Back In The Game

Every New Beginning is a climb into Infinity
Every New Beginning is a climb into Infinity

Every new beginning requires a hard climb.

There are always bumps and pauses in the road to success. Getting beat up and broken down over and over again are the ways that people grow, and if you’re strong enough, devout enough, or bull-headed enough you might survive the struggle and discover the most amazing parts of yourself.

I’ve not been writing for awhile, this site has been on the back burner for far too long, and all the things that I’ve wanted to do have fallen by the wayside.

But there is always hope, and it could be something amazing…

For the next several months I’ll be updating this site, and building a better writing habit. I hope to explore the fiction prompt that has been plaguing my evenings, and discover new things about the city in which I live, and sharing these experiences.

Maybe new people will join us, or maybe I’ll fail into obscurity again; but hope must always remain, and with discipline and hard work something amazing might happen.

Building habits, especially productive ones, is never easy. Even if you have the most exceptional will and determination to complete the tasks you set yourself and achieve a frequent success; building that success into a routine of win is a far different  game.

So, a facelift, some healthier choices, and an opportunity to discover my creative side again.

What could possibly go wrong?

Writing 101 – Day 5

You stumble upon a random letter on the path. You Read it. It affects you deeply, and you wish it could be returned to the person to which it’s addressed. Write a story about this encounter.

Today’s Twist: Approach this post in as few words as possible. (Extension of Day 4’s Series)

You will never know what they’ve taken from you. Because you will never remember what you’ve forgot. That’s their power.

I’m so sorry.

It was the kind of thing that seems like a joke when you see it, like those chain letters you got growing up; but it seemed like the act of reading those three little lines changed how I saw the world. For the first week, nothing was different. The day progressed much as it always did: Coffee, shower, keys, work, school, gym, dinner, sleep.  It was a predictable pattern that carried on with the kind of reliable monotony that lets an average joe go through his day without going mad.

The second week, no keys. But that was fine, there weren’t ever keys to begin with, the bus was just so much more practical and economic. Little things like that seemed to keep slipping. The coffee changed to tea, then to reverse osmosis filtered water. It wasn’t really a change, it’s always better to be healthy, and it may have been different before, but this is how it was done now.

By the fourth week, the progression had changed entirely. Scarfs were cool, and beards were a chance to express creativity and showed off masculinity. Mom and Dad called more often, the conversation inevitably drifting towards various life choices being made by less responsible siblings. Movies became chic again and never mind that the plot felt a little recycled.

Going on six weeks, the laundromat’s closed now. It was hard to remember ever going to it before, even though that’s where the letter had been left out on one of the folding tables. That’s all right, the dry-cleaner is closer to the apartment. Who want’s to sort their own clothes anyway?

Week eight, what was I talking about again? Have you seen the new Perfect Match on MTV?

The dry cleaner attendant carefully folds away the socks, replacing them with the identical s.o.q units. They found my letter. I need to get the word out somehow, let people know how they’re being harvested, how they’re being changed like so much dirty laundry. I need to keep it together, the puns are one of the first signs. I’ll try again after the next round of cleaning.

I’ll need a pair of sandals soon…

 

Writing 101 – Day 4

Write about a loss: something (or someone) that was part of your life, and isn’t any more. Today’s Twist: Make today’s post the first in a three-post series.

Laundromats are magical places.

No, literally.

Every single person has a story about losing a sock, or a favorite shirt. This disappearing act has been going on ever since humanity began washing their linens in groups, instead of one item at a time.

Socks seem to walk off on their own. I have a going concern of nearly 15 singles, longing desperately to find their mate. Maybe there’s an eHarmony in the sock dimension.

I’ve always loved the topic of memory in fiction. the way smells and electricity combine to form lasting impressions and experiences. I get goosebumps just by hearing things like “REMEMBER WHO YOU ARE!” or “Remember, remember, the fifth of November…” And it’s got me thinking about what if someone could steal memories? They say that everyone has a story inside of them, one of the reason I’ve engaged in this writing 101 exercise is to try and build a good habit and get that story out.

Ever thought about that phrase, “walk a mile in someone’s shoes” what if our feet really do transmit our experience? What if someone is actually stealing all those missing socks and gathering all the data, thoughts, experiences and emotions of everything that happened to you while you wearing that particular set of socks.

Knock’s your socks off

Writing 101 – Day 3

Building a writing habit. Celebrate three songs that are significant to you, and then write for fifteen minutes without stopping. Commit to forming a habit.

Beatnik’s have it wrong. You don’t have to be dark and moody in a smoke filled room to appreciate jazz. Flapper’s have it wrong too, cause you don’t have to have a seizure in order to dance your ass off.

Jazz, swing and ska, basically anything with a bouncy 6/8 beat, a lot of horns, and some drumming that would give an octopus a severe case of arm envy. That’s the kind of music that gets the blood pumping.

Good music should be able to be enjoyed quietly in the background, or cranked to eleven and begging everyone to shake what their momma gave ’em.

Places like The Mercury Cafe or The D-Note are the kind of places that really embrace this ideal. A place where they’ll teach you how to swing, give you good beer, and let you wail away the night with your closest friends. (Some of whom you’ve met that night.)

The Merc was where I first learned to dance. and I’ve spent the last decade I’ve been refining and leaving, and coming back like a wandering friend/ninja. Someone who disappears for YEARS, and walks back in like nothing has changed.

It hasn’t Changed a bit.

Spinning and Twirling, Moving and Grooving, Shaking and Skanking(yes, it’s a dance) those are the things that these wandering souls express themselves and embrace the emotions of the moment.

It’s funny, the first time I went to The Mercury Cafe, I was going to learn so that I could pass on what I learned for our high school prom. We were having a 40’s theme and wanted to be authentic.  Walking into the restaurant downstairs, clad in suspenders and fedora, hoping not to seem out of place. The hostess took one look at us and said

“You look good… but the party’s upstairs.”

And boy was it.

Everyone was there, 6 year old’s learning to dance with grandma and grandpa while 20-somethings either practiced routines for competition or just tried to dance with the cool drink of water on the other side of the room. And there was Frank. You know Frank. Everyone knows Frank. He’s the resident F.B.I at the Merc. (Full Blooded Italian) He was dancing when Benny Goodman was still playing, and he lived to laugh and enjoy himself on the dance floor. Later on in my experience, it became a right of passage, every date I took to the Merc HAD to dance with Frankie and get his approval before I could take her back. I last saw him there nearly four years ago now, and he was pushing a hundred years old and wasn’t quite as limber as he used to be, but darn it if he didn’t sit next to the stage and keep time with the band, watching the flickering Christmas lights and disco ball while Minnie the Moocher kept dreaming about her King from Sweden. (I think Frankie and Minnie might’ve had a fling back in the day, but that’s just conjecture.)

Dance and Music go together, and over the years I’ve learned that even as a guy, I NEED to get out that loosen up as often as I can. You can tell a lot about a person by how they dance; How comfortable they are in their own skin, how aware they are of what’s happening around them, (I can’t tell you how many times my partners would get a surprise barrel turn a dip to avoid getting stepped on by another couple not paying attention), and how they move with the world around them. I don’t know if the old phrase ‘Dance like no one is watching’ is really appropriate, but at least you should dance like you don’t care who sees.

 

Tell me about a time you went dancing and cut loose. I love good stories.

 

Writing 101 – Day 2

“We’re all drawn to certain places. If you had the power to get somewhere – anywhere – where would you go right now? For your twist, focus on building a setting description.”

Ducklings in the calm. They don’t make a sound, they just run their little caucus race while momma looks on from the mossy shore. It’s still early fall and the first frosts haven’t yet disturbed the gently sloping bank and it’s early enough that the bicyclists and campers haven’t made a travesty of the footbridge nearby. A smooth, dense fog is just beginning to lift from this German Wunderland. The bank is made of clover and grass so soft it feels like cashmere, and as the veil of mist parts, I salute it’s departure with a few puffs from my dark black wood pipe.

 

That’s how I remember the start of each day I spent in Bad Neuenahr in the fall of 2006. My deepest, most persistent regret in my entire life, is that I didn’t have a better camera, or the wherewithal to use the rinky-dink disposable one more often during that trip.

The city itself is a spa-town, akin to Estes Park here in Colorado. except where we have majestic mountains, they have an almost zen in their moors. It was the first place I ever wrote for the sake of writing Something. It was the first time I ever had a Cuban cigar. It was the first place I ever bought alcohol.  It is the place I still remember being most at peace, sitting on my little bench, on the banks of the Ahr river.

One morning during my week long holiday to see the Pope, I recall seeing a elderly local going for stroll along the cobblestone path which cut along the bank, through our hotel’s garden and onto the main footpath. Wearing a felt hat and carrying an umbrella, he sauntered more than strolled. The fog that accompanied every morning there seemed to rush away from him as he gently swashed it with his closed umbrella. I didn’t see his face, just the back of an aging man fighting his way merrily through the imagined dragons and demons that had held court the night before.

My ducks didn’t love me as much as their momma, and while it may have been sacrilege to demean the breakfast croissant by feeding to my little ducklings, I can still remember their excited peeps from their shallows every time I sat down on my little bench, to pray, eat, and write.

I think I miss my ducks the most.

 

Writing 101 Day 1

Writing 101 – Day One Challenge

‘Free-Write for 20 minutes then publish the stream of consciousness.’

 

I don’t really know what this means. Every time I try to free-write it always ends up looking like a dear diary post. Well if that what the goal of this post is, then by all that is good, I will OWN it!!

That sounds pretty big coming from a guy who feels like he’s lost all semblance of gumption in his life.

Some people who know me, know that recently I was the victim of an assault while sitting in my car outside of a local bar which sent me to an emergency room overnight. I won’t get into the gory details, but it took two days to get the blood off of my car. The reason I bring this up is that I didn’t fight back. Not one defensive wound. In fact I remember briefly waking up while the EMTs hoisted me into the ambulance. I clenched my fist out of pain and the EMT telling to unclench because it makes them nervous, and I remember thinking, “Why? If I didn’t even hit this guy why would I hit the people taking care of me?”

Some of the biggest changes in my life have come from getting knocked out. Some punks at the school yard near my house dislocated my jaw when I was about 12, and that got me into Kenpo. Some jerk mugged me barely a year ago, I chased him down and got my wallet back, after he tried to lay me out with a clean right hook. I didn’t fall down. I just leaned back with the impact of his punch and then put out my hand. He dropped the wallet and ran. The cop who finally came told me:

“At least we know you can take a punch”

Yeah… Thanks…

I’ve made the comment before, while amongst friends, that it feels like I’ve getting shit on a lot the last few years. Some have commented that I might be alcoholic, or just too nice, or some other advice-like platitude. I know I struggle with drinking too much and maybe that’s all it takes to be an alcoholic (I freely admit that 23-25 was a whiskey blur) but I’ve cleaned up a lot and still take care not to be obviously stupid when I go out.

What gets me in my craw, is that I’ve never hit back. Never. While there is something to be said for Christian charity and turning the other cheek; there’s a significant difference between repressing the urge to hit back, and having it not even occur to you until after the event has past and you’re mopping up your own blood.

I keep coming back to that from the newest Rocky flick… “It’s not about how hard you hit, it’s about how hard you get hit and keep getting back up!”

At least we know I can take a punch.

Still feels hollow. There’s no follow through, no retaliation. I don’t even really get angry anymore. Upset, hurt, depressed maybe… but if I had to throw a single adjective onto my emotions after these incidents over the course of my life it’d be shame. I should have been able to protect myself. Should have been smarter and avoided the situation. Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda….

Maybe I’m a lover and not a fighter, or as my gaming friends have called it “Meat-shield”, maybe I just trust in my ability to talk my way out of situation too much.

The greatest downside of these story’s is the feeling afterwards. I feel like I need to break something, the need to hurt something. The need to bite.

Don’t worry, I’m not planning anything silly and like I’ve already said, I’m mostly numb. This lack of gumption seems to follow me into my personal and professional life, having lost a couple jobs in the last few years and wandering into uncomfortable situations all around.

 

 

Step Two! (Getting OUT)

Stagnation is my enemy.

Video Games are my nemesis.

Apathy/Lethargy is the bane of all success

This step two is all about what it takes to actually get that motivation talked about in step one. Much like splashing a little water to get used to the temperature, that first step is full of beautiful idealism and (dare I say it?) naivete.

I love podcasts, I listen to books on tape and really get a kick out of the spoken word. Perhaps that my niche in the future, I’ve been told I have an excellent radio/phone voice, but that’s not why I bring it up. Mur Lafferty has one of the longest running podcasts for new aspiring fiction writers called “I should be writing” and in a recent interview with Myke Cole, author of the Shadow Ops trilogy and general bad ass, discussed the topic of motivation and what aspiring authors need to hear. His said:

Look, I get it. If I’m am aspiring writer, I’d sit down at my laptop and tip my hat to the all the emotions that are building those emotions up, then I’ll grit my teeth, flex hard and lock that sh** up. Your career, just like the human body, is a binary system. Either you do what you have to do, or you don’t.

Today I knocked some that stagnation in it’s teeth. I have been lazy lately and I need to just suck it up and lock it down.

It may sound like a hallmark card, but It doesn’t matter how many times you fall down, or DON’T do something. What matters is what you DO, whether you get back up if you fall down.