Sleeping Trees and Pumpkin Spiced Lattes–Is it Fall Yet?

It’s a relatively cool morning for August in Texas. Trees in abundant green, and in full bloom surround me. Beautiful by any sane persons measure, but all I can do is look at them and wait for them to die. Or at least take the slow march to slumber.

Fall. I want fall to be here like, yesterday. Selfish really as this has been the kindest summer Texas has given us in recent memory. Or any memory for that matter. But Fall is my jam! Fall is my season and it begins (in my mind) on my birthday, which is on the exiting side of September. Or whenever I order my first Pumpkin Spiced Latte from Starbucks. I’m not terribly fond of my birthday, there is some infighting between myself and my birthday.  A disagreement. The more I seem to have, the greater the disparity between what the calendar tells me I am and what I feel I am. Still. On my birthday people give me things, and the finest kind take me out for tacos and I let them.

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So once the celebration of my Vaginal Escape Day ends, the fun begins, because what my birthday really means is Fall is right around the corner. A few weeks after my birthday, comes October and this signifies that I am now at the doorstep of Fall, and Pumpkin Spice Lattes are flowing. October will wane and I will find myself at my favorite Holiday-Halloween, Though Halloween and Christmas often tussle for the prize of being favorite, But that’s my point. As soon as I get past my birthday, good things happen. Cooler weather is upon us, I can swap out my sandals and shorts for my boots and jeans. I always feel better when I wear my boots. I don’t know why. It’s funny really, as most of my youth I rebelled against anything that was stereotypically Texas. Now it takes 90 degree days to get me out of them, and that’s only because I can’t rock the whole boots and shorts thing. Also I am a hoodie guy. Fall is my hoodie time. They are like walking Woobies. Jeans, boots and hoodies are my fall uniform and I can’t wait to get into it.

It’s also family time. Thanksgiving is a few weeks of X’s on the calendar  and I find myself across the table from people I love, but see far less than I would like to. It’s extra special for me as it also marks when my Lady Love and I got together. Thankful in deed I am.

Jingle Bells and here comes Christmas. If you know me you would know that I am not overly fluffy. I have missed more Disney films, than I have seen and I’m fine with that. So, while I wouldn’t call myself Angsty or Stabby, the only “bright ball of light” in my world is the sun. Which as a pasty white boy, I loathe. So it might surprise you that I am a dues paying, card carrying member of the Christmas Whore Club. I love everything about Christmas, even the corny stuff that you wouldn’t think would appeal to me.

Right now my mind is on gourds, Halloween and the cool embrace of Fall. I am looking so forward to Halloween I can’t stand it, but I have to. The Nightmare Before Christmas, one of my all time favorite films, as it celebrates both Halloween and Christmas, is usually my official Fall kick off. I saw it the other day on Netflix calling me like a lover hopped up on Oysters and chocolate. I will wait though, just a couple of more months Jack. I think I’ll go pluck a leaf and see if I can get this party started.

Some Thoughts on Faith and Intolerance

There has been a lot of hate, talk of religion and the holidays falling on my windshield of life in the last week or two. It seems those three things should not be able to co-exist. In fact one would hope that one of those would cancel the other out, or at least not be the source. So how do we tolerate the intolerable? How do we honor our freedom to speak our truth even when it flies in the face of the very teachings many claim to follow? Truth is I don’t know. I’m just a guy who tries to be his best self and stumbles quite a bit in the process. It sure seems there is a war brewing. Jesus is white. Santa is white,  I’m offended at you wishing me a Merry Christmas…

It seems so pointless and trivial. I could tell you of a large school of thought that would point out that Jesus was Middle Eastern and his birthday would have been no where near December. But what does it matter? Why does it matter? If we weren’t so wrapped in something as fragile as appearance, why would it matter what color he was?  People are putting so much energy into something that should be of no consequence. If this matters to you, I ask you to ask yourself, why? Shouldn’t any following of Jesus be based on his teachings, and only his teachings? And what of these teachings? Why are those that seem to shout the loudest the least informed about their own chosen path? I’ve read the bible, but I certainly wouldn’t consider myself an expert. In fact I wouldn’t consider myself an expert on anything…except maybe tacos. How novel of an idea is that? To remove the pressure of knowing everything, to be a perpetual student, always learning. But I digress into flights of fancy. 

I know of no passage in the new Testament where Jesus espoused hate and intolerance. I mean he got a little cranky with those temple merchants but I remember teachings of tolerance, and love. So how does that translate to so many of his followers as the exact opposite? I don’t know. It sure makes me wish more people would read the manual that their whole life philosophy stems from. It’s good stuff.

I’m not Christian, but many of the teachings are good rules to live by.  As are the teachings of the Buddha, Mohammed, the Torah and numerous other philosophies. Which by the way, most have the same teachings, so why must we beat the crap out of each other with our differences when the similarities far outweigh the differences? What is it with our addiction to division? With our obsession with uniformity? How can a nation built on freedom be so allergic to it?

We live in a largely Christian nation. I have no problem with that. I say Merry Christmas…happily. In my mind I am wishing you happiness and joy for the season. Of course ideally it would be year round, but lately we can’t even get through a season. So while I follow no particular path, but rather all paths that offer me something to learn, which are most, I am still in the minority. I’m fine with that. I have no need for matching jersey’s. But where I take issue and a lot of those people who are supposedly at “war” with Christmas, is the intolerance of any other point of view. I don’t mind honoring the traditions of the many, as long as the many honor the possibility that others find a different path to a good life. It does nothing to me to honor Christianity. It takes nothing away from me. So why are so many threatened at the simple acknowledgment of the unique mind. Isn’t that our greatest gift no matter who you think the creator is?

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We live in complex times. It’s the price of our progress as a species. That’s why you don’t learn calculus in kindergarten. Race. Guns. Wealth. It seems a good place to start is where we are. Honor the complexities and admit that we don’t know everything. Admitting what we don’t know seems a good start to knowing.

 

The purpose of this piece is not to give you the answers, I don’t know them. It’s not to tell you what to think, but to implore you to think. Tolerance should be a human instinct. If you follow a path, are you honoring it with your humanity? If you don’t follow a path you are still a part of humanity, and that is the road that we all share. 

 

As for what color Jesus is, I still say it shouldn’t matter, but personally, I think he’s purple.

Published in: on December 19, 2013 at 8:47 PM  Comments (2)  
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Walk On The Wild Side; Growing Up With Prostitutes and Lou Reed.

I’ve been neglectful of my blog for some time. Last thing I posted was something I wrote for a performance piece. Not an original post. I posted it because I felt I should let the readers and followers that I am so grateful for, know I was still here. A pebble on a window pane.  Meanwhile I struggled with what to say. I faced this at the start of my blogging journey, and was surprised at what came out. It was not the subject matter I expected, nor the tone. In fact I became a kind of blogger of death, rather than a guy who pulls down his pants and honks a horn. That last part has less to do with blogging and more to do with a lifestyle choice. Chicks dig it.

Wouldn’t you know it though, that another death would bring me back to the page. In this case Lou Reed. He was a hero and guide to me. I grew up in San Antonio. But in my imagination, I lived in New York. Not the New York of now, but the old New York, before it was cleaned up. The mean streets. I was different, New York seemed home to the different.

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Lou Reed became my guide and mentor to New York and the shadow side of life. I had no idea what a transvestite  was. What a prostitute was. I learned that Head could mean something other that what I would put my baseball cap on. I learned that people put needles in their arms, becoming their own doctors and making bad choices. It began a life long interest in the people that no one else saw. The invisibles.

I looked for New York in San Antonio. I might see an alley, and with some flexibility and imagination, I could almost see it as a New York alley. Through Lou Reed, I discovered those well dressed women in my neighborhood that I always thought were walking to the store, were actually prostitutes. I just thought they were rich and dressed up wherever they went. Friendly too, they always seemed to be leaning into a car giving directions. Some drivers were so lost that the women got in the car with them.

Lou Reed told me what they were, what they did, even why they did it. I was thrilled! We had prostitutes! Just like New York.  I lived close to downtown and I was already sneaking out at night, riding my bike to visit the homeless people downtown. I liked stories, they seemed quite willing to tell theirs. It seemed important to them that someone knew their stories. As the hour would grow late I would leave downtown so I could get some sleep before school at St. Cecilia’s the next morning. I started spending a little less time with the homeless, and more time with the prostitutes. On my ride home I would ride down Cherry Street, find the girls, say hello, sit on two old tires, and watch. First they tried to shoo me away, when that didn’t work, they seemed to find amusement in me, a sort of pet. Eventually they talked. They seemed to need to talk even more than the homeless people. I saw some walking, some talking to people in the cars and disappearing for an hour or so. Sometimes they would come back and step into a shadow. I would watch their silhouettes as they would wrap their arm, then put a needle in it, pause for a moment, then slide down the corrugated metal wall they were leaning against. A while later they would emerge right as rain.

I visited even more, they seemed to talk to me even more. They were also protective of me, as were the homeless guys downtown. My mother died when I was 3. I was raised by a grandmother who was cruel and distant.

Two of these women, one named Jasmine, the other Denise would become the closest I would ever come to knowing what it was like to have a mother. One day Denise never came back. Jasmine told me that the last time Denise took her shot, she got “bad medicine.”

Lou Reed changed the the way I looked at the world. What started out as characters, became people, the most human among us. I’d like to say that it was the Church and Catholic School who taught me tolerance and compassion. But they seemed to be teaching something quite different. It was Lou Reed’s songs and stories that taught me the importance of story; of knowing the story behind a life, of hearing it when it’s told, and doing it right if you ever were the one to tell it.

I still love New York. Even many years later when I became a rabid Red Sox fan. I love the character of a city, so full of characters. It is the creative epicenter. The birth canal for creative expression.

Lou was my first favorite writer, he opened the door to me finding others. He taught me how to see the darker side of life more through your heart and less through your eyes.

Thank you Lou. You will be missed.

Published in: on October 30, 2013 at 7:33 PM  Comments (6)  
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The Tao of Woo

When one fancies another there begins a dance. It is called The Woo. In nature there is either an easier Woo, or no Woo is required. For us humans however, this can at times be dangerous business, fraught with peril and humiliation.

To best understand the Woo, we must learn some of it’s history and go over some mistakes to avoid.

The evolution of The Woo:

After Adam and Eve screwed things up for all of us, we had to work (hard) at seeing each other naked. During the Cave Dwelling period, one would simply walk across the cave and draw a picture on the wall, point to it, and grunt.

Then came post cave days. The complexities of the Woo grew, as did the danger. Now it was fathers with hatchets and guns. This usually also involved the trading of a sow, (In Texas this is still the case.)  Still,  if your woo was found wanting, it was a long walk back. Horses came, cars, telegraphs and telephones. All this made things a little easier, but with this ease came the pressure to raise the  level of one’s Woo.

Then came Email which pretty much killed the art of the handwritten note, once a great source of The Woo. Email led to chatting, you didn’t see the person you were chatting with, but everyone who did it seemed to be gorgeous! Texting arrived. As did a whole new language. Thank goodness we didn’t need to use whole words any more. Sometimes you didn’t even have to use words. You simply rearranged punctuation marks and made little people.

There was, LOLing and OMGing and lots of Rolling On The Floor Laughing. Apparently many were laughing so hard their asses fell right off!  I guess I don’t know many of these people. My ass is never falling off or rolling. It’s a shame really, as I have a very rollable ass, and it could use some falling off.

We are a long way from the cave days. Grunting is no longer considered attractive. Things just got downright complicated. Depending on the level of smitteness you held in your heart, the Woo can break quickly and often.

To avoid the pitfalls, one must know the pitfalls. So let’s review the three levels of broken Woo:

Level One: The Visitor and the Impostor

There are those that fall down the Dork Hole and only find themselves knee deep. Often this can be overcome with a shot of tequila and a held gaze. The right gaze can make the whole skitter disappear. If you are an experienced “knee deeper,” this may not fluster you.

Level Two: Deep In The Doo-Doo Of Woo

Best not overshoot here. Do not attempt cool. You’re not. If you were, you would have come by Level One honestly. If you attempt and fail, you will be road kill. It is best to adjust your sights. Aim for endearing or adorable. Take heart Level Two, there are women who lean towards the awkward fellow. Go to any Comic Con and you will see a tubby Superman walking along side a Xena. If you are so lucky as to be smitten with one of these, marry her!

But tread carefully Level Two. Do not become too sweet or too adorable. If you overplay, you will find yourself in the Friend Hole. There is no escape from this.

Level Three: No Woo For You

If you are at Level Three. Give it up. You are like a Chilean minor without the happy ending. Accept that you will be your own lover for a long time. Perhaps a very long time.

Level 3.5: Return Of The Woo

One day, hopefully, you’ll be back. You feel a breath force itself into your lungs, and you feel your heartbeat rise above a sleepy thump.  It’s time to begin again. Perhaps you go for what you assume are easier targets. You start hanging around laundromats, looking for girls washing saggy panties, reading romance novels, self-help books, or anything by James Patterson. You learn to also keep an eye out for the hidden gems.  Maybe a girl who’s eyes point in opposite directions. Then there is the mother load! The target of your smitten-ness  has Tourette’s.  Not every guy could deal with a woman who screams “Cock sucker!” at any given moment, but she could be your Juliet.  There is even a reasonable chance she could be quite cute.  Plus, there is the cost saving aspect, you can probably cancel your cable and not lack for entertainment.

This leads us into Level Four: True Woo

I didn’t mention Level Four before, because it is a rare bird indeed. Level Four is the prize. It’s where you find out your Woo is not broken after all. It is where she looks for you. You are not merely accepted, you are sought after. You are wanted. She looks into you, and past how you see yourself, she sees behind all those fears, dusts off the scars that started all this. She shows you that the scars are no longer there, that you have been holding onto a part of yourself that ceased to exist long ago.  She saw something in you and waited until you saw it too.  Even if every time you saw her, and tried to speak. you sounded like a 7th grader speaking remedial Dutch.

Then one day you open your mouth, and it’s you.  You realize you never had the Woo you sought. Never needed it. The true you, was the Woo.

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Published in: on June 24, 2013 at 6:20 PM  Leave a Comment  
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Naked Girls Reading; Open your mind. Open a Book

I have a friend who has selflessly raised the flag and beat the drum for body acceptance and encouraging a love of reading. She literally puts it all out there. She is the founder of Naked Girls Reading Austin. It is the Austin chapter of the national organization of the same name.

About once a month they put on a performance, it is a stage performance. If you are seeking something salacious, keep moving, this isn’t your thing.  Each performance has a theme; the selections are chosen to reflect this theme. This month’s theme is local Austin authors. I am very privileged to be included. I write this post not because of this, but to honor and promote the dedication of these ladies.

Our attitudes about nudity are odd, and usually given to us by someone else. Just the other day I saw two scenes in two different shows where nudity, while not shown, held a commentary. One was sexualized, the event was bent and formed to create that context. The other was comedic, and presented (a male in this case) in such a way as to invite repulsion. So often we are guided by our culture to run toward nudity with an exploitative mindset, or we are trained to be repulsed by it, usually cruelly, and at someone else’s expense. So rarely is the message of acceptance offered. That is why I support NGR.

At the heart of the evening however, is entertainment. These are beautiful women (by any definition). They are smart, funny and have been doing this for a while. They put on a hell of a show! Each show has about 4-5 readers. Within the themes, each girl chooses her own selection. They usually have a personal connection to what they are reading and they share that with the audience. These stories can be quite touching, but often, they are simply hilarious. No matter what their day job, these girls are performers. They each have such a stage presence that you would be riveted if they were wearing turtlenecks, though the name of the show wouldn’t be quite as snappy.

So if you want to get crammed and jammed, doused in spilt beer, and if you’re really lucky, maybe get thrown up on, then you know where Sixth Street is. However; If you really want to have a different kind of evening, grab your husband or wife and come on down. You will have stories for the next day and memories that come free with the show.

The next Naked Girls Reading is this Friday at The Spider House Ballroom at 8:00pm. If you’re in Austin that night, you should come out.

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Published in: on June 19, 2013 at 3:13 PM  Leave a Comment  
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Mother’s Day and Birthdays Always Get Me Down.

It’s funny how holidays fall off your radar when your direct connection ends, or you never had one to begin with. I’m adopted, the mother who adopted me died when I was three. Somewhat down the road my dad took a fancy to my kindergarten teacher. I had a fancy for her as well, I liked her very much; as Miss Smith. Then she started to bogart my father, I didn’t care for that. Over time a muted civil war broke out in my house. My father tried to reach out and comfort both of us. It must have been exhausting.

She died in 2004. Before she went though, my father had some health issues and we spent quite a bit of time together in a hospital waiting room. Through a mutual fear of loss we began to heal.  A few years later when she died, I mourned her. Honestly I never expected to. She was my enemy. It was a shame really, she always wanted a son, I always wanted a mother. Only at the end did we reach towards that possibility. In my mourning I also mourned the chances we missed. So much wasted time. I never got the chance to give her a Mother’s Day.

To celebrate this holiday is to acknowledge all mothers, and they deserve it. They are all heroines. I mean let’s start with the birth. be honest guys, we couldn’t do that! This fact alone makes the mistaken myth that men are stronger and tougher complete bullshit. 

 Yesterday and every now and then, Mother’s day also falls on two birthdays. My cousin’s and my ex-wife’s. I was a horrible husband. Her last birthday during our marriage was forgotten by me. Birthdays…That should be a gimme. No matter how dense we can be that is the one day we should easily remember, unless your an idiot. I was an idiot. Once again I told myself that I would nail it the next year. Again I never got the chance. She came to her senses about a month before and asked for a divorce. I never would have the chance to fix the unfixable. Something like that cannot be fixed, it can only be forgiven, and by that time, there was too much to forgive.

 

We made contact a few years back on Facebook. I was able to tell her how sorry I was about everything, and I got it. This shocked her, I can’t say I blame her. Considering the level of my blindness there was no reason for her to believe one day I would gain sight, let alone insight. We exchange messages for a little while. Her family thought it weird. I suppose it was. Eventually things dropped off, as I suppose as they should. But every year I remember her birthday, and send her a birthday wish. She has rebuilt her life with a loving husband. She has studied martial arts, clearly meant to beat the crap out of me if she ever saw me again. She’s also a mother now, I suspect a very good one. 

Yesterday I sent my annual birthday message. Right after I sent it, I remembered it was also Mother’s Day. I immediately sent her that greeting as well. 

 I really must get a handle on this holiday!

Published in: on May 13, 2013 at 4:45 PM  Comments (2)  
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Boston, My Boston

In writing this I notice that this is my first blog post since 9/11. Strange, or perhaps not.

I have been away. Life sometimes becomes a conveyor belt Cul-de-sac, taking you away before bringing you back, Hopefully having seen and learned a few things along the way.

Much like the last entry, today’s is built on sadness, but bolstered by love and hope. In my 9/11 entry I wrote of being a witness, a participant in mourning, as regrowth began to overtake the ruins of Ground Zero. With Boston I write as a broken hearted lover whose outstretched arms simply wont reach.

In 2009 I answered a call. We had never met, but she held my heart for many years. Her name was New England. Rarely does reality make shadows of our dreams. Rarer still, does that reality overtake those dreams and become the source of light that now guides us.

I first stopped in Boston on my way to a writing conference. Before leaving Austin I had bought Red Sox tickets. I did it for my father who passed two years prior. He loved baseball. I hated baseball. I was there as a cultural anthropologist. I wanted to visit the venerable Fenway Park, sacred ground for so many practicing a religion I did not understand. I was not ready for what happened next. As soon as I passed through the gates and saw the field for the first time, I felt it. That tingle. That thing! My excitement grew and midway during the eight inning, A Red Sox tradition shot a laser into my heart. I stood in the midst of 40,000 people singing Sweet Caroline, I’d never felt such energy! I was hooked. I found religion. After the game I left Fenway and headed across Yawkey Way to the souvenir shop and bought all the items I could carry for the altar that would be my passion from that moment forward. I would see 3 more games before I left Boston. I walked in a hater. I walked out a Red Sox pimp and ambassador. I have no doubt this will be a lifetime appointment.

I was in Boston as it mourned the loss of its favorite son, Ted Kennedy. As his body left his home in Hyannis on it’s way to Boston, I hopped on the T and down to Boston Commons. In the gleam of the gold domed Capital I waited with my fellow Bostonians as the black limos slowly passed along the cobble stoned streets, carrying his flag draped coffin and family. I watched as the family placed their hands on the glass wearing compassionate, brave smiles. It was hard to tell whether we were there for them, or they for us. I had already decided that Boston would be my future home. I was now one of them. For a city so large it is amazing the sense of community that exists there.

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This past Monday I watched with heartbroken horror as insanity broke tranquility. As the joy of a state holiday, Patriots Day, and the bodies, lives and hearts were pierced with the shrapnel of madness. I sat helpless in Austin as I reached, but could not catch the tears of my adopted town. My own fell as well, as shock turned to sadness and anger. “You don’t fuck with Boston!” screamed my heart.

Earlier today I watched President Obama in Boston at an interfaith service. I watched him do what he does so well, but has sadly had to do all too often; Bring solace to the senseless. I have never wanted to be a Bostonian more, and though I will not be there as soon as I’d like, I will be there. Boston is my town. I am Boston Strong.

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Published in: on April 18, 2013 at 4:30 PM  Comments (6)  
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9/11/09 My Time At Ground Zero

**This is a true story, I have only told it to a handful. It seems an appropriate day to share it.

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We all shared in September 11, 2001, This is about one I shared with family of four, at ground zero on 9/11/09.

As far as I know I did not lose anyone on that day. But it has had a hold on me that frankly I cannot explain or shake. I had been traveling through New England and planned on visiting a friend in New York on the way back to Austin. As I planned my way back I noticed the day I would arrive in NY was 9/11.

I parked my truck and rode the train into the city from Stamford CT.

I would arrive at Grand Central Station

I saw some policeman, approached them, nervous about asking the question “How do I get to the World Trade Center site?” They kindly told me and I was on my way. I got to my stop. It was raining, raining hard. I looked to my right and I saw a view I had seen on TV a thousand times. It was the fence surrounding the WTC site. I walked towards it. I reached the fence but couldn’t see in. I wondered if the memorial was over yet.

t was. When I looked to my left dozens of black clad people were walking towards me. I looked into every pair of eyes that I could as I passed through them. Some met my eyes, other strained downward. The ones I crossed eyes with each had their stories and you could instantly tell how far each had walked towards their personal healing. Many still had tears to shed. There were those with wide open eyes with nothing behind them. Their eyes looked like abandoned homes, ransacked by vandals. Then there were the kind eyes with a nod and reluctant smile,

I made my way into an office building, then up, I passed through a glass door and found myself on a bridge that went between buildings, and to my right I looked down and saw this enormous crater and a scaffolding going down the middle. I spent some moments there. Before leaving a took a picture with my iPhone. It’s the only picture I would take. I went down to the lobby, then outside. I wanted to see more of Ground Zero, but I wasn’t sure what was possible or how to gain access. I just felt driven to try.

I was standing on the curb when I saw a family of four walking down the street, towards me. They seem to walk with purpose and confidence of direction. I dropped in behind them. We crossed the street and walked along the orange fencing towards a group of police men. The older man went first, never slowing down. The police man nodded and left he eyes about chest level for just a second. We each walked though the fence .Upon entering the depth of my awareness grew, If it is possible for your soul to vibrate, then mine did. I realized I was on Ground Zero. My legs got wobbly as I walked across the giant wooden platform that went between what used to be the two towers. Now they were these perfectly square deep caverns. I was overwhelmed at what I was feeling and imagining. I looked around and with each minute there, I knew more and more that my ability to ever describe it, would be less and less.

I found conviction in my legs again and I was able to move forward. I saw that memorial pool that survivors would place photographs, and roses into, I had seen it on TV so often. The workers were there with wheelbarrows gently removing the items. I wanted to take one, but felt it was not mine to have. I then saw the family I followed in standing across the pool from me. They were speaking together, softly, heavily. Then I saw an orange lanyard with a large id badge on it. I looked to the other members, they too had the same badges. My eyes went up from their badges to their crying eyes, then back down to the pool and the workers.They were family members, I wasn’t supposed to be there. But still, for whatever reason I was allowed to be there. They had dark skin and I believe African accents. They were beautiful, and broken. We forget how many other countries lost loved ones that day. My eyes connected with who I had imagined to be the father. I put both hands over my heart and then lowered my head into a slight bow. How I do not know, but he returned a smile that I will see the rest of my life. I then left, my eyes full of tears that would not fall.

Published in: on September 11, 2012 at 4:01 AM  Comments (1)  
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Cowboys, Pimps, And The Notebooks They Live In

 Once a month it is my privilege to be one of the “babes” over at www.bookendbabes.com. We do book reviews, and other writerly, bookie (not gambling) stuff. Though on occasion, and I wont say who (Dani) likes to get on Skype, put on those long petticoat pants and lift her big frilly skirt and go “whoopsie!” 

On my posting day, last Tuesday, I began this conversation about  Writers Notebooks. 

 The conversation began here, http://www.bookendbabes.com/2012/08/28/secrets-lies-and-finding-fictional-truth/.  For me, it made me realize that I don’t use them as much as I used to, but it stirred a lot of memories.

  Notebooks became something I claimed for myself, and not just for homework, in high school. I would “sketch” or record what I saw, and just make stuff up based on the people, or situations that I witnessed. I stopped doing that somewhere along the road. I’m pretty sure it has something to do with Starbucks. I would still go and write, but I wasn’t drawing on my environment. It’s a matter of character, not whether you had any, but whether you were one. I miss the junkies and the pimps of my early coffee shop days. I miss the cowboy’s talking to the junkies and the pimps. Shoulder to shoulder on mis-matched barstools, each with their feet resting on the steel rims, at the bottom of the stool. One in scuffed up Nocona boots, the other in blindingly polished Stacy Adams wing-tips. and the junkie, with whatever shoes he recently found. Sometimes they matched. Sometimes they didn’t, the matching days were proud days.

The place where all these characters came to life was a diner on the east side of San Antonio. If you spent a couple of hours there late at night and some guy didn’t get into an argument with his Huevos Rancheros then it was an off night.  On occasion someone would brandish a firearm, but no body could afford bullets. It was usually just some guy who had trouble performing with a hooker earlier, and had to man up a bit. He would puff his chest out, someone would show him some respect and we all went back to our pancakes.

  I don’t do that anymore. Of course I’m not that guy anymore either. If I saw a gun now, I’m getting under something! But my post for the Babes did get me thinking about the remembered days of sketches and song. I tend to put most of my notes in my iPhone now, even though I carry a Moleskine in my back pocket. So as Waylon Jennings put it “Maybe it’s time we got back to the basics…”.  So I grabbed a couple of fistfuls  of Composition Notebooks for .50 each (Tis the season you know.) 

 It didn’t take long for the stories show themselves. I approached an intersection where there was a woman holding a cardboard sign. She was dancing, and dancing well I must admit. I suspected that she probably once had, or perhaps still had a career in the dancing arts. Probably the exotic kind. She walked up the line of cars, to as many views as she could get before the light turned and the cars would roll on past her. She would stop at one from time to time. I couldn’t be sure whether she stopped because she saw merciful eyes, or the other kind of eyes that she has seen all too often, and usually gave her money as well.

The light turned green and as I slowly drove by, I looked at her and smiled, then read her sign. In big black ink it read “I was wrong.”   

 

 There are stories everywhere.

Published in: on September 4, 2012 at 5:14 PM  Comments (2)  
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The Crockpot Method To Writing

When I first started this blog it was because as a writer of these Social Media times, I was supposed to have one. That’s similar to the path of how I came to writing to begin with. Originally I wanted to direct films. If I wanted to do that, I had to write them, or find investors, so writing it was. After chasing that dream for a long time, I stopped chasing. I realized I really didn’t want to catch it after all. Being a writer seemed to fit me better. My friends told me I should write, after all I already wrote screenplays, and I could quill a pretty snappy greeting card. So I should write. Right? 

The same year I decided to no longer pursue directing, my Step-Mother died. Two years later my Father would follow. I  moved back to San Antonio and into their house. Cleared it and sold it (this took a year.) I then  drove from Austin to Maine and all parts New England and back–twice! On the second trip I spent 6 months out there. To quote Henry David Thoreau, one of my heroes, “I went into the woods to live deliberately.” With any luck I hoped to quiet my mind enough so I could hear The Universe, or even the guy at the drive-thru, anyone, tell me what was next for my life. I needed a burning bush, so I headed for trees. Lots of trees, and not much else, except for those little bastard black flies. At times I was so remote in the woods of Northern Maine that the only voices I heard seemed to be coming from the trees. I couldn’t quite make out what they were saying, but I was pretty sure they were pissed about me using their brethren for firewood. I went to live a story, so that I could write a story. But I haven’t written that story. Not yet. 

I chose the subtitle Jazz Hands For Introverts, because it seemed to show the humor and contradiction of me having a blog. Those that know me already get the irony. But it’s finally happened for me. I have finally come to the choice on my own. The choice to be a writer. To tell my stories, to tell your stories. To be the best I can be, to hone my craft and always remain in a state of learning.

There is a lot of work to do. Things to learn, that I haven’t before now. A very good friend made a comment a few weeks back that was hurtful to me, but also truthful. She meant absolutely no harm, in fact trying to help. I know that. I got knocked down for a bit though, and had to find my legs again. That too is part of saying yes to being a writer. But I learned moving past the fear doesn’t mean the fear disappears. It doesn’t work that way, you can’t just wait it out. It means you move PAST it, like someone on a busy street that is in your way. They are still there, you just go around them to get to where you are going. 

 

During the Olympics I kept seeing a trailer for a film called The Odd Life of Timothy Green. in one scene during soccer practice, Timothy apparently makes a mistake, one of many it seems. In the scene, the coach is chewing him out. Timothy just stands there smiling. Perplexed, the coach asks “why are you smiling?”  Timothy responds with an irrepressible glee “Because I can only get better!”

 

For some people, they just have to cook for a while. To marinate in their life, in their choices.  Everyone has a beginning, even if some start in the middle.

This is my beginning. I can only get better.

Published in: on August 23, 2012 at 3:10 PM  Comments (12)  
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