Archives for April 2013

Where Can You Buy A Fortress of Mostly Quiet?

wallpaper - The ISLAND

Almost 9 PM and Dylan is singing about The Mighty Quinn while I try to figure out the answers to hard questions.

You can tie them into If You Could Do Anything What Would You Do? and When Is Failure An Option-2011 Edition. But you could tie them into a bunch of other things beyond that too, things I don’t feel like sharing here because believe it or not sometimes blogging has boundaries.

The music has moved on and Mr. Dylan and I are Knocking On Heaven’s Door, but I am not giving up my guns yet. Take the badge if you want and grab whatever else you need but my guns stay with me.

I might not be the sheriff any more but I am more than a mercenary and a gunslinger doesn’t lay down his sidearm until he is dead and or buried. I most certainly don’t fit either one of those descriptions so I am going to hang on these bad boys for a bit longer.

Forever Young

We like to think time won’t ever catch up with us and that somehow we’ll be the one who figures out what no one else has. Sometimes I still believe it to be true. I know that for now the grim reaper and I have an understanding.

He stays far away so that I don’t defenestrate his bony ass. It is the same reason the devil won’t leave Georgia, I am too fucking mean to deal with or at least they think I am and for now that is enough.

Enough is what I work towards and want, a sense of enough. A feeling of contentment and fullness but I don’t quite have it yet.

That is not necessarily a bad thing, I am still a young man.

I might not be young enough to pretend not to have responsibilities because I have plenty of those which is part of why I am sitting here with this pensive expression.

At least I hope it is pensive, I really am aiming for thoughtful but there is a good chance it is just goofy.

A Fortress Of Mostly Quiet

A Fortress of Mostly Quiet would be good. I don’t need complete solitude, just a place where I can work uninterrupted for a while. There are people who are impeding my progress and my intuition says that I ought to ask them to move out of the way.

If they choose not to move they can be the recipient of my throat punch Tuesday award with the added benefit of being able to collect a boot to the head three times a week.

The hard choices I am working on now are not the sort of things you can ignore nor can you predict the outcome with the sort of certainty I would like. I know what I want to do but I haven’t figured out yet if the choice is a viable option so I am reviewing other things.

Ultimately the uncertainty is wearing a bit on me which is part and parcel of why I am extra grumpy. Thankfully I am not handicapped by having to admit that I am from cleveland because than I might really be screwed. You know those clevelanders are a bunch of screwballs, but we won’t go into that right now.

Move Up A Row

My grandparents are all gone now so I have moved up a row in the family ranks. It is not a bad thing but lately I have very much felt their presence and been frustrated by not being able to speak with them.

I made a point to go into a cigar shop and close my eyes. For a moment I was a little boy again and I could see my grandfathers sitting in front of my parent’s home smoking their cigars.

They stopped smoking them when I was around 13 or 14 so it has been years since one of those moments actually took place, but I reveled in the memory of men who knew I could do anything.

And then the moment was gone and I felt a whisper of disappointment at not being able to have a real conversation. We’re heading on almost two years for one and seven for the other.

Mr. Dylan has moved on to other topics and now so have I.

Do You Blog Without Shame?

Inside 4151

Someone asked me if I wonder or worry about the numbers. They want to know if I am worried about how many readers I have, how many followers, likes, circles etc.

The honest answer is sometimes.

Sometimes it feels like I am driving an empty bus up, down and around town and I wonder about what I am doing and if I should do it differently.

I know how to build a community and write headlines that attract attention. I know how to make this place shake, rattle and roll.  It usually happens when I blog without shame.

Write From The Heart

Sometimes it feels to me like my blogging rhythm follows Babe, I am Gonna Leave You. If you are not familiar with it go look it up on iTunes and download as much Led Zeppelin as you can handle.

What are you waiting for? Begone!

Go get the goddamn music and then come back.

There is a rise and fall that comes with my writing and my desire to visit other blogs.

Some of that is because my time is limited and some because I just don’t care as much as I did about trying to drum up business around here.

It doesn’t hold the same interest because my focus is on writing. It is on figuring how to make the words weep off of the page so that your heart breaks and or finding a way to make your soul sing.

That is why I keep tapping into the pain of the past and the present. It is why I try to remember what it felt like to be broken and shattered. It is why I try to set the demons free and let the anger flow.

Write from the heart.

Sometimes It is Scary

Sometimes it is scary to try to tear down the walls that I spent time erecting. Sometimes I wonder if I am sharing information I shouldn’t. Sometimes I wonder if the unfiltered version (which is really not very different from the filtered) is creating issues.

Flip through the posts here and you’ll find all sorts of stuff. There are posts where I talk about the tears that don’t fall and posts where I talk about the things my children say. Some of those kid posts are pretty good.

You haven’t lived until you have explained where babies come from and had your  daughter ask how far the penis goes in. I punted on that one and said “ask your mom.”

One day I’ll remind my son about how that baby talk went with him and how he told people I ‘peed on mom.”  In my family leaving out details sometimes leads to conclusions that aren’t always correct. Apparently I failed to talk about semen with him.

Boy, this post ought to be great for my SEO efforts.

Tear through this joint and you’ll find other stuff where I am just exposed in ways I would never do in person. So I ask myself what happens when I blog without shame.

What About Promotion?

Sometimes blogging without shame is where I ask you to become a fan of my Facebook page or to sign up for my newsletter.

Sometimes I think about spending a couple of bucks on Facebook ads to help that along because I hear stories about how much easier it is to find an agent. Sometimes I think about self publishing and how it would still benefit me to build a bigger platform.

Access to more people means a better chance of hitting that home run, of finding that special formula for magical moments and success. Because you never know about exposure, one person might be the man/woman who can make your dreams come true

And then you look at these posts and think, you wrote about beating up a man with processed meat and about fighting a clown. You blogged about a talking penis and what it was like to watch your uncle die from AIDS.

You wrote about how to become a better writer and shared a million other stories about your kids.

Who the hell are you and why would anyone take the time to care.

I am just the guy who blogs without shame…mostly.

Who are you?

“No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.”― Robert Frost

How Not To Age Gracefully

Dwight Clark and Everson Walls, San Francisco, Calif., 1982
They take their football seriously in Texas.

There were two of them sitting at the bar talking about the draft and what they think their team should do. When I sat down they took a moment to look up at me and went back to staring at the talking heads on the screen above the bar.

I wasn’t there to drink or hang out.  The mission was simple, order a meal for takeout and then go back home where it would be quiet enough to hear my thoughts without effort.

The place was packed so the bartender told me it might be twenty minutes before my meal was ready. He asked if I wanted a drink and I said to bring me whatever was good and on tap.

So I grabbed a seat and stared up at the screen. I wasn’t really paying attention to much of anything, but I figured the commercials would be more interesting than being forced to listen to the guy next to me try to talk the pants off of the woman on his right.

The guys on my left were at an impasse about whether the Cowboys quarterback was worth his contract and asked me to weigh in. I told them it didn’t matter because they weren’t going anywhere this season, too many other issues and an owner who was a pest meant they would be done before it all began.

I heard a voice from behind my left shoulder say I was wrong and that I didn’t know what I was talking about.

“You might be right, maybe I don’t.”

Twenty years ago I might have chosen to engage, but I had no interest doing so now. I just wanted to grab my food and go.

“You give up easy for someone who sounded so certain he was right.”

Jeans, boots and a University of Texas t-shirt were his evening attire. Might have been in his early twenties, might have been older. Couldn’t say one way or another. Guess I have reached the point where it is harder for me to distinguish some of these things. Twenty-five or 30, it looks about the same to me.

“Not that big a deal to me. I don’t care if the Cowboys win or lose. Not my team.”

“You shouldn’t talk shit then. If they aren’t your team, why are you talking.”

I made a point to take a harder look at him and sat up a bit straighter in my chair. I made eye contact and asked him where his friends were. I did my best to say it with a smile but made sure my eyes were flat.

“Why are you getting in my business. What is your fucking problem!”

Twenty years ago my forehead would have already been pressed against his and I would have intentionally marching him towards a corner. I liked those corners. If I got jammed I would try to slam him against the wall.

I didn’t have many of those occasions but when I did it usually worked out in my favor. The wall always lived up to its end of the deal and was completely unforgiving. One of the boys once told me he thought it was unfair.

“I don’t want to be the guy in the hospital bed who says he fought fair.”

It was true then and it is true now, but the difference is that a forty something year old man doesn’t want to fight period.  Toby Keith is right, I can be as good as I once was, but I respect the “once” part of it.

Got too many responsibilities and I have no interest in adding to the mystery aches and pains I already carry around.

The kid was a couple of inches taller than I am and had spent at least a few minutes in the weight room. What I wasn’t sure of whether he had done more with his bad attitude than wave it around at people. Sometimes all it took to adjust one of those was a fist to the mouth, but not always.

Twenty years ago you didn’t have kids growing up with the desire to become an MMA fighter. That doesn’t mean we didn’t get into fights because we did, but there wasn’t the same sort of mystique around it.

Nor did we have the YouTube effect. You didn’t fuck with people so that your friends could film and upload the event.

The challenge for the moment was to try and prevent this from escalating. Instead of responding I just stared at him and took another sip of my beer. Sometimes silence is intimidating.

He spat out a bunch of insults and tried to get me to engage but I remained silent…almost.

The man child who I once was was roused from his slumber. I’d like to say he took control of my mouth but that is not entirely true. I was mostly aware that calling the kid in front of me “a stupid fucking Aggie” would have some impact.

A thousand years ago when I was in college my friends at that school in Austin always used “Aggie” as a term that was less than endearing. I sort of figured that this kid might be offended and he was. Or  maybe he wasn’t. Maybe it was just the excuse he needed.

He tried to use my old trick of trapping a guy against an object but he wasn’t as smart as I was because the bar doesn’t provide the same utility as the wall so my head didn’t smack against anything.

In a movie I would have smashed my beer against his head, watched him slump over and then asked the bartender for another drink. But that didn’t happen here. I am not really sure what happened to my beer, but I am guessing he ended up wearing part of it.

When he wrapped his arms around me I started pounding on whatever part of his body I could reach, grabbed onto one of his ears and yanked hard. I got him with knee to the face before I was pulled off of him.

I like to think that it took four or five men to make that happen, but it probably didn’t.

A couple of days later I am grateful that I didn’t go to jail and that I didn’t break anything. But I hurt in ways that I haven’t for years.

Parts of me make an eggplant look white and I am eating Ibuprofen like candy. It might be a week before I don’t go to sleep in a bath tub filled with ice.

Blog As Bully Pulpit

Western Wall_1839

Musical Prologue

  • I Will Wait For You- Mumford and Sons
  • All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight- Hank Williams, Jr.
  • Misty Mountains-The Hobbit
  • Hard Hearted Hannah- Ray Charles

Change is all around us. This post was going to be about what happens when bloggers bully. It was going to refer to some recent incidents that set off some subsets of the blogosphere.

I was going to write about the hysteria and lack of common sense. I was going to share how much traffic I generated from using a headline about “Spitting and Swallowing” that had nothing to do with sex but something sent me in a different direction.

Don’t know what it was, but I heard something that made me think of An Uncertain Certainty and decided a different direction was important. When changes occur you have to roll with them, do your best to adapt and adjust and move.

That reminded me again about the post I was going to write and how I wanted to talk about the blog as a bully pulpit and how often it is meaningless but decided that at 1:45 AM it makes no sense to write about such narishkeit.

So here I am sharing a post I wrote a few years back about dreams and the pride I feel because I have already managed to do some of the things on that list and am actively working on others.

And now my friends I wonder if you are dreaming your life away or living your dreams.

See you in the comments.

What I Dream About

My mother tells me that my preschool teachers used to tell her that they were certain that I would grow up to be a writer. They said that I had a very active imagination. They were right, I did and still do have a very active imagination.

I dream in bright colors and crystal clear images. I see movies play in my mind and wonder why I can’t turn them into reality. I am not Walter Mitty, although I suppose that we share some traits. I am a dreamer but I am not someone who intentionally misleads other into believing that I am someone other than who I am.

I dream about writing books and becoming a published author. I dream about becoming a columnist and writing screenplays. I dream about becoming a doctor, a scientist and a teacher. I dream about playing left field for the Dodgers and power forward for the Lakers.

I dream about building a castle and manning the walls. I dream about traveling around the world and quiet moments at home. I dream about places and things that make me smile. I dream about MLBF and having a home library. A place with built in shelves and big overstuffed chairs.

I dream about owning a private jet and island getaways. I dream about living out the stories and promises and whispers of the night. I dream about that kiss and the moments in time. I dream about walking those roads in Jerusalem again.

I dream about doing the Ironman and the incredible amount of work it will take to get there. I dream about carving and reshaping my body so that it once again looks as I remember it.

I dream about many years from now when my children are grown and wonder if the visions I see will resemble reality. I dream of long walks on the beach and quiet drives up the coast.

I dream about writing songs and playing music. And sometimes I dream about being granted the talent and ability to perform them.

I have many dreams, far more than I have shared here. There are endless details that I could list but haven’t. Some of these dreams will become reality and others will remain unfilled. The ultimate goal is to see that I don’t look back in regret. I don’t want to have a life that ends in I could have but didn’t.

I want a life that is more than that. It is not to much too ask for. I may dream big, but I am willing to do things to make them into something more.

How Will Pinterest Save Me Today

Jousting

Relax grammar nazis, I know you are upset about the lack of punctuation in the headline and I don’t care. Wonder and worry why there is no question mark, period or exclamation point.

Makes no difference to me because the point is I wanted it to be ambiguous. I want it to be unclear because I am unclear about a few things right now. And lacking clarity I thought about Pinterest not because I want to stare at pretty, frilly and shiny things but because I like quotes and I have a partial collection there.

Channeling Harry Chapin

My son turned 12 last year and we are in the process of planning his Bar Mitzvah. It is going to take place around the tail end of this year and I am excited, nervous and amazed.

The little guy isn’t so little anymore. He is in middle school now and we have these conversations that blow me away.

Some of them are flat out funny, some are scary and some are just fine.

Sometimes I see signs of the little boy he used to be. Sometime he makes a gesture and I remember the baby who I used to hold like a football and how I wondered what he would be like when he got older.

And then the moment is gone and I see someone much older and I hear the present juxtaposed with the future. He is happy to talk to me, but he has things to do. I hear his voice and the tone is mine, the same one I use when I have to tell my dad I have things to do.

There are other things, other moments that bring out the whole Cats In The Cradle thing and I realize that everything I was ever told about kids growing up quickly is correct.

Who They Are and Who We Are

I am working as hard as I ever have to build a future for my kids that is different and better than what they have had. And that is not knocking what they have had because it has been good, but I am dad and my job is to find a way to kick it up a notch.

Part of that is tied into the changes I have made. Part of it is tied into the things I have done to make my personal satisfaction with life better and more complete because a happier father is a good thing for the kids.

And so I look at what is coming and try to plan for what I can. I look down the road and think about things and sometimes it makes me feel a bit crazy and I wonder if there is a quote that I can look at. I wonder if there are words that I can use when I write this next post or work on telling another story.

I work on building a deeper foundation so they have more to lean on should they need it and I see glimpses of a time when they won’t be living with me any longer and I’ll wonder if they are going to come home from school or if they are going to stay in the dorm.

Values

The Bar Mitzvah is tied into all of it. It is another chance to make an impression upon the kids about our values. I won’t break the bank to put it on, but I’ll put something nice together because it is important.

This time of life for him is about to get even crazier.

Middle school, almost done with the first year and I can see how some of these kids are on hormonal overdrive. I can see these kids testing limits and trying to really figure things out for themselves.

It is filled with teaching moments and opportunities.

And I sit down and do my best to make good decisions for all of us. There is no way to balance it all, but it is impossible and wrong not to try.

So I do my best and shrug my shoulders because my gut says it will all work out.

Pinterest Again

I am not a huge Steve Jobs fan, but this one is appropriate because it describes my son. He isn’t driven or concerned with being popular. He knows what he wants and is going after it.

I hope he continues to always do so.

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”