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Winter Chill

I think the holidays dredge up memories for all of us. Most of mine are good.
Despite my love of Halloween and all things dark and creepy I really love Christmas and this season.
Something recently made me remember something though that is a bit of a darker memory.
Call it the end of my innocence, I guess.
As I kid I believed in everything. 
I believed in ghosts – I had an invisible friend I called Ghost so you figure that one out.
I believed in the Tooth Fairy – and had a passionate letter writing affair with her until my sister clued me in to her being mom.
I believe in the Easter Bunny.
I believed in monsters – my sister and a cousin played heck with me one time the cousin was babysitting me.
I believed in a world of mystery and wonder and I believe in Santa Claus.
My family went all out for Christmas and Santa was no different.
He left notes.
He left tracks.
He left coal, as a gag.
I loved Santa because, above everything else, he represented the purity of that time in my life. Yeah, presents, sure, but magic.
Magic with no rational thought or reason but just magic.
Magic, once examined, falls into its components and while still special, it’s that chohesion that gives them meaning to us. It’s the larger picture. It’s the connection it gives you to others and even to yourself.
Magic is that thing that just IS.
We should always question, we should always probe, but we should also appreciate.
Yeah, love is a chemical reaction, a mix of sexual attraction, availability, and the opportunity to procreate.
But it’s more than that. It’s both simple and complex.
Yeah, it’s biology, but it’s something spiritual as well because chemistry pushes you together but spirtual connection can keep you together.
I remember the day my childhood died.
I was a kid around twelve. I wasn’t older but I dunno that I was much younger.
I was naive, and I suppose I still am.
I had two friends that were neighbors, living across the street. We were frienemies, as the saying goes. We hung out and were pals but there came a time when I fought with the older brother and in retrospect it’s scary how some kids and people can infiltrate your life and infect it when they should never have had access to you.
We were playing in the backyard of another neighbor, someone these brothers lived next to. It was winter and we were going out to the ice to slide around. It was the Christmas season. I can’t swear to you a date though it sems as if it was before Christmas.
The three of us were walking and all of a sudden they started talking about how there was no Santa Claus.
My mind went blank.
What?
For me, there had to be a Santa.
Even at that age.
We got presents on Christmas Day.
Not before.
My sister and I went to bed and I would get up and peek and see presents and the tree lit up and our stockings and it was magic.
I’d go to bed and get up at 5AM and get everyone up and it was Christmas!
I didn’t know mom and dad stayed up all night wrapping and putting things out.
I didn’t know that mom created the notes and trail that lead to a man that appeared from the chimney.
I dunno if I suspected anything.
Maybe.
I dunno.
But I know that for me, that moment was when childhood cracked irreparably.
The boys went on and on, talking about it, poking at me because I had believed, but it all became a bit of a gray blur.
There was no Santa.
Not a person.
Not a man.
That didn’t make Christmas any less special or magic.
It changed what the dayd was.
What it meant.
It still ws a day and time of power.
But…there was no Santa.
It doesn’t matter what anyone else says…it changed me.
It changed how I saw the world.
And that is what I am getting at.
Magic exists as long as we allow it to.
There are things that we must believe in, that we have to to save ourselves and our species.
There are Big Things that we have to believe in.
There are others though that change nothing other than the person.
But for some reason we feel a need to kill magic for one another.
We need to poo-poo everything that isn’t a part of our world view.
Sure, magic can be explained.
Everything can.
Butthose things that we hold dear and sacred should be left for us to hold dear and sacred.
Until and unless they begin to effect major things in our lives to our detriment or the detriment of others we need to allow people to have their magic.
Santa is important to kids because it fuels their imaginations.
It harbors a belief that the world is bigger than kids can imagine.
That is the cruelest turn, that we steal magic, as silly as it may seem, from children.
They will learn all about the bigger world.
They will learn all about how dark and miserable it can be.
Why force them to swallow it whole at an early age?
Imagination is the engine that drives the human race.
Magic is the fuel that runs that engine.
It is only through these things that we can see a world beyond our lives, our issues, our stressors, and beyond the worst of us.
Magic is hope.
Hope that some things don’t have explanation, need it, or warrant it.
Some things just are.
And why on earth do we want to kill hope.
….c…

End Times

2018 will be a year that sticks with me for many reasons but the biggest is the loss of my mother, something we knew was coming but which, as they say, you are never prepared for when it happens.

With mom it was a slow decline that we could only bear silent witness to. It was an awful burden but never more awful than her own, a woman who had suffered enough in her life.

I remember getting the call that mom was going to be entered in hospice and it felt like the world had fallen away beneath me. It was early in the year and while there had been talk that she was nearing the need to enter hospice care, her finally entering it meant that the silent clock that had been ticking was suddenly very, very loud.

Time was running out.

For several years now I have had the awful understanding that eventually we would have our last Christmas together as teh full family. I have been very lucky to have my family alive for as long as I have. A lot of people don’t have that luxury. I can tell you though that it was an awful feeling last Christmas, a feeling of sick dread as the day drew on and it became time to leave because I knew that vague fear was turning from cold chill to ragged bone and time was just running out. It was a good Christmas, we had had better, we probably had had worse, but it was good. I won’t say I knew it was the last one but I had a bad feeling.

You just never know.

The reality of hospice care hit me when I went out to see my mom after finding out and saw the packet that was left – it detailed what Hospice was, had a series of forms to be filled out, including a Do Not Resuscitate form, and it ran through the signs that death was imminent. Then it was real. It was all real. I kept going back to that, over the next three months, wondering when the signs would begin and not realizing that things were already underway.

The hospice workers were good to mom. She’d never have to go to a doctor again. Her medications would be ordered and delivered. They brought air for her. They eventually brought a hospital bed for her. Nurses came, a social worker, and everyone we dealt with was sweet and genuinely cared about her. My mom was a charmer, a sweet woman who won over people easily with her humor and laughter and that stuck with her until the end. She had changed, to be sure, but she was still mom. After the stroke the onset of dementia crept slowly in but it did change her, her moods, her mind, bht she was always mom. That, at least, never changed.

The final three months were a slow march towards the end. The hospice care dropped off a photo album which would allow mom to record messages but she never did. Mom and dad were never ones to take to technology and that was just one more thing to figure out and it just never happened. We had a good day, I remember, when all of us got together with my wife and went over pictures together. We laughed a lot. Especially mom.

When the end came you could almost follow along with the symptoms in the material we’d been left. The curse for the living is to live with the regrets. The moments you regret. The things you said. The things you never said. We got our time to say goodbye, before, and at the end. As awful as it was, I am glad we were all there for it. I had taken to staying at my family’s house for the last two weeks of her life, only going to my own home to clean up and change, then it was back to the house. As the last few days came the nurses told us that she was close, that she was holding on though. It’s an awful thing to have to give permission to someone you love to die but I did, my sister did, but my father couldn’t. Until the end he began to believe that maybe she was just sick. She hadn’t eaten in a week and was barely taking fluids. She had lost so much weight she was literal skin and bones. I had the nurse talk to my dad, to insist that yes, this was the end, that we needed to let her go. To let her be at peace. My family was never one to say ‘I Love You’. It wasn’t that we don’t love one another but that it just was not something we did. That changed, for me, when she had her stroke. I probably didn’t say it as much as I should but I said it, and I said it a lot at the end. I was a terribly flawed kid, troubled, and I put her through Hell. I don’t think I could have ever said I Love You enough to make up for it but I tried. All I wanted is for her suffering to end. It seeemed to go on and on and on.

I had mentioned it before but it was a sweet bit of Providence that my wife and I took our dogs out to see mom about a week before she died. She loved dogs and our dogs were so sweet and gentle with her, our one Husky pup, Banshee, wanting desperately to get into the hospital bed with mom. We lost mom not long after and Banshee not long after that. I am glad they got to enjoy one another’s company before the end.

Family came to see mom. Friends came to see mom. People wrote. People called. Mom was afforded the time to say goodbye, though I can’t imagine how you even do such a thing, how you process it, but she at least got to see many people that meant something to her.

We were there at the end, her suffering finally ending after her body finally ran out of fight. We were able to be together, and were together when the nurse came to clean her, then the funeral home came to collect her, and then when we had to start dealing with the fact that she was gone. The finality of it all struck me hardest as I saw her name on the television during a local channels obituary list. I knew she was gone but it was so new it was as if she was a phantom limb but that was the first dirt on her grave, the funeral the last, and since it has been dealing with the aching realization of her absence. That the world didn’t stop spinning. That I was back at work a day after her funeral (my decision, having been out of work for almost three weeks), and that there could still be joy in the world all seemed strange to me. But we HAVE to laugh. We HAVE to move on. We have to or we die with those we lose. It’s only through that laughter, those tears, that love, and that pain that we keep their candles lit.

All of us have a life to give, and, as has been said, the price of loving is to suffer the grief of loss. It’s part of the deal. We are all flawed, and damaged, and most of us try to do the best we can, knowing that it’s never as much as we wish. We never pay the debts we create with people, not all of them, we don’t finish ever project, or live every dream, We do the best we can because a life is not meant to be perfect. It’s a long path that leads us through the dark towards an end we cannot imagine. All we have is one another in the end and the love we share together. Hate is a fast burning fire that will take all there is of you if you give in to it. The hope we have is that we have grace and wisdom enough to learn to let go of the slights done to us, large and small, and hopefully we can learn too to forgive ourselves.

There was no way to repay mom for all that she gave to us but hopefully she knew how loved she was. That was the last and only gift we could really offer – To be with her and to love her through the end.

…c…

 

Losing and Finding

It’s no secret that I am a devotee of the ‘found footage’ and POV subgenre of films. I think it’s fair to even call me a fanboy of sorts. There’s a power to that immediacy, to that manner of storytelling. I have talked about it before and having seen lots and lots and lots of these films my passion for them has yet to dampen.

Yeah, there are some mediocre entries, and some terribly lazy films based on that notion but there are also some very good and powerful ones. I think for me the fun is in finding the ones that are in the rough. Out of sight. Not as easily found. Lately I have been digging into YouTube and have found some gems. There’s something really pure and democratic about found footage and POV films in that anyone with a camera can make them. It’s up to the filmmaker/s to decide how stripped down or how over the top the films are. While some find this style tiresome – and I can see where it can absolutely be tiresome – there is also a freedom for the filmmakers to create as they wish. So much is dependent on the story and how it’s told that you can take something very simple and make it absolutely harrowing.

I happened upon EXHIBIT A recently, a POV film that tells the story of a family in turmoil as seen through the eyes of the daughter. It’s not a horror film, per se, but it’s absolutely chilling and real in a way that many mainstream dramas wish they could be. The use of the camera as a witness to the family, and to the tale as it unfolds makes the viewer feel as if they are a voyeur, able to see the larger picture but unable to change its path.

Another recent re-watch was of the film THE TUNNEL, a POV film following a news crew as they explore a tunnel system where homeless people have disappeared. Here you have the interjection of interviews and news footage (not so dissimilar to the way that POUGHKEEPSIE TAPES works) cut in with the POV footage of the crew as they descend into the tunnel system. This is a horror that is inherently inspired by aspects of BLAIR WITCH PROJECT but it creates its own voice and once it’s done they have created their own story of dread and haven’t relied on some of the pitfalls that undo so many other films.

There is power in the unseen, in these films, in the aspect of the campfire tale that they offer. The power of forcing us to use our imaginations to create the horror and to fill in the blanks. Lovecraft was very good at this, giving enough rough detail to aid us in creating the most horrible of things in our minds. You have to give something though. Some sort of something Even if it’s simply the dread of the actor. The beauty of BLAIR WITCH PROJECT is that we have such a vibrant view of the witch, of what she is, but it’s mostly from descriptions, from reactions, from evidence, and from her myth itself.

Brilliant.

Another thing that really pulls these sorts of films together is when they use the medium they are utilizing. That is to say, when the film reveals something that wasn’t discovered at first. The film LAKE MUNGO does this brilliantly, revealing truths up into the credits, thus changing how we see the film over and over again. The film LEAVING D.C. does a nice job of this also, showing a common man chronicling his move and happening upon something larger. He uses audio and his camera to capture things that he doesn’t experience at first but which reveal themselves as true upon examiniation. This allows the main character to be as vulnerable and in the dark as the audience is and the horror that is revealed becomes a shared link.

These films can be so very powerful but yes, they can be lazy.

You get the running in the dark.

The shaky cam screaming.

The dragging into the darkness as the camera watches.

Young people going places they are not supposed to.

People ignoring the warning signs of danger and bumbling straight into the jaws of terror.

This list can really go on and on but if you have seen one bad found footage or POV film than you can name the clumsy tropes before they even happen. And clumsy is the perfect word for it because the films that ‘get it wrong, are very clearly making a movie for money alone. And hey, do what you gotta do, but that disingenuous nature screams aloud because the filmmakers are simply hitting moment markers and ticking things off of a list. They are making one of these films because they are inexpensive and, for a time, were the flavor of the month.

This sort of filmmaking is what turns a fad into a trend into a nuisance. See: vampires, werewolves, zombies, ghosts, and any of the movie trends that has taken hold of horror from time to time. Despite this though, there are still great films out there, and waiting to be made in this subgenre. Like anything else the power comes from how the work is made and what the story it is that is being told. Sure, there’s still going to be a lot of awful movies out there but I’ll accept them so long as there are still gems to find.

I suppose my attraction to these stories and films is that they capture what I love so much about scary stories and their telling – how they differ between teller and tale and that will always draw me back to horror. The dark is very deep and very hungry and I cannot wait to hear about the many monsters that live within in.

…c…

 

The Only One Screaming Is You

I think it’s pretty obvious to say that American society is at a breaking point. People will argue that, saying that it’s Fake News and that things are fine and all that but these are also many of the people who are tuning out things that upset them or disrupt their vision of how the world is. People tune out because of ‘too much politics’ and ‘too much social justice’ and any number of reasons, preferring the cat videos and baby pictures they hold in quiet disdain instead of the political and social stuff which tends to bring out the worst in people.

We deserve our personal safe places. Our safe havens.

Life is hard enough without feeling under constant barrage, whatever your opinion and feeling on things. We deserve it…within reason. The problem is that reason isn’t in use much these days. We are isolating ourselves, picking hills to die on, and by god, if you cross some line that you have, well, then you’re a terrible person and are blocked and deleted on social media and ignored in real life. There is nothing common about decency any longer and the notion of civil disagreements seems lost. And I am no different. We’re at a point where the divisions seem bigger, the stakes higher, and for me, it’s hard to want to listen to someone make excuses about a world I see gone off the rails.

And that is me, just me.

Everyone is different.

Everyone has their own views and ways that the world works for them.

And I know full well that my outrage weighs no more, and no less, than anyone else’s. We live in a world where outrage is the default, leading to the great Tune Out.

But the problem here is that, in tuning out the Other, we’re tuning out the whole, not just the part, but the whole. There is a narrative being written about this nation, this gneration, and this world, and it’s being written by a very few people to represent the many. That’s always been how politics works, that’s not new, but it’s also never been more contentious or dangerous. Even the Civil War’s main effect was on America, today our policies and decisions shape the world. We’re in an era where it is easier for people to believe in nothing, than it is to buy into anything. An era where people can adamantly believe that the world is flat, despte evidence of the ages. We live in an era where it is easier to believe that the whole of the government is part of a conspiracy to lie, to obfuscate, and to kill us. It seems laughable, heck, it is, that people’d rather believe not even the worst but the utter worst, but you an see why things got that way. You can see why people would take the lies that are told, that are bought and are sold, and we are living in a time now where the lies of the President seem acceptable to many, so long as he holds the Them at bay, whomever they are for someone.

Every day brings a new twist to a nation that once prided itself as the leaders of the world. We have turned against all of history and have decided to wrap ourselves in our national flag and want to close the borders and do for us, with us, by us. Unfortunately the genie is out of that bottle and we can’t go back. We are part of a global community, something we used to take pride in, and all isolation will do is keep our allies away. The thing is that the enemy is within. The disgruntled, the broken, the lost, the angry, and the militant. We have created our own monsters and that isn’t slowing down.

There comes a time where you have to open your eyes to the fire that’s around you. A time when you either accept that you are being willfully ignorant or you take in a situation for what it is.

While truth is a flexible, malleable thing, there are things we cannot deny and right now, this national house is on fire and many of us are choosing to stay in the house. Social rights, personal liberties, and climate devastation should not be topics we are willing to fight as they seem to be part of what oure nation is founded on, for the first two, and what may be our undoing, on the second part.

Climate science denial is the new flat earth buy in. People refusing everything that seems to say that we are adversely effecting the world. I always look at that idea in this way – sit in a car for a few hours with a smoker and the glass will fog and be covered in a yellow film. Now imagine that you were in there for not just a couple of hours but many hours, days, months, years, and you are starting to get a vague notion of how we are damaging the ozone and planet. To think that humans are not having an effect on the world is nuts. Pure and simple. But again, the hills we choose to die on.

In the end, our outrage is our own.

Our upset, our rage, our disdain.

We can join it to others and to causes but you need just read between the lines of society and what is happening to see where we are going, and it’s not a good place .

It’s not a happy future.

The house is burning around us, and unless we decide to wake the heck up and get out, we are just aren’t going to make it out alive.

…c…

The Line – a story

Creepy story about one-sided infatuation of the nastiest kind. Fair warning if that’s a trigger for you. 

 

The Line

 

It was her smile.

That was what first drew me to her.

That partial smile that seemed to say more than words could ever hope to.

It was a moment.

An instant.

It was enough.

Enough to carve itself into my heart.

And here we are.

Me standing on her doorstep, ready to make a fool of myself.

 

We met at the grocery store. I was there to pick up some dinner when she got in line behind me. I wasn’t in a hurry and stepped aside to let her go ahead of me. She had more items but for me, chivalry never died. She was short, blonde, I guess you’d say a little chubby, though I liked ladies with a little health on their bones, it makes them look like real women, ya know? She had tattoos down her arms and while I don’t really care for tattoos her smile won me over, starting in her brown eyes and pouring down over her face until it pooled at her lips. I smiled back and nodded and let the kid at the register ring her up. I resisted the urge to stare at the short skirt and what it barely hid and instead looked at the left bra strap that stuck out bright and red from her white tank top. I felt a smile form and it remained when I got up to the register jockey, who was also smiling. He nodded towards the young woman and smiled as he started nodding.

 

“Damn. Am I right?” His smile widened and as his grew, mine shrank. I put the microwave dinner down on the conveyor belt and looked around and, seeing no one, leaned towards the kid, who couldn’t have been eighteen.

I smiled.

I reached forward and grabbed the kid’s hand in my own and started squeezing, and squeezing, and squeezing and the harder I squeezed the wider my smile got until he cried out. Once he did that the girl that was supposed to be register jockeying at the next register over stopped doting on the asshole kid standing in line and rushed over and I quit the scene and beat it out of there, content that I had made my point.

Manners matter.

I didn’t go back into the grocery store.

I didn’t like their lax hiring practices and rudeness.

I started parking in their parking lot just the same though, taking my work breaks and lunches there and even my off hours and making a point to keep an eye on things just because.

I am a bachelor, my last, uh, relationship, having ended abruptly a few weeks earlier and I needed a hobby so the young lady became that hobby, I suppose. That smile, that smile she gave me meant something. I knew it did so I wanted to make sure that we met again. There was one night I decided to follow the register jockey home just to, you know, see that he got home safely. Wed had a conversation about manners.

I’ll leave it at that.

Then it was back to her.

The young lady had been on my mind since I saw her that first time. She was with me like an infection and no matter how hard I itched at it, closing my eyes at night and thinking of her, concentrating on her as if she were a piece of my furniture to be possessed, but it wasn’t the same.

Her.

I wanted her.

I saw her again three weeks after that first time. I was halfway through a beer, listening to talk radio and laughing to myself every time I saw that loud mouth kid hobble out for a smoke break in his leg cast. Accidents. Shame they happen so often.

Accidents.

She looked different this time, not done up, more like beat up. Scrubby. Wearing those goddamn yoga pants that too many women wear these days and a half shirt and covered in sweat. She had walked there and she was only in long enough to grab a water from what I could tell and then she was out again, earbuds in and walking off down the street.

My hands got itchy on seeing her.

My heart started to race.

I started my car and decided to follow her, to make sure she got home safely.

There’d been some nasty business a few weeks back with a girl, a teenager, just a few blocks from the girl’s home.

Nasty business.

I didn’t want to see the same happen to this one.

No.

Not this one.

The sun was setting and traffic was light so I slow-rolled it to keep up with her without her seeing. No reason to spook her. Besides, dad always told me that a good deed that hit the air carried the scent of an old turd. So low and slow, like good cooking, that was how I let this trail simmer.

When she went into a familiar apartment building I peeled off and headed for home. I had taken the last of my vacation keeping an eye on the store and needed the job so I went home and went right to bed. I thought of her as I started nodding off, the faint smile fading as I thought about how she had looked today.

It wasn’t going to cut it.

No.

I didn’t get a chance to see her for several days. Work was calling me early and keeping me late, though I did keep tabs on her. I worry, as I said, for a young woman such as her. Another local girl had been picked up, well, about eight months ago and had disappeared. Just gone. There was fear that she wasn’t the only one and that there was trafficking in the area. I wasn’t sure about all that, just that there were sharks out there and if a young woman didn’t have someone looking out for her that they might just disappear into the deep, deep waters of the night.

When I did get a chance to see her I saw her with someone, a man, older than her, and dressing to impress. Trying to hard if you asked me. I didn’t like the look of him so I followed them from her apartment to a bar, then a restaurant, then the movies. The bar was a dive. The restaurant was too expensive. The movie was stupid. I saw what he was doing and knew she was probably still buzzed. I saw how his hand moved from her shoulder, to her hip, then lower. Her laughter and smile had dried up by the time they returned to her apartment building and when he tried to make a move and she slapped him he grabbed her wrist for a moment, just a moment, but she raised her hand again and he let her go and she left in a hurry and went inside.

Good girl.

The man stayed in his car, parked at the curb for about twenty minutes after that before he finally put it into gear and started to drive away.

He didn’t live far.

Not far at all.

And he left his door unlocked when he got home.

He should be more careful.

There’re sharks out and he had swum out a little too deep.

 

The next day I called in sick and went by her apartment early and followed her to her job. An office job. Nothing special but work was work. Nobody knew that better than me. I stayed through to her lunch, which she took in her car, on her phone tap-tap-tapping away and not eating.
She should eat.

She could use some weight on her.

All that running she does has slimmed her up.

Her bones don’t look good on her.

When she went back in I left to run an errand and made sure I had dropped the flowers onto her doorstep before she would be home. I hid in the stairwell and watched as she got them, frowning, dropping them onto the hall floor before slamming her door.

I guess she didn’t like flowers much.

The infection that she was was starting to get out of control.

She was all I thought about.

I liked her all made up for work.

She was pretty.

Like I had seen her that first time.

When she was home, just home by herself, she was a slob.

I had seen her go out for snacks or take out and it disgusted me.

She could be so pretty if she’d try.

I would have to set her straight.

I looked at the calendar back at the house and circled a date.

That was the day I’d introduce myself.

That day.

I practiced what I’d say.

I picked out what I’d wear.

I got my supplies together into a plastic bag.

I even went to her apartment a few times to get over the nerves.

It was the night before I was going to go finally make her mine when something happened.

I was at the movies just wasting time, watching something to get my mind off of her and the counter girl was so nice, so sweet, and she looked so, I dunno how to say it, fresh, that it was as if I had never seen the other girl.

It was as if the infection was gone, the fever dream had cleared and I saw the other woman as the disgusting slob she was.

She was nothing like this girl.

This…Wendy.

No.

Wendy was different.

You could tell. She even gave me a large pop without charging, a wry wink shared between us when she did.

She was a little young, that’s what they’d say, but age means nothing to the heart.

I know that it may not work, that she may not feel the same but, that’s love.

It’s about making a fool of yourself.

It’s about deciding if you are ready to cross that line and when you do, knowing that whatever happens next is up to you.

Standing on someone’s doorstep, heart in hand, and making a fool of yourself.

After that…it’s up to fate.

I suppose I should break it to the other girl easy, let her know I have moved on.

Then, well then, I suppose I’d have to circle a date on the calendar and pick out what I was going to say to Miss Wendy.

Love.

It really does do the heart good, doesn’t it?

…c…

 

Dusting Things Off

As I have found myself with time on my hands of late I have decided it really is time to get back to The Damned Novel, which, I think I honestly call any of the books that I have put out that were novel length. This particular one has been a pain in my biscuits for a bit though, I have to admit. It began life as something I wrote as a teen, written in a spiral bound notebook as one whole story. In my mind it’s a novella but frankly it was probably more like a short story, maybe longish.

I have to revert back to remembering what it was because it’s gone.

Long, long gone.

You see, once upon a time I was carrying the notebook around and foolishly put it on top of my mom’s car – who knows why we do these things? – and then it was just…gone.

I was heartbroken.

I still sorta am.

I remember what it was, what it essentially was, and in there was a germ of something that has stuck with me. Many years ago I decided I wanted to ‘clear the decks’ as far as stories go. Just so any stories I had hanging in my mind I’d get into the world. This is really the last of those. It’s not a story that I felt needed to be told but one that’s been stuck in my craw. I started it, man, years ago, and keep putting off getting to it. It’s weird because there’s not a reason to keep me from it but I just keep putting it off.

Well, that time has passed.

It’s time to get to it.

And I am, finally.

I know how it ends, and have known it for a while.

What’s interesting is the story has changed not just since I wrote the first version, but it has changed and hopefully evolved since I first started re-working it. The mystery of writing is that between your mind and hands there is some weird creation process that takes these stories from one thing into another. To me, it’s what writers mean when they say a work writes itself. It obviously doesn’t but the process of creation happens so quickly that it feels and seems like a sort of lightning that you can only hope to catch on the page.

So the work has begun anew.
And it’s a lot of work.

The story is still surprising me but I know what I want it to be, I just have to see if that’s what the story wants to be.

Time will tell.

Let’s just hope I can keep myself on this thing so I can finally get it done.

…c…

Disposable

There’s something about American culture that has embraced the disposability of things to the detriment of the body as a whole. Which is to say that we have gotten so used to the notion of being able to use something and then throw it out that that we have started to treat our relationships that way.

There is a clear disconnect between how we want to be treated and how we treat one another. For me, I know that it’s hard to deal with someone when things get stressful and hard. I shut down. I tune out. It’s a safety mechanism and just one of the things I have to overcome. I can’t say it’s a wonder though when we have started treating the casusalness with which we end personal relationships the same way we treat the ending of professional relationships. Unless in the most dire and nasty of circumstances there has to be some manner of professionalism to these business relationships otherwise you start to build a working class that treats the work as casually as their own bosses treat the employees. It’s a simple equation – if you want loyalty then you have to be loyal and you have to respect people.

It’s strange though because so much of it all has been pushed into the realm of numbers, so that people are playing their own version of metrics with hiring and retaining people. The PERSON gets lost beneath the buzz words, the degrees, and the gloss. Someone who has the skills but not the polish gets looked over for someone who looks great but who may not be as good of a fit.

We have lost our connections to one another.

The humanity of work has become a game of pitting applicants against one another to see who will come out on top.

We are so much more than our resumes and our letters.

It’s funny because it’s so much like looking for a publisher, having to craft some magic spell to draw someone close enough to you to find your success.

People, real, live people, screw up, make mistakes, and need second chances. They need A first chance. It stinks to hire the wrong person but that’s the risk. You either believe in people, and you give them a chance, or you never advance your company. It’s the passion and drive of people that pushes things forward. It’s the dedication and belief that you are part of something and matter. Once you strip someone of their humanity though and make them a number, then you mind as well just hire a machine because that’s what you’ll get.

…c…