Wandering thoughts

Disclaimer: this post is about to go down a few rabbit holes that involve the endless stream of nonsense I live with running through my head like the news ticker at the bottom of most cable news networks. Shit’s about to get weird. Turn back, or forever regret pressing onward.

At the age of 30, which is apparently just old enough for people slightly younger than me to now make me feel older than I should feel just yet, I have come to terms with the fact that the inside of my head is a much louder place than I am always comfortable with it being. My inner monologue is often actually a rather argumentative dialogue, and as of late it has been particularly distracting. It likes to remind me that the plausibility of becoming an accomplished, published author isn’t very high. That I am disappointing people who should, under no circumstances, be disappointed. Sometimes it likes to tell me I’m fat, but also suggest I eat an entire bag of popcorn with extra butter and then chase it with some ice cream, because reasonably I should balance hot and cold foods. Continue reading

T’is the Season

NaNoWriMo is now well behind me, and I successfully won another year (it only cost me quite a few days of sleep-deprivation at work, but I’m honestly pleased with the bulk of the draft it yielded). Christmas is less than a week away, which would be concerning if I hadn’t managed to successfully behave like an adult and get shopping out of the way ahead of time for a change. As the end of the year rapidly approaches, whether I’m ready for it or not (and, honestly, despite how good 2017 has been on a personal level I am all about those sweet, sweet 2018 mid-term elections and several other, exciting things I’ll get to later).

This post is a sort-of recap of my year since the last posts I made, a loudly-stated-because-it’s-on-the-intenet commitment to getting off of my ass so as to work harder towards getting more things published (self-published as well), and a return to WordPress…because I renewed my damn domain name, so I may as well make use of it. (Fun story: I had to open a new tab and verify this, because I honestly could not remember if I did or not.) Onward!

Continue reading

The wonders of personal essays

Today was without a doubt, and beyond compare, one of the most productive days off I’ve had in a while. Exciting apartment maintenance stuff was handled bright and early. I mowed the lawn for the first time this year, which was taxing and horrible but necessary. There was a strong aroma of wild onions all around my yard, however, and it proved to be surprisingly enjoyable. By extension, the lawn mowing became that much more pleasant. After that, and without showering first (not a point of pride for me), I deposited my tax return and used a small portion of it to treat myself. The rest, of course, is planned out for responsible, adult things, but I wanted to have a little fun with some of it. A copy of Majora’s Mask for the 3DS, an Ultron bobblehead, and a copy of Lumberjanes later, I achieved that much.

Funny enough, all of those things are relevant to today’s topic. Continue reading

The great vacation book catch-up

I made a delicious dinner of pulled pork sandwiches, but now I’m ready to hibernate and I couldn’t think of a topic for tonight. I glanced up from my laptop screen for only a moment and discovered, duh, I have the answer right in front of me. I’m referring to the well-stocked, largely-neglected bookshelves in my living room.

My habit of buying new books before I finish reading all of the ones I have isn’t exactly a secret. It’s actually the opposite, given how often I’ve mentioned it on multiple occasions. However, I have a vacation coming up soon. Once I survive–no, dominate–these next six days of work I will have at least a little time to sit back, relax, and get some reading done. I plan on getting back to working on stories and my novel, too, so that’s rather important, but this is more about reading. I’ve got three books I’d like to finish before returning to work, and so here they are (and why I’m reading them out of my options) in no particular order. Continue reading

Stumbling ineffectively towards goals

Life as a writer and day-to-day life typically intersect in ways that could be considered overlapping, more or less. I add “more or less” to that sentiment because there are times when those two things feel like they exist instead in parallel dimensions. I’m offered glimpses of one or the other in fleeting moments, but the two lifestyles never quite line up in the ways I hope they would. Or in the ways my delusions wish they would. I’m fully aware that I’m only 27 years old, and that great things have been accomplished later in life than that, but I’m frustrated and so I’m bemoaning my–and a common enough–fate. Deal with it.

The novel-project better known as A Princess, A Lich, and Some Murders is at an unfortunate stalling point, as I have reached one of a small handful of segments of story that aren’t particularly fleshed out yet. This wouldn’t be so bad on its own, but the deeper regions of my brain feel like some sort of fictional waiting room where a number of very impatient characters are sitting around doing a whole lot of nothing while I try to resolve my combination of misplaced motivation and uncertain destinations. I’m looking at you, Tick and Tock from Joshua’s Nightmares. Only compounding upon this problem is that I have an editorial I haven’t even started yet (for shame, me) and a few short stories that keep poofing in and out of existence at odd intervals.

Not helping: this One Hundred Days of Blogging and the various other changes I’ve got going on (my tattoo not included; that was a great idea, damn it). And I keep piling on projects, which then don’t get proper attention until later. Whoops?

Mostly, when I get in moods like this one, I go from dwelling on how great it would be to write for a living–how it would be nice to do what I love as my career, and so on–to thinking it would be shocking if I could even manage to do this as part-time work. It’s not a cheerful place in my brain, to be sure, but it’s one I’ve come to terms with because that’s better than just failing to acknowledge it.

Alternatively, this and the chocolate donut I’m eating seemed to have gotten me where I need to be mentally to at least write my damn editorial, so that counts for something. Right?

My ideas, and their woefully high mortality rate

At any given time, there’s probably about a dozen too many ideas rattling around in the vast weirdness of my thoughts. This can make keeping track of everything a bit difficult, though I say this as someone who also owns a good number of notebooks that are far more devoid of any writing than they should be. As I mentioned earlier in the week, I’m now working on the first draft of yet another novel idea, which arrives and leaves the forefront of my thoughts at its leisure. There are Warpt Factor plotlines bouncing off of one another like they’re all locked up in a particularly potent bouncy castle. Many short stories. Posts for Screen Robot. You get the idea. 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.

Some misadventures in non-fiction

I’m going to just go ahead and say this week’s post will be delayed, because it evolved into something bigger than it should have.

Oh, and I worked twenty-three and a half hours between yesterday and today, and I’m also in the process of celebrating not dying or killing anybody by drinking half a bottle of wine.  Yes, you read that right.  Half a bottle.  No, this isn’t a regular thing.  In my defense, it’s Moscato, which I’m told is Italian for “liquid candy that produces great happiness” and not “wine you should be enjoying in moderation.”  So at least I have that going for me at this point in time.

Speaking of time, and not in the Doctor Who sense (well, maybe a little), tonight marks the fifteenth anniversary of the tornado that hit Mount Washington* (located in scenic Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where I have lived all my life in some capacity or another).  To commemorate that, I will share the story of how my grandmother nearly died in the previously mentioned tornado, and how my stepfather and I made the remarkably bad decision to try driving to the site of a major storm to pick up my grandma and great aunt.

My Grandma Betty was very fond of watching storms.  When she lived at her house in Mount Washington, she would sit out on her porch to enjoy them.  Later in life, when she had moved in with my mom, stepdad, sister, and me, she continued this tradition via the two skylights in her bedroom, an entire section of the house we had added on for her.  Today, fifteen years ago, my grandmother sat out on her porch with a paper plate loaded with Lay’s Classic Potato Chips.  And she watched.  Eventually, or so say some of her neighbors who had looked out, the chips started swirling around in a circle on the plate.  The winds were getting worse, and the rain was coming down quite heavily, so my grandmother made her way to the front door.  She pulled the screen door open, only to have it slammed shut by the gale force winds.  She tried a second time, only to be met with the same results.  Finally, I’m told, she braced herself between the screen door and the larger, heavier storm door, got it opened, and made her way inside.

The porch roof dipped, collapsing completely on the one side moments later.  I still get chills thinking about that now.  She retrieved my great aunt Renee and went down to the basement.

Meanwhile, I was kneeling on one of the living room couches, watching the pitch-dark clouds drift lazily across the sky.  I still remember how the streetlights were on and everything seemed so surreal, and that’s when my stepfather asked me if I wanted to go see if Grandma Betty (my mother’s mother; I suppose I could have clarified this point sooner, but I have now so that works as well) and Aunt Renee were okay.  I agreed, more than eager to have a visit with my grandmother.  And, of course, I thought I’d get to see a real tornado, up close and personal.  I was not a very bright child.

As my stepfather drove, the sky grew darker the closer we got to Mount Washington.  That didn’t deter us, though.  We were adventurers, braving the elements to rescue two little old ladies in distress.  What could possibly go wrong?  It took arriving at a police barricade for the right thoughts to click in the right way in our heads.  I remember looking to my stepdad and saying, “Maybe this wasn’t such a great idea.”

My favorite bit to tell, however, is this part.  We had a lovely above-ground swimming pool at my grandmother’s house.  I had a lot of great times in that pool, and also one time I jumped onto a raft that flipped over and nearly drowned my wild and crazy self.  The tornado picked up our entire cinder block garage, moved it about ten or so feet back, and deposited it onto the swimming pool.  Save for the garage door, though; to this day, nobody knows where the hell that ended up.

It’s weird to think back on all of this, especially since it still feels like a painful length of time too long since my grandmother (and great aunt) passed away.  On those nights I’m home and it’s storming, I make it a point to lay down on the floor in the back room.  No lights on.  Just the occasional flashes of lightning to illuminate the room and the sounds of the rain against the skylights mixed with the rumbles of thunder.

*As of when I started writing it, mind you.

What I’ve been up to (other than short stories)

I feel like this blog has been neglected in the sense I’ve only been going from short story to short story with less of my typical commentary, which sort of detracts from my overall misadventures in fiction being posted.  And that defeats the real purpose of this blog/web site/whatever, which is to broadcast my rampant narcissism across the internet.  Obviously.

So I’m still adjusting to my very-first full-time job at a place I won’t refer to by name so as to not, you know, get in trouble.  I’ll be honest, though; I love it.  It keeps me busy, and it’s a lot to get used to, but I’m already very happy with the way things are run.  I also have an amazing boss (who has an amazing boss as well, who I have talked to on a few occasions).  However, getting used to forty hour weeks after working sixteen hours one week, thirty-some another, and so on, is a bit taxing.  By a bit I mean a lot.

On top of all of this, I have lots going on that I’m not quite willing to reveal yet as it’s all still very much in the works.  Things I can say, at least: I’ve started keeping notes in my Hobbit Moleskine about my (Un)expected Journeys, and whether or not that ends up manifesting as Misadventures in Nonfiction or something will remain to be seen.  I also am now the proud owner of a Hyundai Sonata, courtesy of my parents’ tremendous generosity.  It also means more responsibility, which is something I was unaware I had so we’ll see how that goes.

I should like to point out I’m not dead, homeless, in some really horrible state, or anything like the previous, so I’m doing pretty damn well, all things considered.  I say that ignoring the way I worry myself to the point of health problems, of course, and those are all things I will never likely post about in great detail on here because reasons.

Lastly, I wish you all a happy Memorial Day, and offer up some serious digital high-fives and salutes for everyone who has ever fought on behalf of the US (or any other country, or for any cause no matter how big or small it may be perceived for that matter).  To see people exhibit such courage in any situation still renews what faith I have in the human condition, and that’s a hell of a feat in itself.