Archives for September 2012

Indiana Jones Meets Han Solo Meets The iPhone

Five Things I Know About Writing

  1. It is not hard to write but it is exceptionally difficult to edit.
  2. The best writers are voracious readers.
  3. Great characters have layers. They are flawed.
  4. There are rules that you must follow.
  5. Break the damn rules…repeatedly.

You might be surprised to learn that I write these posts for myself as much as I write them for you. That is because even though I feel like I am a competent writer I am convinced that I have room for substantial growth and improvement.

Part of that is predicated upon my ability to pull back the curtain and find out what sorts of tricks the wizard uses to make his magic. The most obvious one to me is that I produce enormous amounts of content in a variety of styles for the sole purpose of trying to get better.

Writing is a skill and like any other it is something that practice can help us improve upon. But I have to tell you that I get as frustrated by writing as you do.

There are more than a few moments where I read my words and wonder what the hell I am doing and why people read them. I try to remind myself to follow the advice you see here and produce content that is useful, practical and actionable.

I respond to prompts like those found in the Write on Edge, Yeah Write and Just Write communities because that is a place where I have found others who are trying their hand out at this writing business.

Community makes a difference as does honesty.

I share certain things with you because I think you will relate and that perhaps it will help us grow together. And I do it because I teach my children to act in a similar fashion and it would be hypocritical not to follow my own advice.

 

Just WriteThat is my motto. Tune out the infernal voice of the internal editor and just write. Put pen to paper and let the words flow.

I don’t always hit a home run but I feel good about things because I think I am making progress. I think my writing has progressively gotten stronger and that I am better at this than I was when I started.

That is growth and reward with incentive standing just over the horizon.

What about you? Do you feel like your writing is getting better? Do you care about it? Does it matter to you? It is ok if it doesn’t, but since I know some of my fellow scribes are hanging out here I figure I might as well ask.

P.S. This story is mostly fiction.

Silver Bracelets

40+117 Sucka Punch!

You never want to look back upon your day while sitting handcuffed in the back of a squad car and wonder how it could have gone to hell so quickly.

That is the kind of story that someone else should tell. It is the kind of thing that you never want to remember because it never happened to you, but sometimes lightning strikes and things happen.

It was a day that had started out with much promise. My girlfriend decided to wake me up in a most memorable way and had it stayed that way it would have been a very good day indeed.

I remember staring at the ceiling with a big grin plastered across my face. If she had asked me to marry her at that moment in spite of my young age I most assuredly would have.

Heck I would have said yes to almost anything she asked but then the universe in its esteemed wisdom decided that I had used up all of the pleasure I was entitled to that day.

Our moment was interrupted by a loud bang and many tears. Decorum won’t allow me to describe exactly what happened when she was startled but suffice it to say that my own tears were almost shed then too.

You see the interruption was created by the entrance of my girlfriend’s best friend and roommate. Her name was Sally Jo but at that particular moment I might have called her $#Q%$@T%.

Her fiancée had just dumped her and that little kerfuffle was the reason why she felt entitled to come flying into the room.

I know this might sound selfish, but I was less than pleased to see her and not just because I was hurt in the process. However I was smart enough not to ask her to step outside and wait.

“Baby, I am really sorry. I hope I didn’t hurt you. I promise I’ll make it up to you tonight, but she needs me now.”

“No problem. I’ll shower at my place. Call me when you finish your chem lab and we’ll get dinner.”

She didn’t wait for an answer and as I walked out the door she headed over to the other bedroom.
Moments later the day continued its unexpected assault upon my smile. A $50 parking ticket graced my windshield.

In between curses I thanked my hormones for leading me to this blessed place of blue balls, parking tickets and whatever else was to come.

The night before we had been too frantic to get upstairs to worry about street cleaning. My focus had been on getting busy and not reading parking signs.

That lack of focus was about to bite me in the ass again.

It was Tuesday morning and my group was supposed make a presentation in Professor Markowitz’s marketing class…in ten minutes.

Markowitz was a stickler for time and for appearance. He lectured us on what life would be like in the business world and said that people didn’t respect the unshaven, baseball cap wearing slobs who couldn’t be bothered to show up for work on time.

Our group was slated to go first and there was no way to go home and get to class in time.

As expected Markowitz made a point to mark me down for my attire. “Be thankful that you aren’t my employee because I wouldn’t tolerate this sort of insubordination from you.”

The points he took off were the difference between an ‘A’ and a ‘B.’

I was in a very bad mood when I left class so I went straight to the gym. Halfway through my workout I ran into several of my girlfriend’s and her roommates sorority sisters.

Maybe it was my own paranoia but I know girls talk about everything and I could have sworn they were pointing and laughing at me.

I might have gotten stuck trying to figure that out but my buddy Doug distracted me.

“Dude, my roommates and I have a case of Heineken left over from our last party. Want to swing by and help me make some space in the refrigerator.”

I smiled again. “I wouldn’t be much of a friend if I didn’t help you out in your time of need, now would I.”

Two hours and a six pack later my attitude is much improved and I have forgotten the craziness of the morning.

“Excuse me, got to drain the old weasel.”

Doug gives me a glassy eyed smile and a thumbs up and I make my way to a bathroom that would have made my mother shriek in horror.

“Doug, you obviously never have girls here because this kind of crap would never fly with them.”

The guy in the mirror nods his head at me and laughs when I tell him he looks like he might be drunk.

Suddenly there is a loud crash and I hear Doug screaming for help. I don’t know what happened but it doesn’t matter. I am 205 pounds of semi inebriated college student.

Doug’s almost like a fraternity brother so I have to look out for him so when I see him getting smacked around by some guy I don’t wonder about who he is or why he is there.

He never sees me coming and I land a shot on him that knocks him right on his ass. He surprises me by getting right back up and coming at me.

Nor will I stop to question why a guy in a black uniform is pulling me off of this guy. I wish that I had because then I might have been smart enough not to hit him or his partner.

My only excuse is that they grabbed me from behind so I didn’t know who they were.

Later on I’ll stare at the ceiling only this time I am lying in a small room with a steel toilet and some drunk guy.

Some days it doesn’t pay to get out of bed.

Fear, Anger and Ego

lug

Many of you know stories about The Big Lug whose countenance looks out at us. If you are among the 17 long time readers you might even remember when I wrote about the final goodbye.

I mention him because there are moments where I really miss talking with him. You won’t find a better listener or someone less judgmental. Of course it wasn’t always easy dealing with the beast who at 150 pounds still thought of himself as a lapdog.

Yet it was a small price to pay to have his counsel and to share the moments with. Today was a day where I realize I could have used him. It would have been good to talk to him about Fear, Anger and Ego.

Not Quite The Four Horsemen of The Apocalypse

Fear, Anger and Ego aren’t what you would call the four horsemen of the apocalypse. They are just three things that have been on my mind or should I say they are tied into many things that are on my mind.

Those three feelings are wrapped up in why I want to compete in the race I wrote about and why I want to do The Ironman. The hard truth is that I am not even close to being in the kind of shape I need to be in.

It hurts to look in the mirror and see what has become of me. My ego is bothered and bruised. I feel like I let my children down with this, but more importantly I let myself down.

That is not to say it is impossible to get back in shape because it is not- but it is not like it used to be. My 43 year-old body refuses to respond the way it used to and it irks me to no end.

All it used to take was a minor change in diet and some extra effort with the weights and things changed quickly. That is not happening like it used to so I suppose you could say I am afraid that I am going to find out that there is something wrong and I can’t do it.

But anger talks and it feeds my fire. When I let that sort of anger run through me I am able to push through some of the sets and things begin to move and to happen- so maybe fear has no place.

The Little Voices

The little voices of insecurity that have arrived are new to me. I am not used to it. I am a confident man and always have been, but there are other things that have happened that have made me question this and that.

Fear, Anger and Ego play a role there too. Fear makes me wonder if maybe I am missing something and whatever it is has created a block that it making trouble for me.

Fear makes me wonder if maybe it is obvious and I just can’t see it.

Anger berates me for my inability to figure out what should be obvious. I am not a stupid man so why do I not see it. Why can’t I figure it out.

Ego pats me on the back and advises me to just relax because I have always found a way and I will again- but those little voices keep murmuring.

lug

Those soft brown eyes and that massive head are here twice. That’s because this is what I would have talked to him about. I wouldn’t have been cryptic or oblique. I would have shared it all and then we would have gone for a run or a walk.

Hell, maybe he would have chosen to wrestle and we would have loved it.

If the Big Lug were still here I would have told him that I am still blogging and that sometimes I focus on being a dad blogger but I am working towards other things too.

I would have told him that I feel the clock ticking and that in spite of these voices my gut still says it will all work out. I would have told him about all that I have learned and talked to him about how I chose a harder path.

We would have talked about my children are thriving and how many good things exist because things are hard now but that is not a synonym for impossible or hopeless.

This is just the transition and it so happens I am scaling part of the mountain by myself. It is a temporary thing, but it is what it is right now.

I am just trying to do my best to make sure that Fear, Anger and Ego aren’t my sole companions.

This was part of Just Write #51.

Disconnected

They put that song on Thursday night and danced and by “they” I mean my children. I just stood in the back of the room and watched them sing, dance and laugh.

These two have a love/hate relationship which probably isn’t that different from many siblings. Of course when they come to their old man to complain I laugh and tell them I had more than twice as many siblings to deal with. And then for good measure I tell them how their aunts used to team up to take me on. That is part of the fun of being the only brother.

Every now and then at family gatherings the aunts will try to convince my children that I deserved it. They talk about how I locked them all in a bedroom or share other stories in which I allegedly terrorized them.

Dear reader, I have to tell you these scandalous fabrications and distortions of reality disappoint me. I was never anything but their trustworthy and loyal brother. I was their stalwart companion and defender. You couldn’t mess with my sisters and all of my BILs know that you still can’t or you will deal with me.

Call it the Animal House approach to dealing with sisters, “You can’t do that to our pledges, only we can do that to our pledges.”

Dancing Children

These dancing children of mine are a big part of why I have been somewhat disconnected from the blogosphere. Since they went back to school there has been a lot going on and it has required more time.

I don’t mind at all. It is part and parcel of being dad.

There have been big changes for all of us. I was an insider at the old school. I knew who was doing what and felt like I had plenty of influence within the PTA and elsewhere. Of course I could be wrong about that but my perception is that I wasn’t and I was good with that.

I don’t have that now, at least not yet. I am busy working hard to figure out how things work at the new school. I like knowing who has influence and who doesn’t. Part of that irks me because I am not a fan of politics.

But what I don’t miss from the private school world is knowing that the person with a bigger wallet has more influence than I do. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to be stroked or need a plaque with  my name on it.

The sort of influence I want lies in trying to help facilitate fundraisers and school activities.

A New Rhythm

So we are in this new world where we are figuring out a new rhythm and a new routine. Instead of one school there are two and that presents other challenges.

Speaking of rhythm that son of mine has a little and I have almost none. The little mister who used to tell me he would never get married and said that girls were the devil is changing right in front of our eyes.

If we are watching a movie and there is any sort of kissing he turns his head away and groans. Sometimes out of the corner of my eye I see him trying to watch and I see the future coming. I hear the conversations his friends have and I remember being 12.

Girls are slowly changing and it won’t be long before I have a new challenge to deal with.

That has never been the case with my daughter. She has always liked boys. She tells me that she likes a few but assures me that she doesn’t want a boyfriend. Sometimes she’ll try to get a reaction out of me by saying she thinks one day she’ll want to kiss one.

Princesses and Ponies Meet Soccer

The little rascal still loves her Disney Princesses and still wants to ride the ponies but I see the future coming with her too. Soccer practice hits twice a week and I watch my girl run through other girls to get to the ball.

Her ponytail bounces along and she is intent on getting to the ball before the others. I love watching her play and here I will admit that I love that she plays with the same mindset as I do. It is a joy to watch.

My son plays differently and he is also a joy to watch. He is more of a thinker and I see him plotting out what moves to make. He does that in all aspects of his life and I love it too.

But I will confess that I hope he learns to love the contact side of the sport too. If he does that it will enhance his game and he’ll really take it up a notch.

Professional photograph of a person/group from...

Professional photograph of a person/group from around the turn of the 19th/20th century: siblings (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sometimes my crew look as happy as these two do, but the moments I remember most are of them dancing like they were the other night. Those smiles were electric and that is the kind of charge I can’t ever get enough of.