MOIO – Background behind the stories Production-Unborn

There are 26 entries in MOIO, each titled per a letter of the alphabet.

Here are some explanations for letters R-U:

Reproduction -SF story- alternate reality concerning fertility

Like “Nobody” this story is fairly new and replaced what I had been trying to write as an ‘R’ entry. The original ‘R’ was related to politics, a draft I started back in 2013. Of course by now, I’ve had enough. So we have this, instead.

This turned into another one of my favorites. I have a keyword for “senior citizen romance” because in a way it is. Actually there are 3 blossoming or progressing relationships in MOIO that each cover young, middle-age, and senior love. Didn’t plan it but I’m glad it worked out that way.

This turned into a cute story but when I thought about it a little more, it drifts into what could be deeper connotations regarding family. I think I could have made this story a lot longer with a lot of thoughtful discussion. But the focus is on a woman named Claire as she realizes that she doesn’t have much longer to live.

 

Scream -poem-

About being fed up, basically. Less about the why and more on the emotion behind it. From a rhythm perspective, I think I was inspired (or guided) by the poem “Harlem” by Langston Hughes. (Only the rhythm. I wouldn’t dare put the quality of this or any of my work near that of Mr. Hughes.) I don’t remember much poetry but I read “Harlem” in my youth and it always stayed with me.

 

Tanatlis -LS/SF story- scenario on thinking about past and future

This is another ‘What if’ that is more than a glib thought that crossed my mind one day. I’ve worked in an industry that has to keep up with a lot of artifacts. In today’s world, almost everything is what can be called “born digital,” meaning there is no analog or touchable equivalent to it like a CD. There is no singular media that carries it; objects, like this webpage or MOIO as an ebook, are both carried and accessed from the same device. Regular books do that, too, but other than a working pair of eyes (See Twilight Zone “Time Enough at Last”) you don’t need any players or electricity to access. Just daylight and the ability to read.

This gives a little thought to all of that on an everyday scale, without the dry explanation I just typed out above.

For those of you who are good at such things, because typically I’m not, do a double-take of the title. The root of this story connects with the anagram.

 

Unborn -SSF story- predestination, Karma

Meant to be light and funny, a soul is trying to negotiate his next incarnated gig.

Something in Common

I spent the day in New Haven last Saturday. It’s a cool little city I was introduced to back when I worked at a firm there. And Yale is there, adding a level of intrigue as you walk through. Depending on the street, you could stand between two types of architecture that are centuries apart.

Since Yale isn’t just a university but a corporation, they own a lot of real estate. And it’s an open secret that while Yale doesn’t mind visitors, pan-handling is out of the question. So the Yale sidewalks tend to be free from folks asking for spare change or any similar requests. But it’s an open game everyplace else.

When there, I always like heading to the main bookstore. It’s situated in a very retail area that’s part of The Shops at Yale. Look for Elm street, Whalley, and Broadway avenues and you’ll find this triangular section that provides lots of ways to wave your cash and credit so long.

On this day, for me, my coin purse unfastened for this sidewalk musician.

The man had long hair and I think before I went into the bookstore, he may have had a partner. On my way back, however, it was just him. I didn’t spend too much time listening because I had a parking meter on the other side of town to get back to. But it gave me pause as I thought about my having put a couple of books online.

Years before digital books and the likes of Amazon, you really had to have a publisher if you wanted your work widely distributed. Not having that, or caring that it got to too many people, in the “modern” age, you could type something up and make copies that you’d hand out to your friends.** Benjamin Franklin owned a printing press to hand out items but few authors were or are likely to spend an afternoon standing out in public to recite their works behind a tip jar.

The age of the digital word makes this possible. Virtually, I have put my work up for the public to ingest. I may never see a cent. But at least a few people have downloaded it, giving me hope that I’ve shared something that may be of interest to someone. Even though I may not have the time nor the courage to stand in one spot all day and recite, the age of digital self-publishing now allows me to somewhat empathize with the gentleman who does.

I dropped $10 in the guitar case and he took a few seconds from singing to say thank you and God bless. Sure, sir. My honor. ’cause we’re kindred, now, and I get it.

**Carefully type up something on paper with a carbon attachment and use one of these things to hand crank out some duplicates.

MOIO – Background behind the stories: Nobody-Quantum

Moments of Introverted Outbursts is a collection of 26 short stories and poems.

Here is the background or creative process about how each entry came into being:

Nobody -SF story- retribution and social status

A little book background…I told myself that this collection of shorts would be ‘done’ once I had some representation of the 26 letters of the latin alphabet. But I was having some serious problems bringing a couple of projects to an end if even getting them started really well. In the meantime, I kept getting more ideas for stories. (Yes, that’s a forewarning that there could be a volume II of this.) A couple of them, like this one, got written from start to finish while some entries for this current collection just couldn’t get off the ground. So I swapped them out.

Thus, this is one of my newer stories about a guy who hunted what he thought was an easy kill.

 

Ownership -LS story- dtr

…or as I learned, “defining the relationship.” I learned a long time ago that how you say something or what words you choose makes more of a difference to most people than the actual meaning. For example, around some of my more culturally sensitive colleagues, using the word “shit” is frowned upon. But if I use the word “crap” instead, it’s digested better. Both still refer to fecal matter but hey.

The thing is, when you sympathize with someone, it’s easier to use the ‘wrong’ word because the other party will give you the benefit of the doubt. “I know what you meant.”

Anyway, this is actually a light, fun story about a budding romance. Not too much of the dark and heavy meanings like some of the others.
Psychoanalysis -LS story- analyzing

From a very hard time in my recent employment history. The poem “Scream” is from the same emotional place.

It reminds me of a computer program from the ’60’s called ELIZA. Instead of rambling on about it, I’ll just point you here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ELIZA

It isn’t one of my favorites but if you like eavesdropping on someone’s conversation for a few minutes…

 

Quantum -SF story- unintended attachment

“What if—“ a scientist who has spent his life studying a number of human subjects from their birth saw calculations that they would soon die?

What this story doesn’t address, and now that I’m writing this summary I’m a little sorry I didn’t explore or even mention, is whether he is or would be as attached to all of his subjects in this way? Or, is this a case people have claimed about with the media; that cute girls that go missing get splashed across the channels while all missing kids that fall into the “other” category are left to local community posters, dialogue, and searches?

Forgetting to Put My Name in Lights

Look at the cover of your latest read. (And if it’s one of mine, I thank you.)

I used to read about how excited people would get at the prospect of seeing their names in print. This aspect, justification, was really important.

I’ve even read a couple of books, supposedly non-fiction, where the writer seemed less interested in actually getting something out and more about being an author. When I say being I mean identifying. One woman’s story was she kept trying to find a niche and then merged two areas of the same study together and Voila! because she had La Machine‘d** a big cluster no one else had, she was finally “an author.” From what I can tell, it’s the last book she wrote and she spent her time leaving crappy reviews for other books in the same genre.

Anyway, I’m sure all authors don’t feel or, thankfully, behave that way. And as I look over a group of covers, the impression I’m getting is that books with real publishers are probably putting whatever will grab the potential reader’s initial attention. For example, a certain celebrity physicist has his name big and wide on his latest book while the actual title sits subservient underneath. Any writer who had the same personality as he would probably love to have this cover arrangement. I’m guessing for him, he probably doesn’t care. But for a publishing house, it’s his name that’s more likely to catch someone’s attention and spare dinero.

Not a celeb? Then your topic or title better be on it! No one cares that Jane Doe wrote something but if she’s writing about helping you reach your inner beast? That might sell.

MOIO’s cover isn’t laid out just because no one knows about me. It’s laid out that way because, like with Cinderella Prophecy (CP), I spent more time thinking about the title and how it relates to the book than having my name on it. It’s not just MOIO. The conversation with CP ran something like this:

Designer: “Ok, you want this, this, and this. Where does your name go?”

Me: “What?”

Designer: “Where do you want it?”

Me: “Where do I want what?”

Designer: “Your name? You’ve got all of this going on. Where is your name supposed to go?”

Geez. I dunno. Hadn’t thought about it. And when MOIO was about to come out, again, my name came as an afterthought.

I guess my approach to writing is more wrapping up something than red carpet arrival. Instead of leading a writing project with how good my name will look out there for the world to see, I sign my name last as if finishing up a heartfelt letter.

**That’s the old French food processor not the entertainment heading to Ottawa this summer. They used to have a really great but simple commercial where this guy kept saying the name over and over while the ad showed it doing its thing.

MOIO – Background behind the stories Happiness – Muzzle

There are 26 stories/poems, each representing a letter of the alphabet.

Here are letters H – M:

Happiness -LS story- taking stock of your life

This was the first story I wrote in this collection. I was having a pity-party for myself one day and told myself that there are others out there in worse situations. So I sat down at my keyboard, fashioned a background for Jasmine and let her go…

Identifying -LS story- self-identity

This is another one where the creative process surprised me with the ending. I’m sure the premise about phony online dates, and probably this angle, have been done hundreds of times. But given certain situations, how do we go from how we think of ourselves and the priority of how we think of ourselves (i.e. spouse, parent, child) to acting differently? How do most well-meaning people do hypocritical things? And then deceive themselves that they aren’t? What mood or place are they in their lives to do that?

I think it’s an interesting story. It’s an early story that, until some of the later Sci-Fi’s came along, was a top favorite.

Grammar-wise, this brought about a large degree of anxiety at the 11th hour. I’d been reading and re-reading it for a few years and only a month before publishing did it start to really, really worry me. But since my head and my gut couldn’t agree, normally that’s a sign in my life that I need to, generally, leave it alone. So please pardon the mixed tenses and other crimes against the english language.

Justice -SF story- equal retribution

The Bible mentions an eye for an eye. What if today’s society were ruled by that?

Kise’Volsame -poem- unrequited love

More empathy writing. Some of these friends are doing better these days, I promise. Of course, that makes for less interesting output. I may need to make some real dysfunctional friends to get some interesting material. Just kidding. Kinda.

Muzzle -poem- anger over injustice

Well, this isn’t empathy. This belongs to me. I wrote it a couple of years ago after a real estate problem. What surprises me, however, is that a lot of people in today’s political climate could read it and probably equate. It was certainly way before the 2016 U.S. election. But I read it with a different take these days…and think “hmmm.”

MOIO – Background behind the poem: Youth

There are 26 stories/poems, each representing a letter of the alphabet. No particular reason except that for a while, the working title was something more like “Alphabetized outbursts” or something like that.

Here is the background for:

Youth -poem-

Watching TV for me these days isn’t like when I was younger. I took in everything that flashed before me, slack-jawed and unconscious. Mostly, television shows and their commercials were an array of visuals that were only separated by plot and/or media. Sometimes a cartoon had cartoon ads but where the ad finished its story in 30 seconds, the feature picked up where it left off.

Now I apply more context, especially when I watch old TV shows, which I do a lot. I think about things like the time period, the actors, the age of the actors when they were in the show and the world they stepped out into once the director yelled “Cut!” And whether their performance was really good or not. (As an aside, I’d like to say that I think Jean Stapleton and Carroll O’Connor from “All in the Family” were probably two of the best thespians that ever lived. Maybe I’ve said this someplace else on this website. I don’t remember…)

Context applies to me, too, because I find when I watch the old and the new shows, the commercials rarely seem to be talking to me, anymore. They haven’t spoken to me in a long time. They used to when I was a kid; toys, candy, teen idols, games, parents not understanding, blah, blah. But as I grew older, a lot of what they were selling I didn’t have a need for, at least for the type of program I was watching. Watching the show I watched, I’d get bombarded with various types of diaper and home cleaning products. All the interesting stuff, like beer, was during the football games or NASCAR or bowling. (Not golf. Nothing interesting happens with golf on TV.)

Basically, I find if I want an interesting ad, about chocolate covered fruit or a car, I have to change the channel from the old TV shows where they want to sell me attorney services for a failed medical procedure (on a good day) or funeral insurance (if I’m being a pessimist about the failed medical procedure).

I understand the economics of marketing, so it’s not surprising. But there is, at best, an odd feeling when vendors no longer consider you viable enough to admit they want to take your money. It feels like they’re starting to push you out of society.

What makes me really sad, however, is looking at the funeral or certain life insurance commercials and seeing them ask for those 40 to 85 to give them a call. I sit and wonder how ads like that make people (like a good friend of mine who passed away at 93) feel.

They make it so that the only thing worse than growing into that age range is growing out of it.

MOIO – Background behind the stories Deception-Growth

There are 26 stories/poems, each representing a letter of the alphabet. No particular reason except that for a while, the working title was something more like “Alphabetized outbursts” or something like that.

Anyway, here are the backgrounds for letters D – G

Deception -poem- being strung along in love

I’m fortunate that I have a lot of friends who confide in me. I listen and then I empathize. And then sometimes, if I’m really upset for them, it ends up in my writing. This poem came from a number of those interactions.

Enough -poem- not feeling good enough for the object of your desire

Same as Deception, although description-wise is more about me than my friends. Like I said, it gets me thinking and I end up with this kind of empathy writing.

FreeWill -SSF story- Predestination

Ah, this is one of my favorites! (It’s also first in the book.) Inspired by a dark, popular song from the ’80’s, this formed from a ‘What if…?’ question. “What if someone who could step up and prevent a killing, didn’t?” A that lead to “What would stop someone from stepping up or stepping in to help?” (I understand the number one reason is that you don’t want to get killed, either…) I hope to write about this more but this is one of the things I love about the creative process. I start with an idea and sometimes I don’t know where the situation or the characters are going to take me until I get there. It’s neat. I still don’t know if I truly understand the song that inspired it but I’m grateful for the direction it sent me.

Growth -SF story- Coming down from global over-population

If you haven’t heard someone say that we, humans, aren’t too different from roaches, well, now you have. (And congratulations on having avoided such sarcasm for so long.) Not the same in physical appearance but in our knack for surviving.

My thoughts are that even if global climate change makes things hell on this planet, those with the means will find a way to keep us around for years to come. That may include an evolution in that we have to live longer in general to sustain the race.

Instead of wallowing in how bad things are, we would probably adjust to the norm of the day. I remember people talking about how they didn’t have locks on their front doors. Now we do. And we don’t go around lamenting that we have locks on them. We just carry the keys to open them and focus on what’s next. (It’s too bad but we have bigger fish to fry.) This story’s lunch conversation works with factors that you and I would probably find horrid if we were dropped in the middle of it today. But for them, it’s as they’ve ever known it.

MOIO – Background behind the stories: Affirmative-Confession

There are 26 stories/poems, each representing a letter of the alphabet. No particular reason except that for a while, the working title was something more like “Alphabetized outbursts” or something like that.

Anyway, here are stories A – C.

 

Affirmative -LS story- which stands for affirmative action.

I know these days it seems like everybody’s talking but no one is listening. That to have a conversation means simply getting angry unless someone says exactly what we want to hear which is usually what we’re already thinking. (I’m not taking myself out of this category, either. I’m sure I’m as guilty as most but I’m continually working on it.)

This isn’t new. I saw this behavior in the first year of this century from groups that swore or committed themselves to being open to the opinion and differences of others. With social media, it’s only gotten worse because people can ‘yell’ over the screen.

Anyway, this story is driven from two events in my life. One was from a road trip from the north to the south. Me and a friend were driving to New Orleans. I’ve over-dramatized events in this story because it’s fiction and especially since our real exchange with an establishment down south eventually turned friendly. The other event was in my trying to have a discussion with a really bright colleague of mine out West. We never finished our discussion on a particular topic because I was immediately shot down. So years later, I’m finishing it here.

Maybe the moral of this story’s explanation is that there is no Utopia. There are problems everywhere. You just have to keep an eye out for what’s good and appreciate it when you see it.

 

Boston -LS story- I think speaks for itself.

I basically have a city-crush on the place. I don’t get there as often as I’d like but I still get there more than I get to New Orleans, which I’d love to travel back to some day.

 

Confession -LS story- is about the traction of office gossip.

I worked at a place where someone had heard about a heated exchange I had with my supervisor (unlike the story, not about romance) and pulled me into their office to ask how I managed to finagle some outcome. They had taken gossip, turned it into gospel, and asked me head-on about something that hadn’t happened! Their version was news to me! Human nature is a funny thing and sometimes I like to make fun of it.

Finally! A Book!

I’m not gonna lie, I hate coming back to this website. Yes, this one, my own website. Not because I dislike the color, format, or anything like that. But because it’s like having to look in the face of someone you made the same promise to over and over again and tell them that, no, you still haven’t fulfilled that promise. And come up with a whole new set of excuses as to why it didn’t happen THIS TIME. Like returning to a vacation home and removing the dust covers, I imagine. Except seeing that my last entry was a year and a half ago doesn’t make this return as joyful as prepping a vacation home for a week of leisure. (Again, I imagine…from having seen my share of Kate Hepburn movies.)

Except…this time, I’m staring in the face of that promise and finally delivering.

Moments of Projected Outbursts, a collection of 26 (well 27) entries I’ve written over the past 5 years has been released as an eBook for Kindle.

Reading through my last entry from November 2015, I state that I was going to try and get this out in April 2016. So what happened? As usual, life! Mainly the day job. And the day job is what keeps us all in a place to do things like this.

But in late January, I looked at when I started writing stories and at how the emergencies at the day job were quieting down and realized that five years was long enough. But I’ll say this; the extension gave me a chance to write a couple of extra entries that I feel are much better than the original stories. So, maybe it’ll be worth the wait.

I do have a bigger motivator for getting this out than just it lingering for five years, too. But I’m keeping my mouth shut for right now. Right now, I’m going to take a deep breath and get myself to realize that I finally got this out.

Oh! If you’re looking for the real Table of Contents, you can find it on the MOIO page.

Quiet in an age where most are not

My last post was back in August 2014, more than a year ago. I found Robin Williams’ untimely death not only heart-breaking but having found a comic book soon after that referenced him only drove home the point how much he and his characters had entered our culture. It inspired me enough to step away from the rest of my life to sit and write it out.

It’s funny how quickly time goes by. Well, actually, it’s not funny. It was funny 20 years ago. Now it’s downright sad and frightening. And although I spend most of my days trying to keep myself fed and sheltered, this part, the writer/creator part, continues to have a big impact on my life as well. It’s not calling to me any less. It’s just that the material world has a pact with the 24 hours of each day where it gets priority.

Which is why I’m so confounded as to how some people, a LOT of people, are able to spend so much time out…here (imagine me waving my arms in cyberspace). Maybe it’s because of the type of work I do. Maybe it’s because, right now, my non-writer work is just as important. My worlds could collide, however, as there are questions and scenarios I want to explore. But for right now, they are separate.

Anyway, I’ve been blathering on about writing a new book for the past few years. And a couple of months ago I hit a milestone, meaning if I get my act together, I may actually get it published. Now, whether anyone will ever know it’s been published is a different matter. But I’m a creature of getting things accomplished. So whether anyone else will care, I will care. I need to finish what I start. Not sure if this is a good or bad thing. It’s just a thing; no judgement.

I’ve given myself a deadline of getting this out sometime in April, though I’m still thinking through if that’s set in stone. The title is still settling but it will be a book of short stories. (Not sure if I’ll ever answer my friend’s question about what happened to Joseph in Cinderella Prophecy. I do know what happen. It’s just stuck in my head.)

For today, this last weekend in November, my near term goal involves writing, too. Writing holiday cards so my friends and family realize that I do think about them, as well. Even if I’m not on a lot of the popular social media sites to prove it.

Stay safe, be blessed, and happy holidays.

Obnoxio the Clown and the Pervasiveness of Robin Williams

On Friday, August 15th, a good friend of mine brought over an old and odd X-Men comic. He knows I’m into such things even though these days I don’t have much time to read them. And, to be honest, a lot of what he’s brought to me I haven’t yet read. (Still haven’t cracked open “Mice in Pink” but I plan to.)

But it being a Friday evening, and the busiest cover I’ve ever seen on X-Men, I decided to open it and take a look.

The story is as odd as the cover and I’m thinking to myself “This is terrible!” Less than humble X-Men? (Though, that’s not surprising for Cyclops but it is for Prof X and Storm.) A plot that acknowledges that a mutant has a birthday and may want to stop and enjoy it? A villain whose mutant power is…uh…is to change any into flavor of ice cream??

What the hell?

This has to be joke, I thought. I look at the title page to find a date. And yes. Vol. 1, No. 1, April 1983. Whether Marvel and Alan Kupperberg planned it this way or not, I’m taking it to be an April Fool’s joke which made digesting (see what I’m doing there?) this story A LOT easier.

But this comic, however, seems to hold a lot of significance. A little web research tells that this was a one-shot and marked the demise of “Crazy,” Marvel’s humor magazine. Between the stories, because only the first part of the comic has the story with the X-Men, is an ad. This ad seems to be from Marvel promoting a convention where “tons of old and new comics (Marvels, DCs, etc.) (will be) for sale and trade” along with appearances by “famous guest artists, writers, and editors.” “The Comic Convention” title on the ad lists the 5 cities where this will take place. Yes, a very early ad for a ComicCon.

Very interesting. What really strikes me, though, is near the end of the X-Men story. Having announced his annoyance on the first page about what would generally be considered an expression of joy (the interjection “tee-hee”), by the end when the birthday girl expresses just that at the thought of a clown at her party, Obnoxio grouses,

So you rubes expect me to stick around and pull a Robin Williams now, eh?

And staying in character, walks out.

Of course this simple reference wouldn’t have held my attention had the comedian not died earlier that week on the 11th. But instead, it drove home the point of how much he added to our lives. Even as a point of reference that if you wanted someone to bring you joy, then he’s the man to call.

By description, Obnoxio is world-weary. I’ll slip into my own inner “Obnoxio” for a second for a little self-revelation that I’ll project onto some of you all out there as well.

A lot of us were really surprised to hear when Mr. Williams died. And maybe that was because we took him for granted. Nobody wants to admit such a thing. Or maybe some folks out there already have. But I’ll own it. To my defense, I took the entertainer, the person, for granted because I genuinely took his talent for granted. No one who seemed that spastic, bright, and cognitively connected but could reel it in to play roles outside of his “typical” persona would ever be without work. Whatever movie didn’t do quite so well as expected or TV show got cancelled, he’d be back. Except, now he won’t. At least not until after all of his last projects are released.

What makes me really sad about this is that someone who worked so hard to make so many other people happy died in such an unhappy state. If true altruism is the offer of something for nothing, then, damn, he achieved it. I’m sorry we couldn’t return the favor.

As for the comic book, even though it’s the strangest thing I have in my collection, I think I’ll keep it. Even without all of the references, it’s just too weird to NOT have.

Besides, even Obnoxio asks the question, “Think this comic will end up in the Library of Congress?”

Well, yes: http://catalog.loc.gov/…

 

 

 

Private: Lonely is the Race

Looking back on it, I’m not sure if my credit card had cooled off from paying both the registration and the processing fees for both of us before the chiding began.

My male coworker from India, forever looking to fill his spare time with physical exertion, found a discount to run a mud obstacle course. Other than me, none of his other friends, male, female, Indian, or American, were ever interested in participating in anything. From tree obstacles to 5ks, few wanted any part. But I was always game.

We were both excited about signing up but once monetarily committed, I was surprised to hear what I had thought was united camaraderie turn into instant competition.

“My goal?” he’d start, ironically using an English saying that I taught him, “Is that I don’t have to outrun the bear. I only have to outrun YOU!!”

And over the next three or so months, it cycled. Our usual friendly discussions would devolve into his seemingly only goal of making sure he was ahead of me.

So, I’d think, out of what could be hundreds maybe thousands of participants, if I were the very last person crossing the finish line, number 5000, for instance, your only objective is to see that you are number 4999?

“My goal is to make sure I don’t get stuck in a tree and cry like I’m twelve years old,” I’d deflect.

But make no mistake, I was wounded. And seeing that neither of us had ever done anything like this before, I researched what I could. What to expect, what fabric we should wear, how best to train, what to eat or not eat. And his research was asking me what I was doing.

“I’m buying gloves. Oh, and don’t wear cotton anything. It’ll slide off of you after the first mud pool.”

“Ok!” he’d confirmed. “Will do!”

But my research did more than tell me what to wear. It gave me a sense that this type of race was less competition and more about getting to the finish. Teams were encouraged to sign up. Soloists could maybe expect total strangers to help if they got stuck. Lifelong friendships welded figuratively by fire and literally by sweat were made.

How encouraging! Except that the only person I would know, and ultimately care about, had made sure to constantly let me know that his only real goal was to beat me.

After a few weeks of talking about our training, I’d thought that perhaps the competitive edge had subsided. Until a coworker spotted us the Friday before the race and wished us good luck.

“My only goal,” he repeated, “is to beat my co-runner!”

I kept my composure and reiterated my same response, as at the time it was true. My goal was to try to finish the race without stopping and crying.

But between that time and the morning of the race, I felt dejected. I was back to an old, familiar feeling. One of feeling utterly alone, continually having to do almost every single thing, from big life goals to stupid little distractions, by myself. Even expressing myself to someone else seemed a novelty. While almost everyone came to me to vent and frustrate, I often found that when I needed someone to talk to, no one was there. Even when I tried cramming what could be hours of complex emotions into 30 seconds of sound bite, what typically happened was the other person getting called away, usually notified these days by a high pitched ping from some device. Not only did I not have anyone to really talk to when times were bad, when I was losing to the other rats in this life maze, I didn’t even have anyone to talk to when times were good.

And that was even more depressing. And now, one thing where I had initially assumed would not be one more battle was incorrect. This event would be like almost everything else in my life. Me against the world.

I texted another friend the night before that I was doing everything I could to keep from ditching the next morning. I hadn’t had any time to train since the previous week and even that training hadn’t gone well and how I was in a really bad headspace. I walked away from my phone to spare myself the jolt of not getting any response but found a little relief when hours later I saw that he had called.

The morning of the race I felt a little better and got to the event. Families, teams, young, old, able-bodied, and those put back together. Everyone was in a good mood. An hour before the gun, I bumped into my coworker. We hung out and talked about various things. I braced myself for at least one last competitive jab. I was ready. I knew I was on my own. The jab never came. Instead, I got a confession of vulnerability.

“I’ve been worried about beating you for weeks! Especially after seeing you run during that one workout. You move like…like a deer! I don’t know how I’m going to catch up to you if you get too far ahead.”

Wait. What?

Had our cultural differences got in the way? Did what had really been compliments to my ability or potential get lost in translation? I know that he didn’t know that I had felt slighted. And how was he to know that my middle-aged emotional baggage would eventually twist his words into fuel for me to, once again, battle the world?

I stood beside him, listening and gaining clarity. The clock was ticking. Voices and loud music mixed in a hum of adrenaline. I better understood where his dramatics came from. But it was too late. Ten minutes of realization wasn’t going to change a mindset built by hours, if not days, of unwarranted self-pity and despair.

As the official counted down the last minute before the horn to start our wave, I held out my hand. “Good luck, friend.” He shook my hand and replied in kind. “And if you see me lagging behind, don’t worry,” I gave my blessing. “Just keep going…”

With uncertainty he gave a half nod. And as we re-positioned ourselves, moving from handshake to runner’s pose, I finished the thought in my head.

…’cause I ain’t waiting for you.

Scream (poem*)

When you scream
where does it begin

Is it inside out
or outside in

Does it pull and contort or any of that sort

Does it make you calm
or make you crazed

Build your home
or have it razed

Does it stab and wound grow weak and swoon

Does it wake you up
or make you sleep

Does it pray to god
your soul to keep

Does it call out to enemy or to friend

Is it deciding
where to begin?

*From my upcoming collection of writings

Being the Bystander: Letting the Story Write Itself

For me, writing is a necessary evil.

I peg myself more as a storyteller because I often get ideas about a story but most start out as visual. So I draw little stick figures, bang on piano keys that only exists on tablets, use photos for art, etc. But so far, only in writing can I obtain a level of subtlety and nuance that I simply can’t manifest any other way. Sure, I have a picture of a character in my head. And they’re doing something. But the agenda of the people I have in mind, who are doing what they are doing, isn’t always clear.

For instance, view a man who is grabbing rolls and shoving them into an inside pocket of his jacket. Without the use of cut-aways, visually, that’s all you see. It would be obvious that the man is stealing food because he’s hungry. Or would it be easy to assume that he’s hungry? Maybe he’s stealing food for an unseen family. Or, maybe he’s not stealing food at all. Maybe he simply doesn’t have the room to carry the food and whatever else he needs to pick up later.

See? Missing nuance leaves out a lot of the story.

So even though I’ve written for years now, it doesn’t come to me naturally. My household was not a ‘word’ family, if that makes sense. According to some studies, writing and reading takes up a lot of energy. And by the end of the day job, energy just isn’t something I have a lot of. (There’s also Darwin who, even as I’m writing this post, is expressing his displeasure, in the sweet way that he does, that I somehow haven’t fed him enough.)

Some people are drawn to write. I write because I have something that’s in my head that wants to get out. It’s a chore. Not an awful chore but not something that I do for fun. It’s a means to an end.

But while navigating to that destination, something in the writing eventually intrigues me. I’m surprised when the road map of a story I have in my head suddenly takes a different turn. In those times, the story will start to write itself. Like, I’ll start a page and have an idea of where I’d like to see the story go or how it’s presented. But when I get to that part, the dialogue or circumstances leading up to it will have changed. And thus the initial scene. For example, in CP, the last scene with Rachel and Lyssa turned out very different than how I had imagined it almost the entire book until then. I was pleasantly surprised; who the characters had become over the course of the story dictated how that chapter went. To remain true to the characters, I had to let go of my ideas of what would happen to leave room for their story.

I’m having a few moments like that while writing “Projected Outbursts,” my upcoming book of short stories. The story I’m working on now, one of if not the longest of the shorts, is very complex. But I’m watching how some scenes are coming together, how the characters are starting to talk to me. They are there and alive. They are just waiting for me to transcribe for them. My role changes from plot creator to documenting bystander.

After something like that is written and I read it over and over again, I’m surprised and joyful with what transpired. What started out as a chore turns into my watching the unfolding of interesting character dynamics. By accident during the journey, writing has become exciting. Or at least its outcome. Eventually, it is something that calls me back to it later to see where the adventure takes us.

 

Bits and Pieces (or the missing Decathlog sub-story)

I read a very interesting introduction to a computer book some time back. It said that if you consider how computers actually work, with pulses of light (bits) aggregated and moving around to different parts to signify whether something should be on or off, it’s amazing that computers work to any degree. The statement felt like the conundrum behind how a bumblebee can fly.

When I finally broke down and bought tablet recently, it was a first gen iPad. I wanted something to test current and upcoming ebooks (in the official ebook format) and wanted to see what all of this looked like on tablets instead of just my phone or a number of computers/laptops. I was especially tired of begging friends for their tablets, because, boy are they hot tickets! But I couldn’t bring myself to spend 4 or 5 hundred dollars on another device that consumed data. (Though I’m trying to cut back, I seem to give myself lots of permission to spend it on devices where I can create.)

Anyway, to shorten this story, I was able to view the Decathlog PDF on my own tablet. And I was about as satisfied looking at it on my new first gen as I was looking at my friends’ newer tablets. Except for one BIG glaring issue. One of the fonts used is coming up as smudges, if at all. All of the chapter titles have disappeared! Worse, there’s a little side-story that’s one-third of the way in that’s now gone. Unbelievable! I thought the whole point of using PDF was to get something that, if you had a reader, everyone could experience equally.

So, my apologies to my fellow first gen iPad users and anyone else who is using a tablet that makes this all go away.

Since this is all free, anyway, I’m going to put the sub-story here in case anyone comes looking for it.

Thanks for your interest and patience.


This sub-story doesn’t really have a title, so I’ll just call it “Scram” which is the thought cloud attributed to Darwin:

From delivery people to folks who got hired to clear away ice dams, Darwin is on the alert. I’ve even once used his powers for my own evil entertainment when an unknown man who had the wrong address rang our doorbell. I simply opened the main door and with a storm door between me and this lost fellow, just let Darwin do his thing.”Is Susan here?” he asked over the noise with one foot already off of the stoop.

 

“No one by that name lives here,” I politely replied over my organic alarm.

“Rooo-roo! Rooo-roo! Rooo-roo- ……..” Darwin confirmed.

Goo’ boy.

Taster’s Choice

(I’m going to assume my play on words may confuse folks looking for the “bean” product. Sorry, this post isn’t about the drink.)

If you’ve read The Darwin Decathlog, you’ll get the impression that I have a lot of fun with Darwin. Since he’s not big on playing with toys, however, I have to find creative ways to interact with him. And with his penchant for food that usually means via feeding him.

I keep a big box of Iams dog biscuits in a low cabinet. When I’m ready to give him one, I open the cabinet and let him help himself. Of course, I have to admit to sometimes forgetting to close the cabinet and am then reminded that I forgot by suddenly hearing this muffled shuffling followed by a victorious Darwin emerging from the kitchen with yet another biscuit.

But Darwin and I are kindred, as he has reminded me recently.

I’ve been visiting a dear friend in a nearby city for breakfast or lunch. As burger joints are popping up all over (my town is about to have 3 of them within walking distance), this city now has a particular but popular franchise. I’ve been there twice with my friend. And I have to sum it up as an establishment that is really only concerned with catering to the gastrointestinal stamina of the young adult. As I looked at their menu one cold day, full of all kinds of gimmicks, and inquired about hot drinks other than something dairy based (not even coffee!), I realized those of us with allergies need not really apply.

One of the gimmicks that they have is that they sell dog biscuits. Hey, pet stuff is hot, trendy, and expensive. Uh, I mean lucrative. So why wouldn’t a burger joint sell dog biscuits even though it’s against most state codes to bring in the intended audience? In nice weather, all people, humans and dogs, can wait outside.

I’m still game, though. I hate blowing establishments off even if I’m a little turned off once. I have to give them another try, especially since my friend seems to like them so much. So one visit, when I brought Darwin, I suggested to my friend we try this place again. He went inside to grab each of us hot dogs and he grabbed me a bag of the dog biscuits that they sell to give to Darwin.

When he brought them outside, I asked him how much. For this bag of dog biscuits and what, to me, looked like an overcooked hot dog with nothing on it? Ten bucks. And knowing my friend, it was probably more than that. So my friend enjoyed his, I think, Chicago-style dog while Darwin enjoyed both the pieces of biscuit I gave him and pieces of hot dog.

Since that day, as I had been giving Darwin these biscuits, he’s been amicable and eating them. But I said to him (because I know he understands…don’t judge me) that this will be the last time he gets these things. I’m not feeling the place. And though I am a huge impulse buyer of dog treats, $10 for a plain hot dog and a small bag of large biscuits was beyond my utility.

There has been one last, large part of one of these restaurant biscuits. Since it almost matches the size and shape of the Iams, I stuck it in the front of the box to let him grab it and finish it off.

For the past two weeks, as I write this, that last piece has sat there as Darwin has reached his snoot over and past it to grab the Iams. I’m getting the impression that he’ll eat it when it’s the last biscuit in the box. (Cause, hey, it’s still a biscuit.) But not before.

See? Kindred. 🙂

Darwin is Done

I set my baby free, today.

Three years in my head. Two in the making.

Far from perfect.

Background music. I not only had to cram GarageBand but I had to dig deep to remember music lessons from over 30 years ago. Had to switch instruments, which GB allows you to do sort of easily, to try and get as close to the right sound as possible. Couldn’t incorporate the horn, though. What sounds like a cool little whimsical accent in my head comes off stupid in real life. Or, my lack of talent makes it sound stupid. So what’s on the video is my best attempt. But you’re still not hearing what I’ve been hearing for 3 years.

Video. Shakes here and there. Both iMovie and YouTube picked up on that and tried to fix it. iMovie just made stuff bigger. But YouTube? Suddenly the whole video was like watching an earthquake. Even on the parts (like the title and URL at the end) that weren’t shaky!

Then there’s all of the other stuff. To make unlisted or public. To monetize or not. Create an AdSense account or not. Sigh.

But the biggest point of all is that, well, this is my baby. Not necessarily the video but the little guy bouncing around in it.

It’s hard putting your child out into the world to be scrutinized. Especially when all you really want is to share a moment and hope it makes somebody’s day.

Truth is Harder than Fiction

I wrote the core of the Cinderella Prophecy in 3 months. Initially seventeen chapters, starting in what would be the middle of the story with a then Mariah and Illyssa (now Mariva and Lyssa, respectively) facing off in a verbal battle. Riding on the energy of my changing beliefs and temporary unemployment from daytime work (my longest ever), I was able to follow a practice I had read (that we all, true or not, have probably read) that Stephen King followed; disciplining myself to write a certain number of pages every day. Once I started working again, I expanded and refined the story over the next couple of years.

When Darwin came into my life, he was an instant muse. I had looked for a little dog in need of a home for so long, and he was such a character, that almost every mode of expression came to mind.

Writing a story about him should be easy, I thought. I’ll just write down what I’ve experienced instead of making up characters, personalities. I wouldn’t have to remember made-up events to try and keep continuity. All I would have to do is play historian. Write down what I saw. Maybe even play commentator. For a while, I figured it would be so easy, that I could even try and make up his past. Write fiction in an effort to fill in the gap between his birth and when he came to live with me.

Ha! Over the past couple of years, I’ve prosed, rambled, gambled, and stumbled. What I could easily see and say in my head didn’t always get transcribed. At one point, I built a list of anecdote topics that I should put into words as reminders on what not to forget to capture his essence.

And yet after almost 3 years, only in these past two months have I been able to pull together something for human consumption. Some humans, anyway.

Why did writing non-fiction go from being just jotting down stuff that happened to such a chore?

I can honestly say that it boiled down to one thing that took many shapes.

F e a r.

Fear that I wasn’t capturing Darwin fairly. When I was writing CP from scratch, although I initially had an idea of how each character may behave, I was learning them as I was weaving together the story. Darwin was always Darwin before I ever met him.

Fear of not knowing my audience or for whom to write. For the final “Darwin on the Dash,” I think I ended up using about one third of what I had actually written over the past few years plus writing one or two additional stories. Over the years, I had gone beyond just capturing events. I had gotten really sappy; why I’d gotten a dog and what it meant to me and brought into my life. Or, I lectured on paper to people who weren’t there. Folks that had annoyed me with their disregard that dogs, especially my dog and dogs his size, weren’t toys.

Fear of scope. How much was too much? Too little? Even when I finally set my mind to concentrate on the initial goal at hand, that being to write something to compliment the video, it would take me almost a year to focus. What finally did it was removing the fear. When the thought popped into my head “You’re handing this out for free. Do what you want.” somehow, that gave me permission to pick a direction. I didn’t have to “be a grown up” and hand out mere words. I could add color, pictures, shapes, and links. These could better compliment my tales of warning and triumph, like Seizure, without coming across too dark. And I could add just enough stories to try and round out Darwin’s personality. From stark, sometimes fearsome protector to vulnerable love bug.

There are times in my life when I’ve looked at the work of biographers and thought how much I *think* I would love to do that. To capture the essence and history of a person. Oddly, I haven’t been scared off from doing that, just yet. But this exercise with my own room mate has given me a better foundation of why just ‘writing what happened’ isn’t as easy as I’d like to imagine.

Part 2 of my Labor of Love is done!

Yes, that’s right. Part 2, the eBook, got done before part 1, the video.

Surprises me, too. That’s not how I planned it. But there’s a method to my madness. At least this time around.

So I’m tossing up this short post in celebration! Whew!

If anyone is actually reading this, you can find the book on the Darwin page. 🙂

Unnamed

I know this looks like I don’t know what to call this post but it’s actually how I seem to have a weird habit about not wanting to put my name on the front of what I write. Or more accurately, what I publish.

I’m currently getting the Darwin eBook wrapped up. I’m hoping to release it on this site sometime this month (January 2014) along with the video. I’m digging around in the boring stuff at the moment, the copyright information, when I take a good look at the “cover” (in quotes because it’s electronic; it’s not covering anything) and realize that I don’t have my name on there. Nor am I inclined to put it on there. I don’t have a problem sticking it on the title or copyright pages.

And thinking back, waaaay back, I did the same thing with CP. My name was the last thing on the front and I was like a “OH! It needs that, doesn’t it?”

Strange, huh?

From what I’ve read, having your name plastered across the front of a book is what drives a lot of people to become writers. And I keep forgetting to do it. But like I mentioned before, I’m not inclined to do it especially with Darwin because I feel it would ruin the look. Plus, it’s about him, not me.

So, if you download the book and come across this post later (or visa-versa) and wonder why it’s missing my name? This is why. But I’m in there. Somewhere. 🙂

 

So maybe…

…I should finally add something, now that 2 years has gone by.

For what it’s worth, which may not be much, I probably need to add to the collective of how life gets away from you and time flies.

As you can maybe see, two years ago I started to do something. Then went away. What you can’t see is that I started something else a year and a half before. Then went away. And then, previously, I had something going on that started 10 years before THAT and limped along for about 7 or 8 years until small town politics forced the end of that run. Probably rightly so, putting that gig out of its misery.

What the hell am I talking about?

In March 2010, I was revamping this site to be all insight about the one book I managed to pull together and get published. (The CP page will explain a little about that.) And then, practically over a weekend, my life drastically changed. But for the better! I finally got a home. And after years of looking, found a little dog who needed a home that I could offer.

And I simply fell in love.

In the course of all of this, my day job changed dramatically, also. So for the past two years, I’ve been super busy honing my skills in a new technical field while working on a labor of love that I hope to share with whomever is open to it sometime next month.

And, frankly, I have to get this project out there. I’ve withdrawn from so much regarding day-to-day society and culture in an effort to get both things done, I feel like I’ve missed out on a lot. Of course I heard all of the bad news. But, fortunately, news sites this time of year like giving recaps of the good stuff; the stuff that makes you step away from the edge of despair and want to keep going.

So like my post in “All Over” I will, again, try to get back to this and stick around.

All over

I’ve started this blog, this presence, so many times now. But you know what? We’re gonna keep doing this until I get it right. Welcome.

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