Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Trick or Treat

Trick or treat, Smell my feet,
Give me something good to eat.
If you don’t, I don’t care,
I’ll pull down your underwear.

I was never really sure how the feet line made it in there.  Obviously, something about someone’s feet was pretty scary.  Of course, being around Zac when he takes his shoes off, I can understand how frightening it can be.  It’s not a sweet aromatic smell.  The underwear part explains quite a bit of my later adventures, however.

Tonight is the night.  Little kids, and big kids alike, will wander door to door ringing doorbells and knocking harder when the people inside don’t answer fast enough.   They’ve dressed up in their cutest scary outfit and now demand their prize of expensive candy.  Standing at the sidewalk, watching it all with a flashlight gripped in their hand, is Mommy and Daddy, smiling as their child becomes a panhandler for the night.  Candy is dropped into the bag, two or three pieces of varying delights; a “Thank you” is screamed as the child rushes back shouting their loot.  “I got a Milky Way.”  “I got an apple.”  “They gave me money!”  I wonder if any child was like Charlie Brown and received a rock.  I think I would go back and kick the parent’s ass that did that to my child.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Scary Movies, Move Away

Sunday, I settled onto the couch wanting to just veg while I mapped out the coming week’s blog posts.  I had my coffee, pen, paper and some microwave heated wings leftover from the costume party the night before.  Each of the girls was off doing her own thing, leaving me to my own entertainment.  I turned on the television, hit viewing guide and began to scan my choices.  Usually, there’s an NCIS marathon, or Law and Order: SVU, some type of criminal mischief to be solved by any number of franchises out there.  However, the Sunday before Halloween was a movie marathon of horror.  Not just on one channel, mind you; oh no, it was on every channel.  Friday the 13th.  Chucky.  Nightmare on Elm Street.  They were even broadcasting the making of the Nightmare movies.  I either had to settle for frightening viewing or football, which to me is the opposite of frightening; it’s boring. 

Monday, October 29, 2012

To Fright or Not to Fright

These final three months of the year are my favorite.  I love the weather, the sense of family that surrounds the holidays, and the abundance of decorations that fill yards and businesses.  And the food, I love the food.  There are plenty of parties and gatherings to keep a calendar full.  As a matter of fact, as I write this, the girls are putting the finishing touches on our Halloween party tonight and our costumes are laid out, ready to be donned.  The food is simmering and the house is all decked out.

That was my job, decorating the house.  It’s not so much my job as much as the girls simply surrendering and allowing me to have my fun.  You see, part of my enjoyment of the holidays is plastering the house with festive ornaments and statues, lights and banners.  There is no doubt by anyone who passes by that we celebrate these months with total gusto. 

While Christmas is full of the cutesy, cheerful decorations, Halloween is the month for the macabre.  Dark.  Sinister.  Scary.  That’s the point, right; to make the place have that ghostly feel of attacking monsters? I have skeletons hanging from the front oak tree as if fresh from the gallows.  Between the garage and tree hangs a giant web with a spider perched in the middle ready to pounce and eerie green lights threaded throughout.  A morgue sign hangs on the wall screaming its death cries to those who pass by.  There are witches, ghouls and a werewolf reaching out of the ground with a beating heart.  Scary stuff and I search out even more every year. 

Friday, October 26, 2012

Too Much

Too much of a good thing can, well, too much.  When trying to accomplish your dream those two words can be a stumbling block and a distraction, especially in the beginning.  The girls and I go through periods of this in several areas and even just recently had to take a look at things and see where too much was creeping in.  It was time to reprioritize some things in order to devote time and resources to the dream we wanted to fulfill.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Make It Personal

It always makes me feel good when someone tells me they’ve shared The Mess with their friends or when I see they shared a blog post on Facebook.  When I get notifications from Twitter that someone retweeted a link to my writing or suggested that their followers follow me, as well, I admit my confidence gets a big shot in the ego.  The girls are very supportive in helping me promote my writing, but they have careers and dreams of their own to see come true, and are not hired on as my personal managers. 

I try my best to return the favor and some friends make it quite easy to help them.  However, if I’m going to see my dream of being a writer succeed, I can’t count on others.  I have to make it personal.  After all, it’s my dream, not theirs.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Why Live the Generic Life?

There are certain things the girls refuse to buy generic - Diet Coke, mayonnaise, salad dressings, as well as certain specialty foods.  These things not only have to be name brands, but certain brands, as well.   Actually, I’m not sure when the last time I saw a generic label in our food pantry.  No matter how much I harp about how much money they could save by going with a generic brand, they simply won’t budge.

“It just doesn’t taste as good as this brand.  It’s worth the cost, trust me,” one of them will say.

“Once you’ve tasted both, you’ll understand the difference,” added another.  I can understand.  I feel the same way about my scotch and cigars.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

It’s All in the Follow Through

Decades ago when I played Little League Baseball, one of the phrases screamed at me the most was “You have to follow through!”  I’d swing, but the minute my bat hit the ball - or didn’t - my arm would cease its forward motion.  I mean, to my lazy mind I hit the ball, task completed.  Wasn’t that the point?  To connect aluminum rod to the small leather sphere and send it forward?  Once that was accomplished, why exert the continued energy of swinging my arm the rest of the way?  It seemed like quite a bit of wasted effort to me.  Not to my coach, however, who also happened to be my father.   Soon, I was either following through with my swing, warming the bench, or grounded.  I didn’t want to play anyway, so I sat in the dugout and kept score.

When it comes to accomplishing their dreams or goals, this is where most people fail.  They simply do not have the follow through.  When they get an idea, they go off like a bottle rocket, full of excitement and energy.  Yet, after that sudden bang, interest fades and they set aside what they’ve accomplished for a new idea that fills them with that adrenaline rush of excitement again.  Soon their lives look like the bottom drawer of my desk, full of half finished projects and good intentions.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Someone Stole My Time!

Taking back time.

It was here just a moment ago, or rather an hour ago.  I know it was here.  Sometimes, I don’t think I misplaced it like I do my keys or coffee mug.  I’m usually quite careful with it, trying hard to take care not to waste it as I do some paychecks.  That’s why I know it was stolen.  It had to be.

You see, when I woke up this morning it was all here, every minute of every hour as it should be.  The entire day lay before me full of possible accomplishment.  And I had my list of To Dos in my Day Planner just waiting to be checked off and crossed out.  First, however, I had to play Taxi.  It’s not a game I enjoy all the time, but one that has to be played, nonetheless.  The girls have to get to work and the eight-year old to school.  With limited cars, it’s my job to chauffeur everyone back and forth and that takes time.  My time.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Too Busy to Be a Kid

When is it my turn?

“Hey, why don’t we meet up at the park, have some coffee, and let the kids play this Saturday?”

“Can’t.  He has a soccer game.”

“That’s okay.  How about Sunday?”

“Sorry.  Rehearsal for a church play.”

“Okay.  How about one afternoon after school this week?”

“Not going to work.  There’s dance on Monday, soccer practice on Tuesday, Boy Scouts Wednesday, Soccer again on Thursday and Friday is sign up for baseball.”

“When does he have time to get any homework done?”

“Oh, he does that in the car to and from each event.  Then at night he practices piano and violin.  This kid is going to go far.”

That just sounds exhausting, and you may think that as a writer I took some creative license there and exaggerated a bit.  I didn’t.  I know families like this.  If you ever wanted to hang out with them you had to go see their kid’s game and even then you couldn’t have a conversation with them.  Most of the mealtimes were hot dogs in the bleachers swallowed around loud cheers to “knock it out of the park!”

“I can’t help it.  The kid is active.”

Monday, October 15, 2012

A Parent with No Regrets

There is no such thing.  Regrets seem to come with the parenting role.  Oh, maybe not major regrets that keep us guilt-ridden our entire life wishing we could turn back the clock and do it all over again.  I’m sure there are some parents like that, but not most.  However, even the best of parents have those tiny little regrets that will pop up every now and then to haunt them in quiet moments, things they wish they had done or not done as their children became adults.

I’ve had some of these conversations with my kids, and overall they had a great childhood and can look back with fondness.  I, also, look back with only minor regrets at some things, like wishing I had more money to do more things with them.  Not to buy them things, of course.  I mean, I would have bought them more things or better things if I had had the money, but that’s not what I meant.  I’m sure they would have loved a PlayStation or Xbox, but they were satisfied with their Game Boys.  They made out in the toy department, as well, and I had to keep screaming at them to clean their rooms and there I have no regrets.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

It was Saturday Morning

On these days, I never left my pajamas.  With a box of cereal and a gallon of milk I could be found perched in front of our giant wood box television set for a solid morning of cartoon shows.  From Bugs Bunny to the Flintstones to Super Friends, I would just float from one animated adventure to the next until my mom had had enough and I was told to “get my ass outside and play.”

Still, it was three to four hours of mind-numbing entertainment.  Oh, they tried to be responsible and tossed in some School House Rock educational commercials and soon I was “hankering for a hunk of cheese.”  We also followed a bill on its journey through Washington, learning little tidbits before Hanna-Barbera gave us another hour of comedic cartoons with the occasional moral if we paid attention enough to find them.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Bedroom with No Walls

We finally finished setting up the eight-year old’s bedroom a couple of weeks ago.  I swear, that girl has an overabundance of ….stuff.  Too much stuff, to be honest, but don’t most kids?  I know the boys did.  There might not have been many of the expensive gadgets, but there were toys and toys and toys and…Well, you get the idea.  Dylan is just as spoiled, um, I mean, blessed, just as blessed.  We even had to leave the bottom bunk off of her bed to make room for some of it.  Still, it is her room and she had fun helping decorate it.  So did the girls, by the way.

Zac has his room all decked out, as well.  Of course, his idea of interior decorating is empty liquor bottles, posters of half-naked women, and confiscated road signs.  I sometimes wonder if he thinks a giant yellow YIELD sign will up his chances with the ladies in some subliminal way.  If it works I am getting him a giant red STOP sign.

Monday, October 8, 2012

The Music Is In the Scratches

As we worked through our garage yesterday I found a tub full of memories that belonged to another decade - another century, actually.  Inside were three 45s (for the younger generation, those were small records) of singles from when my mother was a teenager.  If you grew up in the age of vinyl, then I’m sure your mind can already hear your favorite song playing from the turntable.  It doesn’t matter what album you had spinning; they all started the same way.  It wasn’t the notes or chords or even the voices.  It was that scratchy sound that came through the speakers the minute the needle touched that round black disc.

Friday, October 5, 2012

The Conversation No One Wants

Death.  Unless it’s on the big screen or in a 500-page novel, no one wants to really talk about it.  As a writer, I kill people all the time - on paper.  I think of what’s going to happen to the character leading up to their demise and what happens to those afterward who are left behind.  It’s fun, because it’s fiction.  I control the when, where, and how, and when I’m done putting my words on paper I can set death aside and pick life back up and live on.

I don’t mind talking about it, either.  The girls and I discuss my story ideas all the time and how some character got it in the end.  Other friends ask how it’s going and share some of their ideas on bumping people off.  Sometimes they scare me with how well thought-out their plans are and I start double locking my doors.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Procession of Goodbye

It’s a long drive.  It doesn’t matter if it’s across states or just a few blocks away, the funeral procession is a long drive that no one really wants to be in.  I’ve only been in four that I can remember.  The first was when I was in middle school and my mother and I traveled to Indiana to pay our respects to an aunt I never remembered meeting.  I’m sure there’s a picture of me with her somewhere because whenever we would go back for a visit to my parents’ family they were always shoving me in front of someone saying, “Smile for the camera.”  I have boxes full of pictures of me with strangers I’m supposedly related to.

We rode with my mom’s sister and behind us was her cousin Johnnie.  The hearse was in front followed by the funeral car with the immediate family and then a long line of cars full of family and friends.  When you’re partaking in such a procession it’s customary to have your headlights on as well as your hazard lights blinking.  This enables other motorists to know where the procession ends, so that, hopefully, they don’t cut into the line and separate the mourners from each other.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

If Time Could Freeze, Please

Life needs a pause button.  I mean, if Staples can have an Easy button, why can’t life have a pause button?  The bills need to be able to wait and work needs to cease; not forever or even that long, just for a little while.  Not during happy moments, either.  Happy moments, like weddings or vacations or even the birth of a baby are things you plan.  You know they’re coming, or at least, I hope you do.  I’ve heard where some have had babies and never even knew they were pregnant.  That amazes me seeing how Char changed each time one of our sons was born.  Even when she was pregnant with our first she barely gained any weight, but there were other body changes that hinted that something was up.  Still, for the most part, celebrations are planned and eagerly expected.  We knew about Nathan and Christina’s wedding months in advance.  Vacation time could be taken and money saved up.  Even if you’re not completely prepared, you’re at least partially ready.

When catastrophe hits, however, it’s never a good time.  You’re never ready for it even if you’ve had time to prepare.  And the sad thing is, Life never stops or even slows down.  Work is patient, but only so far.  They may be sympathetic, but business has to keep going, projects completed, employees paid, and customers appeased.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Circle the Wagons

I can’t help it, I’m proud of my family.  Everyone needs a group such as these extraordinary people.  When a crisis hits there is not another bunch of individuals I would rather have around me than those I call family.  Not everyone can hold it together as these do, especially when life has put your little world into a whirlwind. 

When Hurricane David hit back in the 70s, my Aunt Peggy and her family huddled down in our home with us and I’m surprised my mom didn’t put the woman in restraints and duct tape her mouth shut.  Peggy took all the joy out of a category five storm.  She was useless.  She never volunteered to help with anything and the tasks she was told to do she whined about and did half ass.  She wanted to be the first one fed and the last one asked to pitch in.  She couldn’t control her fear or her mouth and made everyone around her on edge.  She was chaos within the chaos, and a hurricane has enough of its own, especially with eleven people in one tiny home.