NaNoPoBloNoMo

There are writing challenges all year, but the one that irritates me probably is NaNoWriMo, where writers challenge themselves and each other to write a novel during the month of November.  There are blogging challenges too- NaBloWriMo, where bloggers challenge themselves and each other to write something in their blogs every day of the month.

An entire novel?  In a month?  I’d love to have the free time to do that.  In the Fall and early Winter, I barely have had time to breathe.  What I need to do is start saying No.  But how do I know what to say no to?  What if the thing I say no to is the thing that’s going to put me on track to realize things I want to realize, such as an opportunity to volunteer that turns into an opportunity to earn $90K a year?  That opportunity is probably not one as a writer.  But how do I know?

I may write another one or two chapters in my novel this month. But not the whole damned thing.  There is literally NO time for anything more.

It’s 1:00. Or is it 12PM since it’s daylight savings time?  I hate the clock change, but I love sleeping in an extra hour for that one day.  I hate giving that hour back in the Spring a hell of a lot more.  I feel like I give that hour back 30 times, until I readjust.  Plus it seems like when the clocks shift, everything is always in the dark.  Saving daylight by making me work in the dark, that’s lovely.

I found a list of writing challenges here, so if you’re into such things and haven’t chosen, here’s the ones from November.

November

If you’re into year round challenges, the rest of them were here-http://www.wikiwrimo.org/wiki/List_of_timed_artistic_challenges

I may love you as a writer, I may love your diligence, I’m probably jealous of your talent, I’m certainly jealous that you have the time, or figure out how to make the time.  I enjoy your plots, your characters, your humor, your way of describing dramatic tension, or whatever.  But if you do either of those (having the time or being able to carve out and whip the time into a finished production), I probably hate you, but only with the fondest of respect and admiration kind of hatred, like, “damn, that writer is talented.  I sure wish I could find or make or have the time to exercise my craft to the point where I can actually succeed at a writing goal AND make some cash so Mrs M is happier about ‘all the time [I’m] wasting on it.'”

If you’ve taken on a challenge, more power to you, and let me know how that turns out.  I have to have 1)something motivational to inspire me to hope, even if the hope is slowly chipped and ground down to tiny specs, or, 2) someone better than me (NOT hard to find at all) so I can hate/love you for your talent and time management skills.

As for me, my challenge is to write some things that don’t suck…scratch that, it should say things that don’t blow.  I’ll call it NaNoPoWriBloNoMo. Who’s with me?  (National November Poor Writers Blow No Mo…  re.)  Oh, nevermind.  None of your blogs blow.  That’s why I keep reading.

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Grown-ass Geeks Baiting Trolls

The two…or possibly three… of you who follow my blog are fully aware that my writing is crap.  So am I.  But fortunately for me, you’re the kind, gentle sorts of souls who tenderly say encouraging things anyway.   But now, after two years of blissful goings-on about life’s traumas, cyclothymic disorder with mixed episodes, the bullshit at work, the bullshit at home, and the lovely way all things here, there, and in between fall apart, and being left alone by misunderstanding haters, it’s happened.  I’m a shitty writer, and someone has called me on it.

How did I react?

I laughed at it, because I’m thick-skinned like that.  And because one must give deference to one’s betters.  I could have just commented:

Oh, look! A troll!  Someone get the torches.  Forget the pitchforks; where the fuck did I put my two-handed sword?  Oh, fan-fucking-tastic, you’ve used it to grill the shish-kebabs this time, haven’t you, Mrs. M.  What was it last time?  Oh yeah, I remember, you used it to open that cereal bag.  And because I keep all the knives in the house sharp, it worked, when nothing else in the whole house would!  It’s fine, I know where the dishwashing detergent is, and I’m not afraid to use it.  And, you’ve done it again, Mrs. M, these kebabs and rice are aMAzing; almost as amazing as YOU are.  Thank you!”

Back in my high school geeky days (mostly weekend nights, actually) of playing Dungeons and Dragons, we used to roll the dice until our characters had hacked those things to bits and then scraped the bits into a fire pit, along with ogres, goblins, orcs, assorted other monsters, such as the occasional dragon.  That’s right; laugh it up!  I’m old and geeky.  So fucking what?  Just to tell you HOW old, as a VERY young Deon, I first played the ORIGINAL Dungeons and Dragons that came in a small box, with one small pamphlet of instructions!  Thank you, Ernest Gary Gygax!

I also watched the reruns of Star Trek, whenever my older sister wasn’t watching her stupid Little House on the Prairie.  Damn it, Michael Landon!  It was YOUR fault, because she thought you were cute.  It’s not even really your fault, you rugged, beautiful bastard!  I blame Bill Shatner for his unbearable self-awareness-of-his-own-awesomeness-of-being-Bill, and ALL the rest of his male co-stars for not being quite sexy enough.  I can hear the late DeForest Kelley, weirdly addressing Jimmy Doohan as Jimmy Doohan and not Montgomery Scott, in character as Dr. McCoy:  “Damn it, Doohan!  Why didn’t you step up your game?  If you just tried harder with the single ladies instead of just romancing the single-malt scotches, Captain Kirk would have been eclipsed by Scotty’s wild (mock-)Scottish charm!”

Leonard Nimoy AND his character Mr. Spock would both have given assent to the unexpected logic of DeForest’s Dr. McCoy as DeForest, if he ever had said it in their hearing.

The braver of my readers who religiously follow what I write, and vigorously defend my right to write it, are already on the way to the troll’s domain to burn it down and hack the troll into tribble-chow.  Don’t eat that shit, you poor tribbles!  It’ll taste like shit and give you upset stomachs (because it IS shit).  And calm down, you beautiful followers!  I think I handled it, and without my beloved two-handed sword. (I keep a variety of imaginary and enchanted items in my bunker, including this blindingly shiny, sharper-than-shit, two-handed, plus seven sword, with a three-out-of-twenty chance of instantly decapitating my enemies and a five-out-of-twenty chance of causing an enemy to bleed out within two turns.)  I’m going to be fine, having had experience with everything from demons, bullies, and fiends, to various lesser ass holes including the occasional troll, since my childhood.

There I was, innocently reading an enlightening and well-written article about current trends in news and sociology.  That should surprise my loyal readers, because I hate the news.  And I hate the social trends, for the most part.

There are good things coming out of certain social trends, such as intimidating current and would-be harassers and abusers of women, and letting them know that modern American society as a loud group, and women as a now empowered and vocal subset of that group, do not want guys to try to pull any of that kind of shit, ever, and aren’t going to let guys get away with it if we have anything to say, or do, about it.

Another good social trend is letting victims of bullying know it’s not our fault, and asserting to would-be bullies that bullying is ugly and causes lasting harm.  It also teaches that the kid you bully today may grow up to collect bullies’ bodies in his back-yard rose garden.  I’d potentially call it “social justice,” or “karma,” if I believed either were possible.  But if a victim of bullying is strong enough, they can sometimes figure out ways to approach their trolls.  There are ways of slaying trolls that don’t involve actual rusty ochre bloodshed.

Bullies, stalkers, muggers, and rapists, they’re all cut from the same cloth.  They are shitheads who see an opportunity to take an unfair advantage of others, and take it. Another of the same are the thieves who steal investor’s money and tell them the stock market crashed, and another is the rich bosses who vigorously underpay their employees and work hard to try to bullshit them into thinking they’re not victims of trickle-down corporate greed, they’re actually getting better than they deserve, because according to the company’s standards, they’re worthless.  But sadly, social justice is rarely truly just, and karma doesn’t show up on a regular-enough basis.  It’s just as random as the rest of life, leaving lots of victims invisibly suffering at the hands of their assailants.  The victims rarely come forward, because they report any events at their own peril.

“So, Deon, how did you deal with this troll?” I hear one voice asking.

I complimented him.

I left it up to him to decide if I was complimenting him on his highly superior knowledge, literary talent, and amazing use of …um… uhhh… what’s the word?  Oh yeah.  “Words.”  Or if I was being sarcastic.  It’s possible that he’s the best writer the internet has ever seen.  In my comment, I told him he probably is.  It’s also possible, in the nicest and most complimentary way I could (with my feeble verbal skills), that I meant the opposite, that he’s a useless, lowbrow troglodyte, a waste of a perfectly good shit-sack, who should fuck off and not troll or insult me or anyone else, ever again.

Either way, one hopes, he may mend his ways.  If he’s the latter and I was being sarcastic, perhaps he’ll realize that bullying and putting on airs of superiority don’t win any friends, so he’ll decide to be less (undeservedly) prideful, more constructive, and less critical with his comments.  If he’s the former, in fact truly superior, and committed to his own, greater-than-Shatnerian greatness, he’ll realize that with his giftedness, he is only wasting his time approaching anyone beneath his deservedly high and lofty station, and he won’t bother to comment or try to encourage anyone to improve their writing skills because we’re not worthy.

Um…  I meant it as a compliment.  Yeah, we’ll go with that.  Because if anyone commenting humorously on someone else’s blog gets a comment from a third blogger, intent on asserting their own superiority while insulting the humor-writer’s writing skills, it’s the obvious go-to response.  Right?  Especially since he said he read my tag line, so he knew everything he needed to know about me, and my blog, and how to pass fair and righteous judgement, and execute written condemnation.

Yeah, he knows all about seasons of sleepless mania, seasons of depression, triggers, bipolar and all other manners of mental health issues, too.  I bet if he applied his obvious superior knowledge and skills to the field, he could cure us all within a fortnight.  Imagine, no longer needing or feeling compelled to hide because of all the panic-inducing shit in the world!  Imagine, no longer needing medication to feel closer to whatever “normal” feels like!  Imagine, not feeling out-of-control!  Imagine not worrying that what you think is real might not be!  Imagine not stressing out because toxic people tell you you’re not enough and you never will be, even though you keep trying and trying to measure up to what they say they want, so they will accept your offerings and service without criticism!  Imagine not having any trace of a rage that makes one want to choke the living shit out of all manner of evil- bullies, trolls, abusers, rapists, corporate executives, their managers, and other thieves, muggers- and stupid newscasters who report all the horrors in the world with smiles plastered on their perfectly groomed heads and then tell people to “have a nice [fucking] day.”

About my writing talents, sure.  He was obviously right.  He very constructively told me that he was the superior writer, and that I should bask in silent awe at the glory that is his relatively infinite knowledge and talent.  I know!  But some people, like my kind readers so far, have been too nice to tell me.  And I thank you.

Happy Halloween from DemonPlume!

Yeah I’m tired, but it’s a good tired.  Hell-o-ween is over, and I want all the chocolate but I cooked myself some fried eggs and a tortilla, delicious, I’m full and it was the only meal I ate today.  So for now, my delightful little young hellions, your chocolate is safe.  For now.

Scout popcorn sale is over.  The economy sucks and so did everyone’s sales figures this year, but even though grandma died, and he couldn’t sell for two weeks straight, young Master M turned in the highest sales dollars of the troop.  And I shall reward him and the other minions who did my bidding.  It’s all over but the party.

If I could sell like that I’d be an extrovert and I’d be making some other asshole rich with my efforts, so what’s the difference from what I’m doing now except I’m an introvert who would, more and more, rather just stay home and be left alone with my dog.   He doesn’t like popcorn.  He likes chicken.  I like popcorn chicken, except I like it fried whole.

Deon Mumple anagrams perfectly to DemonPlume.  Go figure.

Something I started in September 2016 (tw?)

I wrote this September 13, 2016 and never published it.  The cruel shoes still fit just as painfully poorly (cruel shoes, remember Steve Martin anyone?), so I’m publishing it because I don’t have the motivation to write something new or the talent to write something better.  Readers beware, it’s gonna be a bumpy hayride and I can already smell the tractor diesel and smoke, musty wet hay, field-rotting pumpkins, and horse shit.


I’m supposed to muster up something.  It’s supposed to be pleasant and motivational and encouraging.  Except I have these issues.  I have these wants.  It’s possible I’m completely normal and I should be able to do everything I need to do.

It’s also possible I’m mostly dead, barely able to wiggle a finger, and I’m supposed to carry the scene, starting at 1:44, here:

Confession: I AM bluffing, and everybody knows it. I’ve got nothing. Not even a sword. Well, no. I do have a sword, I just don’t have the strength to lift it.  Some people say “the world is my oyster,” or whatever other positivism nonsense I’m supposed to make sense of.  If it’s my oyster, damned if I have the tools to crack that fucker open, and if I did, I’d end up with a broken shell of a broken world, no pearls, and everybody pointing their fingers at me, the one who broke it for no reason.  “I mean, what the hell is wrong with you, Deon?! Everything was fine until you fucked everything up!”  Except I haven’t touched it, it broke when I turned around just to prove to me that the universe fucker works overtime at making life suck for me, for everyone.  I want him dead, or I want out of the game.

Somehow along the way I have either attached myself to, or become attached to, people who expect me to do things:  Continue to flirt while understanding and accepting rejection.  Continue to have the energy to do household chores while bearing the burdens of depression and loss and failure and a lack of any kind of motivation.  Continue to provide leadership and guidance with homework and social development, and assistance in and participation in community service.  I’m supposed to feel guilty when I can’t keep up with everything, and not shut down and move away from or be upset with anyone who needs my emotional support, ignoring my own wants.  They must be “wants,” because I’m supposed to have a God who provides everything I “need.”So if it isn’t provided, obviously I don’t “need” it.  Except I think I do.

I’m supposed to listen and pay attention to everything everyone else wants me to attend, because that’s more important than whatever I am already attending and listening to.  I’m supposed to be able to tap into some elusive, deep well of hope and faith and love for people who offer something else, or soul-emptying nothingness and demands for more in return.   I’m also supposed to harness the time I don’t have to complete things with the energy I don’t have.  I’m not supposed to need anything, and I’m supposed to be able to provide everything out of nothing.  Last time I checked, the only being capable of creation ex nihilo was God.  Everyone else is subject to the laws of nature.

It’s possible I’m only venting my spleen because I’m angry at God and taking it out on everyone else, including myself.  I’ve felt abandoned.  The expression “left high and dry” doesn’t really fit, because while I feel completely dry, waiting to blow away (get on with it, “let’s go already!”(Futurama’s character, Bender)) I am anything BUT high.  Plus, back in time, some people left Jesus high and dry, but I don’t want to be Jesus.  I just want to be Deon, but certain people wonder why I can’t be Jesus, and raise myself and them, from death and depression and destruction.

That, friends, is why I have nothing.  It’s why I’ve been spotty lately with the blog.  It’s why on the weekends I do my level best to do jack shit.  Because I’m completely fucking empty, and I need three refills to stop feeling desiccated.  My friend’s recent death, honestly sucked ass.  All death sucks ass.  My mum called me, bless her heart, concerned that I might switch from side effect to suicidal inclinations because she heard how my new med is affecting me and then talked to her friends who do nursing or something.  Mum, I don’t want to die, I want to live but I want it better.

I’m still mostly dead and I don’t have a Miracle Max special pill.  Even the music I try to listen to isn’t filling me enough.  It gets interrupted anyway.  I get interrupted.  Because what I say doesn’t carry any importance.  What I want isn’t important.  No one out in my day-to-day world gives a shit that they are killing me.  I’m like something annoying or gross that they scrape off their shoe.  If it wasn’t for my blog, I might think those darker thoughts.  I wouldn’t trade you readers (both of you) and writers (several of you) in for anything.  It would be too high a price to pay.  If I could do what my non-readers wanted me to do, they’d only find a way to ask for more.  Ever heard “the task expands to fill and expand the time allotted for it?”  How about “debt’s appetite is never satisfied?”  Yeah, that’s my real world experience.

I need something and I’m not getting it.  All you self-help people? (stop reading or accept a half-assed apology for the following- click out, I mean it, here it comes last chance) Fuck you.  I’m tired of being told what to do so I can do what I need to do or have what I need to have, what to do to muster the energy to do what I’m supposed to do…  I’m tired of being told the solutions are available and all I have to do is whatever the fuck program with anywhere from one to twelve steps.  I’m tired of being told the answer is inside me, because there’s nothing there, and if it’s there I lost it.  I’ve got shit, jack shit, and fuck all, and what I need isn’t something I see anywhere on the horizon, like that cruise ship that’s supposed to show up for the guy stranded on the desert island, full of food, drinks, and available hot women for him to choose from.  I don’t want a cruise ship, it’s a metaphor for what I need.

I’m Doctor Campbell from “Medicine Man.”  “Haven’t you ever lost anything, Doctor Bronx? Your purse? Your car keys? Well, it’s rather like that: Now you have it and now you don’t.”

I say that because I used to almost have it.  I used to have almost enough whatever I needed to do almost whatever I needed.  Never quite enough, but somehow enough.  I used to have almost enough faith.  Well, now it’s not enough.  Or less than not enough because I’m always had not enough and now not enough is bigger than what used to be not enough. Not enough left inside, not enough faith, not enough provision, not fucking enough and there isn’t any more to be had and if there is, I can’t get it because my morals prevent me from stealing from innocent people, being shady and catching that extra $30K to $100K that I actually NEED on the sly, or murdering guilty people who should have taken better care of me and treated me fairly and they didn’t, or “just” getting a second full-time job while maintaining my present level of responsible involvement and volunteerism and not dying in the process, for several years, until I’m out of debt and the kids are finished with college.

You demanding people, fuck you too.  You are asking a stone to become bread, a serpent to become a ready-to-eat fish sandwich, and Jesus wouldn’t even do that when he was starving to death.  If I knew how, like Jesus, I still wouldn’t do it for you.  You’d only find another fucking stone instead of mixing up and kneading dough and baking it your damned selves.  You’d pick up another snake and then ask me to treat your snakebite and oh by the way can you make that into a nice hot fish sandwich for me?  (See Matthew 7:9-11)  Fuck you, I’m done because I never was able to do what you wanted me to do in the first place.  Not for lack of trying.  Not for lack of nearly succeeding, only to realize I never reached the mark and never could reach the mark.  You wanted the extra that I didn’t have, like a mugger who takes every penny, that’s not enough so he steals your identity for a fast buck and then just for kicks, because that wasn’t enough, stabs you and shoots you just to watch you bleed and then, runs over you with his car a few times because you weren’t dying fast enough.

I have always tried.  And sometimes I have almost succeeded.  I’ve gotten close enough to get by, after begging for forgiveness for not having enough, and people keep coming to me like I’m somehow going to have enough next time.  They are insane.  Because they think it’ll be different when they come to me again.  Bill collectors.  Wife.  Kids.  Church.  Work.  Volunteer things.  You all want too much, and give back not enough or nothing.

I’ve basically even shut down from church, something I’m aware is not the right choice.  I still attend but I used to actually be involved and doing extra things.  I liked it, but it became another thing that took and didn’t deliver dividends on the investment.  This is the one area of life I thought would have synergy, but instead, not so much.

This is called burnout.  And I have commitments  that  will keep me on a slow burn for a while.  And I have debts that will keep me forcing myself to move longer than that.

There’s a joke I’m surprised I remembered, and it’s “I did some calculations, and I’m so far behind I’ll finally be catching up and might break even, 300 years after I’m dead.”  Ha-fucking-ha.

Novel Ideas, Chapter 2: Morning Edition

“Hello, May! It’s nice to see you again.” John went to the table May directed him to, and looked at the menu.

“I’ll be back in just a second… is it …John?” May remembered.

“John’s right! I’m impressed.” John complimented. “I’ll take a minute and look through the menu.”

May said she’d be right back, and John thanked her. May disappeared while John got distracted in thought. Mostly he was curious whether his profile was right, and a little afraid. Having guessed correctly in the past, this guess was something he hoped was wrong.  But May looked in good spirits today and the eye looked a lot less puffy.

John had gotten up at the usual time, written a little so he could say he made some progress on the novel, but only two thousand words. When writing a full sized novel, John believed he needed at least 120,000 words or it wasn’t enough for the editor to slash, cut, shred, and make him completely revise. The last time John had a novel “ready to publish,” after he had edited it down to 150,000, he had left the editor’s office feeling well bloodied, like someone had taken a cheese grater to his soul. “The editor” was a friend of his from school, and “the editor’s office” was his friend’s basement. Alex was just good at editing, and he worked cheap. And fast. And it was only John’s soul getting the cheese grater effect. Alex always made sense with any cuts, improvements, or comments.

After pouring one’s soul into characters and plots, it did hurt a little having your heart taken apart, sliced, diced, truncated, filleted, grilled, and put back together.  It did feel better when the process was complete and the final edits were accepted.  When he was satisfied, Alex only said, “This is all right.”  He meant, “This is good,” but he never said that, not even to a regular “paying” client.  Not about writing, anyway.  He remembered the last time.

“Did you bring my usual fee?” Alex smiled.

“Sure did.” John held up a bag with two bottles inside. They gave a mellow, thick, clinking-glass sound. John heard them modulate a little in pitch as the liquid inside adjusted the tone. He reached into the bag and pulled out the bottles- one Glenlivet, one Stolichnaya. “Shall I pour?”

“Yes, please. But I haven’t finished the last bottle you got me. That tells me you’re writing too fast. Slow down a little!” Alex complained.

“Aha, no, that tells me you’re drinking too slow.” John joked. “Why don’t you live a little and stop working so hard!” John reached into the refrigerator under the bar in Alex’s “office,” and grabbed out three bottles: the open bottle of Stolichnaya, a bottle of tonic water, and a bottle of lime juice. He pulled two tall glasses off the shelf, got a little crushed ice from the freezer, and mixed two. In the early afternoon, John knew, Alex liked vodka and tonic, and in the later evening, scotch, neat. It was only just after 3.

Alex took a deep gulp, and then a slower, savored sip, and sighed aloud. “Ahhh.”  Another sip, swished and swallowed.  “Perfect.  I think you may have had a little too much practice mixing these,” he joked back. “I can never get it this good.”

“See what I mean? If you drank more, you’d have memorized the right proportions for yourself.”

“After two of yours, I can’t measure anything,” Alex surrendered, mocking a slurred speech.

John and Alex had been drinking buddies since high school. The days of cheap beer and cheap liquor progressed to more expensive tastes, but Alex never got a taste for any vodka more expensive than Stolichnaya. Not that he hadn’t tried the pricier brands, just that he didn’t care enough about the subtleties of vodka flavors.  He did appreciate a good single-malt scotch, though.

May gave John a menu, and carried a pot of steaming coffee in the other hand.  It smelled fresh and earthy and bright.  “You care for some coffee, John?”

It was tempting.  John hated most restaurant coffees, and loathed fast food coffee, because it almost always smelled burnt, old, and just gross.  Even the gas stations used timers on coffee, but that didn’t always mean old coffee got dumped.  But a craving is a craving and John wanted tea, like every other morning.  He countered, “Do you have more hot tea?”

“Sorry, sorry.” May apologized, John felt, a little compulsively. “Yes sir. I’ll bring that right out, sorry I didn’t remember from yesterday. Were you ready to order?” Without a pause. The place was busy, but not that busy. She was on edge.

“Sorry, May,” John smiled disarmingly. “…not yet, I got lost in my morning fuzz and my thoughts. Honestly, it’s fine, just fine. Most people like coffee first thing. I’m a bit fuzzy until I have some tea. I’ll just look at the menu and try to make up my mind. Take your time, though.”

John liked a big breakfast. And the restaurant was busy enough, but he wanted to see if he could get her to open up a little bit, just to make sure she was all right. May brought him a standard-issue white diner-style mug and saucer, a stainless pot with hot water, and two square pouches with “Lipton’s” printed on the outside. There was already a bottle of honey on the table. “Wow, thanks! Well, I like breakfast a lot. I’d like a Belgian waffle, two scrambled eggs, bacon, grits, and hash-browned potatoes.”

“Impressive, John, a ‘Number One’ AND a Belgian waffle it is, then. Can I get you anything else?” She smiled, a little easier this morning.

He noticed she had the North-Carolina-specific southern accent, but it was blended, quirkily, with other east-coastal influences, and something else he couldn’t quite place.  Keep her talking.  “When you bring me a smile like that, I’m pretty satisfied already. But I’ll let you know. – Oh wait! Do you have a newspaper?”

“I sure do. It’s Raleigh, is that OK?” He nodded. “OK, I’ll bring that after I put in your order.”

John thanked May again, and she called in the order and came right back with the Raleigh News and Observer. He started with headlines and didn’t quite make it to his next favorite section, the comics, before May returned with his rather large breakfast. He started, and ended, with the waffle. And in between, polished off everything in between, along with sips of hot tea.  About halfway in, May brought more hot water. When she came to check on him again, he asked, “Can I get a copy of the newspaper anywhere close?  I like to work the crossword puzzles and fumble the cryptoquote.”

“Oh, don’t trouble yourself, John. You can have that one if you want it.  Need a pencil?  Or a pen, if you’re dead-set on that fumbling?”

“I’ve got a pen.  He smiled.  I couldn’t help noticing your eye last night, it’s looking better this morning.”

“I thought I covered it better than I did, then.  You’re the only person who noticed. I’m fine, really.”

“They all say that. Mind sharing what happened?” He said “they all say that,” and immediately thought to himself, “and they all lie.”

“It’s a long story, and I’ve got other customers to take care of right now.”  She almost tried to back out of any more of the conversation, but she looked at his eyes and saw something there, and made a split-second decision, a kind of leap of faith.  She decided, abruptly, to take a chance and continue.  “…but when the rush is over my mom’ll be here to handle lunch. Are you in town, or headed to the beach?”

“Yes, and yes.” John was pleased at her willingness to talk, since he’d only met her twice. But he understood with the locals and a few beach-bound customers, it was a little too busy to get into a long story. It was almost 10:30, so he figured he could just wait. “Can I take a cup of hot tea outside and wait?”

“My,” stretched with deliberate exaggeration, “but aren’t you curious.”  She smiled demurely.  John sensed her inner “southern belle” had been touched, which was good.  She was relaxing a little in spite of the morning rush and her earlier fearful manner.  “Please,” now dramatic, “tell me though, you’re not a serial killer drifting through town looking for a new victim, are you?” John shook his head no. “All righty then, sure thing.”  Was that a Georgia influence too?  He was curious about her accent and origin now.  She stopped, mid-turn on her way back to the kitchen.  “I’ll see you on break and we can talk some more.  Let me bring you that tea.  If you like, you can just stay at this little table out of the wind to read your paper.”

“Oh, nice.  Thank you!”  John took a break to relieve himself in a cramped but efficient restroom, washed and dried his hands, and walked back to the table.  He sat down, and flipped the paper to international headlines and scanned a few, as he had finished reading the local and national news.  May brought more tea, and went back to waiting her other tables, while they both waited for her mom to arrive.  John got about halfway through the comics, and a young-looking woman of maybe 45 showed up, dressed like May.  It must be 11:00, John thought.

“Break time, hon.” the lady announced to May.

The lady, who John had guessed to be Mom, looked curiously at May as she poured herself a cup of black coffee and sat across from John.  John observed several expressions as mom sized him up.  She did have a nice smile, though.  He set aside his paper and took a sip of tea.  May’s eyes were blue-green like the ocean.  “Is that your mom?  She looks a little young to be.”

“Yes sir, that’s mom.  I’ll pass along the compliment.  You don’t sound like a southern gentleman, but you sure do charm like a southern gentleman.”

“She looks a little suspicious, maybe.”

“Protective,” her lips curled up at the edges and her nose wrinkled.  It was endearing.

“Does she need to be?”  He really wanted the story of the bruise, and of the accent.

“Depends.  Are you a serial killer passing through town looking for another victim?”

“Not today.  Still psyched from my last victim,” he quipped, smiling back.

She laughed.  It sounded like crystal wind chimes.

All in, or go slowly?  John wasn’t sure.  He knew he definitely wanted to learn everything he could about May.  He also didn’t want to frighten her away.  Go slowly.  “So tell me everything there is to know about May.”

“Not much to tell, really.” She was playing it safe.  “Tell me everything there is to know about John,” she countered.

“All right, give a little, get a little, I guess that’s fair.  After all, I’m the suspicious-looking stranger in town, just passing through.  Ok, well, I’m a novelist, and I write fictional stories, and I watch people so I can make my characters more believeable.

“Anything I might have read?”

“Well, I’m not what I’d think of as famous, yet, but I’ve written three very different novels and they were modestly successful.  They were in some bookstores, but I don’t know if they made it into the libraries.  It would be hard to think of my works as ‘classics’ in any way.  I should have told you my last name.  I’m John Barbera.”

“You said, ‘yet.’  I like that.  Can I order your books online?” May asked.

“Yes, they’re available for a relatively outrageous price; you can get them on e-readers or in actual printed form, the old-fashioned way.”

“I’ll have to look you up.  I’ve always kind of thought the heart of the writer goes into each book, so maybe I’ll just give you a little checkup.”  She chuckled a little half-laugh, “hah.”

“Never met a waitress with a literary stethoscope before.”

“What can I say, my talents go far and wide from just bein’ the perfect waitress,” she bragged, mocking herself.

This was going well.  He decided to go for it.  “You always talk to strangers this readily?”

“We get a lot of people just passing through.  I think their stories are interesting and maybe there’s a novel in every character,” May said, thoughtfully.

“You got that right,” John agreed.

“So, If you catch my interest, maybe I want to read your story.  Or in your case, your story, and your stories.”

“So, May, may I ask something specific?” John braced himself.

“Sure, why not, John?”

“What happened to your eye?  Be honest, because I’m not going to be here long enough for real-life lies, emotions, and drama.  I’m only here to write my book.”

“So, you work your charms on a girl, take what you want, and then just leave her behind, broken-hearted, abandoned, and left to pick up her own pieces?”

“Would a serial killer work any other way?”

Not Quite Abandoned, Not Quite Forgotten, Possibly

So for my two faithful readers, and the third person who occasionally stops by and knows to whom I’m referring, I would LOVE to have more time and energy to write, but life sucks and I’m in depression mode. 5 or 6 weeks ago, I think, I started feeling the wave approach. My Boy Scout thing for the fall is disappointing so there’s that. Add, 3 weeks or so ago, my mother-in-law died, under medical “care” and “practice.”

Life’s other “issues” continually keep me realizing how much more money I need than what I have, just to keep the plates all spinning. Well, mostly tires and car repairs I can’t afford, but yeah, one of the teeth I need is starting to ping a bit. The expense of mental health counseling, if I had to foot that bill, would add, as my daughter has had a few triggers recently and is feeling more depressed.  God help me if I actually went to counseling.

And then, just to add a bit of comedic irritation, my cell phone fell and broke after flying off the car onto the highway. Well, it made my daughter laugh (at me). Apparently THAT’s too important for me to do without, though, for Mrs M.  She immediately ordered a new one ($50 is no problem, but a few thousand we don’t have is what is needed for teeth and car things.

I’ve had the week off to be available at home for any crises while the kids are off on fall break.  And to be a driver, and to try to get rid of popcorn since my scout and the rest of the troop with him, have had a disappointing year of sales while I’ve smiled and encouraged and promised prizes for high sales.  Well, disappointing to me, just because I’ve got to return what I can next week.  I don’t want to do it next year.  Maybe I’ll just help whomever replaces me.  I promised myself I’d clean, well, I haven’t had the energy for more than just bare-minimum maintenance- dishes, trash, nothing really extra.  So there’s the self-disappointment too.

Of course we could add Mrs. M’s chronic disappointment.  Unless I surprise her with having completed several tasks about the house, in addition to carrying on with other life-commitments I’m going to drop as soon as possible, she’s disappointed with my lack of effort.

This morning on the news or whatever they did a segment talking about how people are lonely and depressed and how bad that is.  They talked about how people don’t connect online as well as people need to, and how face-to-face interaction is superior to online interaction, to which I say, perhaps, and perhaps bullshit.  I don’t WANT to interact face to face with people if I can avoid it, and I frequently feel better connected, and fine with it, with a few of my readers, than I do with people that life forces me to interact with face-to-face.

I went to the doctor and lied through my well-concealed panic and my holey teeth that the medication is helping me concentrate and helping me with my depression, he renewed it.  I’m thankful because I have no fucking clue how I’d be if not for that little bit of help.  I mean, maybe it’s helping and I’d be worse without it.  But maybe we have different expectations about   It is not getting better yet.  I’d rather have not had to go at all.  I still have too much stress and things to keep spinning.  If I do nothing, I’ve done nothing, and if I do something, it’s never enough.

I understand my daughter’s depression full well, but she’s involved in school and weekend work and a huge Girl Scout project that I get to help with, and researching and testing for college and financial aid, and other things, and keeping her plates spinning is depressing her.  The poor baby.  Her dad should have been rich enough to handle things, and optimistic enough to have not passed along any of the negatives of life along.  But alas, she got this one, and he sucks.

Mum said that when watching someone do something, performance or whatever, at the end, if you can’t celebrate because you enjoyed it, celebrate because it’s over.  Well, the plates are spinning (cue some circus music for the freak), the shit’s everywhere and after the show there’s the cleanup, I’m enjoying my own show almost half as well as everyone watching in disappointment and a hint of horror, and I can’t wait until it’s over.  But yeah, I’ll celebrate when it’s over.  If I get a chance to clean up after.

I’m not suicidal, not since I was 14 or so, but I am rather depressed.  So I might respond to you, I might not; I might write in my blog, I might not; I might accomplish the house work shit (just picture a hot guy in a french maid outfit, complete with the black stockings with the lines up the back, drinking coffee), I might not.  But I know if I try I’ll feel less in agreement with all the disappointed people in my life that I have to interact with.  Was it Good Morning, America?

I’ll bet I’m not the only one who wants to cry at the end of Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” because the court and the mob wanted to take the protection “Pink” had built around himself.  It feels cruel and inhumane.  My bunker?  No, don’t tear it down.  Tell the real world to leave me the fuck alone until I am ready to come out and face it.  Which, from the state of things, may be never.

On the plus side, with the stress and all, I’ve lost more weight.  And Mrs. M hasn’t filed divorce papers.  OK, I wrote something, for what it’s worth.  Time to do something so Mrs M doesn’t make me feel completely worthless.  It may be true I’m not worthy

But I think I might at least try to do something to show I care.

Here’s to coping the best we can, and hoping for better days and fewer plates to spin soon.

DM

 

The Wisdom of Rush

I was going to share the lyrics of a song with my Bible study group, but I decided to leave it out.  I was sure it would be misunderstood and taken incorrectly, and used against me.  Why do “Christian” (or religious, or social, or political, or other) leaders need such a death-grip on being the authority and being the source of “truth?” Anyway, at the risk of being judged a “heathen,” by some, and “religious” by others, I’m going to share what I was thinking here.  Can I assert that neither of these labels really fits?  Or will I be told that both are apropos?  (Hey, WordPress? When did apropos become one word instead of two? I think I always thought it was “a propos.” But am I being corrupted by my son’s French lessons? French à propos, to the purpose from Classical Latin ad, to + propositus, past participle of proponere, propose http://www.yourdictionary.com/apropos#rwXEIIJi24Do6mIK.99)  I have to wonder, since Jesus took such a dim view of “religion,” as it was being practiced after the corruption of corrupt teachers and lawyers, that maybe being irreligious isn’t a bad thing depending on who you follow.  The problem is that if you follow someone who isn’t political, it can become a “religion,” and then it gets rules, like “we don’t smoke, and we don’t chew, and we don’t dance with girls that do.”  I’m sure if anyone noticed that I drink alcohol sometimes, that’d rile them up too. Or whatever.

Some just say they don’t dance.  But I say unto you, “we can dance if we want to.”

The moral uproar! Same reaction as the controlling Pharisees and Sadducees, and as David’s wife in II Samuel 6:20, to be more apropos  (I’m not “uproar+pro,” but if ” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>“the people are revolting,” maybe the situation should be analyzed until the best, wisest solution is found).

I’m also not exactly sure about being heathen, exactly.  I’m mostly almost conservative. I just disagree sharply with a lot of things conservatives think are good for them, so they must be good for everybody else.  It’s the very definition of pharisaism.  Or Congress, or anyone presuming to speak for Congress.  Is it close to your existing rules?  Add a rule to clarify your rule.  I disagree with the idea of rules because trying to force people to not do something is a whole lot harder than teaching them TO do the opposite, plus, as soon as you make a rule, someone’s going to break it.  Eve?  Adam?  Everyone else who’s ever lived?

I was going to share a song, and why I agree with it, and I’ll get there, I promise.  These distractions, though.  It just came to my attention last week or two ago, reading a few old things I wrote, that I used to be a lot more light hearted about my heavy heartedness.  So I thought I’d try more of that.

What I believe should be the standard for law is a whole lot different than “law.”  It’s libertine.  Instead of don’t this and can’t that, it should be conscience deciding what to DO, rather than restrictions saying what to NOT do.  Is it selfish? Not a good standard for moral relevance or personal behavior.  Is it generous?  Do that.  Is it appropriate?  Do that.  Is it helpful?  Do that.  Is it positively impacting you or someone else, without interfering with or harming someone else?  Do that.  Does it help other people to get along nicely?  Do that.  Is it following the original intents and purposes of a design? Do that. (One doesn’t use a hammer and screwdriver for a hammer and chisel- something’s going to break; or a pen-cap for a cotton swab-something’s going to go wrong or get scratched; or a raw chicken instead of a cooked one-someone’s getting sick.  One doesn’t rape someone else and call it “love.”  One doesn’t use the wrong word or the wrong spelling, usage or punctuation in a business email and expect to be seen as intelligent, or get the bonus or promotion; don’t verbally abuse, traumatize, or grossly underpay someone who works for you and expect ravingly positive feelings and great work performance (unless one works at my company, of course; that means you’re senior management material) .

The difficult part is convincing the world that I’m right, which is why there are “don’t do this,” and “don’t do that” laws in the world.  There are murderers, rapists, and thieves, and other varied forms of ass hole, scattered throughout the whole world.  But I’m distracted again.  The point of this article was to tell you about a song I wanted to share with my class in church, and felt I couldn’t.

I wanted to teach that God respects people’s free will, and although He has a set of standards, He knows we’re human and will not measure up to His perfection.  Just as people will never be perfect grammarians, and never completely follow those standards, nor will everyone spell everything right, especially in a blog, and I have learned over time to be more tolerant of people’s various social foibles, as long as they’re harmless and not motivated by selfishness.  Those selfish motives tend to piss me off, because nobody wants to do it MY selfish way, everyone wants to do it THEIR OWN selfish way.  Oh.  Right.  Free will.

There’s a stupid question that people who don’t want to hear about God’s grace will ask to distract someone who doesn’t get that it’s a distraction:  “If God is all-powerful, can He make a rock that He can’t move?”  The answer is “yes.”  But the rock is the heart of the person asking the question.  God doesn’t force people to do anything they don’t want to do.  He made humans with a free will-the ability, and the intelligence, to choose for themselves.  And although I know it grieves Him when we choose to do something a) stupid, b) harmful to ourselves, or c) harmful to others, He doesn’t swallow us in a fiery crack in a rock like He did once to some people in the Old Testament.  Those were people who had been living under His direct protection, who should have known better, who had ample warning to not do what they were doing.  It’s the same for me – I know some things I should do, but not enough to actually make a success of anything.  I know some things I shouldn’t do, but I have bad habits and want what I want when I want it.  I have that rage thing going for me, too… yeah, that’s setting a great example for everyone.  Did I mention I’m kind of glad about the whole not opening up the earth to drop me into a boiling lake of lava and then close up the earth leaving no evidence I was ever here?

So we’re pressing on to the song I was thinking about.

He has His standards, but God isn’t pushy.  Look how Jesus treated the lady “caught in the very act” of adultery.  Was she breaking the law?  Yes.  Was she bound to be judged by her peers?  Yes.  But Jesus, respecter of free will, saw through the scene.  Sure, the lady had done something, but not alone, and there she stood, alone, facing a bunch of guys who wanted to make Jesus pass judgement.

Can you see Him there writing in the sand with His finger?  They saw, and they could see what He wrote.  We don’t get told what it was.  I can only speculate.  “Thou shalt not kill.”  Gone were the guys who just wanted to get an adrenaline rush from watching a poor lady bleed and get abused, and then die, under their power.  Ass holes.  “Thou shalt not bear false witness.”  Gone were the guys who said they saw the whole thing but weren’t turning in the guy.  Yeah, he was supposed to be stoned too, according to the law, but,  “…um…er…ah… He got away.  We couldn’t catch him.”  “Thou shalt not commit adultery.”  Gone was the guy who she had been with, the fucker.  Oh, yeah.  In my mental picture he was THERE, with a fucking rock in both hands, because when he got home to his wife, she knew and wanted him to end that relationship.  Also, gone were the other guys she had been with, who told this guy “she was easy,” when what she really wanted was someone to love her, to care for her, to protect her, and all she got was used.  Shitheads.

The song is right, on so many levels.  We do have the ability to make choices in life: what to do, what to believe (or not believe), what to think.  Sometimes, not choosing one thing means you’ve picked, when there are only really two choices even if it seems like there are a lot.  Sometimes there’s one right choice and a lot of other wrong ones.

There, I finally got to the song. Told you I would. The wisdom of Rush.  And yeah, while I’m not blaming the evil one for things I choose to do, I’m not a puppet on God’s strings either.  It’s complicated.  Sometimes I WISH I were a puppet on God’s strings, because then I wouldn’t choose the stupid thing, or worse, the sinful thing.  But I’m not.

I still have a free will and don’t always choose wisely.  But I choose to be a Christ-follower because He’s the only One I ever heard of who ever came back from the dead and then went to Heaven after promising He’d be back to pick up his followers later.  All the other religious leaders who started their own movements are dead.  Still dead.  And I am probably very narrow-minded for all my apparent broad-minded love.  But if Jesus said “I am the way, the truth, and the life,” and He did, then all those other ways people are trusting in are going to fail.  I’ve made a choice. I’ll leave your choice up to you, but please, choose wisely.