12.02.2015

I Don't Own A Gun For Self Defense

Another mass shooting.

This is becoming too common. Too fucking frighteningly common.

And before the ink dries on the teleprompter, someone will be spitting venom about gun control. Another camp will use this moment--This horrible fucking moment to further their views on the abysmal shortcomings of mental health care in this nation. Or ISIS. Or Muslim extremists. Or Christian domestic terrorists. Somewhere someone will post the obligatory hashtag of #whatevergroupyouchooselivesmatter.

And people will still be dead.

Others will still be left with questions.

I'm getting numb to it. And that's a shitty shitty place to be. I don't want to be numb to it. I want to feel it. The despair. The questioning. The concern. The compassion. The love.  It's all there. It doesn't get the headlines, because it's not flashy enough. There's no good way to write the copy of someone who's trying to help others make it through that doesn't want the spotlight.  But that's who we should be looking at.

Make THEM the story. The helpers. The first responders. People who tried to help. Not the killers.
Not the politicians. Not the goddamned lobbyists. Stop giving those fuckers one second of air time. They don't deserve my attention. My interest. My ire. They don't deserve any of it.

It was a chilly fall night. We had recently brought my daughter home from the hospital. This was a minor miracle as there were several nights in her premie foray in to this world where her mother and I weren't quite sure she would make it.

My wife heard the noise before I did. The hand of someone in our bedroom crawling toward our bed happened to hit a plastic bag. A plastic Kroger bag. She woke up immediately. And yelled. I was slower to wake. Coming out of a sleepy fog, I made eye contact with someone in a black hoodie. They ran from the bedroom. I followed. I was running blindly down the stairs after a shadow. At the foot of our stairs both the front and back doors stood wide open. I had no way to know where the stranger went. He shouted to others as he was running down the stairs. I don't know how many of them there were.

We had a roommate down the hall from us. The nursery was also upstairs. My wife checked on our daughter. Woke the roommate and then called the police.

I stood dumbfounded in my living room. The fall air cutting through my boxers. Not knowing what to expect, I reached for a carving knife. I didn't know if they were coming back or not. I think I held the knife until the police arrived.

This was about 21 years ago, maybe slightly longer.

I remember it like it was yesterday.

"You should have had a gun for protection and home defense," would be the common refrain if this story happened today (as it was back then).

And yeah....maybe. But let me give you some insight in to the situation.

I was slow to wake up. I was not fully awake and coherent of the situation until well after I had been standing downstairs for a full 3 minutes.  Up to that point I was acting on pure fight or flight adrenaline based on what my wife was shouting at me.  I was in no frame of mind to reach over and pull a gun from a gun safe, dick with a trigger lock, and pull off a round or three.

The guy was SECONDS from being on top of us. The plastic bag he rustled was at the foot of our bed. OUR BED.  There was no time.

Zero.

Secondly, I ran downstairs blindly, fueled by adrenaline and fear. I would have quite likely shot anyone standing downstairs. Friend or Foe before taking the time to identify which they were.

I have a gun. I have two, actually.  I have a shotgun. I have a pistol. Both are loaded. Neither are encumbered by a trigger lock. None of these are things I had when I was married and my daughter was growing up.

But now, I live alone. I live in a small apartment.

The shotgun is one my dad gave me. A 12 gauge. It's almost exactly one year older than I am (made in November of 1970).  The pistol is not an expensive one.

I have both guns because I like to shoot.  THINGS. Not people. They are NOT for self-defense. They are NOT to defend my home. That is not why I got them. I got them to shoot targets, bottles, cans, and concrete blocks.

I have a baseball bat that stands at the ready by my bed. If someone enters my bedroom uninvited, they will be greeted with the baseball bat first.  If I happen to be out of my mind and it's a friend, a blow with a baseball bat is a little easier to forgive.  If they are not a friend, a baseball bat to the skull will send a message.

The baseball bat is by my bed for self defense. If you come up on me whilst I'm sleeping, and I'm not expecting you, I think you should expect to be brained with a Louisville Slugger, because damn...you shoulda called first.

The guns are loaded, concealed, but easily in reach, should the baseball bat fail. Having a gun in my home won't keep me safe if someone wants to get in. The time I would have to wake up, yank off my cpap mask, grab the gun and fire at someone coming in to my apartment uninvited would be negligible. It's a small apartment. And that's assuming I heard them. I'm a heavy sleeper. I have no illusions if someone breaks in intent on doing me harm. I'm not gung-ho or naive enough to think that my survival would be a sure thing.

This is contrasted by my trips to the farm. I also take at least one of the guns with me when I go to the farm. The farmhouse is isolated. If someone comes to the farmhouse intent on doing me harm, I would hear their vehicle approaching on the gravel road and wake up in time to be readied.

I don't know why I felt the need to spout all of that. I guess it's to say that having a gun for home protection is really only part of the picture. My guns aren't for home protection. They are for backup. They are not my primary defense.

If someone is intent to kill another person, they will find a way. Guns are quick and accessible (both legally and illegally). And in our video game culture, it's easy to become an expert on types of guns. But shooting someone on a computer screen is a little different than in real life. But only slightly in the minds of some.

It's truly a fucked up situation. However you cut it. We as a species are caught in this whole murder-suicide spiral. The human race is killing the planet and since that's dying, we are killing ourselves. In slow increments.

Daily it seems.

And it makes me sad. Because someone, somewhere is profiting on this pain.

And that sucks.

Do you wanna know the real irony of this?  A gun didn't save my life 21 years ago.  A baseball bat didn't. Not even the carving knife.

My life and the life of my wife and family was saved by a plastic Kroger grocery bag.


-AT

12.01.2015

Successfully Failing at NaNoWriMo

If you have a friend or family member who fancies themselves a "real" writer (whatever the fuck that means), chances are for the past thirty days, you've heard rumblings about NaNoWriMo (affectionately called "NaNo" by those putting themselves through this special circle of hell that only comes around in the month of November).

This is the first year I've actually done NaNo.  Let me be clear. I have signed up for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) for the past three years. This is the first year I've actually written something.  For NaNo. I think in years past it was a series of blogs about how "I need to get ready for NaNo"...or "Shit, November's half gone"...and finally, much like a tragically optimistic Browns fan, "well, there's always next  year." Note, in most cases "Cubs Fan" would have been an acceptable substitute.

This year was different.  You see, along about August I fell in with a group of writers. I would say 'collective,' but they are far less Borg-ish and more 'let's take the one ring and toss it in the fires of Mordor.'

It's funny. I've been to 3 months worth of meetings and I still feel a little like Jane Goodall must have felt, "holy shit...they've accepted me as one of their own. If they find out I'm not really one of them, I'm so boned."  That's not to say I don't consider myself a writer. But I'm not in the same place as most of the others in the group. I'm not published. I don't go to cons to sell my book  (conventions, not inmates). So...I'm not really sure how I came to be in this group. But you know what? Chicken Butt. Sorry...sometimes the twelve year old in me comes out to play (there may or may not be a fart joke somewhere down the line).

But yeah, I'm in the group. And I am loving it. I feel that gleaning from them has elevated my writing (previous butt joke aside).

And because of a discussion with them prior to NaNo, I took the NaNo plunge again.

Only this time I wrote. I found the thread of a book buried in my burgeoning hatred of social media (yes, there are complex notes of irony mixed with a need for validation--get over it, most creatives are that way from what I've seen)...but yeah.

A book.

A fothermucking book.

At 50,000 words it would probably be something like 200 published pages.

Only I didn't hit 50,000.

I hit 23, 902 words. Not quite half.

But Todd, that's a fail. You failed to hit 50,000 words. You failed, bro.

To which I say. Nope. Sure as shit didn't.  The previous two years that I signed up for NaNo and wrote nothing, THOSE years I failed NaNo.

Sure, I didn't win any of the prizes.

But I have a really good start to a book. A book that I'm enjoying writing. A book that I am continuing to write even though NaNo ended yesterday. A book that I will see through.

That, my friends, is how you succeed at NaNoWriMo.

Like a boss. Or a sometimes farty 44 year old man who fancies himself a writer.

-AT

11.05.2015

This Isht Is Bananas

Ok...first off, let me just say that I'm a little sad that anytime now I want to say or spell the word 'bananas,' Gwen Stefani floods my brain and any conversation about bananas has me saying "I ain't no holla back girl" either in my head or aloud.

That shit truly is bananas. B-A-N-A-N-A-S.

See? There we go again.

Another 1700 words logged this morning toward my novel for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  I am now at almost 9000 words and have written consistently for 5 days. I know there are 25 days left in the month, but I have to say that I have a very good feeling about this.

I got up yesterday morning and pounded out 1700 words. This morning I got up and hit about 1800. This puts me a little ahead of where I need to be (or on target, not quite sure which). Actually, according to my math, I'm about 300 words ahead of where I need to be. Not enough to take a day off, but enough to feel that I am still making serious progress.

It's crazy. I have always considered myself a 'writer' per se. But doing NaNoWriMo this year, and actually writing has sparked something in me.

There was a time in 1999/2000, when I had a book that had to come out. I had my laptop at work and wrote whenever possible (sometimes instead of doing my work).  The writing took over. The story had to come out.

This book is the same way. It's something that I'm fully vested in at this point. I have a real need to see what happens to these characters that I have been introduced to these past 5 days.

I think that the writing in the morning works out better for me, if I can keep up that schedule. There's something about waking up, not having ANY interaction with anyone and sitting down to write. There's a purity there I think that hasn't been sullied by any of the bullshit that I face throughout the day.

The funny thing is, before I went to bed last night, I was faced with a real dilemma. I had seen some more of the "movie in my head" and had to weigh the merits of staying up to bang out some more words or getting enough sleep that I could wake up early enough to do the writing.

In the end, sleeping and waking up early won out over staying up. And it's probably better that way. I think that my brain works out parts of the story when I'm asleep and it's easier for me to be the conduit when I first wake up.

Alright...that's about all I have for now.  I need to go get ready to go to work. My job, that is. The one that pays the bills, that is. Not the one that feeds my soul.

I'm hoping to knock out some serious writing on the farm this weekend.

And with that, I bid you an awesomesauce day my friends!

-AT

11.04.2015

Whoa....seriously?

It is the third day of November.
I voted today as I do whenever the opportunity arises.
I worked today-as I do whenever the need arises (usually five or six days a week).

And for the third day in a row, I wrote.

I mean, yeah, I write often. In my blog. In my journal. In my underwear (what--you didn't think I bought them with my name already Sharpied on the tag, did you?!?).

For the third day in a row, I wrote with a focused goal--to write a novel. This year, like years passed, I signed up for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). I don't think it is a coincidence that it is the same month as No Shave Movember, but that's just me. So...yeah. I signed up again this year. And forgive me if you've read this story before, but I'm just so pumped about it.

Back in September I --wait. I need to rewind a bit.  Back in the summer, I was at the engagement party of a couple of good friends of mine. One of the friends of the bride to be made the most awesome cakes and confections. Her husband turns out to be this author guy. I mean, I sorta figured it out when he talked about trends happening in the publishing industry. But funny thing is, we didn't really talk about it until they were packing up to leave.

He alluded to this mythical writing group that met twice a month and if an intergalactic evil threatened, they would all take to their hidden Lions and form Voltron to save the earth. Or something like that. I mentioned that I could really use something like that to kick start my writing and take it to the next level. Because expecting someone to stumble upon my blog (awesome though it may be) and expecting them to offer me a publishing deal is akin to singing karaoke and expecting a record producer to discover you.

So...that was sometime during the summer. And in September I finally went to one of the meetings.

And it was everything I had hoped it would be and more. Sarcasm. Wit. But more importantly a general desire to talk about writing, share tips with noobs (like me), and basically not be douches.

*full disclosure, everything prior to this was written last night. Everything that follows was written today--not that it really matters*

I have been to several meetings now of Creative Minds Columbus and I would have to say while my writing may or may not have elevated, my belief in my writing has grown exponentially.

You see, I am what is known in writing circles as a "Pantser."  When I sit down to write, I don't have a plan. I don't have an outline. Hell, most of the time I don't have an idea at all about what I am going to write until pen hits paper or my fingers start dancing on the keys.

When I write, at least with fiction, I am not really creating a story as much as I am describing a movie that I'm watching in my head. In most cases, it's a movie that I'm watching for the first time. I don't really know how it's going to wind up. Somewhere along the way, as I'm writing, the ending for the movie might pop in to my head and that seems to guide the story somewhat, but not always. Again it's like watching a movie. When I'm at the theater, I sometimes think I know what the end is going to be, but then in a M.Night Shamalamadingdong twist, the end changes. I'm always up for that happening in my stories too (and it often does).

The blog is a little different. When I write these, I really just feel like I'm hanging out with friends, shooting the shit.

So...right. Back to CMC. After the third meeting or so, I guess I'm fully welcomed in to the fold because they asked me for a head shot and an Author bio to put up on the site. Some of the peeps in the group have well established fan bases and are really kicking the llama's ass out of this writing thing. There's usually a second or two in each meeting where I think I'm going to be outed, like they're going to figure out that they made a mistake and who the fuck let this blogger in our real writer's group.

But I don't necessarily feel that anymore.

I've been doing the National Novel Writing Month for 4 or 5 years now. And by 'doing' I mean that I have signed up for it. Every year. And every year I right a grand total of jack shit.

It's day 4 of NaNoWriMo this month.

And I'm at 6800 fly by the seat of my fothermucking pants words.

This Novel is happening.

I'm fully vested in this movie.

In short, boys and girls, I'm writing.

And holy hell does it feel good.

Have a fantastic day my friends. And let me tell you, it's never too late to dust of those dreams--get to it!

-AT

11.01.2015

The Treachery Of NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is officially underway. As I have done the past 3 years, I have signed up and committed to doing the work to write a novel (or at least log 50, 000 words within the 30 day period).

I am a writer. I write.

And yet, every year something happens when I sign up for NaNoWriMo--I choke. Or I fall in to the mode of being incredibly intimidated by 50,000 words.

That's why the smart folks at NaNoWriMo (nanowrimo.org) break it down in to bite size chunks.

Write 1500 words a day. For 30 days. Throw some sprints in there. And some days where you do more and by simple mathematics (not common core), you will hit 50,000 words.

So...as I mentioned, I always signed up for it.

I never logged one single word. I never came up with a title. A concept. Hell, I never even uploaded a bio-pic.

This year was--IS--different. This year I fell in to a really kick ass group of writers that decided to take me in to their fold (no, it's true...I'll probably even get a bio on the web site soon). And through their guidance and inspiration, I have taken the plunge of doing NaNoWriMo again this year.

And guess what?

I wrote.

Today was Day 1 and I just updated my word counter with what I worked on today. 1,585 words. I have a novel title (inspired by a previous blog post), and a cover.

This is the year I kick NaNoWriMo's ass. But more importantly, this is the year that I just fucking write.

Because that's what a writer does.

They write.

And I'm a writer, by god.

The novel is called "The Treachery of Rainbows." You might recognize the cover:

And below is my Bio that might make it up to the web site:

Andrew Todd



Eschewing societal norms of what makes a writer successful, Andrew has happily wandered down the path of writing for one simple reason; It’s cheaper than therapy.  He also writes for the sheer joy of taking someone along for the crazy ride navigating the waters of that which normally floats around in his head. Two simple reasons. He writes for two simple reasons. The third of the two simple reasons being a long bloodline stemming back to the Emerald Isle, where storytelling is as much a part of life as breathing. And who doesn’t like to breathe? Following a self prescribed path of the Way of the Twisted Zen, you can find his current work and words in the blogosphere where he is espousing on the joys of Cooking For One (http://randomtzp.blogspot.com)


And now, this writer is off to check on his laundry, because although I have no problem writing naked, going to my day job naked is generally frowned upon.

Have a kick ass evening...and don't waste another day deciding whether or not to follow your passion--it won't wait around forever.

-AT


10.29.2015

The Treachery of Rainbows

I drove home yesterday. It was a long day. Up at 4:30AM. In the office by 6AM.  Left at nearly 5PM.
The busy season is fast approaching for my team. We support 25 retail locations. And 3000+ employees. So, I know what to expect. The long days are just part of the job. Nothing more. Nothing less.

As I was leaving yesterday, it was raining.  My favorite kind of rain is a spring thunderstorm when I'm sitting on the front porch at The Farm.

This was not that rain. This was the cold, wet, screw you for still living in Ohio instead of moving out  West years ago kind of rain. As I was leaving, I saw it.

A rainbow.



Looked a little like that.

Awwww...how beautiful. You might be saying.

You'd be wrong. I'm not going to go so far as to say rainbows are evil. Or even that that are malicious. But they DO have a mischievous side about them.

I saw no less than 4 rainbows on the way home yesterday. And on the way home I saw a least 5 fender benders.

Coincidence?  Maybe. But I don't think so.

I think it was the rainbows. You see, the rainbows know  that people want to see them. I personally shot something ridiculous like 12 pictures of them with my phone...as I was driving...on the way home.

Yes. Yes I know that's stupid. And Yes, I know that the only time that's really allowed is if it's some really jacked up bumper sticker or decal...or KITT from KnightRider...or the Trans Am from Smokey and the Bandit. (Previously, the General Lee would have been on that list, because it was a nostalgic piece of my childhood before I found out that the KKK was actually behind the whole show).

But dude. It's a rainbow. So I just had to take pictures.

As did, I'm guessing, the people who got in those accidents I saw on my way home.

Oh, I suppose it's possible that they are just bad drivers. After all, it IS Central Ohio, and there WAS some moisture in the air. And that is when people tend to lose their shit whilst driving.

But dude. Rainbows.



I mean, even if the 'double rainbows what does it mean' guy wasn't tripping balls (and I'm totally guessing he was), there is still that sense of mystery and wonder evoked when a rainbow appears.

Oh yeah. I know the science behind why they appear. And so do they. That's why they do it. It's like the rainbow just knows that there is sunlight AND rain...and suddenly there they are like "boom! Science, bitches!"

So...we do stupid shit. We take pictures while driving. Or stare wistfully at this color pattern in the sky that is ALWAYS THERE, but only appears at the moment when it becomes the most treacherous for us to stop and look.

Like rush hour.

By the time I get on the freeway, I was totally enamored with those prismatic pariahs and then...as though to keep me from completely dismissing their colorful prankery, they turn it up a notch.

"Oh hey there AT. You need more proof that we're awesome? Here you go. Have a look--we'll ride along with you. But we'll lead you IN to the rain. And if you want that perfect pic you're going to have to manipulate your phone, the wipers, steering, and pay attention to all the other vehicles around you. Except for the ones we've already driven in to each other. Those are ours."


That's right. BAM. Right on the road in front of me. For about 15 miles that rainbow stayed in front of me. I'm pretty sure it was just messing with me.

And, apparently a Honda MiniVan is roughly worth a pot of gold. I mean, it has to be, right? Because it was at the end of this rainbow.

That or leprechauns drive mini-vans. I'm not entirely sure what the takeaway here is.

Other than the fact that I'm pretty sure rainbows just like messing with us.

As soon as I got home, I hid me lucky charms.

-AT




10.26.2015

Spoiler Alert

Spoiler Alert...your favorite character on The Walking Dead is dead.

No. Really. It's true.

They all are. The show is called The Walking Dead for fuckssakes.

Did you miss the part early on where they were at the CDC and found out that everyone was infected?  At that point I pretty much figured it would be a matter of time before someone I dug beefed it on the show (so far Maggie is still kicking it, so I'm holding out hope).

And I long ago stopped caring that it didn't follow the comics.

Spoiler Alert...I'm something of an asshole.   And I say that only because I have friends..and you probably have them too, that are very vehement about everyone NOT posting the spoilers.  The posts usually go something like this:

Stuck at work tonight...NO SPOILERS!! I can't watch TWD until tomorrow!

Srsly you guys---no spoilers.

Aww man...I heard TWD is getting intense!! It's DVR'ing right now. NO SPOILERS!!!!


Invariably someone will say something because...well..it's Facebook and did you really expect the tsunami that is social media to give a rat's ass that you're pulling a double at Stuckey's on a Sunday night?  Ummm. No. So then it gets all...

THANKS A LOT A$$H*(ES! THANKS FOR SPOILING IT THAT STARBUCK WAS A CYLON!!!

Which makes me giggle even more because they have just done the one thing they pleaded with their 'friends' not to do.  Which is spoil it for someone else.

If you want to avoid spoilers, you will have to avoid the internet and any kind of entertainment news source for the duration of a series. Or..I dunno...just get over it? Accept the fact that someone is going to talk about it. That's EXACTLY what the producers want. Chatter. Buzz. Conversation. Crazy theories about how Lori isn't really dead at all or Rick's actually in a coma brought on by being shot in the very first episode.

I myself have a fairly good system...I wait so long to watch a series that it doesn't matter.  For example...Season 6 (the current season) of Walking Dead wont' be on Netflix for at least a year.

If I remember 1/2 of what I read on Facebook today before my head hits the pillow, I've got bigger problems than Michonne getting pummeled with a 5 Gallon Steel gas can. Oops. Did I spoil that? Didn't happen on this week's episode you say? Hmmm.  You know that the TV series is based on comic books, right? And that the comic books are ahead of the series in the timeline, right?  OK. Just checking.

Point is...it's not going to matter when I sit down to watch the show.  Because I won't remember that stuff 12 months from now.  I don't know if it's because I'm crazy and there's just so much shit floating around in my head that by the time I sit down to watch a show, I don't care what you said about it before. Or is it because I can just watch something and be totally caught in the moment without having to overanalyze it?

Dunno.  Could be both. Could be neither.  Funny thing is...I can't do that with my real-world interactions. I can't turn off the part of the brain that overthinks things to death.

When I write...I can lock on to that story flow like nobody's business. But if I'm having a conversation with you in real life, there's a good chance I've thought through 4 different ways the conversation could go and have already been pissed at you for at least 2 of them.

It's a gift. Maybe.

I don't know.  I'm still not really sure how to parlay that in to something that will translate in to extra pizza and beer money.

Maybe it won't.  Maybe you're sitting there thinking that this blog you're reading is a waste and you wonder why I even write it to begin with.

A). I write it because I have to. There is a need buried deep in my DNA that compels me to tell stories.

B). Glenn isn't really dead. Calm down.

C). I lied. They're all dead, remember?


And speaking of them all being dead. I was driving home tonight staring at the huge moon hanging low in the sky and was thinking to myself  What a crazy metaphor. There is the moon. I know that logically the moon didn't grow gigrundous overnight. It's still the same size moon. but it LOOKS MASSIVE.

And that led me to wonder...how many super moons are in my life right now? Things that I know, logically, are no bigger or more important than they ever were but that seem massive right now because of some trick of the light?

And from there, I somehow got to thinking about the things that scare us.  Is a thing more terrifying if it knows right from wrong and still chooses evil anyway? Or is a thing more terrifying simply because its sole purpose is to kill?

Zombies are generally regarded as mindless killers. The Werewolf, it its animal form, also wild.  Are these things with their blood lust more terrifying than the vampire, who kills to feed--knowing it's wrong. Or the alien to whom we ascribe superior intellect conducting its seemingly barbaric experiments on the unwitting cow poke.

To me the scariest is the one that forges ahead, so far out of touch with who it has become and where it came from. Singleminded in its quest to be the top of the food chain. Shark, Lawyer, or Politician come to mind at first blush. That may seem to be put in for comedic relief, but I'm not kidding. Some of that shit keeps me up at night.

I'm not sure how we got here. Again, par for the course for my regular readers.

Spoiler Alert, Random is in the name.

And with that, I'm off.

Have a great rest of your evening my friends.

-AT

10.20.2015

Meh

I am sure that somewhere in the 7 or 8 years I've done this blog (holy shit, it HAS been that long), that I have had at least one other post entitled 'Meh." Hell, it was probably THIS year.

I feel like I'm coming down with a cold. And I don't like that feeling.  I feel like I'm not making the kind of difference I should be making at work. And I don't like that feeling either.

On at least 7 separate occasions on the way home from work, I looked at another driver doing something stupid and said aloud, "Go f**k yourself."  Honestly....THAT feeling I kind of like. It's kind of an instantaneous relief.  But still, I feel...well...meh.

I have been off-kilter for a couple of weeks now. We're ramping up for the holiday season and things are getting busy. And I need to get back to the farm. I really need a few days with my road-tripping buddy (my Pops, for those new to the blog). To just go down there. And chill. And shoot some shit up.

And what's really kind of annoying me at the moment is the fact that my WesternDigital Live Play is freezing up when I watch stuff on Hulu Plus. I'm not sure if this is a conspiracy with Hulu Plus to get me to switch to their no-commercial service.

Either way, I guess we'll file this one under 'posts that I'm not really going to tell anyone about.'

If you found your way here, sorry about that. This post was just kinda 'meh.'

-AT

10.18.2015

Running Away

I think it's pretty much established that saying 'you're taking a break from Facebook (and/or social media in general)' is the adult equivalent of when we were kids and we would threaten to run away.

None the less, I am doing something of the sort. I'm not running away. But I am dialing shit way the heck down.  No, I'm not quitting Facebook. Unfortunately, I think it's so intertwined in our society that to walk away from it completely would label me some kind of cyber-pariah.  Which..to be fair, probably wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing at this point.

However, I'm taking smaller steps. I've removed the the Facebook and Facebook Messenger apps from my mobile devices. I find that it's much too easy through the course of the day to just reach down for my phone and 'just see if anything new has been posted on Facebook,' and then 30 distracted minutes later, I find that I'm hitting refresh to see if NOW there's anything new.

I've got too much that I really need to focus on. Ok..not necessarily quantity wise, but quality. As in quality of life.  If I'm going to earn my er  (go from someone who writes to actually being a writer) I have to limit my distractions...or at the very least focus them. Same with the writing. It needs to be focused. I find that I'm getting sucked in to the imaginary lives of "friends" who actually may or may not be friends.  I look through Facebook sometimes and think If I had to write these people a letter by hand, address and stamp the envelope, and mail it--how many of the people on my Friends List would I actually consider taking the time to do that with?  It's a short list. I'm just being honest. And you should be honest, too....if you got offended by that last thought, ask yourself, do you really want to get a letter in the mail every day-multiple times a day- telling you the glossiest points of someone's life? Random pix of their children or fur babies? Oh sure, maybe at first. But then it would just get to be old hat.  The letters would stack up until you found a couple of hours to read through all of the letters. And by then, the information is out of date or you notice that there's a very clear pattern of the kinds of letters you read from certain people.

The same holds true for the actual book of face. The difference, I think, is that technology masks the bullshit.  Yeah-it's fun to catch up...and to keep in touch with people. I just laugh when people say "It's the only way I have to keep in touch with so and so." No it's not. Postal service is still a thing. What you mean is it's the easiest way to keep in touch. And it's equally as easy when someone asks you, "Did you see my post about such and such on Facebook?" to say, "Why no, Bob. I didn't. But you know, that Facebook feed is so messed up these days...I probably just missed it."

Meh. I didn't mean for this to turn in to a rant. And I suppose it's just some empty venting. Or perhaps the groundwork for a character study of someone who was completely alienated by emerging tech and started to go the other way. We'll see.

For now, I'm out. Off to a photo shoot.  I'll answer in advance...no. I didn't get your facebook message. And no, I probably didn't see that post on facebook. And now in the ultimate hypocritical irony of a move, I'm going to go post the link to this on Facebook. Heh. Yeah. I get it.

Have a great rest of your day my friends.

-AT


10.11.2015

Jack's Journal (Part 2)

The biggest  problem some guys have when they get out is they get gunshy....they see a narc around every corner and wind up doing something stupid. 
Not me, though. I had 5 long years to figure shit out. Of course if I had put this much thought in to things beforehand, I probably wouldn't be in this jam.

Too easy to flashback these days...too easy to get lost in the past.


“Hey...you. Clown!”

I looked up. The yuppie dad with the over-priced cam-corder was trying to get my attention.

“Aww man, it's my break.”

“I don't give a shit, Bozo. I'm not paying you $100 an hour to sit out here fappin' on your cell phone thinking about where you're gonna score your next bag of weed. I'm paying you to keep my kid and all the other snot-nosed brats in there entertained...So get your balloon animals or whatever it is you do and get your ass back around to that gazebo.”

“Yes sir. Won't happen  again.”

“You're goddamned right it won't”

The hardest part about this job wasn't the over-priced shitty birthday cake these Staten Island families always insisted on serving. 

No. The hardest part was eating the shit.  I knew this guy's type. Country Club membership. Personal Executive Locker at the Athletic Club. NSX in the detached garage.

I know his type because I used to be his type. That was a lifetime ago, it seemed. Funny what 6 months away from that lifestyle does for perspective.

Growing up I always took the train everywhere. That's what a kid from the Burroughs did. It took me a few trips before I could once again recognize the smell of urine in the passenger cars.

Perspective. This guy could sure fucking use some. Briefly entertained the thought of puncturing his jugular with his Mont Blanc. 

But I wasn't here to educate the entitled prig. I was here to entertain the next generation of entitlement.

I worked that party like a rockstar. BIPPO the Clown was in the house.

The kids ate it up. And the desperate money-wives who were outside did, too. I got bookings on several more parties, and I'm sure a few of them didn't even have kids.

$400 was a lot to carry on the subway back to my one-room palace at my parents old place. But I wasn't nervous. It didn't take me too long before I looked like I belonged. 

Besides...who's gonna fuck with a clown? Yeah. I didn't see the point in owning a car, so I always left for a gig in full-on clown make-up. Just like my pops used to. And these days, by the time I hit the bed, I smelled like grease-paint and whiskey.

Just like he used to.

Dad and I didn't agree on much. We both laughed at Uma Thurman's Fox Force Five joke..because Dad used to work with assholes who told stupid jokes like that back when he was doing the clown thing full time. And I just laughed when Dad laughed.

It was easier that way.

Neither one of us was laughing 6 months ago when I called him.

“What'd you do Jack?”

“I got caught Dad.”

“Dipping your ink in the company well, huh?”

“Something like that. Pretty sure the bitch had it in for me, though.”

“They always do, Jackie boy. They always do. Where ya at?”

“The Chelsea.”

“Jesus. I thought I had it rough.”

“It's fine. Some kind of joke by her old man. But, whatever. The rate's fine and the bedbugs haven't hit here yet.”

“Hmmph. Well, all your shit's still here. Your mom was gonna get rid of it. I guess there's one good thing about the cancer. Once less person telling me what the fuck to do.”

“Nice.”

“Eh. It is what it is Jackie. You know where home is. Rooms clean. The neighborhood's gone to shit, but at least it's not the fucking Chelsea. Never knew why the hell Cohen ever wrote a song about that flea trap.”

“Pretty sure it's because Janis Joplin blew him in the elevator there.”

“Oh. That might do it, then.” He laughed through the cough that came with partial emphysema. 

“I'll see you soon, Dad.”

“I'll be here.”


And that was how it went.  Nothing formal. Nothing ceremonial. Most days we didn't even talk.

10.10.2015

Looney

This is my second meeting with the Creative Minds Columbus group. Apparently after my third punch in the 'Frequent Writer's Card' I have to come up with an author's bio for the site, but I'll worry about that bridge when I come to it.

Today the meeting was at a Starbucks near my house. Starbucks is integrated in our society much like Facebook is at this point. Conversations start with 'did you see on Facebook where I did...?"  The internal dialog in my head (which is always running, by the way) kindly, but firmly replies, "no. There is more to my life than trolling your Facebook feed." Even when there isn't.

The meeting started with a writing prompt. A different member was running it, so I wasn't quite sure what to expect. Turns out we each got different prompts. A ha! A twist!!

I read mine. And within minutes we were off.

Two observations off the bat.  The first is that now I know why a couple of the other members bring headphones to these meetings. It's for the time of the prompt to drown out the background chatter.  The ambient crowd noise at Panera was much less intrusive than that at Starbucks. Headphones will be a staple in my writing bag moving forward.

The second observation is more of a 'WTF' moment. As I was starting to write I hear a female voice coming from the table behind me.

"Hey Siri.  Hey Siri. Hey Siri."

I wanted to tell her that "Hey Siri" only works when your phone is plugged in to a constant power source, but I was busy writing...

"Hey Siri--what should I order at Starbucks?"

Wait. What? Are you kidding me? You do realize that asking Siri a question like that is basically like Googling something and hitting the "I'm feeling Lucky" link. I mean, seriously--c'mon!  You're at Starbucks. They have everything written on the board.  And what if Siri suggested something you hated? Where does that go? Eventually Siri is going to just be like "You know what? I don't know. Why don't you order what you want to order since obviously my suggestions aren't good enough for you VANESSA!"

But as much as I wanted to have this conversation with the 20-something that I have now named Vanessa in my head, I had a prompt to work on.

And here was the prompt:
“Shhh, I’m wabbit hunting….” 
You wake up one morning and find yourself inside a Looney Tunes cartoon with a burning desire to hunt down a certain Bugs Bunny, no matter what the cost. What happens next?



And here's what 15 minutes in a crowded noisy Starbucks yielded: 


The alarm clock looked at me angrily.

“Serioulsy?? 4 AM? C’mon on man—it’s much too early for this.”

I reached over to hit it.

“HEY!!? What the hell man?!?”

“I….wait…what?” Clearly there was a little too much tequila last night.

“It’s four. Wake up. And don’t even think about hitting me, bub.”

I rubbed the sleep from my eyes and looked around. It felt like my room, but it didn’t look like my room. Things were somehow…brighter. Colors more…vivid.

“Where am I?”

The alarm clock had gone back to sleep.I thought about waking him to get some more answers, but clearly he was not a morning person.

Pictures of me and my hound adorned the wood panel walls.

“Dog?”  I looked around for a dog. I found him in an urn on the mantle. The inscription read “Rabbit Season 1978”

Rabbit season.

Oh shit. Was it Rabbit Season?  I looked around for a calendar…on the wall in the modest kitchen was a calendar.  The date said “TODAY” and circled on the way were the words “RABBIT SEASON”

I started to get dressed and stopped myself.

“What the hell? I don’t know shit about hunting. Let alone rabbits.”

I heard the newspaper hit the door with a bored >thunk<. 

Newspaper? Who the shit still reads newspapers?  Just then the phone rang.

“YOU HAVE A PHONE CALL FUDD!!!!”

“It’s Todd,” I mumbled as I picked up.

The voice on the other end was auctioneer fast, “Lissen Fudd, this is the ACME AMMO AND HUNTING SUPPLY CO of Walla Walla Washington. We screwed up on your order and the teeny tiny bullwits you ordered are out of stock. Sorry bub.”

“No more bullwits?” I heard myself asking.

“No more bullwits. Good luck today and happy hunting.” >click<

The line went dead. The phone looked at me angrily. I set it’s cradle back down and it went back to sleep.

I looked in the gun case and found a modest supply of about 150 rounds of ACME ammo for my “ACME Super Wabbit Mutilator 2000.”

I saw a target on the wall with Bugs Bunny.

Before I knew what was happening, I was in the woods with a loaded gun looking for a rabbit.


I heard the hammer lock…
-*-


And that was when time was called. From there we went to talk about NaNoWriMo. Several members in the group were participating. I had said I wasn't. I explained that the task just seemed (and I might be paraphrasing here) daunting as shit to me.

But then it turned in to a really good discussion about the fact that it was a tool. Not a means to an end. NaNoWriMo doesn't necessarily expect you to have a finished novel. But they explained to me that it's really about getting you in the mindset and practice of actually doing it. Actually carving out the time and devoting it to your writing.

And it made it a lot less scary to me. Again...growth. I feel like, as a writer, I've grown just in these few short weeks.

I think I'm gonna dig this.

Have a fantastic rest of your Saturday my friends!!

-A.T.


On Being Intentional About More Words On The Page

I am a writer. Well, scratch that.  Maybe. I love taking pictures.  For a season of my life I loved writing songs and was even in a band...