Archives for February 2016

Some Writers Ignore The Oscars

One day my books will be on a shelf like the one in the featured photo but I hope that if they look like they are worn it is not because of age but because of use.

You might wonder if this is connected to why I say some writers ignore the Oscars and I’ll nod my head and smile at you.

I’ll tell you about how I am listening to Carole King sing Home Again and say if you are very lucky you’ll have someone who doesn’t just listen, but hears that song with you.

There is something special, something magical about having that person who shares a song with you, doesn’t have to be one that anybody but you two can hear either.

The Reason I’m Not Watching The Oscars

It has nothing to do with politics or anything of import to anyone other than me.

The reason is I am ambivalent about most of the awards and am focused on doing what I can to make that dream I shared above into something more than just a dream.

That means I have to take the time to write and to do it when the words flow freely and when they don’t.

It means sometimes it is convenient and sometimes it is not. Success doesn’t come without some talent and some luck, but more than anything else it doesn’t come without hard work.

Put in the time, put in the effort and put in the hours and you position yourself for good things to come to you.

That is what I tell my kids, my friends and more importantly…myself.

The blog helps me provide proof of such things, if ever I doubt it I find evidence in posts like Who Knew That High School Would Be Connected To Retirement?

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If we agree with King life becomes much easier and in my case I do, I write because it makes me happy.

It is the best way I know to figure out what I think, what I want, what I need and what I intend to do about it all.

When I flip through the pages and come across something like More Than Heaven Will Allow I smile because I see more than raw potential.

I see past and present moving to the future.

And I do that knowing some people will scratch their heads and wonder what the fuck I am talking about. Some will read these words and be infuriated for reasons they can’t figure out the same way others will be moved in a positive way.

Some will read these words and be infuriated for reasons they can’t figure out the same way others will be moved in a positive way.

That is the point, to move people, not just me, but you.

And to do so knowing full well that once you put your pen to paper and dump the contents of your head upon it you no longer have control of how your words will be interpreted and understood.

The funny thing about it is that your understanding can change too. Time, age and experiences impact it all.

It Doesn’t Matter If People Read

Carole has moved onto singing Tapestry and it occurs to me the first ten thousand times I heard this song I didn’t appreciate it.

I was too young, too this or too that.

But today, now, I am in a much different place and it touches me.

This is what my grandfather meant when he said you can’t screw an old head on young shoulders.

Life experiences make all the difference in how and why we appreciate or don’t appreciate some things.

An Intermission

It is why when my son asked me if I was going to do anything besides criticize him I laughed.

“Dad, it is not funny.”

“Sure it is, ask grandpa and he’ll tell you to suck it up the same way he told me to.”

“I don’t have to make the same mistakes you did.”

“No, you don’t. Be smarter than I was. Do a better job of managing expectations and don’t make me ask you 15 times to do what you already should have done.”

“Stop asking me.”

“I am not fucking around any longer. I am going to log into Verizon and turn off your phone. Then you can call grandpa and ask how I responded to that.”

“You didn’t have a cellphone. That is not a fair example.”

“Life isn’t fair. I love you which is why I am riding you about this. Get it done. Manage your time better. Be smarter than I was and you won’t hear from me about it.”

He glares at me, walks away and I know he is going to test me on this. I have to smile, because I would have done the same, but still I hope he proves me wrong.

End Of Intermission

There is always someone who knows better than you and I. Always a critic who will tell us how we should have done something and some of them might actually be right.

But then again they might not be.

We who wish to be taken seriously as writers can’t afford to worry about whether people will read our words.

We have to write. We have to write. We have to write.

Somewhere in between the periods and pauses we’ll look up and see someone has noticed our work.

Someone will respond and react.

That is my belief.

That is my approach.

Remember when I called myself a professional itinerant?

Well maybe that is tied into my having more adventures and experiences to write about. Maybe that is what I need to help push me into pulling out the write words.

Or maybe it is not.

Either way it doesn’t matter to me because I am going to write and write and write and rest assured that good things will come from that.

You Can’t Fear Failure

I told Jericho that if I knew how to sing the way I know how to write I would sing a song for her and that it was guaranteed to tear down all of the walls.

Maybe one or two of you will read the words I wrote in that link so very long ago, maybe you’ll understand what I mean what I say we met in a place that no longer exists as people we no longer or maybe not.

It is always nice to know that you are not alone and that people understand you.  Not always necessary, but reassuring.

Funny to look back upon those days and to hear the echoes of the past and to see how they connect to the echoes of the future knowing that who we once were isn’t indicative of who we are going to be or is it.

If you are the kind of person who believes there is something more than just random circumstance and that there might be something more to the interactions and engagement between people you might nod your head when I say the energy feels different now.

What Speaks To You

Someone spent a chunk of time reading Are You Hanging Out With Arnold Schwarzenegger?

I don’t know who or why they did, but I am grateful that I saw it in my stats and chose to revisit that post.

Why?

Because the video inside that post speaks to me, it resonates and moves me.

I relate to it and find it to be motivational and I need some extra motivation right now. I need a little kick-in-the-ass to push myself a little bit harder and go a little bit farther.

Life has been challenging and difficult as of late and I needed this reminder. I needed to take a moment to close my eyes and review my mental list of success and gratitude.

It is something I try to do on a regular basis.

Why?

Because I am impatient and I sometimes forget how far I have come. When the floor gave out in 2014 I hit every rock and shrub on the way down.

It felt like death by a thousand paper cuts and I was more than a little angry about it all. I didn’t expect to ever go through anything like that once, let alone twice.

Part of what drove me to dig my ass out of the rubble was fear of failing as a father and part of it was rage.

It was fury at being placed in that situation for a second time, both through no fault of my own. It was molten anger and frustration that stemmed from being told I wasn’t just good at what I did, I was excellent.

What is the point of being told you are excellent if you are going to get kicked to the curb.

There was a time when I wouldn’t write about these things in anything but the vaguest sort of terms because I wasn’t just dejected, I was embarrassed.

But I am not embarrassed anymore.

Got my head screwed on straight, in large part because of that gratitude and success list I mentioned before.

Stumblefail

When the kids ask me how I got through the hard times I’ll tell them it was a combination of being stubborn, lucky and determined.

Or one-third bullshit, two-thirds common sense, three-fifths horse sense and a lot of nonsense.

In other words it wasn’t any one thing, it was a lot of things but more than anything else it was my unwillingness to let failure beat me.

The Search For Perfect Lips

David Bowie is playing on iTunes. Life on Mars morphs into Lazarus and moves onto an Elvis singing If I Can Dream.

Somewhere in between listening to the tail end of Lazarus and the King’s song about hope I remember to provide a link to the post where I mentioned the search for perfect lips.

Some of you have encouraged me to keep posting links to old posts because you want me to point out my best stuff.

When I get those notes I always write back and thank you for your support. I always write back and ask you to tell me what you like to read and try to share something based upon what you have told me.

There are more than ten thousand posts here, a ridiculous number of words dedicated to a crazy assortment of tales.

Every time you inquire and ask for more detail I try to tell you about the crazy rabbit hole you are about to go down and explain I dislike most of what has appeared here because it doesn’t meet my standards.

I expect better from me and get irritated because I fall short of my expectations and grow more irritated when I see people I consider to have less talent get more from writing than I.

Ego is the double edged sword that cuts and pushes for more than just average work.

Why Blog

It is not just because I love to write and am compelled to keep posting but because I come across memories.

I find things like And Then There Were Three- Grandparents and remember times that were but are no longer.

For 42 years there was always one or more grandparents in my life and now five years have passed since there was at least one.

I come here and the echoes speak to me.

“Jack, do you know how your grandmother and I were married for 76 years? We compromised and I knew when to be deaf. It doesn’t hurt that your grandmother has a great ass for a 90 something year-old woman.”

My grandfathers were characters.

I remember how one cousin told me how my crazy grandfather must have been a challenge to live with.

I told him he never saw how grandma and grandpa used to look at each other or how they would fall asleep holding hands.

Nor did he see what would happen if grandma glared at grandpa. It rarely happened, but no one could cut him short like she could.

Seventy-six years of marriage and had grandma not died who knows how much longer…

This is why I blog.

It keeps the memories fresh and close.

It is how if necessary I travel through time.

You Can’t Fear Failure

Fear is the motor that powers failure. Manage your fear and you’ll manage your failure just fine.

What do you think?

There Is More Sex Than Lying In Blogging

Sometimes I wonder what the teen and preteen that live with me think of their old man.

I wonder if they see me through a similar prism as I once viewed my own father or if times have impacted that sort of thing.

The talking heads say each generation looks at the ones around it with a certain amount of disdain, those that came before weren’t quite as knowledgeable and those that came after were lazier.

 

****

My old man was a hard ass in many ways, most of them good but some of them not as much. He almost never missed a day of work and I am not sure if I ever heard him complain about his job or the people he worked for.

It wasn’t until I was in my late twenties that I heard any stories about the bosses he didn’t like and the hard moments at work that most of us encounter.

By that time I had already been working for a while and there were several moments where I felt like I was falling short of the mark.

Why?

Some of it was because one of the owners of the company I worked for was awful. He was so difficult to work with that he and his partner agreed that he would work from home and not the office

He was so difficult to work with that he and his partner agreed that he would work from home and not the office.

Company legend said that he was the reason seven or eight people quit during a single month.

Anyhoo, since I had never heard dad complain about work I figured that I had to do my best to suck it up and do the same.

That old bastard I worked for managed to get under my skin the same way he had done to so many others, a task that is far harder to accomplish now than it was when I was 25.

One day I lost it and screamed back at him, anger morphed into fear of getting fired but pride wouldn’t let me apologize.

A combination of dumb luck and some skill are probably among the reasons why all I got was a verbal warning, and a reminder that the partner was prickly, “we know he is a jerk, but he owns 50% so tip-toe Jacky boy.”

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Neruda, my old friend and companion is close by. Were he actually around I might share the story about my first job and how my father’s behavior impacted my own.

I might ask him if were interested in participating in the next edition of the 100 word challenge and ask him how his past affected his present.

Maybe I’d tell him I know about aching windows and a heart that shrinks and expands like and accordion.

Perhaps I’d follow it up by saying I am not sure if I have ever had a perfect kiss but I know whose lips are perfect for my own.

We’d go back and forth and I’d share a couple of words about those lips and tell him how I told the owner of said lips there have to be at least a 100 pairs at anyone time that would be perfect for kissing.

I remember the look I received, a nod that I was correct and a look in her eyes that made me think she wanted me to follow up by saying I would never go looking for the others.

Don’t remember if I ever agreed to never search for those others but I did say that if my heart were not a liar we’d probably find time to find out if perfection existed in middle age and beyond.

The last conversation we had about it was in a different time and place, I told her my hand was open and that if her fingers found their way into mine, well that would be some kind of trick.

Tastelife

If I told you the last time I kissed her I said I tasted life would you believe me? Do you think she believe me?

There Is More Sex Than Lying In Blogging

Sometimes I look out upon the blogosphere and think about it reminds me of being in a junior high or high school locker room.

Can’t tell you how many of those boys talked about the girls they had been with and those they were going to be with.

Even at 13 or 14 I knew that some of the stories I heard were just that…stories.

People didn’t want to talk about how feeling like an outsider and or how confusing it all was. They didn’t want to tell you anything that didn’t make them feel/look cool so they engaged in a lot of self-censorship.

I grew up with four sisters so locker room talk was different for me.

That is because dad sat me down and told me to remember that some guys would talk about my sisters in the same way the boys in the locker room did.

He told me to remember that every girl I went on a date with should be given the same respect I wanted my sisters to get.

I am not going to lie and say that hormones and desire never impacted me, not going to say that I didn’t fall short sometimes because I did.

But most of the time I was very cognizant of my father’s words. Most of the time I heard them in my head so I was never the guy who spent his time in the locker room bragging about all of the women I had been with.

It is a lesson I have passed along to my son.

*****

“Dad, I told you I am not going to get married or have a girlfriend.”

“I am not teasing you about this. I am serious and I want you to remember what I said.”

“I want you to remember what I said, girls are a pain.”

“Yeah, they are, but they aren’t always the pain you think of them as being. Nature has a way of pushing you to find out what I am talking about and I hope you do. I hope one day you understand the benefits that come from being with the right one.”

He shakes his head and I know he thinks I am crazy. But I still know some things about life he doesn’t.

As I walk back to my bedroom I hope that I have given him good advice and that I have given him a balanced view of the world.

I love being a dad and I think I am good at it, but this stuff is really freaking hard, worth it, but hard.

The IPhone/Droid Conflict-The Write Stuff

If you can’t listen to the The IPhone/Droid Conflict-The Write Stuff on the blog you might find try it over here.

Of course if you are wondering what it is about and need some help deciding if you should listen you could read a few more words.

Those would tell you there are comments and thoughts about the writing process when using a pen/typewriter versus dictating it into a computer.

And you’d hear something about the difference between an iPhone and a Droid.

Life In The Driver’s Seat

It is almost noon on Sunday which means there isn’t all that much time before I have to pack a bag and head out for another business trip.

Shouldn’t be particularly long, two nights, maybe three if things get tripped up at all.

Travel is part of the job, I put oodles of miles in each week, most of them from behind the steering wheel of my car.

Most of the time I don’t mind doing it because it is better than being unemployed and I like the things that money can buy.

Kind of funny to hear me say, er, write that because I don’t think of myself as being particularly materialistic but I suppose there is a decent list of things I want that you need money to obtain.

Sometimes I think about making a hard copy of the list of stuff I want so that I can separate it into two categories called need and want.

The Difference Between Need & Want

My children and I have had many conversations about the difference between need and want because it’s of paramount importance.

It is part of creating priorities and establishing goals.

When you know what the difference is you can create a plan to go after those items and figure out ways to try and get yourself items from both sides of the list.

Sometimes I wonder if not having a hard copy of the list that I can stare at each day is significant or not.

Meaning I wonder if typing it up or writing it out and posting it next to the computer or on the refrigerator would help me find ways to get those things faster.

I haven’t done any sort of research so I can’t provide scientific proof or evidence to support either side.

What I have done is spent countless hours thinking about these things and other stuff.

That is what happens when you live life from the driver’s seat.

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Don’t mistake these words to mean I am cool with sitting in traffic because that isn’t accurate. Because I spend so much time in the car I have grown more patient with being stuck inside my metal beast

Because I spend so much time in the car I have grown more patient with being stuck inside my metal beast, but if I have to be in it I tend to prefer some of the longer trips I go on, like the one I’m heading out on today.

The road I’ll travel today will take me through some very pretty land. I’ll see snow, horses, cows and green rolling hills.

If it goes as expected it will be an easy ride and when you add that to the scenery, well it can be a pleasant way to spend some time.

Should We Follow Our Heart?

I don’t know when I started wondering who first told people to follow our hearts and whether I like that advice or not.

Can’t tell you when I started to wonder if it was smart guidance or new agey feel good stuff.`

My best guess is it is tied into a desire to control things and that it started somewhere during a rough patch I went through during the last ten years or so.

It doesn’t mean I don’t think there is wisdom in listening to your gut because sometimes that little voice inside our heads is wiser than we are.

Sometimes that is the man/woman/child who keeps us from doing something stupid and sometimes they aren’t.

But life is never just black nor white so I find myself saying that sometimes that voice is the little push we need to take a risk.

And I do believe in taking risks.

Experience has proven to me that risk taking has provided me with some of the best and most rewarding moments of my life.

But it has also been a part of some real heartbreak.

Unfortunately you can’t quantify how much is allocated to either column. You can’t say it was 43%  one and 57% another.

You just know it plays a role in both columns and do your best to manage it all.

Call that a written reminder to myself that we never have the kind of control over our worlds that I sometimes wish we did.

It is why I can assure you that I will follow my heart again and again, sometimes kicking myself but with less regret than if I didn’t.

Cue Han Solo, “It’s true. All of it. The dark side, the Jedi, they’re real.”

The little boy who lives inside me cheers every time he hears/sees that.

He is the engine that moves the dreams inside my head to the forefront.

Confession:

Those last couple of lines, “The Force, it’s calling to you” and “Just let it in” feel like they were meant for my ears.

It is almost embarrassing to say/write those words because it makes me sound crazy, but I am not that.

I may march to the beat of a drummer who has no rhythm, but I am not unaware of the difference between reality and dreams.

That is part of what makes life interesting to me, finding the intersection of the two and doing things that help move me from dreaming about life to living my dreams.

Life In The Driver’s Seat

The one thing none of us has control over is time.

Doesn’t matter how successful we are personally or professionally we can’t stop the clock or really even slow it down.

That is among the hardest things for me to accept, as ridiculous as it may sound coming from a guy who is much closer to middle age than childhood.

The sound of the clock and the wondering about how long I need to spend on particular paths that I am not sure are in synch with the future I am trying to build.

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