Monthly Archives: November 2012

It Takes A Village…To Keep This Idiot Inspired

In the last 24 hours, I have decided to delete my blog and quit writing.  I can’t do it.  I have no business being a writer, I’m posing and you folks are all better educated than I am and I was kidding myself.

In the last hour, after taking a long walk, I have a protagonist, and a solid plot outline for my novel.  I’m also going to work on my memoir concurrently.  I’m excited as hell.

WTF you ask?  I hit the wall in the last day.  Self doubt crept in and opened a can of whoop ass on my confidence.  I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how to write fiction and resigned myself to plod along on a memoir.  Then I just decided to quit altogether because it was a joke…I’m no writer.

It truly does take a village and this would not have happened if not for the inspiration and support of my friends in the blogging community here at WordPress….

Thank you all, even though I don’t really know any of you…your “likes” and your comments have kept me afloat…have kept the dream alive and gotten me over the first real hump of self-doubt.

How cool is that?

P.S. I promise I’m not Bi-Polar or on psych meds…some may argue I should be, but I’d like to believe every new writer shares this experience…at least it’s what keeps me out of the doctor’s office…


Call It What It Is…

It’s a damn memoir.  That’s my “novel”.  I was struck like a hammer one and a half pages in.  I’ve been infused with the notion of “write what you know” and was buoyed by Gregory David Roberts Shantaram and figured I could pull off something similar.  I can’t…or I won’t.  If I’m going to write a memoir, it needs to be authentic, and I was wrestling with way too many plot devices to hide my identity.  I just need to be honest and write the damn thing.

That said, now I’m fucking terrified that this memoir is all I’ve got in me and that I don’t have the creative chops to play make believe.  To that end, I think the plan now is to seek inspiration for the work of fiction…the novel, and continue on with the memoir.  Believe me I am the last guy in the world that thinks I’m special or that my life warrants a memoir, but I do believe there are some experiences in my life that might ring true for others and possibly help them.  Or so I’ve been told anyway.

Where yesterday I was planning one book, I have now committed to two.  It will be interesting to see if I can do both concurrently or if one will dominate the other.  I really am anxious to see if I can write fiction.  I submitted a short story in a local writing contest but it too was like Shantaram…veiled fiction.  I really need to step outside the box and create my own world…it’s exciting to think about…now all I need is to be struck like a hammer again…this time with inspiration.


What? I Might Need Help???

In third grade, I got into a fight with a bigger kid because he tried to help me fix my bike.  I didn’t want any help and I was willing to get my ass kicked to prove it.

This inability to ask for help has been a thread that has “run” throughout my life.  It’s actually another story altogether and will surely find its way into this book.

So I had written a WHOLE page prior to my decision in the last 24 hours to commit the time and effort into writing a novel.  And today I forced myself to write a few more paragraphs…and then it hit:  I really have no clue what I’m doing and I need help.  Heretofore, I had assumed that my natural talent would just flow and I would pen the next breakout novel.  Reality bit me in the ass, thankfully, and I realized that I didn’t become a really good paramedic through instinct (although later on that helped) but it was through practice and a willingness to learn.

I headed over to Barnes & Noble tonight in search of a new journal to use for outlining and story/plot ideas as well as a platform for note taking.  I thought I might need some help in figuring out how to proof my manuscript and how to go about getting it published (all mind you before I’m even on page two…does anyone see a pattern here?).  Well, some divine humility reared its graceful head while I was there and I bought a book about how to actually write a book…it’s called the Complete Handbook of Novel Writing 2nd Edition by the editor’s of Writer’s Digest.  This book may suck and I’m sure some of you may recommend some better resources, but I needed to just settle on one and move forward.  I know myself and I could easily waste a ton of time researching “the best book on writing” and find myself still stuck on page one.

So I’ve got some basic tools and am looking forward to starting my new second job, novelist, first thing tomorrow morning!


Jumping Off…Novelwise

I started this blog while I was off work for 6 weeks recovering from a hip replacement.  To say it has taken on it’s own personality, or a life of it’s own, is an understatement.  It has become something I could never have imagined.  It has become a catalyst for me to get off my scaredy-cat ass and write my book.  And I have all of you to thank for that.

I have made some wonderful virtual friends through this blog and you all (or y’all) have both inspired and shamed me into getting out of fear and just doing it.  So many wonderful authors out there in the blogosphere and I want to be a part of it…at least I have to try!

I’m terrified.  I’m afraid it will be trite.  I’m afraid I won’t be able to get past ten pages.  I’m afraid I literally have no idea what I’m doing and simply don’t have enough education or know-how to actually construct a novel.

I’ve decided to just do it anyway and see what happens…and I have you guys…this blog community to thank for that.

I’m not sure if I’m going to outline or just start writing…or a combination of both.  I’ve been collecting bullet points of ideas/themes over the last year so I suppose I’ll start with that.

This is terrifying stuff…I’ll keep you posted, and thanks for the encouragement in advance!

 


My Gratitude List…

Gratitude.  I was not born with it.  In fact, I was born entitled.  Why? I have no clue…

For some unknown reason, I have honestly felt entitled. I don’t know where it comes from and I’m too old to explore the root causes.  What I can do is stop it…just stop it.

Gratitude has never come easily for me.  I’ve generally been an unhappy guy most of my life (see first sentence) and as a result, gratitude has become a learned skill for me…with some help from an awesome organization I belong to.

Anyway, the bottom line is I experience meaningful gratitude today primarily as the result of loss…either real or imminent.  In other words, I’m quite stubborn, and for me to be grateful, I’ve had to have my head knocked in a few times.

With that…here is my list of all I’m grateful for on this Thanksgiving Day (in no particular order):

  • The fact that I’m blessed with two amazing young adults who bring joy to me in immeasurable ways
  • My health.  I’m 51 and despite some mechanical issues, I’m in pretty good health and am able to enjoy cycling on a daily basis
  • My family…although we have never been close, we share a common bond that is uniquely ours
  • My job…I’ve come close to homelessness a few times (and I’m still not that far from the edge) and the fact that I’m able to lay my head down at night with a roof over my head is not lost on me
  • My sobriety.  It took me a long time to figure out that I suffered from a disease, instead of being a weak, bad person, but once I did, I was able to arrest this monster and live a life beyond my wildest dreams
  • My friends.  I’m not the easiest guy to be friends with and I appreciate beyond belief those of you that have stuck around
  • Cliff…my spiritual mentor and the closest thing I have to a father these days.  He’ll never read this but he has saved my life
  • I can afford to buy food every two weeks.  I still have some times where I need to skimp, but to be able to partially stock my pantry is something I will never again take for granted
  • My passion for writing.  I’ve recently re-discovered it and it has lit a fire inside me that I’m very grateful for
  • My faith.  It’s not perfect and it’s a work in progress, but it’s something I never considered or grasped until recently and I’m very grateful for this turn of events in my life

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.  I wish you all the very best and hope you may all find your gratitude list helpful in times of challenge!


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“Look, you work your side of the street and I’ll work mine.” ~Steve McQueen-Bullitt

Clearly, I’m not Steve McQueen but I connect with the quote and the man (character) himself so much, I made it my Gravatar.  Let me explain:

I’m a control freak.  It’s what drove my success as a Paramedic and ultimately a Fire Captain in a previous life.  I spent a lot of time preparing and studying and practicing my craft, so that in an emergency situation, when lives literally hung in the balance, I was ready…muscle memory they call it.  There’s no shortcuts for that kind of skill.

So here’s the rub…if you’re not a control freak of my ilk, if you don’t put in the same hours I do to, I have a problem with that.  In other words…I have a problem.

You see where I’m going with this.  If you don’t live up to my high expectations, you are inferior and subject to my derision.  Except for the small fact that that doesn’t seem to work in society.  Not everyone shares my same values and work ethic.  And here’s the real shocker…not everyone cares as much as I do.  And guess what?  I’m not all that!

It took me a long time and a lot of soul-searching brought on by some real tragedy, self-made and otherwise, in my life for me to realize I am not the center of the universe.  You might laugh, but in all honesty I thought I was…and still do in some moments (muscle memory I’m sure LOL)…

I couldn’t figure out why I was so unhappy and why the people around me were such lazy idiots (I’m not recovered from this entirely…I invite you to drive with me on any given day).  What I finally DID figure out was that this was not their problem…it was mine.

Back to the quote…it reminds me that I can only control one thing…ME.  The Serenity Prayer is a great relief to me during these times.  My workplace is filled with incompetence (as I see it) but at the end of the day, all I can truly affect are my actions and my responses to others.  This is SO much easier said than done, but it’s something I truly do strive for every day.  Sometimes successfully, but oftentimes not…progress not perfection.

What spurred this post was a response a gentlemen made on my post yesterday on faith…he kindly suggested that instead of Karma, I come to realize the joys of Jesus Christ and all the benefits that has to offer.  Thank you very kindly sir, but I’m completely and wholly satisfied with my concept of God and wish to leave it at that.  I appreciate your faith but am constantly amazed at others enthusiasm for sharing.  If your faith is sound, I don’t believe you need to spread the Gospel…if I am destined to become Born Again…don’t you think God will make sure that happens on it’s own accord…again:

“Look, you work your side of the street and I’ll work mine”…thank God for this.


The Anarchy of Faith…

I’m not a believer in Jesus or the Christian concept of God.  I don’t believe the bible is the word of God.

I believe in a higher power that I cannot entirely identify.  In a nutshell, the easiest way to understand my belief is the concept of Karma.  Do good things, think good things, and good things will happen.  I believe it’s a function of physics, string theory if you will, that maintains a harmony, a homeostasis within the physical universe.

OK, that’s about as ethereal as I will get on this blog.  Let’s get down to brass tacks.  My failed marriage and my efforts at compromise.  I moved out on Thanksgiving day 2004 and was legally divorced the next year.  I was too immature (at age 31) to choose a mate and I was at a point in my life that I really had no business committing myself to anyone.  I was a sick puppy, emotionally and mentally.  I had/have an allergy to alcohol (and drugs) that cause me to break out in handcuffs.

On the day the Mayan’s predicted the world will end, God (well, you know, my concept at least) willing I will celebrate 5 years of sobriety. That’s a good thing.  What continues to be a challenge is dealing with the wreckage of my marriage.  Without getting into specifics, I am constantly challenged by my expectations with regard to my ex-wife.

I am not in the same financial position she is (long story involving our late son and an inheritance) and therefore am unable to provide the material possessions to our shared children (18 y/o girl, 16 y/o boy) that she is.  In addition to creating a modicum of guilt, it creates an inequity that consciously or not has apparently allowed her to essentially provide for our kids a “home” that I cannot.  I get it too, she provides the money for college, the cars, the clothes…pretty much anything they need financially and dad provides health insurance…and whatever I can spare from my meager earnings.

Before you break out the violins, I’ll cut to the chase.  I can’t compete on the material level, and while I’ve done everything within my power to provide an example for my kids on how to be solid, quality young adults, at the end of the day, they will generally choose the material over the spiritual.  Here’s the deal…I truly harbor no resentments at them, I’d likely do the same.  But what I do hope is that someday in a moment of introspection, they will appreciate the fact that I have been there for them…I’ve been solid where oftentimes the other half wasn’t.  It would make it all worthwhile if someday they expressed to me, not so much appreciation, but just simple recognition that where I couldn’t provide the bling, I provided the emotional security that they needed.

I’m no saint…and any recovering alcoholic will testify to the fact that removing our security blanket can cause moments of madness…I’ve experienced that and my kids have suffered as a result.  But at the end of the day I’ve done the right thing…I’ve fought the good fight.

I’m starting to feel like this narrative is coming across as whiny.  I don’t mean it too.  I want to speak to the other parents of divorced kids who quietly fight the good fight against the odds and yearn for the illusive recognition that may never explicitly come.  The recognition that we ultimately must have the faith that our efforts will manifest itself in the lives of our offspring.  And the hope that we can survive the loneliness and fear that oftentimes accompany doing the right thing.  I have to believe in Karma…and that we will be rewarded.


Blogonymity…

Blogonymity.  Heretofore, I’ve maintained a relatively low profile here on WordPress with regard to my identity.  I’ve provided some hints here and there, but realistically I haven’t really shared any deep personal insights other than my take on the issues of the day.

I think that’s about to change.

I need to write.  I always have and have been blessed to find that passion again recently while I had some time off work for a surgery.  Since I’ve been back to work it’s been MUCH harder to find time, but I’m finding that I NEED to write so will be getting up a little earlier than I normally like, so I can make the time to write.

And not just political/cultural criticisms.  I need to write about what’s in my heart and soul.  That’s where the passion lies…within.  So my fear is that in addition to coming off nihilistic, I will bore my readers to death.  I sure hope not.  I’ve decided to share some of myself and some of my life experiences here on this blog that I may experience the catharsis self-examination does, but most importantly I hope to find common ground with the reader.  Community, if you will, in the words and experiences I share.

How much is too much?  Enough to get me fired?   Enough to prevent getting hired at another job in the future?  I don’t know…these concern me greatly, but I guess I’ve decided to risk it.  Whether it’s ego or not, I haven’t decided, but I’ve chosen to be very open with those around me about my private life.  It’s time to share those things with you…the reader.

Wish me luck…


Enough…

Jihad Misharawi carries his son’s body at a Gaza hospital. (AP)

It’s time to stop.  It’s time for the Israeli government to step up and think outside the box…make a bold and courageous move and make the necessary concessions to the Palestinians.  You won’t be rewarding aggression, you will be claiming the moral high ground and saving lives…generations worth of lives.  This is the only way this conflict will end and the only way Israel can step on the right side of history.

And the Obama administration needs to take the lead on this.  There are countless moderate voices within the Israeli population that are yearning for peace and for rational decision-making.  Netanyahu and his ilk must go and the American government and the moderates within Israel must do this NOW.

Enough.  It’s time.  The government of Israel has become what they fear most, a despotic instrument of terror that is out of touch and out of control.  They have rightfully responded to repression in the past with force, but that time has long since come and gone.  They are now like the bully who responds to being hit with a pebble by blasting their weak attacker with a shotgun.

There is no way the United States government can continue to support this current tragedy in Gaza.  As Gershon Baskin said in a recent New York Times editorial “This was not inevitable, and cooler heads could have prevailed.”  We are clearly on the wrong side of history here and on the wrong side of the moral compass.  Yes, Israel has a right to defend herself from rocket attacks from Hamas and yes Hamas is a terrorist organization bent on the destruction of Israel but has the decades long offensive against the Palestinians taught us nothing?  This ridiculous schoolyard tit-for-tat has become a lightning rod for Islamic fundamentalists and radicals throughout the region and has further threatened the security of the United States.

Stop the offensive in Gaza RIGHT NOW, remove Netanyahu and bring a moderate voice to the table, make the tough concessions that are needed to remove this cancer in the middle east and move forward.  As the photo above shows, we are long past the time for nationalistic pride on both sides…it’s time to end this conflict…swiftly and courageously.


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