Thursday, February 28, 2013

Careful What You Wish For

                The week isn’t even over and I have experienced so many emotions that I don’t even know where to begin. My highs have been epic and my lows have been devastating, and the brief intermissions of mediocrity were almost unnoticed as I passed them going up and down at speeds that would make the Millennium Falcon’s Kessel run seem as slow as a snail crawling through salt. And, now as I sit here on my front porch trying to digest the first five days of the week, I seem to be at a loss of words and yet I know I need to write.

So, before I get on with the blog, let’s have a musical interlude by the mighty Eminem;

“Careful what you wish for”

                So this is it...
This is what I wished for
Just isn't how I envisioned it
Feigned to the point of imprisonment
I just thought the shit'd be different
But something changed
The minute that I got a whiff of it
I started to inhale it
Smell it
Started sniffin' it
And it became my cocaine
I just couldn't quit
I just wanted a little bit
Then it turned me (in)to a monster
I became a hypocrite
Concert after concert

I was raking in the dough
Rolling in green
Had the game hemmed up
Like a sewing machine
But I was losing my freedom
There was no where for me
To not go and be seen
And just go and be me
And there was no in-between
You either loved it or hate it

Every CD, critics gave it a 3, then 3
Years later, they'd go back and re-rate it
And call the Slim Shady LP the greatest
The Marshall Mathers was a classic
The Eminem Show was fantastic
But Encore just didn't have the caliber to match it
I guess enough time just ain't passed, yet
A couple more years, that shit'll be ill-matic
And eight years later, I'm still at it
Divorce, re-married
A felon
A father
Sleeping pill addict
And this is real talk
I feel like the Incredible Hulk
My back has been broke, and I can still walk


So be careful what you wish for
'Cause you just might get it
And if you get it then you just might not know
What to do wit' it, 'cause it might just
Come back on you ten-fold

I said

Be careful what you wish for
'Cause you just might get it
And if you get it then you just might not know
What to do wit' it, 'cause it might just
Come back on you ten-fold

[Verse 2]

I got a letter from a fan, that said
He's been praying for me
Every day and for some reason
It's been weighing on my mind heavy
'Cause I don't read every
Letter I get, but something told me to go ahead and open it, but
Why would someone pray for you when they don't know you?
You didn't pray for me when I was local
And as I lay these vocals
I think of all the shit I had to go through
Just to get to where I'm at
I've already told you at least

A thousand times in these rhymes
I appreciate the prayer, but I already got
God on my side
And it's been one hell of a ride, hasn't it?
Just watchin' it from an opposite standpoint
Man, boy's got to look
And that's the only word I can think of right now
On how
To describe the shit
This is like a vibe you get
Go ahead and bob to it
Just watch what you wish for, 'cause I got the shit


So be careful what you wish for
'Cause you just might get it
And if you get it then you just might not know
What to do wit' it, 'cause it might just
Come back on you ten-fold

I said

Be careful what you wish for
'Cause you just might get it
And if you get it then you just might not know
What to do wit' it, 'cause it might just
Come back on you ten-fold

                Now, I’m not a musician and I never will be but there are parts of this song that speak deep into my soul. I am on the cusp of achieving a personal goal, nay a dream, which I’ve had for, well, all my life. A goal I’ve come so close to on two separate occasions but failed to follow through. The reasons for the lack of follow through were always beyond my control. This time, I put safeties in place so those reasons won’t reach into my life and stop me.

                I won’t go into the details right now but I will soon. There are a few strings left untied that require my attention but I just want you to know that one of my “Bucket List” items is about to be crossed off my extensive list. I wait with eager anticipation to draw a red line through this item. It has taken me thirty-eight years to get this close and I don’t want to jinx it by speaking of it too much. 

                Just know this my dear reader, my emotions are a bit frayed and the volcanic joy inside of me is almost too much to contain. I am putting my trust in the fates, God, and all the dead gods that they will smile down upon me and recognize I have tried to do my best to get to this point. Those smiles, those good thoughts and feelings can turn to magic and that magic is an unstoppable force for good.

                Right now, I need that magic.

                Wish me luck.

                Have a great week.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Enlightend Fast

                I missed it. I can’t believe I missed it but I did. I’m sure most of you didn’t but I did. Oh, you want to know what I’m talking about don’t you? Ok, it’s called Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday, otherwise known as overindulgence before you go into fast for forty days. Catholics call it lent, Christians in general call it fasting, and I have no idea what Zoro-Astrians call it, if they even call it anything. To tell you the truth, I don’t think the ZA’s know about that particular calendar day and I don’t think they would care.
                I am usually more diligent in my own disciplines about fasting, resolutions and opportunities for self-enlightenment challenges. This year however, I seem to have been so busy I missed the news reports, internet photographs and all the events leading up to this month plus ten of introspective reflection. But you know, now that I think about it, I don’t really think I need to spend these weeks doing those sort of activities. After all, I do manage to critique myself on an almost daily basis through this blog and some conversations with folks close to me. Given those conversations are fewer and farther between these days but I still manage to hold intelligent conversations even if it is with myself or a character or two in my stories.
                In the past I’ve managed to either give up something for this time of the year but five years ago I started to take on added responsibilities instead of giving things up. Most of the time it was prayer or meditation, but now, at this point in my life, I don’t know if I should take on anything, give up something? I don’t know. Nothing is jumping into my frontal lobes screaming for attention this year. I don’t know why this is but I have some good guesses and over the course of my life, I have come to depend on them. So much so that I have told a few people about them and wouldn’t you know it, they came true.
                Initially, I was going to write this blog about the craziness of Fat Tuesday and Maundy Monday but I just couldn’t bring myself to walk down that particular path of degradation. I’m not above that sort of reflection but I just don’t feel up to it right now. I’m too tired and I don’t think anyone wants to hear about some misspent days of my youth while my vision was not focused on what was important in life. Besides, if we always focused on what evils we have done, we would never pull ourselves out of the mire and muck of our ids. Or would we?
                In case you don’t know what I’m talking about, the season of lent or fasting is a time for individuals to reflect upon their lives and try and become a better person. Christians say it is a time to focus on Christ and God. Atheists laugh at Christians. Ok, maybe laugh is a bit harsh, and I say this because I know some atheists and they say one should always focus on doing right and being moral. It’s weird, when I was younger I thought they, atheists, were evil and out to destroy the world, but I was wrong. For the most part, from the non-believers I know that is, don’t care either way about faith, God and religion. They are just happy to be who they are and don’t really want anyone’s beliefs or issues shoved down their throat or pushed in their face. I can respect that. After all, we are a nation who does not recognize one official religion. Which I find really cool.
                For me, I’ve always struggled with my religion, not faith; I am a believer that is for sure. But religion in general has always rubbed me the wrong way. I am a non-conformist by nature. I fight everything or at least question it. Maybe not verbally but I do. And when I can’t find the answer to what perplexes me, I find the answer. I rarely go to someone for the answer but when I do, I take what they tell me with a grain of salt, and then I go and research the topic and draw my own conclusions. This type of skepticism is not for everyone. I don’t recommend it for anyone, unless you want to discover who is a hypocrite, false prophet or even an outright liar.
                Through it all though, one message has become clear to me, a message I won’t post here because it is not the same message for everyone. You have to discover the answers to your own questions in your own time and in your own way. Find your own enlightenment so to speak, but know this, if you do decide to walk down the path of knowledge you will be disappointed along the way. The path is not just filled with traps and dangers but crevices filled with doubt, pain and loneliness. It is not a journey for everyone. I’ve been traveling for years down this road which seems to have no end, and truth be told, I don’t think I will ever come to the end. Because this is neither an expressway nor even a cow path, it is a trek one only hopes to make it halfway through.
                If you do choose to take this path, I can only recommend you learn patience quickly because most of the people you talk to will most assuredly try them until you are ready to explode.

                Have a great week.

Monday, February 11, 2013

The Greatest Generation?

               It’s currently 64 degrees Fahrenheit at 945 pm on a Monday night. I’m sitting on my porch; the cloudless and moonless night greets me with its welcoming arms. I have cued up my entire Miles Davis collection on my Zune player and a mild breeze sweeps away my lingering cigar smoke. It has been one ridiculously stress filled day here in the heart of the South and all I’ve wanted to do, through three meetings, two jobs and endless interruptions is get to where I am now to empty my brain of these thoughts.
                I don’t know where the idea for today’s blog came from but I can say, it has been stirring around in my mind for a while now. I suppose, and this is not too much of a stretch for me, the formations of these thoughts have roots in the last book sale I went to at the public library. I arrived a few minutes early and since I know most of the volunteers who operate and maintain the sale I was allowed in before most everyone else. Normally I shun this sort of preferential treatment but for the past six months, book dealers and antique dealers have been coming into the sale with their large plastic totes and their ISBN scanners and purchasing every small press book, American literature book, history book and anything else they believe they can make a profit from.
                This type of capitalism does not normally bother me, why should it, they are trying to make a living like everyone else. Except they are rude about what they are doing and block the aisles from the regular folks who are trying to find a decent book or two at a good price for their own enjoyment. Also, they leave behind in their wake, bookshelves torn asunder and in a rather embarrassing state of pell-mell. Some regulars whom I’ve seen and spoken with for the past twenty years have even gone so far as to not attending their monthly fix of pulp paper. It is sad really. But I digress…
                On with my point…
                It was while I was on my solitary journey amongst these tomes that I observed a stack of four books identical in nature. “The Greatest Generation” By Tom Brokaw was emblazoned on the spine of each one of these books. I remember when this book came out. I didn’t have the money for it at the time but I borrowed it from a friend and read every juicy page from cover to cover. I was stunned at what I read and what the men and women of our country did during World War II. So much so that it made me watch a ton of war movies and wishing I could have been part of such a world defining age group.
                Seeing these five lonely books sitting there on that shelf made me sad and I picked one up with the full intention of purchasing as I made my way back to the American Literature section. Arrival at this unmarred section brought an instant smile to my face as I saw a large hardback first edition of Hemmingway’s “For Whom the Bell Tolls”. Now, if you haven’t read this book. Don’t worry, I won’t judge you. The story is about a man who is fighting during the Spanish Civil War and he is supposed to blow up a bridge. If you want to know more, you’ll have to read it. But as I stood there with a book on America’s “Greatest Generation” and a fiction book on a revolution in Spain it got me thinking about which generation is the greatest. I am no expert in American or World History, but I was in quite a quagmire.
                I set the Brokaw book down on a nearby shelf, pulled up a chair and started to page through the Hemmingway book. Prose I’d forgotten leapt out of the pages at me in and made me giddy with excitement. I envy the way Papa was able to construct his sentences. I feel the same way every time I read Vonnegut, Salinger, Huxley, Orwell and even Old Bill. I don’t know how long I sat there tuning pages and reading bits of paragraphs, but I do know the book dealers had been let in because one of them dropped a tote at my feet and started to lean over me with his scanner, he was soon emptying the shelves of their treasures. He caught me looking at him and asked me what I was looking at. I told him, he then offered me twenty bucks for the book on the spot. I told him to pound bricks.
                I got up and walked away with my prize. I paid a whopping buck seventy-five for the book and went back to work. 
                All of this took place two weeks ago, and somewhere in the recesses of my mind I suppose I had not stopped thinking about that one important question.
                What is the greatest generation of our country?
                Is it the men and women of the mid-twentieth century who fought two separate nations for peace?  A generation who came up with nuclear weapons? Fighter jets? Modern warfare techniques all the while asking the civilian population to go on food rations, gas rations, and sacrifice for the greater good of mankind?
                Is it the generation of men and women who were the offspring of the returning soldiers and sailors? Men and women who gave us rock and roll? Disenfranchised youth? Recreational drugs? Two wars in foreign countries with no discernible win or lose?
                Was it the generation of men and women who built the industrial age and modernized machines in factories across this nation?
                Or, was it the generation of men and women who built this country by committing acts of treason against a king three thousand miles away. Men who were full time farmers and part time politicians who took upon their shoulders the burdens of a young upstart nation trying to find a voice in world politics with little or no help. Men and women who sacrificed their homes, families and ancestry so there would be a future for everything else that would follow in their unknown path of what they believed was right.
                Yes, I do believe it was men with names like Jefferson, Washington, Hamilton, Adams, Franklin, Revere, Mason, Payne, Jones and many, many more. Men whose names are on the lips of every American and the women who supported them in all of their endeavors.
                Yes, I do believe our founding fathers were our greatest generation because without them and the people who supported them and believed in them we would not be the nation who fought gallantly in the many conflicts that threatened the safety of not just our continent but all the continents of our world. Without their sacrifice we would not have had the great writers, inventors and industrialists that formed our country.
                Now, I’m not just sitting here waving a flag for Mom, apple pie, truth and justice. There are a lot of things wrong in our country today and we are on the brink of collapse every day. We are fighting more wars for longer periods of time with no foreseeable conclusion. We have poverty, starvation and a generation of people raised to believe they are entitled to have whatever they want and damn the cost or who is going to pay for it. We live in a constant state of struggle but are still better off than seventy-five percent of the rest of the nations in the world. We are far from perfect and we have to maintain due diligence to keep the wolves at bay or bill collectors, take your pick.
                Brokaw, you are wrong but your book is brilliant.

Have a great week.

                PS. I know I left out some generations but in all fairness, I am writing in broad strokes tonight, besides, Miles is playing “All of You” and it is brilliant and makes me feel good all over.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Loose Rules

I just finished a short story due in March. By finished I mean the first draft is done. The story still needs to be edited and hacked to bits a few times before it is finalized and ready for public consumption. This will be my fourth published short story, which makes me happy in a way.  However; this story is not like the others. It is much less “in your face” and much more “read between the lines”. This makes me nervous. Because I’ve not really written any fiction in this manner and I’m not sure how it will be received. I also don’t know if I’m happy with it. Not that I’m ever satisfied with what I write but I put it out into the ether for you, my dear reader, to read.
            I’ve said before I really don’t consider myself much a writer, I look at what I do more as a relief valve for my life. You know, sort of like a pressure cooker valve that releases steam when needed.  My blog, this blog, is used for that purpose. My non-fiction, those are also used in a way for releasing pressure as well, but in a different manner. I normally talk to a pal or two here in my adopted home town about my writing but since both of them are unavailable, that leaves me to talk to you. Although, it is a one way conversation it will help me sort out my thoughts.
            Which brings me to what I’ve been working on in my writing; I have one tale which is growing into what could be a novel. Another story outlined and no word limit in mind and a third in the wings jumping up and down. The funny thing about these tales is they all want equal time to get out of my head and onto the page. They also have one other important detail as well, none of them fit into a particular genre. A pal of mine, Tom, told me everything I write and everything he writes fits into a “Speculative Fiction” category.
Mirriam-Websters defines “Speculative” as this:

1: involving, based on, or constituting intellectual speculation; also: theoretical rather than demonstrable <speculative knowledge>

2: marked by questioning curiosity speculative glance>

3: of, relating to, or being a financial speculation <speculative stocks> <speculative venture>

            My buddy Tom is correct. What I am writing fits perfectly into this category. But then again, all genres fall into this category. While I have primarily written horror shorts stories, I have also written a crime story, a redemptive story, a spiritual story and a supernatural tale. As a matter of fact I am also working on a series of tales which revolve around one particular character. It seems everything I write falls into this broad category and few publishers like a wide variety of fiction. They seem to like to pigeon hole a writer into “Fantasy”, “Science Fiction”, “Horror”, “Romance”, “Literature”, “Suspense”, “Crime”, or many of the other genres which are available to readers across the globe.
            So I am in a quandary here with my fiction. Care to help?
            On another note, I’ve had two people this past week send me inquiries about blogging. Yes, I do consider myself a blogger, and my history on here is proof to that. I enjoy writing my blogs and sharing with those who take time to read them the nuggets of frustration, insanity, fears and even the odd story of my life on here. I try to be as open and honest with you fine folks here. Also, I try to protect my family and others who may not appreciate being characters in these blogs.
            So, I shall put down here for all to read some of my personal rules of blogging:
1.      Try not to blog angry.
2.      Take into account other people’s privacy. They may not want their laundry out in the world.
3.      Write every day. Even if it is in your mind or on a scrap piece of paper.
4.      Set a deadline for your blog. Whether it is weekly, daily, bi-weekly or monthly. Readers like to read. Give them something to read.
5.      Use “Spell Check” and “Grammar Check”.
6.      Remember, everything you write is not everything you should post.
7.      You will upset some people. (Ask my Mother.)
8.      Avoid political and religious topics. Unless it is pertinent to a situation. But never disparage another person’s opinion or belief.
9.      Everything you post will never go away.
10.  Be truthful.
There you go. Those are the rules I try to go by when I blog. I also have a loosey-goosey rule where I try to not review movies, books or food. I do make exceptions of course but for the most part, I don’t. Besides there are a million sites on the net that do those sorts of things and the last thing you want to do is be another voice screaming in a crowded stadium.
This is my blog for the week. I know, nothing earth shattering or insightful.
Have a great week.