Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Joy of Writer's Block

It has been ever so long since I have written anything – of merit or at all.  My addled brain functioning not so much as an artist in suffering, but as a machine  of survival, it moved along as an old pufferbelly whose wheels, by friction were made nearly impossible to move, and only with an incredible amount of energy thrown into the fire. 

I have what some call “writer’s block”.

Still, there are those who claim that writer’s block does not exist.  I beg to differ, as the term simply describes one’s inability to put forth the written word.  Of course, one may assume writer’s block does not exist due to the multiple reasons and symptoms thereby rendering the term a broad generalization. 

But what are these reasons for WrB?

On a personal level, firstly, an inability to negotiate or navigate a devoted time to writing, prevented writer’s glue from fastening my backside to the chair that sits in front of the keys with all the pretty little symbols; one would believe that a man, such as myself, with a beautiful wife, daughter, and a business that all occupy a great deal of time.  Now, one may say in my defense, “But those are things that are unavoidable.  You have to go to work.  You have to spend time with your wife.  You have to raise your daughter with your wife.”

There are no “have to’s”.  There are choices. 

Without going into a whole other subject: a “have to” would include the intake of liquid into your body for survival; a “choice” would equate to the argument about what form the liquid should take – water or gasoline.  If one makes the right choice, there are positive consequences received.  If one chooses the unhealthy alternative, negative outcomes become the reality.

The reality in this example for me becomes a matter of priority.  I chose and still choose my family’s well-being over my need to release creative pheromones into the ozone.  Oddly, with all three of the above mentioned priorities, including the business, creativity is block-bursting, for better or worse, and in a genre different from that of the lonely writer.  As my “gift” is entertainment, I choose to be alive, granted the energy exists in my being.

Much to my chagrin, I have been in a state of depression and exhaustion, allowed perhaps by what I digest.  For though my spirit is in a state of recovery, my mind and physicality are slow in the mend.

Finding devoted time to write has been an activity devoid of fluid creativity; clunky, misguided depression due to realities I have witnessed outside of things that only God can control, and that I can only inhibit in process.

Life gets in the way.

But in the three (spirit, mind and body), I am choosing to find joy. 

Oddly, it is always there for the taking.

And now I want to put word to paper.  A choice to start here.

The burning embers in my pufferbelly.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Ruckin Nuts

Impressions leading up to the first Pittsburgh GoRuck here.

The Cadre would not be called "Sir."  We called him that word and paid for it - and learned to not call our active-duty green beret that word ever again, though it took a few painful disciplinary actions.
He smoked every time he spoke.  Holding the cigarette gingerly between his fingers, and he honestly did not have a Hollywood stereotypical "hero" look; he instead looked as if he would come out of PNC Park or a bar in the South Side, eating a Primanti Sammich, and smoking one too many, but you know if you got in his face, you were toast.   The way he spoke to the police that night - so matter-of -factly.  He enjoyed having us "carry lots of heavy-a@# sh#$!"  He enjoyed his story times, telling us all how he blew up a cache of Taliban goodies and how the Taliban responded - good times.
We held the American flag, never allowing it to touch ground.  Come to think of it, we never let our coupons (really heavy a@# h#$) down either and it was heavy.  Our backpacks weighing, on the march, came in at a bouncy +100lbs.  Our shoulders loved us.  Our legs loved us.  Surprisingly, the Vibram five finger shoes survived as did my little tootser toes after 13 hours and 21 miles.
The Cadre told us first thing was a little mission, after we failed to pull together during the exercise.  We all volunteered to do these things.  My elbows and knees took a scraping and bruising, and then we went into a pool of stagnant water and performed lots of fun things that the military does, like crawling around with our packs and pulling bodies, but we came together.  We had to.
And we carried heavy a@# sh#$. 
Into the city with the cadre, smoking his cigarettes, leading the way.  Joy.
We happened to cross the bridge into Station Square, and then onto the darkness of the trail.  In the background the deep bass of  chunka-chunka music to confuse our slogging dogs, the cadre found us a nice sized tree to hoist and pull through the trail.  We ran Indian runs to attempt to move us faster in the dark; our headlamps burned brightly. 
Calisthenics in the Mon.  Oh joy!
Then up and through the drunken South Side.  I was disheartened by this most of all.  The flag was mocked, and had we not been in mass and looking every bit a band of very weary marauders, spit upon by college shits - not quite adult kindergarten kids.  We ended up pulling into a gas station - all 28 of us. 
On the bright side, the cops showed up.  They drove in from the lechery and debauchery of the South Side to see a bunch of tired crazies carrying a lot of heavy a@# sh#$.  One old man in a leather jacket muttered, "See, I told you there's going to be some crazy sh#$ happening tonight."
Seven police cars more police officers and the cadre easily walks over, cigarette pursed in his lips and explains the "deal".
And we headed off.  Up Mount Washington, carrying the coupons and the log.  Never putting a thing down.  Slogging and sweating in the humid darkness to the top.  We never knew what time it was, and in a way I am glad that we didn't.  It would have been torture, but the view of city now rendered harmless by the passing out of drunks and debutante whores spending daddy's hard-earned cash, it looked beautiful again.  The statue of Ol' George and an Indian in conversation, silently embraced the remains of the night.
We drank our waters.  Ate what we could.  And stared blankly off into the city and I imagined it as a big bowl of rubble and debris, and we, the 28, a rough and tumble troop, ready for action - after a long nap maybe.
We finally deposited our friend, the big f@#$ing log.  And everyone was so sad to see it get lost on that random ball field, where we drank beers and giggled through our exhaustion. 
I won't go into to much more, because - it was a lot of calisthenics, 21+ miles, carrying heavy a@# sh#$ in all three rivers and I can not remember how many bridges where those not carrying coupons were subjected to torturous lunges and bear crawls as the sun rose.  We swore under our breath.  We carried our "buddies".
In my lucidity, I imagined the relief of our warriors coming home to their families, and I welled up just a little, as we approached our vehicles.  I imagined my wife's reaction to my "coming home".
In earnest, I confess, I was never a team player, until the GoRuck.  I learned.  The only team prior to it was at home, and I think I got a little better at it. 
I learned to respect the flag, and to hold in disdain those who would disrespect it.  Maybe they should save up their mommy and daddy's money and head to Afghanistan or Iraq or Syria, and see how well received they are. 
I learned that Cadre Dan is obeying the rules of the Green Beret.  Yep, in spite of his overuse of F@#$ and S@#$, he is pretty cool... and tough as nails.

When asked if I would do it again, I replied that I would consider it - after my wounds have healed and my body forgives me.
And in my fitful sleeps, I shout out to zombie mobs, "GoRuck!"  And I smile.

Friday, August 24, 2012

I must be Rucking Crazy

George had come back from that fateful event a new man.  He trained hard for an overnight of torture with a group of men and women willing to let those hardened by military experience beat them up - a taste of what lengths some people will go through physically, mentally and spiritually. 
After listening to his first-hand experiences and the comraderie built in the challenge, I was now interested in "Embrassing the suck."  I joined the GoRuck.
After learning that one would be held in Pittsburgh, I hemmed and hawed, waiting for my wife to say, "Just do it"  And then once I did, I heard her ask if I was nuts.  She was not the only one, but to her defense, she also believed that it would do me a world of good - build experiences, friendships and an edifice of "candoitiveness", which lately I had been lacking.
"Sure, put six bricks in a backpack and go running throughout the city from about 9 in the evening until whenever.  Carry my teammates and do bear crawls for a couple miles.  Great.  Hey, here's an idea, why not train for it vegan-style.  Awesome."
My folks would call me foolish.  I can not disagree.  My cardiologist (yep, I have one!) is not 100% behind the idea.  Nor do I know too many people who would wish to join with George, Darrell and I.  George, you see, is doing it again.  Nuts?  Well, he's a pastor - so some might say so.  He's also tough as nails.  And Darrell - he's Sempre Fi and gristle.
I played music and acted. 
"Nancy boy."  Some say.
Perhaps, but I don't witness too many of my late 30 - early 40-something peers trying the GoRuck to understand the rigors of what our fighting men and women go through.  You see, it all benefits the Green Beret Foundation. 
The funny thing is that I am rucking crazy. 
I trained hard.  Sweat my Gazongas off.  I ran, though I am not a very good one, in five-finger shoes.  My wife likes the way I look - and with GoRuck completed, she will also appreciate the attitude.
Go Ruck yourselves!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Rhama's Flowers

The busy fairy Rhama was known throughout the land as a fairy who could get a job done.  She was also very intelligent, and was considered one of the more beautiful of the fairies – as her larger than average wings would glitter like sparling clusters of diamonds, particularly at night and under the direct glow of the bright moon.  Why the harvest moon itself would make Rhama’s wings glow like a jack o’lantern set ablaze.

She attributed her intelligence and beauty to her work, and one of the things she loved to do was to plant flowers and berries in her garden.

One particularly beautiful spring morning she decided to plant a flower garden that would make the whole forest sparkle.  She gathered seeds that she bought and saved for seasons, and some were very old and rare.  She dug up her garden and tilled the soil.  Eyes watched her from in the dark of the forest.  Next, Rhama lovingly placed the seeds in their planned out spots and built trellises so that they would grow tall.  Eyes and whispers came from the forest.  She paid no mind.  Then Rhama sprinkled the ground with dew and some dust from her wings, and then she waited.

It took many weeks but the flowers began poke through the well-manicured garden.  Rhama smiled and flitted about, pulling up weeds and watering and sprinkling dust where she could.

Soon, the flowers began to grow, and as they grew and bloomed, the forest came alive as colorful birds and busy little bees came by.

One day, after feeling very pleased with her work, Rhama decided visit the berry farmer, to purchase some malloberries for a pie.  She picked some of her beautiful flowers to give to the farmer in exchange.

While she was gone, the eyes that watched her from the forest appeared once again.  They were fairies as well, but they were grey and their faces though full and round were very plain and miserable.  Slowly and deliberately, these grey fairies picked Rhama’s flowers.

When Rhama with her hands full of berries, saw them.

“Get away from my flowers!”

And the grey fairies moved and fluttered away, but they yelled mean words to her.  Calling her selfish and greedy.

One day, after Rhama had trimmed and fed the flowers, there was a knock at her door.  A fat fairy stood with his wings held wide behind him.

Rhama answered the door, and when she did the smell of her malloberry pie wafted through the door after her.

“I represent the fairies you chased off of this property.  They demand those flowers!”

“Why?  They did not lift a single finger to help me.  They did not save a single seed.  They did not ask for them before they took them.  Why should I give them my flowers?”

“Because, like you, they are part of the forest.  And it is part of a new forest mandate.”

Behind the fat fairy, the greys took all they could and flitted back to the forest.  By the time they were gone, all of the flowers had gone with them – leaving Rhama with nothing.  Her pie was gone as well, the fat fairy turned with a smileful of malloberry pie.  He tipped his hat and went off in pursuit of the greys.

The following year, Rhama stood in her garden.  Weeds had poked through the dried up ground.  She was no longer pretty and her wings had grown withered and gray.  And as the eyes watched from the surroundings Rhama decided to never plant another garden again.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Dog Day's Springtime Happy Poo... and Other Hilarious Names Probably Used for Japanese TV Shows

It could have been one of those perfect days.
 I just came back from one great motorcycle ride through a misty morning and into an absolutely picture perfect afternoon.  Sweeping backroads.  Seeing acquaintances at Miss Blue's Diner in Hundred, WV.  Hours of tantalizing fun and speed filled meditation.
I came home and our daughter was already bathed - and she greeted me with one of those Hallmark runs down the hallway that always gets my heart thumping warmly.  My wife had one of those sunshine smiles that causes global warming. 
I was tired, but for this I could blow the stink off and keep my eyes wide open for as long as they could stand it.
The plans were simple enough: shower, eat a nice dinner, watch a fun kid's movie, put our little girl to bed and then Kristi and I could have the evening to ourselves - to look into each other's eyes and giggle over a glass or two of wine.
Our daughter made the family decision, and understanding that she was perfect that day, we allowed for it. She wanted for us all to go for a walk around the neighborhood - including of course Madison, our dog.  The movie was okay, but a perfect finish to a perfect day sounded great.
Now, I have never been nervous about taking both Madison and our little girl out around the neighborhood just by ourselves, though Kristi will not do it.  So all of us together made complete sense. 
It could have been one of those perfect days.
Taking Madison out for a walk, when there are a million scents in the air is more like taking her out for a sniff, it is a long, long mile.  Every blade of grass must be carefully analysed and then peed on.  Our daughter is about the same, minus the "spotting".
At one property (normally 20 seconds from our front door to reach) a big, chocolate brown lab, somewhat disturbed came barreling out of the homeowner's front porch and is on Madison.  Madison's fur stood up like a fish dorsal fin, in protection mode; she is super-protective and does not get along with other dogs.
The owner, a BC overweight woman, came heavily bounding down her front porch.  She anxiously explained that she didn't know how he got out of the house.  Drrrrrr.
We continued walking.  My normal scowl, which Kristi recognizes right away, appeared as the two littlest Harpers needed to examine Spring, in the slowest form ever. 
I pulled Madison.  And our daughter did not want to walk anymore, and did not want to go home either - ah - the great toddler mind. 
On the Atlantic Avenue, a nicer part of our neighborhood, we continued.  We passed by one fella, who his garage door opened to reveal a garage that was more crammed with crap than our own.  I commented. 
As we moved on.  The following house had recently been gutted and the remains of the garbage sat regally out on the owner's front lawn for all to gaze upon.  The owners and friends drank out on the back porch overlooking the Ohio River, when suddenly a doberman pinscher came bounding out to the front yard in full battle mode.
Now, Madison is 40 pouinds of friendly, but you get that "dorsal fin" up, and all bets are off. 
The doberman and Madison are at it.  One lady, BC large, came running out of the backyard, I am certain she handed her Ir'n City off to one of the "men" in the backyard, who either could not be bothered or were filming.
"My dog is friendly."
My dog is not!
The "friendly" dog grabbed the back of Maddie's neck, which is a thickly furred mane of hair.  Kristi threw our daughter up on her shoulders.  I farted around excitedly trying to retract the stupid "autoleash retracting thingamabob".  Grace had allowed our dog to not only break free of the "friendly" doberman's jaws but she sank her teeth into its neck. 
Now, I know better than to get in between two fur-flying mongrels, but I grabbed the doberman by the back of the head, and I drove it with my knee to the cement sidewalk, so that the owner in all of her sobriety could grab it. 
We walked away very quickly with this woman staring angrily at us.
Kristi used language that I never heard from her mouth before.
Our daughter crossed Atlantic, with absolutely no regard for any traffic, and this got me growling - as I am still in adrenalized defense mode.  (Ladies, if your man is in adrenalized defense mode, please, give him a beer and say nothing, he will be scowling for days otherwise.)
And Maddie, shook and forgot all about it.  As though nothing happened.
Here's the ridiculousness in summary:  Hours of really awesome fun, crescendoing to a welcome home filled with pomp that only kings should be lucky enough to receive, smiles, sunshine - and 1 tiny minute of turd to ruin it all.
I should have been a dog.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

My Fragmented Life

Cliches are not my cup of tea, but there is one that has been routinely been brought to my attention and not by anyone other than myself;  Everyone has the same 24 hours by which to live.
You can't help but grasp the obvious truth of this statement right away.  Heck, you and I share the same moon - how about that?
Lately, I have been on a mission to bitch and moan to everyone my situation of needing a vacation, more time to write, more time to exercise, to ride my motorcycle, to hang out with my wife, to play with my daughter, to sleep in, to cut the arfing grass, only after scraping up dog waste, to plant the garden for some fresh vegetables and fruits, to read the Bible - and the list continues.  I hit upon all of these things, but in sporadic spoonfuls, whenever I can.  And in this, my owner/operator/manager side at the cafe has suffered; I am just plain ol' burned out and that's dangerous because the cafe, and to my surprise not my writing or acting capabilities is what is paying the bills -keeping food on the table.
It's hard.  It's not cancer hard.  And I am truly blessed.
I should be content, and I am not.  I do not understand contentment.  The actual term I get, but what am I to do with my ambitions, or for that matter my garage, which is straight out of the scene of a disaster film.
Am I to be satisfied with my lot?  Should I be out there just selfishly stealing more time from what is truly important?  And for that matter how do I know what is truly important?  I have priorities, and bothering with the details is nuts, and they do not not grant me an income (yet).
Our daughter is three; three is the most important dad year for her, and then there are those ambitions.  They are curses.  Ambitions are curses.
"I aspire to be a (whatever)." does not equal "I want to aspire to be a (unattainable and very retarded goal that would be detrimental to every relationship I have ever had, and I will pay dearly should you ever attempt, so I should stop and just go back to work, loser.)
Yeah, I talk to myself like this alot.  It's funny, but I would never talk to anyone like this, even if it were true, then again I am my own worst enemy. 
The truth is this - I lack focus. 
Snipers have some serious focus, but have them run from spot to spot, and then shell them, and drop them off in a territory that they do not know at all, and remove all communication, clothing, and give them a lens that has been scratched, and I believe that they would have a hell of a time focusing.  Now, I am no sniper, and I am not trying overcome world wide catastrophes, but man I need some friggin' focus.  You can tell who has it - confidence, clarity about the goal - I want that. 
My lowly income would be worth it, if I could get a little bit.  I could earn a little more, but I am just so fragmented and disorganized.

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Strawberry Patch

Once upon a time there lived a lovely and very energetic princess named Fiona.  Princess Fiona was the love and joy of the king and king, as she was their only daughter, making her the heiress to the kingdom. 
'Twas on one particularly summery day, when the sun was blazing brightly overhead that Princess Fiona and ten of her closest of friends were playing a frenzied game of running and catching.  And for the longest time the children, including the princess, sprinted about without a moment for a cool drink and a quick rest.  As they played and screamed for joy, their faces became as bright red as ripened strawberries.
The queen recognizing that the children were surely exhausting themselves called to the children asking them to enjoy a cool glass from a pitcher of freshly made tea, but the children, ever so excited to be in the hot sunshine ignored the queen's request and continued running about the garden.
Under the summer sun, as their skin became the color of strawberries, beads of sweat poked onto their hot, dirty skin.  They were the very shape of the tiny seeds found on strawberries.  The queen noticed, and became very wary of the welfare of the children, and called them in to rest, but the children refused to listen. 
The children continued under the hot summer sun, which began to wane into the western sky, and it was not long before the queen and the king noticed that the tops of the childrens' heads had turned a bright green.  Now the king, being most stern in the keeping of his good daughter, called to her in his loving and booming voice, "Princess Fiona!  It is time to come in!  This instant!"
And the princess, looking ever more like a strawberry fruit, ran to her father, the king, as her friends continued to play.
"Why must I stop playing, while they are permitted to continue?  I am the princess."
"We are your parents and we love you."
Princess Fiona grumbled as she sipped on the cold glass of tea, as her friends continued to scream and run outside.  The green top of her head returned to the light brown that she had been given at birth.  In her bath she groaned as the noises outside continued, and the seeds of sweat floated away.  And though she growled about resting, laying down in her bed, with noises outside not fading as the western setting sun, her skin returned to its golden hue.
When she awoke, the garden outside was quiet but for the nightingale singing its sweet song.  The king and queen took her gently by the hand and led her into the garden.  Much to everyone's pleasant surprise, they discovered a beautiful patch of ripened strawberries in the garden.  They were red and looked ready to pop, and Princess Fiona begged the king and queen for a wonderful snack - to which they agreed.  They allowed her to pick all ten of the strawberries.
She placed them in a bowl and her parents brought to her a bowl of fresh cream.
"What do you suppose happened to your friends?" 
Princess Fiona smiled as she placed the first one into her mouth.  It made her fingers and lips red and sticky sweet.
"I can not say father, but I do surely wish that they had stayed so that I might share these strawberries with them."