Category Archives: writing

Hey there, humanity.

Hey there, little brat.  Up the stairs you come yapping on your cell phone.  It’s a quiet zone up here.  We come up here to get away from people like you.  You ignore the signs, and keep on talking.  Quite the nuisance, disturbing the rest of us.  But you don’t care.  What the hell is wrong with you?

Hey there rich girl.  With your high heels, dark sunglasses and oversized Coach bag.  I saw you push by that other women to get up the stairs.  Kind of rude, don’t you think?  But you don’t care.  Tons of seats available, but you have to get up there to get first choice.  What the hell is wrong with you?

Hey there, Mr. Stink.  I’m glad you sat at the other end of the train car.  Just walking by filled the air with the smell of sweat and cheap cologne and frustration.  But you don’t care. I bet I’ll smell that for the rest of the ride home, so thanks for that.  What the hell is wrong with you?

Hey there, Mr. Elbows.  Tons of empty seats, but you choose the one next to me.  Hard to sit comfortably with your fat wing slamming in to my ribs every time you move.  Can’t you see I’m working here?  I know you can see that before you sit down.  But you don’t care. What the hell is wrong with you?

Hey there incompetent mother.  Your kids been screaming since we left the station.  I mean really, why did you bring her on the train at rush hour?  Her ear shattering wails make it seem like you’re pinching her, but you just sit there with a defeated look on your face.  You should be more considerate of others!  But you don’t care.  What the hell is wrong with you?

Hey there Mr. Drunk.  You can’t fool us; we know you just puked in the bathroom. We heard it. And now you are staggering around trying to find where you were sitting.  You walked past it twice.  Looks like you’re going to lose your cellphone too. It’s on the seat you can’t find.  You probably have some sob story about how you lost your job or how your wife left you or something.  Like you’re the only one who has suffered. And we have to put up with your melancholy alcoholism. But you don’t care.  What the hell is wrong with you?

Hey there Mr. Crutches.  We’re trying to get home here.  Waiting for you made us late.  If you can’t move a little faster than that, you shouldn’t be getting on the train at all. So inconsiderate.  Probably on crutches because you did something stupid.  And even if you didn’t, it’s not as if it’s our fault, why should we have to wait?  But you don’t care. What the hell is wrong with you?

Hey there you douchebag blogger.  Tapping away at your laptop.  Sunglasses still on and a frown on your face.  Sitting in judgment of your fellow commuters, because they don’t fit your ideal.  Because they are talking to their mother trying to figure out how to get home.   Because they have insecurities they hide behind fancy clothes and baubles.  Because they’ve just worked 12 hours and have more work to do when they get home. But you don’t care.  Because they are just so exhausted that walking even a few more steps to another seat is just too much.  Because colic has ruined their life. Because Life is painful, and they don’t have the skills to cope.  Because disease and injury chose them, it was not chosen by them. But you don’t care.

All these people who just want to get home, just like you.  But you don’t care.

What the hell is wrong with you?


Deep Blue Funk

Five months. Five months since I stopped writing.  Why did I do that?  Take the most therapeutic thing in my life, and put it on the shelf?

There is only one real answer. The Deep Blue Funk.  We all have a monster in our lives.  Some are big, some are small.  Some of us are able to ignore it, others of us cannot.  It’s a monster of apathy and disinterest.  A vampire, it sucks away your drive.  I call mine the Deep Blue Funk.  I call him this because he is a product of my deepest emotions, and for a long time, they have been blue. 

I’ve allowed the grief that life has offered me to feed the Funk.  So I spent my days to pass in silence.

I’ve trudged to work, done my job, gone home, and sat on the couch.  I’ve watched TV instead of reading, played video games instead of writing, and spaced out instead of thinking.  I’ve put my goals aside, not because I don’t desire them, but because for the last half of a year, I haven’t really wanted anything at all.  During this time Deep Blue Funk has gotten enormous, glutting itself on my disinclination to motion.

I’ve killed Deep Blue before.  But he keeps coming back.  And now he’s on the couch with me.  He always knows when I plan on murdering him.  He’s at his most persuasive when I’m plotting his demise.

So I try again.  I have started working on my novel again.  Shortly I’ll hit Publish Post.  And hopefully it will kill Deep Blue. Maybe for good this time.

I really hate that guy.


The Homecoming

soldier

My father is coming home today.

I don’t really know how to feel about it.  I mean, I don’t really know him.  I was only two years old when he left.  I don’t have any real memories of him at all.  His picture is on my desk, he sits smiling at me as I do my homework at night.  He’s dressed in his crisp army uniform.  It’s an old picture.  He was only a Corporal when it was taken.  He made it up to Sergeant while he was away.

 Fourteen years.  That’s how long he’s been gone.  Pulled into action because of a war I can’t understand, in a place I only know about because my mother showed me where it was on a map.  It’s on the other side of the world, pretty much, and it doesn’t mean anything to me other than it’s where my Dad went to fight.

 He didn’t come home with so many of the other troops when the war ended.  Captured, placed in a prisoner-of-war camp.  They didn’t even know where he was for years.  After the war ended, he was one of the many soldiers that were missing.  Peace was declared, but still he was missing.  They finally found him, along with some other guys from our side when they were patrolling, in a prison camp our side didn’t know was there.

 So like I said, I don’t know how to feel about it.  Should I be mad?  Angry for all the years that I missed with my father?  Mad at all the dance recitals he missed, all the school plays, all the things a dad is supposed to do with his daughter?  How about relieved, that they finally found him?  Perhaps both?

 He’s been in the news a lot – Him, and the soldiers who were with him in that prison camp.  How he was on a bombing run before his plane was shot down, and, as they now know, was captured.  They’re using a newer picture of him on the newscast.  He has his Sergeant stripes in that picture, But he has the same smile in that picture as the one on my desk.  He looks a bit older in that picture though. 

 My mother laid out my best dress for today.  We have to go and meet the airplane. It’s a great big photo opportunity, and the media will be everywhere.  My mom wanted us to be dressed nicely because”We’re going to be on television, nationwide.” She said.  All sorts of important guys in uniforms will be there too.  Something about being present when the last of our brave troops come home.  Apparently this war took a lot out of our country.  I wouldn’t know about that, I was a little kid through most of it.  But this sort of thing seems important to everyone.

 I don’t really care for the dress. It’s itchy and stuffy.  I’m far more comfortable in jeans and a t-shirt.  But my mother would never let me go to this thing dressed like that.  Everything has to be proper, neat and dignified, if we’re going to be seen on the news.

 It’s time to go. I quickly toss on the dress and run a brush through my hair.  The car is waiting to take us to the airport.  They’ve sent a limo to bring us even though it’s only a few minutes away. No expense spared, it seems.  My mother is already in the car.  Good thing it’s a limo, or she’d be behind the wheel honking the horn to hurry me up.

 As I approach the car, the driver opens the door for me.  I can see my mother inside, looking out the opposite window.  She and I never talked much about dad being away, so I don’t see much reason to talk to her now that he’s on his way back.  What is there to say, really?  Before I get in, I notice a man in a uniform approaching.  He hands me a box.  It’s then I remember that my father won a medal.  The army guys thought it would be special if it was me that brought it to meet the plane.  I think it’s just a good public relations stunt.

 I hop in to the car, and we pull away from the house.  To save myself from having to talk to my mother, I fiddle idly with the window controls.  It’s a fairly warm day, so the breeze passing by feels nice. Soon I can smell the airport.  It’s a unique smell of exhaust, tarmac and rubber that you can recognize in an instant.  I roll the window up so I don’t have to smell it, but it’s too late, it’s in the car already, and we’re pulling past the security checkpoint.

 The limo pulls up outside a hangar.  There are media personnel behind a picket that has been set up.  Cameras, microphones, cheap suits and over-styled hair are everywhere.  We don’t have to go near them though; there is a spot reserved for us.  They have set up a red carpet walkway with a matching red carpet for us to stand on.  No chairs; it looks like we have to stand through the entire thing.  I turn my head at the sound of engines.  It doesn’t look like we have to stand there for long; the plane is already taxiing up to the hangar.  I wonder if it’s our luck to arrive just in time, or if they timed it just right.

 I take my place beside my mother, and watch the plane rolling to a stop.  I can hear cameras snapping, reporters murmuring in to recorders or microphones.  The plane is loud enough that I don’t hear what they are saying, nor would I care to.  I find it so unfair that this day has to be a circus of media, so that the entire nation can take part in my father’s homecoming.

 The back of the plane begins to open, and I can feel my pulse quicken.  I don’t know why.  Like I said, I don’t remember this man at all.  Shouldn’t a daughter have some feeling though?  Maybe it’s because I’m my mother’s daughter. She’s never been much for showy displays of emotion. 

 The plane ramp finishes descending.  The engines switch off, and I can hear the reporters go from restless to silent.  It’s a military plane, which means the floors are nothing but metal, so I can hear the footsteps beginning from the depths of the plane.

 My father has come home.

 A drum starts rapping out a military beat.  It matches the steps I can hear from inside the plane perfectly.  The medal in my hand seems very heavy.

 My father has come home.

 From the top of the ramp, I see the six honour guards, carrying his casket down the ramp to meet us.  The medal falls from my hand to the carpet without a sound.  My mother begins sobbing quietly beside me.

 My father has come home.

 And I don’t know how I feel about it.

(Thank you for reading.  This piece was a challenge presented to me by a comment in my “rusty helmet” post, where I can be given topics to write on, and try and come up with either a story, opinion piece, or even a humour piece as a result.  Please freely critique this piece!  I would love to discuss it.  Also, please visit “The Rusty Helmet” and give me some more topics to continue to challange myself.  The suggestor in this case chose not to link their blog, so I won’t indicate it on here (even though I know who it is, in this case!) But I will mention the person who gave me the idea, and their blog, should you choose to give me another topic to write on!  I hope you enjoyed this short story, and I look forward to any feedback that will help me continue to improve!)


Magic Eight Ball Life Coaching

eight ball

It can be so difficult to figure out which way we should do things.  Career, family, financial investments, hobbies, retirement…

I never knew there could be such a simple answer to all of it though.  The Magic Eight Ball!  We can take thinking and decision-making out of the picture!  We can trip through life never stopping to think at all! (But the “Make life easier” kind, not the “become publisher for Twilight series” kind.)

So let’s throw caution to the wind, and employ the magical, wonderful, clairvoyant powers of the floating blue triangle!  But where to start?  Hmm. Well, there’s always my career.   We can start there!

So, Magic Eight Ball, you know I’ve been looking for that promotion.  What do you think?  Will it happen this year?

“Outlook not so good.”

Darn.  Well, I know it can’t be that far off.  How about the next year after that?

“Reply Hazy, ask again.”

Okay… I’ll try again. So, the promotion.  2014?

“My sources say no.”

Damn it!  what about 2015?

“Outlook not so good.”

We’re off to a depressing start.  Can you tell me if I’m EVER going to get that promotion?

“Cannot predict now.”

Oh, forget it.  Maybe I should just change careers then.

“Most likely.”

To what though?  Sales?

“Very doubtful.”

Uh… project management?

“My reply is no.”

You’re not being helpful. I may as well say elementary school janitor.

“Yes-definitely”

Perhaps this is the wrong area to be asking you in.  I know!  how about financial planning?  Yes, that’s the ticket.  So that stock I bought.  How’s it going to do?  Good long-term investment?

“Reply hazy, try again.”

Oh, come on.  You must have SOME idea.  Is it going to make me a bunch of money?

“Outlook not so good.”

Dang!  My broker said that those shares would do well.  So, should I sell them?

“It is certain.”

and buy something else?

“As I see it, yes.”

Ok, I’ve sold it.  But what should I buy now instead?

“Concentrate and ask again.”

Right, right. Yes and no questions only. um…. Apple?

“Ask again later.”

No, no, I only have so much time to buy before the trading day is over.  I stand to lose a bundle.  How about Samsung?

“Better not tell you now.”

Hey! Listen! I’ve got next to no time left! Stop being difficult and give me some help.  What’s this stock code here… NAS?  Oh! that must be NASA Advanced Supercomputing. I hear there’s going to be a LOT of action there when they restart some space programs. How about that? Buy it?

“Without a doubt”

Ok, done!  Wait.  WAIT!  that’s not NASA, that’s NASCAR!

“Yes”

Is this some kind of joke?

“You may rely on it.”

Oh, you stupid chunk of plastic, you just cost me a ton of money.  I’ll have to work longer before retirement now!

“Most likely.”

That wasn’t very nice.

“Yes-definitely.”

I should just throw you across the room.

“My reply is no.”

This may be the dumbest thing I’ve ever done, but…

“Without a doubt.”

Hey, I wasn’t done.  I was going to say, since we’ve come this far, I should ask a few more questions.  I have other goals and dreams you know.

“Concentrate and ask again.”

That wasn’t even a question!

“Most likely.”

Ugh!  Let’s just get through this.  So, I was thinking about writing a novel.  How do you think I’ll do?  Bestseller?

“My reply is no.”

uh… Kindle published?

“My reply is no.”

self published?

“My reply is no.”

is that all you can say?

“My reply is no.”

You aren’t very smart are you?

“My reply is no.”

Gotcha! Ha! Clearly I’m too clever for you.

“Very doubtful.”

Fine, fine. Forget it.  So no novel. Shoot.  How about short stories at least?  Surely I can get people to buy some of those.

“Don’t count on it.”

So cruel.  Not even “freshly pressed?”

“Ha, not in your wildest dreams.”

Wait. I don’t remember that being an eight ball response option…

“Er… I mean “My reply is no.”

Oh, forget it.  You’re not going to help me there either.  How about my dream to conquer my fear of heights?

“Cannot predict now.”

Ok…. becoming a world-class Chef?

“My sources say no.”

What, no new skills?  Just the same old same old for the rest of my life?

“Signs point to yes.”

I’ve lost my patience. It’s clear you’re not really out to help me at all! One last thing to try.  How about my plans to lose weight?  Will I lose the 70 pounds I need to lose?

“Very doubtful.”

Ok… fine.  But I know I can lose some.  how about 60?

“Don’t count on it.”

50? 40?

“Outlook not so good.”

you might be the biggest jerk of an inanimate object with magic powers out there.

“Cannot predict now.”

that’s it, I’m done with you.  If what YOU say is true, I’ll be fat, broke, and mopping floors.

“It is decidedly so.”

That wasn’t a question!

“Reply hazy, try again.”

Oh, shut up.

“Concentrate and ask again.”

You asked for it.

“My sources say…”


The Rusty Helmet

Helmet

 

“The helmet was rusty.”

That’s the first line in the novel that I have begun to write.  Writing a novel has long been a dream of mine.  One that I’ve started, stopped, started again, given up in futile despair, rethought, planned for, quit again, and set aside for more pressing concerns.

But I am determined that I write it.  I am determined that I write because it’s one of the few things that gives me some measure of happiness and peace.  Except that I destroy that peace by both quitting on the process, and worrying about whether or not I’ll ever be able to paint the picture I see in my head, in words for others to read.

But I must write it.  I have started to develop a “bucket list” upon which “write a novel” and “get novel published” feature strongly.

But I am not yet a good enough writer.  I have done passably well with emotion driven pieces of around 2000 words, but a novel seems a daunting task, unless I somehow find a way to be a better author than I currently am. I must add “Become a good enough writer to author a novel” ahead of the other two items on the list.

I beg assistance.  I ask for help.  Help me, gentle readers, to become a better writer.  Followers of my blog, visitors that are seeing it for the first time, either will do.

Comment.  Give me something you want me to write about.  Give me a topic.  Ask me to write about it.  Ask for humour, ask for reflection, challenge me. Inspire me.

and when I do write what your heart desires, critique it for me.  Tell me what would make it better for you, as a reader, to enjoy.  Perhaps you will like what it is I write.  Perhaps not.  I can make no guarantees that if you give me a topic, that my thoughts will mesh with yours.  I might be completely contrary.

But write I shall.  Make me ponder how to communicate my thoughts on the subject, make me sweat and agonize over the words, and make me see the flaws of it after it’s done.

Can any author be better without this?  I know that my novel will sit as nothing more than a line on a life’s to do list, if I don’t improve, so I implore any that would take the time,  Help me improve, help me aspire to that dream.

On the nitty-gritty, I ask only two things.  If I write on a topic that you have suggested I will “credit” the suggester, please help me get more critique by sharing it, or reblogging it for others to peruse, should your blog be the type that you are willing to reblog.

and the second?  Be as kind in your brutal honesty as you can afford me.  But don’t pull your punches either, tell me what it is that makes my writing poor, I will be richer for it.

And then someday… When the rust falls from my mind and fingers, and remains only on the helmet, I can tell you all about it.


Mind Vomit

Exploding head

I’m trying something new, a bit of a writing challenge for myself. I have 15 minutes.  To write whatever comes to mind, and see where it goes.  I have gleaned the idea from blogs and forums that I have read about writing, and I’d like to give it a try.  I of course will be going back through it for spelling errors, but if I’m to do this, I’m going to follow the spirit of the exercise and write unbidden thought.

And the clock starts.

Instantly I find myself wondering if I even have 15 minutes worth of writing in me, without forethought and planning.   Is writing in this manner more or less communicative than thinking a piece through and trying to structure it for better readability?

I find myself looking at a picture of my wife, as she was walked down the aisle at our wedding, just over 5 years ago.  Before the Lupus.  Before the doctors and pills and aching joints and tired eyes.  She looks no different to me.  We didn’t know that the disease was lurking for her, waiting to strike.  I’d marry her anyways, even if we had known.  On a side note, I still like her Chinese wedding dress more than her classic white one.  I have a picture of her in both side by side, and I know which I like better, even though she looks otherworldly in both.

On the same desk I have a picture of my daughter.  She stares right at me, small smile on her lips, bright blue eyes.  My wife doesn’t favour the picture, she feels it shows the sadness that was in my daughters’ eyes, but then as long as she lived with us, she had some sadness there.  She looks like me in so many ways, and doesn’t in so many others.  It seems entirely wrong that such a beautiful creature should come from me… and that she should be gone while I remain.

I find myself thinking about a few friends of mine, and what they are going through.  I’m typing with my eyes closed (I actually find it pretty cool that I can do that) and I can call their faces to my mind.  I hope my one friend finds what it is she’s looking for.  I hope the other one can too, and that she realizes what she is worth.  Another comes to mind, and I hope that she succeeds.  I ache for all of them, that they can obtain or achieve what it is that they are seeking. Life is too short.

Is this all there is to life?

I am trying not to be jealous or envious of the successes of other people that I’ve seen lately.  I have a hard time with that though, as I have always been ambitious.  Perhaps that’s stupid.  Shakespeare said that “Expectation is the root of heartache” and I think he knew what he was talking about.  Of course it leads to doubts.  It seems that success is for other people, and some of us just grind our gears.  You find yourself wondering if you have made a sane estimation of your own skills, and are not moving on because you aren’t actually good enough to do so.  It is hard, though, being told repeatedly that you are doing wonderfully… without the commensurate evidence of it.

I am intensely aware of an itch behind my eye.  It keeps being drawn to the timer.  You’d think that a timer would be a detriment, how can you focus on what you are doing when you’re racing against a clock?  Running against a never ending crawl that seems to get faster and faster, while you slow down.  I think staring at the ticking seconds is contrary to the point of what I’m doing here.  I have 6 minutes or so left. And I find myself being asinine and worrying about whether or not what I’ve written so far is really 9 minutes worth.

I am thinking about the weakness that I’ve been feeling, while everyone around me has said that I’m so “strong.”  Losing sleep, walking slowly, unable or unmotivated to do the most basic of things outside of what I absolutely must.  I tire out in a heartbeat.  Things that take no energy before sap it so very fast now.  We’ve sought some assistance, and are now having someone come in once a week to clean our home.  I don’t know whether to feel ashamed or relieved.  But it’s desperately important that we have a clean place to live in, somewhere were we can let down our guard, and just BE instead of DO.

I’ve never thought that I’d be in a place where I’d be writing these things.  I never saw my life, and the lives of those I love, turning out as they have, or ending as they did.  The world laughs at our plans.  I find myself getting angry again… at all the people who somehow have things fall into their laps.  Their lack of planning leads to surprising success… all our planning has led to nothing but a dull ache in our chests and a resignation that it isn’t going to change.  I’m probably being unfair to many people… I doubt it comes easily to most of us.  I just only seem to see the ones that it does.

I want to say something less doleful though.  I quickly scanned the last few paragraphs, and realize how melancholy I seem.  So I am trying to bring something else to the front of my mind to type. But I’ve run out of time.  There are 10 seconds left, and all I can do is wish that I had of thought of something better to say.

And the clock stops.