Posted in Uncategorized

Poem: The Rootless Tree

The rootless tree stands proud and mighty

But beneath its trunk

It shivers and shakes 

Bracing for each passing wind. 

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Posted in Life

Lost

Between here and there I’ve lost something, I think. I lost in that nebulous space between . And what I’ve gained here, I cannot trade. But what I’ve lost, I can’t get back. And I can’t get to that moment, that space in time where I lost it. I don’t know where it is. It just faded somewhere, and I don’t know how. I never meant to lose it. It just slipped away, without so much as a whispered goodbye. Now it’s just me…chasing the space between.

Posted in Life

Letting Go

Yesterday I cleaned out old boxes of junk. I tried not to think about it much as I did it, but I made ruthless decisions. They were all things I don’t use, but they bring up old memories in high definition clarity. An old book. A magazine. A yellowed newspaper clipping. A piece of paper. A thoughtful gift forgotten by its giver over a decade ago. It’s a wonder why I keep them. 

I keep them because with a glance, I can recapture the moment, in vivid color and texture, the way it all felt that day. I can time freeze relationships in all their excitement and newness and laughter and forget that they have suffered the strain of time and distance. 

But the truth is, I can’t freeze time. The people in those memories have changed and so have I, for that matter. Holding on to those things won’t bring them back.  And life is not about that anyway. It is about holding on to the moment you are in, and capturing the moment. It’s about laughing in the present and not weeping for the laughter of the past. Solomon says, “Do not ask, ‘Do why were the old days better than these?’ It is not wise to ask such questions.” 

In a season of transition, it is important to remember that. As we grow and change, we should always remember, the old days were never better. We just haven’t found the beauty of today. 

Posted in Life

Running

I love running. I’m not necessarily all that great at it, but I enjoy it. I think that’s what makes it so appealing. You don’t have to be great at it. No one is grading you or timing you. It’s just you and the concrete. I’ve been a runner on and off for years. Some years I run more regularly than others. It all depends  on life, its demands and schedules and the changing circumstances of my nomadic lifestyle.

But recently I started running again after a two year hiatus. I was certainly slower than I remembered, and my entire cardiovascular system screamed and wheezed and complained after the first brisk few steps. I  got upset at it and told it to shut up and quit your whining. This is what we do. It just complained silently and told me it was getting a headache and that that it was going to punish me by passing out on the trail, and then it asked, “Are we there yet?” after ever tree. So finally, I turned around and went back home and told everyone I ran a lot longer than I did.

The next day was better. A lot better. It was brutal and glorious and the glaring heat tore into my skin and the humidity bathed me in minutes. And then the high kicked in and I was home. Beautiful home. I have missed you, I thought as my shoes echoed against the trail and my breath came in labored, deliberate pants. I heard my fitness instructors in my head,”Don’t forget to breathe.” So timed it. Long and deliberate like a charging bull tearing through the city streets.And my temples began to tingle, and my arms ran hot and cold and trembled just a bit. My scalped warmed and then my hair moistened and my legs charged on, plastic under the command of my will. Keep going, keep going.

As the pounding blood invigorated my brain, suddenly the colors become brighter and my mind is clearer. I feel I can conquer the world, and I am struck with new bursts of creativity. My life and all its complexities fall into perspective, and I feel that life is good, and beautiful and worth every glorious moment. And I want to laugh, and sing.

Lines of sweat pour down my back, tiny tickling spiders and I can now feel sweat pouring out of every crack of my body. And I press on. Keep going. Keep going. My glutes tingle now, and I press further. I am a machine. I don’t have to stop, ever. And then, at some point, the numbness in my legs and the pounding in my ears start to concern me. “Listen to your body,” my fitness instructors haunt me again.

I know I am taxing myself at this point. I could keep going, but now I am in dangerous territory. I push myself a little further, and when the tingle in my flushed cheeks turns to a disconcerting ache, I know it’s time to stop. With one swift step, the machine halts to a walk. My whole body thanks me. As my system stabilizes, I know it was the right time. And so the bull ambles home looking like it had bathed in a swimming pool.

I open the front door, and I am greeted by the frigid blast of air conditioning. I collapse on the couch and breathe deep breaths. It was all worth it. And while I can’t move from the couch at the moment, I know that I have what it takes to conquer the world.

Posted in Writing

The Other Side

I went to battle with the manuscript and came out the other side. As my previous post explained, I had a novel manuscript of 120,000 words that I needed to cut down to under 100,000 for a publisher to even think about considering reading my e-mail about it. This is not not a new problem. I’ve had this manuscript since 2013, and have tinkered with it on and off over the years. From time to time I would take it out, and determine to cut it down. Sometimes I would post about it on here, thinking that I said it on my blog, it would somehow make it more true. Then I would read the first few pages, get overwhelmed and put it away.

But, one day, at the proper intersection of time and money, I locked myself on a desert island so to speak, for six weeks straight, and went to battle with the manuscript. No internet. No social interaction. No job. Just me, my manuscript, an air mattress, and all the time in the world.

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And oh, it was a glorious bloodbath. It was a fight of story arcs, and theme, and structure and subplots. It was a battle of characterization, and backstory, and the right blend of exposition versus dialogue. It was a war on words, the perfect one, versus the average one, and the tone to set it off. It was a battle of openings and closings and good intentions versus what played out on the page. Like any art, writing is a reflection of who you are at the moment, so in my ways the war that raged was who I was in 2013 versus who I am in 2016. It was about how I have changed the way see things in some ways and not others, and most certainly how I have grown as an artist.

Casualties of War included:

-Over 2,000 sheets of printer paper
-2 brand new printer cartridges advertised as “XL ink tank. ”
-1 brand new dry erase marker run completely dry.
-1 pack of index cards
– a full roll of clear tape
– All the erasers on a brand new package of pencils
-4 jumbo bottles of coffee creamer
-1 pound of coffee
-1 box of chips ahoy
-8 six packs of glass Dr. Pepper bottles (I thought they were novel and they brought me back to my early childhood before soft drinks regularly came in plastic bottles).
-Earned 150 Starbucks Reward Points
– Created/Managed or used over 3,100 computer files related to my manuscript.

I  am proud to say, that through it all, I came out the victor! My manuscript is now 99,000 words. And I must begrudgingly admit the experience was necessary. My piece is much stronger now, and oddly, the reduced length somehow brought me closer to what I had wanted to say in the first place. Less is more I guess.

I tell you this for several reasons, one of them is for any potential novel writer out there. When you see people write novels on TV, they sit at their computer, type for about three seconds of screen time, then go to scene change. When you come back to them, they are sitting at their computer, looking constipated, with maybe some crumbled paper on the ground, and their agent calls and puts pressure on them. Then they go to a bar or coffee house or something, where they have a personal epiphany that turns out to be the perfect missing angle to their piece, and then they churn out a beautiful manuscript in about five seconds of screen time while the barista hits on them. That is not how it goes. Writing is a war-one where only the strongest draft wins.

Now I just need to find an agent…