Tag Archives: life

Does This Depression Make Me Look Fat?

I think it has been a bittersweet couple of weeks. There needs to be more activity here, and so I should provide it. The bitter part is staring down the barrel of Winter. However, the sweet part was seeing my high school friend and his wife in Madison, WI a weekend ago. Grass always seems greener when you walk off your property, which is usually used (I’ve noticed) to discourage you from doing something new. I think it’s better used as fair warning, to really make sure you’re making a calculated risk. Anyone travel anywhere recently?

The other sweet part is I have written some more. The sentences aren’t strung as cleverly as I enjoy, but I’m trying to keep Kurt Vonnegut’s advice in my head:

Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possible can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.

And a chunk of what I’ve been writing:

We stop near a large portcullis and even larger pegged wheel, and I stare at Molvin until he wiggles out of his nest in the back. Grabbing the moist boards of the wheel, he cranks and grunts for the better part of a minute. The barely-lit sewer painted a lively picture which entertained me as I listened to his incessant bitching. Water reflected movement all around me, and slid across the walls of the sewer from the manmade river underground. The long pools wave in strange formations.

Inside and out, the moving wall mosaic had a pleasant rhythm, exciting and returning for encore. The grunting mule behind me was too busy to observe anything. Balancing himself horizontal to the ground by his stomach, he crunches his stomach a few times in a fruitless wiggle. The best that comes of it is a clinks of the chains wrapped around the wheel.

Two tunnels down, the lights stop. It shimmers momentarily and stops again. Staring made the made the light return. Returning my attention to Molvin, I whip my head back to the same spot. Black. “Move,” I mutter, “move, move, move, please move.”

“Ye git dan h’re an’ help den, Jesh!” Molvin’s ruddy face cranes from its parallel position to shout profanity at me and I jump out of the driver seat.

“Damn the gods, Molvin, do I have to do everything myself?” Maybe that was my anxiety getting the better of me but there’s no retraction after that.

“I s’pose ye do, now help!” Quitting the acrobat routine Molvin crouches at the rotten straw near the mechanism.

“Fine, if it gets us closer to the bath house.” Sliding down the seat my approach to the wheel is quicker than I would normally perform. Waiting for Molvin to stop his intermittent bitching, I dig my feet hard into the rocks. The portcullis moves in screams as we strain to roll the wheel in motion. A feeling of nausea tingles in my nose as I close my eyes softly and whimper but we continue until a pawl prevents it from falling at the top. The halls return to the quiet display it once was. Swallowing hard, little prompts me to press on through the gate.

Copyright © 2016 Corvidae in the Fields

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The Foaming Action Means He’s Working

It never fails, or cease to surprise me that I make a few posts to get back into the swing of things and the universe decides to pull me apart. That’s not an excuse, but an explanation nonetheless. I had the most ambitious of personal lists on the three-day time span: outside lighting to install, a yard to clean, clothes to launder, and books to write. I gained such momentum I crashed completely into a brick wall producing a solid paragraph of new material. [Insert Expletive Here]

The relative peace brought by the Labor Day weekend rallied a fierce week of deadlines and customer service challenges making my calves hurt more than getting stood up on your Prom night for Gary, the more well-to-do son of a chiropractor. That’s where I keep most of my stress, and I need to sit down after a while of brooding over people and their obstacles. Side Note: Kelly, I’m glad you showed me your true colors quickly.

So, as I said, I only made a paragraph’s progress on Sunday. That’s pitiful. In lieu of providing anything new to me, how about something new (mostly) to you? Here’s an excerpt from when I was writing back in March.

“Every lump on your face will match that of your gravy!” The sous-chef slapped his saucier enough to make eyes water. His stubs wrenched the pot and heaved it towards an open window. “Make it again, and quick. We’re already an hour behind.” A cuisinier snuck a peek over the stove to catch a ladle in the face. “If this night doesn’t go well, it doesn’t take me to tell you we’ll all be dead by morning.” This made for a typical event night with Gerard Grossecul shading a boundary between fact and melodrama as he explosively smacked the tile on his way to the dining room.

Screams rattled the pins on the sewing desk and down the hall straight out through the wood and iron latticed doors of the estate’s couture house. Mostly bare, a handmaiden scrambled for the chamber door only to be clocked by a half-clothed mannequin. Gathering herself, and the rest of her garments, off the floor she hid behind the wardrobe. The Seamstress Premier Naedlbán took up her shears and pointed it at the wimping wench. “If you can’t sew these seems properly I’ll rip you apart and show you!” Spoiling her tin of threaded spools, she charged at the young lady and buried her scissors in the knotted woodwork. Slowly creeping to the fresh face she whispered, “…and if that doesn’t work, I’ll cut those wretched fingers off. They aren’t doing you any good.”

I’m sure I’ll need to re-read the whole thing once it’s completed in draft format, but it seems to fit together enough that I don’t feel like scrapping the whole thing.

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Tuesday, June 10th, 2014

I’ve tried to quit smoking. I really have. There have been several times I’ve torn up a mostly-full pack and thrown away the lighter. Other times I’ve woken up with pain in my ribs, vowing never to light up again. Yet, here I sit this morning after being outside with another menthol.

It’s hard, at times, to accept the root causes for me to do something so dangerous. Other times, I just don’t care. Why am I “saving” myself? After decades of bad timing or poor fits that I’ll find someone I can share this pent-up love? I’ll be wealthy enough to travel the world and not give a flip about paying the bills? I can go anywhere and feel like a friend? As society sits right now, I doubt it. I’m being trampled by other people’s ambition and their human nature.  A nature of all the vices and judgment they swear not to do, yet commit all the same. They call them “rights”.

Smoking is my seppuku. I’ve dishonored my master, America, and not bought into the aggressiveness that wins her favor. It’s a savage thought that is considered “healthy” by her. It’s a ruthlessness that she smiles upon. “Grab her! Take her! She doesn’t understand anything else!” Lady Liberty chides with rusted teeth. “You are animal! She is animal! She demands assertion!” …and so she rewards.

Reserved in nature. Virtuous in spirit. Prudence in money. Controlled in temper. These are all Holy wafers that burn upon the skull of the red, white, and blue madam. They are all treated in suspect and shied away as a Nosferatu would garlic.

I would like to remain positive. I would like to give the people of this world a false sense of hope, as movies and books do. It makes them feel less guilty, less culpable, and they can go back to their business as usual. However, I’m not sure that can happen. Bad things happen to good people.

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Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

Once again, I circle the blackened sky like a bat. I get myself so worked up in the morning and early afternoon that by evening I fall asleep only to wake up at midnight or so. It’s not so bad, I guess. It’s the not the rhythm of diurnal beings such as typical humans, but at least a late-night drive is filled with light scents of flowers and burnt wood.

Last night I was having a tonic and reading at Fricker’s. It’s just a sports bar, but it has a patio. That part I like very much. However, I happened to be visited by my friend, and master potter, Eliseo. We always have a good conversation, and I appreciate him being in such a simple area.

We talked about many things, mostly art related, but last night’s discussion dabbled in Kokology. This is the study of  心, or in English terms kokoro (“mind” or “spirit”). Its a way of discussing a person’s personality, and how they see the world. This was done in a basic three-part question and answer session called “the Cube test.” The narrator asks the following questions and interprets an understanding of the person answering them:

1. You are alone in a desert. There is a cube near you. What does it look like?

2. There is also a ladder around. What does it look like?

3. There is also a horse around. What does it look like?

Instead of giving away the answers (mine or what the metaphors mean) I’d like to try something. If you would indulge me, please write down the answer to these questions in the comments section of this entry. I’ll put trust in you to not look anything up on the Internet, rather tell me the images that come to your mind first.

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Sunday, May 25th, 2014 – Why Do You Write?

It would seem bad form not to tell you the results of my letter writing campaign to the Ohio House of Representatives. Out of 99 representatives contacted, only 4 had replied with an actual response. There were 5 others who had the auto-response system set up, but that’s not really acceptable. Of those 4 representatives who took the time to respond, only one was longer than two sentences. Even though he wasn’t my district representative, I enjoyed our conversation. Funny how ten sentences can brighten one’s day.

Now, on with the blog hop as requested by Laura Lynn from  Cancer: My Journey Back to Health-Kicking & Screaming the Whole Damn Way. Yeah, it’s a chain post and I’m not huge on them, but it’s Laura Lynn. She has been nice to me for as long as I’ve known her.

What am I working on?

In the short-term nothing. I’ve picked up a new organization (BNI) in April, which has some elements of Kiwanis/Rotary International without the community outreach element. I think of it as a business dating service where the “dates” are referred business. You get to know and trust the people in your group and refer clients in need of member services to them. Most members are local merchants anyway. So, you’re helping out people in your community get more business to stay in business. This has taken much of my time in the past five weeks, and I don’t regret it.

In the long-term, I’ve always got My City by the Bay, which I haven’t finished. It’ll need a new title (sorry, Steve Perry). I stopped when I hit a logic gap in a pursuit scene. The back of my mind has been telling me that no seasoned detective would let the suspect drive off after he visited his girlfriend’s apartment. They could question the girlfriend later, if they lose him but they need to follow the suspect further. Personally, with all of the writing improvements I’ve learned in the past year, I’d like to rework the entire story including a VERY edgy part that dealt with bigotry and racism in the non-lofty, street-level, day-to-day sense.

Too many Americans want to take this topic and make it all lofty, when the application is so flawed we [Americans] can’t even see straight. I like the overall premise of the chapter and the ending, but there’s an even harder uppercut I need to swing. I felt like I was gingerly dancing around the point, even though I jumped straight into the lake.

Aside from that, there’s the flash fiction that I’ve become somewhat adept at writing. While I have practiced at it for a few months, it seems the most natural of all types of fiction to write. I do want to be a novelist. I love developing stories and characters and starting fresh in a new book. I don’t like sequels. I think that’s the author’s way of being lazy. If my work ever goes public, the powers-that-be would have to be very convincing for me to write a sequel to any of my non-existent books.

Although I’ve never mentioned it here, there is another novel idea I’ve shelved months ago. I’ve desperately tried to keep it away from the Young Adult genre, but in a late-night cabal of wannabe writers another has said “yeah, that has YA written all over it.” Damn it!

How Does My Writing Differ?

At this point in time, does any current writer have much difference? We’re all variations on a theme. Millennia of authors pouring out pages upon pages of stories have covered so much, it’s difficult not to be seen as a writer who came before. Is there really much anymore to differ? I suppose I could say I have a better knack for coming up with people’s names than I’ve seen with others writers, but that’s not much. I’d leave the identification of difference to the reader. I suppose that’s why they’d read my material? They’d know better than I would.

Why Do I Write What I Do?

Mostly because I don’t want my life to be a “series of beige incidents” as coined by Patton Oswalt. I want something to be here when I leave. I don’t want to wake up 85 and have nothing to show for myself, except an oxygen tank and tears. Hell, even if it’s mediocre prose that’s something. It’ll make Vonnegut happy.

Do you hear that Bukowski?! I am trying!

How Does My Writing Process Work?

I wouldn’t call it a “process.” Most people won’t understand how ironic that statement is, until they realize I’m a classically-trained accountant. I’ve dealt with creating processes for the better part of fifteen years, and I can’t even control a pet project of mine. How funny is that?

Some of the time, it starts with a trip to a bar or a later trip to a hash house. Waffle House is the best place to write at 3:00 in the morning. Why? It’s open, and the people aren’t intellectuals. Non-intellectuals make for great people watching, because they act out more often. It’s a funnier story when the drunk guy is singing to his penis in encouragement to urinate.

I keep a mole skin journal and a mechanical pencil in my car, Falcor. No, it’s not a sports car or anything flashy. It’s a Honda Accord. I can name my car whatever I damn well please. Over a glass of cheap red wine or “luxurious” cup of Arabica coffee, I scribble sentences. More often than not, they turn into stories. I’ve yet to figure out how that happens, but it does. So, I don’t argue with it much.  After I have a “starter,” as I like to call it, I take it home to be written in a WordPress post.

Recently, I’ve also been posting them in the writer’s prompt section of Reddit, but have found it less rewarding. The people on Reddit are of low caliber, and aren’t really as mature as they need to be to discuss writing. Often times, it seems like wasted effort.

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This is where I would pass the writing duties of the blog hop to two other bloggers. Guess what? I’m not going to do that. I don’t believe in chain posting. Good night, Seattle. We love you!

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Monday, May 19th, 2014

For the past few weeks, I’ve been performing a lot of functions outside of my comfort zone. That is to say, I’ve been practicing networking and public speaking. Some say I do it well, but I have my doubts and continue to feel like I’m reaching around in the dark. Being part of a voluntary organization is a can of worms in my mind. Today is easily further down the rabbit hole.

In addition to the newly-accepted group, I’ve volunteered to write messages to each member of the Ohio congress (some 120+) asking them to support a House bill that would protect our business from a crippling change in regulations. I’ve never considered myself a political campaign vehicle, nor acceptable in the eyes of state-government gentry. I wonder how many of these people have ever been mac ‘n’ cheese/Ramen noodle broke? Unwillingly unemployed for more than 12 months? Renovated their house themselves? Drove their car for 13 years? Sacrificed not having a family to survive?

My cheeks often flush when I think of the copious illusions given to me as a child, when all along “the cake was a lie.” It was, and it simply irritates me when people don’t understand this. If I ever make high society, it’ll be by fluke. I am not welcome there.

On a brighter note, my yard is slowly becoming more respectable with every bucket full of dirt I dump on it. It won’t be too long when I should be thinking of what trees to put in.

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Sunday, May 4th, 2014

Dear God, I’ve opened a Pandora’s box. That networking group has given me a lot of activities to keep me on my toes. On the down side, it has cut into my writing time. I’ve been here before though and have watched other people under the stress. Remember the metaphor of running a marathon versus sprinting? Yeah, that’s this.

I AM NOT GOING TO CALL MY WRITING A PASSION. That’s trite and it belongs in a job interview, not on my writer’s palette. If  I know only one thing of the writers I love, they don’t make overtures to their personal craft. They use it. They love it, but they don’t massage it. The passion is understood though their output. There’s no need to talk it up.

That last paragraph should read “I’m still writing.” This is the time to clutch on to my creativity like a balloon you don’t want to fly away. That’s especially so after last week’s story. It was a very difficult write, but I’m very proud of the result. It’s more soulful than my other works. It’s more alive. It’s that gritty realism very few people are comfortable acknowledging. My style is why I get suggestions to read Henry Miller, Charles Bukowski, and the like. I’ll get there, people.

May’s got me in a much better mood than three months ago. It’s 17° C out (62° F), and I can walk outside without wanting to erupt into profanity like Lewis Black. I’m getting some landscaping done mid-week and sooner or later I can put the screens back in the windows. I haven’t scored any big victories lately. So, the small ones will have to do.

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Dusk

A million troubles, that is all the world’s worth. Set in its revolving loop, it swirls an elliptical hurly-burly of debilitating woe. What is this human to do? The boy of a nobody and man of no means, I am careening through the bumpers and flippers of existence. There is no defense I could raise against such a foregone conclusion. My life, as it is now, is meaningless to such a hunk of space rock.  The only moving and shaking to be done is my calf as it balances itself on the lowest rung of the bar stool.

“Hey, Chris!” With my hand raised like an elementary school student, I wave the bartender down for a moment. A stern, set-faced man strides to my end of the bar and props his hands up on the bar. “What’s a drink for a man down on his luck?”

Scratching his stubble, he contemplates while watching a patrol officer yell down a soccer mom using the turn lane as a parking spot. “Probably whiskey,” he lifted his forehead in honest resolution. “That’s my drink of choice when the wife starts screaming about one thing or another.”

“All right, pour me a glass.” I’ve never been one for hard liquor, but after funeral, a fallout, and a fight with the repo man, I’m willing to try just about anything at this point.

A tumbler with oaken-brown fluid slid toward my hand. This was like the Wild West, right? An unfortunate cowboy drinking up liquid comfort. It felt comforting, warm and simple. The alcohol was still swaying from side to side, a maternal-like motion.  It burns my nose before I even drink. My next resolution is to stick with beer.

Chris laughs and wipes up the sputter all over the counter. My embarrassment adds a feather to the Mariner’s necklace. Life-in-death. That’s what this was: a walking nightmare.

With a shout, a fist fight erupts in the other corner of the bar. Two patrons are fed up with their misfortunes and take it out on each other. Profanity and alcohol are thrown in all directions before the stolid arms of order chuck them into the street like a wrapper or peel. No one would consider them otherwise.

This is too much. There is no enjoyment here from my last sound decision of the day. Crumpled presidents slide across the bar top and I head for a walk in the afternoon. Going home would be the end of me. My exercise is a testament to life and existence. I would let the Earth know I live and breathe as flesh and blood for their own eyes to discover.

Wooden feet on concrete clap out a melody for the tone deaf. People careening into disaster weave a chaos-laden path around me: road rage, pugilism, dereliction… the subjects of a raw life on public display. What good was there to be found roasting in the sweat of a cement convection?

On the stoop of a project house sits a weathered musician. Time has bleached his hair cotton white while his skin hold the marks of age as if it were keeping score. Hacking out 12-bar blues, his head blocks out the rest of the street. Barring other people’s problems, his steady strums create a reply. That was his answer to the madness around him, an old man pushing back the insanity by creating beauty. The tune lingers long enough for the sane to catch.

A new home is found for my last dollar in the guitar case of the old man, and I sit listening to the rest of his resistance. His enchantment with his craft made for little acknowledgement of my presence, but that is of no consequence. My admiration for the old man and his guitar would only describe a small portion of my attitude. He was troubled; we all are, but he avoided the destruction. Creation in misery is a pacifist protest against human nature.

As the sun makes a silhouette of his figure, I resolve to be that man and his guitar. I need to find my guitar, whatever that may be. There are too many troubles in this world for me to shoulder. I, like him, won’t admit those problems into my life. I, too, shall play ceaselessly into the impending night.

© 2014 by Corvidae in the Fields, all rights reserved

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Saturday, March 22nd, 2014

It’s nine o’clock on a Saturday. Well, it’ll be later than that when you read this post. I seem to have ground a little too hard on the last story and find myself in a fog today. Certainly things like the laundry got done, but nothing creative. I feel like a lout when that happens. To be in the flow of writing is such a wonderful experience. It’s direction in an otherwise listless existence. There’s even a writer’s prompt I’m halfway interest in. It seems as though I’ve not the energy to answer it right yet.

I love Saturday night. It’s a night I like to be out of the house. Unfortunately, I’m trying to figure out if it’s worth spending the money to sit at a bar and pay $5.00 plus tip for a Fat Tire. Now before I hear “that’s cheaper than (location)” I’ll remind you they pay us less in the Fields. It’s a wash. I suppose I could hit the $2.00 Bud Light specials… no, I’ll go without before I go Bud Light.

The additional work is still in the searching phase. It seems if I don’t have a Commercial Driver’s License (re: trucking) or manufacturing experience, I’m out of luck right now. There is an ad for an exotic dancer. I’m sure they’re talking about females. Even if they weren’t, I’m not exactly dancing material. I even hate doing the hokey pokey.

One thing that cutting back has helped me with is cooking at home. Granted most people would get tired of baked chicken, but its time delay lets me do other things around the house. Normally, I’m the type to focus on what I’m doing with little distraction but manual work’s always multitasking. Funny how that works.

My mind’s getting to me. Where did I put my car keys?

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Friday, March 14th, 2014

These past few days have been very reflective, and not much has been said on here. I know I excitedly discussed the options I had over the last weekend, but Sunday brought a certain withdrawal of such claims. There is a lot to be said about The Jungle by Upton Sinclair, and I’m not entirely sure it could be done justice with a blog post. To say that Americans are in a better position financially now than 100 years ago is truthful. A person of my station at that time would not be able to afford a house or possessions without the use of graft or other crime. On the flip side of the coin, there has been a deep sacrifice in family to procure such things today. Sacrifice. Something tossed about these days, as if it were a foreign war. As it stands right now, I am staring down the barrel of acquiring a second job. It’s nothing new for a guy like me, as I have been there before, but it does make me wonder if others aren’t fully recognizing the damage done to this country. This is the point in my life that I fully understand the honest man isn’t the common man. The honest man is the uncommon man, which is only paid lip service by those who “know better.”

Naïve? Yes. I will not argue the naïveté of such. What should it matter, at this point, to anyone anyway? Being frank is a part of who I am. Should anyone hold it against me that I try to make it work? It was that hope which made this all naïve.

There are brighter notes to this, and I’m willing to move on to them. Tuesday night brought me an acquaintance for a chat. He learnt I wrote, and was very enthusiastic about the idea. He’s a potter, painter, and teacher. In the middle of discussing motivation and inspiration, he recommended the documentary PressPausePlay. Having a deep respect for Eliseo, I watched it the following afternoon piecemeal between projects. They key for this particular movie is to take it all in without expressing an opinion until afterward. It touches on many aspects of what the artist has to grapple today.

My take had multiple thoughts, but initially there was only one. It takes time for me to sit and think for the rest to come to light. Regardless, I wrote a note to myself which eventually found its way to my home office wall. It reads:

Nate,

You cannot spend your life worrying about the ends. The only true end is death. It’s the process of making [creating] that means more than death.”

I found something personally useful this week,  and with a bit of spirit, I won’t forget it.

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