Monthly Archives: November 2016

Once a Northern Boy…

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Here in good ‘ol Fayette County the seasons are getting a bit confused.  We finally had our first snow of the season (if you count a dusting that was gone just about as quickly as it arrived) and there’s frost on the ground to start each day.  But then the leaves are still in the process of changing colors throughout the area.  On top of that, if you take into account the dandelions still trying to grow throughout the yard for some sick and twisted reason, you have three of the seasons represented just by stepping outside the door first thing in the morning.   It’s a crazy place to be these days.

I’m not ready for fall to be over.  And that’s not just because I should have mowed the lawn one more time before the temperatures started to drop.  And not just because I have no desire to shovel snow yet.  I’ve always been a northern boy and cold and snow are something to be expected and enjoyed in their own way each year.  I’d never be able to move too far south.  I’d miss having all four of the seasons to enjoy and experience as they all have their finer points.  But winter can wait just a bit…

There’s something too inspiring about fall to let it go too soon.  There’s a change you can see in the trees, a smell in the air, the feel of the cooler temperatures, the tastes you don’t get through the rest of the year, etc.  It feels like the chance to re-start.  And it’s invigorating.

That being said, I’m thinking about winter as I’m writing today.  All because of an email I received earlier this week. To let me know about some opportunities.  There are some upcoming writers conferences that will be going on and I’m actually thinking about traveling to attend one.  And how about this for extremes…?  This winter, there’s a writer’s cruise in Florida and a convention in Minnesota in February.  And the one that jumps out to me…?  Yep, Minnesota.  I never claimed to be normal…

Sure, there are more agents that will be attending that one so it will be better for mingling and making connections.  But there’s more to it than that.  Sure, packing more layers and trying to fit it all into limited luggage can be a pain, but Minneapolis/St. Paul is an artistic area.  There’s something inspiring about it.

Okay, so I used to actually live there and Graham is a Minnesota original (born and raised there before coming to Fayette County) so there are plenty of additional reasons to consider that convention location over ones in warmer climates.  And heck, I can’t even swim so why would I want to meet with agents on a boat off of Miami when even the lakes in Minnesota would be frozen over in February?  That area just fits me better.

So I’m going over the application and starting to study up on the agents who will be there.  Maybe one of them is looking for just the right new writer to mold into the next best seller.  And then, when I take off on my book signing tours, I can see some other parts of the country.  And maybe occasionally escape a cold, northern winter…

Avoiding Reality Probably Works…

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Life is short.

It’s not like I don’t realize that on a regular basis, but sometimes you just need to be reminded of it to get the kick in the backside you need to move on from certain things (like elections) and focus on others.  Like absolutely anything else…

Sure, I voted (though my voting location didn’t give out ‘I Voted’ stickers, what’s with that?).  And, of course pretty much everyone I voted for lost.  I went in to the school where I vote having done all of my research and knowing who I was going to vote for (or against) and only changed my mind about one of them.  And that was just because the candidate was standing at the door and forced me to shake his hand as he told me to vote for him.  Pandering like that just pushes me the other way.  I’m stubborn like that…  Peer pressure, pshaw.

But, with all of the stress and negativity around the election (and we didn’t have recreational marijuana on the ballot in this state.  Every state should have had it on there this time, shouldn’t they?  It would have been absolutely perfect timing) I decided to mentally check out of all of it for a while.  Like, maybe I won’t even watch the news for the next 4 years or so…

And, in that mentality, the other day I was watching complete garbage on tv (don’t judge, I’m completely okay with it so you can’t make me feel guilty).  Would you believe that there was a Russian Bigfoot show on?  God Bless cable, right?  This was a “scientific” take on Bigfoot, so they sucked you into watching the entire hour by promising DNA results of evidence – both physical evidence of hair, and samples from a Russian family that was supposedly decended from a woman who was a Neanderthal.  And how could that not be true when they had anecdotal evidence like a story of her son picking up a table at a wedding reception with nothing but his teeth and dancing around with it in his mouth?  So…everyone across four generations who was agreeable to being filmed had their saliva taken to try to prove that they were mostly Neanderthal, as if it was a happy claim to fame that linked them with the possibility of Bigfoot.  Ahh…you think I wasted my time?  Someone (multiple someones) flew to Russia to film this stuff…

Of course no one turned out to be Neanderthal, and the physical “Bigfoot” specimens turned out to be fur from 1) a horse 2) a horse 3) a brown bear.  Sure, one of the scientists insisted that the results were bogus and must have been tainted.  So he’ll probably appear in a later episode explaining how the “scientific community” is hiding the truth.  Russian Bigfoot Exposed or  something like that.  Check your local stations…

Okay, so it was a complete waste of time, but it was good to escape from the seriousness of things for a little while.  I’d been working on writing my next novel, but I’m at a point in the story that’s a bit dark (or at least focuses on something that’s painful from the past of a character) and I found it hard to concentrate on that kind of mentality when there was a cat trying to sleep on my lap and who kept accidently snoring himself awake and couldn’t figure out what was conspiring against his nap.  So that was a no go.

And, until he gave up on the quest for sleep, I couldn’t even get out the guitar, pick around and try to figure out a song to use to audition for America’s Got Talent.  

Sure, crazy idea, but have I mentioned that life is short?  And I’ve got four years of ignoring reality to look forward to.  So it’s time for imagination to run rampant, dreams to turn into reality, and probably some more bad tv to look forward to watching in the down time.

Who’s with me?

What Just Happened?

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I thought I was in the majority…

Not according to race, or religion or gender or anything unimportant like that. In the one way that matters.  Common sense.

I grew up in a country that used to make sense.  People grew up from children into adults who – while never perfect – at least never went so far against their own common sense as to be dangerous to themselves (and others). Not until November 8, 2016.

The United States used to be a leader.  Yes, that’s the correct wording – it used to be.  No matter your level of patriotism and pride, you can’t deny that the U.S. has fallen behind numerous other countries in education, healthcare, equality, infant mortality rates, etc.  The list where we’re not first (or even top 10 or top 20 anymore) has become staggering.

Now we’re like the big brother who was cool in high school but then, when his “music career” never took off, got hooked on meth, made a lot of incredibly poor decisions, embarrassed his family and now is but a shadow of his former self.  The other countries have grown up, found success and made a name for themselves, while we just took a massive hit of our latest drug of choice, flopped down on the couch, turned the tv to something pointless that may or may not be a comedy – something that we won’t even watch – and settled in for a four year nap.  And the world will grow and develop around us while we’re snoring and drooling into our sleeve, occasionally moving enough to shove a handful of junk food into our craw and think back to the days when we were really something.  When we were cool.

It’s humiliating.

We’re a shell of our former self and we’re not going to get better until we admit we have a problem.  And on November 8th, when everyone came over for the party and we were so wasted that we wandered into the living room telling sexist jokes and soiling the backside of our last clean pair of ripped up jeans as everyone awkwardly watched and felt completely mortified and humiliated for us….?  Yeah, that should be our wake up moment.  Our “I’ve completely shamed myself and need to make changes before it’s too late” moment.  We’ve hit rock bottom.

Now here I am living in Fayette County – a county that voted over 64% for ignorance and hate.  And I’ve never felt so alone.  But I was kind of prepared for that.  After all, I voted behind a guy who had a Trump sticker covering one half of his truck’s rear window and a confederate flag sticker covering the other half (both not-so-subtle racism and complete driving ignorance wrapped up together in one 99-cent purchase).

I know someone who voted for ‘that guy’ because he was scared the democrats were coming to take away all of his guns (regardless of any rational attempt to explain the fallacy of that logic).  And his wife used her individual vote to choose the same guy because her husband was scared that the democrats were coming to take away all of his guns.  And there’s the woman who voted for him because “he’ll get rid of partial birth abortion” even though that was something banned in a previous decade and doesn’t actually exist.  Or the person who made their decision based on Benghazi without knowing either A) what happened in Benghazi or B) what continent Benghazi is located on.  Ahh, democracy in action…

And please don’t get me started on the “Christians” who simply voted straight down the Republican ticket because that’s the party of “Christian” morals and values…  When did “Christians” lose the ability to think (and read, and research and reason…?)  And, most importantly, when did they lose the ability to feel love and compassion for anyone the slightest bit different than themselves…?

So sure…I knew I wasn’t living in an intellectual Mecca around here (pun intended – if you get it, you probably voted on my side).  But I thought I could temporarily escape from my little county of crazy whenever I wanted to, simply by going out into the rest of the United States occasionally once the election was over.  Someplace that wasn’t fueled by rage and fear and complete and total ignorant self-interest.  But apparently not.  It obviously stretches far beyond the borders of what I thought it would.

So who wants to get in the car with me, or hop on that train, or board a plane with me and take off to someplace better?  At least for the next four years or so.  By then, maybe the majority of people will have learned their lesson, grown up and shown that they can once again be entrusted with making intelligent adult decisions.

It’s either that or I’ll have to see if it’s too late to volunteer for a mission to Mars. At least we haven’t had the opportunity to mess that place up. Yet…

Make Someday Today (Or How ‘Bout Them Cubs?)

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It happened.  Last night (or actually very early this morning) it happened.  And it still hasn’t remotely sunk in yet.  But maybe, just maybe, if I type it out, it will seem completely real…

The Chicago Cubs won the World Series.

Okay, maybe just once more…

My beloved Chicago Cubs won the World Series.

Ahh…it’s starting to seem real already.

No one one ever said being a Cubs fan was going to be easy.  Actually, those of us who have passionately cheered for them over the years have found it incredibly easy to tell everyone around us just how very hard it is.  We’ve shared our expectations of collapse, of ill-timed strikeouts, of booted ground balls and pitching changes that happened either too soon or not soon enough.   We’ve all shared stories of exactly where we were when that proverbial rug was torn out from under us in each and every one of the years past.  And we swear that none of it ever took us by surprise because we knew it would happen all along.

So when Jon Lester threw a wild pitch into the dirt that bounced directly off of David Ross’ face, and when Ross stood up, only to trip over his own feet and fall over as two runs came in, that wasn’t shock in our voices.  It was a collective of choice words that all translated into “Here we go again”.

And when Aroldis Chapman gave up that game tying home run that screamed low and fierce over the left field wall, all of us screamed out words that meant “Yep, I knew that was going to happen” (even if I need to apologize for being a slight bit more colorful with my word choice than that in the heat of the moment).  We’ve been there before.

But this year…?

Maybe there was some hope that remained.  Maybe there was some belief that it wasn’t actually over yet and that this year could still be different.  That maybe it would just be another story about how hard they made it in the end and how much they put us through one more time before coming through in the big moment.  Like we all knew they would this time.  Sure…  I’d like to believe in that.

Land you know what?  I kept watching.  The game went on with me absorbed, Schwarber to Almora Jr. to a run, then another then giving back one in the bottom half of the inning before…  It ended.  And the Cubs had won.  And I had no idea what to do.  How do you celebrate something you’ve been wanting for years but you never planned for?

So here I sit, basking in the glow of a moment that will stick with me forever, typing and eating left over Halloween candy, and feeling a little like something has changed in the world.  Maybe nothing all that much has actually changed, or maybe all of it is only in my mind, but it does feel like a whole new day.

It’s like there’s just a little more promise hovering in the air.  A little more hope dancing around making it easier to believe in those parts of life that have stayed just a little out of reach for too long.  And my lips are pulled up into the start of a smile through each moment of the day thinking of possibilities   It’s sappy, sure.  And it’s probably me being a bit of a hopeless romantic.  That too.  I’ve been called that before.  But not everything we experience is completely quantifiable.  What fun would that be?

Sometimes it’s just about enjoying what life might have out there for us and believing that someday isn’t as far away as it can feel on certain days.  That’s what I’ve learned as I try to wrap my head around it all today.  Sometimes the Cubs are more than the Cubs.

So how ’bout them Cubs?