Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Once upon a Midnight Dreary

As I write this, it's closing in on midnight and the last little dregs of 2008 are winding down. The house is quiet. Kids are sleeping. The dog and cat are in their respective beds, dreaming dog and cat things. My wife has been upstairs sleeping already for the past hour or so.

I just came in from being outside and saw a sliver of moon and Orion's Belt are right where they're supposed to be. It's windy outside tonight. A blustery cold that hits you like a gut punch, almost as if the spirits next door are restless.

I know the feeling. I'm restless too.

2008. What a fucking year. Part of me is excited about 2009. Part of me has that old feeling of an open slate waiting to be filled. But that other part, the one I keep hidden back in the shadows? That part of me is scared shitless at what's to come.

Apparently karma, the great Divine, or whatever you want to call it decided 2008 was a year of hard knocks. Lessons and wisdom gleaned by the blunt force of a hammer rather than the delicate guidance of a patient teacher.

I've learned that just because you can't see the weeds growing in your garden, don't be lulled into thinking they're not growing where you can't see; where you don't want them to be, and eventually they'll come to light and you have to deal with them.

I learned that wishing might not be a foolish endeavor, but seeing your wishes wither and drift off like dust in the wind really sucks. And no matter how much you might want something, just wishin' ain't gonna make it so. For the record, I still throw out a few wishes once in a while.

I thought about risks I should've taken. Actions I should've done. Instances where I should have seized the moment but didn't because I was either too afraid or I held too high a court in my own head to go through with. That's going to change for me in 2009, courage, rejection or failure be damned. I'll deal with the fall out later.

I guess they're right when they say it's things you don't do, that you regret the most later on.

Life is short... what are you going to do about it? In the words of The Shawshank Redemption's Brooks, Get busy living or get busy dying.

This year I've seen ghosts come back to haunt me that I thought were long dead. Some have even taken up residence in my house and right now I can't help but see them every day.

We all stumble. We all fall. Yet I know my circle of friends will be there to catch me when I do. I hope like hell they have enough faith in me to realize I'll always be there when they do too.

Sometimes the muse takes a vacation and it sucks the size of Montana, and when it comes back, though the words are sweeter because of it all, that shit's not like riding a bike. You remember how to do it, but you still need training wheels to find your way for a while.

I've learned you can sometimes feel like the loneliest person in the world in a crowded party or a shared office. You can also feel your heart bursting at the seams with a few well-chosen words or a familiar shared expression.

My walls are sky-fucking-high right now for many reasons. Mostly it's self-preservation and I'm sure some of that will be revealed here in time. Even so, there are some of you who know how to wriggle your way beneath the nice, pretty foundations I've built.

I've learned that tattoos you put on your arm or your wrist, pale in comparison to the marks you put on your soul as reminders.

That person you greet in the mirror each morning and each night? Ask them questions - hard ones - and answer back as truthfully as you can. You'll be better off in the long run if you do, believe me.

A clean slate. Breathe in, breathe out. Feels exciting, like the first warm day you can wear a t-shirt. New. Unblemished.

Every day should feel like this. Every day can feel like this.

On TV, the fireworks are going off. Times Square is crowded with drunk partygoers of every walk of life. Part of me wishes I was there among the throngs, sharing in that wave of exuberance and atmosphere they all seem to be bathing in with their smiling faces and half-lidded expressions.

And part of me thinks I'm right where I belong. Here with you, my laptop feeling like a heater against my thighs, writing a little love note to usher in 2009.

Yeah. Somehow I think I'm right where I belong.

But 2009's gonna be better right?

Dancing with the devil 'round a fire.
Mess your mama's bed for a little more magic.
Make you wanna run around naked,
'cause you know it looks good on you.
But you ain't never had my corn bread.
A little bit of heaven and a little bit of hell yeah.
Cut it down the middle, open wide and jump right in.

- Dave Matthews Band - Cornbread

This year, you're gonna try my cornbread all right. A little bit of heaven and a little bit of hell yeah.

You'll see.

Be good. Glad you made it here another year with me.

P.S. Oh... and wear sunscreen. =)

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Why Shel Silverstein Must Die

Last night was the fourth night in a row that I dreamt that I was a child and Shel Silverstein was chasing me through my childhood home with a double-bladed broad axe. This one was bad-ass enough that I woke up drenched in sweat and biting my lower lip to keep quiet.

I've had this dream roughly eight or nine times over the past month or so.

Yes, my life is awesome. Of course, this means I may need to consider a couple of things.

One: I may need to stop eating pumpkin pie late at night. (Who am I kidding? THAT shit ain't gonna happen).

Two: Shel Silverstein must die.

All right, all right, before anyone gets their fur in a twist, I'm not talking about really killing him. I'm gonna put it all on paper in an attempt to get rid of this dream (yeah, I KNOW I've been having it since childhood, shut up). I know the man's written a ton of incredible children's books. One is up there with my all-time favorites, The Giving Tree. And Where the Sidewalk Ends never ceases to make my daughter laugh.

But I'm not talking about the guy who wrote the great kid's books. Have you seen a picture of Silverstein?

Now... go ahead. Just go ahead and tell me that dude's not enough to make you piss yourself while trying to hide from his broad shoulders and sharpened axe? Last night's dream elevated a bit from previous episodes. Last night, I saw his axe blades already had blood on them. Oh yeah. Good times. Not only was he after me, but I knew he'd done some nasty-nasties before coming after me.

So... there'll be a thoughtful post coming up shortly regarding the end of the year and going balls-out into 2009. But for now, I need more coffee. I need some hard music. I need my Smarty Jones hat on and the glow of flames in my eyes. I need to mentally dance with the Devil around a fire and shake a stick to keep the shadows away.

I need to go kill Shel Silverstein.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

A dick and a dollar

My muse has gone haywire.

I just got done writing an 8 minute comedic skit. I say writing, but what I really mean is dictation, because I didn't think it, as much as just try and keep typing fast enough to catch up with the running litany in my head. 8 minutes of material and something I may even venture to try at open mic night sometime.

I also am damn near finished another short and still working on the boring parts of another very cool project.

But I digress.

This week I promised you the post, "I'd bet my Dick and a Dollar."

So be it.

This colorful little phrase originated from my mother's side of the family, though to which individual I have no recollection.

This phrase is used in the context of a situation where a person doesn't quite know, yet suspects something pretty heavily. He's not quite, but almost, sure of his suspicions, so much so that he would be willing to wager not only one US Greenback, but also his manhood.

Example given:

"I'm not sure, but I'd bet my dick and a dollar that Grandpa's diddling the neighbor's wife in the afternoons."

The general reaction to this phrase may be one of humor to communicate disagreement with said phrase. This is expressed with a shake of the head and an uncomfortable laugh.

The only other acceptable reaction is the Robert Deniro eyebrow raise and head nod to indicate agreement with the gossip at hand.

Use this phrase at the office next time the situation presents itself.

Example given:

"I'm not sure, but after his last fuck up, I'd bet my dick and a dollar that Stevens grabbed his chapstick and kissed the Boss's ass to keep his job."

You'll be happily surprised at how quickly the phrase catches on during casual office conversation.

*Women, you may substitute any word you like for "dick" depending on your mental constitution and intake of alcohol during the moment this situation arises.

Current Read:
Almost done with a Year's Best Horror Anthology. Reading and re-reading a lot of my own stuff to see how my voice has changed over time.

Current Music:
Mish Mash of everything. Rediscovered Chris Cornell's unplugged in Sweden cd.
Indian chants. Gaelic monks. Yeah... a mish mash of shit.

Current Infatuation:
A Mentality of Openness.

Recent Moment of Zen:
Seeing an old man in Harrisburg waiting for his wife inside a bank. While she was inside handling her business, he bought her a single red rose. when she came outside and smiled, she wasn't an old woman anymore. Before the cold hit her and turned her frail again, made her pull her coat closer to stay warm. For the space of two heartbeats she smiled and she was no longer an old woman anymore. Her smile was the smile of a sixteen year old girl looking at the love of her life.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Bloody Writing

This week's family phrase will be "I'll bet my dick and a dollar" and that blog will be coming soon. Err... well, maybe that wasn't the proper way to describe it because now it sounds dirty, but I digress. That blog will be posted soon.

But first, let's talk for a bit about "bloody writing."

It's been said before that all writers can be bastards. We can be complete bastards that seek the solace inside ourselves instead of in others. We build sky-high walls with bricks forged of pain and scar tissue that are damn near impenetrable to all but a few that we allow in.

All that, and more, is something I'd agree with completely.

Every writer I've ever known uses their craft to expel demons they tend to grapple with. Bleeding on the page. Bloody writing.

Most have stories they've written and put in a drawer, maybe only to be seen by a few faces - if only to share their methods of exorcism. Most, but not all, of these stories will never see light again.

I touched on that in high school for a bit - I had reams of poetry filled with angst and heartbreak that were for me and only read by me to get the shadows out of my head.

I'd never written a story that I thought would be placed into cold storage until recently.

I'm bloody up to my elbows on this one.

Did I mention I love metaphors?

So today, you go do what you do best to make you feel happy. Go play with the kids. Go put on a pair of red high heels and dance the blues. Throw Muddy Water on the cd player or scream the lyrics to Public Enemy.

Me? I've got more blood to spill.