Cowboys, Pimps, And The Notebooks They Live In

 Once a month it is my privilege to be one of the “babes” over at 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,  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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Am I Nuts Or Is It Me? – The Break up

Friends, I am not one to be overly personal in this new blog venture of mine. But sanity is best proven in the open, aired opinions of others. So I must tell you that I am having relationship trouble. Worse yet, It is not merely a matter of not getting along, but rather the infliction of intentional, emotional cruelty and conspiracy.

…I think my Spell Checker is the ringleader in a masterful plot to drive me insane.

For some time now I have suspected a spell checker/predictive text conspiracy. It started in my Facebook posts. I think it is not too farfetched to imagine a scenario with the spellchecker as a geek in high school and I, the jock who tortured him (I was in band, but I call myself a jock due to my extreme calves.) Then the Spell Checker grows up and makes a deal with Mark Zuckerberg “ok, I’ll do your spell checking across all of Facebook. I’ll even do it for free. But you have to give me this one guy.” “But why?” asks Zuckerberg. “That’s my business.” Answers Spell Checker in a deep throated Batman voice.

At first things were fine, it made suggestions, and I took them. But soon it was making false suggestions. I would be typing the right word, and it would suggest a wrong word. I relied on our trust and took the suggestion, then I would see the ugly, emotionally scaring red squiggly. Mocking me. Then there were the times I feel certain that it changed my words after I posted. Making me look like an idiot! There comes a time when a person must speak truth to power and recognize what’s not working in his life. There is a relationship between a writer and his spell checker. It is built on trust. It is built on understanding. So I have decided that I am disabling my Spell Checker. I can no longer be in a relationship where the other party finds such jolly in my folly.

I find this decision empowering. I must admit that I came close to doubting myself. Thinking ever so briefly, that maybe it was me. I see now, how absurd that was.

Now to meke planes for diner and a knight at the theatir

Published in: on July 19, 2012 at 1:43 AM  Comments (2)  
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Roger Federer and Ernest Borgnine, Lessons in Belief

This past Sunday marked a footnote in history for two very different, but extraordinary lives. Roger Federer won his 7th Wimbledon Championship, And Ernest Borgnine died. How are these men connected? In brief, belief.

For years I never saw the appeal of tennis. It was like human Pong. But not as exciting. But one day I came across a Wimbledon match and found myself getting drawn in. It wasn’t Pong. It was Chess. That was a long time ago, and I’ve been a fan ever since. There are few sports, if any that call on the combination of mental focus and physical endurance. These matches can last 5 hours! A few years ago one lasted three days! Roger Federer is considered by many who know the sport much better than I, the greatest to ever play the game. But he is 30 years old, almost 31. In tennis years that is your twilight, if not outright retirement.The last time Roger won Wimbledon was in 2009. I was in Maine on kind of a pilgrimage. I had been camping and really had no idea what day it was, or what was happening in the world. But I was starting to talk to the trees again so I thought I should go into town and find human interaction. I went into a bar at the dock for a lobster roll and a cup of chowder. On a TV behind the bar, I saw it was the Wimbledon Men’s Final. It was in the 5th set, featuring the familiar Roger Federer, playing Andy Roddick the Austin hometown hero.I watched as they headed to a 5th set tiebreak, and then deeply into it. The gist of a 5th set tiebreak is that whoever blinks first, wins. And neither was blinking. My lobster roll and chowder were long gone. I switched from coffee to beer to justify my seat. But everybody blinks, and in this case It was Andy. I never wanted to hug a man I didn’t know more than I did Andy that day. But, yet, again there was Roger in that familiar place of champion.That was the last time Roger won it. That is before he won it again on Sunday. In doing so he also reclaimed the rank of #1. All the experts said neither could be done. Roger could never reach the top again. His best days were behind him. -They were wrong. 

Ernest Borgnine achieved a similar and arguably even more amazing feat, he was a working actor for over 60 years. And he did it with a mug like a pug. Along the way Borgnine was in some of the all-time  classics in film history. He won an Oscar for Marty, a role he was born to play. I do not mean to be unkind when I say he had an unforgiving face for film. But it was the heart that glowed so brightly behind it that captured us.  He found something within himself, a belief. Something brighter, louder than the obstacles he faced. We are richer for it. Both for the career, and for the lessons. The world needs believers, the ones who defy the odds. Some would say that it’s cruel to give belief to those most certainly doomed to fail. But there will always be the ones who cannot hear doubt, who cannot see anything other than their singular dreams coming true. We all have teachers. The question is what are you being taught? And by who? Are you being taught by the people who say it can’t be done? Or are you being taught by those who do it anyway? Because it matters. Just ask Roger Federer.  



Published in: on July 11, 2012 at 8:15 AM  Comments (8)  
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