Tag Archives: Creative

Universes Here On Earth

My family wasn’t wealthy, but we weren’t eating water soup* every night either. If I could put it into a neat, little box (Americans love that) I would say we were upper-proletariat or lower-middle class. We did OK, I suppose, if only because we did what we had to do and bought off-brand food. I think a lot of my current-day disdain for branding comes from this. I’m very brand loyal IF they’ve proven their worth. For example, I buy from Honda motors because they have treated me right for 15 years.

There’s a reason for all of this wind up, because I will say we (that is my sister, a few neighborhood kids, and myself) would be allowed to play with the garden hose for a couple of hours in the sweltering heat of Summer. What most people do these days is just go to a water park. Entertainment expenditures were just not in the budget at that time. I also think that’s the reason I am compulsively working. I painted a large section of Stonefield’s siding today, because Labor Day feels weird. Isn’t that a laugh riot?

During the moments when we had the hose, I remember wetting down a section of the patio and staring at it close up. I know it sounds a bit dim, but there were universes in the concrete. Please let me explain. As most are aware, concrete contains aggregate (crushed stone, sand, etc.) to act as filler and give the concrete structure. Well, as it turns out, it also sparkles when wet. It looked like the night sky, when I cupped my hands and only let a beam of light through. Some boys were busy burning ants with magnifying glasses. I was busy staring at wet concrete.

So, when it seemed like I was only laying flat on a patio looking stupid, I was really viewing all of the different colors in the cement. All sorts of colors, and all of them twinkling… like the universe. All of the colors planets, with histories, and civilizations. You see, I also used to stare at the night sky, because I really wanted to run away. Not just from my parents or city, but this entire world. I wanted to find a better place for me among the stars, and would fantasize about space travel. Hence some of my stories are science fiction. It’s a holdover from my childhood.

I’m not exactly sure why I wrote this post, but I do know it was something I recalled this afternoon with little provocation. It was like a moving a photo album and having a forgotten picture fall out. This gave me pause, not because I believe “things happen for a reason,” rather I surprised myself with how much I’ve forgotten. It’s almost like I have intentionally done so.


* – A can of water soup is the Depression-era Homestarrunner’s form of entertainment, only to underscore the sheer poverty of people in a “first-world” nation. It’s a parody of early cartoon making where outhouses and family’s sleeping all in one bed were still common practice. It was only about 80 years ago, people. That’s still within a person’s lifetime.

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The Art of Talking Yourself Up

Even though the video is pitch black, the audio confirms life exists beyond my domicile. With all of the creaking, chirping, and squeaking going on outside my window you’d think wildlife is in need of an oil can. This is fairly common for a Summer’s night in the fields, though, and it’s quite welcome. The alternative is disheartening. I’m strongly adverse to another winter here, but where would I go? Who really wants an outsider? Having the experience of more than one out-of-state relocation, I can tell you few.

At this time of night (4 A.M.), my brain would be faltering and sleep would consume most of my thoughts. This is not the case tonight, as I really put the nose to the grindstone yesterday morning and invested 5 hours of sweat equity into the house with an additional 4 hours of life maintenance (e.g. mowing the lawn, doing laundry, etc.). At least I have a new chandelier, new ceiling fan, mowed lawn, and clean clothes to show for it. It’s a pretty basic work and reward situation. Writing, on the other hand, is a little less straightforward.

I’ve got professional writer’s block right now, but it hasn’t to do with any of my stories. I was going to dedicate a few hours yesterday evening for writing a profile for the family business, but instead fell asleep for 8 hours. Now, I’m wide awake playing personal schedule catch up. While adhering to a schedule is not my idea of fun, there are times when I know I need to move the ball down the field. That’s the mark of an effective person: identifying priorities.

You see, we’re sending in a proposal on Thursday to work on a project with the state of Ohio. The government is making its usual feel-good laundry list of demands and the owners, my parents, have realized they can’t complete it all themselves. Being the good-natured son and dutiful employee I am, I’ve finished some components of the request to speed things up. Coming from a small public accounting firm background, this is another day at the office: a client needs to be done in five days and there’s not even a draft on the partner’s desk… HAUL ASS, PEOPLE!

The biggest block to this profile I have is a crossover… a holdover from the personal realm. Company profiles are tethered to advertising and advertising is indelibly linked to sales. In sales, the concept of “talking up” the product or service rears its oft-deceitful head. Ever hear the expression “could sell freezers to Eskimos” attributed to a phenomenal salesman? Yeah. Deceit brings in money, and this isn’t even speaking on a fraud level. This is everyday business.

I’ve struggled with this concept for decades. My personality is one to reject boasting or otherwise hustling anyone in business. My ethics bind me to a position of letting the quality speak for itself. For years, I thought if my work proved itself strong, it would be self-evident to others. They would naturally choose to work with me. As good and right and egalitarian and logical and ethical and solid as that was on paper, it didn’t translate well in the trenches. Often the client has little idea of what is quality and what isn’t. This is hard for me to accept, but I’ll be damned if it isn’t the truth.

Who do they pick? They pick the lesser quality work with a company that dazzled. Even if the client eventually figures out the work is sub par, I’ve noticed clients will work with a lower-functioning business if they feel comfortable with the team. It blows my mind; I, personally, look for results. If someone isn’t performing, I put in the energy to find someone who does. That’s how I do business.

Now it’s my turn with sales. Even though I know it isn’t shuck and jive, it still feels like braggadocio. It’s hard for me to refrain from erasing the sentence I’ve written several times before. I’m getting in the way of myself. I’d love to instantly come up with lines that are comfortable to me and effective with my audience, but I don’t know if that common ground exists. This is absolutely why I didn’t go into sales or do well at the record label. My ethics are just too strong.

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