Life, the Adventure – Self-reflection

This post is something that’s been rattling around in my head for some time, but one that obviously hasn’t gotten proper attention until this point. Suffice it to say, some of the words have likely gotten lost or replaced. So it goes.

I have, in the past year or so, come to the following conclusion:

Simply put, life is an adventure. We are all equipped to some degree or another, ready to go forth and save our proverbial kingdoms by way of conquering goals, realizing (and, at times, rescuing) dreams, and slaying our own personal dragons and demons. Looking at anyone who has succeeded thoroughly and undeniably at their life’s quest, it seems like everything should be a linear series of steps forward. It’s also the easiest way to tinge your view with envy, fill your head with frustration, and make your heart ache for a place where you may not yet be – not out of personal failures, but because you simply haven’t arrived there yet.

When I think about life as an adventure, especially with regards to my writing, I find myself oftentimes discounting the steps back. The setbacks. The unexpected mishaps and misfortunes.

Life is an adventure, but hardly a linear one. The path may be blocked or broken, with long and circuitous detours waiting just out of sight. The weather will not always be fair, and the wind will not always be at your back. Sometimes – yes, sometimes – the dragons win and the demons get their time to gloat, but still I continue.

I have been ruminating on a lot lately. Some more personal than I’m willing to share here, and some that’s simply my want to become something with my writing while not making nearly enough time to actually complete my writing.

This is my reminder that the goalposts in the distance – the castle to rescue, the dragons to slay, the victories to be achieved – are all still very much in the distance, and the only way I will ever find my way there is if I stop letting my self-doubt, anger, and frustration stand as walls in my path.

Breathe. One foot, then the other, moving inexorably forward.

I can do this. I simply have to do this, if only for me.

Misadventures in accidentally creating my own brand

Or “If it walks like a self-congratulatory gesture, and talks like a self-congratulatory gesture, it might be one of my blog posts”.

Before I even delve into this post, I need to address the fact that this post started while I was watching So You Think You Can Dance. Needless to say, that time is well past and I have no idea how I got so easily distracted, but this is a very real problem with no probable solutions shy of me deleting all social media apps from my Surface. God damn it. Continue reading

Why misadventures in fiction?

Once upon a time, not particularly long ago in the bigger scheme of things, I started a WordPress blog named Phil’s Misadventures in Fiction. It happened because I had an idea for a story, which would eventually (still very tentatively) end up named Joshua’s Nightmares. In moments of pride, I would insist on calling it my web site and not my blog. I would post frequently, and then I would drop off of the planet because of other obligations. And then I would do absurd things like force myself to keep active while binge-writing a novel in under three months. I even shelled out some money so my WordPress could be listed as misadventuresinfiction.com (a fact that will never fail to make me smile for some reason).

Why misadventures, though? Why not adventures? Quests? Journeys, even? This is something I failed to consider, largely choosing misadventures because it felt right. It had that little bit of silly humor to it, and Misadventures in Fiction just sort of rolls off the tongue (or, perhaps, it awkwardly clunks off of the tongue). The title happened, it stuck, and I grew to love it as time marched along, as any creator often does (while spending much time in self-loathing for other things). Continue reading

More misadventures in non-fiction, self-reviving, and so on

I’m two weeks behind, technically, on my Short Story a Week project.  Again.  I say technically because I have the stories, and they’re pretty well fleshed out in terms of their ideas.  I just need to write them.

Worthy of noting at this point: I worked approximately 100 hours between last week and the week prior, and so I’m  still recovering a bit.

As for the misadventures in non-fiction?  This past Thursday, after my 2p.m. to 10p.m. shift, I stopped by my house and packed some things up, stopped by my place of work again to fuel up the car, and then I embarked on my very first major highway trip.  To put this into perspective, I have only driven on the highway twice before.  Once was on Black Friday, in 2012, as a cruel joke played on me by my driving instructor, who prefaced the outing by asking if I was feeling adventurous.  I was not, and did not appreciate where things where going at that point, but I clearly didn’t do too badly in the sense that I didn’t crash.  The second time I drove on the highway was a practice run, with my stepfather, and that went relatively well in the sense that most of the trip involved me driving well.  My initial merging onto the highway, however, was absolute shit and something I’m not particularly proud of.

The actual trip was quite enjoyable.  Traveling from western Pennsylvania to central-ish Pennyslvania involved a fair bit of mountains, and a lot of very nice landscapes.  If I weren’t more concerned with the destination, I may have taken time to stop, appreciate the scenery, and take pictures, but that’s still a possibility.

Driving home today to handle an eight hour shift at work, however, was far less exciting.

Stories will be arriving between Wednesday and Friday, only for the sake of making sure I do them justice, and I should be back on track for this upcoming Sunday.  So that’s a plus.

An excellent night for thunderstorms and adventure

Those in the know are aware I am still a fledgling driver, having only earned my license back in December of this past year (for the record: I’m twenty-five, and I’m still not ashamed I’d not gotten my license until that point).  After a terribly slow day at work, I’d made up my mind to go on an adventure to Barnes & Noble.  I call it an adventure because it’s a fair distance from my house, and I’d never actually driven there alone before (or at all, for that matter).

The adventure was a tremendous success, which can be accounted for by my spending about two hours meandering around Barnes & Noble, and I considered my adventure officially concluded with a slice of red velvet cheesecake to the sounds of this year’s first official thunderstorm.  I’d like to play up how I really searched for the just-right book to make this outing special, but, in reality, I spent an unreasonably long amount of time denying myself another Moleskine notebook.  Those of you in the know are presently, or should presently be, smirking at this dilemma, because I have a love affair with Moleskine notebooks that borders onto obsessive.  Incidentally, if any of the wonderful people at Moleskine happen to stumble upon this and think, “Hey, I’d like to further encourage Phil’s writing antics in the form of providing him with more of these amazing products*,” I wouldn’t protest at all.  Not even a little.

On a writerly note, I’ve decided to table “Joshua’s Nightmares” for a few days because I can’t look at it without feeling frustrated.  In its place, I’m busying myself with my latest addiction (as of, say, February or so): the Your Story Competition on the Writer’s Digest web site.  It’s a bimonthly competition, and they’re certainly worth the effort as it provides a chance to have your work featured on their site, and/or their magazine, both of which are seen by loads upon loads of people.

I’ve loved Writer’s Digest since my early days in Edinboro, when I would obtain copies from the English Department lounge (sorry, guys, that was me stealing those; I’m not actually sorry, though), so a natural extension is getting more into their contests and so on.  What I’d really love is to win one of those contests.  Or, you know, become an author featured among their prestigious pages.

One step at a time, I suppose.  For the sake of adventure!

* Moleskine notebooks ARE amazing.  Some day I may even think of something worthy of writing in my The Hobbit edition one.  The point is I just really love their notebooks.

Absinthe makes the heart grow fonder.

Yes, absinthe.  Yes, I realize how dreadful that pun happens to be.

I could go on about how I have been burdened with my crazy-neurotic fears of student loan debt, or how the effects of having adults use the word “gimme” on a regular basis slowly whittles away at my sanity (which, I suspect, looks like an old-timey whistle or something by now).

Never mind all of that, however, because this is a post about (at least, in part) absinthe.  The green fairy so many people have chased in the past all across Europe, this potent spirit has quite an air of mystery to it.  Maybe it’s the elaborate, ritualistic preparation of a proper absinthe drink; the slotted spoon, the sugar cube, and so on.  Or maybe it was the allure of a drink that caused hallucinations (I kid, of course; I see the world through some pretty magical filters without the aid of hallucinogenic substances, thank you very much).

Ultimately, it had to do with the drink’s association with artists, and their oh-so-quirky, unconventional ways.  And my tendency to give in to my personal whims.  To add perspective: I tried Jack Daniel’s because it was mentioned in Neil Gaiman’s “American Gods” as Mr. Wednesday’s drink of choice (Spoiler alert: going from no booze to straight Jack is, well, a great way to test the mettle of your tongue.  Mine still has a restraining order out against me since that.

Some very basic stats about absinthe before I continue:

  • The particular bottle I purchased was about $62 after tax, all things considered
  • It was 60% alcohol by volume (120 proof)
  • The green color is clearly visible through the bottle, but less noticeable once in a shot glass
  • You should be measuring the use of this spirit with a shot glass
  • Unless you really want to familiarize yourself with intense drunkenness
  • And possibly vomiting (nobody likes vomiting)

I procured a bottle of Vieux Carre absinthe (which, I must warn, is not the least expensive booze to purchase), and embarked on my own journey to chase the green fairy.  Things to keep in mind while reading include that I did not have a slotted spoon, so that eliminated the classic absinthe drinking options.  Google revealed a good number of mixed drinks featuring absinthe also happened to involve egg whites.  Bit of a deal-breaker, that.  Much Googling later, a drink called the Traffic Light was chosen.  It’s a simple mixed drink, and involves absinthe (of course), orange juice, and cranberry juice.  If mixed carefully, a layering effect produces a traffic light pattern.

If you mix it anything like I did, you’ll get a very vibrant pink concoction that smells quite strongly of licorice (thanks to the liquer’s anise content).  The drink itself had a pleasant, sweet taste to it, and left me feeling warm and thoughtful.  It also helped contribute to some really enjoyable live-tweeting of the Oscars.  Or, as others may have perceived it, being obnoxious in one-hundred-and-forty characters or less.

While it may not be the stuff of legend from Europe, I will say the green fairy’s possibly tamer (I hope not, because I fear a wilder version of this would only be suited for simulating intense schizophrenia) cousin has left a good impression on me.

Oh, and I’m not dead from the experience so I suppose I could chalk that up as a victory as well.