On Friends

I have found myself recently thinking about old friends. Sure, I have most of them available to me at my fingertips via Facebook and the magic of the interwebz, but that doesn’t mean I feel the same connection I used to feel. At home, I have numerous gifts from the people who meant the most to me during my high school years. A photograph from Glacier National Park with kind words written on the back. A copy of Stranger in a Strange Land that was a gift. A note from a friend folded into Snoopy book that had been a gift from another friend.

These were the people I loved so fiercely and with such passion that there was no question that I would have died for them and even killed for them had that been necessary (it never was).

Those connections have drifted over the years, though when I think of them today that same fierce love still burns inside me. I wonder if, as a 38 year old, I’m supposed to feel that kind of fierce passion. Is that reserved for the younger generation? The current teenagers who burn so brightly and have such passion? The ones who know that they can never be wrong and who know so much better than the adults?

Didn’t we also know better? Were we right? Sometimes we were, but most of the time we weren’t.

I can talk about the time I spent in Maine growing up, but the truth is that in terms of friends, I didn’t have a ton that touched me as deeply as my Colorado friends did. It’s no offense to them, they were great people and I did have a deep care for them at the time, but when I returned to Colorado I was home and the friends I made during that time were the ones I would carry with me in my heart.

Out of college I moved back to Colorado and then to the Pacific Northwest where I was put up by two of my old high school friends. They would put me up a second time a couple of years later when I bounced from Oregon back to the Seattle area. In both Portland and  Seattle, I had friends who had deeply touched my heart and my soul during my younger years and I felt at peace and at home, for the most part.

How I ended up back in Maine is a story that I may one day tell, but suffice to say, this is where I am today. 3000 miles away from some of the people who mean the most to me in the world – but right at home with my little family. My wife has very close friends here in Maine and owns a business. It isn’t likely, barring the sudden publication and subsequent 52 weeks on the best seller lists that we would even considering moving, but that doesn’t mean my heart doesn’t ache for those green, rainy winter days that were always so perfect.

If you know me in person, you may know that I talk about how much I love winter and don’t mind the snow. In the Pacific Northwest, I loved winter and welcomed the rain. I miss the green and I miss the rain.

But what I really miss are my friends.

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The Frustrations of Publishing

There are many things to love about writing, if you are the sort who loves to write. I have never been afraid of a blank page before me. I do not get nervous when the story stops flowing freely and I have to step back for a moment to figure out what’s happening. These days I’m slower to go back to writing than I was in the past, but even seven years after I quit smoking, that’s still the first thing I want to do when I get stuck – go outside and smoke a cigarette.

These days I’ll go for a walk or pace around the kitchen chewing on a pen, or a pencil, or a highlighter cap. It’s still not the magic of breathing smoke out of my lungs and watching it plume into the air, forming ephemeral shapes and swirls. Smoking would almost hypnotize me, the texture of the smoke in my lungs, the swirl of it in the air around me. It was like being a magician, the cigarette my magic wand that would help cut through the detritus of my brain to find the threads of the story again. One cigarette, at most two, and I would be flowing along once again. Now that may take an hour or more to figure it out.

There are days when I miss smoking incredibly and wish that there was a way to smoke a cigarette that wouldn’t be harmful. Or that they would create a cigarette that wasn’t harmful to smoke. Those ecigarettes just don’t cut it since there is no ash on the end to flick off or stare at closely while my mind wanders the halls of my story with my elfin muse at my side (my muse still smokes like a chimney in my head, by the way).

I want to write and to make enough money off of it to continue to do it. The problem is, I don’t want to spend the time necessary to try and get published. I just want that part to happen by magic. I occasionally send out one of my novels for consideration and have rarely received back a form letter rejection, instead getting back praise along with my rejection, which always leaves me puzzled.

Once more into the breach, as the saying goes…

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Freelancing

I started freelance writing back in 2007, I believe. Just little articles here and there that brought in a little extra cash flow. I let that languish and lost that client, which was ultimately unfortunate. I really could have gone full time with that particular client (not as in hired, but there was enough work to keep me busy for a very long time and make lots of money).

At the time, I didn’t want to relegate my writing to things I wasn’t overly interested in. It seemed counter to my desire to become a published author. The truth of it is, now seven years later, I probably should have done that and I might be earning quite the living as a freelancer now.

As it is, I’ve got long pauses between bouts of work, though the same clients continue to come back to me and refer me. I would love to find enough work so that I could set up my office at the local coffeehouse and spend my days working on freelance stuff, and my nights working on my fiction. It seems like such a basic wish to have, like something that should be attainable.

Certainly m0re attainable than my desire to make a living off my novels.

It’s certainly not that I hate my job. I rather enjoy my current position working in IT for a school district. It provides me an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of children, as corny as that may read. It is a rare thing that public school districts are able to afford the level of knowledge and service that I have. I know I’m taking quite the hit on my paycheck by not working in the private sector, but I really don’t care all that much.

I have complaints, but I think that everybody has complaints about their work. I have complaints about my freelance work as well, but that doesn’t stop me from wanting to do it, even if I’m working on a topic that I don’t find interesting, or that I completely disagree with.

I’m good at my job.

I’m better at writing.

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Writing News

The biggest news I have in my writing world right now is that one of my stories has been accepted by a horror anthology. As I am able to release more information, I will certainly do so. I’m very excited about this prospect and I hope everybody will dash out to get their copy when it’s available.

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O Captain! My Captain!

Once upon a time the music died.

Yesterday, the laughter died.

For over twenty-four hours I’ve been trying to find ways to come to terms with the death of Robin Williams.

I’ve lost family members over the years, some of them far too young, but most of them older, and with a full life behind them. I cannot say that Robin Williams did not live a full life, but I do feel his loss in a way I haven’t felt the loss of a person with celebrity status before.

I spent last night with memories leaking from my eyes and leaving silver trails upon my cheeks. Early memories of watching Mork and Mindy on the old black and white television in the basement of the Fort Collins house, memories of all the times I got to hear Robin talk about his struggles with depression and substance abuse and how he always seemed to come out on top.

How many times did he come out on top before there was no strength left to push past the darkness?

I don’t talk much about my own darkness, but it’s been there for so many years. Most of the time, it’s just a quiet little speck in the corner of my mind biding its time and whistling its sombre tunes. Then there are moments when grows, a seething, all encompassing mass that fills out every crevice of my being and weighs me down like so many stones around my ankles.

These are the days it’s hard to get out of bed, to move, to think beyond the next breath.

I don’t like talking about it, honestly. I don’t like letting it out into the light that sometimes my darkness feels overpowering.

I imagine Robin may have had perfectly enjoyable evening. He may have laughed, spent time with his family, watched a little television. Maybe he talked a little about the upcoming sequel to Mrs. Doubtfire. Who knows for certain.

He may have been covering the darkness that had been growing inside him again or maybe lunged when he wasn’t ready for it. The only person who knows what was happening at that moment was Robin. We are all left with a profound sense of loss.

Some of us are mad – some of us cry foul that he could have been so selfish. I do not harbor such feelings, though it is understandable if others do. Media, I feel, gets suicide wrong on so many levels. It’s not about wanting to be dead – when I was in a bad spot during my teen years I certainly didn’t want to be dead, but I couldn’t think of another way to make everything stop.

Suicide, in my experience, is the desire to find some peace and rest in a world that (you feel) won’t allow you to do so. It’s the relief in thinking that maybe you can finally put your head down on the pillow and close your eyes and everything will finally just stop.

It’s not rational, it’s not logical. It feels like the only way, and when it happens, when that decision is made, there is a flood of relief that flows out to your fingertips and you can, for the moment, relax because you know what’s about to happen.

This isn’t how everybody feels – I can’t pretend to know anything about anybody else.

I think Robin let out pieces of that darkness when he could. The Widower in The Fisher King always makes my heart ache to see. It was brilliant, and wonderful. His performance was spot on and it made me cry. There were pieces of that darkness in other works as well. Good Will Hunting, where he finally got his Academy Award, let it out in little pieces, One Hour Photo, while disturbing, was also parts of his darkness.

I want nothing more than to have some final words with the man, even if I’d never spoken to him before in my life.

I would say thank you. I would give him a hug and let him know that his own strength had given me strength in other parts of my life. I wish that I could have given him some of my strength.

I wish that he wasn’t gone – there is a void in this world that can never be filled.

I can end only with this:

O Captain! My Captain! – By Walt Whitman

O Captain! My Captain! our fearful trip is done;
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won;
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring

But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.
O Captain! My Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills;
For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths—for you the shores a-crowding;
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;

Here captain! dear father!
This arm beneath your head;
It is some dream that on the deck,
You’ve fallen cold and dead.
My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still;
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will;
The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done;
From fearful trip, the victor ship, comes in with object won;

Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells!
But I, with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

O Captain! My Captain!

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Just Tired

I should have gone to bed an hour and a half ago, but I just can’t bring myself to take the necessary steps to get up the stairs and into bed. It’s not that I don’t want to sleep, it’s more that I don’t want tomorrow to come too quickly.

Think of it as the opposite of Christmas morning.

There are moments when playing nice at work is more work than the work. Times when I feel as though I’m more beaten down and defeated than doing anything worth while. I want a break, but I don’t know what from.

Ugh.

Off to bed then. Off to bed.

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On Commercials

I’m watching Bob’s Burgers on Hulu and there’s a KFC commercial during the breaks that pisses me off. It’s the same theme for junk food that generally pisses me off when they air.

“My kids won’t eat, so I get them junk so they will.” It’s giant pile of bull that makes me so incredibly angry I don’t know what to do with myself.

Kids will eat healthy foods if you model eating healthy foods for them. From the time that my daughter began eating solid foods, we’ve done a very good job of eating healthy foods with her. That’s not to say that we haven’t had the occasional trip to McDonald’s or some other fast food joint, but those trips aren’t the norm. She loves foods like avocado and bananas as well as various meats. She’s actually a fan of some of the more spicy foods.

We have always given her food from our plate instead of making her eat prepared baby foods. She has never eaten pureed foods (apple sauce not withstanding) or foods with added sugar.

In my humble opinion, providing your child with a variety of foods as they first begin eating will help that child be more open to new foods as they grow up.

Of course, this whole entry could come back and bite me in the ass when she decides at six years old she won’t eat anything but sugar coated sugar bombs with sugar milk.

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