Short Story: Wild Sea

boat
        In the sea of infinite waves, I found myself with one oar that day. The wind had picked up, and my hand clumsily hit the side of the boat. I will add it was built by my dear friend. He has since passed away, body mixed in with the dirt by now, and creepy crawly insects having a corpse to explore. I shouldn’t view Tobias as a corpse, but I’m not one to exchange that word for another. He became a corpse when his soul left him, and just because you might find that word repulsive is not a problem I want to inherit. People tend to have little pity for the situations I placed myself in, and maybe I deserve some of it, but it doesn’t reverse my desire to exist. My true love was the only one to understand me. She had a radiance I’ve never seen in a woman before or since our time. I miss her more days than not, but let’s get back to my dilemma.
       It floated past my boat with great speed into the wild waves. I almost jumped to retrieve it, but then I’d be dealing with another issue, and that was hypothermia. My children would never forgive me either if I died this way. They never feared me getting lost when they were children, but we are thirty years older now. If I arrive one minute past my projected time, my son and daughter panic. My desire of living out my days in peaceful self-reflection never really came to fruition as I expected, but on this day they gave it to me wholeheartedly. It had to do with my birthday and the fact I was well past my drinking days.
       What was tantamount to suicide, I was distraught over losing the oar. My grandfather had never used them as they rested on pegs above his fireplace. I understood the importance of keeping treasured objects within the family tree, and now it was forever gone. I sat down on the hardened seat when my eye caught sight of the oar. I leapt up and burned the location into my mind. I grabbed the remaining oar and shoved it into the water. I paddled with long strokes, switching sides, until I was close enough to grab its nearly identical twin still in my grasp.
       The anticipation of holding both my oars unsteadied my balance.  My remaining oar flung into the sea.  This is the way I’d like to remember it, but in actuality, I lost my balance for no other reason of being old.  No one was around to hear my cursing at God, the sea, the boat, Tobias who had died, my wife who had died unexpectedly, and the oars themselves. I scrambled to the boat edge and searched for the oar. It was about ten feet away, bobbing with the waves, and teasing me every time it moved a little closer. My hope was it would float its way back to me as if it was scared of being away for so long. I imagined the water droplets hiding in the tiny cracks of both oars when I lifted them to safety. It would be good to have them back in my possession. When the oars didn’t come back on their own, I recognized my situation with more urgency.
       My flesh tried to resist the effects of the icy water when I jumped feet first. I had managed to remember to take off my shoes, socks, and jacket as all three would keep me warm once I got out of the water. The pesky oars that never should’ve left my grip were not visible. I screamed loudly, making the nearby birds take flight. My attention went back to the sea and swam in the general direction of where I had last seen the oars. They were on the same side of the boat when I lost them. I scanned the surface for any hint of my oars, and unfortunately my fingers turned a lovely purple before I found one of them. I reached it in record time for a man in his late sixties. After craning my neck in all directions, I located the other one. I swam to it just as fast in hopes it would warm my body. Hypothermia had claimed most of it, and I was forced to embrace it with open arms.
       I focused my grip around the oars not to lose them on my swim back. It took every determination to not close my eyes and sink into the sea in a death spiral. One thing kept me going and that was the warmth of my socks and jacket waiting for me on the boat. It could not have drifted far away, but when I looked up it appeared much farther even though it wasn’t the case. I thought about all the things I hated doing, but now I would take that over my current predicament. I kicked my feet as hard as possible, hunger clawing at my stomach.
       The nature of my situation had turned to critical when I arrived at my boat. I imagined the warmth my socks and jacket would provide as I picked them up. If only a towel would drop from the sky so I could dry myself, but my weary body soon didn’t care about that. I fell into a heap and sat there, breathing in and out heavily before starting the task of jamming my feet into the socks. My unfocused eyes remained that way while I tore off my water-soaked clothes. They had the scent of seaweed and dead fish. What an exquisite combination was the last thing I remembered as I slipped into unconsciousness. When I came back to reality, I didn’t notice the goose egg on my head.
       The sea went from puzzled to indignant, back to puzzled, and remained at a rumble. I was caught during the roar, but now it was my turn to be angry. I kicked at my heavy soaked pants and threw my shirt into the water. It would have been a sight to witness a sixty-seven year old in his underwear flailing about, but good riddance to it all. I wore my half dry socks with pride and my jacket didn’t fully hide my behind. I’ve since bought a longer jacket to wear in case this happens again although it hasn’t. My shoes were the last to go on and once I picked up my oars, I made sure to smack the water with them a few times before rowing back home. Similar to the sea, I went from frustration to rage. It was going to take a while to get home, and I used this time to release this steam with each stroke. The situation had spun out of control quickly, but now it was calmer. The thing chasing me this morning was no longer with me. The grief of what had happened could fit onto the diameter of a penny.
       While I did not know it at the time, losing my oars was a blessing in disguise. Some say God works in mysterious ways, and but I haven’t met any of them. I suppose there are shards of truth to everything. My daughter believes I’m trying to feel better about myself when I go out on my boat. She thinks I’m instinctively sailing toward something better, but it’s all in my head. I’m not sure about this. My son thinks I’m trying to recapture my youth. I’m not sure about this either, but when I arrived back home and soaked in hot water up to my chin, I had time to think about how lucky I was to be breathing oxygen.
       The sea can be a small place when there are people fluttering around you, trying to stay afloat such as in a shipwreck; but when you are alone, no one sees you struggling. The day the sea challenged my longing for it, my body was not in the best of shape. I had wanted to give up, but I prevailed to feel stability under my feet again. When my feet touched dry land, I bent down and grabbed a handful of sand. Damn the sea who tried to take me and damn the God who put me on this wobbly ride in the first place, but shortly after saying this I also thanked both for returning my oars to me when they could have been swallowed for dinner by the ever moody sea.
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Movie Recommendation: The Fly

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A movie I haven’t seen in a while is The Fly.  I’m talking about the David Cronenberg movie where I never looked at Jeff Goldblum the same way.  The metamorphosis of his character was one of greatness.  Yes, I prefer character driven movies vs. action based movies although I have no issue watching any Fast and Furious franchise movies.  The story of the enthusiastic scientist in the beginning to the tortured creature he became at the end also involved the human interaction he sought through Geena Davis’s character.  If only Seth Brundle had taken a little more time to ponder the consequences of his teleportation, but then the viewers would’ve been turned away in boredom.  This isn’t the jump out of your seat because scary things are lurking behind furniture movie.  Every action has an opposite reaction.  Isn’t that how the saying goes?  The Fly is a movie where you see what happens when you don’t check your obsessions at the Telepod door.  Enjoy the spectacular vision it deserves.
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Book Recommendation: WHO THE HELL’S IN IT

This is a great book for the fact it gives the reader insights into the personalities of famous actors and actresses, unadulterated and brutally truthful. Even if it portrays the Hollywood legends in a less than favorable light, you continue to have respect for them as they deserve. I enjoyed it from first page to the last. If anything it will serve as a nice diversion from the current Hollywood trends of remakes and comic book films, which there is nothing wrong with, but it is nice to reflect back on eras of the past.

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Book Recommendation: Yakuza Moon

yakuza moon
We are born into the society our parents live and it becomes familiar to us.  We put our trust in those who raise us whether blood related or not despite what they do to us, good or bad.  Circumstances can change slowly over time or all of a sudden, but it still throws us into a tailspin.  Our foundation on which we, as children, stand on becomes unstable; and it takes often a lifetime as adults to heal from what occurred within our families as children. 
The author of this book, Shoko Tendo, speaks of the tenacity it takes to survive once the pieces have crumbled and no one is there to help you build again except yourself.  While the past influences much of how you act and do later in life, it does not have to completely control your future.  It takes strength to recognize what one must do to break free and more to not retreat back to the comforts of the days long gone.  Read this book if you enjoy personal journeys; and in this particular case highlights assumed privileges, eventual downfalls, and sole ownership of one’s life.
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Book Recommendation: The House of Gucci Book

gucci
This book will captivate the reader in terms of the family history of the Gucci family and all the drama that happens within generations.  The main reason behind murder is more often than not for explainable reasons whether it be to cash out a life insurance policy, compulsion to kill someone, or going outside the boundaries of one’s self control.  Given the right situation which is usually the most dire of circumstances, everyone has the capability to kill someone.  The House of Gucci is what many people love to do and don’t apologize for it: the peeking into family secrets and watching the house they live in fall brick by brick.
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Future Burning Bonfire!

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     People who have the need to create tend to be able to be alone for long hours and lose themselves in their own little world.  They often construct different lives and scenarios in their heads.  This information finds itself woven into their stories or becomes the basis of their creations.  Writers are no different.   I can get very excited about a story idea and so energized by it where I feel the strength behind it.  The force is strong where I could move a stalled car.  This is the feeling where if I don’t create something, then my body will feel numb, and my mind will feel restless.  Or is it the other way around?  My body will feel restless and my mind will feel numb.  Either way, both don’t bring me any kind of peace.
      Writers who are people don’t have the write.  Instead, they need to write.  They need to write because if they don’t, a part of them slowly dies, and so diminishes why they exist in the first place.  Certain people are born writers.  I believe it wholeheartedly.  Other people are born athletes.  I’m not one of them.  Some people are born musicians.  I’m definitely not one of them.  Writers are as varied as athletes and musicians.  Writers are as varied as teachers and police officers.  Anyone remember Janet Evans?  Her often cited unorthodox swimming stroke during the Olympics was a hot topic, and not every swimmer is tall and muscular.  I’m a slow writer.  Wish I was faster.  I’m a thoughtful writer.  Wish I wasn’t so much. I’m a perfectionist writer.  Definitely wish I wasn’t this.  If I’ve learned anything, you recognize your talents and try to capitalize on them in your personal life, and work toward accepting them.
      Writers keep their minds rational through personal writing.  This reflective writing often happens within their journals.  I am currently on my 102nd journal.  Many ideas and thoughts for my writing end up in them along with my random and recurring dreams, as well as other thoughts.  It is important for writers to get out their frustrations, motivations, inspirations, and any other feelings that might inhibit their writing.  I plan on burning all my journals when I reach my next stage in life. I hope it happens sooner than later, but if it doesn’t happen, the bonfire is happening anyway.
      The worst thing a writer can do is to infect how she or he feels within a character that clearly is NOT him or her.  There’s a fine line between writing what you know, but a male with chauvinistic behaviors is not the female writer who is a feminist.  You might ask yourself why would a feminist write about a male with chauvinistic tendencies?  I believe the mark of a good writer is being able to write about a character so unlike him or her, but be able to write it in such a way that readers are amazed the person is not what they envisioned him or her to be.  I think variety is good for any writer.  Challenge yourself as a writer.  Challenge your characters.  Challenge your comfort levels.  Challenge your skill levels.  But most of all enjoy all of the challenges along the way as a writer.
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A Writer Does Two Things: Read and Write

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     I was drawn to writing as long as I can remember.  I enjoyed reading too and wish I could finish books like I did when I was younger.  No longer does Sweet Valley Twins and Babysitter’s Club hold my attention nor would I find them all that interesting today.  The books I’m reading now are thicker with a lot more complexity.  I used to read about five to ten books at one time, when I wasn’t jam packing a to-do list with 15 items on it each week.  Now, I’m lucky to get a book read in six months but reading something is better than nothing.
     I looked at my mini book collection, as most of my books are still in the Midwest, collecting dust in my bedroom.  The books I recommended will help you become a better writer.  Yes, most of this information is common knowledge, but the hardest part is translating it onto the page as you’re writing.  People know the hardest part of the writing process is the dialogue.  It is the hardest to excel at in any form of writing.  A movie can be forgivable with mediocre writing, but great writing is what makes audience members be able to sit through a movie without looking at their watches or shift needlessly in their seats. 
     There is something inherent about great writing, but there are critics everywhere.  What one views as great writing, another will view as only okay.  Some might prefer wordy writers, while others enjoy writers who use less description and more action.  Most readers like writers to get to the heart of the story as quick as they can without sacrificing the story.  I feel belaboring the points is as deadly as going too fast into a scene and moving out of it even faster.
     Writers learn by using all their five senses. They also learn whether through reading about writing or writing itself.  The bottom line is that any person who wants to be a better writer should be reading all of these books, and then read them again as I need to do.  I have included another book in the Write Great Fiction series that I still need to read, Revision & Self-Editing.  If anything, these books might incite writers to be motivated and invigorated again.  It’s good to feel hurt fingers once in a while or in my case carpal tunnel, but whatever physical ailment you might have, it isn’t as painful as suppressing your desire to write or stunt your skill level.
(Top Picture by Her Campus)
Check them out at Amazon
Dialogue
Plot & Structure
Characters, Emotion & Viewpoint
Description & Setting
Revision & Self-Editing
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Some Make It While Others Don’t in Hollywood

silverbullet

I’ve been thinking about the 80s.  I was all about Punky Brewster, Different Strokes, Facts of Life, and the occasional morning cartoons.  Scooby Doo and Smurfs come to mind.  As a child yourself, you don’t think about what child actors and actresses experience as they are catapulted into stardom.  As you grow older and learn about the lack of privacy any famous actor or actress faces, it becomes more apparent the weird dichotomy of what it means to known in Hollywood.

I feel child actors and actresses want to be known as such, but because of the character they play on television or in movies, they have to engage in all the publicity where they become a teen object with often sexual and envious undertones.  The same could be said for adult actors and actresses.  They walk the red carpets for award ceremonies or promote their movies during premieres.  They are catapulted to a status much like I viewed my teacher in third grade.  You mean Ms. B. grocery shops?  I never said anything either in my random sightings of actors and actresses.

One out of a handful that sticks to my fingers like bubblegum was my time at Runyon Canyon.  I was walking down the windy paved road when a dog plopped his butt down and would not move.  The owner was tugging on its leash to get him to move.  That person was Ben McKenzie.  You know the brooding teenager, Ryan Atwood, in The O.C. and now plays Commissioner Gordon in Gotham.  I had seen him a few times before, but never said anything to him.  I didn’t this time either, pet his dog, and went on my way despite knowing his Hollywood status. 

This brings me to the actor, Corey Haim, who died in 2010.  He was often the underdog in roles as a child.  It made him endearing.  I wanted to be his best friend in Lucas or Silver Bullet.  He took on teen roles oozing with heart throb status such as The Lost Boys, Dream a Little Dream, and License to Drive.  He had those boyish looks that kept on giving.   Teenage girls thought he was dreamy.  The last movie that kept my interest was Watchers.

Hollywood can be tough on childhood actors given their young age and enticement of what it has to offer in parties and drinking.  Those in power should not protect the figures who prey on the vulnerable.  There’s been enough betrayal taking place “behind closed doors.  In light of Corey Feldman stating his friend kept this dark secret, it obviously troubled him to the point of weakening him year after year: the guilt, fear, shame, and anger.

If Corey Haim had survived through his hardships, what kind of opportunities would Hollywood give him?  No longer the cute child actor, much like Macaulay Culkin today,   does not diminish their talent.  I wonder why some child actors and actresses transition smoothly into well-respected roles while others get thrown in the mix of B movies.  It isn’t that Corey Haim wasn’t talented because he could emote.  In light of his absence, I recommend watching Silver Bullet because you should always root for a child actor who portrays a child hero.

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Documentary Recommendation: Be Here Now

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I was late in watching the series Spartacus.  I wish there were more seasons and wonder what would have occurred had Andy Whitfield continued to live past the age of his prime.  I heard of this documentary while watching him and along with the other actors that played gladiators.  The tenacity and strength he possessed to prepare for this role astounds me.  I knew the filmmaker rallied her fans to help raise the finances needed to make this documentary.  I was one of the fortunate ones to reap this benefit.  It goes to show one never should lose sight on the importance of what life has to offer.  Live it to the fullest, learn from your mistakes, and look ahead more than behind you.

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Quote of the Night

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Like espionage? Read these books!

 I’m currently reading a book titled, The Cuckoo’s Egg.  I heard about it on PBS, as it was being reviewed.  Being that I’m interested in espionage, I ordered it right away from Amazon.  The author of this book definitely is the way I imagined him when I researched him on the Internet.  I used to plow through books like they were going out of style, but now it seems to take me much longer.  This book has kept my attention in a different way as it deals with computer espionage, but it is still a page turner like the book The Bureau and the Mole.  The reader doesn’t need to be well versed in computer technology or computer lingo because Cliff Stoll explains it perfectly, and you are learning something new if you find computers relatively boring.  I never thought I’d say it, but computer espionage is an interesting topic.  This book has entertained me well.  I encourage anyone to check it out even though it is an older book, but is more than relevant given the political dynamic in the United States.  The other book, The Bureau and the Mole, is an easy read.  It’s about Robert Hanssen, FBI agent who was a spy for Russia, and the hunt to find his identity.  It delves into his childhood, entry into the FBI, and his betrayal to America.  He currently is serving a life sentence in federal prison.

The Bureau and the Mole

The Cuckoo’s Egg

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What Addictions Do You Have?

     coffeebean

I will be the first to admit I have addictions. There are times I am drawn to something when staying away is the much better choice.  There are other times when stress gets the best of me and I do the walk of shame of asking for a current smoker if they have a cigarette. I feel bad usually for asking and wanting to somehow make it up to the person for taking one of her/his cigarettes away. I offer to pay money or buy something in return. The answer is always “no, it’s okay.” Yet, is it really okay. Why not just buy a pack of cigarettes? Why be a pest one day out of the week?

I’ve been battling more or less for the last 23 years of completely stopping smoking. I don’t smoke cigarettes 11.5 out of 12 months. I was never a heavy smoker back in the day as the most I smoked was half a pack in one day. Okay, maybe I was in some respects, but compared to a two pack a day smoker, then no, I wasn’t a heavy smoker. I have caved here and there where in the past five years, I buy a pack of American Spirits and smoke them like tobacco crops are in danger. My doctor thinks I’m a former smoker, and while I am most of the time, there is a need for me to quit once and for all.

I know it isn’t doing my body or mind any favors. Inhaling smoke doesn’t really fix anything. It is much an illusion in one’s mind. The chemicals and tobacco don’t fix anything in the long run. It is temporary and with everything going on these days from political to personal, it only lasts a few seconds after you have crushed the butt into the ashtray. You need another one within a few hours even though it is a want. This is a weird concept. You want something that slowly kills you. It will take hours and sometimes days off your life. Yet, a smoker does not think about that because if they did, she or he would not smoke. They would value their lives and not engage in this gross and destructive habit. Yet, being a person who enjoys packing the cigarette box, lighting the cigarette and inhaling the chemicals/nicotine, I understand the draw of cigarettes. If I could have it my way and not give much thought to what it did to me, I would smoke my heart out and die in what I would view as a “blaze of glory.” I knew someone who wanted to die by overdosing on heroin. It isn’t a romantic way to go. There is nothing decent about this. I look back and wonder what had happened for the person to want to die this “glorious death.”

I can only think of the inherent glamour in drug usage one finds in some pockets of society, but when you strip away all the parts of it associated with privilege and money, all that remains is a drug addict. No matter how you slice it, if you quit one addiction such as cigarettes, you will move onto another addiction like eating too much of something or something not so physical but mentally related. I’m not well versed in addiction as I don’t have my degree in addiction counseling or how to treat addiction. I do know from personal experience that in order to overcome the qualities found in addiction, one has to do some heavy soul-searching and address the underlying issues. Overcoming addiction takes hard work from recognizing your triggers and self-control when the cravings are so pervasive. I’ve made a pact with myself to not smoke at all in 2017. I broke that promise when February 2017 rolled around and found myself in stressful situations. It was as if everything went out the window I had learned in the past of how to deal with these situations. I knew it was not good for me, but I smoked anyway. My body and mind connection needed to be restored to normal, but my frustration and stubbornness resorted to smoking, the thing that brought me further from what would make my life feel stable.

This is why I stop and start my exercise regimen because there are times I feel what is the purpose of all this when I am to die in the end. I step back into reality and quit feeling sorry for myself. I accept the fact I will always deal with headaches, TMJ, and foot problems, but it is true that excessive weight only makes the situation worse. I’m learning to get “back on track” on my own terms and without the pressure I place on my shoulders. My out of reach goal of losing weight and jogging a half marathon has been reconstructed into a smaller, manageable goal. This doesn’t mean I can’t do it later, but currently all I want to achieve is exercising five times a week for an hour.

This brings me to the next topic of Coffee Bean Ice Tea. I have an addiction to CB Ice Tea and while it isn’t as deadly as cigarettes, it still isn’t good to drink so much caffeine. I get a blend of Pacific Coast (black) and Peach (green). I reached the Platinum level a few weeks ago and now working toward the VIP level. There was a window of time where I limited myself to one cup of CB Ice Tea per week. It didn’t last long and now have to find the acceptance of this addiction or make the effort where I don’t consume it at such an alarming rate. The two Coffee Bean establishments know my order and often have it ready before I arrive to pay for my drink. This is when I really recognized my addiction problem, but from another viewpoint, if this is my biggest addiction, then so be it.  You live only once and life is too short to sweat the small things (to an extent).

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