“You thought I was sleeping at the wheel / I thought that you were driving”

I’m hoping we can skip the usual apologia this time. We’ve heard it all before, right? New job role/title + ill family members + all the things = not enough time to blog. I knew you’d understand — thanks. So, let’s catch up…

NERD CORNER. I’ve never had so many personal objects at the dayjob, but since this is the first private office I’ve had, why not? I’ve been waiting for someone to call me out for daring to have THE PLAYBOY BOOK OF SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY at work, even though nothing in it comes close to being as salacious as the DANGEROUS VISIONS books. I’m curious to see what would happen if I was reported to TPTB for having AGAIN, DANGEROUS VISIONS which has a piece called “The Big Space Fuck.” Could I get nailed for a book having a story written by someone who’s sort of a big deal in the institution for which I work?

CURRENTLY READING. The memoir LITHIUM JESUS by Charles Monroe-Kane who tells the story of his path through mental illness, missionary work, faith healing, activism, and various forms of self-medication in (judging from the 3/4 of it that I tore through in two days) every sense of the word. I heard about this book from Monroe-Kane himself in a video from a MOOC I took — he had me as soon as I heard Northeast Ohio (where I’m also from) and faith-healing in the Philippines (because, Filipino) in the same sentence.

BINGE WATCHED. A throwback to my early 2000s late night cable anime viewing RURONI KENSHIN on Netflix. I was nostalgic, what can I tell you? There’s a lot more humor in it than I remembered there being when I caught it (half-awake and sometimes drunk) after midnight on Toonami back in the day. I recalled a lot more angst, but that might just been a reflection of my life at the time. After a few episodes though, I realized that the series resonates with me and my life at this point in time, as a person trying to make my way forward a decade after a dark period.

ALSO BINGE WATCHED. Thanks to Amazon Prime and my Smart TV, THE NEW YORKER PRESENTS. I have more thoughts on it, which I’ll save for later.

LEN WEIN. I can’t tell you with any certainty just how many Len Wein comics I’ve read in my decades of comic book nerdery. Just that I recall a distinct period where I saw his credit so many times, I thought he wrote all the comics. It’s foolish obviously, but I still had that same childhood sense of awe when I approached him a few years ago at the 2013 Rod Serling Conference. RIP, sir.

++

Thanks for the title, Rick…

“It’s such a crude attitude / It’s back where it belongs”

For the first weekend in several weeks (at least since 4th Street Fantasy), I’ve had time to just sit and catch my breath. I got back to New York last Tuesday after 2 weeks+change in Cleveland, and after two days of utter exhaustion and incomplete recovery, I went back to work. No writing to speak of, but I think this is the one (and only!) time I can completely forgive myself. So, let’s catch up:

PROGENITRIX UPDATE. Mom started her rehab the other day. So far, so good except for a PEG tube glitch that necessitated another trip to the ER last night. She’s okay, though. I have to say though, this whole experience has driven home how privileged I am (in the social sense of the word) to have had a job in healthcare for so long. It’s given me a certain level of patience and peace of mind most people don’t have otherwise. Understandably, when it’s you or your loved one, you don’t want to hear all the reasons that doctors or nurses can’t return your phone calls, or why one or another near-miss happened. Your natural reaction is, “WTF, you jackholes!” I had it too, but I understood exactly how/why these sorts of things can happen, I could see the various providers and aides doing what they could, and I communicated that to them.

PASSING. In two different senses of the word, here are a couple of calls for submissions that I’m passing on. I might’ve technically fit in the past with what they’re looking for, but you might be a better fit now! They’re both for Belt Magazine, that’s published me before:

THE COLUMBUS ANTHOLOGY “…will attempt to capture what Columbus is becoming, and to define a distinct cultural presence for Columbus and its citizens. Through the voices of local artists, activists, writers, musicians, and other enthusiastic residents who want to contribute, “The Columbus Anthology” presents a collective wisdom through its collected work.”

BLUE CITY, RED STATE. “We’re collecting essays about living blue in a red state—whatever that means to you—by writers who live in or have ties to a Midwestern state.”

IT’S ABOUT TIME. ‘Nuff said

That’s about all I have energy for today. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to have a scotch or three before I head out to get some things done… and then return home for two or three more.

“I can still hear you saying you would never break the chain…” [March 2017]

Well, I warned you last time this wouldn’t look pretty. That there is 7 days of writing in a 31 day month. Still, better to light an inch than curse the dark.

One of my VP20 crew told me, “Output is not a measure of value.” Which other friends and loved ones have told me before, of course. I’ve always known this intellectually, but deprogramming is hard. I’ve taken a step in that direction (I hope) by realizing that maybe for right now the fact of having to re-invent my writing process wheel after the sorts of interruptions I’m facing (almost exclusively dayjob-related stuff) is just a feature and not a bug.

That doesn’t mean I stay happy with it, though. But maybe I don’t have to resent it so much until I can make changes. And changes are on the horizon. I’ve got a new short story I’m working on for a particular market; just 3 weeks until the deadline. Plenty of time–if I can stay on the stick, that is.

Isn’t This How Imelda Got Started?

I had a wardrobe malfunction at Boskone. I’d worn down my faithful 2+ year old pair of Doc Martens flat, and I’d discovered they’d finally split on both feet. And boy was I pissed about it. Not so much because of the shoes, but because I’d decided against my better judgement that I didn’t need to lug two pairs of shoes with me for a two day trip, and that lace-up Docs (which had become part of my de facto convention “uniform”) was the way to go to a con in Boston in February.

The day after I got back, I went to my local shoe store for another pair of Docs and a second pair of something. And then I saw these…

I knew nothing about Blundstone boots or their history. They looked nice and so I tried on a pair of #500s (the ones in the middle). They were amazingly comfortable, and so I walked out of the store actually wearing them. I did buy the Docs and broke them in over a couple of days. But I kept going back to the “Blunnies,” as they’re called. And when I realized that I’d worn them exclusively for at least 5 out of the next 8 days, the only logical solution was to go back for a second pair.

My choices were between the black #063 (the top shoe) and the rustic brown #585 (on the bottom). I tried them both and they were just as comfortable at the #500s. And of course, having “mark” written all over my face, I get offered a discount for buying both “today only,” a deal which I would “never find anywhere else” (and with cursory research on the interwebs, I kinda believe it). So I did.

The #063s are still in the box for now, as my “dress” shoes, which of course means I’m tempted to get a nice, comfy pair of #587s.

At this point you’re asking yourself if I’ve now resorted to shoe reviews on my blog. No, the point of this screed is to take a moment to stop myself and ask, “What the fuck are you doing, man?”

I mean, never mind the exorbitant costs of buying four pairs in a week. Yes, this is sort of a positive — I don’t foresee actually needing a pair of shoes for at least the next five years. But getting #587s when I have a new pair of Docs? See, at this point I have to reckon with the horrible realization that this must be pretty much how Imelda Marcos got started. And lest you think her legendary shoe obsession was merely just a symptom of government corruption run amok, let me assure you that my mother’s collection, which filled up closets no larger than any you’d find in a 3 bedroom house in suburban Cleveland, was no slouch. It must be a predisposition in the genetic makeup of my peoples. And now I’ve become its latest victim.

Also, have I finally reached the age where I’m just done with laces?

I think I need to find a group, or something. That’s within walking distance. Because, fuck, these Blundstones are comfortable…

The Ballad of Baphomet with the Broken Horn

The public laundry rooms in my apartment complex have glass doors, and when I walked past one on my way to the bus to work the other day, I caught this little guy sitting on the freebie table out of the corner of my eye. I thought to myself, “That can’t be what I think it is.” and I doubled back.

Times are tough when the devil can’t get a break.

I stopped to stare at it. Not because of leftover Satanic influence from my Dungeons & Dragons days (at least I hope!), but because of the total absurdity of its existence in this room.

There’s a story behind that statue, and it began with a person or persons who decided, for whatever reason, “I need a graven visage of the Evil One, the Horned Beast, the Lord of Lies, the Prince of Darkness!” Maybe I have neighbors who are genuine Satan worshippers. Or, maybe just dark metal wannabes. Maybe contemporaries from my D&D days, or someone who just wanted to shock and amaze their roommates with a gag gift.

In any case, the tale ends when this person or persons decide, presumably after its right horn got busted off, “Eh… the rest of it is still good. Maybe someone else might want it.”

Twenty+ consecutive years of Catholic education during my formative years makes this repulsive at a gut level. But those days are long past. Not only am I dying to know what the middle of its story is, it’s kind of a pathetic end for anything to get discarded on a freebie table in an apartment laundry room.

Come to think of it… maybe a prop would be useful for the horror panels I’m on at Boskone next week… hm…

Now I wonder if it’s still there…?

So If You’re Tired of the Same Old Story…

I hit a couple of milestones this year. As always, I just need to capitalize on them. Leverage them into the next step in my master plan. As always, it’s that easy, and that hard.

But it’s been a tough year on top of that. It’s changed a lot of us, especially after November 9. And don’t get me started on the veritable icons we lost…

And now it’s time to turn some pages.

Lots of people have reason to be afraid in the next four years, and there are some people who get a big kick out of that. Fuck them. We might feel like we’ve been kicked in stomach by Bruce Lee straight into a spear stuck on the wall. But we have to toughen up, do your thing, and use that thing to stand up and get in the faces of the people who feel they can tell us to sit down and shut up.

2017, do not fuck with me. I’m going into next year angry, and so are a lot of my friends.

Go on, try us.

Offering This Simple Phrase

For five years I worked for my current boss, but on a different team. And every year around this time, she’d give that team some choice goodies from the Cuba Cheese Shoppe in Cuba, NY about a couple of hours away from us. I’ve moved on from that team to lead my own, and I wondered if I’d get the tasty cheese products this year. Turns out, I did!

My boss really is an example (in many ways, but this one in particular) of the simple phrase “Do unto others….” On one hand, she’s Administration and the general workplace rule is to be as neutral as possible during the holiday season, because we serve a lot of folks at the dayjob who don’t celebrate Christmas, or anything at all. But if you do, she’ll throw out a Merry Christmas in a second, and if you’d accept it you’ll get a gift of fine local cheeses.

For those of who aren’t into this particular holiday, I hope this time of year is exactly whatever you want it to be.

For those who are, Merry Christmas!

Plenty of Fluids

It’s been 9-10 hours days at the dayjob this week even though I was knocked out for a lot of last week by some kind of lung pox. The occasional cough and sneeze hasn’t stopped karma from arranging things for me to work 9-10 hour days. I’ve been trying to drink plenty of fluids, per the advice of the medical professionals surrounding me. Sort of. Okay, maybe this wasn’t what they had in mind.

I’ve become what I have beheld — in this case, my old high school band director who would regularly accumulate coffee cups of varying levels of fullness on his desk (and cigarette butts; it was the ’80s). There’s really no reason for me to have all this fluid on my desk. The sad part is, the coffee is what took my mind back to high school band and not the old Chicago album I had playing when I snapped this.

Anyway, I’m at lunch this second, sitting at a table next to a group of four students who are just chattering away. Writer Me wants to transcribe every word; the stuff I’m hearing is fiction dialogue gold. But not today. Today, I’ll just sip my coffee (that WON’T be going back to my desk) and soak up the fluid of stories gushing out next to me. Somehow, this stuff is actually making me feel a little better.

Breakfast with the Social Medias

I’m at the cafe I usually sit in on Sundays, gearing up for today’s writing with coffee and baked goods. I decided to dive into my social media networks (and, tweak the new site here a little bit). I spent what I felt to have been a productive hour interacting a bit. As soon as I post this, I’m going to turn all of that off but then I realized something — sure, the next time I tune in again, I might’ve missed something. But because of how big the big things tend to stick on social media, it’ll be back around again like a TV rerun.

Which then made me think that just because social media is designed to be a stream and is meant to be consumed as such (since it’s on 24/7, nonstop because of its ubiquitous presence on all of our devices), it doesn’t mean I have to treat it that way. Just what is the actual difference between the social media stream, and any other media stream I had coming up in the 80s and 90s (TV, radio, recorded media, etc.) with respect to its demands on my attention and how I choose to respond to that demand?

Rise! (Again.)

If you look closely, you can see my energy level.

Let me start by saying this isn’t a “Poor Me” post. But sometimes a little whining is therapeutic.

I was knocked out for a week with laboratory confirmed Flu A. One of the clinicians I work with told me that people who’ve said they’ve had the flu and miss work for a couple of days really haven’t had the flu. I’m starting to think that’s true because as I think back, it seems to me that I haven’t been sick like that in a long, long time. I’m pretty sure I was delirious the first night.

Anyway, I got better but damn if it wasn’t the exact wrong week to miss work. It was a week of project deliverables, most of which made it in. But some didn’t, and still haven’t. So the week I came back (last week) was catch-up week, and I don’t mind telling you it was a harder fight than surviving the flu. I’m still chipping away at it, even as I’m processing this week’s work.

Thing is, all this happened about a week after Boskone, at a time when I just felt I’d recaptured a sense of urgency about my writing. I’m not talking “inspiration to write.” I’m talking about a feeling of something I could harness, aside from my own willpower, to leverage myself out of the writing slump I’ve been in for a couple of years. (Yes, I’m in a slump, despite an upcoming publication.)

But it’s hard having to constantly climb out of a pit, and that’s kind of where I am right now. Not ready to give up or anything, not by a damn sight. Not even as I still feel some lingering effects of something-or-other (shortness of breath, a cough that still hasn’t gone away, near constant malaise and fatigue). My boss (who’s a registered nurse by training) finally chided me enough to give my doctor a call tomorrow.

And, so begins yet another climb back up.