Drafts

I have a list of Drafts for this blog. It has a several projects that I have just started, a collection of notes and thoughts; the genesis of an idea before it has taken flight. There are a couple of articles and their research that I haven’t posted, or whose time has passed, no longer relevent in today’s world.

But for one selection: that is a story that will remain unfortunately unfinished. Originally planned as a post for Halloween, and I loved it. It was dark and devious. It was going so well, and then…it wasn’t anything. I was distracted. Distracted by the things that happen; a new job, new responsibilities, new schedule. It was never completed. And I never set out enough of an outline to be able to finish it the way I wanted. So it sits there, a reminder of what almost was, of what could have been. Half a story, a final sentence, and no resolution.

Drafts folders are strange things; they save our stories, articles, ideas. Things unfinished, untouched, almost unremembered. Sometimes those ideas mean something, sometimes they never meant anything. Sometimes those drafts get recycled into something new, into a different idea, or a different post. Sometimes they just sit there, like a trinket on a shelf, gathering intellectual dust until we don’t even recognize the person that originally wrote it.

We should all clean out that folder sometimes. To get rid of the old ideas that we aren’t attached to, to free up the head space, and find ways to move on. It’s good to look through, and maybe be inspired, maybe be embarrassed, maybe even find peace.

Until next time, friends.

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“Yer a wizard…”

iTunes recently had the Harry Potter series on sale, and I went ahead and plunked down some cash for all eight movies. Before long I was two movies in and had the strongest urge to reread the books. I finished the first book in less than two days. I’m being irritated that other responsibilities are distracting me in my quest to do the same for the second.

There is something about the books that I love; the adventure perhaps, the writing is strong, and the stories certainly hold up. But I think the part that I love the most, is the idea that magic is hiding just out of sight.

That behind a brick wall in London is an alley where all manner of magical things can be found. That the strange person you saw out the window of a train was actually a wizard on their way to some endeavor. That the cat prowling through the neighborhood is really an animagus in disguise.

My imagination has always run wild; the idea of flying on a broomstick, casting spells or riding dragons was never far away. To have stories like that at my fingertips is too much to hope for.

I like the good and evil nature of the stories too. Voldemort is the ultimate evil, the Death Eaters  (whose name may as well be a Black Metal band) with their Dark Marks are plainly on the opposite side of truth, justice, and apple pie. Conversely, how much better can Harry Potter be. Or Professor McGonagall or Hermione. They stand in direct opposition, and it is nice in our world to have the simplicity.

It is nice to think that in some corner of our world, that it would be so easy to learn the truth with veritasium. That you can plainly see who the bad guys are with their Dark Marks. That you can tell when someone has committed an unforgivable curse or used underage magic. Or just that you can enchant a scrubber to do the dishes.

The Harry Potter books hold a special place for me, for the same reason as Doctor Who; the strange in the world is just the wonder leaking out. Magic is everywhere, we just aren’t looking hard enough.

Until next time, my friends, good night and good luck.

Life Changes

Life changes.

Everyone says the only constants are death and taxes, but let’s be real; those two can’t be trusted not to change on you in the space of half a heartbeat.

Almost two years ago, I said I was going to take a break from the blog to focus on writing a novel. I expected it to take a year. It hasn’t. And that’s alright, it takes time to craft ideas and get the ideas that are in your head onto paper, and then once they are there you realize that it didn’t work out the way you expected and you have to go back and rewrite a whole chapter, but now that doesn’t work with this and it all has to change.

And it does all have to change. That’s what life is, change. The constant moving and struggle and racing until finally the constant that isn’t a constant catches up to you, and everything changes again.

We talk about counting on people, on being there for others. We talk about how fast the years go by and how long a day is. The universe is changing around us, tomorrows become yesterdays, and we just keep riding the waves of time, hoping to find a quiet beach to read a book or take a nap. That might just be me, though. I have a five year old.

Thanksgiving was just a couple of days ago, so perhaps I have been thinking about being thankful. About appreciating the things in life that we have, rather than what we are running to. Or running from. The Autumn is a great time for this, to curl up next to a window, watch the rain, and sip some tea, thinking about our lives and taking stock.

So thank you. Thank you for reading, however sporadically things are posted. Thank you for being a part of this world. Thank you being you.

Until next time, friends, stay hungry…

Social Madness

Over the past few weeks it has become apparent that something has to change. It is getting increasingly hard to focus on things, to find joy in the moments. I’m pulled in different ways by different things. It’s time for a break. So I am; effective immediately I am off social media. A digital vacation, if you will.

I love Instagram, but the algorithm drives me crazy!

I enjoy Twitter, but my feed is a mess.

I hate Facebook and haven’t used it in months.

I don’t understand Snapchat and it’s just an excuse to say I have it.

There are a few other sites and apps I use, all boil down to the same thing; it’s not important.

I get news from multiple sources. I listen to music and podcasts. I have friends that message me and call me. Social media isn’t making me happy. In fact, it’s doing the opposite. So, I’m taking a break.

I have a book I am still writing. I have a family I want to see and spend time with. I have books to read and albums to discover. I’m a busy guy.

Not this time

It has been nineteen years since Columbine.

I was fifteen, and a freshman in High School.  If I had lived in Littleton, Colorado, I would have been a student there.

I wasn’t.  I lived in a small town in Central California, far removed from the terror of that April day.

And yet…from that day forward, it touched my life.  I wrote an essay about Columbine as an example of my writing for an Honor’s English exam.  The locks on our doors were changed to require a teacher’s key to enter.  We began having lockdown drills.

I was fifteen years old, and being asked to imagine a life and death situation.

Last week, for the eighteenth time this year, we asked other students to make that decision.  Eighteen school shootings in forty-five days.  One every two and a half days.

It’s helpful to start saying it out loud.

Seventeen died.  It’s helpful to say that too.  Some were coaches.  Some were members of the ROTC.  Some were just students. All had lives and pasts and present, but they don’t have futures anymore.

We can argue that it was a mentally disturbed individual that took that from them, but we took mental healthcare away.  So that arguement is over.

We can claim that is was a failure of the school, they should have had an armed guard, but they did.  He is dead too.

We can offer up our thoughts and prayers.  But those didn’t help twenty years ago, and they sure as hell won’t help now.

It was a gun that stole those lives, as much as it was a sad and demented individual.  We as a society gave him access to those weapons, as much as we gave them to the Columbine Shooters, or Aurora, or Newtown.  We said we would rather have guns than living kids.  We said the Second Amendment is more important than life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

We said that.

But we don’t anymore.

My generation should have stood up after Columbine.  We should have stood tall and said fix this.  Make us less afraid.  Make this world better.  But we didn’t.  We stood by and let them blame video games and movies and television and music.  We let them blame lazy parenting and schools and anyone else that was clumsy enough, or stupid enough, to stand in the way.  But never the guns.

We let our rights be taken after 9/11, because we were afraid.  We put up with fourteen years of War in the Middle East, because we weren’t the ones in charge.  We have wailed and knashed our teeth as we have been blamed and victimized and taken advantage of with student debt and lowered wages and rising inequality.

But not this generation.  This generation has said enough.  They have stood tall and said, “No more.”  No more guns.  No more hate.  No more inequality.  It stops now.  And we will stand with them.  Not because we have to.  Not even because we want to.  But because we should have been here the entire time.  Because we wanted to be here, but didn’t know how.

Because this generation…They will change the world.  And we will stand with them.

Goodnight.  And good luck.

Repeal and Go Fuck Yourself…

Tomorrow, July 25, 2017, the United States Senate is set to vote on the repeal of the Afordable Care Act, or, as it was called by most, Obamacare.

Obamacare was a sweeping change of the American healthcare system in 2010, such as it was.  Well, less a system really then, more a pile of shit made over to look like lipstick on a fairly average pig.  But none of that matters anymore.

I was not the biggest fan of Obamacare.  I still am not.  I didn’t care much for how it was passed; I didn’t care much for the “read it after we pass it” attitude, or then Speaker Pelosi’s behavior about passing it.  I didn’t care for what seemed like half-assedness and shortcuts that were taken in the bill.  But, then came this abomination.

We shouted that there wasn’t enough time, but then again, the ACA was debated over for two years.  We cried that there wasn’t enough hearings, but then again, the ACA had more than twenty-five hearings in the Senate alone.  We bemoaned the lack of transparency in the process, but again, there were two debates broadcast live to the people of the nation in primetime.  He muttered that it was bipartisan, and yet Republicans helped draft, not only the bill, but the ideas behind it.  We wailed and gnashed our teeth, and yet…here we are now.

So, you ask, yes!  What about now?  What do we get instead?  Well, we got twelve old white guys, in a room, deciding what our health care should look like.  A fifth of the American economy. We wailed and gnashed our teeth about Obamacare, yes.  And yet…now?  Zero debate, zero hearings, zero transparency, zero input.  We don’t get to know what they’re voting on tomorrow, purely because it doesn’t exist yet.  Oh, don’t worry, they say, about reading it before we vote, it’s just, we haven’t written it.

Are you fucking kidding me?  We didn’t wait eight years for this.  We didn’t wait eight years for, “We don’t have a single idea in our bald little heads.”  We didn’t listen to your bullshit, Leader McConnell, for eight years to be treated like this.  We expect better of the so-called “adults” in the room.  No, do better.  A bill with a 13% approval rating; that has united the insurance companies, the AARP, the AMA, and countless healthcare professionals against it; that is a tax cut for millionaires, masquerading as a healthcare bill; this is not the best you can do.  Do better, or do no harm, as the Hippocratic Oath says.

I have pre-existing conditions.  I’ve spoken of them openly here and elsewhere.  My wife has pre-existing conditions.  She’d like to open her own business, but good luck with that if anything flares up again.  My son has pre-existing conditions, my parents, my in-laws.  You’ve messed with my family Mr. Speaker, Mr. Leader, and Mr. President.  We are coming for you, for your agenda, for your jobs, for your donors.  We are going to sink you under so many letters, so many copies of hospital bills, so many pictures of those we have lost.  We are going to sink you with stories and anger.  You think your base was pissed with Obamacare?  You just wait.  The real Silent Majority is coming for you.

The Blank Page

As some of you may know, I am currently working on a novel.  That is the biggest reason I have not been posting to the blog recently.  It is going fairly well, and I have completed about 20,000 words, marking one of the longest projects I have ever undertaken, and I’m only about a third of the way through what I have plotted.

Recently, however, I have been faced by my biggest obstacle: the blank, white, empty page.  I know where I need my story to go, I know what my characters are thinking or saying (or not saying, as is often the case), but the words don’t want to come forth.  I have tried the tricks I know, and still, the page sits there empty and taunting.

This is the hardest thing for me, having a story to tell, but not being able to tell it.  To have a blank white page staring back at me, waiting for words and thoughts and emotion to move the story forward.  Feeling stuck, without a way forward, paralysed by options and choices and the entire future of it.

I am starting the end of the first movement, and somehow, this is proving the hardest of all.  But I will continue to write, and try, and push, because this story is too important to me to let it hide.  I can’t wait to share it with you all.

Until next time, stay safe.

Time for Work

She rolled over, her eyes squinted in the glare from the hall light.  “Where are you going?”

“I have to go to work.”

“Did bad guys do something?”

“Yeah, sweety.  They did.”

“Be careful, daddy.”

“I will, child.”  I smiled.  “I’m sorry I woke you.”

“Daddy, why is there evil in the world?” she asked.

“That’s a loaded question,” I answered with a smile.

“Well, I’m good.  My friends are good.  You and Mommy are good.  Who is evil?”

I thought.  Who is evil.  “There’s been evil here before us, and there will be evil here after us.  Some was always here, and the rest we brought in with us.”  I took breathed deeply through my nose.  “Evil depends largely on which way you’re looking.  When the Romans arrived in Gaul, they saw themselves as arriving to lift the savages from the ash-heap.  The Gauls saw them as demons, world destroyers.”

“Well, where does evil come from?”

“Your mother would say the Devil.”  She raised an eyebrow, mulling that over.

“And where do you think it comes from?”

I looked at the floor.  “We all have a little evil inside of us.”  I looked back at her, “But what matters is how much control we give it.”  I stood up.  “Do right.  Try not to hurt.  Love.  Make the world better.”  I put on my cap.  “No one can judge you for that.”  I kissed the top of her head, and headed for the door.

“Can I go to the next concert?”

I stopped and closed my eyes.  “Maybe.”  I shook my head.  “I’m sorry I woke you, I just wanted to give you a kiss before I left.”

“Be safe, daddy.”

“Of course, love.”

I walked out of my flat, checked the lock twice and headed for my car.  I grabbed my radio to check in, “Office Harrison, responding.”  It was going to be rough in Manchester tonight…


My thoughts and prayers go out to all those in Manchester tonight; both the victims and the emergency personel, as well as all those facing danger in their everyday lives.

Don’t let the light go out.

Design/Aesthetic

I am using the Daily Prompt today.  A quick and easy post to help keep other projects moving.  I’m also drinking a Honey Tea Bowl to try to keep the sickness at bay.  Not sure either is going to work.

I am working today at a noisy coffee shop called Scout.  Actually, I suppose it is technically called Scout 2, but I digress.  I like working in coffee shops; the energy and rhythm of the place provides a nice kinetic movement to my mind.  If things are too quiet or too still my mind finds it fairly easy to wander.  Both Scout locations have a very definite design mentality; clean lines, a farmhouse feel, a little bit of the outdoors brought in.  And coffee.  Lots of coffee.

What defines the looks and feels of what we are comfortable with?  What makes us say, we like this, but not that.  Design speaks to us in ways we may not fully understand and helps us to make sense of our world.  We have all encountered bad design, we notice it and stop.  Bad design is that intersection we hate getting to because you can never quite see around.  Bad design is the outlet that is six inches too far, or the tool that hurts your hand to use.  We feel bad design.

Good design though, we hardly notice.  Good design blends in, precisely because it is a good design.  From the light switch that is where you know it will be, to the perfectly balanced utensil.  Good design fits in its environment, and makes the world an easier place to live in.  Aesthetic, however, can be so much more than that.

Aesthetics allows us to find beauty in art, in a sunset, in a smile.  It helps us to describe how something can have beauty, even in just the eye of the beholder.  It shows us how to create beauty from nothing, how to turn our dreams to truth.  Aesthetics can help us to understand why we decorate our homes a particular way; how we put our personal aesthetics over the design of a space.  It is why we continue to go to places that make us comfortable and happy, and avoid those that don’t.  Aesthetics can help shape good design.  It can go deeper than just a physical design though.

Look through any photo sharing site; every photo was taken by an individual, with their own insights and feelings.  They each had a viewpoint, and took the picture that reflected their world, edited it and adjusted colors and saturation and focus, and then posted it for the world.  No two people will take the same picture.  No two people will document their lives the same.

Each of us have designed our lives to reflect the world as we see it, and the way as we wish it to be. To reflect how we wish our world to be.  We find ways to recognize and create beauty in our own lives.  We tie our lives together in ways that blend into a larger canvas.  And we don’t even see it happening.

That is a great design.

Until next time, stay together friends.

via Daily Prompt: Aesthetic

Well, a happy new year to you too…

My new year has started off with a bang…almost two weeks of a strangely powerful, yet mild, attack of Depression.  I’m fine for hours, days, then all of a sudden my brain chemistry goes all to pieces and I can feel my soul being crushed.  Nothing in particular started it, and so far my usual fixes haven’t worked to stop the cycle. I just feel…bad. 

So, I’ve been trying to walk more. To contact friends I haven’t heard from, to check on them. To listen to more music that makes me feel good. To write and work on projects that have gathered far too much dust. I’m trying to enjoy the moments I do feel better. 

At the end of the day, I know I will feel better. I know that my levels will normalize and I will get my life back. I know that I’ve come so much farther, that progress is being made. It just takes time.

In the meantime, stay safe out there. It can be dangerous to walk alone…

…until next time.