Friday, September 28, 2012
Thursday, September 27, 2012
When I was a small child my dad taught STEP classes. Systematic Training for Effective Parenting. He was a school psychologist. After being a music and history teacher. After being a Marine during the Korean War.
I went along to the classes. They were held in a very old school building, one step up from a one-room schoolhouse. It was an incredible building. Old wood everywhere. Worn floors. Even the steps were wooden. Real slate chalk boards. Back then the rooms weren’t locked so I could explore to my heart’s content. I’m sure you can imagine the adventures my mind created.
I loved it however I almost was banned from accompanying him. You see, even as a small child I had an opinion. I don’t remember what exact point my dad was making but he used our family as an example. I happened to be pausing in the doorway at the time. It was several weeks into the class so the parents there were used to my coming and going.
I generally kept to myself after doing the dog and pony show of saying hello but not that night. No, that night it was too much for me to smile and nod as I’d been doing. Whatever it was he said was so far from the reality I knew that it was impossible for me to remain silent. I walked in and said very clearly that what he said was not true.
Yeah. I opened a huge can of worms with that one. My dad tap danced and back pedaled so frantically that I was stunned back into silence. He twisted and spun so that what I said became part of the example on how to deal with children. I was amazed. I could tell the adults there were so confused and dazzled they’d forgotten what either of us had said leading up to it.
I didn’t mean to discredit him. I was little. I hadn't learned to play the game yet. There was a second when no one was looking at him and his expression changed. I knew then just how badly I’d screwed up. In that instant I learned that my dad was not to be blindly trusted.
We talked on the way home. Well, mostly he talked. I agreed because I wanted to continue going along with him. The privilege of having unlimited access to the building was worth lying for though on my part it was a lie of omission. After that night I said nothing more than hello and goodbye to the parents in the class. Yes, I became the model child in public, a perfect example of what he was attempting to teach.
Wednesday, September 26, 2012
I found this while looking through some old pieces last night. I don't know if I ever shared it or not so here it is.
It’s my fault. It’s always my fault. Everything that has ever gone wrong in the entire history of the world is my fault.
Pretty fucking powerful, aren’t I? Yes indeed, I am. Extremely so and in ways you’ll never understand for it’s not the kind of power anyone would ever want. Not the kind anyone should ever have. No. It’s not something that can be harnessed for good. Hell, it can’t even be harnessed for evil. It’s just there, eating away at me, day after day, year after year with no outlet save one that is inaccessible, no current purpose other than to destroy me.
Amazing that I can still function at all. A weaker individual would have been torn to shreds by now. God, I wish I were weak. I wish this were finished. I wish I didn’t have to do this one more second.
But I do. I will. Until one day, the power welling within me will fill me to overflowing, lightning shooting from my fingertips, the ground melting beneath my feet with every step I take and my head finally explodes. Only I’m afraid that still won’t be the end of it. What if I’m a gremlin at heart and each shard multiplies the power? Exponentially, it would corrupt the world as you know it and then there will be trouble. Oh my yes, trouble with a capital “T” that rhymes with me right here in River City, kiddies.
So do what you can to keep me calm. Appease me however you might because trust me, you don’t want me pissed off. It takes a lot but I’m getting very close to being just that. It’s only at me for now but how quickly that could change. And then it really will be all my fault in the most literal sense.
Hmm, perhaps it’s time. Yes, I think it is. Be afraid. Be very afraid.
Tuesday, September 25, 2012
Ever have someone in your life who was so jealous of your writing he hated it (and you) enough to destroy it? Sadly, I did.
Years and years ago, I had idea notebooks. One, a blue one, was for a story called Ask Luellen. It was a tale about a family as told by the youngest daughter. I had all sorts of notes. Even the first chapter though it wasn’t quite right.
As I was debating on what person to tell it in, the mean, hateful, spiteful boy who was living in my house at the time destroyed it. And yes, boy is the correct term. No matter how old he was his behavior precludes me from ever calling him a man.
Having the notebook obliterated made the characters disappear. I thought I’d lost them forever for letting that happen. I’ve hated myself for years over it. And so many other things from that time in my life.
As I was waking up this morning, in that moment between truly asleep and awareness, I heard the slightest whisper. They’ve been there all this time. Punishing me? Hiding? Sulking? Searching for someone else, someone more worthy, to tell their story? I really don’t know. But they’re still there or maybe it’s back again. It’s like finding an old, old friend you lost touch with eons ago, never expected to find again and one day they bump into you in the most unlikely of places.
Maybe it’s time to forgive myself.
Yes, I’m a bit too introspective today.
Monday, September 24, 2012
Thursday, September 20, 2012
"Kellen kissed her, growling at the taste of himself on Frankie's tongue."
And left it at that.
My characters are being mean. Not playing with me. So it’s time to fight back. Yes, it’s a bit evil to leave them hanging like that. If they want me to permit them to proceed then they will have to come out from where they’re lurking and chat with me.
I used to do this with Shane and Lyssa from Chaos. Worked every time. Only their problem was they were so busy sniping at each other, they forgot I was there and we were attempting to tell their story.
We’ll see how this works with Frankie and Kellen. Although, they’re both very fierce. It may backfire and get me hurt. Wish me luck and send someone to rescue me if I go missing.
Wednesday, September 19, 2012
Monday, September 17, 2012
Sunday, September 16, 2012
Click on Word. Open new file. Format paragraph. Justified. Indent first line, .3. Spacing 1.5. Click ok. Ready. Set. Write.
Only it’s not that easy. Not with a gazillion things racing through my mind, drowning out all the things I really want to hear. Blink, blink, blink goes the cursor. Wait. Is that a character voice? Sh, it’s almost formed. No! Lost in the worry of my dining room ceiling falling.
Write. But there are taxes to pay. Car insurance. Home owners insurance. Cats that need shots. Car inspection. Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera… As they say in the Music Man, “Pick a little, talk a little, pick a little, talk a little.” Round and round it goes. My mind that is. Bounce, bounce, bounce.
Write. Can’t hear myself think for all the static in my head. No clear thoughts. Aaaahhhh! Is that screaming? It is. Who? Oh gods, it’s me!
Click close Word. No, do not save changes to document. Click start menu. Click turn off computer. Click turn off.
Friday, September 14, 2012
I’ve had mixed reactions on my idea to help save Reading’s economy. Some of the people I discussed it with in town today just don’t see it as a viable undertaking to make things better.
I don’t see why not. We have plenty of idle workers. We have plenty of roaches. We have plenty of empty manufacturing space. Heck, the roaches are probably already sitting there in the buildings just waiting to be harnessed.
All we need are the folks with the technology to pick this city and we’re all set. Perhaps I should go and present it at the next city council meeting. Or maybe request some time with the mayor. Reading used to be the Outlet Capital of the World. Now we could be the Roach Capital, saving lives all over the planet. Hmm. Have to ponder on this one some more.
Happy weekend all.
Thursday, September 13, 2012
I heard of a new industry during this morning’s news that I think would suit Reading perfectly. The town can supply cockroaches for earthquake rescue teams. Yes, that’s correct. They are now testing the feasibility of using high tech-equipped roaches to search rubble in order to find people buried beneath it. And, since Reading is brimming with roaches, it is the ideal location to set up a facility to fill this demand.
There’s an electrical engineer the North Carolina State University who is experimenting with this idea. He attaches a mini backpack with fancy electrical gizmos that will direct the roaches in their search. Basically he uses antennae and butt stimulators to send them scurrying in the direction desired.
Purportedly, the individuals buried will “shout for joy” when they see one of these natural robotic critters crawling towards them which will then, through the transmitters they carry, allow the first responders to locate the victims.
Okay, in theory I admit this is interesting. Hopefully, it will save lives. However, I have some concerns. If I’m trapped and immobile, I seriously doubt I’d notice the teeny, weeny electrodes and only see the huge bugs, coming to be creepy-crawly on me while I can do nothing to prevent them. The end result is screaming so I suppose that’s not a true problem.
Another is how invasive roaches are. If they intend to utilize the varieties prevalent in Reading and introduce them to areas without the same species, won’t that eventually do damage to the environment? The average lifespan of a cockroach is a year. Try as they might, I suspect some will evade recapture once their mission is complete.
The third concern involves airline regulations and various import/customs laws around the world. I’m not entirely positive but I’m sure some of them would frown upon the importing of huge roaches, no matter how good the cause or controlled they are.
In case you’re wondering, there is no need to fret over the amount of electric current used to zap the bugs into doing the rescuers’ bidding. Roaches have no concept of pain. While they do have sensors that direct their reflexes they do not have pain receptors. Or so the folks attempting this say.
So, if cockroaches are to be the new age equivalent of the domesticated horses, oxen and other beasts of burden that were the boon to the development of ancient civilizations, I am all for Reading getting in on the bottom floor. What other way to boost our city’s failed economy than by tapping into one of its natural resources?
Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Many, many, many years ago, when I was but a wee child, I took piano lessons. I quit begged to quit after the second summer. Not because I disliked the piano. No, I loved playing. It was the teacher I hated.
Years later, when I was in high school, I decided to try again. Sure, I’d been playing all along and improving but it was a slow process on my own. The second set of lessons didn’t last as long. That teacher thought I should play better than I did. After all, my dad was a talented local pianist all his life and that woman remembered going to dances he performed at when she was in school so in her opinion I should be just as capable at the age I was. Um, no. I had some natural ability but it hadn’t been nurtured and perfected as his had been. It was awful and she actually told me how disappointed she was. Why, I’ll never understand because if I could have played like my dad there would have been no need for lessons.
Oh, in case you’re wondering, no, my dad never attempted to teach me. That would have been a huge disaster from both sides. My dad was the most patient man in the world when it came to other people’s kids. Well, either that or he faked it well. When it came to me and things like that it was an entirely different story. And on my part, I would have been a very difficult student for him as I had moments when I was resistant and outspoken. I know. Hard to imagine but that’s how I was.
Last year, I inherited a player piano. I’d been plunking around on it ever since, sporadically. Going to see Barry Manilow last week inspired me. I do know I don’t stand a chance of ever sounding like he does since the man is one hell of a talented musician but I decided I might just manage to play well enough for songs to be recognizable.
Off to surf Amazon I went and yes indeed, a modified collection of his well known songs exists. The best part? They are simplified enough that with a little practice even I will be able to play them fairly decently. I sing along too. Hey, I had voice lessons for a time as well, something I rarely admit, and I’m not nearly as bad as you’d expect. I just don’t sing in public. That’s what ended those lessons. Anyway, I’d forgotten how much fun I have while playing and singing. So thank you, Mr. Manilow. For entertaining me last week and for helping me rediscover something I hadn’t realized was missing.
Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Thursday, September 6, 2012
Just got home from seeing Barry Manilow with Riley. We had a blast! He may be getting old but damn, the man still puts on one hell of a show.
He was playful, making fun of himself and how long he’s been doing this. Throughout the show Manilow chronicled his career. He performed non-stop for just under two hours and sang all the songs he’s known best for, giving personal history as he went.
As is his style, he encouraged everyone to sing along. I'm not one to sing in public but I sure did tonight. At one point, when the cheers and whistles interrupted a song, he paused and showed his sense of humor. It was so much fun!
Something cool. Manilow has formed the Manilow Music Foundation. He donates a piano to every city where he performs. Before his concerts he runs promotions for people to drop off instruments they are no longer using to include with his donation and then announces where additional donations can be dropped off afterwards. It's his way of encourage kids to develop their talents now that loss of funding has caused so many cutbacks to school music programs.
Good company, yummy dinner beforehand, great music which brought back a slew of nice memories. What better way to spend an evening?
Wednesday, September 5, 2012
I took my trash out. The can is all of fifteen yards from my back door. I went straight there and back, with only a brief pause to check my spider. By the time I made it back in I had four new mosquito bites and one who was just trying to tap into me.
I now have mosquito bites on top of my mosquito bites. I itch beyond belief. And then, just to make it more fun, I reached into some poison ivy last weekend. In case you can’t tell, that last bit was sarcastic. It is not truly fun. I am one of those people who can’t even look at poison without getting it. My only hope is that the mosquito that bit into it on Monday now itches from the inside out. Do mosquitoes get poison?
If I make it through the summer without getting West Nile virus I'll be amazed. Of course I may already have it. I have so many bites that I thought I should check up on it since the local news has been making such a big deal out of it again. The most common form of the disease has no symptoms. That’s the one most people get although I haven’t figured out how they ever know they have it. I don’t know about you but I’m not likely to pay a copay to stop in at the doc’s office and say I feel fine so could you check me for West Nile virus? The next level is a fever. It comes with tiredness, body aches, swollen glands and perhaps a rash. Hmm, maybe I don’t have bites. Maybe I have a rash with HUGE itchy bumps. The third form of West Nile, the most severe and least common is very serious and potentially deadly. I definitely don’t have that one.
I checked the local weather report. No killing frost in the foreseeable future. Sigh. I guess that means more bites for me. Oh goody! Yes, that was sarcasm again.
Tuesday, September 4, 2012
Over the past week or so I’ve been rewatching Disney movies I saw as a kid. Wow! The memories I have of them seriously fail to correspond with my impressions now. Other than the music, they are not even remotely similar to how I believed they were.
Overall they are violent. Sad until the very last moment, if they actually do manage to redeem themselves. Full of hateful bitchiness. If you haven’t watched Peter Pan lately, Tinkerbell is NOT the cute little fairy you remember from your childhood. It’s very depressing to realize that whole segment of my early life is so misconstrued. It was so bad that I put them away again after only watching about a third of what I had planned.
I think from now on I’ll stick to listening to the soundtracks and enjoying the music while skipping the rest of the stories.