Sunday, July 15, 2012


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Favorite childhood father memory.

As a young child,  as early as 7 years old, I yearned for my childhood to portray the quintessential stereotype of a 1950's style household:  My father being my family's sole source of income, home cooked meals, fresh baked cookies, throwing the football in plaid shirts, and church every Sunday.  Although, my life was unequivocally opposed to this idea, I continued to cling tightly, believing that if it were representative of  this fantasy, my problems would be solved.  But alas, this fantasy was just that, a fantasy. 

At that age, most of my problems were self-induced.  (Actually, most of my problems are still, currently, self-induced, but I'll disregard my current parallels at the moment.)  I worried about silly things, such as, fretting about my next hair cut appointment, worrying if I'll pass my next spelling test,  or stressing if my younger brother's birthday is next in line.  All those problems, with the exception of cutting my hair, I view as fairly typical behavior.  No child wants their siblings to get gifts, and a lot of people are horrible spellers.  However, what I worried about the most was money. 

For no accurate reason I was petrified that my family would become "poor", and I'm using the definition of "poor" very loosely.  I was an observant child, so this is where it probably stemmed from.  When my parents would argue, which I believed to be a healthy (normal) amount, I would close myself in my room and listen to every word.  Even to this day, I physically hurt when I hear my parents disagreeing.  After, personally, experiencing divorce, I don't think I would have made it out alive if my parents decided to separate.  I'm too emotional.  Like every other couple in this world, their arguments typically started with financial issues.  But again, the word "poor" is the inappropriate usage of what we experienced.  We experienced a nice case of: your family of five, needs to cook at home,more, instead of dining out.  A lot of people fall into this category. 

Here I go again explaining too much of my childhood before I get to the original point of my post: my favorite "dad time".  Don't blame me.  When one addresses their childhood, it's like biting into an apple.  After the first bite, you have to continue at a rapid pace, before it gets stale.  At least that's how it is for me.  I want you to know the way I was, which directly created the experiences that were most influential for me. 

Apples aside, I was a worrisome, quite and creative kid, with a very active imagination.  I wanted to throw footballs and grow up in a 1950's household.  Instead, I was dyslexic, overweight and painfully shy.  I did, however, settle for religiously watching I love Lucy, to fed my 50's additionsI don't remember throwing the football with my dad.  Actually, I don't have a lot of memories with my father.  I knew he loved me very much, but I always felt an unspoken disconnect.  I did spend a lot of time deer hunting with him, which I tried to enjoy, but it always felt foreign to me. Fixing and building things didn't come naturally to me, which is basically the definition of my father.  However, to my two brothers, it did.  I was an outsider, at least in my own mind.

One thing that did set me apart, was this wonderful little condition called epilepsy.  I couldn't feel envious that my brothers could seize better than I could, although I'm sure they tried, so I considered it an overall win.  With said epilepsy, I was required to get blood drawn every month or so, which required me to wake up before school and go to local hospital.  I remember getting enthralled with excitement at the opportunity to have alone time with my father, even if it meant getting poked with a needle.  The largest perk was our outing after we left the hospital: McDonald's.  Did I mention I was husky? I was.  But it wasn't about the breakfast meal I would devour, it was about my father.  I don't remember talking much, but I remember feeling so connected with him.  I didn't feel like I had to be more masculine or good at hunting, I was just myself.  One hundred percent, me. 

Reflecting back over my childhood, I can list countless accounts of how great my father was, and continues to be.  But my absolute favorite memories are when we sat in McDonald's.  Me, a chubby adolescent, with a band-aid holding a cotton ball over my recent puncture wound, and my strong, silent father, probably wearing black jeans and cowboy boots, which he just recently exchanged for a pair of slacks and dress shoes.  

As mentioned, I could write novels on his unnoticed, heroic, acts, but that is the one that I love most. 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

For Starters... Why I want to write.

Writing, for me, is like running a half-marathon - which I've completed two of them.  Quite frankly, they suck.  I train for months, with the ever so precious reward of "getting to" run 13.1 miles.  But here's the weird thing: I live for them.

My mother always advised me to "find something I love to do, and learn how to make a living out of it."  As a child, I never fully absorbed the great wisdom that she relentlessly bestowed upon my brothers and I, but now I do.  Now, I wish I would have gotten my head out of my ass, or more accurately, hers, and listened.  But things are funny that way, sometimes you have to spend time in the dark before you can emerge in the sunlight.  If I wasn't timid and shy as a child, then I probably wouldn't have been drawn to writing in the first place.  I knew I had plenty of stories to tell, I just didn't know how to express them.  And that right there audience is the precise reason I want to write: to tell my story, and possibly fictional ones, but to being with, mine.

I'm not narcissistic enough to believe that my life is more interesting or "readable", than any other person taking up oxygen.  But I am narcissistic enough to think that people could learn something from what I've experienced.  Isn't that what life's about: teaching others?  After all, Flannery O'Connor said, "that anyone who survived childhood has enough material to write for the rest of his or her life." If, by any way possible, I am able to bestow positivity by showcasing the fucked up series of events, that I call life, I am going to. Plain and simple. 

So, from absorbing my mother's wisdom, to hopefully, pure determination, I plan on freaking writing. Like a half-marathon, I will put in tons of work, and hopefully all the pain will be worth it... What's the worst thing that could happen?  I learn about myself better... That bet is a favorable one...

Friday, July 13, 2012

bird by bird.

I want to be a writer, plain and simple. So, what's holding me back, you say?  Myself.  If anyone reading this has any daunting tasks that they have been perpetually procrastinating, start writing a book-- I swear you will complete those pesky little chores.

The first, notable, time I recognized my "hesitation" towards the writing process was in 2010.  Yes, I've known I wanted to write years prior to that, however, it wasn't until 2010 that I realized I could.  The first obstacle: the perfect writing desk.  Admittedly, I'm quite picky when it comes to furniture I surround myself with; the pieces have to speak to me, have a feeling.  Shocking, the social worker in training, makes everything about feelings.  I even associate letters with feelings.  I always  confuse the words "sweet" and "sweat", because the double "ee", to me, indicates a salty feeling.  So naturally, I believe the word "sweet" and "sweat" should reverse in meaning.  Get my point, I'm fucking difficult.  So purchasing the desk was the death of me.

When I finally purchased the perfect desk, I wanted the perfect location.  This wasn't too difficult, and not very time consuming.  Next, was the art to inspire me.  This took months.  I finally got to the point that I turned on sad music, as I often do when I paint, got drunk and created the perfect canvas.  Done.  Finally, I needed to sit down and WRITE.  There was only one problem: EVERYTHING.  Any and all distractions got to me.  I worked out more.  I cooked more.  I went to the dentist more.  How frustrating this life was.

You may be pondering that it is currently 2012 and I am discussing irritations from over 2 years ago, why?  Well, the answer is also simple: I've still been procrastinating.  Sure, I've had my bouts of inspiration and productivity, but overall, I've neglected that part of myself.  This is my final straw.  One of my good friends once told me that the great thing about myself is that when I say I'm going to do something I always follow through.  It was a wonderful compliment, but I believe he is full of shit.  Yes, I do always get what I want, because I work at it until I obtain it.  But I mainly feel like one lazy bastard.  Maybe everyone feels this way, I don't know?  What I do know, is that I'm tired of it.

I have ideas, hell I even have an outline for a book, but I'm only a whopping 20 pages in.  What defeat... Or is it?  One of my closest friends recently listened to my frustrations and aspirations, and magically produced this wonderful gem: Bird by bird, by Anne Lamott.  To say I'm in love is an understatement.  Her encouraging, yet realist, writing style is as comforting and freshly clean sheets.  Today.  THIS VERY DAY, I will start churning out material every day.  Things I've learned so far:

1) Write every day.
2) "Good writing is about telling the truth." - Anne Lamott.  And, boy, do I have a lot of truths to express.
3) This is something I've already known, but chapter one quickly reenforced it for me: I write because I want to, and I think I'm good at it.  Actually, those thoughts are the same as the poet John Asbery and Flannery O'connor, respectively.  My work may not be well written, at times, but they are my stories.  I think everyone has a story to tell, I just hope I will find the focus to get mine on paper. 
4) Finally, and most important: see rule number 1.

If you are bored with this progression, then I would suggest not continue to follow me.  If things go right, which I hope they do, I will be posting god-awful stories, with topics ranging from my childhood to my favorite Real Housewife.  Be warned. 

Oh, I almost forgot: bird by bird.  Anne Lamott describes how, once upon a time, her father, also an author, advised her younger brother to tackle a book report on birds... Bird by bird... So, I guess my future endeavors will be one bird, then the next.  Bluejay's have always been my favorite.. Guess that's what I'll start with, the bluejay.