Wednesday, February 19, 2020

February Sweeps - Day 19

I woke up before my alarm again today (happens five days a week), and I decided to use that time to--

No, not write.  I'm not that dedicated to my art, darn it.

But I decided to finally publish that Instagram blog post from last year, the one I took a bunch of pictures for, and never finished.  So, if you wanna see what the fuss is/was about, go to the May 29th, 2019 post called Instagram Is For Pretty Girls.  Do it, I ain't messing around here.

I did go to the library, though I didn't have the full amount of time today (they let you use their computers for two hours, but I think I got in sixty-eight minutes), and I wrote on my new story.*  I know how it ends, but not much between now and then, so it'll be fun to let the characters' deaths surprise me as it goes.

I got that writing in, then I had to go do day-to-day stuff, including running and typing this (I've found innumerable errors on my blog in the past week, and I've been taking a few minutes here and there to fix them.  Okay, cards on the table, Big Anklevich has been finding innumerable errors on my blog.  But the result's the same), but I'd still like to write a few more minutes, either on the earlier project, or on my "Dead & Breakfast" story.

Part of me is tempted to just write it here.  Ah, what the hell.

She was young, probably mid-twenties, maybe younger, maybe older.  She wasn't fat, by any means, but she had a roundness to her body, arms, big legs, around her cheeks.  Pretty, in a way, but not . . .
She wasn't unattractive, really, and Natalie wondered what Mason thought of her.  More than that, though, she wondered if he recognized something damaged about the girl, like she was seeing.
"Mase," she whispered, but then the girl was walking up to the desk.
Natalie normally smiled when she greeted someone, but made sure it was wide and warm with this one.  "Hey there.  How can I help you?"
"Need a room for the night," said the girl.  She didn't smile back.  She seemed awfully tired, like the occasional truck driver that stopped by the bed and breakfast, just wanting a few hours' sleep before getting on the road again and not particularly caring that this wasn't a Motel 6.  "You have any?"
"We do," Natalie said, glancing surreptitiously over her shoulder to where Mason sat, his head hanging too low to be watching anything but his own eyelids.  As tired as this girl looked, he probably had her beat.  "Have you been here before?"
"Yeah.  Years ago, we came through here once.  My family, I mean."  And that's all she said, though her eyes went elsewhere, and Natalie knew there was more to it.
"You have a . . . nice time then?"
"Yeah," the girl said again.  "It was kinda . . ."  Then she shook her head.  Whatever had been about to say, she was done now.  "How much?"
Natalie gave her the total, and observed the girl weigh the price then decide she didn't care what it cost.  "Is it just you?" she added.
"What?"  This question seemed more profound to the guest than had been intended.  "Oh.  Yes, just me."
"Well, then it's the standard rate rather than the family rate."  And Natalie gave her a lower price, since she was traveling alone.  Of course, there was no standard price versus family price, but something was going on with this young woman, and being nice to her could only help.
"Here."  The girl handed over a credit card.  There was a tremble in her hand as she did so.  Again, Natalie glanced over to see if Mason might be watching.  He wasn't.
The girl--her name was Rowan K. West, according to the VISA card--saw where she was looking and noticed her sleeping coworker.  "Long day?" she asked, as though she could certainly relate.
"Car accident," Natalie said quietly, and it took all her strength not to add, "Too bad.  He really wanted to be awake to meet you."  But that would sound crazy, and she normally avoided saying things that made her look crazy.
"Oh," Rowan said, and kept looking, just a minute too long.  The girl was drugged or really unwell or something.
"Are you okay, Rowan?" Natalie asked, and though she tried to put as much concern as she could in her voice, it sounded tinny to her, like she was just putting on an act.  It embarrassed her a little.
"Just tired," she said.
Natalie ran the card--it went through--then gave it back to her.  She printed out the receipt, and gave it to the girl.  "Well, get some rest, then.  My name is Natalie.  I'll be here all night if you need anything."
"Thanks," Rowan said.  She tossed one more brief glance at Mason, who was making a light snoring sound from the chair, and looked like he might topple out of it at any moment.  Then she met Natalie's eyes for an even briefer glance.  "What was your name?"
"Natalie.  Are you . . .  Can I get you anything?"
"No, thanks."  She turned to go.
"Oh, wait," Natalie said, realizing she hadn't given her a key.  She glanced back at the computer.  She'd assigned Room 9 to her.  She grabbed one of the two keys marked 9 from the case behind the desk.  She gave it to Rowan, who took it with a slight palsy of her fingers.
"Thank you," said the girl.  She paused again.  "I really like your freckles," she said, out of the blue, then went back through the lobby, seeming more than a little lost.
Natalie hated her freckles.  She often covered them with makeup, but honestly couldn't remember if she'd done so that morning.  "Thanks!" she called, but the girl didn't turn back.  "Nine's upstairs!" she called even louder.  She pointed, but was not being observed.  She realized she hadn't asked her if she had any bags (they were always supposed to volunteer to take up people's bags).  The girl had had a maroon coat, and that was all.
Mason made a gasping sound next to her, and Natalie turned just in time to see him fall forward from the chair, catching himself at the last moment before his face would've hit the registration desk.  "Wha?" he said.
"Are you okay?"
"Yeah," he said groggily.  "Did you call me?  Say something about going upstairs?"
"You wish," Natalie said, still distracted by the new check-in.
"I guess I was dreaming," he said, and smiled.  It was pretty pitiful.  The start of a black eye had spread to the top of his cheek, and half of his upper lip was still doing an Angelina Jolie impression.  He really ought to get some ice on that.  "Did I miss anything?"

I feel really good, having written a second time.  With these words and my earlier 1,617, that's a pretty good haul.

I went for a run after, and kept thinking of the scene, so when I got back, I wrote a little bit more (continuing beyond what I did in my blog).  Guess that makes today my most productive day yet.

Words Today: 3,166
Words Total: 28,971

*I was reminded of an interview with Jim Gillespie, the director of I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER.  He said that, when they did the first test screening, and Sarah Michelle Gellar and Jennifer Love Hewitt are in the car together and the one girl says, "What happened to you--we used to be friends," and JLH says, "We used to be a lot of things," that there was laughter and hoots from the audience.  Gillespie tried to figure out if there was something Sapphic in the line reading, or whether the audience was just filled with immature boys.

For the record, I love I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER.  More than anyone you know.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Fabruary Sweeps - Day 18

Oh public library, thanks for being there.

I actually took this myself, with my shit camera.
I had two projects I worked on today, and wrote right up until the ten minute warning light began to flash.  You can bet your not-as-fat-as-you-think ass that I saved my work and emailed it to myself as soon as the warning came up.

So, I was working on "The Last Friday In December," and my new, untitled Horror piece today, and tried to split them both evenly.  The horror piece is interesting, in that the mayhem is far less interesting to me than the personal interaction between the characters.  The Dead & Breakfast story is interesting in that, for weeks now, I've been planning on introducing an important new character (I even went so far as to ask people on Facebook to name her for me--got a wide array of suggestions), and every time I write on it, I don't get to her.

Even today, I had her come into the lobby, and Natalie the Night Clerk thinks, "Oh, that's her, that's the one" the second she sees her (originally, I typed, Natalie the Night Clerk thinks, "That's it, the Rebels are there.  That is the system."  But I was afraid people would take that literally).
And then I stopped. I still haven't introduced this character, that should be so important for future stories (I say "should be" because the only story that takes place after this one was the first story in the series "True Ghost Encounter," and none of these characters are there for it. Dead? Possibly).  I think there's probably something unhealthy there.

Man, I need to just start putting these stories out there.  Even if only one person wanted to read them, that'd be better than none.  I went to two panels during my convention about cover art, and the amount of money the panelists were kicking around for cover art is more than all of my writing has ever made me, including contest winnings.  I understand that the cover is the most important aspect to get people to buy your stuff, but part of me just wants to put out a dozen stories (like one a week for the next three months) with just my name and the titles on them.

Like this:

And then, at some point in the vague future, I'd swap the covers out, one at a time, with better ones.  Heck, maybe some artist out there would say, "Oh, I'd handle _____ for you."  Seems like it could work alright, but I dunno.

Sometimes I feel like just doing this:

Anyway, on with the countdown.

Tuesdays tend to be the days I'm the freest, so I could have stayed at the library longer, but I decided to go jogging instead.  On Friday, I installed an app on my phone that keeps track of how far I run each day, and calls me anti-Semitic names if I don't reach a certain goal.*  Someday soon, I'll look back on me now and think, "Little did he know that one day he'd be dead."

View from my street
Anyway, as I started my run, the sun was just going down, and once again, we got a great sunset** and I was able to get a couple of cool pictures of it.  I don't know about you, but I quite like sunsets.

View from the hill two blocks down
I did record some video, but my gasping from my run (I fear I'll never enjoy it, kids) ruined the audio.  I hope, wherever you are, that the sun isn't quite gone yet.

Words Today: 2,303
Words Total: 25,805

*Last night, right before midnight, I was walking around Walmart with my cousin, when my phone made a little announcement.  Guess I had walked/ran the appropriate number of steps for the day.  "Did your phone just say, 'The Jews are the Chosen People?'" my cousin asked me.

**Oh, that reminds me, on Friday, there was another spectacular sunset as I left the writers conference, so I jumped in my car and tried to drive up the hill to where I could get a picture of it.  Unfortunately, it was Valentine's Day, and the traffic was terrible, and by the time I got up the hill, not only had the sun gone down, but my windshield was flecked with spittle . . . profanity spittle.

Monday, February 17, 2020

February Sweeps - Day 17

There's not much I like about myself when I look in the mirror.

But I still have my hair, and that's always a bit of consolation to me.  I grew up hearing horror stories about my maternal grandfather looking like a Mister Potatohead Without A Hat On, and that, genetically, I was going to be like him.  I know my brother had these same fears, because, when he was about twenty, my mom asked what he wanted for Christmas, and he said, "Rogaine."*

I last got a haircut this past summer, and it was an awkward experience.  The lady at the bottom of the hill that I usually get to cut my hair was not in, but her daughter said she'd cut my hair, as long as I didn't mind she didn't speak English.  I told her I didn't mind, and sat down, but what I discovered is that I either didn't speak Spanish at all, or that what she was speaking was something entirely different.**  She kept saying things that I couldn't understand, but used incorrect Spanish grammar that I knew to be wrong, and I couldn't get my head around it (I've never known native-speakers to make mistakes in conjugation, and as far as I know, there's not a culture of intentional-misuse in that language like there is in English: it don't make you sound street to talk like a first year student).

What was more, the stuff I was getting from her was really overtly flirty, but she would mix her compliments with oddly-blunt criticisms, such as, "You really handsome boy, but shame you have so many pimples on neck."  It made me super uncomfortable, and that, along with the fact that she was having a conversation with me, and understood my awful Spanish, but I couldn't understand hers, made me not want to go back.

In June, I spent Father's Day with my Uncle Sam and his two sons.  It was a warm, touching experience, unlike any I ever had with my dad, and afterward, I told the story about the haircut to my cousins.  They were surprised.  "Don't you cut your own hair?" one asked.  "I never pay to get a haircut anymore," the other said.  Turns out, they just bought some clippers, and use them to cut their own.  I asked if that was hard, and Steven said, "Nahh, but I just shave my head each time."  It looked pretty good, and I thought that that's what I would do.

So, I got some clippers in July, and when my hair started to get long, I cut it myself.  I didn't shave it, exactly, but I cut it short, and thought, "Okay, I guess that's good enough."  I didn't realize, however, just how terrible it looked, until I saw my mom and she asked what I had done to my head.  So, that same day, I went into the bathroom, and just shaved it all down, Cousin Steven-style.

When I look back at photos of Self Haircut Number One, I shudder at how frankly horrific it looks, but you've got to understand: I've got no one to impress with my haircut.  Nobody except my mother is going to notice or comment if my hair looks good or bad, and part of me still says, "Then who the eff cares?  You go to school to learn, not for a fashion show."  But that was pre Midlife Crisis.

My Self Haircut Number Two looked better.  The shape of my head is an odd one, I suppose, and with all the hair gone, I guess I look more like Soong-type android, but again, absolutely nobody noticed or commented on how short I'd gone with it.

And the months passed.  My hair grows faster in warmer weather, so it wasn't until the New Year that I thought I needed a haircut again.  My mother complained about how long my hair was getting, even though I thought it looked fine (still do: if you see those first three Storage Unit Serenades, I think I could've waited another month), I thought it was time to get it cut again.  I contemplated what to do, whether to try Self Haircut Number Three, or go back to the salon after eight months.

I went down the hill and looked in on the older woman who always cuts my hair.  She had two customers and told me to come back in one hour.  So I went to the park and ran up and down the stairs, then wrote in the car until the two guys left that salon (I was adding a new bit to "Three Time Visitor" about ghost breasts, which may or may not make the story better).

Well, she cut my hair fast with clippers, and then asked if I wanted her to put a little hell in it (as she always does, and never fails to amuse me--honestly, her asking me if I want a little hell is probably worth what little she charges whenever I come in), and I was done, ten minutes after going in there.  I would've preferred if she'd cut it shorter, but I get that, if she does that, I come in less often, and this is her livelihood.

Why am I typing all this?  Well, I guess 'cause it's President's Day, and I really don't want to do any work today.  I have some I can do, and I'm supposed to write, despite not wanting to, but it's nice to sit in my room for an hour and just feel no pressure (internal or external).  Plus, I took those two pictures, so I felt obligated to write about it.

And speaking of writing . . . the library was closed today, and oh boy(!), did I want to go there and write for the full two hour session. But it was a holiday (strangely, Big's kids had to go to school today, because Texas doesn't recognize Lincoln or Washington as presidents), and the library is closed.

I want to make a word or phrase that means "That feeling you get when you're stuck somewhere and you really want to create art . . . but only because you can't."  Maybe I'll call it Church Mused or something.  But I was super Church Mused, and I finally just took my laptop out to the car, grabbed a soda at the gas station (the friendly Sikh behind the counter stuck his fist out to me when I was about to pay, and I just stared at it blankly until I realized he wanted a fist bump), and then forced myself to write on this new story for a thousand words.

It came way easier than yesterday, and the trick was convincing myself that this would be a Horror story about the dissolution of a friendship rather than just an alien presence going after a girl I know and her friends.***  Nothing has really changed since yesterday, when I was on the fence about writing it, except for that now it's ABOUT something that I find interesting (can you truly be friends with someone again, or is it all destined to fall apart the second the pressure gets turned up?), which makes a difference somehow.

And tomorrow, the library's open!

Words Today: 1,381
Words Total: 23,502

*She actually got him some too, which was pretty funny.  And he didn't start to lose his hair for another twenty years, so maybe he actually used it.

**I've since learned that, yes, my Spanish has gotten quite bad, and it's something I've been working on in 2020.  Along with muscles in your arms and legs, your language muscles can atrophy just as much, but push-ups don't seem to improve them.

***Years ago, I got it into my head to write a story about two best friends who both work at Little Caesar's Pizza, and then a pretty girl is also hired, and both friends end up liking her . . . and their friendship completely falls apart.  I never wrote it, because I felt like the story had to be about something else, with the friendship as only a subplot, but I always regretted it, because the story was pretty poignant in my mind as I thought about best friends I've had that are totally out of my life nowadays.  And what's worse is, Big Anklevich wrote his own story set at Little Caesar's Pizza, and I never did.  I guess I could still write it . . . except I won't, and this story is thematically similar, and has murder in it.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

February Sweeps - Day 16

Uh oh.  I might not make it today.

I got an idea for a new story last night as I was going to sleep (these sorts of things almost always seem moronic by the light of day--the most recent story I wrote, "Fatherless Child," was one of those where I thought it was great until I wrote down the idea the next day.  I suppose it's possible I was right about that, but I still wrote the story through to the end), and I might start writing it tonight.

There are two problems with it, however, that are making me reconsider.  The first is that it developed in my mind as a screenplay, and I think it would work best like that, with a simpler structure and a lot more dialogue than a prose story is.  I used to be pretty good at it, but I haven't written a screenplay in years, and I really ought to never write one again (of course, if somebody paid me, that's another story), but will this story work as a short story/novelette/novella?

The other problem is, it's kind of a nasty* story, and it's giving me pause right now about writing it.  Now, don't get me wrong, it's hard to be a Horror writer and be squeamish or sensitive or puritanical, and that hasn't been me for years (okay, sensitive yes), but I just wonder how I will feel about myself when this one's said and done.  I know how it's going to end, and that's maybe where I shouldn't be going this week.  I think at one point a few years back, if I felt this way,  I would've told myself, "If you're worried about it, then that should tell you something."  In the same way as, doing stand-up comedy, if you're afraid a joke will offend people, then you probably know it will.**

We'll see what I do (it's only eleven o'clock, I still have time).

Tomorrow is President's Day, which means I have no work (yay!), but it also means the library will be closed (nay!).  I really need to go there and write until the time runs out again.

But the point of this writing every day exercise is that I have to make myself do it, even if I don't feel like doing it (like now), because I want to train my body to think, "I haven't written today: I am incomplete right now."  It needs to be something I do all the time, even on days when my muse is on an extended holiday weekend at a resort in Southern Idaho.

Too much?  It's hard to tell with typing.

I didn't get to writing until I was already tired and ready to sleep.  I wrote about three hundred words and was going to call that good, but forced myself to write just a little more, figuring 500 words would be a fine stopping point.  I got just a little more than that (the story still should be a screenplay--I'd have it on page ten by now), then allowed myself to quit.

Words Today: 678
Words Total: 22,121

*By "nasty" I mean, mean-spirited and nihilistic, rather than obscene/pervy.  Cold, in other words.  I very rarely write that stuff anymore, although I suppose that's debatable.

**The thing is, it's not really any darker than "Stormy Weather" was.  That has a bleak and unhappy ending, and I've never had any qualms about that (I quite like that story, actually).  I think that, hypocritical as it might seem, my worry is that, because this has a female protagonist, I will feel bad being as heartless to her as I was to the poor mayor in that story.  I'll keep turning it over in my head.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Fabruary Sweeps - Night 15

I misspelled February, but I like that "Fabruary."  I missed my calling.

So, it's more than halfway through the month.  Except for Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, I've been doing darn good.

Today is the 15th, and I still have residual Valentine's Day sadness.  I know that I can't be the only one.

God, I hate Valentine's Day.  Honestly, there are pet peeves that certain people have that may border on irrational (for example, I had a roommate who would lose his mind if somebody ever complimented Julia Roberts, my uncle absolutely HATES violence toward women in movies [I suspect he thinks that it inspires real-life violence], a lot of people hate pornography, another uncle absolutely seethes with hatred toward Mexican immigrants [despite being born in Chihuahua, along with my mom], I have a friend that hates militant political ideology, Eric Cartman hates hippies and Jews, etc.), but I would happily get on a city council with the goal to ban Valentine's Day in my community. 

Oh, it sells a shitload of flowers, and enough chocolates to bring Jabba the Hutt to orgasm, but wow, the damage it does.  What a shit holiday.

Of course, this is personal bias.  You may love it, and that's great.  Good for you.  Count your blessings, honestly.  But I digress.  All I can say (in closing) is that, if Valentine's Day hadn't been this week, mine would've been a very different one.

A better one?  I don't know, but I could've used a bit less misery and feeling like I was a worthless loser between February 8th and 15th.

I keep thinking about writing this story about a town where Halloween is not celebrated, and the teenaged girl wants to celebrate it anyway.  I think I could do the same with Valentine's Day.  The mayor could be Rich Oxfeld or something, as a little wink to the audience, and the teenaged girl could hand out valentines to a couple of kids in class anyway (or maybe anonymously in their lockers), only to find out that there was a very real and sensible reason the town didn't allow that to happen.

Oh, if I weren't so tired, I might write it right now.

But that's just an excuse.  I still did the stairs today, and I'll still do my push-ups, no matter how tired I get.  Because if I don't, then entropy wins.

And Mitch McConnell.

Now that it's past the halfway point in February, I guess I have to think about what I'm going to do with my March.  Am I going to keep writing every day?  If not, what emphasis do I put in its place?

I made a You Are Enough video two weeks ago, and I desperately (DESPERATELY*) tried to post it on Instagram yesterday (honestly, I created an account Just For That...and it still hasn't worked), because there can't be a lonelier day than V.D. in a young person's life, so it was important to me to put it up then.  But the phuquing thing just wouldn't upload, and that makes me want to quit Instagram, which was never intended for people like me in the first place.

And maybe, if it could make a difference in some young person's day, it's worth redoing "live" into the fudging app on the phone, but seriously, I drove to a river, parked on the soft shoulder, climbed down to the shore, and recorded my video as it was starting to snow so that it would be visually interesting enough that strangers might watch it, despite my face being in it.  I'd hate for that to go to waste.**

So, today was the hardest day at the writers conference.  I've just spread myself too thin, and it caught up with me today.  I told somebody I knew I would take my recorder and talk about how I felt when it was over, but I was just so exhausted, I didn't even call Big to give him the annual report (ugh, I originally typed "give him the anal report," and it wasn't flagged as a typo).

All I know is that I couldn't stay awake through or concentrate on some of the panels today, and I found myself so hot and sleepy in the last one (some like it hot and some sweat when the heat is on), that I just went home when it ended, despite there being an hour left in the schedule.

And oh, my nemesis (not the Tommy Pickles guy--I don't really think about him much anymore) was invoked over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again this weekend (I actually typed those out, instead of copying and pasting, which would've been smarter).  I started texting Big every time he was brought up, which was more often than Jesus is brought up in a Sunday School class.

Then, after the three o'clock panel ended, I was trying to get out of the room, and I just couldn't.  The doorway was clogged with an influx of souls, keeping anyone from moving in the other direction.  It was a veritable flood of fat, sweaty genre fans pushing into the room, and unlike anything I've ever seen outside of a Black Friday sale.

I could not get out of the room, and the assholes just kept squeezing in.  The line behind me was getting longer and longer (somebody at my back said, "Come on!").  The assholes could see us, but they would not make way for us to get through, they just pressed forward.  I was frustrated and shouted, "Guys, there'll be more room if you'll let us out!"  But they just looked at me, like, "Whatchoo gonna do, wop?"***  Finally, the big bearded security guy in the hall had to yell for them to clear the way, forcing them to separate enough for us to be able to leave the room.

I asked him, "Are they giving out bags of money in there or something?"  And the security guy said, you guessed it, "Brandon Sanderson."


So, I probably should've left right then and there, because I was no good to anybody in the last two panels of the day.  Seriously, the last one was about marketing your books, and when the author said, "Of course you need to write more books, whether the first has sold or not.  If you have a lot of books to sell, all the better," I got this image in my mind of a stack of used books I'd bought over the years that I could sell to some guys at a bookstore.  My brain was no longer processing what he was saying.

Of course, it didn't help that it was so hot in that room (and I love heat and hate cold [sorry, Anon]), that I could've thrown a frozen pizza on the seat next to me and eaten it at the end of the panel.

I will definitely try to do an episode where I talk about the weekend, however.  There were really good and inspiring things said in the panels (and in my notes I put this: The last episode I recorded will be a Patreon exclusive . . . and what's more, it'll be a freebie.  Thanks, guys, for supporting me.  Never stop never stopping.).  Though I can't decide whether to do it as a Rish Outcast by myself, or a That Gets My Goat with Big Anklevich (which is twice the work for none of the reward), or just talk about it in a week for my March Patreon address.

So, I took off early, because I was just exhausted.  I still went to the stairs and ran them until my legs began to twitch and shudder, but for the last hour, I've just been lying here getting my Planters peanuts warmed by an overheating laptop, just vegging out reading emails and Facebook posts.

And then, crazy as it sounds, I went over to Audible and looked at the books that needed narrators.  I saw two books by a famous/infamous Horror writer, and for a moment there (okay, more than a moment there; I actually went on Amazon and read the reviews for the two books), I considered auditioning for one, despite vowing never to do it again.  Saner heads prevailed, but I'll always wonder if that would've been profitable for me.

I managed a thousand words on my Ben Parks story in between panels, which is good, but I'd say there's only a 15% chance I'll finish this one.  After all, I've abandoned it twice before.

Words Today: 1336
Words Total: 21,433

*I mean, over ten times trying to upload it, get it to post, get it to show up on my phone, and it never did.

**And takes?  I did it over and OVER, until my fingers were frozen and the cold had seeped into my very taint.  I wanted it all in one take, so when a guy walked by with his dog and said, "Who you talkin' to?" I had to delete and start it again.  It pisses me off endlessly that I can't just go onto and post a video that way, once again reinforcing that I never should have been on that app in the first place (which reminds me, I wrote a blog post about a year back that I never published about the point of Instagram.  I really ought to finish that.  As well as the one hundred short stories I've started and left unfinished in the last ten years).  A woman's work is never done, like they used to say.

***Not sure why he used that particular slur, except that my hair is really greasy and dark right now.  No offense taken--Italian is a beautiful language.

Friday, February 14, 2020

February Sweeps - Day 14

Well, I'm no fan of Valentine's Day (as anybody who knows me--or took one look at me--would attest), but I did what I could to keep a positive attitude.

I feel like I've already said all this.  Is this real life?

This is a shirt I saw at Target.  I love dogs, so it amused me, and I went on my way.  But I couldn't stop thinking about it, along the same lines as how supportive girls/women are of one another, versus men.  Finally, I came back to the shirt and took a picture of it.

This is a really, "It's All Good," "Loud and Proud," "My Life Is My Own," confident, independent woman shirt.  A guy could not wear this shirt without looking sad and/or extraordinarily fat.  But if I saw a girl wearing it (no matter what she looked like), I'd think, "You go, girl.  You don't need no man to be complete.  If he don't love you any more, then march your fine ass out the door."

I have a couple of guy friends that don't like women very much, and one female friend that says that all men should be fixed with shock collars that 51% of the population have access to at any time (she also said they wouldn't be worn around the neck . . . maybe she's not my friend at all, now that I think of it), but this is an area where I feel women have a support system in place, and it's a totally good thing.

If a man is anti-Valentine's Day, guess he's Prince of Losers.  But if it's a woman, then it's cool.  And I'm in her corner.  More on that later.

I had my writers conference today, and while it was fine and useful, my heart wasn't entirely in it.  Maybe you know how it is, but man, the day.  I was also pretty tired from scrambling to get that episode done last night.*  But I really did what I could to get a full day in, first going to my conference, then ducking out to get a bit of work done from the previous night, then eating, then writing a song (I sort of challenged myself to do it, and I hadn't written one in years**), then going to a couple more panels, then doing push-ups and going for two runs.

I skipped one panel and took a few minutes to write, working again on the Ben Parks story I started in, I think, late summer of 2018, but never--

Wait, two runs, really?  What the fuuuuh?

Minor tangent.  A lot of people who don't have depression or anxiety problems think it's great advice to say, "Just don't get depressed" or "Just don't worry about it."  And it's not as simple as that.  A lot of times, you would love not to think about it, love not to feel blue, love not to have those voices echo-chambering-around in your head, and if it was simple as choosing not to, you wouldn't.

But I could feel it the whole day, from morning on, like a backpack somebody had put a brick in, and every time I paused to reflect on the weight of my backpack, they'd stick another one in.  And something mental health professionals will tell you is that exercise releases endorphins, and that can make your brain chemistry change.  Okay, I have no idea what mealth hentalionals actually say, but I went to the park after the six o'clock panel and ran the stairs until I was good and tired.  Then I went to a couple of stores on the way home.  I ate some chicken and rice, edited audio for a half hour, and sat down to do this blog.

But almost immediately, I was aware that it was now Valentine's Day night, and I was going to spend the evening with my laptop.  And the horror of that fact (plus, my imagination of what everyone--and especially Her--were doing tonight) forced me to put my shoes back on and go for a jog again.  I installed some exercise app on my phone that keeps track of how far you run and how much more you'd have to do to get in shape (it's kind of mean that way), and I used it for the first time.

It didn't stave off depression entirely, but it really hurt (at one point on the stairs I started to get vertigo and lose my balance because I'd pushed myself too hard), and that takes your mind off things, at least temporarily.

After that, I had to do some real dollar-sign work.  I spoke to Big on the telephone, though, as he was driving home from work, and although he had little in the way of other options, I appreciate that he would talk to me for ninety minutes on this particular night.

Now, it's two in the morning, and I am typing this, wondering if I made the best use of my day, and if I have any chance of ever truly enjoying Valentine's Day.

I dunno, do you enjoy burying your household pets?

Words Today: 1702
Words Total: 20,107
(67% of Big's monthly goal of 30,000 words)

*On Wednesday night, I was super tired, and I edited one of the songs, and told myself my reward when I got it all done would be to let myself go to sleep, so I was very relieved when I finished the song, and hit Close on the audio editor.  Save Changes Y/N? came up, and I hit N, then went to slee--
Oh, wait.  What did I just do?  
Yep, I had hit No on Save Changes?  So I had to do it all over again the next day.  That sort of thing is pretty soul-crushing.

**Unless the "Everybody loves chalupas" song counts.  And it totally does.

TPTDNSIN 23: The Fake Sean Connery Valentine's Day Variety Show

Wow, kids, I got this in right under the wire.  If I ever try something this ambitious again, remind me to start it a month in advance, not a week.

So, Fake Sean hosts his own variety special, in honor of Valentine's Day.  Whether you love the day or hate it, hopefully this show, with songs and special guests, will make it all the better.

Just download the show by Right-Clicking HERE.

Once again, if you want to support me on Patreon, go to THIS LINK.

Awesome logo by Gino "Saint Valentine" Moretto.

Theme song was Sweeter Vermouth by Kevin MacLeod (CC 4.0 License)

Thursday, February 13, 2020

February Sweeps - Day 13

Too much going on today (got my conference, had a bit of work to do, and had to practically kill myself to get the Fake Sean episode done).  I wanted to take some time to talk about it, but I just can't.

I got a little bit of writing in, when I could.  Not a lot, but if I finish my V-Day project early, I'll definitely sit down and write a little more before sleeping.  Fat chance, though.

Perhaps in a show of solidarity (or perhaps just to be evil), my cousin sent me this today:

I managed to type a little bit in between panels at my writers conference.  It's not nearly what I got yesterday, but that's to be expected (yesterday was pretty darn great, though).  Today I started writing a scene for one of those belated "Sidekick Chronicles" stories.  They're harder for me to write than most.

Words Today: 844
Words Total: 18,405

You know what tomorrow is, and I hope it doesn't suck.  I'm thinking of maybe writing a song, just to see if I can still do it.  It's sort of the day for it, ain't it?

Storage Unit Serenade 2

As soon as I posted last week's video (the first in a hopefully eternal segment), Big posted it on Facebook and Twitter.  But he's just trying to help me, I dunno, develop the thick skin that I should have grown when I was around fifteen or so.  In a way, he's being a friend to me.

I, however, am NOT a friend to you, so here's the second one of these in the second week.  Every time I go to the storage unit, I plan to record one.  I don't know how much people like or hate these things, but so far, I'm just doing parts of songs.  I may graduate to full songs, if I can ever find the guts.

Once again, you don't HAVE to watch it . . .

Let me keep a running tally (just for fun):
Pre-Eighties Songs: 1
Eighties Songs:
Nineties Songs:
Aughts Songs:
Teens Songs: 1

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

February Sweeps - Day 12

So, we're only a week into February, and I think it's safe to say this is the most productive month I've ever had.  Thanks, pathetic schoolboy crush, you're not entirely the trainwreck I thought you were!

I finished another story today, "Fatherless Child," the story I started on Sunday when I wanted to go to the lake and write, sitting on a rock or something.

Dude, I've never finished four stories in two weeks before.  And I've certainly never finished two stories in two days before.  I told Big about it, and he reminded me that somebody once challenged us to write 25 Stories In 52 Weeks.  I completely forgot about it, but there had been a movement to see if some of us would-be writers could come up with a story every other week for a year.  I am certain I thought it was an impossible task (and hey, maybe it is), but now I'm not so sure.

In 2020, I've written, if I can remember exactly, "Three-Time Visitor," "Fatherless Child," "Fisher & Florence," "Comics Trip," "Never Let Him Go," and "Troubled Child."  Those were stories, although the first one probably counts as a novella.  I wrote "Daughter Death Star Day," but I don't know if that counts.  I also started the David Bowie story, a third "Calling" installment, and "The Last Friday In December."  I think I need to make a list, maybe post it monthly, just to see what I'm capable in a year (or at least as long as I care, you know?).

So, I wasn't going to write about this, but I thought maybe it would be interesting.

Today, while I was at the library, The Girl posted a photo of herself where she had (probably with an app) created five of her standing all together, like they were sharing the same space.  My first thought was, "I'm going to comment something funny here."  And I thought about it.  After a few seconds, I had, what I figured was the best possible comment: "Oooh, I get the pretty one!"  I don't know that it was actually all that funny, bu--

Aw, eff it, it IS that funny.

But I didn't dare post it.

I was afraid that, I don't know, she would see I had posted it and feel angry or violated.  So I didn't post anything at all, merely Liked the picture.  After a few minutes, several Comments flooded in, and many of them were variations on that same idea (my favorite one was "Who's your friend?").  But still, I think mine would have been pretty good.

But I was too afraid to post it.  And that's awful sad.*

If it had been some European model or actress or something, I'd have had no problem posting it (I recognize that that's what Instagram is for), but for someone I actually know, I just didn't have the gumption.  I guess that makes me a grubworm.  Or maybe just vulnerable.

I wasn't going to post about this, but somebody today commented on one of my blog posts that my working so hard has helped inspire them to work harder, and that they appreciate all the things I've been putting out there.  It made me think that I should have gone ahead with my asinine comment, because . . . hey, positivity can be lacking in anybody's life, knowing that somebody gives a crap should NEVER be a bad thing.

Anyhoo, the hour is getting late (so let us not talk falsely now), so let me sum up by saying, "Yes, I went to the library today, and oh yes, did I write."

Like I said, I finished the story I wrote on Sunday, and that means that I have finished two stories . . . in two days.  Savor the flavor, 'cause it sure as hell won't happen again.

Words Today: 2,877
Words Total: 17,561

*Inspired by my own staggering level of cowardice (or common sense, if you agree with my hindbrain), I intended to put another one of those Put Myself Out There videos online tonight, but it had been recorded on my old phone, and wasn't on the new one.  So, I had to try to transfer it from my laptop onto my phone, and by the time that happened, I had a podcast to record.  So, to quote Adele, "Next time, I'll be braver; I'll be my own savior."

I Read "Pigeons From Hell" by Robert E. Howard

So, even though I did a reading of it for my podcast (which is where the real love should be), I figured I'd post "Pigeons From Hell" by Robert E. Howard on YouTube as well.  It won't cost much . . . just your voice!

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

February Sweeps - Day 11

This week is sure to be much more busy than last week.  I've got my writers' conference part of the week, and work to fit in when I'm not there, and then writing every day.

It's a sure bet that podcasting, video production, and blogging must fall by the wayside.  Except that I have that arduous Valentine's Day episode of my show to get done (only about halfway through at this point), so that means video production and this blog will have to go.

So, don't expect any more overlong, rambling, personal posts like you've gotten over the last few days.  Yeah, the cries of disappointment are deafening.

The thing is, this blog probably isn't really for you.  It's more for me, or, if I exited, for people to remember me by.  I've written on it for more than fifteen years, with, apparently, more than 1400 posts, so, I guess it'd be a good way for somebody to get to know who I was and what I thought about.

But I don't know.  There are things you say and there are things you don't dare say.  Because people could misinterpret them, could take offense to them, could use them against you sometime in the future (heck, the things I feel and think today I might not feel and think a dozen more years down the line).  And sometimes, things you think or feel are just personal, and ugly, and make you vulnerable, and human.

At the beginning of the month, I took a car ride and recorded an entire podcast where I talked about what's going on in my soul.  I still haven't finished editing it and sending it to the Southern Hemisphere.  But it's easily the rawest, most real me I've ever shared with anybody, and after I am dead, maybe it can be released, because, as I've noticed at the various funerals I've gone to over the last decade, once you're dead, people don't remember the real you anymore anyway, they remember a sort of Seals & Crofts' Greatest Hits version of you.

I went to the storage unit again today, and as I started to record myself singing a song, a car drove past, and my immediate instinct was to stop singing and hide.  What if they saw what I was doing? What might they think? What if they made fun of me?

But the whole point of going there and doing that and then putting the videos up here is to try to overcome that inclination.  So what if they saw?  So what if they thought I was making some sort of dorky SnapChat video for my gay would-be boyfriend?  So what if they called me on it?

Ultimately, it shouldn't matter.  I was doing something I wanted to do, for my own reasons, and there was absolutely nothing wrong with it.  Unless my singing is wrong, which I guess I'll allow.

If I had a modicum of confidence, I'd be somewhere else at this moment, doing something other than typing this.  Hopefully with more money and friends and ambition and success.  But I don't, and there's really nothing shameful about sitting on my gluteus, typing on my blog, by myself.

I got some writing done today.  I didn't make it to the library (although I considered going instead of sitting and writing this post), but I did take an hour today, went to the park, ran up and down the stairs there, and then worked on my story "Never Let Him Go" until I reached the end.

It's probably my least-vital, least-exciting "Dead & Breakfast" story.  But that's okay.  Maybe sometime I'll write an actiony one that culminates in half the Noble Oaks building burning down.  But for now, it was the story I wanted to tell, with these characters that I've really enjoyed visiting with over the last six months.  And tomorrow, I'll move on to the next one.

Is that reaaaaally the best you can do? a buttholey voice asks in the back of my mind.  Yeah, it is.

Words Today: 1,452
Words Total: 14,684

Monday, February 10, 2020

February Sweeps - Day 10

I watched the Academy Awards last night, enjoyed most of it.

I used to imagine what I'd say if I ever won an Oscar.  Now I've put away such dreams (Hey, I got one-and-a-half Parsec Awards), though, to be honest, I still sometimes wonder what I'd say if it were me going up there.

To be honest, I don't have to have an Academy Award.  Or any awards, really.  I just want to create something that really speaks to people, that makes some kind of impact, that moves, or surprises, or scares, or amuses people enough that

But I also wonder about the things that are missing in my life, and would I trade the good things (that maybe I take for granted) for those things that I ache for.   If that creepy guy said I could get ____ (fill in the blank for all that I'm missing) but I could never write another word again, I think it would be a hard trade (mostly because I'd always wonder if I COULD have written the something above), but I'd make it.

If that makes me seem weak, yeah, well.  Maybe I'm just tired.

I think I dissed Billie Eilish the other day on here or on Facebook.  I said I just didn't get her, and that she makes me feel like this:

But then, I heard that Everything I Wanted song, and I thought, "Well, maybe this one doesn't make me feel a hundred years old.  Not like the other one."

And now I keep listening to it, over and over again.  There was something hypnotic about it at first, but now it just communicates this feeling to me, similar to what I get from Jimi Hendrix's excellent Little Wing.  I had never heard the song before January, and now I've heard it . . . oh, let's say forty times (forty-two by the time I post this).

But when I wake up, I see
You with me.  And you say, 
"As long as I'm here
No one can hurt you."

Wow.  It's what we want to hear from our moms and dads, and maybe we never quite outgrow that.  I certainly haven't.

Apropos of nothing, there was an old man that used to come into the video store where I worked every single day.  My fellow employees and I used to make fun of him and complain about him (and the literally crazy things he'd tell us), and I remember doing a drawing of him that we kept behind the counter.  He was probably mentally unstable, but I think about him now, and it's with fondness rather than irritation.  He once told my coworker Mick what his great regret in life was (it was sexual, so I won't share it, in case you've eaten recently), and Mick told the rest of us . . .

But it's not so funny anymore.  That man is almost certainly dead now . . . and how different from him am I?  Or will be soon?

I'm not going to get Everything I Ever Wanted (I'd be lucky to get to have that dream, frankly), and I feel like the closest I'm ever going to come is through my art.  Through my characters, happy endings are possible.  Magic is possible.  Anything, I guess, is possible.  So, I'll keep on doing it...

...unless some Faustian bargain comes along where I can trade this for that.  Then all bets are off.

So, I took my nephew to his basketball practice today, and I had just long enough to sit down and get my words pounded out while I waited for him.  In fact, I grumbled when it was time to go pick him up because I was really enjoying what I was writing (I'm back to "The Last Friday In December," despite not having finished "Never Let Him Go" or the story I started yesterday--"Fatherless Child"we).  I think, had I had a bit more time, I would've gotten to the meat and potatoes of the story (basically, introducing a new character that should span two or three of these "Dead & Breakfast" stories).  On Wednesday (his next practice), I'm taking my laptop with me, and just sitting there the whole time.

As it stands, I didn't get all that much in (went through "Fisher & Florence" and added another couple hundred words), but I still wrote (and exercised, between you and me) every day this month.

Words Today: 1,625
Words Total: 13,232

Hey, and I didn't even cry tod . . . oh wait, I nearly finished the book I've been reading.  And at least two tears unabashedly fell.  This has been quite a wild ride, folks.  When it ends, I hope I decide it was a good one.

Sunday, February 09, 2020

February Sweeps - Night 9

Often I think about sadistic choices, such as, "For a single semi-passionate kiss from What's-Her-Name, would you forgo watching The Gay Man's Super Bowl for the rest of your life?"

And jeez, that one is hard.  On the one hand, I may well trade ANYTHING to swap spit with the girl I lurve, but on the other hand, I just love the Oscars.  I love it for the same reason you assholes hate it.  Probably for the same reason the even bigger assholes out there love the real Super Bowl.

I remember watching, maybe 1996's Oscars (the one where BRAVEHEART won), and Kirk Douglas came out, right after having his stroke.  He was in bad shape, and it was difficult to understand what he was saying.  I wasn't even that big a fan, but it was a reminder that the biggest, most iconic movie stars, are people, and people will eventually get old and pass on.  And that was, what, twenty-four years ago?
(Douglas just died this week, at a hundred-and-frigging three)(the frigging was added)

That was the first time I ever cried watching the Oscars.  It was at a get-together with friends, and it was such a good time, that I vowed to never miss them again (and I don't suppose I have, once I could watch recap videos and such on the nights when I was working and there was no way to watch it).  My favorite viewing party was in 1999 (the year SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE won), where a big group of us that loved film laughed and made fun of it all the way through, and a soon-to-be-ex-friend of mine (god, the guy was such a dick; it's one of the few times I've lost a friend and not regretted it), leaned over and said, "Next year at this time, PHANTOM MENACE will be winning all of these."

He said it unironically, and I guess it seemed like a possibility at the time.

Anyway, I hope 1917 wins tonight.  It was a remarkable achievement.  I will be watching, and unless I am very, very wrong, I will certainly cry.

I am grateful to be alive, even if I often wish otherwise.  Glad you're alive too, despite your love for football.

I went for a drive this afternoon, not sure where to go, but with a lot on my mind.  I had brought my laptop, just in case I felt like doing some writing (which I have to do anyway, especially since the library's closed today).  I didn't know where to go, but finally, I saw Big Anklevich's old neighborhood across the lake, and I decided to go there.

I drove into a housing development pretty much built up alongside the lake that I had never been to (or even seen before), and when I described it to Big over the phone, he didn't know what I was talking about.  Turns out, it was built in 2018, and Big left in 2017.  But it was all new and shiny and expensive-looking, and there were lots of No Trespassing signs and Neighborhood Association Members Only signs posted, so my plan of taking my laptop and going to the lake to write were dashed.  Also, it is February, and I was dumb to walk around out there, let alone think about writing by the water.

It bleeping amazes me that the same phone could take this gorgeous picture as took the one of me and my nephew (taken yesterday) in yesterday's post.  Sigh.

So, I went to a park, and sat down, got on my laptop, and edited some audio for a while (got a reading for another podcast that I can't wait to share with people).  Then I started on yet another new story* (since I had no internet, I didn't have access to my works-in-progress in my email, so it felt like the thing to do), and got about a thousand words in before I started to fall asleep (I may actually have fallen asleep, I can't remember).  Then I got out and jogged around the park before I got back in the car and drove home, hands freezing.

Well, I feel like I accomplished something today, even if I really didn't.

Okay, Oscars are starting.

Words Today: 1245
Words Total: 11,607

*This one is about a single mother who didn't know her father, meeting the man for the first time.  It may not be any good, but I'm going to give it my best shot.

Saturday, February 08, 2020

February Sweeps - Day 8: By A Nose!

I have to give this one a subtitle, because . . . wow, this was a close call.

So, despite staying up very late last night (and very late for me means, I can chat with my buddy Jeff in Germany or Gino in New Zealand, because they're already up and in the middle of their days), I woke up early this morning, and thought I would check out the swap meet the started up in town.  I drove past the building last week (when I was hanging out with my nephew, grooving to tunes*), and was surprised to see a swap meet there.  So I checked its hours last night, and drove over immediately this morning to check it out.

I don't know what I expected to find, but I sure didn't expect to find . . . nobody.  Absolutely nobody.
And I don't mean there weren't any customers.  I mean, there were booths set up to sell various bits of junk--my understanding is that it's a Hispanic enterprise, intended for that clientele, since the signs weren't in English and Spanish, but just in Spanish--but there was nobody manning them.  No vendors were in sight.  I could hear somebody talking (en espaƱol) in the back room, but I could have walked out with two armfuls of unlicensed (or expired) medications, and no one would ever have known.  Instead, I called Big Anklevich and told him about it.  Quite an adventure (he said, ironically).

My nephew had his last basketball game today, on the team where he's the star player (there's also a second team he plays on, where he seldom gets to shine--and isn't all that good--but I try not to go to those games), and though they lost (and have lost every game this season), this was the closest they've ever come, with a score of 42 to 36.

Then my OTHER nephew had a basketball game, and I have to admit that I zoned out and read through most of that.  Sorry, I know that's heartless, but he rarely even gets the ball, let alone makes a basket.

After that, we went out to eat, and while I'm glad I went, at the time I was worried about missing my writing window, since the damn library closes early on Saturdays, and that it was going to cost a lot of money (I'm a cheap bastard, you see, hence the women lining up outside my door).  But there are fewer dinners out ahead than there are behind, so it's good that I came along.  Then, they needed to stop off at the pet store (which took forever), and then wanted to take my mom to Walmart to get her Sunday dinner shopping done (which took forever times three).

By the time I got home, it was getting late, but I hopped in the car and headed on over to the library.  I sat down, and didn't even mess around on the internet (like I usually do), I just got to writing.

I got into it really quickly, thank goodness, and got into it, writing it all the way to the end. And wow, I don't know that I've ever had such a fast turnaround on a story before--literally coming up with the idea yesterday, and finishing it today (now, in my opposite-of-defense, it's a really short story, and probably needs another bit of detail and a few more paragraphs bridging the two days' work)--and it reminds me: Big Anklevich did the exact same thing this week, starting a story on Wednesday and finishing it on Thursday. So, you see . . . we are brothers!

I should do a post/rant/podcast about how unfair it is that girls are so affectionate with each other, and guys aren't allowed to be (if you don't know what I mean, then you, sir, are a liar and a rogue).  Sometimes, you need--aw, who am I kidding, I need--some kind of human connection, more than just a nod or a high-five, of the sort girls always seem willing to give to each other.  But regardless, I never tire of discovering my friend and I have something in common and saying (in a vaguely Eastern European accent), "You see?  We are brothers!"

It's one of my favorite things, and I have a feeling the image above (I just created) will be back again and again.

But anyway, I almost forgot the point of this story.  I typed "the end," then started texting Big to tell him my word count.  And the lights above me started to flash.  The library made their announcement, "The library will be closing in five minutes, please take all your check-outs to the kiosks now."  So, I knew I had five minutes to get the word count, save the story, and email it to myself.  At the top of the computer, a countdown began.  I got the words (just over a thousand), I posted it into an email to myself, and--

And the computer logged me off.  No final warning, but with three minutes left, it just turned off, right then and there.


I had been, no joke, less than a second from hitting Send.  I had created the email, put in my own address, and was clicking Send, when it all went away.

No (again).

I looked around.  There were two or three other people at desks, working, and their computers were shutting down too.  But this had never happened before--the countdown is there to tell you how much time you have left, so that you save your work before it reaches zero.

I got on my phone to text Big what had happened, so angry and disappointed in myself. If I hadn't done the word count thing, I would've had the email sent.  If I hadn't texted him my word count, I would've had the email sent.  If I had, I dunno, picked my nose or farted one time fewer, I would've had the email sent.

But then I checked gmail on my phone . . . and wouldn't you know, there was the email, just in Drafts instead of my Inbox.  And I breathed a sigh of relief.

So, I survived . . . by a nose.

Oh, and yeah, I did cry today, seeing a TV spot for THE CALL OF THE WILD.  It looks like it could be a good movie, despite having a jarringly-CG main character . . . but at the end of the commercial, my man Harrison Ford patted it on the head and said, "You're a good dog," and well, that's all I needed.

Girls who are friends and dogs with owners . . . they seem to get it.

Words Today: 1120

Words Total: 10,362

*Did I blog about this?  I don't think I did, since it was before February, when I blog every day.  But I took my nephew up to the capital and let him pick half the songs we listened to on the way.  My rule is, if it's a song I hate, I get to veto it, but if it's a song I don't know, I'll let him listen to it, and hey, maybe it'll turn out to be a song I like.  It HAS happened, believe it or not.
So, we're driving around, and some Girl Power track with a Soul vibe starts up, and my nephew says, "Don't change it!" and I start listening with him.  It turns out, it's a song called Good As Hell by Lizzo.  It's a song I've never heard, by an artist I'd never heard of (before that day), but my nephew knew it, and about a third into the song, he starts singing along, unabashedly, able to do the super-high parts because his voice hasn't broken yet.  And instantly . . . I am loving this song.

The lyrics go "If he don't love you anymore,
Just walk your fine ass out the door!
And do your hair toss,
Check my nails;
Baby, how you feeling?
Feeling good as hell!
Baby, how you feeling?
Feeling good as hell!"
By the second time through the chorus, I too, and doing the "Feeling good as hell" part in a falsetto, which only encourages my nephew to sing louder.  And he laughs just about every time we do it, because he knows we're getting away with something (a song with kid-friendly lyrics like Yes, Lord, tryin' to get some new shit, In there, swimwear, goin-to-the-pool shit), and that makes me laugh uproariously, while trying to pull off the soprano "Feelin' good as hell!"

And in that moment, I gotta say, I had never felt closer to the kid.  It was this crazy moment of realization--one of those that I've written about, but seldom actually happen--where I understand, on a fundamental level, that this moment is Special (in my stories, it's usually an epiphany like, "Oh my god, I'm never going to see her again" or "And at that moment, I understood that one day, my Uncle Rish was going to die...that we all would, and soon").**  And I posted on Facebook, that, I had little doubt that singing that song in the car with him would one day be my most cherished memory of the boy.
In fact, the next time I saw The Girl, I thought maybe I'd tell her about it, and see if it made her smile.  Or like me.  Or something.  But I had forgotten the name of the song, or how it went.  I assumed there was only one Lizzo song, but when I asked her, she sang a bit about getting a DNA test (which I later listened to, thinking, "Well, if I liked one song by Lizzo, I'm sure to l--"  Nope.  It was utter shite), and that wasn't the one.  When I described it to her, she knew which one I was talking about, and I finished the story, and she said, "That was awesome!" which was very sweet, but I could tell she was only humoring the old, nerdy grandpa that stares at her with such pathetic longing, every time she happens to see him.  And hey, I ain't picky: I'll still take an insincere "that was awesome," because, hey again, at least it was an interaction.
Anyhow, a few days later, I'm taking the boy home from his basketball practice (I always take him to the Monday and Wednesday ones, since his mom is working at the county jail those days), when the song comes on again.  Kayden has an iPhone, so I told him, "Turn on the camera, and video us singing this song!"  And he did.  In my mind--and it's all part of this desperate and hopefully-not-pathetic (but probably very) attempt on my part to feel relevant and young--if I posted something like this online, people would see it and think I was cool.  So we belted out the song again, and I think I had the whole chorus down, so it probably came out better than the first time we sang it.
But the second it was done, my nephew opens up the file to look at it, and because I'm driving, I don't get to see it--"Keep your eyes on the road, Matt"--and the boy discovers that, because he was the one holding the phone, the microphone picks up his voice way stronger than it does mine.  And that upsets him . . . so he deletes the file.
Arrrrgh.  I didn't even get to see the video, let alone share it with y'all.  I guess he's already at that age where he doesn't want to take pictures of himself or see himself on vide . . .
Oh.  My nephew is just like me.
I'm sorry.

**Jeez, I've never had a postscript have its own postscript before.  But one time, a friend of mine was having a really hard time in her life, with pain and fear and loneliness and responsibilities all piling up, and she chose me to unburden on.  And she started to cry--but not the restrained, keep-it-together kind of crying, but the unabashed, chest heaving, snot-from-the-nose crying that you don't let anybody see (which I'm sure I'll experience on my own any day now, and do not look forward to), but she was letting me see, and be a part of.
And I realized at that moment, "This may be the most intimate thing I've ever had a girl share with me."  It really was a special thing, though I'm probably not explaining it adequately.  And maybe I shouldn't have.

Rish Outcast 163: Flawed Protagonists (Abigail Hilton Interview)

In this episode, I sit down with Abigail Hilton and talk about her writing, intending to talk about flawed protagonists, but barely getting around to it.

To download the episode, Right-Click HERE.

To support me on Patreon--wow, thanks!--Left-Click HERE.

To support Abbie, Left-Click HERE.

Logo by Gino "Flawless Victory" Moretto.

Friday, February 07, 2020

February Sweeps - Day 7

So, it's been a week since I started this.  I don't know if I'm particularly proud of myself or not.  Last week, before I had committed to writing every day, I feel like I wrote more (there's no way to know because I texted my word count to Big, and all those texts are gone), and probably better.  But I can't get that week back, so I can look at this one, and move on to the next.

Lots of wandering around feeling floopzy,* singing and listening to music, writing and editing audio, and trying to force a positive attitude on myself.  I think I finished a story ("Fisher & Florence"), worked on two others ("Never Let Him Go" and "The Last Friday In December"), worked on polishing the Lara & the Witch story so I could record it, and started a new one today ("Troubled Child").

"Troubled Child" is a title Marshal Latham assigned me for the contest he's doing over on the Journey Into... podcast.  It was actually a clever idea: he'd give everybody the title of a song by the band Journey, and they had to write a story about it.  It had to be between 2000 and 7000 words long, and couldn't include the words *$#!*, %*@(#!, nubbin, or !$%^)#! in it.  I'm sure there were other rules (I think you have to take a line or two from the song and incorporate it somewhere), but it was really the challenge of it I was excited by.

Well, this week Marshal assigned me the song, one I didn't know, off the album Frontiers.

I've listened through a few times, and it hasn't really helped me.  I've sat down on three different occasions, trying to determine why the child is troubled, and if the story should be about him, or about a parent or teacher.

Today, I decided it would be about the mother, and that it would be a daughter.  I sat down and just started writing, not really sure where it was going to go.  It may be the first story in three months not about (or featuring) that particular girl that is responsible for me doing all this mid-life stuff.

Even so, I wrote most of it, and I'm not sure it was bad.  We'll see when I finish it and/or lose the contest.  Cool beans, as my cousin would say.

At one point during my writing, I glanced out the window, and someone had painted the sky with orange and red.  I thought, "If I were in a better mood, I'd go outside and look at the sunset."

But I am trying, as you know, to have a positive attitude this month, so I went ahead and went down the stairs and out the door of the library.**  It was kind of awesome, the way the sky looked, and there were a couple of other people out there also looking.  I took this fine picture:

And my guess is, only two days ago, when I still had my phone (and all the data that was stored in it), it wouldn't have taken such a great photo.

I went back up and wrote for a little more (making today the day with the most words).

A week from now is Valentine's Day, and I pray I don't feel miserable then.  But even if I do, I can't give in to that despair . . . or they win.

Words Today: 2,063
Words Total: 9,242

*Oh, I'm sorry, do you not have the word floopzy in your language?  How sad for you.

**I had to go past a big group of dressed-up teens that were getting their pictures taken for prom.  It seems like just yesterday, when people were going to prom all around me--people my own age, I mean.  I always envy young people today, the way they can connect with social media, and take a million pictures of them and their friends, and make vine videos, and make out with their cousins (only the girls, mind you, I didn't mean male cousins make out with each other . . . that would not be cool beans at all).