May 29, 2010

So Here We Are … Again

I am a bad writer.

This is not about how I say things, but as in how often I say them. I keep saying that I want to be a writer, yet I do virtually nothing about it. I sit at home, go to work, hang with friends. Do I comment on it, let everyone know how it affected me. Yes. Do I write about it.

That sound you hear is the actual crickets chirping.

I will try to do better.

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March 25, 2010

Tattoos And Elven Worship

Above, you see the beginning of a tattoo idea. I am a huge LOTR (Lord of the Rings for those not familiar with geek speak) fan. It has something that resonates with me. It also took me three months of reading it every day for 45 minutes to get through the book. I read it in it’s original form, as one book. Over 1,000 pages of text with maps included. I had to read it in order to finish something I started a long time ago.
My family is filled with avid readers. My grandmother, mother, aunt, sister, and brother are all voracious readers. They devour books like most people do magazines. Most of my memories of my mother as a child are of her holding a book or a magazine, smoking, and drinking a Pepsi (or Diet Pepsi, Shasta, Fresca … whatever). MOst of the memories she has of her mother are the same. Their genre of choice: mysteries.
My aunt loves mysteries too as well as gothic horror (Edgar Allen Poe) and histories. She could never get through a book in a month cause she was chasing after us kids or doing housework. She is the one who introduced me to Poe and Vincent Price. Now I can’t read Poe without hearing Price’s voice.
My brother shares my love of fiction. He does read a lot of religious texts now though due to his being a lay preacher. Now he more listens to them on audiobooks. We used to go through books so quickly as kids that my mother could hardly keep up.
Lastly, my sister. She is one of the few people who influenced what I read. She gave me my first taste of fantasy with Guardians of the Flame by Joel Rosenburg. I have it still. The binding fell apart and we had to put the cover back on with duct tape, but it’s still good.
I was such an avid reader as a kid, that one year I read almost 230 books. I was about 12 or 13 and in high school. I read everything I could get my hands on. Stephen King, Arthur C. Clarke, Issac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, H.G. Wells, Terry Brooks, Douglas Adams, Piers Anthony, Ursala K. LeGuin, Christopher Pike, L. Ron Hubbard (don’t laugh … he was a sci-fi writer years before he was a self-help guru), Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Clive Barker, and Poe. Those are just the ones I remember.
I tried reading Stranger In A Strange Land and Catcher In The Rye. Could not get into them.
I also was fascinated by cults and things in the “unknown”. I read Chariots of the Gods so many time that I almost had the book memorized. Books on the human body, archeology, languages, trivia, music, modern inventions. Everything was consumed.
I was curious to read The Hobbit after seeing the animated Rankin/Bass movies as a kid. My mom bought me it and added Lord Of The Rings for my birthday. All four books in a nice neat package.
It sat on my shelf for the next 3 years, untouched. I eventually gave them to the local library for them to use or put up for sale in a little used bookstore they have. This was when I was 13.
In the following years, I have had at least three more sets of the books. I even bought it as a single volume about 7 years ago. I never read it. It collected dust and after a while, I would just give it away. So when I finally did read the books, it was a big deal. I had been trying to read them for over half my life.
That explains the elvish script, but what about the quote. It’s not from the LOTR books. Indulge my ramblings a little more? Thanks.
Along the way to reading LOTR, I picked up a few other series. Terry Brooks Shannara series. Margret Weis and Tracy Hickman’s Forgotten Realms books. R.A. Salvatore’s War of the Spider Queen series. J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books. Finally, I “borrowed” a book from my brother. Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series.
At the time, it was only six books into the story. I bought every book I could and read them. As each one came out I fell in love with the story more and more. The book are about a young man who discovers that his life is not what it seems. It is one of the best books I have ever read, and that’s saying something.
In these books, Jordan wove bits and pieces from all storytelling cultures. India, Japan, South American, and African cultures were mined for their mythic characters. In one of the books, the second to be exact, the characters are on the hunt for a horn that can call heroes long in the past back from their places of rest. It has an inscription:
“The grave is no bar to my call.”
Books and words are living creatures that we read and consume. They inform us, entertain us, and take us to far away places that we could only dream of. I want to write in ink on my body what I feel in my heart.
Readers bring writers dreams to life.
March 23, 2010

Papa, can you hear me … Papa, can you see me … Papa can you find me in the night *

As some of you may know, I’m researching my family tree. At first the going was easy. Sailing along the information superhighway at 60 miles an hour with the wind in my hair and a smile on my face. It was glorious.

I first focused on my mother’s family. They are a plentiful bunch who believe in quantity as well as quality. My Mother and Grandmother were the oddballs in family in that they only had three kids each. Most of their siblings either had a lot of kids, nine to six range, or had none.

Then, I hit traffic. I know right, traffic in the state of California, who knew?

This traffic is in the form of my dad, Don. Outside of his birth year and his mother’s maiden name, I knew nothing. I have a little more information, his SSN and other stuff. Out of all the records I have poured over the last few weeks, however, not a single one tells me who his father is.

My dad’s mom. I can trace her family back to the 1600’s in England. Six generations of her family lived and died in Connecticut. Another four in Ohio, with the last two in Colorado.  I literally have thousands of “cousins” here and in England who all share my grandmother’s maiden name, Goff.

My dad’s dad, Johnny (or John, Jonnie, Jonne, Johnathan) is a black hole of information. I can find nothing that connects him to my dad or his mother. It’s more than a little frustrating, it’s comical.

Jones is the fourth most common surname in America right behind Smith, Johnson, and Williams. I do a search for “Donald Jones” on Ancestry.com and it comes up with a little over 2 million hits. I do another search for Johnnie, or one of the variants, and the number jumps up to 23 or 24 million.

It’s almost enough to make you grab an axe.

* Yes, the title is a lyric from Yentil. I’m a gay man and I’m having daddy issues, it’s gonna happen.

March 15, 2010

I’m Not Crazy M’Lynn … I’ve Just Been In A Very Bad Mood For Forty Years

So this last week was a doozy.  The pressure of work finally got to me and I snapped like a wooden chair trying to hold an elephant. It wasn’t pretty. Someone may have been tasered, but nothing has been confirmed yet.
As many of you know, I work for a large national corporation that specializes in asking their customers to expect more while paying less. Recently, HQ decided to “end” a program that takes employees and makes them “specialized” in a particular department. This means that the employee was responsible for a department (putting out product, cleaning up, putting out new product when it comes in, etc…).
Along with this responsibility came a few perks: extra pay, better hours, and preferential treatment in scheduling. Extra pay coupled with better hours than most employees was in of itself a benefit because you could pay your bills or save a little cash for a rainy day. The preferential treatment in scheduling worked out to be that your schedule was simi-regular, with one set day a week that you were off and every other weekend off.
There are a few drawbacks. The work load is intense, help can be hard to find, demands for your time are … jarring.  Most of the benefits outweigh the drawbacks or at least make them tolerable.
The problem is now with the company doing away with the program and most of the benefits, the job is a giant drawback.  No more weekends off and no more steady work. The demands are the same though and your expected to do it the same way.
To give you an example, this last week I transitioned my department for part of my new spring set. A job that could easily take a whole week for one person to do, I had to try and accomplish in two or three days because my hours had been cut from 38 to 27.  With 11 hours missing, it makes the days a little intense and a little hectic.  Also this last weekend was the third weekend in a row that I worked.
If you have never worked retail on a weekend, imagine trying to run a daycare center with 100 five year-olds who have all just woken up from a nap and a super excited, you have to take an algebra quiz at the same time that’s written in Spanish, all the while conducting a job interview. It’s that kind of nerve-wracking.
So I lost it.
I’m grateful to have a job, especially after this last year. I love most of the people I work with and the job can be a blast most of the time. I just feel like I was sucker punched.
March 14, 2010

Your Uncle Morty Says Hello From Boca Raton

BIG NEWS!
I have stunning news.
I’m Jewish.
I’ll let it sink in.
Okay, now for the facts. I’m part Jew. My father’s mother, Pauline, her grandfather was one of the chosen. Came over from the old country in the early 1800’s to New York. I know it’s far back, but who knew.
Oy gevalt, I’m so ferklempt that I could plotz.
This does explain a lot though.
More when I have more.
March 12, 2010

I’ve Got My Shovel … Let’s Go Dig Up Grandpa

So if your wondering at the title of this post (and really, you should be) I can explain it.  I’m in the process of looking through my family tree.  No need to call the police.  Nothing nefarious here, move along move along.

Seriously though, for years I’ve occasionally wondered about my family and their history. I know quite a bit about my mom’s side, but almost nothing about my dad. After my parents split and my dad stopped showing up for his court appointed visits, information was hard to come by. My mom only really had contact with my dad’s grandmother Leona and sister Sandy.  The rest of the family was, as she put it, trash.

I know a few things about my dad. Born in 1942, he is the second son of my grandfather Johnny and first child of my grandmother Pauline. He had three other siblings and another half-brother after Johnny and Pauline got a divorce. He was horribly burned as a kid and may have been treated at Johns Hopkins or St. Jude. He was in the hospital for nearly three years.  He served in the Navy during Korea but was in the brig for most of that time for going AWOL to go on alcoholic benders.

So, to help me find out more info about that side of the family, I signed up for Ancestry.com. It’s an awesome site and has helped me so much. The problem is that my dad may have been born on the Cherokee Indian reservation and the website doesn’t have records for those births.

Anyway, just wanted to let you all in on my current obsession. It will follow-on the heels of Videogames, Books, Music, and Knitting.

Yes, I knit.

Stop looking at me like that.

March 9, 2010

Dating For The Not So Savvy Shopper

I’ll be the first to admit, I’m not the best of daters.  In the almost 17 years since I started dating, I’ve been on maybe 10 actual dates, and that’s being generous. I’m just not a dater.
Maybe I should explain a few things. I define a date as two people who are attracted to each other going to a previously agreed upon place and having dinner, watching a movie, having coffee, or some other form of entertainment or nourishment.  This date would have been set up a few days in advance with either a face to face meeting or via telephone. After said nourishment or entertainment, a hug or a kiss at the end of the evening at the door of ones domicile is not uncommon.  This is my definition of a date.
Most of what I have done is what the kids call “hooking up”. I meet someone, we hang out, have fun and then it’s over. Be it in 2 hours, 24 hours, or 2 years, it just ends.
So after taking some time off from the dating scene to “find myself,” I have now plunged head first into the pool once again, to … mixed results. Not the good kind of mixed where you get cake batter. The bad kind where you get Frankenstein’s monster.
In my 20’s I used to think that I was selective about my choices. I now realize that a pulse and the proper equipment what were all I really needed. Now in my 30’s, I have become more discriminating in my choice yet more open to all possibilities. I require more than a pulse, I require intelligence. (Braaaaaains)
So with this in mind, I seem to keep attracting the same type of guy that I did in my 20’s. Nice, but unavailable.  With all that time spent trying to find myself, you think that I could have at least tried to find a better class of men.
The last guy I was with was a perfect example of this:
  • Attractive …. check.
  • Funny …. check.
  • Kind …. check.
  • Sexy …. double check.
  • Lives far away …. check.
  • Breaks up with me after two months and begins to date a guy in Chicago and their already planning to move in together …. check … wait …
I beginning to think that I didn’t take enough time off. Maybe I should take another 10 years to find myself. That way, I really know who I am and still be unsure if I want someone.
Oy.
March 8, 2010

Old Friends, Older Wounds

Today I tried to add as a friend I guy I knew from college. We used to hang out, talk about life, how the universe worked, who we were as people. He was a cool guy friend, someone I could chill with and not feel the pressure of hooking up. One, he was straight. Two, he had a girlfriend.

This guy, let’s call him James, was a good friend. We used to hang out all the time. He helped me through some rough stuff in my early 20’s and I was always had an ear to lend when he and his girl broke up again and again. We were cool.

After college, we drifted apart. Managed to stay in touch through mutual friends and the odd phone call. He had a baby and I had very little time due to work. I didn’t particularly care for the mother of his child, he knew that. I did however, manage to keep myself at least civil to the woman when I would run into them. (She trapped him by getting pregnant … but that’s another post.)

Today I got curious about him and looked him up on Facebook. To my surprise, I found him. He has an unusual last name, so it wasn’t hard. I tried to add him as a friend, remembering the fun we had together, not so much the verbal bashing I used to do about his girlfriend. He accepted the add, but he didn’t appear in my timeline. When I clicked on his name, it still said “Add as Friend”.

A little annoyed, I sent him a new message saying that something had happened and could he accept me again. I knew he was online and would get the request soon.

Nothing.

At first I was pissed off. I mean really. How childish is it to accept someone as your friend, only to take it back. I would never do …

I had done something like that. A guy “Friended” me and I accepted. A day later, I dropped him because he had “spammed” my timeline with all the apps and stuff he did on Facebook. Also, I started to think about the people who had sent me requests and I had ignored them or flat-out refused to deal with it because they had hurt me in someway in the past.

It made me pause.

I sent a message to him telling him that I was sorry for all the crap I put him through about his girlfriend. About why he stayed with her when he knew what she had done. I apologized for it all.

I wished him well and said my peace.

It’s hard to ask for forgiveness for me sometimes. I care so much about the people in my life, I sometimes forget that I can hurt them without meaning to.

This is an open apology. If I have hurt you in the past, I am sorry. It was not my intention. As your friend, I want what is best for you and will make you the happiest. It doesn’t excuse my behavior, but I hope it sheds some light on it.

Bless.

March 7, 2010

My Christian Question … Theory … Puzzle … Word Problem?

So, over the last couple of years or so, I have been trying to “find my faith” again. I joined a gay christian website, looked for some books, and read articles. All of this searching has led me to one conclusion … I know less now than I did two years ago.

When I was a kid, my faith was part of who I identified myself as. I was part of a bible scouts program called Awana. I went to the Jr. High group meetings and on the field trips. I even went to the church carnival once a year. I went to church on Sundays. My Christianity was part of who I saw myself as.

At 12, it all changed.

I was in the boys locker room. It was the last day of seventh grade and we were playing tug-of-war against the out going eighth graders. We left the field to go clean up in the locker room cause the coaches had watered the grass to make it nice and slippery for the tug-of-war. My friend Mike G. stripped off his P.E. clothes and headed for the shower room. I did the same. I didn’t want to track mud all the way home.

Mike had his back to me when I entered. I turned on the water and got wet. Suddenly, the world went dark. I felt my head. Someone had wrapped a muddy and wet t-shirt around my face. I pulled the stinking thing off of me and threw it down. Mike had turned around to wash his back off.

I looked.

Looked some more.

Then I ran.

I quickly threw on all of my clothes and ran for home. I only lived a block away from the school. By the time I slowed down, I was light headed from the lack of oxygen. I was an asthmatic as a kid. I pulled out my inhaler and breathed life. It tasted like what you imagine rotting toe jam tastes like.

I was so ashamed of myself. Mike was my friend. I had done something wrong. We had talked about this in church. Lusting after another man was a sin. A big one. God punishes you for the big ones. I prayed that day and for the next few months that God would take this “sin” away from me.

I didn’t want God angry with me.

After a few months of not being able to stop my desires, I was at my wit’s end. I was sad. I thought I had let my family down. I thought I had let God down. I decided to commit suicide.

I told no one. I was sure it was the only way to go. I didn’t want to go to hell and disappoint my family. I loved God and Jesus and all of it, but I just didn’t want to hurt anyone by being a “fag”.

I knew the word. I knew what it meant. I knew I was one.

One night, I sat at my dining room table. I had taken one of the bottles of asthma meds from the cabinet where my mom kept them. The one I took helped open the chest and slow breathing, making it easier for people with asthma to take bigger breaths. I also took my grandfather’s big bottle of Brandy from the liqueur cabinet from above the fridge. Didn’t even have to use a step-ladder.

I placed the bottle of alcohol and the bottle of pills side by side and sat down looking at them in the half-light of the room. I stared at them for a really long time. I even opened the bottle and took some pills out.

I couldn’t do it.

I put it all away and went to bed. I cried like I have never cried before or since. I fell asleep and woke up, went to school, and carried on. I didn’t tell anyone about that night for a very long time.

One side effect, I never went back to church. Ever.

Over the years, I have spent time just not believing in anything. That always made my family a little jumpy when I said “I don’t think heaven exists.” I got a few strange looks. Paganism and Wicca were my next religious stops.

I spent a lot of time being a Wiccan, twelve years or there about. I had found a religion that didn’t have the dogma and the hatred of Christianity, it was older and it felt right. I was home.

In the past few years though, I’ve been turning my mind back to Christianity and God. Not because of any over-riding thought or sudden desire to convert. No fiery bush or talking clouds in my life, no sir. Just a desire to get back in touch with who I am, as a person and as someone of faith.

So that’s why the new interest in faith and beliefs. I’m looking to find a way that is comfortable for me to be christian. The zealots on the far right scare the piss out of me. I’m not changing my politics. I’m just trying to find a new way for me.

March 4, 2010

Put Quill To Parchment And Just Fucking Write Something

I have, for the better part of my life, tried unsuccessfully to be come a writer. To take the imaginary world that exists inside my head and put it down on paper. Divest myself of the creatures the populate my thoughts on any given day.

To that end, I have been a complete and total failure. Not that I haven’t tried. I have notebooks and hard drive space devoted to the ideas that have sprung up from the fertile ground that my imagination can provide. That, ladies and gentlemen, is where they sit. Not a one finished.

I tried comic books and poetry in the 90’s. Comic books went nowhere and my poetry was so bad as to inspire people to actually demand money back at a free poetry reading. I’m not joking. Okay, a little.

I’ve tried free thought. That lasted for two pages.

I tried structured outlines. The outlines are wonderful, detailed, and rich, they give you a full explanation of how the world works. In prose, not so much.

In universe fiction. Lord of the Rings. X-Men. Wheel of Time. Star Wars. The X-Men one seemed to be going somewhere for thirty pages. Now it sits in the bottom of a virtual desk collecting virtual dust.

I have created my own worlds and universes. I have expanded worlds and shrunk them down to the atoms. Nothing.

Fiction. Nope.

Science Fiction. Nope.

Fantasy. Nope.

Western. Nope.

Romance. Yes … and no.

After writing for a few pages I get bored and move on to something else. A new meme or a new note on Facebook. A new status on someone’s Twitter, that has to be more intresting than what I’ve got going on. Maybe some TV will inspire productivity.

Ha!

I don’t suffer from writer’s block. It’s not writer’s block. If anything, it’s writer’s diarrhea and I get bored playing in the droppings.