs each time I failed to obsess on it. When I find it out, I’ll write it down later.
I didn’t expect to write so soon, but I saw a woman get on the bus with her stupid little dog hidden in her purse. She had one of those toy dogs like a poodle or doodle. Something like that. It kept staring at me with its evil eyes. I wanted to do bad things to it. It was just a thing in my way. The one, the main prize, was the woman holding the purse. She made me fell all warm and fuzzy inside. Then the heat dissipated, and my palms got clammy. They started sweating and the pulled muscle from a few days back in my forearm was more intense. This woman was going to be the next one. You probably think that I’m about to kill someone based on what I wrote. The thought never crossed my mind, but you had to take it there. That is where your mind went. I’m not that sick and twisted. To the person reading this, I hope you’re having a good time, whomever you are, what a snoopy fuck. At least my therapist had the courtesy to allow me to share the bits and pieces I want to in the future and not the whole thing.
I’m feeling more down than up today. I can’t believe my plan of scoring a date with that woman with her stupid dog never panned out. I guess you could call me stupid for thinking it would go anywhere, but I thought it really would. I might not be mentally together all the time, but I’m one charming piece of grade A material. All I really wanted was one date. Is that too much to ask? I’m not looking for two dates. God knows I’m not ready for that yet. I just don’t want to die a bitter old man without any experiencing any kind of warmth normal adults have. I see couples leaving restaurants on my way to the bus stop and I wonder what happened to me. Why am I so unlovable? Why do women find me repulsive? It’s not that anyone told me this. Okay, maybe, that one woman with the red hair. I can’t be for sure as we were screaming at each other as she kicked me out of her apartment. Is it so wrong to be attracted to red heads? I’m talking the auburn and dark reds. I’d even take pink if the woman had the right body. I better quit writing about this. I’m getting even more depressed than I already feel. I need to come up with a better plan to find a woman. Maybe, I’m looking in all the wrong places. Maybe, I need to be attracted to blondes instead.
This is really me writing and not some phony or person wishing he was me. People are so jealous of me when I walk down the street in my long trench coat. I’ve lived most of my life with others envious of my face and body. I don’t deny it gets tedious with people gawking and desiring me. This is what a person with as high an IQ as mine thinks about when he has everything handled and nothing to do except day dream. The last time I was too busy and had to cancel an engagement was over five years. That part of life ended and I could keep going but why? You already know how great I am. I know most of my words are simplistic now, but I’m not the idiot you sometimes make me out to be. You just watch and see what happens next.
November 26, 2019: Journal Entry #25: Do I Feel Lucky? Thankful? Hopeful?
As I was waiting in line with my roommate/partner for food this past weekend, I told him I hadn’t really fulfilled any of my 2019 New Year resolutions/goals to the point of being happy about it. He says his usual, well you better start moving your ass then to get them done (as he’s nowhere near as ambitious or makes lists of things to do during the week and weekends). Due to miscommunication, we had a night filled with annoyance and the cake I made for him didn’t go as planned. Let’s just say he was forced to eat some of it before his birthday. I don’t get too much into U.S. holidays, but do enjoy the days off although this year I volunteered to work the day after Thanksgiving. Who wants to go shopping on Black Friday? Not me. We ate out last year at a French cafe, which was the wrong thing to do. They ran out of some of the food by the time we settled on a restaurant and didn’t have much selection for non-meat eaters. We should’ve eaten at the Las Vegas strip instead. This year we’re eating in the comfort of the apartment.
As much as I always wish for more of everything (I wonder if this is more human nature or an American value) I do feel lucky for what I have. I grew up in a family for most of my life that valued independence, individuality, creativity, and where everyone had an equal say (although I didn’t think this way when I got into trouble as a kid). My parents respected my preference to not spending every waking moment with them although we can’t anyway because everyone lives in different states. My roommate/partner enjoys time apart from each other as much I do. We have different lifestyles. He’s into video games, guitars, and music. I’m into movies, coloring, and hiking (although I didn’t do nearly enough of it). I like to fall asleep to the TV on where he does not so we sleep in separate bedrooms. I promised myself to get out more in 2019 despite me having goals that are better suited indoors like writing, reading, and coloring. I succeeded for a little bit. My roommate/partner discussed starting a small t-shirt and swimsuit business and getting more serious about it in 2020. I know the competition is stiff, but it never hurts to try something with adequate research. I look forward to finding other things to do in my life besides reading and watching movies. I want and need to push myself out of my introvert comfort zone. I want to explore and travel more.
So yes, I feel thankful and hopeful as November comes to a close. I’m lucky to have the ability to find and make the time to get things done in December and January before my parents come to visit in February. There’s rarely a dull moment in my life (at least in my head), and I go to bed every night knowing life it what I make it to be and not anyone else. I’m sure you’re aware of the videos going around about perspective. This isn’t to say personal issues don’t matter because they do. While you might be bogged down deep in your issues, watching the video might trigger something so you don’t unnecessarily fall deeper into the hole. For me it triggers my ambition and the excitement to write a great sci-fi story, but that will come after all my other story ideas are written. Yes, we’re tiny living organisms compared to the size of Earth, but we are large in many other ways.
November 20, 2019: Flash Fiction: Through the Door
Before I turned on the light, I couldn’t tell the depth or width of the room, minus a few hints from previous conversations. How does one prepare for this type of thing? It goes beyond stepping on the metal strip that covers the ugly transition between carpet and linoleum. My eyes adjusted and my suspicions were correct. The room was deep and wide. It was gigantic. If compared to a dinosaur, it would’ve had a long tail to support its massive body. The areas where the light didn’t reach screamed at me to stay away, but this was a journey one shouldn’t shy away.
I was barely into the room when I heard a noise. I wasn’t sure from which direction it came. It was soft enough, but loud enough to know it wasn’t part of my imagination. Lately, it had seized control of my brain, hijacked it if you will, and nothing seemed to make it go away. It wasn’t that I disliked having an imagination, but my current circumstances permitted me to shut it out of my life for the rest of the year. Yet, the more I took action to ignore it, the more my imagination played tricks on me. I felt like a deck of cards being shuffled unnecessarily.
When I located the general direction of the noise, it stopped short of me choosing the picnic basket or copper tub with a blanket half draped over it. If I went to one but the other had whatever was hiding in it, then I would lose the chance to capture this nuisance. Standing still in the hopes it would make that gurgling sound, it remained quiet. It must’ve known I was close. I envisioned it peering through the tiny holes of the basket. I thought what was the better place to hide. Both provided cover and while you could make a quicker getaway in the tub, there was a greater sense of false safety in the basket. I kneeled down, holding my breath and slowly tugged on the blanket while watching for any motion from the basket. Friend or foe, I was going to find out.
November 18, 2019: Journal Entry Type #24
It’s Been a Good 1.5 Years California, but I Miss You!
I talk a lot about Los Angeles and missing California, but it’s because I do miss it in some respects. It’s a great place to live for the weather minus the fires (those also set intentionally by arsonists). The weather is nice because who doesn’t like the sun and despite “the valley” getting hotter, it’s still tolerable. I can say that now even more since I moved to an even hotter place. You’re not too far away from the ocean either. I guess having the option to visit the ocean when it’s an hour or two away, depending on which beach you want to see is what I miss the most. My next step in life involved moving and moving I did. I’ve made tentative plans to go back to LA for a few days in 2020, call it mini vacation if you will, and visit some of the areas I’ve missed. I also would like to visit some destinations I never did when I lived there. I suppose it will make it all the sweeter in 2020. The other reason of posting this is to comment that more people moved out of California in 2018 than moved into the state according to the U.S. Census Bureau data. People don’t seem to be persuaded to stay in a state where many cities have a high cost of living. Yet, there are others who want the California lifestyle and can afford it. Approximately 691,000 people moved out of CA and 501,000 people moved into CA in 2018. Where did the people who moved out of CA relocate to? Look below and I promise this is the last blog about CA and LA this year. I also included the top 10 most expensive U.S. cities to live in from Kiplinger in 2019. Los Angeles was ranked 12th, behind Orange County at 11th and above San Diego at 13th. If you want to see all the Kiplinger statistics, click on the the words MORE STATS below.
November 11, 2019: Journal Entry Type #23: Five Day Reprieve
I’ve been feeling stretched thin, pulled in many directions, like I have for much of my life. You might be asking yourself, why the hell is this person so wound up all the time? Like one of those old toys where the ticker inside finally stops and she needs it wound up again in order for it to move around like a good little person? First of all, I’m not always like this because you don’t see me lounging around my apartment on my days off or after work. I can and do sit on my futon like a bump on a log.
There are a select few people I speak with regarding the never ending saga of my life before I was adopted. You know the down and dirty shit. The nitty gritty stuff that gets in your eyes and no matter how much you wash it out with water, it never fully goes away. It’s something I’d rather not deal with and I’d rather not be thought of as a person with PTSD (also known as post traumatic stress disorder), but at times it flares up. The first memory I ever had of my biological father was him intentionally burning my arm because I pissed him off so bad he felt the need to punish me. My arm has become such a thing of the past for me despite the occasional glance or stare by a stranger and those willing to ask what happened to me.
I had a doctor one time push her instrument so far up my nose because she was so fixated on my arm. I mean she really jammed it up my nose. I didn’t say anything, but I’m sure she felt like an idiot. I later saw her on a TV screen talking about allergies and the caption was Dr. X, expert in Y and Z. If only I had laughed, but I didn’t. For those that ask, I usually tell the person, “oh, I got burned when I was younger.” That suffices for the stranger not to ask another question because if I said instead, “oh, my biological father was a fucking freak of nature and was a brutal torturer,” I would get more questions I’d rather not answer. I spared them all the gory details because there’s a lot of them. My biological father burning my arm was the nicest thing he did to me in the whole scope of things. Besides, they can read my fiction version of it later (when I write it). Yes, read that when it comes out. Share it with a friend, if you want.
After I spoke with a person I trust and admire for her listening skills, advice, and sense of how to help me get through and over the residual bumps and mental blockages in my life, I decided to step away from blogging for a bit. I felt as if I was becoming a robot in a way, churning out blog postings with the little time I have (or so it seems), and I know this is supposed to be a kind of “fun” thing for and not a whip at your back kind of thing where I have to post something every day. This isn’t my full time job nor do I want it to be my full time job. I have other plans and goals in my life and blogging morning, noon, and night shouldn’t and isn’t my main focus. I’ve been hopelessly trying to keep up with my daily routines, personal schedules, and fitting it together with my ideal vision in my head of how life should be. It wasn’t working. I needed to step away for a while, get back on the path of taking care of myself, and not using blogging as a distraction or procrastination technique.
I went through a long list of issues going on in my life with this person and because I’m a resistant person to self-growth, at times, I realized I needed to take the plunge and buy the books she recommended, generally speaking. Are you sensing any anger within me? I hope not. Or maybe it is rage at the bullshit I’m forever dealing with because I was born into a dysfunctional family? It’s the reason I keep having the recurring nightmare of trying to get away from a serial killing maniac with a weapon. Sometimes, as I’m getting away I have supernatural powers. Other times I’m running for my life but still survive. One of my reasons for my existence was to intervene and put a stop to my biological family generational line. This is what I firmly believe and while this sounds depressing on some level, it’s a damn blessing because for all the pain my biological father caused, when I die, his blood really dies.
On Friday after work, I went to a bookstore and picked up a few books: one about living with uncertainty and the other about positive affirmations. This might sound silly, but for those of us who have gone through hell and back with being abused as children, these books are essential to help in the recovery and healing process. I’ve learned it never ends. I can count how many times I’ve cried on my hand as an adult because doing so meant I got kicked, punched, slapped, or choked as a child. This is the conditioned response that stayed with me. I cried for a short few seconds when my last rabbit died. This is all I could muster and I loved him fiercely. These are the things I hold inside. I wanted to be thought of as powerful, strong, and without any need for others because I had to as a child. You cleaned yourself and you fed yourself or else you stayed dirty and starved.
So, I took the weekend to myself and colored, read, watched TV and a movie, and wrote in my journal. I went to Chinatown and the surrounding area in Las Vegas on Sunday. I tried to heal a little more and let things go as best I could on Sunday by taking my time and not forcing myself to do crap over the weekend although I did clean my toilet. I thought about how many times my biological father threatened to kill me and what that does to a child. I thought about how much I want him out of my life, but knowing he never will be completely out of my mind. He married my biological mother at a young age. There were many years between them. She died in her mid thirties. He died in his late sixties. I suppose this is another layer of healing for me, exposing to the few people reading this of my emotional and mental challenges and issues of this past five days. If you’re wondering what books I bought, they are Heart Thoughts by Louise Hay and Comfortble with Uncertainty by Pema Chödrön. There’s not a chance that my biological father’s going to outlive me so with this in mind, I’m off to exercise. I wish wisdom and peace for everyone as the rest of the year passes and eat some gelato because I sure did and enjoyed every bite of it. And yes, check back for more blog entries soon.
November 5, 2019: Flash Fiction: Mechanical Fly
When I was spotted, she caught a glimpse of my shiny legs supporting my metal body. I remained still, a mechanical fly, halfway between her dream and reality. I had been instructed to make this off-white walled room my home, but shortly after entering through the tiny gap between the window and its ledge, she leapt from her bed. I meant no harm. I wasn’t carrying any diseases. I was here to warn, but this girl, smaller than the average child, chased me. Her arms swung in front of her, and each time her fingers splayed apart, I knew her only purpose, at that moment, was to kill me. It was another futility in a long string of futile attempts to get rid of me. Her effort would go unrewarded, but by the time she realized this, it would be too late for her to go back and want my help. If only she had let me buzz around her head a few times and hum into her ear. If only she had allowed me to bite her on the neck and insert the serum into her vein. If only her parents let her hand drawn flies be hung on the wall. She might have not turned into an angry little thing, swatting at me with uncoordinated hands, not realizing what she was doing made her weaker. I landed on the wall, blended into it, and kept still. She waited, eyes alert. It would come soon enough that she would learn about abandonment. I was the only one with the knowledge to keep her alive. If only I could appear from behind the door. I’m a human just like her, only smarter but the same amount to lose.
October 25, 2019: Journal Entry Type #22: You Can’t Live Without a Heart
As I was jogging the other day, I thought about how long it would take for my heart to go down to a normal resting pulse. I have yet to do this because I couldn’t remember how long you should wait before checking my recovery heart rate. I looked it up and it’s after 2 minutes so the lower your heart rate, the better. I plan on doing this tonight after I jog, but I did take my resting heart rate pulse today. It is 66 bpm and that puts me in the “good” range. My goal is to get to the “excellent” range. I also wondere what my target heart rate should be based on my age. It’s between 89 to 150 bpm when I used the formula from the American Heart Association of 220-43 (age) = 177 and then multiplied that by 50% and 85%. In other words, 177 x .50 = 89 and 177 x .85 = 150. My maximum heart rate is 177 bpm and you get that by subtracting your age from 220. I managed to get my heart rate up to 163 bpm on my last jog when I was moving at my fastest speed. It’s a little shy of the highest I’ve gotten it at 167 bpm (so far this year), which puts me 8 percentage points over my target heart rate at 93%. The AHA says well-trained athletes have a resting heart rate between 40 and 60 bpm. I know a few. Mayo Clinic says the normal range for adults is 60 to 100, but Suzanne Steinbaum, director of women’s heart health at Lenox Hill Hospital says 50 to 70 bpm is the ideal. It’s obvious the better shape a person is in, the lower the resting heart rate will be. Studies suggest that a resting heart rate higher than 76 bpm may be indicative of heart issues such as higher risk of heart attacks. It’s better to be active than sedentary, but not everyone loses weight in the same way due to genetics and diet. I need to sweat like a maniac to lose weight or maintain it. I’m still needing to lose 17 pounds, but I’ll get there (hopefully). Numbers are just numbers, but I think we can all agree a resting heart rate of 80+ isn’t good based on the charts below. I used to exercise for many hours every week, practically two to three every day, but not so much now. I’m older, in a different place, want more balance in my life, and realize my body doesn’t function like it did 20 years ago, let alone 10 years ago. At least, I’m getting out there and doing something because let me tell you, I’d much rather sit on my ass and watch TV. Good luck everyone on your health and eating goals.
October 19, 2019: Journal Entry Type #21: Different Subjects, Different Tastes
Here is my bright idea of different subjects and my take on them in a sentence or two or three and more.
Chapstick/Lipbalm: I could not live without it. I have about 15 tubes from different companies in my apartment. They are so essential especially now that I live in the desert. My skin was already dry, but now it’s really dry. My lips crack like it’s going out of style.
White Bread: There is nothing good or nutritious about white bread. I wasn’t raised on it so I rarely eat it. I was never a bread person to begin with nor a cereal person. If I never eat a white roll or bun, I wouldn’t be upset.
American Football: I don’t get it. I don’t watch it. A billion people probably watch it around the world. A million dollars wouldn’t be enough money for me to sit through a game. I would need, at least, five million for all the suffering I would endure mentally. I’ve never watched a Superbowl game in my life. No thanks.
Trees: I like trees of all kinds, even the smelly ones. Birch trees are interesting since the bark peels off and from what I remember burns easy when dry.
Phone Apps : Some of them come in handy, but most of them I don’t have time for and could care less. It eats up too much of my time if I loaded my phone with them. I used to play FarmVille and Candy Crush when they first came out on FB. I only play Angry Birds if I’m waiting for my food and have nothing else to do.
Eating: I wish I didn’t have to eat. It’s a waste of time. I find it tiresome and irritating I have to do this every day. Although I do find value in eating pomelo/pummelo and pomegranates, but it’s the process I like. I eat in a hurry most of the time. Bad, I know. I should view eating as positive and not a negative.
Cooking: I find this task even worse than eating. It’s a battle I experience every time I do decide to cook for myself although I did make buckwheat pancakes last weekend.
Fast Food: Back in the day when I ate meat, I remember going to Arby’s and eating their roast beef sandwiches and curly fries. I hardly eat fries anymore because fried food is bad and I shouldn’t be eating them anyway according to my doctor. I definitely don’t eat chicken, pork, or beef anymore. I should go back to a vegan diet, but right now it seems unlikely as I sometimes have dairy. Bad, I know.
Organizing: I could do it morning, noon, and night. I reorganize stuff to relax. My clothes need to be facing a certain way in the closet with my short sleeve shirts together and my long sleeve shirts together, but my socks are stuffed willy-nilly into my drawer.
Reality TV: I find most of it useless to watch. I used to watch ANTM (America’s Next Top Model). I still watch DWTS (Dancing with the Stars) even though it has reached now the bottom of the ocean bed. My mom doesn’t understand why I watch it. I never got into American Idol or any singing reality show. I sometimes watch Forged in Fire, but reality show popularity has to be waning somewhat. Then again, the Kardashians are still around, so maybe not.
Spiders: I know they serve a purpose, but damn they are ugly except tarantulas. I recently had a conversation about this with someone. I think it’s wired within people to be afraid of them and yet many of them are tiny when compared to humans. It doesn’t make sense because mosquitoes kill by far more people.
Garbage: Since I’m the one who mainly takes out the garbage every week, I’m used to the nasty smells and think of it as a badge of honor. I also get exercise, although very little, when I go up and down the stairs. Now, the stair stepper in the gym is another story.
Beauty: They say it’s in the eye of the beholder. I’m all about natural beauty so when I see people either slapping too much makeup on or spray tanning a little too much, it makes me wonder why they’re doing this. I read plastic surgery is all the rage in South Korea. While I wouldn’t object to have some nips and tucks on my body especially parts of my face and to get rid of lines and scars on my body, it is what it is. I had the displeasure of getting Botox for another reason than vanity. It hurt like hell. Since I scar easily, it wouldn’t make much sense to have a doctor cut into me to get rid of something else. Besides, you might be able to slow down the process of aging, but you’re still aging.
Headaches: For someone who has had headaches non-stop since about 11 years ago, I’m used to them, but it still sucks. I’m hoping for some relief in the future, but I have to wait until I get something else taken care of. Constant headaches have affected my daily life and gotten to the point of what intensity my headache is and not whether I have one or not. I don’t sleep as well as I used to, have to force myself to do things now, and use perspective such as at least I’m not fighting zombies or aliens when it gets really bad.
Cockroaches: There is nothing good to say about them. Have you seen the articles about people who say cockroach milk/liquid is nutritious? Gross! Diseased and filthy insects that never seem to die and love apartments. Disgusting! Get rid of them!
Geckos: Now that I live in the desert, I welcome all geckos inside and outside my apartment. They eat scorpions. I love reptiles. I love geckos. I love snakes. Enough said.
Cotton: I never saw cotton outside of a t-shirt until I was in AZ since I grew up in the Midwest. Interesting fiber that many people wear and it feels good against your skin.
MMA Fighting: I don’t mind watching these fights although it’s a dangerous sport. It’s harsh on your body, you can get brain damage after a while, and you get cauliflower ears from all the damage and trauma. Maybe, I should stop watching them.
Dogs: I like medium to big sized dogs. I’m used to working dogs (think Shelties, Border Collies, and Australian Shepherds). I’m not a fan of small dogs because I’ve run into a few very territorial and bark too much. And no, I didn’t grow up on a farm although I’ve smelled enough cows to last me a life time.
Watches: I’ve lost some, water damaged others, and currently have a blue sports watch. Think 25 to 30 dollar range. Cheap is what I need. I’m hard on my watches. Why buy an expensive watch when I’m just going bang it around on things or lose it? It serves its purpose on my jogs and you wear watches on your non-dominant writing hand, just in case you were wondering.
Doctors: They’ve come a long way in what they can do. Okay, some of them. The current one I’ve been seeing has very little bedside manner. This is no exaggeration, but he got me to where I needed to go which is to another doctor who will now be fourth person to operate on me. On the bright side, I’m learning new areas of my body and the things that can develop over time. This time in my salivary glands. There you have it and now you know a little more about me.
October 16, 2019: Flash Fiction: Keep on the Sidewalk
It took me five years to get back on the sidewalk. It was a Friday on the third Friday of the second month. It’s known as February to most people. This is the month I was born and then reborn years later. It was the month I celebrated my golden birthday. It was the time when my parents surprised me with a cake with frosting all the colors of the rainbow. It had to be held with two hands or else it would fall. I stopped thinking worms were good enough to be noticed as I blew out the candles.
My childhood was over.
I was a grown up and ready to capture its essence. I was ready to lose my way on the edges. I was a breathing, moving, and thinking adult. There were no robotic parts to me. You couldn’t peel the outer layer back and expose wires and a mechanical heart. I was fallible and vulnerable. I was not with strong hands and legs. This was not a myth in my head. It gripped me tight and exposed me to a weakness. I stayed there longer in this reality than I wanted.
My adulthood had started.
When the soles of my shoes touched the cement, I noticed the overdue repairs to fill the crack where weeds and dandelions grew. It was the first giant step I took, over that crack. I was back on that familiar, hard surface, ready for something different and brand new. I took more steps, forged ahead to get closer to the thing I desired, but could not name yet. There was no turning back, only commitment ahead of me as I braved this freedom, never wanting it to leave me again.
October 14, 2019: Journal Entry Type #20: At Least, I’m Winning in My Dreams
I didn’t do much this past weekend but laundry, vacuum, dishes, dust, color, journal, read two chapters of one of my books, watch TV, movies, and Netflix. By the time Sunday rolled around, I realized Peaky Blinders, season five, came out on Netflix (will be reviewing sometime this month) and watched that all day. I kept telling myself one more episode and then I write. I never wrote or exercised as I planned and using my intense sinus pressure all over my face as an excuse. Besides work has been extremely busy and yeah, I should tone it down a bit during the week. It seems I expend all my mental energy during the week and somewhat physical when I exercise. When the weekend comes, I spend one day semi-relaxing and the other day trying to enjoy my day, all the while knowing Monday is around the corner. Living the American Dream as the saying goes (spare me) because most of us living in the USA are NOT living the American Dream. It pretty much exists on paper, in theory, and that’s about it. There’s another saying that misery loves company, but sometimes you need to bitch and moan once in a while. For any living human being, it should be a proclaimed right once in a while. This past weekend I was able to actually sleep well enough where I had a few dreams. The one that stuck out when I woke up on Sunday morning was similar to a treasure hunt except this one I had two chances to win a big prize at the end. They were locked behind doors and I had to find a way behind them. I was able to get into one of them and came across a large amount of money. There were rules to be followed in this treasure hunt and I remember having to listen to them before the contest began in the dream. There’s pluses and minuses to remembering dreams two days later. I don’t have to write them down because I pretty much remember them once they are seared into my memory. Then again, they usually follow me as the day progresses. I was too lazy on Sunday to write any of them down. So, this is what my life is right now: still battling my sinus issues, dealing with my stupid arthritis in my hands, having hot flashes or whatever the hell this is (and it can’t be right and yet, I’m sweating when it’s 66 degrees outside). I woke up Friday morning to a crying baby far away, but can’t hear the TV right in front of me anymore. I feel like a bear getting ready for hibernation except I’m not a bear. So yes, I want to be a bear in my next life time, but a big grizzly bear that is left alone in the wilderness of Alaska with plenty of fish. If that is asking too much, maybe a human being with a little more energy and less headaches.
October 7, 2019: Journal Entry Type #19: Do What I Can
I recently posted somewhere else my ability to touch the back of my feet with relative ease. The thing I didn’t mention were my thighs hurting like hell before I bothered my roommate and asked if he’d take a picture. They always seem to be overly tight and have to force myself to use the foam roller every week to loosen my muscles. I’ve been trying to commit, at least, five days out of the week to exercise. It’s not so easy not to do and find myself accomplishing this three times each week. If you’re trying to lose weight, don’t buy candy or junk food. They put on the pounds. Guess what? I bought candy and then ate my feelings on Saturday with a chocolate bar. Lesson learned. I’m working my way up to jogging 4 miles (it has to get easier) and getting back to weights consistently. I went grocery shopping and bought some new things (after listening to a mom describe to her husband what each one was). I prefer the cauliflower puffs. There’s three months left to attain the two major goals I set for myself in January 2019. Where has all the other 9 months gone? I guess time to haul ass as they say and do what I can.
September 27, 2019: Harsh But Eye-Opening Writing Tips From Great Authors
I like when writers state the often harsh and brutal reality about writing. It isn’t glamorous by any means, okay maybe some of it, but little. It’s hard to contain the personality and emotions involved at times. Writing is more than quotes and opinions about writing from writers but it sure is fun to read about, knowing you’re not the only one who feels this way. Here are some words about the reality of writing whether you view as wisdom, truth, or opinion put together by Cody Delistraty. Links to his page and and this article are below which showcases the format as intended.
Even the great writers of our time have tried and failed and failed some more. Vladimir Nabokov received a harsh rejection letter from Knopf upon submitting Lolita, which would later go on to sell fifty million copies. Sylvia Plath’s first rejection letter for The Bell Jar read, “There certainly isn’t enough genuine talent for us to take notice.” Gertrude Stein received a cruel rejection letter that mocked her style. Marcel Proust’s Swann’s Way earned him a sprawling rejection letter regarding the reasons he should simply give up writing all together. Tim Burton’s first illustrated book, The Giant Zlig, got the thumbs down from Walt Disney Productions, and even Jack Kerouac’s perennial On the Road received a particularly blunt rejection letter that simply read, “I don’t dig this one at all.” So even if you’re an utterly fantastic writer who will be remembered for decades forthcoming, you’ll still most likely receive a large dollop of criticism, rejection, and perhaps even mockery before you get there. Having been through it all these great writers offer some writing tips without pulling punches. After all, if a publishing house is going to tear into your manuscript you might as well be prepared.
1. The first draft of everything is shit. -Ernest Hemingway
2. Never use jargon words like reconceptualize, demassification, attitudinallly, judgmentally. They are hallmarks of a pretentious ass. -David Ogilvy
3. If you have any young friends who aspire to become writers, the second greatest favor you can do them is to present them with copies of The Elements of Style. The first greatest, of course, is to shoot them now, while they’re happy. – Dorothy Parker
4. Notice how many of the Olympic athletes effusively thanked their mothers for their success? “She drove me to my practice at four in the morning,” etc. Writing is not figure skating or skiing. Your mother will not make you a writer. My advice to any young person who wants to write is: leave home. -Paul Theroux
5. I would advise anyone who aspires to a writing career that before developing his talent he would be wise to develop a thick hide. — Harper Lee
6. You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club. ― Jack London
7. Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout with some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand. — George Orwell
8. There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are. ― W. Somerset Maugham
9. If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time — or the tools — to write. Simple as that. – Stephen King
10. Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong. – Neil Gaiman
11. Imagine that you are dying. If you had a terminal disease would you finish this book? Why not? The thing that annoys this 10-weeks-to-live self is the thing that is wrong with the book. So change it. Stop arguing with yourself. Change it. See? Easy. And no one had to die. – Anne Enright
12. If writing seems hard, it’s because it is hard. It’s one of the hardest things people do. – William Zinsser
13. Here is a lesson in creative writing. First rule: Do not use semicolons. They are transvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing. All they do is show you’ve been to college. – Kurt Vonnegut
14. Prose is architecture, not interior decoration. – Ernest Hemingway
15. Write drunk, edit sober. – Ernest Hemingway
16. Get through a draft as quickly as possible. Hard to know the shape of the thing until you have a draft. Literally, when I wrote the last page of my first draft of Lincoln’s Melancholy I thought, Oh, shit, now I get the shape of this. But I had wasted years, literally years, writing and re-writing the first third to first half. The old writer’s rule applies: Have the courage to write badly. – Joshua Wolf Shenk
17. Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be. – Mark Twain
18. Start telling the stories that only you can tell, because there’ll always be better writers than you and there’ll always be smarter writers than you. There will always be people who are much better at doing this or doing that — but you are the only you. ― Neil Gaiman
19. Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative. – Oscar Wilde
20. You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you. ― Ray Bradbury
21. Don’t take anyone’s writing advice too seriously. – Lev Grossman
September 27, 2019: 8 Writing Tips from Authors Who Won the Nobel
These writing tips are from the website, http://www.nownovel.com. If you have time, there’s many links below you can click about writing.
Writing tips from authors who won the Nobel (such as Toni Morrison and Gabriel Garcia Marquez) are often worth taking to heart. Read 8 of the best pieces of writing advice from acclaimed authors:
- Don’t use dead language
Toni Morrison won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1993. In her Nobel lecture, Morrison contrasts ‘dead language’ that ‘thwarts the intellect, stalls conscience, suppresses human potential’ with language that is used with awareness and care. She classes sexist and racist language as the former, saying that they are ‘the policing languages of mastery, and cannot, do not permit new knowledge or encourage the mutual exchange of ideas.’
Morrison’s words from later in her same speech give us guidance for how not to use dead language in our own writing:
‘Language can never live up to life once and for all. Nor should it. Language can never “pin down” slavery, genocide, war. Nor should it yearn for the arrogance to be able to do so. Its force, its felicity is in its reach toward the ineffable.’
What Morrison suggests here is that it is best to approach grand subjects without trying to make the definitive statement, without trying to say ‘everything’. Tell the one true story that matters to you. A story that explores the themes and ideas that matter to you.
This leads to excellent writing advice from another Nobel-winning writer, this time the Polish poet Wislawa Szymborska:
- Use concrete imagery when you write about large, abstract themes
The Polish poet Wislawa Szymborska, who won the Nobel for literature in 1996, ran a column giving advice to writers in the Polish newspaper Literary Life. In one great piece of writing advice, Szymborska told an aspiring poet the following (her advice applies to fiction authors too):
‘You’ve managed to squeeze more lofty words into three short poems than most poets manage in a lifetime: ‘Fatherland,’ ‘truth,’ ‘freedom,’ ‘justice’: such words don’t come cheap. Real blood flows in them, which can’t be counterfeited with ink.’
This ties into Morrison’s writing advice. When writing tips from authors who are widely respected overlap, it merits taking especial notice. Grand or historical themes are best conveyed and made into stories by using what is concrete and particular. Instead of describing a character who ‘loves freedom’, for example, describe a character’s actions and experiences that demonstrate this love of freedom. This gives readers a more visual and empathetic reading experience.
- Work stories out in your head when you can’t write
The Canadian author Alice Munro, who was given the Nobel for Literature in 2013, has dedicated her writing life almost exclusively to the short story. When asked whether she always plots a story first, Munro says:
‘Usually, I have a lot of acquaintance with the story before I start writing it. When I didn’t have regular time to give to writing, stories would just be working in my head for so long that when I started to write I was deep into them.’
To add to this, you could keep a voice recorder or use the voice note function on a smartphone to record ideas or sentences for your novel as they occur to you. This will help you keep creating even when you have fewer moments to sit down and write.
- Read and draw on wide influences but don’t cram your work with others’ ideas
The Nigerian playwright and poet Wole Soyinka, who won the Nobel for Literature in 1986, describes his reading habits and how reading influenced his writing in an interview:
‘I’ve read widely in the world’s literature, European, Asiatic, American … In other words, I cannot cut off and will not attempt to cut off what is my experience and what is after all, the world’s experience. There is a great deal of intercommunication in the world. A lot of people tend to forget that. As long as I find the means of expression, a form of communication which does not alienate my immediate readership and I do not deliberately cram my work with foreign references to a point where the work is indigestible — these are faults which should never be permitted by any serious writer.’
It’s true that to write well you need to read widely. And reading diverse books will enrich your own writing. But be selective about what references you consciously include because your novel should ultimately be your own story rather than a patchwork of transparent influences.
- Make people believe in your story first and foremost
The Colombian author Gabriel Garcia Marquez received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982. The celebrated author of novels such as Cien años de soledad (translated as A Hundred Years of Solitude) was also a journalist. When asked about the difference between journalism and writing fiction, Marquez answered thus:
‘In journalism just one fact that is false prejudices the entire work. In contrast, in fiction one single fact that is true gives legitimacy to the entire work. That’s the only difference, and it lies in the commitment of the writer. A novelist can do anything he wants so long as he makes people believe in it.’
This last sentence is key: It doesn’t matter if you write realist fiction set in contemporary London or futuristic sci-fi set in a Mars colony. Create believable characters who have credible motivations and flaws, immersive settings and realistic tensions and conflicts and your fiction will feel believable.
- Don’t focus on the end goal excessively as you write
Of all the writing tips from authors, the advice John Steinbeck gave remains some of the best. In the Fall 1975 issue of The Paris Review (excerpted by The Atlantic here), Steinbeck writes:
‘Abandon the idea that you are ever going to finish. Lose track of the 400 pages and write just one page for each day, it helps. Then when it gets finished, you are always surprised.’
It’s easy to feel either impatient or overwhelmed if you focus only on when your novel will be finished. Focus on the task at hand instead. Write just one page today: it’s one more page than you had yesterday. Then write another page tomorrow (continue this approach and your daily page count will likely increase as you gain momentum).
- Make sure you write regularly and inspiration will come
The Peruvian author Mario Vargas Llosa, who published over 30 novels, plays and essays, received the Nobel in 2010. In an interview with the Paris Review, Vargas gives advice on how to keep coming up with writing ideas:
‘If I started to wait for moments of inspiration, I would never finish a book. Inspiration for me comes from a regular effort.’
Keep a writing schedule and be as disciplined as you can about keeping your writing appointments with yourself. This will help ensure a steady stream of story ideas.
- Write to connect
The great Canadian-American author Saul Bellow, who published 14 novels and novellas and won the Nobel for writing in 1976, beautifully described the intimacy between the writer and the reader:
‘When you open a novel — and I mean of course the real thing — you enter into a state of intimacy with its writer. You hear a voice or, more significantly, an individual tone under the words … It is more musical than verbal, and it is the characteristic signature of a person, of a soul. Such a writer has power over distraction and fragmentation, and out of distressing unrest, even from the edge of chaos, he [or she] can bring unity and carry us into a state of intransitive attention. People hunger for this.’
Maria Popova of the excellent blog Brain Pickings describes why Bellows’ advice is relevant for today’s writer:
‘How poignant to consider Bellow’s remarks in our age where people seem to “hunger for” cat videos and where the writer’s voice is being increasingly muffled by the “content”-producer’s agenda — and yet, and yet, when we do encounter those ever-rarer “essences” today, those oases of absolute intimacy with another mind, how transcendent our “emotional completeness” then.’
As Bellows and Popova suggest, write to connect with readers. Show them what both you and your characters think and feel and experience. A blockbuster novel needs tension and suspense and the other ingredients of a good story. Yet when you connect with readers and pour your own unique perspective and temperament into your work, you can connect with readers even without an overwrought plot or the world’s greatest writing style.
September 27, 2019: 15 Grammar Goofs
I’m not one that too often posts other people’s posts directly from their blog or from the Internet, but I thought it why not on a Friday? I sometimes find people who have never written any kind of story less qualified to tell you how you should write a book. My inner thoughts, at times, is summed up to something of the following: thanks for all the regurgitation of information I’ve read before. I’m a person who likes examples instead of telling writers simply “show don’t tell.” You better include additional information to “your rules” because it won’t help the average writer improve. This is the way I learn. As I’ve read more books about writing, I’ve learned some of the authors clearly have not taken the time to write a book. If they had, they would offer more than outlines. Not that these aren’t helpful, but I’m in the phase of my writing despite me not publishing a book yet where I’m evolving, more mentally than anything else. Did that make sense? I hope so. The bottom line is I will get there. Dammit, I will get there. I plan on devoting most of Saturday and Sunday to rewriting. I have a feeling my second book idea will be written faster, rewritten faster, and published faster. Once I get those two out of the way, I will go face first into the next book idea. I realize this post is more regurgitation concerning my mental craziness so thank you for tolerating this fact. I also thank the people who recently followed my blog. I don’t post as often as I’d like so with this is mind, here is the post by Brian Clark.
15 Grammar Goofs That Make You Look Silly [Infographic]
September 21, 2019: Short Story: Ethan Stays
It’s been a while since I’ve written a short story. I’ve been mulling over a few ideas here and there. Starting and stopping a few times on this one and other ones half finished because I was half interested in them. I finally sat down and just wrote, not putting too much pressure to figure out where it would go or how it would end. It’s sort of my nod to cooler weather, ghosts, youth, old age, family, and life and death.
Ethan was seven years of age when he stayed with his grandma at her large house. It was on the last Friday of September when the leaves are well established yellows, oranges, and reds that he, for the first time would be away from him parents’ watchful eyes. He looked forward to being away from his older sister. The whole weekend Ellen wouldn’t pick on him for not understanding her over macaroni and cheese or whatever else she made from a box during her attempt at being a pseudo babysitter.
It was on that Friday his parents seemed a little too eager on the car ride. His father had scrambled out of the driver’s seat, rushing to where he sat. He needed no help getting out, but his father helped him anyway. He practically pulled him from the car. Ethan had turned back once, that brief moment to see his mom admiring her face in the mirror, as he walked alongside his dad.
When she realized he was looking at her, she brought her hand up, moving it back and forth. It looked like a broken mechanical doll repeating the same movement or a weathered looking scarecrow during a storm.
After his dad rang the doorbell, Ethan realized he had to go the bathroom. They stood on the steps for several minutes until the door opened.His grandma, Dorothy, had recently been using a cane to get around. Once he was alone with her, he intended to ask her about the origins of it.
“Well, what do we have here? It’s the dashing duo.” Ethan looked at his grandma’s red hair in curlers with a clear plastic bag covering them.
“Hi, mom. Here to drop off Junior.”
“I thought you were coming at six.”
“It’s a quarter past.”
Dorothy looked at her fake gold watch. “I guess it is.”
“Time stops for no one.”
“You sound like your father.”
“And, how is he?”
“The last time I brought him flowers, he seemed fine.”
By now Ethan was hopping from one foot to the other, which Dorothy noticed although his dad did not. “You’ve been at my place enough to know where the bathroom is.”
Ethan dropped his bag and ran into the house.
“I’ll be back on Sunday to pick him up, around noon.”
“He might not want to leave.”
“Either way, I’ll be here.”
Ethan Sr. kissed his mom on the forehead and rushed back to his car.
Ethan heard his parents’ car peel out of the driveway as he put the toilet seat down. His grandma had one of those ugly covers for it. This one reminded him of peas or cartoon vomit. It was a sickly green color. The rug was the same ugly color and as he washed his hands, he was glad his feet or shoes were not touching it. His grandma had bought a stool so he could better reach the sink. He learned to pump two squirts of soap onto his palm and rub his hands together, quite vigorously from her. He was not sure what she meant by clean hands will help you get ahead in life.
She held her arms out, cane raised, and waited for his hug. She had a way of smooshing his face against her thigh and no amount of fabric between their flesh stopped her heat from warming his cheeks especially when she patted him on the back. Each time her palm touched his shirt, the more his cheek changed form. “Now that you’re no longer dancing like a mad man, what do you want to do?”
“I don’t know.”
“For starters, you can get your bag so you’re not wearing the same underwear for the duration of your stay. Your dad put it by the door.”
“Can I sleep in the room he used to sleep in?” Ethan asked, darting off.
“I thought you liked the room grandpa used to sleep in.” Dorothy said, turning in the direction he went.
“Not anymore,” he shouted.
“Why not?” she shouted back.
He waited to respond until he returned. “I don’t know,” he said, knowing well enough why he did not want to sleep there. Ethan’s grandfather was shaped like a barrel by the time of his passing. He had been physically fit in his youth and the majority of his adulthood, but he had contracted a debilitating disease that left him in a wheelchair for the last year of his life. He had been told he did not have much time remaining and made the choice to live it to the fullest, which meant eating everything he had restricted up to that point. He couldn’t get his fingers on donuts, cupcakes, pies, and cakes fast enough. He became a sugar junkie as his grandma told him during the funeral. It was open casket and the first time he had seen a dead body, let alone a fat dead body.
Dorothy looked at his eyebrows bunched up like caterpillars.
“Grandma, you aren’t going to die soon, are you?”
“Because grandpa hasn’t been gone that long and I don’t want anything to happen to you.”
“Just because I have a cane now doesn’t mean I’m going to keel over. Besides, it’s not as if I plan on dying when you’re around. I’ll make sure you’re nowhere near me when it happens and if you are, I’ll shove you out of the room.”
“This is why I don’t want to sleep in grandpa’s bed.”
“Because you’re afraid I’ll die?”
“I’m afraid I’ll die in there like he did.”
“That’s the best way to go, in your sleep, but you don’t have to worry about that for a very long time.”
“You know that for a fact.”
“Look in the mirror.” Dorothy pointed to the mirror hanging on the wall. “I’m sure we’ll see the same thing.”
Ethan walked to the mirror on the wall. He studied his face. There weren’t any wrinkles on it, unlike the ones etched into his grandpa’s living or dead face. His skin was pale, eyes appeared almost gray, and his nose was slightly crooked from the time he had gotten into a fight with his sister. She had knocked him down and before he could soften the fall, his face hit the pavement. He found satisfaction in her punishment. While she had to sit in her room without music, television, computer, and phone, he got to play video games when all his homework was finished. Despite this acquired flaw, he looked like a normal child.
“Are you going to tell me what you see?”
“I see me.”
“Light brown hair. It’s shorter now because I got it cut.”
“Tell your mother she can save money by giving you bowl cuts.”
“Stop it, grandma.”
“I’m getting better at throwing a football,” he said, putting his finger to his lips. “I’ve been told my feet are big for my age but Ellen told me that. When I’m older, I’ll be average height.”
“What does everything you said have in common?”
“I don’t know.”
“Take one more look at yourself, from top to bottom.”
“I’m normal looking.”
“I guess I’m not as old as you are.”
“That doesn’t mean I won’t die in grandpa’s bed.”
“The chances of you dying in his bed are so small it’s not worth thinking about. I’m sure your mother told you worrying causes premature wrinkles.”
“No one likes a worry wart, and you shouldn’t waste any more of your precious breath on this. There’s nothing special about your grandpa’s bed. It doesn’t have magical powers and neither does mine. I’ve never known a bed to kill anyone.”
“Then why did Ellen tell me when October starts, spooky things happen to good people?”
“She’s rattling your chain.”
“I touched human eyeballs the last time we were alone.”
“If she actually did that, your parents would put her in the funny farm. Stay here, I’ll be back shortly.”
When she returned, she told him to close his eyes. She spit into her hand and rolled two grapes around.
“Okay, did they feel like this?”
“A little bit.”
“Yeah. What are they?”
“Touch them again.’
He picked up a grape and held it in between his fingers. “I know what it is.”
“I taught your sister everything she knows. Now take this other eyeball in my hand and throw them away.
Ethan opened his eyes, grabbed the other grape, and ran off toward the kitchen.
Dorothy shouted, “don’t forget to wash your hands.”
He came back with clean hands, grabbed his bag, and headed for the staircase with her following. She waited at the bottom step as he climbed the wooden stairs, each time creaking under the weight of his body.
When he reached the last step, Ethan paused when he smelled a mixture of cinnamon and pumpkin potpourri. From the potency of it, he knew it was in every room including the one he would be calling his own for a few days. He smelled hints of outside air too, as he suspected every window was open in every room, another mixture but this time of growth and decay.
Inside his dad’s old room, he set his bag down and took in all the medals, ribbons, and awards his father had gotten throughout high school and college. It was hard for him to believe he was once his age, but there was proof of it on the walls. Photos of him with his own dad adorned a major portion of the wall above the bed. His grandpa told Ethan he was going to grow up to be like him as they had similar personalities and he was the only one who enjoyed hearing his ghost stories in the last months of his life.
As he unzipped his bag to get his Gameboy, as he was excited to show his grandma how he had reached the next level in Super Mario Bros. since his last visit, he heard a noise coming from the closet. The possibility of it being a ghost sent shivers up his spin and rested at the nape of his neck. He dropped his Gameboy and cautiously walked to the closet, tiptoeing part of the way.
The handle was chilly to the touch and after it had warmed, he opened the door. He expected his grandpa to be on the other side, but no one was there. He released the breath he was holding but let out a gasp when he heard a scratching from behind the wall. Shoe boxes stacked on top of each other and old clothes on hangers blocked much of the back wall, but he knew that was where it originated. He moved boxes and created an opening through the clothes. The wall felt the same as any other in his grandma’s house. He leaned forward, as far as he could without tipping over, and listened for any noise. When he heard nothing, he watched for movement. Nothing happened and was satisfied old houses were more prone to make weird noises. He closed the door, half confident he was safe.
Dorothy had given up waiting for him and was in the kitchen sipping on apple cider with a cinnamon stick poking out of the cup when he entered.
“You want a cup of cider?
“Maybe later. Can I have hot chocolate instead?”
“There’s packets in pantry, but I don’t have marshmallows.”
“You need help pouring the water?”
“The water should still be hot.”
Ethan grabbed a cup from the rack on the counter and left enough space for the cocoa. The best part was mixing the powder into the water. He liked to watch the spoon spin around in the cup every so often. Maybe, he was more like his grandpa instead of his dad. His dad hated hot cocoa. “Where did you get that cane?”
“It should look familiar.”
“It looks like grandpa’s old cane.
“That’s because it is.”
“But dad bought you a flower cane.”
“I refuse to use that ugly thing and now that your grandpa’s gone it has some meaning. Hard to believe I thought this was ugly too one time.”
“He liked eagles.”
She patted the top of the cane as if was a living eagle. “He sure did.”
“Do you believe in ghosts like he did?”
“I prefer to focus on living. Get your cocoa before your water gets cold.”
Ethan hurried to the pantry and brought back two packages. He took turns pouring and stirring the powder until some of it separated and turned a different color. He watched the spoon spin and spin around the sides of the cup.
“Why don’t you believe in ghosts, grandma?”
“I believe in reincarnation.”
“It’s when someone takes another form after they die.”
“Like a chair.”
“In some religions but I choose to believe people come back as a different person.” “How would I know if I am?”
“You’d know things about the past that you couldn’t possibly know in this lifetime. For example, if you fought in the Civil War, you’d have hunches about it. If you died in battle, you’d have memories about it, often vivid ones.”
“I don’t remember anything like that.”
“Then, it’s safe to say, you didn’t fight in the Civil War.”
“Could I have been reincarnated from grandpa?”
“You were already living when he died so no.”
“But someone might be grandpa who hasn’t been born yet.”
“Maybe, a part of him.”
“I heard something from the closet in dad’s room.”
“Probably the spiders in the walls.”
“Better than mice. You remember the mice from last year in the attic.”
“If you hear anymore noises, let me know. I’ll have your dad come over and set more traps. You know how much he loves to crawl around for me.”
Ethan smiled and took a large gulp of his hot cocoa. As if reading his mind, Dorothy stood up and announced it was time to take out her curlers. He was lucky she allowed him to touch her hair. If it was his mom, she wouldn’t let him near her hair even if he begged.
It took a while for her to reach the middle of the staircase, but when she did the air felt colder the second time. He didn’t know if it was because the air had actually cooled outside or if he really feared the possibility of seeing his grandpa’s ghost in the closet.
“Will you save me if I’m being attacked at night?”
“I think it’s time to focus on something other than ghosts.”
“What if something attacks me that you can’t see?”
“You can’t expect me to protect you if I can’t see it.”
“But I’ll know where it is.”
“Then, we’ll fight against it together.”
“You promise we’ll be safe.”
“Nothing has happened to you so far.”
“Your father made it out alive after living with me for eighteen years.”
“There’s nothing to worry about.”
He wanted to believe his grandma, but he was certain he saw the faint outline of a hand and partial arm on her leg. When her foot left the last step, they disappeared. Maybe Ellen had gotten the month wrong, spooky things happened at the end of September instead of the beginning of October. When Dorothy turned and smiled at him, it reminded him of what his dad said before leaving their house. The words echoed within him, and he felt something he had never experienced before.
September 20, 2019: Journal Entry Type #19: Seriously! Really! No Kidding!
For the last two weeks, I’ve been out of sorts and going through the motions of work without much going on except medical crap. What I thought was a routine CT scan of my sinuses, to try to get some relief since I’ve been dealing with this what feels like forever, the radiologist wanted me to go back again for another scan. I found out my sinuses are clear. Really? Where’s all this damn pain coming from I’ve dealt with since my late 20s? I’m hoping for minor surgery after I prove the ENT doctor wrong what he suggested won’t work. The whole ordeal has been annoying with a little bit of anxiety and craziness rolled into it. The second time around the mass was identified in my face and need to wait to see the makeup of it. Have I said before how much I hate needles? I stopped donating blood for that reason despite Red Cross knocking on my door because of my blood type. It’s good to not rush into things, but I desperately wanted answers today. I haven’t been able to focus much on any kind of writing and instead have read the various stack of books near my bed, a few pages here and there. I’ve been stuffing my emotions through eating and watching movies. I realize it’s time to get back to the weekly grind of taking care of myself despite needing possible surgery. I was okay with it in the beginning, but now am not okay because of everything that goes with it. I would much rather spend my money in another way. I don’t want to go through the healing process again. It seems time has stopped for me, so to speak, and not in the frame of mind I would like to be: centered and whole. I find myself wondering what other things will be growing where they shouldn’t, but what can I do? Not much of anything, I guess. I need to find a way to be okay with whatever happens. I decided to post some pictures because it’s not every day you get to see the inside of your own body and right now I feel like sharing.
September 13, 2019: Journal Entry Type #18: Fall Leaves
I’ve been feeling under the weather, which is a weird phrase, because now I’m trying to picture actually being under the weather. Technically, we are as in the sun shines down on us and when it rains, we get wet. I’ve been missing the four definite seasons: fall, winter, spring, and summer. When I moved from the Midwest, I had them all. The summers would be muggy, thanks to humidity although nothing like the East coast. The winters would be cold where your nose hairs freeze when it gets to the -20 range. The spring brings melted snow where your socks and shoes get wet and dirty. The fall is what I miss the most, the trees changing colors, hot apple cider (not from a bottle), and the chance to see deer.
I’m convinced “real winters” kill off many things that wreck havoc on my sinuses, but unfortunately dust is found everywhere on this planet. I don’t get too caught up in the moon cycles, but today happens to be Friday the 13th and a full moon. I’m not too superstitious and don’t really believe more crazies are out roaming the neighborhoods in any city with machetes and hidden knives. Although I once lived in an apartment complex in LA where this guy did have a machete and was threatening people with it. The fire alarm woke up me as the LAPD was lobbing tear gas canisters. My roommate was already awake and counted 18 canisters thrown into his apartment through a balcony window. He eventually came out and as it turns out, he wanted to be an actor. Right city, wrong move. There was also the serial arsonist who set the woman’s car on fire who lived below us in another apartment. He was angry too but because the U.S. government had sent his mom back home to Russia. By the time he was caught, he had burned, at least, 30 cars (I think). Oh, the stories I have about LA.
Getting back to the crazies, most people who feel the need to kill somebody are done within the confines of their apartments and houses and intimately know the person. It is rare to find a sociopath like Ted Bundy although they do exist. While I was born into a highly dysfunctional family, there are things I’ve had to grapple with through the years. It’s a step by step thing where I’m hoping by the end of the journey, I have come full circle as they say. I haven’t finished my rewrite of my love story and while I’m going to be working on it this weekend as well as going to see the second part of IT, I had the compulsion to write a tentative short prologue a few days ago for my second novel idea. I’m sure it will change many times over, but here it is below. I don’t have much to offer besides enjoy your weekend.
When my father was born, his parents were overjoyed by his presence. His birth meant his bloodline would continue. His parents envisioned him to grow strong and wise. They wanted him to marry a kind woman and have beautiful babies. As he grew older, his face glistened from far away. His smile could be seen across the room. His parents could not give him much growing up, and this was when the bitterness formed. He married a poor woman, practically stole her away from her family, but poor families were eager to have one less mouth to feed. My father got his wife pregnant, four times, and each time his concern to her growing belly diminished. By the time my baby brother was born, he had kicked her in the stomach, hard enough to leave bruises. Long gone was the guidance he gave and the gifts he bought. He was no longer the older man who protected the younger woman. He was no longer the man she had married. She had no idea what he would turn into, for the ugliness that lay beneath his skin, silently bubbling, was good at remaining hidden. When it finally appeared, it burst through his pores, such an ugly thing, and this was when I knew my life would never be the same.
September 7, 2019: Persistence is the Key to Writing, not the Money Although it Doesn’t Hurt!
This information comes from a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and writer, William Dietrich. He wrote an article about the odds of success as a writer in 2013 for Huffington Post. He speaks of the millions of dollars writers made in 2012 (yes, I realize it is now 2019), according to Forbes, but he also talks about the rejections they all got before they became a household name. I’m focusing on the rejections and not the amount of money made because let’s not make it too depressing.
Before I begin with these statistics, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, out of the 145,900 American people they consider writers and authors, the median wage earned was $55,420. For my comparison, according to the U.S. Department of Labor in 2018 the median wage was $36,483 for actors and the median wage for writers and authors was $62,170. The good news is it seems an American has a better chance of earning money as a writer than as an actor. Sorry for those not living in the U.S. (note some sarcasm), but let’s be honest, it’s tricky and not an easy task no matter where you live.
Dietrich goes on to say the most successful authors have a combination of talent, persistence, and luck. How it is broken down, I’m not sure. I would say people need a lot more persistence and talent because as they say luck is not a common occurrence although in some cases it’s the other way around. I’m not mentioning any author names, but let’s be honest here. A Harlequin romance novel is simpler to write about than a historical novel. Google estimates 130 million books have been published so far and let’s hope yours and mine will be added to the list later.
Janet Evanovich wrote 10 years before getting published. She wrote romance first before changing it up.
Stephen King was rejected 30 times for Carrie. He threw it away, only for his wife Tabitha to take it out again.
John Grisham’s first novel, A Time to Kill (great book and movie) was rejected 12 times and unsuccessfully tried to sell it out of his car. At least he had his daytime job as a lawyer to support himself.
Judy Blume had nothing but rejections for two straight years, but since has sold over 80 million copies of her books.
Rex Pickett was rejected 16 times for Sideways and received an advance of only $5,000 before being picked up for a film.
J.K. Rowling was rejected 12 times by British publishing houses for Harry Potter. It was printed for a £1,500 advance after a publisher’s eight-year-old daughter pleaded for it. Damn smart kid, if you ask me.
Dan Brown sold less than 10,000 copies of three book before The Da Vinci Code.
C.S. Lewis was rejected 800 times.
As if you haven’t heard enough of the daunting task of getting published, Dietrich lists even more rejections. Here they are in no particular order.
Gone With the Wind was rejected 38 times.
Dune was rejected 20 times.
A Wrinkle in Time was rejected 29 times.
Lord of the Flies was rejected 20 times.
Kon Tiki was rejected 20 times.
Watership Down was rejected 17 times.
The Dubliners was rejected 22 times.
As you can see, these numbers are staggering, but shouldn’t be surprising. Okay, maybe for C.S. Lewis. Often it is the right time at the right place or the up and coming writer, but also as Dietrich notes the right person on the right day. Of course, having a great story helps and adhering to as many writing rules as you can contend with, but at the end of the day it’s essentially your story (every freaking bit of it).
If I took away anything from this, it’s to keep going no matter what the hell happens 20 years from now or how damn little progress seems to be made. Because if the odds are so low to begin with getting published and sell thousands of copies of your book, you might as well more focus on the parts you can control. There is nothing wrong with thinking and dreaming big because we’ve all done it and more than once. I would probably have been decent in other traditional jobs where writing is involved, but that obviously isn’t what I wanted. The reality I hold onto is the ability to still write even though I bitch and moan about it off and on. With this in mind, I’m going to write now.
August 28, 2019: Part Writing Exercise and Part Dream
The crowd got louder as those sitting closest to the entrance saw her pinchers. By the time we reached the center of the arena, most everyone was standing and chanting.
“Begin the fight. Begin the fight. Begin the fight.”
Once the chant died down some, the crowd began to stamp their feet in unison. Its echo reverberated off the walls. People blocked out the sun as best they could as many did not have adequate shade. It had made a few men end their fights quickly and their wives fearful their husbands might return home without beating hearts if the judges felt they were rushing the fights. Some men had forfeited their fights and were willing to suffer the consequences. You could only do this once without the possibility of being punished to death. The ones not able to bribe their way to the lesser charge found themselves dragged out along with their wives who were foolish enough to attend.
“Kill, kill, kill him! Kill, kill, kill her! Kill, kill, kill the beast!”
I was one of three men left, stoic as I sat on my colossal scorpion, waiting for her to settle down. Whoever found himself on the opposite side of ‘the battling man’ would go down in history as a hero for simply fighting him. It was predicted he would kill the both of us, but if ‘the battling man’ was only able to kill one of us, the dead man’s quest for glory would transfer to the lesser man. My legacy was guaranteed if I presented ‘the battling man’ with challenges suitable enough to sustain the crowd and astonish the judges.
While men hid behind their wooden shields to gauge their opponent, ‘the battling man’ threw spears with countless accuracy, plunged daggers deep into any opponent’s torso, and took his time killing with his sword when you begged for mercy. Any great fighter knows you can’t fight when you’re scared. I listened to every sound a sword made as it hit mine. It taught me what a poorly made weapon sounded like and taught me where best to strike on a well-crafted one. I learned to act according to the weaknesses of my opponent’s physicality. If he took a pause to regroup, it became my opportunity to attack. While my animal of choice was not covered in fur or feathers, I made sure to get acquainted with them in case I was forced to ride one. I watched their defenses and offenses when they were fighting. I watched what happened when they did not respect their owner. Not every weapon was made equal and not every animal struck as asked.
It’s the main reason my lifeless body wasn’t being dragged with ropes tied to my ankles once the fight was over. It was me relishing in victory, sweat dripping off my chin, and my wife crying tears of joy instead of loss when I returned home. It was my opponent’s body being laid on the stone slab with his face covered with cloth. It was his wife on her knees, insisting he was only sleeping when she claimed him days later.
There were no rules when the fights began. Older men challenged young boys barely with hair on their chests. Crossbred reptiles clawed at giant insects with powerful stings. Snakes 50 feet long with six men strapped to its back fought other snakes just as long and as wide as the thickest tree. Tigers with heads the size of three regular sized tigers put together eviscerated packs of hyenas.
Having more animals in the arena made for better entertainment, but it was a risky move. It made for sloppy fighting. The battles became more serious as more rules were enacted. Age limits were set in place and similar creatures fought together of defense, strength, and size. Tigers fought lions, bears fought against each other, cassowaries with massive wingspans fought emus of similar aggression. There was more at stake each time someone won and lost now.
The crowd was still stamping their feet by the time I got her into position. I wasn’t one to give names to those who fought underneath me, but this female was a special kind of scorpion. At a body 20 feet long, she had with venom strong enough to kill any sized animal if she dug her stinger into its meaty flesh and send a man flying through the air with one swipe from her segmented tail that I called the ‘swiper.’ The common reaction of her size was half fear and admiration. First time crowd members relaxed only when they saw my extraordinary control of Zia.
Her black carapace, smooth on my hand, let me know when she was ready. We watched as our opponents made their way into the arena, the man and his female black widow spider, although she looked smaller from afar. Her body seemed half the size of Zia and her long, shiny thin legs could easily be cut if I could get close to them without putting us in danger. I was confident victory was mine even though this man towered over me by a couple feet when they were close.
I could tell he had bought her from a breeder whereas I raised Zia when she was small enough to hold in my hands. Despite the spider’s smaller size, she moved quicker than I had realized. My opponent was confident in his skills, as he sat straighter, but so was I. We both were seasoned fighters looking for one thing only: to kill each other as quickly as possible.
Without flinching when the horn sounded, Zia raised her tail over my head and extended it down on its target. The spider moved out harm’s way, Zia’s stinger never coming close. I sensed her anger and let her chase after her prey for a bit. The spider would eventually succumb to its fate and so would the man, but let me discuss more how we got to that point as the crowd grew silent.
August 26, 2019: Journal Entry Type #17: Back So Soon?!
Okay, so as I was trying to fall asleep last night because like most of us, I have to get up and work for a living, I thought about a short story I could write, how I would change my introduction to my next novel idea, the poem I wanted to write over the weekend as a break from rewriting my love story but never did, and the unnecessary desire I have to go back to coloring or putting together a puzzle (all in the name of a little bit of procrastination, a little bit of guilt for not working on either one, and a little bit of wanting to calm my nerves inside my body).
I spent last Friday night decompressing from the work week and watched some TV before going to bed. Growing up in the 80s and 90s, I think a part of me is having a midlife crisis if there is such a thing without going into too much detail. Something has shifted within me and for those who are spiritual, you know what I’m talking about. I’ll tell you what hasn’t changed in me and that is the aggravation of when someone tailgates me into the parking lot so much that if I was to step on my brakes, the other driver would have no way of not hitting me. I call it a car enema. My car doesn’t need one and I don’t need the after effects of it either.
Getting back to my writing, I kid you not that after I got done rewriting on Saturday into Sunday morning, I stayed up another 3 hours because of it. I stopped writing at one in the morning to stay on track with the hours I’m awake and asleep during the week. I should’ve just kept writing. I must find a way to turn off my mental chatter. While there is a primary reason for every novel idea I want to write, two in particular will have consumed me to the point I didn’t think possible. Well, a part of me realized this because these stories have been with me since high school. It can get a little overwhelming, but this is how the mind works with someone creative and who has to get it out on paper.
While many writers can vomit out a novel in a month or six months or even a year, I’ve only done that two times and just the first draft and that was when I was only in school and had nothing else going on. Despite the pressure I put on myself, I’m not a fan of the phrase “no excuses” especially when it comes to anything. If it were that easy, I’d be exercising and writing all the time. Then again, I have a family member who reminds me to talk less and act more. Point taken. I don’t know what the purpose of this blog was except to spew out the energy that built up over the weekend.
I’m at the point in life where apples should be cut up because they are easier to eat and telling people not to brush their teeth right after eating an orange as it wears away teeth enamel is considered helping others. Every so often in the back of my mind there are other things such as what someone said to me over 20 years ago. The tortured artist or writer exists within me because of my genetics and human tendencies. Certain things shouldn’t matter anymore. Life can consume you until there’s nothing left but a broken mind and body, but at the same time lead you to realize you’re a living breathing human being in a time where most anything is possible. And that’s a great feeling, so do what you need to do (within reason) because no one else is going to do it for you.
August 23, 2019: Journal Type Entry #16: Reflection of 25 Years
A classmate of mine posted a picture from high school. It happens to be our 25th high school reunion this weekend. As I looked and read about everyone attending, some of them had kids already in college, some are still having kids, some didn’t want any kids (including myself), some are still married, some are divorced, some remarried, some never married (including myself). A lot of us gained weight while some are the same size or lost weight. Most of us have white and gray hairs unless they dyed their hair. I’m realizing now my high school biology teacher did that every month. I’m also realizing I don’t remember certain things that happened way back then and some things I wish I could forget but never will. I lost touch with all of my class, but reconnected when Facebook came onto the scene. Good friends from high school are no longer friends for one reason or another. We grew apart and went our separate ways. I guess this is what life is all about. Some of it was downright shitty while other parts of it are just okay.
Since being out of high school, I’m learning to justify myself less and understand everyone screws up more than once in their lives, but more see this is on everyone’s life chart whether realized or not. Screwing up, some more than others, and then learning to forgive yourself is a human process for every living person. It doesn’t skip over any person as much as I would prefer it to be this way. It’s the hardest thing to contend with for many people. We really are the product of our upbringing, but for those of us who are taken out of something horrible, there’s something that’s different with us. It completely revamps who you are personality wise. Hopefully, it will come through in a creative way in one of my book ideas. I believe it will be my most powerful story I will ever write. This is, of course, if I do it the right way. As I grapple with certain things I know to be true concerning my own life, I can’t help but think of people who sacrifice themselves.
I’m hoping there won’t be as many unresolved emotions and feelings to deal with ten years from now, but people are complex and there are many layers. If people are like onions, they resist being peeled. I have stories that will make people cry. I also have stories that will make people appreciate life. It’s the in crap in between I’m trying to reach, to resolve, to better myself and others. The one thing I’ve always found satisfaction in is when I attain solitude. I might not have the calmest of minds, but I try to incorporate it into my weekly life in some way. The bottom line is I’m doing the best I can within my grasp. I’m not the person I was in high school and going back to any reunion isn’t for me, but I wish everyone has a blast as I’ll be devoting the weekend to rewriting. If I expose myself to more people, I prefer to do it through my writing. This will be the greatest reward life can give me and that I can give myself (for now anyways). Cheers and enjoy your weekend.
August 5, 2019: Quote by the Great Sylvia Plath
August 5, 2019: Journal Type Entry #15: How Can It Be August?
It’s already the second week of August and I’m still focusing on my rewrite and life in general. I’ve been watching more movies lately and trying to catch up on my never ending list of shows in Netflix and Hulu. I’m learning to cut down on certain shows, ones that would be background noise for me, while I’m doing other things like putting together puzzles or coloring. Since they were becoming procrastination for me, it’s become apparent I’m weeding out the things that don’t fit right now. I only exercised twice last week and plan on getting back to the grind this week. My knee pain came back with a vengeance when I thought it was gone. It’s become a dull ache, at times harsher, much like my constant headache I have. Even climbing stairs or riding the stationary bike is becoming hard. There clearly is something wrong. I’ve been trying to keep it easy. It seems I’ve had more doctor appointments this year than I have in all the past five years combined although many of them are long overdue. It’s time to figure out why I’m not getting a good night’s sleep anymore and finally getting an X ray of my head and chest. I have more car issues so yes, the pain in real in my body and around my body. I did see a movie this weekend I’m going to review hopefully today. I browsed through used books this weekend as well after one of my massage appointments. I usually have time constraints, but as I was browsing the books I took my sweet time. I don’t afford myself this luxury usually so I’m learning to relax and go with the flow. I also would’ve never bought a used book back in the day. Yes, more learning and growing. I found a couple of bookmarks and a postcard stuck in them. I guess I was feeding my brain. Do I wish I had more energy? Yes. It feels I’m living on a engine that is faulty. I’m trying my best. On that note, onward and upward because it’s the only way to go despite this thing called life. Do I wish I could finish a book each month? Yes, but never mind. I can do this when I’m retired.
July 24, 2019: Quotes about Writing from Writers
July 24, 2019: Book Recommendation: Revision & Self-Editing
“The most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in, shock-proof, shit-detector.”
I did some soul searching this last weekend and this week as well. I’m not going to lie in that I’ve struggled lately with my rewriting. It shouldn’t be that much of a surprise to those following my blog. I’m not doing it consistently like I should for a handful of reasons. The biggest one is the criticisms I’m bound to get from some people such as you shouldn’t have done that or you should’ve done this. It’s sent me on the path of constant revisions and by the end of it, completely exhausted body, mind, and spirit. This need to be as close to perfection is not healthy, but I wonder if my writing is really all that great and just mediocre as they say. I’m not a outline kind of person as I formulate plots and different scenes I want in my head and then stew on them. It seems I’ve wasted so much time doing all kinds of things to preoccupy myself away from these thoughts, but never really being far away.
I’m really hoping this serves as a portal into what NOT to do for my next story write and rewrite. I’m hoping it takes half the time. I try to be as patient as I can with this, but this is driving me nuts. I just want this done, but I don’t want to stop short of reaching its full potential. There’s a breaking point, and I believe I’ve reached this point. At the advice of my roommate since I’m still in the same boat as last year, revolving through the rewriting door, I’m going to devote an hour each day on it and see where it gets me. Once I’ve reached the final page, I’m going to hand it over for him to read. I expect this to be done by the end of this year. I want it to be done by the end of this year. It should be done by the end of this year. It must be done by the end of this year.
I wrote 20 pages in my journal last night about a wide gamut of things to try to restart and revamping what I do in my free time so I’m not spinning in the same place year after year. My roommate asked me do I want to be a writer? Of course, I said YES because I believe that is one of my reasons for existing. His response was, paraphrasing, “maybe, you don’t because you spend a lot of time not writing.” Point noted, AGAIN. So, to make my head spin even more, I recently read this book and became overwhelmed in some ways. I’ve written a lengthy piece before, but that was for educational purposes It’s time to dig deep and get this done so I can do it again and then thirteen more times, but with less mental resistance. The bottom line is I really hope others don’t struggle as much as I do and if you are, then you’re bouncing back quicker than I do.
The main reason for this entry was to suggest this self-editing and revision book to fellow writers. It has a lot of great information and while any book can be rewritten again, there comes a point in time where one more time is the best option (and then maybe one more time for minor changes). This is where I’m at with it and come hell or high water the bulk of it will be done by the end of this year. Another great thing about this book is it gives examples on how to improve your writing and not just an author telling you to make it better or gives you minimal information we all know. Think what a paragraph looked like before and what it looks like after, and all in the effort to make it read and flow better. I was doing some of it already before reading this book but it goes to show there’s more to be done. Serious writers aren’t for the faint of heart. I won’t deny it’s hard to sometimes write when you have a full time job, work overtime, need to exercise, and have countless other bullshit things to do. This is life for most of us. Yesterday, my emotions were charged, like throwing 25 colors onto a canvas out of rusty paint cans. The rawest emotion one can feel is anger and that is what I felt for not meeting my creative expectations and not having enough time (what a concept). Today, not so much, but still a note to myself: GET THIS FUCKER DONE!
July 16, 2019: Quotes About Writing and Emotions By Writers
July 15, 2019: Journal Entry #14
How Do We Get Back to Normal? Was There Ever One? How Do Get There? What Will 2020 Look Like?
I’m writing this because there are a few people in my life who I consider mentors, but sometimes we fall very opposite when it comes to politics. There is one in particular who has helped me grow and still does, but unlike me who never voted for the second George Bush, either time, she did. She also voted for Donald Trump and will again in 2020. I intentionally stayed away from this subject with her because we all know how heated politics can make people. It was interesting to say the least.
I’ve been called a cunt by someone I no longer have on Facebook. He’s one of those loyal, diehard Trump supporters where he can’t do anything wrong. I understand you have to respect other people’s beliefs, even those that clearly can’t see the other side(s), but it’s hard to find any common ground with two polar opposite people. His principles and viewpoints are not mine and mine are not his. If you’re not a patriot (wearing the American flag kind) and my assumption also a hardcore second amendment advocate, then you’re open to his attacks. So, how do we find common ground between him and me? In this case, we don’t because passionate beliefs tend to get in the way of good discussion.
I’d be hard pressed to vote for anyone from the Republican party, especially nowadays, based on my core principles. I lost a few acquaintances on Facebook because of my belief in equal rights for everyone. These people don’t. They live by their religion. I don’t. One of them trolls people on the internet, in order to pick fights, as it gives her satisfaction. Why do I know this? Because she told me. I don’t judge her because it’s her thing. She has a right to do this. The intent of this post isn’t to agitate the already agitated, but if you believe this is the reason for it, so be it. I can’t make anyone read between these lines or see the bigger picture, which I’m realizing is different for everyone. The political climate is drenched in instability with friction found in every corner.
Social media users go from 0 to 60 in such a short amount of time. Every subject turns into a debate about politics without ever really having a true debate. It turns into a word slug fest without much respect or intelligence. My mentor expressed the need to see the big picture and how CNN lies about what’s really going on, meaning they purposely leave out positive facts about Trump. In her belief, he has done great things for American communities and has protected a country (not the U.S.) she holds dear to her heart. While there is a sliver of truth to this, it doesn’t erase the numerous blunders, viewpoints, and crudity that spills from his mouth. I really wonder how genuine he is and for this reason, he will never get my seal of approval. If I didn’t care for people with his attributes long before he became President, why would I support him now? The answer is I don’t unless he changes. Put another way, he is not my cup of tea.
We both don’t watch CNN. I watch MSNBC. She watches Fox News. So how are we able to have a semi decent conversation about Trump with a little bit of Obama and Clinton mixed in? It happens because she holds back and I definitely hold back. Is it good we do this? Yes because if not I could go to a dark place that allows me to attack someone on his or her beliefs. I don’t want to do this. She was trying to convince me to see the positive in Trump as a few others have I consider friends. I gave him the benefit of the doubt in the beginning. I’d much rather have him succeed than not, but he hasn’t done much to persuade me.
Do I think he has the mental and emotional capacity to be a leader? No. Do I think he has the intellectual capacity to bring the highly divided country he partially created to an end? No. Do I think his compulsion to tweet morning, noon, and night is excessive? Yes. Would I rather have someone else in the White House? Yes. Will someone else elected in 2020? I sure hope so.
My roommate asked me a good question. Would I vote for someone on the Democratic ticket who was similar to Trump (lack of experience and personality) or would I vote for a Republican nominee of sound body and mind? This was hard because I used to be Independent before I forced to pick a political party when I lived in CA. I adhere to more Democratic values over Republican ones, but paraphrasing Nicole Wallace, the Republican party has become the Trump party. She doesn’t recognize it anymore and that is why in 2020 she will vote for the Democratic nominee. If you don’t know, Wallace worked under George Bush, Jr. (as I call him) and has her own show in MSNBC. She used to be a Republican. Is this going to convince more Republicans to not vote along their party line in 2020? Probably not. The glue has hardened already. Time will tell if a few cross back and forth on this red and blue line. I don’t think the Democratic party would ever nominate a candidate like Trump, but if they did, I might have to vote for the Republican nominee to not repeat what happened in 2016.
I have core values I will not sway from much like my mentor will not sway from her core values. She votes for the candidate who gives support to one country. On the other hand, I vote for the candidate (so far all Democrats) because they align with my principles of environmental conservation, equal rights, and a woman’s right to control her own body. Where do I fall on guns? Outlawing guns will never work. Should there be tougher restrictions on who can buy guns? Yes because someone who is severely mentally ill doesn’t need a gun and neither does someone who likes to rob stores over and over again. It’s called common sense. Do I get freaked out when I see people carrying guns? No. Do I think people who want to carry guns should be able to? Yes. Again, it’s called common sense.
While many of the people jockeying to win the Democratic nomination have a long ways to go, I’m still undecided on who I want. There should be fresh faces in any party, but we shouldn’t disregard the politicians who have been there for a long time such as Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders. When 2019 comes to an end, hardcore Trump supporters will remain that. What they like about him varies. Has Trump changed enough for me to vote for him in 2020 or ever want to meet in person? No, as he seems only to care about his base time and time again.
This discussion I had with my mentor was necessary as it had been brewing for a while. It is one of those agree to disagree moments, but as in the past, we have learned to approach with caution. Heated topics creates heated discussions. It’s easy to feel threatened and get personal. We did not do this. I respect her beliefs and hope she respects mine. This hasn’t been happening within the Democratic party and between the Democrats and the President. We definitely need less grandstanding among some and less silence among others. I hope in 2020 we get rid of the politicians collecting a paycheck without doing much. Mitch McConnell comes to mind.
Whether Trump gets elected again hinges on whether the Democrats can nominate a good, middle of the road, challenger. If government is to support those that elected them, it has a long ways to go. This is why Trump was elected. Some of us were getting tired of Washington advancing their own interests. The issue is we now have another problem although some don’t see it, others ignore it, and more justify it. I can’t do any of the three. The current institutions, while not perfect, don’t need to be chipped away even further. I haven’t seen much swamp draining, but I have seen things being exposed for what they are (in the two major political parties and with the President). Who people vote for in 2020 or if they even vote at all is up to them, but never did I think I would have to say I wanted a President who doesn’t mind reading. There’s always going to be small, medium, and big problems in the world. It’s a revolving door. I would love if the swamp was drained, but what good is it if what’s replacing the smelly, dirty water is equal to or worse?
July 3, 2019: Journal Entry Type #13
Drugs and More Drugs
I’ve been thinking lately about where drugs get their names and what’s with the wacky drug commercials. The sources for the topic of drugs is from International Business Times, Economist, and CNN. I will begin with drugs and how the they get their names. I think many sound bad and their commercials even worse. If you question why I’m saying this, check out the one below. The Chantix commercials aren’t much better either, but at least when I saw them it had Ray Liotta.
Surprisingly, there is a method to naming drugs. There are rules to follow as instructed by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for patented medicines and their generic brands. Have you wondered how drugs get their names? Here is a brief overview. Every drug has three names: chemical (let’s all agree consumers don’t really care about this too much), generic (consumers somewhat care about this), and brand (I’d say consumers pay attention to this the most because it’s the most recognizable). The biggest thing drug companies want are original drug names, but not too original. They want names that make sense, easy to pronounce, and have differentiation with other drug names. This is where creative agencies are pulled into the naming process and cost between $250,000 to $500,000 and take up to 24 months. This name is too similar to that name or this name is too exotic sounding are two things they aren’t looking for. Other things to keep in mind is not overstating a drug’s effectiveness or stigmatizing those taking the medication. The FDA has two departments, The Center for Drug Evaluation and Research and the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, which accepts or rejects proposed medication names. Their purpose is to lower the errors made when prescribing drugs. The process starts with thousands of name possibilities and finishes with the most promising, and then nine are tossed out and one name is chosen. Think Celebrex, Viagra, OxyContin, Nexium, and Tamiflu.
Have you ever bought the generic brand to save money? I have and some medications work just as well. Other times I should have bought the more expensive brand. The most recent encounter of this is cough drops. Halls and Ricola are way better than the generic brands. I used to hate any kind of cough drops except Ludens because let’s face it, they are basically candy disguised as a cough drop. Now, I prefer the strongest kind of menthol cough drop made by man. I have a whole bunch of generic cough drops sitting in my bottom drawer. As a friend of mine says “it’s ass.” Yeah, it is. They don’t really help my coughing when my sinuses are draining. I will buy the generic equivalent to Advil, but not the Advil PM although I’m more prone to taking Melatonin now. Those ending in vir, mab, onide are indications they are generic. These drug names are approved by United States Adopted Names (USAN) and World Health Organization (WHO). While the pill will look different, it will have the same dosage, strength, stability, quality, safety, and route of administration. It should work the same way and offer the same benefits. The FDA reviews these medications with the same amount of attention as patented drugs.
Have you ever wondered by generic medicines cost less? It’s because they don’t have the same standards when it comes to repeated animal and clinical studies. Therefore, less animals are harmed and the application process (ANDA) from start to finish takes less time. Another positive to using generic drugs is it saved the U.S. healthcare system $1.67 trillion from 2007 to 2016 according to the IMS Health Institute. We want to be taking the right medicine prescribed to us. Nobody wants to be taking an antidepressant for a muscle spasm. I pay attention to detail so leaving a doctor with the wrong prescription probably wouldn’t happen, but if it did I would notice it at the pharmacy for sure. We don’t need more confusion in our lives as our our mind’s sharpness declines the older we get. This leads me to those instances where two similar names were approved like Celebrex and Celexa or Plavix and Paxil can get mixed up. Drug companies may need to spend additional money to change a particular drug name causing problems. For example, a pharmaceutical company needed to change one of their drugs because it was too similar to another drug for cancer. Introducing the new drug name is another part of this business while phasing out the old one. Switching gears a little bit, out of the top 25 pharmaceutical companies in the world, Johnson & Johnson ranks 1st and Labcorp ranks 25th. If you want to see the whole list, click the pill below.
July 3, 2019: Journal Entry Type #12
Halfway Through 2019 and Still Working on My Resolutions!
It’s already July and after taking two weeks off from exercising due to reasons I won’t get into because no one wants to hear this crap, but I will say I have to work through my pain some days. I’m currently reading four books right now and one in particular which has to do with rewriting and editing is enough to make my head spin. I think of all the things I will have to do on my second rewrite of this never ending story I’m working on after I’m done with my first rewrite. I think, but more pray my second novel idea takes half the time to write and rewrite let alone the five others after it. The real issue is time management as there isn’t enough time in every week to commit to everything I want to do and put things on the back burner again like I’ve done with my puzzles for a good year. It doesn’t help that I need to color my designs once, twice, and sometimes three times to be satisfied. I’m prepping myself to devote time in 2020 about an idea my roommate and I have been tossing around the past five years. Ugggh, the research and work. I’ve been doing a lot of watching TV and some movies lately as a diversion. I’m going to keep this short as there is no reason for this to be long winded. Thank you to everyone who is followed my blog, new and old. Keep following your dreams, whatever they may be, because I still am.
June 14, 2019: Flash Fiction: Car Ride
Ethan wasn’t driving over to grandma’s house to eat her oatmeal raisin cookies at his mother’s request but driving to meet someone he had never met before. It wasn’t in his best interest to be so daring but staying in his apartment no longer suited him on this Saturday night. His mindset had changed after a good night’s sleep, actually it was a whole week of rest that pushed him into new territory. Nobody liked to hear his finger tapping or change jingling in his pocket when he was bored. His friend had given him a fidget spinner for his birthday a year ago, but eventually it found a home in the back of his closet.
This someone he was meeting was for a simple transaction. He would give her money for an hour of companionship. He doubted it would ever end up going beyond that, but it had been a secret of his to do this exact thing. He had wanted to know about this seedy lifestyle for a while. There had been a tiny bit of hesitation because nothing was failsafe, but there were ways to make it one’s business except his own. They had agreed upon a place to meet up, near a supermarket called Coulson’s, like two casual friends. It took five minutes of Ethan waiting and scanning the area from his car to be assured this was not a sting operation. The thought crossed his mind what his parents would think if he was caught with a prostitute. It almost convinced him to turn his car back on and get out of there.
He slammed the car door shut, making sure it wasn’t locked if he needed to get back inside quickly. It wasn’t good to leave your car unlocked, but he wasn’t going far. He could keep an eye on it. It wasn’t as if he left his keys in the ignition. With his hands stuffed into his pockets and after a few people glanced at him, he waited for that someone to arrive. It was a quarter past seven when she appeared. It was clear she was there for one purpose, but she was dressed nicely as if going to a dinner on a blind date. His eyes shifted to the area around her, looking one more time for any hint of cops.
After she exchanged her working name of Cindy for his actual name, they chatted about cost for her services. He was confident she wasn’t a cop when she agreed to go with him to a motel, but the further they traveled away from Coulson’s, the more anxious he became. When he looked in his rearview mirror, he noticed a car trailing behind him. It was close enough to not lose him, but far enough away to not arose too much suspicion. He wondered if this was normal anxiety he felt or a sign of something else. His gut reaction was to dismiss it, but he found himself driving around in rectangles and circles. When Cindy demanded him to pull his car over, he told her he didn’t want to.
“I don’t care,” she said.
“The only free space is red.”
“Do you always do what your mommy tells you?”
“Fine,” Ethan said, pulling his car over and putting the car in park in a residential neighborhood. He imagined mothers putting their young children to bed and fathers having one last go of whatever fathers did before their free time was up. He thought back to his childhood when he felt Cindy’s hand on his knee. It didn’t take long for her move her hand from his knee to his thigh.
“We need to talk,” he said.
“Isn’t that what we’re doing?” she asked, her hand going further up his thigh.
“I mean with your mouth.”
When she leaned into him, he placed his hand on her forehead to stop her from moving closer to his crotch. “I mean words, words coming out of your mouth, like sentences.”
“I can do two things at once,” she said.
“I’m sorry, but I think I made a mistake.”
“Mistake or no mistake, you still owe me.”
“Yes, right.” He reached for his wallet and stopped himself. “This probably sounds silly, but I get the feeling you’re a cop.”
“Do you want me to be a cop?”
“Um, of course, not.”
“I’m not a cop.”
“I don’t want to go to jail.”
Ethan looked behind him. The car that was trailing behind him was nowhere in sight. This felt like a dream to him. He had no choice but to continue and hope he was still a free man by the end. He removed five twenty-dollar bills from his wallet. The second it left his hand for hers, he held his breath and waited for the ball to drop. When nothing happened, the joy of knowing he wasn’t going to jail overwhelmed him and blurted that he belonged to Mensa.
“Good for you,” she said.
“My ex-girlfriend didn’t believe I was smart enough to be a part of it, so I took an IQ test to prove her wrong.”
“Again, good for you.”
“She told me I was the biggest mistake she ever made, and I was a piece of shit. I was tantamount to a worthless person who should choke on a bone and die.”
“You’re the best mistake I made tonight, if it makes you feel any better.”
“It should,” she said, opening the door.
“I can bring you back to where I met you.”
“I have a ride.”
The car from earlier appeared and pulled to the curb. Cindy ignored the driver’s impatience and told Ethan to cut himself some slack, and he deserved happiness. He found his way back to the main road and not a few blocks from his apartment, he saw flashing lights behind him. He let off the gas after saying shit, but the cop moved into the other lane and zoomed past him with sirens now sounding. After he parked his car in the garage, he made a point to look up before walking to the elevator. He knew he was lucky this time. Maybe, the seedy part of life wasn’t for him. He wasn’t a journalist. He wasn’t looking for any career change. He was an average looking man with an above average IQ. He was what people called being a part of the mainstream.
June 10, 2019: Journal Entry Type #11
Time to Bust Out the Humidifier!
My blog posts have been few and far between because of this sinus pressure my face has been holding onto especially last week. It pretty much kept me unable to do many of the things I would’ve liked to do: writing, blogging, exercising, etc. My head feels like it’s in a fog and my eyes feel like they are being stretched in all directions. I try to go without taking medicine, but lately I’ve been downing Benedryl and using nasal spray. It’s time to bring out the humidifier and use warm wash clothes on my face on a regular basis. It’s definitely allergy season, and I know I’m not the only one having to sleep with cough drops in my mouth. I’m really hoping this subsides a little bit, enough where I feel like I’m not a useless human being. I did force myself to go out and have brunch with someone on Saturday and took a few pictures as I was leaving Bellagio of the flowers. I got a lot of Netflix/Hulu watching done as well as reading a little bit. I’m hoping for less pain next weekend. Please!
May 27, 2019: A.A. Milne Quotes
May 24, 2019: Journal Entry Type #10
Are You Okay With Being Average on a Friday?
The only thing that has worked for me to lose weight is watching what I’m eating, but I’ll be the first one to admit I love the food that is NOT good for you. I love popcorn (bad for my TMD and yes, I know corn is a carb), but if I was stranded on an island for a few weeks, I would be okay with only popcorn, ice tea, water, and mints. No one and I mean NO ONE takes my popcorn away. Even more important is not eating so much every day and cardio exercise where your shirt, shorts, and even your undergarments are soaked in sweat. This is the only way I know how to do it. Telling myself to eat small portions helps to an extent, but in the long run it doesn’t. If I’m not exercising (some days I push myself harder than others), then I know there is no way I’m going to be able to lose weight because I tend to eat poorly if I skip a whole week or two (bad, I know). I’ve read all about the different diets out there and how it’s a multi-billion dollar business. I’ve never tried any of them because my logic is I should be able to do that myself. There should be a clear line between living freely and living with rules. I know it takes 21 days for a habit to form, but I’m not a cookie cutter person. I’m the poster adult for starting and stopping behaviors that are good for me. I battle having to get to the gym to exercise despite growing up in an active family. The main reason I’m wanting to lose weight is to feel better about myself and be stronger physically, but also so I can live longer to get done everything I want to achieve in life. The other reason is I hate needles, and the main reason I had to quit donating blood. I don’t want to be poking myself with insulin later in life. Mortality has become more of a factor in my life since I’m a little over the halfway point in my life based on the CDC National Center for Health Statistics. The average life expectancy in 2017 for U.S. women is 81.1 years and U.S. men is 78.6 years. I guess what I’m saying is I’m sort of having a renewed sense of reason for living. I’ve read stress reduces one’s life, and I’m trying to have less of it. Let’s just say my eyes have become more open to the reality I will not be here forever and will be forgotten by the masses. Do I want to live until 100? Probably not and for many reasons. I only hope in my next life time I don’t have so much struggle in some areas and realize sooner being average is okay (to an extent).
May 14, 2019: Flash Fiction: George Does Something
George sat there not wanting to talk. It wasn’t because he couldn’t, but because he thought it would amount to nothing. He had misjudged his peers, thinking they were smart, when those in the room were the farthest thing from it. He called them nuisances, pond scum, crickets that wouldn’t shut up at night when he was in the privacy of his home.
It wasn’t that he wasn’t grateful to the company he had worked for the past thirty years. He had fond memories of the days when he was fresh out of college, and thought the whole world was his oyster to not only catch, pry open, but to admire the pearl inside. As the days turned into years that turned into a decade, the pearl had been lost and the chance of finding it again was gone.
He looked at his co-worker sitting across from him. He believed her name was Cindy, but wasn’t sure. If it was Cindy, he thought it was a stupid name, as no parent should be naming their child such a girlish name. His name wasn’t original either, but at least it wasn’t as bad as Cindy. His co-worker who sat to his left was named Meredith. She didn’t have a mean bone in her body and mainly kept to herself. His co-worker who sat to his right was Tom. He had a butt that kept giving long after he sat down. It was an unwritten rule that sunk in chair belonged to him and only him. He was a fat, millennial jerk who thought he had his life already figured out.
There were a handful of others in the room, but it was these three that George focused as his boss called his name.
“George, come up here, please.”
A combination of confusion and anticipation appeared on Cindy’s, Meredith’s, and Tom’s face along with everyone in the room.
His could care less stance had been replaced with this better not be what I think it is.
“If anyone knows the value of greatness, it’s this man. He started out a grunt at this company and worked his way up the ladder,” his boss said, patting George on his back. “He’s the epitome of what a person can achieve. His knowledge and leadership over the years have led to many valuable contributions. With this said, it’s my pleasure to present to you this achievement award.”
He watched his boss remove a glass plaque from a box and offer it to him. He wanted to grab it and throw it against the wall. He decided against it. There would be time to tell his boss how he really felt. When the plaque was in his grasp, his co-workers clapped long enough for him to feel dizzy. Half the room knew about the hidden meaning while the other half were too stupid to realize he was being forced out by someone he considered his friend. He hadn’t been sure if his boss wanted him gone, but it was clear now.
“Is there anything you want to add, George?”
“Not at the moment.”
“Alright, you heard the man,” his boss said. “The fun’s over. Everyone back to work. Empty seats are waiting.”
A short burst of laughter erupted.
George watched his co-workers file out of the room. He still thought the same about Cindy, Meredith, and Tom. They offered little to him in the last five years and would offer him even less in the next five.
His boss and himself were the last ones to the door. George almost let him go, but at the last moment, blocked him from leaving. He nudged him back into the room and shut the door.
“I’m ready to talk now.”
May 12, 2019: Journal Entry Type #9
You know what I would love not to have? There are a few things. One of them is called chronic sinus problems. The second one is called chronic TMD problems. The third one doesn’t have to do with my body but causes me just as much grief, and is known as car problems. I’ve never understood why people buy such fancy cars, but that’s just me. Even if I had millions of dollars, I still wouldn’t buy an expensive car because you get nothing for it except the label that you’re filthy rich. I know, each to his or her own, but I’d much rather spend it on something else and write a good story about me becoming rich in the way of a fiction story if it ever happens. Let me get back to reality. This nice three day weekend I had planned basically had the bottom dissolve away on Friday morning. Good thing I took a vacation day to lay in bed because that’s about all I could do with my face and eyes. I did the same too off and on for Saturday. There goes my plan on hiking and writing for that day. This leads to Sunday where spending more money on my car was unplanned. On a good note, my car doesn’t sound like a dying animal anymore, but on the flip side, I got nothing done I intended. I suppose this is what my next three day weekend is for, but pretty much chalk this one up to the loser pile. As soon as this week is gone, another one arrives. Need to see the good and forget the bad.
If you’re wondering what the top 10 most expensive cars are in 2019, they are listed below. The source is from DIGITAL TRENDS. If you want to see their pictures and the full list, click on the Bugatti Chiron photo. If you want to see the list of the 10 cheapest cars in 2019 by 20SOMETHING FINANCE, click on the Chevy Spark photo.
- Aston Martin Valkyrie at 2.6 million.
- Laferrari FXX K at 2.7 million.
- Bugatti Chiron at 2.9 million.
- Ferrari Pininfarina Sergio at 3 million.
- Limited Edition Bugatti Veyron by Mansory Vivere at 3.4 million.
- W Motors Lykan Hypersport at 3.4 million.
- Lamborghini Veneno at 4.5 million.
- Koenigesgg CCXR Trevita at 4.8 million.
- Mercedes=Benz Maybach Exelero at 8 million.
- Rolls-Royce Sweptail at 13 million.
May 6, 2019: Journal Entry Type #8
There’s many topics to choose from: Tyra Banks cover on Sports Illustrated, the Duke and Duchess of Susssex’s baby, Netflix’s Ted Bundy focus/obsession, Donald Trump’s 1 billion dollar loss according to his taxes, and the costumes/outfits from the Met Gala. I’m covering none of them although I’d like to lose 30 pounds like Tyra did, glad I don’t have a baby to take care of, glad Ted Bundy is dead, waiting for the U.S. government to not be a shit show, and the fact some people really don’t like Lady Gaga including a few of my friends.
Ever since I came back from Los Angeles, I’ve been lethargic and not really having the motivation to do much of anything besides work and sleep. My eating habits slipped and now have to work on getting it back. I’m not really an emotional eater, but lately I have been. I’m not sure why. Honestly, I don’t know. If I did, I wouldn’t be overeating. Right? I haven’t exercised at all this week, which is not the norm because I’m trying to do 3 to 4 workout sessions a week. I’m up to jogging five miles, but if I’m ever going to get at a decent weight, I have to do a lot more than nothing like I’ve been doing this week.
My life has become filled with doctor appointments and other things that get in the way of my financial and personal freedom. This is life and yes, as much as I hate this word, “adulting” is hard. Also, when did the word, “mansplaining” come into our vocabulary? Never mind, I looked it up. It’s been a word since March 2018 according to Webster Dictionary. I’ve never had it done to me before (to my knowledge), but I don’t care to think that far back if it did happen.
My predicament right now is my pure laziness and not wanting to do much of anything because of countless things you don’t want to hear. I will say headaches tend to wreck your day in many ways and for me it’s been the last good 15 years. You learn to live and deal with it, but yes, it sucks ass. It also drains your energy, which is what I’ve been feeling these past few weeks. I’m hoping this ends soon. I’m working on more short stories, flash fiction, adding more movie and TV recommendations, and rewriting my first novel so I can move onto my second one I’m hoping takes half as long to write.
Sometimes, I get stuff done. Other times, very little. This will probably be half and half and the latter part of it is where I’ll get it done. On that note, I’m off to jog 5 miles and if I have the motivation exercise another 40 minutes. Stay tuned for more blogs, sooner than later, I’m hoping.
May 6, 2019: Shakespeare and Twain Quotes
April 29, 2019: When the Coffee’s Ready, You’ll Smell it
He was what you’d call today a little person, but back in those days you’d called him a midget. Either way he was known around here as Henry after he was kicked out of Tinseltown. I will spare you the nicknames he acquired during those days because this only soured his attitude whenever you mentioned it.
He used to view life as fresh and thought every opportunity was a gift from heaven when he arrived in this little town I had lived in since birth. Right up to his death, he still barreled down the stairs as fast as his legs would take him. Everyone knew he racked up more than a few problems that stayed past their invitation. I’m convinced it partially sent him to his grave early. God rest his soul. The rest was done by one or more people.
Henry had a brother named Corky, a nickname he had given himself at an early age, and one he insisted everyone use in his adulthood. With their parents long gone, no one was aware of his actual name except Henry, and he sure wasn’t about to mess with Corky’s pride. Unlike his brother, he was of average height and while he was known to be kind, there was no telling what might set him off. Some attributed it to him being dropped on his head as a child one too many times, but these were only stories told by others who thought they knew him.
The morning, roughly two weeks before his death, Henry barreled down the stairs as normal with his metal cup in hand. There were two things that either woke him up every morning: a gal by the name of Sofia or a cup of coffee. Sofia woke him up on special occasions. The coffee did so on a much regular basis. The routine for him was to climb onto the stool, in order to bang the counter with his palm, and within seconds the coffee was in his cup. It was black as coal, no sugar or milk. On even less occasion, Corky joined him while he watched Henry slurp his coffee. Henry and Corky had a bond like any brothers have, tightening even more as they got older.
One night after Henry went to sleep, Corky had a stern talking to with Sofia. He hadn’t liked her influence over him lately. She asked how she had changed him. His response was for the worse. She didn’t like that much. It wasn’t a good enough answer. She kicked him hard where it counted the most. He buckled over and managed not to fall to his knees. There wasn’t anything she wouldn’t do to protect herself. If her survival meant the disintegration of another, so be it. She had paid her dues to society. It was her turn to be given respect. She made sure to take it whether it was willfully given or not.
Michael liked high pitched noises. It didn’t matter where they came from, human or object. When he found Henry, the person he regarded as his best friend, he screamed and kept screaming for two reasons. One, because he liked to hear his voice, and two, if you stopped before people realized something was wrong, there was no point in even opening your mouth. His screams continued until a large enough group was in the room. They rushed over, taking their turns to feel a pulse, but there was nothing but partially warm flesh to touch and deadened pupils to gaze.
As more people came to see the commotion, others left the room. It became a rotating dance of in and out except three people. Corky had lost his composure and fell back against the wall, periodically glancing from Sofia to Henry to Stewart to Michael and all over again but in a different order. Sofia was on her knees next to Henry. She cried the most and gave the appearance of a grieving lover. Sofia’s brother, Stewart, watched everyone mourn and gawk at the dead midget.
I knew none of them were responsible for Henry’s death even though I knew more than a half believed differently. I had seen the person who had killed him, his eyes not lifeless or deceiving. He looked like any of us, searching for a better life, in this small town. This person had poisoned the air we breathed and made us mistrustful of each other that day. While I didn’t know the person’s name, the face was imprinted in my memory. There would be no forgetting what he wore. His smell reeked of something I hadn’t identified. When I find him and I will, it will be more than words that are exchanged between us.
April 6, 2019: Writing Quote
April 5, 2019: Journal Entry Type #7
Let’s Talk About Anxiety
I recently asked someone if I’m more obsessive compulsive or anxious. Why? Because I tend not to think of myself as anxious. I’ve gone through most of my life having other emotions, the run of the mill along with some that stems from what happened to me a long time ago, but this isn’t the point of this blog entry. The point is I tend to wear my heart on my sleeve, which is why I catch myself dialing it back once in a while. Sometimes, I think I share too much but then I wouldn’t be me. This was the answer I received. You’re more obsessive about getting things done, which makes you think about it too much, and this creates your anxiety. I never would’ve said this. I prided myself in being on an even keel as much as I can. I like a platform that doesn’t sway all over place. But now I do see anxiety does flare up inside when it comes to goals and the timing involved.
Let’s Talk About Flying
I’ve been on enough plane rides to know when the pilot flying the plane has put in many miles in the skies versus one who hasn’t. I was only on one plane ride where the pilot was new. The landing was the bumpiest I’d ever been on and mind you this was on a clear day. The sun was shining. The clouds were fluffy. Not a drop of bad weather. I would say it might have been his first flight. I can deal with this to an extent. Just don’t crash the plane, okay. The annoyance I can’t get rid of is my plugged up ears. No matter what I do, they plug up so bad I can hardly hear anything. Even gum doesn’t work sometimes. This when I have to relieve the pressure myself. I’m sure I look stupid, but it has to be done. No doubt I’ll be doing this when I fly back to Los Angeles for work. I’m looking forward to it because I feel this is a transition period for me. It sounds corny, but I have affinity for the places I used to live. It will be good to be in the city that opened and closed its doors to me.
Let’s Talk About Jury Duty
I got back from exercising the other day to find out when I checked the mail, I was summoned for jury duty. I’m not the first or last person to be called to this ever important duty as they claim. I half take the stance of “who cares” and half “what is this shit.” No use postponing it. I’d rather do this when it’s not 110 degrees. The week after I get back from Los Angeles, the following Monday I have to report to jury. The last time I did this was in Los Angeles, and ended up going to a much smaller place than downtown but still busy. The chance of getting picked is remote when you’re in the second pool. I got out after serving a day’s worth of my time. I’m hoping they don’t need me. The statistics are in my favor.
Let’s Talk About Wellness
This brings me to the point of trying to improve two areas of my life. If you haven’t realized it yet, health and writing, continues to be the focal point of my existence. It will until the day I die. I’ve been trying to find the time including the motivation to make the time to do both. My deadlines are still written on more than one piece of paper. I’m definitely learning to go with the flow more. I’ve been jotting down a few things I want to do every day instead of five to ten. I ended up playing a game where strategy is the key. It’s not as complex as chess and a lot more fun. I was told I played dirty, but I can’t when I didn’t even realize what I had done until halfway into it. Nevertheless, I won. My overarching goal is to have variety in my life and try new things. I’m sort of doing this.
Let’s Talk About Survival
With certain age comes wisdom and for me that is focusing on myself is the best thing to do, all the while disengaging, at times, from the negative and chaotic chatter and issues going on around you whether it be work, family, politics, or general public. This doesn’t mean you have to be cold to others, but it does mean your basic necessities and emotional well-being should and must come first. It’s about remaining strong in areas you already are and gaining strength in the ones you lack. I’m talking mental and emotional strength. Taking a good look at weak areas is always beneficial. I’ve recognize patterns I hadn’t seen before. Saying no and standing up to people is part of this. We say sorry too much as a whole although some could stand to say it a little more. For all the mail that comes in from organizations asking for donations, I’d be a whole lot richer if I could find a way to use all the wasted paper for a monetary benefit.
Let’s Talk About Future
I’m currently reading four books. One is about mental health and the current person sitting in the Oval Office. I’m only 50 some pages deep, and already offers good insight and information. While it covers Donald Trump, it is much more than that. This is a type of book where you find yourself comparing yourself and others to what they are saying. I’m interested to see what else it says. I’m curious where my life goes too. I have my ideal timeline of what events I want to happen in what year. This is the planner and plotter in me. I also have a realistic timeline that isn’t so adhered to any year. It’s taken me a while to not think in black and white or the glass is half empty or half full. There really is an in between.
Let’s Talk About Reality
Looking back, I had lofty dreams and it even included kids at one point (must have been at a time when I was delusional). I no longer want to live in a ten room house with four kids (what the hell was I thinking). I no longer want to live on a hobby farm when I retire. It’s nice not having to take care of a dog, cat, or rabbit anymore. I no longer want to smoke cigarettes and write all night long when everyone is asleep. I no longer want to live the life of a starving artist or writer. Now, I have dreams but of another kind. It’s called reality. I want to be able to retire at a decent age, pay off my loan, and enjoy the little things in life have to offer. And of course, get to a weight I can stand and write my seven novels. Then if I get that done, write my eight other book ideas. I’ve broken them up into two parts. The same goes for blogging. I’m more than likely giving up something tonight so I have time to blog. See, I have improved and can bend a little bit.
April 1, 2019: Journal Entry Type #6
When I write in my actual journal, I usually start it with something along the lines of “Well, another week has passed and dealing with the same shit.” or “Today is Wednesday, and I haven’t written in a while.” I’m writing as if my journal actually understands what the hell I’m talking about when it has no clue. I write about all the things usually bothering me that day or did bother me in the week so it doesn’t build up. I write about the messed up dreams I’ve recently had I neglected to write about the day it happened. Or, I write about the things I don’t have and wish I had. I write about not having those feelings and emotions that don’t serve me well. I also write about those things going well in my life, but realize saying “just think positive” doesn’t solve all my problems. As much as I want life to be that easy and actually am ready for it mentally now, it usually never happens.
I used to justify the amount of time or lack of time I spent on my blog for one reason or another. It wasn’t fun anymore and saw it as a chore about a year after I signed up. It felt I was saying the same thing over and over. I mean how many times can I write different poem with similar words and moods? How many months pass where I don’t write a short story because frankly I can’t churn them out like some writers nor do I feel like writing at the moment? A writer who doesn’t want to write. Imagine that! I’m not willing to burn the midnight oil as much anymore, but realize I need to refocus on my rewrite.
As April is upon me now, I have three months left to finish my rewrite. My goal is to have it done by the end of June. The good thing is I took some days off coming up to dedicate myself solely to it. I want it to be 400+ pages, but I’ll be lucky if I make it to 350. Quality versus quantity is what I’ve been trying to do instead of mindless quantity concerning my blog. The same goes for my novel ideas. In other areas of my life, I was supposed to have lost 15 pounds by now, but only lost 10. My knees aren’t so strong as they used to be, but will take them while they are still in their 40s. Do I have a choice? I just found out my vision has changed again so I need new lenses. The fun never stops.
So where is the 100% icon? I’m not there yet. I’m not the best blogger out there when it comes to new content every day and sometimes I let it lapse for a whole week, but I appreciate everyone who has followed my blog at one point or another. With this in mind, I hope to do a little more browsing and reading of other people’s entries this month because it seems only fair.
March 27, 2019: When the Teeth Grit
Beggars can’t be choosy when you are left with nothing to do, but daydream of maybe getting out. I came here when I was fifteen and while that might seem young, it wasn’t to me. I had lived a life that people twice my age will never have lived. The bad thing is I experienced those things that puts wrinkles on your face for all the wrong reasons. I made bad decisions outside of this place and inside too. I’m not sure if I can ever be let out again, not where I could function properly. I’ve become what they call “institutionalized.” The sad thing is many of these people in here do belong. Why? Because they have no issues killing and we all know killing is bad. If they got out, they’d kill again without losing any sleep. I wasn’t one of them who killed, but I did enough things for me never to walk the streets of any city again or at least, I thought.
In the beginning it was easier because naivety takes hold of you. You think you will stay clean on the inside and your hopes are high you will change. The reality of the situation comes raining down on you when you find your life in jeopardy. You realize how much people like to make you pay for your sins on both sides of the fence. When I was told to get off the bench and go somewhere else, I had to do that without delay. Those who questioned the authority got unnecessary punishment, if not at that time, then later when they least expected it. After a fair amount of rebellion because I was ready for the challenge, the point came when my sturdy legs weren’t willing to subject themselves to the next level. Everyone breaks eventually in this place, in some way, and I did that. My inner resolve to survive became part of me.
I learned there are those who aren’t satisfied, and they are the ones who like to leave marks on your flesh. They want you to suffer, and hate to lose power. You grit your teeth every time their fists connect to your ribs. You reach deep inside to not scream and think about how strong you were when you first entered. You convince yourself you’re still a good person. You are as strong as them is what you keep telling yourself. I lost pride along the way, but I was better for it. I learned to grab the rope when it was offered. It’s been almost 30 years since I came here, and now I’m leaving today. I’m not sure how long it will last, but long enough to walk the streets one last time.
March 27, 2019: Book Writing Exercise
Begin writing with the following sentence: “That was the time he stopped believing ———-.”
That was the time he stopped believing all was going as planned. It wasn’t his fault although others close to him would later say it was only his fault. He had grown up in such unusual circumstances, but was it really all that unusual. He had a mother and a father who loved him dearly. He had siblings who looked out for him as his name was etched deeper and deeper on the sports plaques and awards and once out of high school, his father’s Alma mater opened its arms even wider. He was captain of every team he took part of and was what you’d call a success by the time he graduated. He worked his way up the ranks of his father’s company. He was everything a parent desired and everything he received after that was earned although some thought otherwise Jealousy is found within those you least expect. They come out of the woodwork stating how much they despise the golden spoon.
His scrunched up face, combined with his open mouth, meant the news was startling. At first he thought one of his brothers or parents had gotten into a car accident, but then he recognized the voice. It belonged to a woman he had dated not too long ago. She deserved a man who could make her happy, as much as he deserved another suitable woman. He thought that chapter in his life had closed as their parting had been mutual. It had not as he asked, “what are you going to do?” The question every man asks when he finds out the woman he once had a relationship with is pregnant. She didn’t answer him right away, but when she did her voice was full of raw emotion.
“What do you mean? What am I going to do? I’m going to have this baby and raise it like any good person would!”
“I didn’t mean it like that.”
“It sounded that way.”
“Don’t get upset. I’m just surprised, that’s all. I haven’t talked to you in over a month, and now you tell me I’m going to be a father.”
“It wasn’t what I was expecting either. I’m not even sure you’re father material.”
“Have you thought about other options?”
“There’s many parents who can’t have children of their own.”
“I’m not letting someone else raise my baby. Who knows how he will end up?”
“We’re having a son?”
“I didn’t say that.”
“You said how he will end up.”
“I meant it generically. I’m hoping for a girl.”
“So, adoption is out?”
“Yes.” There was a long pause before she spoke again. “I don’t know. I can’t think about that right now. I basically called to tell you the news.”
“We need to talk about this more.”
“I know, but not right now.”
“Maybe, next week.”
“I’m not sure.”
“Okay, I’ll wait for your call. Do you want me to stop by later?”
“No. Just wait ’til my call.”
“Are you sure?”
“You sound stressed out right now.”
“Wouldn’t you be?”
“If I come over, we can discuss this more.”
She hung up, leaving him wishing the call had been about a car accident. In this situation, he knew what to do. Being the youngest in his family, he was the one who convinced his older brother to give his marriage another shot. He was the one who made the calls for his parents’ 50th anniversary. He was the one who kept his composure during tense situations, but not on this day. There was no rushing to the hospital to talk to the best doctors money could afford. Surgery wasn’t required, and there was nothing to take away what he was feeling. The anxiety and loss of independence he knew would still be there no matter how many pills he swallowed. He had to convince her it was too early for him to be a father. If that did not work, he looked down, almost in shame for what he thought. It didn’t stay with him long, but long enough to remind him his life came first.
March 26, 2019: Elizabeth Bowen Quotes
March 23, 2109: Journal Entry Type #5
I live with someone who thinks I should listen to more music. He’s probably right. I should. I no longer have my CD player that most everyone had as they graduated high school and went off to college or worked a job somewhere. The CD player eventually stopped working, but the cassette player was still fine. I seem to be stuck in the 90s as that is the decade I was in high school. Maybe, I’m just missing those years and having some nostalgia. Why? I don’t know. The Reality Bites movie was all the rage and Winona Ryder still hasn’t won an Oscar although people have clued into the weird faces she has the ability to make. A recent poll asked who was the best grunge singer: Eddie Vedder, Layne Staley, Chris Cornell, or Kurt Cobain. My roommate asked me this all important question. We had the same answer and in the same pecking order. Two minds think alike even though he’s a Millennial and I’m a part of Generation X. And if you’re wondering what the answer is, it is should be this: Chris Cornell, Layne Staley, Eddie Vedder, and Kurt Cobain. Sorry, Kurt but Chris blows your voice out into outer space and then some. Sure, Eddie Vedder has that voice, but Chris Cornell really had that voice. Does anyone remember Layne Staley? I sure do. Don’t get me started about the current singers, pop stars in particular, although K-Pop is an interesting phenomenon. Do I listen to it? No. Will I give it a try? Probably not. This brings me to the Millennials. They get a bad rap and while some of it might be true, a lot of it is not. Unfortunately, I have adopted some bad Millennial stereotypes myself such as being glued to my iPhone too much and addicted to social media at times. I catch myself being too absorbed with what is going on with the British Royal family although lately I’m like enough about the supposed fights among the members and then by way of that seeing the boneheaded things certain reality stars are doing or not doing. I call it social media pollution where I have to ask myself again, “who the hell gives a crap about person X or person Y?” Or another question, “why the hell does this bother me so damn much?” Or better yet, “why am I looking at this?” I try my best to give everyone a fair shake and forgive those who I feel are severely lacking, but for a select few there isn’t much they could do to change my mind. They take up precious oxygen that could be used by others who need it more.
This brings me to the purpose of this blog, I suppose, and that is how much should a person fight for the things they believe in and when do they let go of the fight when it clearly isn’t working in his or her favor. I used to get amped up more back in the day about topics I was passionate about, but now it’s like “I’m no longer in my 20s or 30s and while I’m not freaking out that my life is passing me by (okay maybe a little bit), I’ve taken a more “not give a rat’s ass attitude and get on with my life as best I can.” I might sound a little jaded here, but I’ve lived a life trying to better myself in every which way possible and while sometimes I failed miserably, other times I didn’t. I plan on writing a humorous, sarcastic, realistic, and maybe somewhat emotional book later about what it means to have my brain. I think it could be fascinating and entertaining at the same time. Someone once told me it must hurt to have my brain because I think so damn much, and at this point in my life, I doubt I’ll change that much. Yet, when it comes to the power of my brain and its overload, in some ways I have because I can now learn to think “fuck it,” say “fuck it,” and do “fuck it” in the sense of fucking scrap everything I had planned on a certain day and just exist. Some days I need to just exist and not have a massive plan written down on paper and in my head and just live. This is what my life has always been, constantly trying to catch up and as my roommate says, “jam packing a thousand things into one day.” As you can probably guess, this isn’t such a great way to live, let alone healthy. It causes great stress among other things such as pressure. So, as I inch closer to 50 although as of right now I’m closer to 40, it won’t be that way forever. This begs the question of why some people think it isn’t right to ask a woman her age. My response to this is “I don’t care if people know my age,” because I would hope you’d be able to ballpark it given how the more than a few strands of white hair on my head are clearly visible (still not sure how I feel about this) and the lines on my face that used to not be there are definitely there. For the first time, I admit that if I had an unlimited supply of money I might do something to decrease the size of my pores and the wrinkles on my face, but this is vanity speaking. It’s better to think about the things I don’t have in terms of illness and focus on the things I want in life that mean way more to me than losing my wrinkles.
I’m at a point where I’m subtracting crap that doesn’t work for me (mainly mentally and emotionally) and hopefully working to add stuff I desire (mainly physical and monetary). I live a life of plotting, editing, and sorting enough that writing without much planning is a good thing. I call it diarrhea of the mouth. I also call it a reminder to get my ass back in gear with my rewrite because my life is a circle of continuous action and non action. I don’t have time for sharp edges like triangles and squares anymore. I don’t have time for overly caustic people who can’t even put themselves into another person’s shoes. I’m not asking for a week’s length of time, maybe a few minutes, but I find this lack of commonality alarming. I get humans are different people because of race, class, and values. We all don’t have to think and act the same. We seem to be in conflict as a collective whole where people minimize important issues while exploiting others that are taken way out of context. We’ve never reached the middle ground as a society, and while I’m a loyal supporter of a few causes and beliefs (being you will never convince me that dog fighting is a good thing or that you will never convince me to sit down for a complimentary paid lunch at the fanciest restaurant LA can offer with any of the Kardashian family including Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner), I think it has to be there somewhere. It’s hard given the current political atmosphere to remain quiet all of the time, and while I might post something that will irritate some people (those hardcore supporters that will go down in flames defending their beliefs), I’m not going to be silent because of fear I will upset someone. I consider myself respectful in most circumstances, but I’m not a shameless agitator either. I realize the political climate is fragile and not just in the U.S. although from where I’m sitting, it seems the U.S. is dominating world headlines for all the wrong reasons. I often wonder how the world views the U.S. as a collective whole. As I’m learning not to carry the weight of others and world issues on my shoulders, I’m curbing my need to also not over think these issues either. My focus has been more inward, on what I have control over and can change. With this in mind, I think it’s time to crack out any one of my CDs collecting dust and crank up the tunes and forget about labels and get shit done without pressure. You know how it goes, right?
March 20, 2019: Late Night Writing
It’s late and I should be in bed. Soon, very soon, as I have an appointment tomorrow morning. I plan on doing more rewriting of my book this weekend. I’m trying to keep up with my exercise and get over the fact the car mechanic that worked on my car left grease all over my mats and interior doors. I need to go back to the garage for another reason, but it’s all in a day’s work outside of work. Good night, everyone.
March 3, 2019: Journal Entry Type #4
Here is my fourth journal entry type. So, I tend to wear my heart on my sleeve and am mainly honest with where I am in life including my struggles, my successes, and my hopes and dreams. I’ve had this push and pull with being healthy as much as I can and find jogging/running is the only way for me to lose weight. It works for me time and time again, but I’ve never have really been able to keep it off. My weight fluctuates year by year and as we all know your metabolism decreases as you get older and have to work a little harder (in my case a lot harder) to get even minor results. I think finding the time to have balance in one’s life is what I’m going through now, and when I don’t get through my list, then I spread it out into the week so I don’t freak out or get down on myself. So far, I’ve been able to adjust my thinking to being okay with not jam packing everything into one day or even one week. There’s a lot of pushing and pulling people do to themselves whether through words or actions. I’m a person who tends to put pressure on herself so I other people putting pressure on me is usually not a good thing. Living a well rounded life takes work. I really needed to have to put my running shoes on today in order to jog/run for 4 miles because my goal is to lose weight, not gain it. I decided to not go as hard and fast as I did the other day as I needed to give my knees a rest and let’s face it, I’m still starting getting into an exercise routine again. So, as March is now here, I’m continuing to match my future goals with current actions as much as possible. Everything has it’s time line, and finding that happy medium where pushing yourself just right is a good thing. One day is only one day from a certain angle, but from another it is something different. I guess today I looked at today from a different angle.
February 18, 2019: Writing Book Exercise
Jot down a list of things that make you angry. Some of them make me legitimately angry, but others are just pure annoyances. I will list ten of them although I’m sure I could make it longer.
- People who expect everything to be perfect when they order any food or beverage item as if they were dining at a high-priced establishment
- People who feel the need to jingle change in their pockets, which doesn’t happen so much anymore since debit and credit cards have become a staple for most of us
- The way animals are abused in factory farms
- The amount of damage white collar crime can have on victims and their families
- Economic inequality among individuals
- People who drive without any regard to others around them
- The amount of unnecessary coverage about the English royal family including Meghan Markle and her family
- TV reality shows especially those involving any kind of housewife and the I wish they would stop being so relevant Kardashian family
- People who are overly narcissistic and/or have no empathy for others
- The fact my body is getting older and causing more problems
Write about one thing on the list. I wrote about people who drive without any regard to others around them.
I’ve been known to speed, which is much easier to do in bigger cities, and not get caught. Trust me when I say the LAPD have bigger fish to fry than someone speeding 5 to 10 miles over the limit. I do my best to follow the rules, but people in LA tend to have lead feet. There are two options: drive fast or faster. I’ve been honked at for driving too slow, in the slower lane, and one time had a woman slam on her brakes because I pissed her off for not driving recklessly. If you’ve never been to LA, you will find that you will have little choice but to turn left on a red light or else you will never get home especially after work. The only time I saw a cop pull someone over was when I was driving back from some road trip. If I was driving 75 mph, the guy way ahead of me must have been driving 120 to 130 mph because when I looked in my rear view mirror, my heart skipped a beat. This cop had to be driving around 110 mph because he swerved around and zoomed off like no one’s business. When I finally got to where he was, he was already walking toward the car he had pulled over. So when you see the signs that say the highways are being watched, trust them that they are being watched. The bottom line is to be mindful of your surroundings and yes, I’m including myself here. While I may not be the best driver out there because putting your hands in certain areas of a steering wheel is ridiculous. I’m more wanting people to pay attention to the road and not make assumptions. I’ve saved myself many a car accident by not gunning it even when the person behind me thinks differently. Since moving out of LA, I found that traffic can be just as congested here too. I found that out by driving during rush hour. Never again. So while this might not be the most original thing to write about, I can say my driving skills and patience has increased because of LA. It’s a whole different beast out there and can’t wait to go back.
An estranged mother and son who haven’t seen or spoken to each other in a more than twenty years meet in line at the post office in December, arms full of packages to be mailed. What do they say to each other?
Tory smiled at the woman in front of him who had turned around when the child behind him had made a fuss about standing in line. They glanced at each other long enough to know they both wished they were somewhere else. He thought she might say something to him to pass the time, but she never did. She turned around and went back to looking at her phone.
When he had looked over his shoulder earlier, the line was almost out the door. It was chilly outside and hoped the line would speed up to not let the cold air inside. This was when he noticed a woman in a red and white hat. Her face was not close enough to get a good look at it, but there was something about her mannerisms that kept his attention. Worse, the hat reminded him of his childhood.
As the line slowly crept forward, Tory was finally on the other side of the partition. This gave him a chance to look at the woman in the red hat again. She was in the process of taking off her hat when the boxes she was balancing on her knee fell. People moved out-of-the-way as they took up already limited space. She cursed loud enough for everyone to look in her direction, and it was at this boiling point when Tory realized who was in the same room with him.
It was his mother. The one who had deserted his father for another man and raised another family. The one who had drunk herself into blackouts when she should have been cooking dinner. The one who never sent him even a birthday card or called him when he had graduated high school. It was too bad his father was not with him now. He would have some words for her. Tory had long ago stopped thinking about her, but here she was opening his wound again. She was always good at leaving a situation worse than when it began.
He knew she hadn’t seen him yet. Her red and white hat served enough preoccupation, but once she stuffed it in her coat, something else would take its place. He hoped it wouldn’t be him, but the closer she got to where he stood, the more she kept looking at him. He turned away from her, trying his best to conceal his face.
“Are you too good to even say hello to me?” He ignored her, hoping she’d leave it alone.
“I know you heard me. If you had any decency, you’d at least say something. I’m still your mother.”
By now people were curious what was going on, including the woman who he smiled at earlier. She was the next person to be waited on, but still she looked behind her at the commotion. He apologized to everyone to himself and set his boxes down if she had the nerve to get close and shove them out of his grasp.
He faced her and said, “I’ve gotten by 25 years without you, and I know that bothers you. So, you have any decency, you’d deal with it later and shut up because I don’t want to hear anything from you.”
“You call yourself a son.”
“I’m not your son. You gave that up when you decided to have another family, and don’t think for a second that I don’t know what you did besides leaving my father. A zebra never loses stripes, if you know what I mean.”
“I should wash your mouth with soap.”
“I see you’ve never lost your great mothering skills.”
“You ungrateful bastard.”
Tory knew he had gotten under her skin, and felt a sense of pride. He had finally gotten to tell her most everything he had written five years ago, but never got to her because she had sent it back to him. As he waited for his turn to be called to the counter, he saw movement behind him. He didn’t need to look back. She was leaving out of embarrassment and a probably twinge of guilt. Either way, he was sure the people who witnessed this would call her the red hat lady with the boxes, which caused him to smile.
February 14, 2019: Journal Entry Type #3
I’m a homebody. I usually don’t leave the apartment except to exercise and grocery shop. Otherwise than this, you can find me sitting on my futon reading or coloring. Or, if I’m being really lazy on my bed watching TV, Netflix, or Hulu. Or, maybe taking a short walk to get an ice tea. This year I have made a promise to myself to get out more. So far, a few strides have been made, but definitely not enough. Time has become a slimy creature to mess with me. It leaves me spinning around and when I stop I’m not sure what direction to follow: start fresh or continue on the current path. The dilemma that I feel day in and day out. There’s not enough time for every interest and action. In terms of space, I need to find a place to store my 3000 piece puzzle when I put it together. The good thing is I have a while as it won’t happen until I finish my 1000 piece puzzles.
I’ve been looking back on my years and wondering what I have really accomplished that you can measure. Sure, I’ve grown up quite a bit. Sure, I went to college. Sure, I’ve gotten better keeping things in check. Sure, I’m not freaking out to so much. Sure, I’ve learned from my mistakes. It’s not a good thing to dwell on regrets, but it’s still there to deal with when they crop up. Have I finally hit my mid life crisis now that my 25th high school reunion is coming around the corner? All the things I wanted to do by this age but haven’t. I see people starting their lives whether in their 20s or even early 30s and wonder what they will think when they are my age. Will they have the similar views as mine regarding age? Will they be 95% happy with where they are in life or a lesser percentage which is where I’m at currently. I can’t help but wonder if I had made different prior decisions where I would be today. Should I have studied something different in college? Should I have stayed in the Midwest? Should I had kids? Okay, scrap the last one especially.
There are certain principles and codes I live by and know to be true regarding my life. These elements are the things I’m trying to capture in my writing, artwork, and elsewhere. This is the primary reason for my existence as I am today, but I feel I need to branch outward even more. I think it’s time to not shut the doors so quickly on things I’d rather not think about. I think it’s time to view myself in another way, and not in such a way that leaves little room for other growth. I think it’s time for me to lessen the grip on what I know about certain topics, and challenge myself on other viewpoints. This is the other part of me, the one where my measurements are not so much in dollars (although I would love to have more), but on the processes that occur when any change is made.
Here I am having to put my trust in things I sometimes have trouble completely trusting. This is where I am at life, being okay again with living a boring life and not giving a crap so much how I’m not living up to my own ideal standards. Do I ever get fearful of my future and where I’ll end up? Hell yes. Do I get down on myself for my lack of inaction at times? That is also a hell yes. But, I’ve also done things too that others haven’t done and experienced things that not many will ever go through. So on that note, I am getting out this weekend by eating on the strip and hopefully hiking as well so I guess there’s that. Cheers.
February 10, 2019: Journal 111, 112, and 113
I should’ve gone into a job requiring sorting, cataloguing, and organizing. I got a few more journals today. Here they are, and mind you that I put three back.
112 current journal
February 7, 2019: Agatha Christie Quote
January 31, 2019: Book Writing Exercise
Put two characters, each of whom wants something from the other, in a room together. Neither of them is allowed to ask for it straight out. Give them five minutes with only dialogue to get what they want.
“Is there something I can do for you?” (Woman A)
“No.” (Woman B)
“Okay but you’ve glanced in my direction a few times.”
“Sorry, I’m a little tired and forgot to brush my teeth. I hope you don’t smell my breath.”
“You’re sitting far enough away.”
“It’s probably bothering me more than you.”
“It wouldn’t have been too bad if I had gum or mints. I asked my husband to buy me both on his way home from the office. He came back with nothing. To top it off, my eight-year son somehow got sick and was vomiting half the night.”
“My daughter manages to get sick at the worst times too. It’s always fun cleaning the carpet at two in the morning.”
“You’re telling me. God forbid my husband ever wakes up to help. He sleeps through everything now. I’m beginning to think women are unhappy in their marriages for good reason.”
“I’d say some of them.”
“Forgive me if I’m sounding heartless.”
“Trust me, my husband isn’t perfect, but I knew there was no one else out there for me.”
“I thought so too, but the more the days go by I think I married Mr. Wrong instead of Mr. Right.”
“We live in a time when mothers are expected to keep everything under control including her marriage. It definitely isn’t easy by today’s standards.”
“I couldn’t agree more.”
“Sometimes, you have to entertain all possible options even those society frowns upon.”
“Maybe, we should exchange numbers and talk more over coffee.”
“Today is pretty full, but definitely let’s make plans soon.”
“Well, my number is 262-223—”
“Hold on, let me get my pen.”
So what did Woman A and Woman B want?
Woman A wanted to gain Woman B’s trust (at one point for a good reason and another point a bad reason as I was writing it). Woman B wanted Woman A’s sympathy about her lousy marriage (and indirectly her approval to get a divorce).
January 28, 2019: Journal Type Entry #2
My second journal type entry for January. Most people say I wear my heart on my sleeve and can be brutally honest with my life. I have for the most part although there are other things you have to keep to yourself. Yet, I opened myself up to possible misunderstandings back in my twenties with certain things. For the most part the people were understanding and supportive. There is nothing great about having to admit your biological parents weren’t the best. In fact, they were of the worst kind that brought me confusion, anger, fear, and later sadness. I plan to include parts of it in one of my fiction books. Maybe, this is a way to prep people who might read my future novel as much as it is a way to prep myself for the task I hope to begin the latter half of this year. I believe in this novel idea and not because I’m personally attached to it, but more it has the potential to be a powerful story. I want to make people cry and laugh within the same chapter because that is what I’ve had to do to survive. There’s a lot of ugliness in the world, but for all the bad shit, there is equally good too. I’m reminded and now need to fully realize it’s really time for me to leave as much of the emotional past in the past. When there’s nothing more to know, no amount of wishing is going to make new information appear. I’ve gotten all I need from it, and now time for me to mold this information into something else for a better purpose.
January 21, 2019: Cut from a Different Rock
I took my time, but when I got to the top, it was a sight to see. I had climbed for three hours without any breaks. I took a few pictures when I noticed movement up ahead. I lowered my camera and that is when I saw something hiding behind a rock formation. It didn’t appear to be a person or animal. I had heard of these creatures before.
It knocked me down with hardly a touch. The only thing I saw was its large head. It had the shape of an onion, and its neck was skinny and long. It blended into its upper torso and when I turned to get a good look, its hand with long fingers rested on the top of my head. It suspended me in the air for a few seconds before moving me to its home.
When I opened my mouth, nothing came out. It heard my intention anyway. The large head was even bigger than before, and beads of moisture clung to its flesh. Its skin glistened under the operating light above me as it inspected my face. It touched my forehead and backed up.
I watched it peel back his eyelid to reveal another eyelid. It peeled that one too until a tiny eye remained. He did the same with his other eye. I heard the sound before I saw it. His eyes had become little puncture tools. They twisted around and reached out to my face. I screamed when it entered my cheek, but no sound was heard. It was temporarily blocking the sound. I screamed again when it drilled into my other cheek.
It inspected the holes with his fingers gripping my jaw before putting his eyelids back in place. I passed out from the pain because when I regained consciousness, my mouth had been forced open with a device, and it was gone. I was drooling and hardly able to breathe. My arms and legs were secured in several places, and I felt a large cold strap around my chest and hips. I was now fully exposed.
There was enough slack to move my head a little bit, and when I did, pain started at the base of my neck and went through every inch of my face. It had put rods through the holes in my cheeks and connected them to through holes it had made in my arms, legs, and feet.
I heard the words “cut body” from behind me. I thought of what I could do to convince them not to cut into me. I waited what seemed forever, but had to have only been a few minutes. The same creature with the onion shape head appeared. It raised its hand and moved it over my face. My pain went away and my body became tired. I fought to stay awake.
When I came to again, I was back on the mountain top. There were no holes in my face, but I felt my body chemistry had changed. I looked down at my bare feet. There were no holes in them either, only scars. The time on my watch chimed. Fifteen minutes had passed. I knew it was much longer elsewhere.
As I took my first step down, I wondered what kind of undercover assignment the government had me doing.
January 11, 2019: Writing Book Exercise
(Tell a story that begins with a ransom note)
When Sally read the note, she couldn’t believe what she was reading. Here was someone asking for money she didn’t have. How was she supposed to get five million dollars when she wasn’t allowed to work? She hadn’t worked a single day in her life. The only job she had was being the proper wife and loving mother. After her children were sent off to the best schools, she spent her free time usually chatting with her friends over hot cups of coffee with no creamer or sugar. As her children went onto the best universities money could buy, she found herself in a place she relished although was lonely at times.
She was never given any access to her husband’s bank accounts, and while it might bother some, it never did for her. Her first son, Leonard, was the next in line to make sure her needs were taken care of when her husband died. Her husband, also Leonard, thought of most people as dolts, but would never tell this to their faces. He needed them to keep earning money as they were his business partners. On the other hand, Leonard Jr. wasn’t so quick to judge others as stupid if they disagreed with his decisions. He was too young, in her opinion, to take over her husband’s wealth and she worried the board of directors would try to dethrone him from his rightful seat. Yet, he was old enough to have a wife and child.
She did what any dutiful wife would do in a panic. She called 911 even though the note specifically told her not to call 911. It also told her they’d know if she had called the cops. It didn’t even register that it was more than one person involved, any composure she might have had left her as she punched the three numbers on her phone. She had to dial the number five times because she kept pushing too many ones. When she finally got someone on the line, she spoke too quickly for the operator. He had to raise his voice a little bit, forcing her to calm down. The moment he heard the word “kidnap,” the words spilled out of his mouth a little quicker. Time was of the essence and urgency could be heard as he recorded their conversation letter by letter with his fingers.
There wasn’t anything Sally could do but wait. She had waited much of her life. She waited for her husband to come back from his business trip, waited for her son to come back from prep school during Christmas, and waited for her daughter to come out of her belly as she was a week past her due date. Much of her life belonged to her family and now she could not get in touch with her children and her husband was somewhere unknown. Her mind went to a dark place. She thought of all the things that might be happening to her husband. Maybe, the kidnappers had snatched up her son and daughter too. Her son never turned off his phone. Her daughter always picked up by the second ring.
There was too much silence. Her anxiety and fear boiled over. She went to the bathroom and took a few pills from her prescription. She might have broken her arm a year ago, but the phantom pain still hung around. She left the bathroom feeling a little better and waited three minutes before the police arrived. She graciously let them in and showed them the ransom note. It was typed instead of handwritten. There was no postage on the envelope and it was one that already had adhesive attached to it. The average person might think of the missed opportunity for DNA but not Sally.
She eyed the officers with hesitation and mild suspicion. They gathered as much information as they could from her, but there wasn’t much for her to give. She had not seen her husband in five days. He was on an important business trip. She convinced herself her children were with her husband and were safe. Having them all together was better than them separated.
When her phone rang, she flipped it around. It was an unrecognizable number. She threw it to the officer closer to her. He caught it and brought it back to her, gesturing for her to answer it. She didn’t want to. He pressed the button and shoved it into her hand. Her voice was timid when she spoke.
“Are you the wife of Leonard Sr?” a man asked in a disguised voice.
“Yes, I am. What do you want?”
She heard him breathing and that’s it. She asked him again what he wanted.
“What the fuck do you think I want, lady? You have one hour to get my money. No funny business, got it. One whiff of a cop at your place and your husband’s dead.”
“I need more time.”
“That’s all you’re getting.”
“Wait,” Sally said but the man had disconnected.
She stared at the phone, then at the officers. The taller one was on the phone to his commander and the other was speaking to her, but she didn’t hear him. Where was her children? Where was her husband? Her knees felt like jello and her legs weakened. The space in front of her darkened. The last thought as she lost consciousness was what did have I done to deserve this.
January 10, 2019: Journal Type Entry #1
This is sort of my first journal type entry I’ve been wanting to do more of so here it is. I find myself doing a lot of inner dialogue concerning my life. It’s easy to get into a rhythm of head space and personal demands. It’s been a weird time of wanting more, but being lucky what I have.
I find myself getting into the rhythm of exercising to lose weight (first and foremost) and to get out my frustrations that build up along the way (second and also important). I’m finally getting into the mindset of really wanting to work out which is a good thing most each day, but keeping it going to be the hardest part. I don’t jog fast enough to call it running yet, but I’m getting there. I did the HIIT method last night, which is rewarding and hard as hell at the same time.
As I plug along and the weeks are going by pretty quickly already, I’m trying to live in a more fulfilling and balanced way. I’m not so much tripping over my feet and relying on myself mentally, meaning to release things that don’t go as planned as quickly as possible and move on with my life.
I’m seeking to gain confidence in neglected areas and strengthen the weak ones as I get deeper into 2019. I’m wanting to be more comfortable in my skin as whole including being okay with my decision-making processes. I’m basically learning to have a voice that matches the way I was supposed to be from the start. I’m finding myself able to get back into actually living my life, which is always a good thing. I will end it as it began.
Good luck everyone on wherever you are on your learning path.
NEVER STOP LEARNING.