Thursday, January 31, 2013

Flexibility in Messing

I had plans last night.  Another adventure.  Mid-week Messing.  It was an oddity for us since we’re usually so busy during the week, but you take your Messing when you can get it.

We were to meet some friends at a Food Truck Bazaar in a neighboring city.  At first, I thought it was a little…odd.  I’ve only known two types of food trucks.  The first was the lunch trucks driven by cute girls in short shorts that traveled twice a day from construction site to construction site to feed the men who didn’t want to taste whatever concoction was in their lunch box.  When I was working with my dad, I lived for these trucks with the packaged sandwiches, hot chili, and fruit pies.  Not only was I fed an incredible amount of junk food allowing me to be the human garbage disposal I am today, but it also meant I could escape working for a little while and goof.  My teenage mind was not ready for a full day’s workload.   Of course, my middle-aged mind isn’t, either.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

In Need of a Barbershop

I need a haircut.  I know this because my bangs now flip upward once my hair dries and it resembles and inverted barrel of a wave.  It also keeps flipping over my ears and the girls are fussing at both the 8-year old and me to get our hair out of our faces while we’re at the dinner table.  They even offered to put it up in clips.

I’ve needed one for awhile, but I hate to take the time to do it.  Besides, no longer does it seem you can find a simple barbershop like when I was growing up.  Everything is a hair salon nowadays.
My first haircut was done at Ellis’s Barbershop by Ellis himself.  I don’t know whether that was his first name or his last because all I ever heard was Ellis.  Actually, it was Ellis, the Barber, and as a young kid I just thought The Barber was his last name.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

End of the Day Conversation

“How was your day?”  It’s a normal question at the end of every work day across dinner tables all over the world.  Sometimes, it happens on the car ride home if I’m playing taxi and the girls use that ten or fifteen minutes as a vent session about the people they work with or some project they are handling.  I know more about what happens at their jobs than some of the people who actually work there.

“They won’t listen when I tell them something won’t work.  No, they have to go about it this whole other way which takes more time and costs more money that they will only bitch about spending only to find out at the end that it doesn’t work and we have to go back to what I said in the beginning but now they make it look like it was their idea which doesn’t matter now since we’re already late with the project and we’re going to get yelled at for it anyway and it pisses me off that if they would have just listened…” The car ride home is one continuous run-on sentence.  I don’t think they even breathe when they are talking.  Still, I listen, giving sympathy or praise where needed, sharing in their outrage at the insensitivity of the average consumer and the ineptness of the idiots in management.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Still Messing Around

A chocolate heel

If you read my last post, and really you should have to keep from hurting my feelings, then you know that Messing is my Aunt’s term for just going out and about doing nothing in particular.  Teri’s family calls it scooter-pooting.  When the 8-year old asks what we’re doing, Teri will always respond, “We’re just out scooter-pooting,” and suddenly I envision older people with flatulence issues while riding those motorized scooters at Wal-Mart.  Another reason why I avoid the place.

Our Messing Thursday night involved meeting a new writer friend down in Vero Beach.  It was an enjoyable trip and she turned out to be a great lady.  We even met a couple of her fellow authors and purchased some books and jams while the Atlantic played background to a guitarist trying to sell his songs.  It was a fun time and I look forward to making another trip.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Our Thursday Night Messing

That’s what my Aunt Laura calls it.  Messing.  It’s when you get in the car and just go.  You may have a general idea where you’re going or a store or two you want to hit, but you’re not “going to the store.”  You’re going Messing.  It has more of an adventurous tone to it when it’s said like that.  Casual.  Carefree.  Who knows where you’ll wind up or what you’ll find.  There’s no goal or true destination.  You’re just out and about.  Messing.  An adventure.

When the 8-year old asked us where we were going as our car hit the interstate that’s exactly what we told her.  “We’re going on an adventure.”  And for us it was, because really we weren’t sure what to expect.  We did have a destination in mind, which was the true reason we hopped into the vehicle to begin with.  I had discovered that a writer friend of mine that I had met on Twitter, Margie Miklas (aka @MargieMiklas) was signing her book with some other authors down in Vero Beach.  Being only an hour away from us, the girls and I decided to go and meet her.  It’s always nice when you can put a real person to a computer name.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

I Blame the Smart Phone

There’s a reason I never went for an office job.  I have a low tolerance for office politics and what seems to me to be corporate bullshit.  I don’t like brown-nosers, those people who have their nostrils so far up their boss’s derriere they know what his wife had for breakfast.  That people would grovel and sacrifice their dignity for another rung on the corporate ladder is beyond sad.  The fact that it works is even more pitiful.  It wouldn’t matter how well I did my job because there’s a line I won’t cross just to be smiled upon by some arrogant employer in a suit that wipes his ass the same way as the rest of us just with more expensive toilet paper.

I also believe it’s worse now than a decade ago and I blame the smart phone.  Employers now know that you can be reached 24/7 and because of that they expect you to be forever on call and at their mercy.  With the advent of the smart phone, people can not only check personal email, but work email, as well.  Therefore, employers expect a quicker response because they know you keep your cell phone close in case your sweetie sends you that special naughty picture you’ve been hinting about for days.  It doesn’t matter that you’re not at the office.  It doesn’t matter that you’re with your family after working a ten hour day or even if you’re on vacation.  Employers now feel they own you and you better respond.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Will You Just Go!

I used to love driving, which worked out pretty well since for twenty-eight years, my two main jobs involved delivery.  I was either delivering pizzas or papers and a couple of times I did both at the same time.  Not literally at the same time as in “Here is your Junkyard Extravaganza and your daily edition of What’s Screwed Up Today.”  No, I delivered pizzas during the day and papers at night.  For most of my day, I was in the car..alone…where it was nice and quiet.  I controlled the stereo as well as the conversation.  Yes, I talk to myself.  Don’t you?

Driving, however, ceased to be peaceful that final year of hauling pepperoni around town and became more and more stressful.  Whereas before the boom of the cell phone era, you only had to watch out for the occasional drunk driver or the little old lady who couldn’t see over the steering wheel, now everyone is a distracted motorist and I have to spend more time watching the road and less time writing.  It truly has slowed down my productivity.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Savor the Steps

Just before Thanksgiving my mother had surgery on her knee.  Apparently, the cartilage had vanished, which kind of made me a little nervous.  I didn’t know our body parts could just disintegrate like that.  I began checking myself every morning for missing fingers and ears.  The only thing that ever came up missing was my memory.

Mom told the kids she was getting a bionic knee, so they wanted her to play kick ball with them.  They assumed they’d always win with her on their team.  I just wanted to know if it made the same noise I heard on the Six Million Dollar Man series whenever he kicked into bionic gear.  It would be fun if people came with their own sound effects.  Zac has his own, but when his are heard people usually leave the room or open windows.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Busy with the Absent

My house is usually overloaded with estrogen and all that goes with it.  Currently, there are two males and four females in the house and that’s not going to last much longer as Zac is contemplating abandoning me.  I’ll be alone with the roller coaster of emotions, the worst being the 8-year old!

A couple of years ago, it was even worse.  Our daughter, Heather, was graduating from high school or escaping as she called it and the news of this grand event went out to all interested parties.  To celebrate the event, one grandmother, two aunts, four cousins and two second cousins made their way down to us and the only male in the bunch was the two month old who was still in diapers and couldn’t even roll over on his own.  It was a massive out-numbering and I quickly stocked up on scotch and cigars as my house was soon full of giggles and hair products.

Friday, January 18, 2013

My Juggling Act

My dad can juggle better than anyone I know and I used to be amazed at how he kept the balls rotating in the air.  A former friend of ours was also very talented at the act of juggling and even tossed fiery batons into his routine to dazzle and amaze us.  And I was.  It takes some pretty good coordination to pull that off without setting yourself or the ground on fire.  I’d singe my fingerprints off.

I’ve tried juggling things like oranges, golf balls, or hacky sacks, and for about thirty seconds I really kick ass at it.  I can see the looks of amazement on everyone’s face as they’re impressed that I can not only toss a ball up into the air, but also juggle them.  It really is Letterman material.  That is, until someone talks or I breath or pass gas or think, “Hey, look!  I’m juggling.”  At that point, I’m getting bonked in the head by oranges and seeing stars spinning in my vision.

Hopefully, I’m better at juggling my writing.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

It’s in the Supplies

I’ve been to four different stores all over town, two of them office supply stores, which should carry my item with all the miscellaneous products they carry.  No one had what I wanted - needed - in order to keep writing.

“What are you talking about?  There are plenty of notebooks all up and down this aisle.”  The girls followed me from store to store.

“Yes, but I can’t use those.  Let’s try Staples.  They say it’s ‘Easy’ there, and I’m sure they don’t mean the clerks.”  They weren’t there, either.  So much for Easy.

“Does this mean your writing career is over?”

I wasn’t giving up that easy.  On the way to the beach to get some words down on the paper I did have left, we pulled into Office Depot.  Finally, it was there.  My notebook.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Exploration of Discovery

When I was young, my family would hop in the car and just go, no destination in mind.  We had a free afternoon and my dad wanted to see “where the car will take us.”

“We’re exploring, Robbie.  Let’s just see what we discover.”

It didn’t make much sense to me back then.  I mean, dad was the one driving.  The car wasn’t deciding anything.  The only thing it ever decided was where to break down, which was never a good point in time.  My bad luck with cars was inherited from my father.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

I’ve Been Drafted!

Hiking to the back porch
I’m in the waiting process now.  My first novella has been written, revised to death, and edited by my editors-in-residence, and now awaits one final pair of eyes before it goes to formatting.  Therefore, I have some time on my hands.  I was thinking about catching up on Castle or calling the kids to remind them they actually do have a father, but my backpack was calling me to it, instead.

That sounds good, doesn’t it?  My backpack.  You think I’m about to set off on a hiking adventure through the Everglades of Florida, fighting alligators and mosquitoes.  No, you don’t think that, because you’ve been reading The Mess since its birth and you know I would only hike from my porch to the bathroom and the only thing I ever fight off is the urge to exercise.  So, you’re baffled why a sedentary person as myself would even own a backpack.  You’re probably thinking it’s one of those coffee table things to initiate conversation at a social party, except I don’t own a coffee table.   No.  This backpack is my desk.  I know that answer is anti-climatic, but I’m a rather boring individual, so you should expect the anti-climatic.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Under the Knife

Editors in action.

It was time.  I had put it off as long as I could, but finally, it had reached a point where it couldn’t be avoided.  The preparations had all been made and it was finally time for the surgery.  I had mixed feelings about it, to be honest.  I mean, it was a necessary procedure and my progress was going to be stunted unless I went through with it.  Of course, I was nervous as hell.  Who wants to go under the knife? It’s scary.  The results aren’t always what we expect and sometimes, there’s quite a bit of work to do afterward.  Still, I had gone as far as I could go.  It was time to just let it happen and hope for the best.  With a deep breath, I passed my novella off to my three surgeons-in-residence. 

Friday, January 11, 2013


I’m not a big sports fan.  I know that comes as quite a surprise to people and many wish to revoke my Man Card, but it’s true.  I wasn’t in high school, either.  Going to a football game back then for me was all about the social aspect.  I knew there was a game going on, because I had to pay to get through the gate, but that was about all I knew.  I wandered around goofing off with my friends, hid under the bleachers kissing girls, or sat in the stands disturbing those who were trying to pay attention to the game.

Some people took the game quite seriously.  Dean was one of those devoted individuals who cheered and supported their team.  I figured I supported them by paying the price of admission, and only cheered when everyone else seemed to be while I wondered what we were cheering about with such enthusiasm.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Great Pretender

Impersonating the Lone Something

I love accents.  Who doesn’t, right?   I have to be careful, however, because when I’m talking to someone with a strong accent, I have a bad habit of talking like they do.  It’s not something done on purpose; well, not all of the time, and I never mean to be rude.  Yet, it happens and before I know it I sound like the Indian man in Short circuit spouting “I’m standing here beside myself” or a James Bond wannabe.  It wouldn’t be so bad if I could pull any of these accents off, but my British voice sounds Irish which sounds like a homeless man in Boston.  It’s really quite pitiful.

One time, I caught myself imitating a person’s stutter.  I know.  I’m going to Hell.  In my defense, I had never heard this man stutter before and I had worked closely with him for several years.  We were in a meeting and once he finished talking he asked me to speak.  It was then that he stuttered.  I began speaking, but it was like a yawn.  You know, when someone yawns and before you know it you’re yawning, as well?  It was just like that.  He stuttered and my brain said I had to stutter.  So, I did.  I kept talking, quickly, hoping no one would notice, but I felt like an idiot.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Enjoy Your Ice Cream

One of my family’s favorite places to visit is the Disney Marketplace, or Downtown Disney as I’m used to calling it.  It’s a series of specialty shops, restaurants, and night clubs centered around the business of pushing everything Disney onto poor tourists or my family.  A lake sits in the middle where visitors can rent paddle boats or canoes.  You can even go up in a hot air balloon and look down on all of the delights, not that I ever intend to enjoy that heart-stopping entertainment.  The girls love to go through each and every store and ooo and ahhh over the things we’ll never really buy.  We’ve worked hard making our home look just the right way and a blender shaped like Mickey Mouse just doesn’t fit the motif.  Yet, we go and enjoy browsing, usually making a full day out of it.

On one such trip, I wasn’t really up to the mind-numbing march through the gazillion stores, and yes, I counted them.  I took my backpack full of writing and found a quiet spot by the lake and, with a fresh supply of coffee, made myself comfortable for a day of words.  I also kept the cash and credit cards on me, not wanting to suffer the debt of their impulse shopping.  It’s amazing what they will rationalize purchasing when I am not there to say, “Hell no!”  They were nice enough to check in on me once in awhile, offering to get me more coffee.  I was smarter than the girls thought and only gave them enough cash for my coffee.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Side Seat Driver

I have a confession to make, one that I’m sure I share with quite a few people.  It’s also not really a secret.  You see, I make a lousy passenger.  It’s true.  I know there are people out there who love to be chauffeured around, free from the stress of watching for jay walkers or wondering why the idiot in front of them with the turning signal on for the past five miles hasn’t turned, yet.  I am not one of those people, however.  Ask my wife and eldest son.  They’ll tell you.  I’ve tried.  Really, I have.  However, without a strait jacket and gag, I drive the one behind the wheel crazy in a short amount of time.

“You’re too close.”  “Why are you so far back?”  “Why do you wait until the last minute to hit the brakes?”  “What’s taking you so long?  Go!”

I know.  It’s a sickness.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Riding in Ambulances

The ambulance doors flew open and the injured was slid inside the crowded compartment.  The medics worked with maddening speed to stop the blood that was pouring out of the young man's wound.  Their voices echoed in the cramped compartment as they shouted readings and orders back and forth.  Then, just before the doors closed, another man - brother, father, friend - slid in beside the seriously injured man.  He took the other's hand in his and started to speak words of encouragement meant to lift the other's spirits.  "Hold on.  You can make it.  You've been through worse and pulled out of it.  This is going to pass.  Fight."  The ambulance doors shut and the vehicle sped away.

I stared as the red and white ambulance careened a corner and was gone.  I couldn't help but think how lucky that man was to have that person there for comfort. I would hate to be in that vehicle alone.  No one wants to go through something like that without someone there with them.  The other person talks, listens, encourages, supports, prays and even assists when necessary.  The injured don't have to go through their crisis alone, because someone who cares is right there beside them.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Freedom from the Keys

At one time in my life, I had three jobs.  Not because I had a death wish or was trying to avoid seeing my family, but because it took three jobs to get us out of the hole we had dug for ourselves.  It wasn’t a fun period in my life, but it was a necessary one.  I believe strongly in doing everything you can to take care of your family and not relying on outside forces, such as the government, to meet your responsibilities.  If a man does not work, then he shouldn’t eat.  He also shouldn’t have free cable or a cell phone, but that’s another post.

One of my trio of headaches was working at a church, the second was as a supervisor to a newspaper drop, and the third was my own paper route to stores and machines.  Each job came with its own ring of keys, each key representing some form of responsibility, which came with its own amount of pressure and stress.  Add to that all of the keys that went with my personal life and it was a wonder my hair didn’t go gray a whole lot sooner.  It was quite a bit to take care of all at one time.  I was surprised that with that many keys my pants remained up.  Life had become way too complicated.  It was time to simplify.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Look, a Butterfly!

Part of my struggle as a writer is that I’m easily distracted by ideas.  It’s because of that attention problem that I have so many irons in the fire, or in my case stories in the binder.  It has been my battle for years.  I have several novels halfway finished as a first draft and the notes to complete them, but another idea grabs my attention and I immediately purchase another notebook, scribbling away even before I have any background completed.  The girls believe this is merely my way of buying more writing supplies.  However, it truly becomes my butterfly that keeps me from finishing the garden.

Last year, I was able to start to turn it around and focus more.  I made some decisions and commitments to myself and others that helped keep me on track and, even with Life tossing in a few speed bumps here and there in an attempt to slow me down, I was able to remain fixated on my goal.  I still become distracted once in awhile, but I’m learning gimmicks and tricks to help me keep my eyes on the finish line.  Part of that was learning two important things.  The first is what I need to be focusing on in order to make my dreams a reality.  The second is knowing what to turn a blind eye toward so as not to lose that focus.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

A Self-made Cage

It’s a chore I truly detest, cleaning out the garage.  There are tubs for everything from holiday decorations to party supplies to memories we look at once every decade or so.  Tools are stored out there that I never use, old paint that’s probably gone very bad, yard tools, a weight bench and the 8-year old’s excess toys and games.  You would think it would remain clean and sorted out, but it never does, and before I can put anything else inside, I am forced to clean it out and reorganize it.  The garage becomes a disaster zone because I hate doing what should have been done to keep it from becoming such a mess in the first place.

The dreaded chore begins with me pulling storage tubs away from the wall so that I can put all of the holiday containers back in place.  I’m not paying much attention to what I’m doing, which isn’t unusual when it comes to manual labor and me.  I quite typically just go about a task while my mind is lost in some scene Rhychard has to face in my Warrior of the Way series.  My arms are flinging boxes while in my mind my character is battling dark elves.  I mean, it shouldn’t take much concentration to move storage tubs around, right?

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Hello 2013

Today is the first day of a new year, and, I don’t know about you, but 2012 is leaving with mixed emotions.  We saw one son get married to a lovely young lady, one graduate with his AA degree, and another move in with his boyfriend.  We also saw the passing of Teri’s mother and the end of friendships we had had for a few years.  The good was great and the bad was tragic.  We survived and in some areas we thrived while in others we crashed in emotional numbness.