Thursday, December 5, 2013

I want to fall in love with a reader....

I want to fall in love with a reader... because there's very little else that is sexier than a megane with her nose buried in a book*, discovering worlds within her imagination and populating them with her own versions of someone else's characters.

When two minds, author and reader, meet through a story, the result is something unique... something that cannot be explained or relayed except through the most general of terms, no matter how much you try and compare, no matter how many attempts are made to share that certain special feeling.

To me, that's wondrous... and watching it happen in real time is like watching the Big Bang play out from a front row seat.

I want to fall in love with a reader... because I have this gigantic desire to share my own worlds, spreading the joy of El Hazard or magical Chi-town or The Twelve Kingdoms or Randland or Fabletown.

In my library sit hundreds upon hundreds of volumes of manga and maybe half again that number in novels and comics. Every day, I dive into these precious worlds and revisit old haunts and familiar faces, finding great joy and adventure as I go. It is this that I wish to gift to a lover and watch as she finds the similar, but slightly different, places and people in all of those worlds.

I want to fall in love with a reader... because I know that other readers know what it is to empathize with both hero and villain, to love and hate, honor and betray. It is a reader who experiences both the breadth of human experience and the potential of what could be, all from words strung together on a page.

Being with a reader means being with someone who can take all that I have and all that I could be and appreciate both the beauty and fragility of both our existences and know that I will hold her as dear as I do myself... and vice versa.

I want to fall in love with a reader... because there is nothing more intimate than being a writer and showing the inner workings of your mind to the person you wish to be closest with.

There is this dream I have where we're sitting together, this conceptual Reader-Woman and I, her giggling and gasping at my latest work while I'm typing away at another, distractedly, wondering what part she's gotten to and what turn of phrase is making her react so. I want to watch her flush at the naughty parts and cry at the emotive ones. I want to lean over and kiss her when she finally sets it down with a smile and I want to make love surrounded by manuscripts.

I want to fall in love with a reader... because creativity is my passion and to be able to complement my lover's passion with my own is the essence of what it means to be compatible.

I want to fall in love with a reader... great spirits and muses help me make it so.

* - Apologies to the friends I have who actually ARE megane with their noses often buried in books. This doesn't mean I wanna sex you up. I just wish I had someone of my very own who was the same.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Occasionally, television makes me cry...

I was watching an episode of Castle today.

It's a cheesy procedural that relies heavily on the chemistry and wit of its leads, particularly the main character, Rick Castle. Rick, played by geek icon Nathan Fillion of Firefly fame, is an author and, in this particular episode, he confesses something to his lover about an inciting incident in his past... the thing that made him want to become a writer in the first place.

You see, as a child, Rick was forced to buy a term paper and pass it off as his own in order to stay in school. It was a social necessity for him to cheat, but it went beyond just the status quo of staying in his private boarding school. The tainted piece of text was lauded by the teacher and read, out loud, in front of the entire class, garnering the young Rick heaps of praise both from his betters and his peers.

The older, mature Rick confesses this to his lover and he tells her that the guilt associated with that unearned praise drove him to become the successful, honest writer (albeit a fictional one in a scripted police procedural) that he is today.

Hearing this revealing backstory is what brought me to silent tears... it does this because the story echoed my own experience.

When I was in elementary and early middle school... well, let's just say that I wasn't having the greatest time being an outcast among outcasts, a nerdy white kid with temper problems relegated to a special education class in the Atlanta Public School system. I was picked on plenty for being a smart-mouthed, cracker SPED-kid.

At some point, one of my school assignments was a creative writing piece and I, either not knowing any better or not caring at the time, stole someone else's fiction.

If memory serves, it was an Encyclopedia Brown mystery... something about a Civil War relic and, ironically, proving it was a fake because the provenance called a battlefield by it's post-war Yankee name instead of it's mid-war Confederate name.

The rewritten story made everyone happy. Look at him, they said, he'll be a writer.

The worst of it was when my mother used it as a point of pride to friends and family. She was just so impressed and happy and smiled when she told the story of just how smart her troubled son was when it came to the written word.

I was always disappointing my family at that age... to know that one of the few things I did that made them happy was a fraud, killed me.

As well it should've, I guess... and it still gnaws away at me.

I don't remember what grade I got and it was never featured in any school journal or anything, thankfully, but it was a defining moment in my childhood that taught me two very important things: the immorality of plagiarism and the desire for true recognition.

Now, granted, twenty years have passed and I'm not a handsome, massively successful author living in a New York penthouse and sleeping with a beautiful, intelligent homicide detective, but still... every day I get up and write something.

Maybe it's just what I think is an artful comment on a discussion board, or another blog post or movie review for the site, or maybe I actually get up the gusto to create something new and work on a short story, a script, or one of the novels, but it's something.

And seeing a similar remembrance on a show I enjoy from a character I respect and want to emulate... well, it brought me to tears.

Friday, February 8, 2013

How Nancy Drew Changed My Life.

Alright, this is going to sound really cheesy, but... when I was around 8 or 9, I was big into Hardy Boys. I occasionally read a Nancy Drew or two because the books looked similar, but with a girl lead, and that didn't bother me TOO much, but I just didn't connect with her and her problems (and well, why would I? it wasn't written for me).

At some point, I started reading their team-up novels... and began noticing the romantic tension between Frank and Nancy.

Now for a bit of context... The Hardy Boys were the first non-picture books that I began reading at around age six or so. I was a fast learner and, while I could generally follow along, it was basically just an exercise. I never really GOT what I was reading until I started to reason (it wasn't until I was ten and reading Tom Clancy that plot, politics, etc., began to "click"... and even then, I didn't get EVERYTHING yet as I didn't have the knowledge base)..

Even so, I always identified with Frank because he was the smart one, the rational one.

For a kid who got picked on a lot for being a nerd, it was a good match (I even dressed up like him for my elementary school's Halloween Costume Contest... no surprise, I did NOT make it past the first round looking like Ralphie from A Christmas Story).

Back to the Hardy/Drew team-ups... while I didn't have a biological need for romance, through reading and film and the like I'd developed a social need to "find love." You know the story, right? Chasing the girl you like around the jungle gym, even though you don't know why (and certainly didn't have a tingle down south, yet)?

Cooties? Never bothered me. Girls never liking me back? Traumatic.

When I started reading those team-ups and really dialed in on the Frank/Nancy angle, I knew... I just KNEW... that someone like her was what I needed... an EQUAL. A PARTNER. Not just someone who was there, not just a convenience because they were cute or cool or available... but someone whom I could love and support and could do the same for me. Someone on the same footing.

Weird thoughts for a kid well before their majority.

So... fast forward to today and I can't tell if it's helped me or not. I've had a few short relationships that broke down because they didn't meet my standard (or what I thought was my standard) of finding a PARTNER.

Maybe I'm broken... maybe I took the right lesson but didn't learn the other ones about getting to said partner... but I can safely say, a single scene in a Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys novel completely changed my world view about what I wanted in life.

Also... I'll never vacation at a ski resort because of said scene, either.

P.S. - Man, looking back at these covers? Fashion is WEIRD.

Monday, December 3, 2012

I've just written a novel... now what?

For those of you who may or may not know, I like to think I'm a writer.

No, really.

Sure, there are plenty of folks who are very supportive of this title. I'm sure several of them a reading this and scratching their heads trying to figure out why I have any doubt. Or, perhaps, they are shaking their heads and rolling their eyes with a smile on their faces acknowledging with mirth that once again I am falling into a period of self doubt where I do not ascribe much worth to my musings.

Personally, I have a lot of self doubt.

I ascribe it to that good old inferiority complex which I use to keep my SUPeriority complex in check. You'd think that was a joke, but no. I think I'm pretty awesome. I also think I suck horribly. The two tend to balance each other out. At least, I think they do.

Publicly, I think more of the inferiority tendencies tend to leak out in a more visible fashion. I tend to keep my hubris inside and hidden. I think it lets me keep my friendships. Not that I think I'm better than my friends, but when I turn my filter off, I'm afraid I'm going to piss them off no end.

Maybe that does them a disservice. Maybe that does ME a disservice.

Either way, it's how I cope.

So, back to the main point... I like to think I'm a writer.

As such, with the help of a few friends and comrades, I participated in this year's (2012) NaNoWriMo Challenge.

And won.

Not won, as in "I was Tobey Macguire in Wonderboys." Hopefully, in that equation, I'm somehow Michael Douglas' character. Not only because I want to plant my thumb firmly in John-Boy's craw, but also because I'm always looking for complicated love.

Or just any love, really.

Maybe I'm more like Robert Downey in that film?


Anyway, I've won NaNoWriMo... and that means that I've completed a 50k+ word first draft.

It feels like a monumental accomplishment, because I've never managed to finish a novel project in the decades I've been writing creatively. Don't let that "decades" bit fool you, as I've been writing drek from a very young age.

It also feels like utter filth, because every time I read it, I see nothing monumental or thought provoking about it. It's genre. It's simple. It's built to be sold, a dime novel.

These two facts make me immensely happy and horribly sad.

But I'm okay with that.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

I've folded a lot of bags the past few months...

...for the annual luminaria display they have at my workplace.

It's a repetitive, boring task that does take practice and dexterity to master and I've been doing it every year since the club I advise started.

Years and years it seems.

While it does get to me now and then when the count left to do is high and the stack seems implacably large, through its simple motions I feel a kind of relaxation. Granted any sense of peace I feel is probably stolen from the muscles in my neck where knots seem to form after several hours at it, it's still a good feeling.

The display is less than two weeks away at this point and I'm done with my/our allotment.Set-up begins the Monday following Thanksgiving, though I think I'll skip helping there until the day of, choosing to help straighten and light for the evening.

Hopefully I'll have some pictures to post in a few weeks.


It really is quite a sight. Especially if it there's a light snow in the air. We had to cancel one year do to a heavy-ish snow (well, heavy-ish for the high desert), but if the flakes start falling the hour of, it just magnifies the beauty of the display.

I wish we could leave them up the entirety of the season, but then where would anybody park?

Ah, well... my part is done for now. All there is to do is wait for time to roll by and concentrate on other things.

Hope to see you there~

The San Juan College Luminaria Display is an annual event that begins around sundown on the first Saturday in December. Visitors driving through must start at Butler Avenue, traveling on Sunrise. Walkers may park by the Quality Center for Business or CFDC by traveling south on College Boulevard from Pinon Hills.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

You know, I really love my Jeep... that weird way in which people get attached to their vehicles.

I occasionally see commercials that try and capitalize on that idiom most recently for station wagons. That particular bit of advertising used both warm and fuzzy nostalgia and the heat of first love remembered (for an actual lover, not necessarily the car).

It's funny because I'm currently searching for both a new car and a new love... and I'm feeling doubly put upon because, while I've been single and lonely for quite some time (it's been almost a decade since I've been in any sort of relationship beyond wishful thinking and a few one night stands), my '93 Jeep Cherokee has always been there for me when I needed her.

Until now, I guess....

Sure, if I had the money, I'd love to give her a huge refit... fix all that needs fixing, replace all that needs replacing. As it happens, unfortunately, I've only had enough to keep her limping along... and have now hit the breaking point.

I've done a serious disservice to something I say I love. I couldn't afford to take care of her properly and literally can't afford to keep her going. Already in debt for the last repair (only a month gone by) this new problem with her innards is way beyond my budget. I wish I had the courage go even deeper into the red to resurrect her, but I don't.

I'm a coward for not saving my Jeep. I feel it every day as I ride past her on my current mode of transportation. And I think said cowardice is a symptom of why I'm still missing out in other areas of my life. Perhaps it is a reflection of my personality flaws.

Perhaps I'm reaching... over-thinking it too much in my lack-of-funds/lack-of-car/lack-of-love depression?


...could be.

Either way, I miss my Jeep.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Everyone Should Do Karaoke

So last night was a bit of a weird night.

It was a special occasion because our core group of friends (along with a couple of newish folks) went to see the original Ghostbusters in theaters. It was only getting one showing a night, one night a week for the three weeks leading up to Halloween, and we chose this week to do it.

So it was a pretty groovy night already.

Then we went to our friendly neighborhood <name redacted> for some food and conversation. Little did we know that it was karaoke night. And a rather loud karaoke night at that.

It was packed.

Not that folks were there to sing, necessarily. Sure, there were one or two folks constantly going back and forth between their tables, taking turns crooning out pop-ish country and several Black Eyed Peas mainstays (really? Fergalicious, people?), but for the most part it seemed like folks were just doing their best to suffer through the night as they ate their dinners and performed their mating rituals (it was interesting to watch the young cholo lad in the table next to me steadily creep into his date's personal space).

Our table was certainly hostile to the crooners.

We're a pretty opinionated group. We know what we like and don't... and aren't afraid to tell each other so (don't worry, we didn't start any brawls). It didn't help that none of the music those regulars rotating on the mic were choosing were of the sort we ever enjoyed.

Someone had to do something, but I didn't want it to be me.

I started laying out hints and challenges.

"There's only one way to put a stop to it," I'd prompt the table. "You have to go up there and pick something decent." Notice my self-serving use of the word 'you.' I'd like to think of myself sometimes as the Jeff of the group, though I'm probably closer to a cross between Abed, Britta and Pierce. "You could totally do better than them."

This sort of baiting went on for a half an hour with no success. Not a single member of our crew wanted to get up and croon. I steadily worked my way down the table, challenging each and every member of our party to make the pain and constant parades of Shanias and Will.I.Ams cease and desist.

Then one of them had the inkling to call my bluff with one of their own.

"If you do it, I will."

That cinched it. I had an in. I could bow to the small pressure put on me and do what I had really been itching to do all night but hadn't had the courage to start under my own power due to my friends being so anti-Karaoke.

You see, I wanted to sing.

The table didn't quite erupt in disbelief as I walked the short distance across the bar to where the Karaoke DJs were camped out, but there was certainly a stir. I asked how much of a line there was (as we were finishing our dinner at that point) and snagged the rather thick song book the DJs had several copies of so folks could choose their tunes. Pacing back to the table, I sat back down and started going through songs.

There were several thousand of them and barely any sounded interesting. It took me close to half an hour to go through the entire list, skimming through countless R&B, Rap and Country tunes that I knew nary a word to. The pickings weren't entirely slim as there were quite a few songs that I knew, but didn't think I had the range to sing, but then I found it.

Bohemian Rhapsody.

It's a song everyone has sung at one point or another, whether they be in the shower, driving down the road or just headbanging along with Mike Meyers and Dana Carvey.

Maybe it was cliche, but I had my song.

As of this writing, I still don't know if my group thought I would actually go through with it until I pulled the book from the table with me and headed to the mic. The regulars were taking a break and I had my chance. No line, no wait... all I had to do was sing.

Then... disaster.

The mic wasn't on and I didn't know it. A DJ scrambled to get it on and I went a verse without any amplification over the din of folks talking and flirting. Still, I soldiered on.

The next several minutes were bliss. It wasn't orgasmic or anything, I just stared at the screen and did my best. No playing to the crowd or searching for eye contact, I just felt the music and tried my damnedest to do Freddie proud.

Sure, I missed a note or two... there are some high pitches that just haven't come to me since reaching my majority. And, yes, my voice was probably flat or sharp here and there. And, finally, there were a few cues I missed due to my nerves.

But it... was... bliss.

It wasn't until the song was done and I started inching away from the mic that I noticed that people were clapping and folks had actually enjoyed my rendition. The egoist in me said many were applauding, the shy introvert side of me tried to reign me back by whispering that it was only my friends and a few sparse others doing so out of politeness, but I still took a few half joking bows and nods of the head in acknowledgement.

By the time I got back the table, the jig was up. I had called their bluff, now it was my time to call theirs. Unfortunately, they disappointed me. Not a single member of my party had the courage to get up and join me. I was crestfallen, but tried to stay upbeat.

When the waitress came around to offer a bit of encouragement, I smiled and blushed (let's just say it's been a while since a cute gal complimented me for anything). I'd like to think her 500% tip was mostly due to her service (don't think I went too crazy, I'm a cheap date... all I had that night was water and an appetizer)... but I'd be lying to myself if part of the reason wasn't due to her post-Rhapsody comments.

As we paid our bills and headed out, one of the DJs tried to get me to come back up for more, to which I no doubt blushed a second time. The night was over, however, and I hadn't found a second song in all those thousands I had any confidence in. My friends and I moved back to my apartment and sat around talking for several more hours, a few moments of which I spent trying to gauge how I actually did by asking folks as subtly as possible.

I've slept on it now and still think I had quite a bit of fun. It really was bliss to be up there singing a song I love dearly, hoping to wash the taste of the pop and rap that folks had been doing earlier from my mind. Sure, there were a few disappointments. The missed notes, my friends chickening out... and no lovely young ladies raced across the bar (drunk or sober) to give me their numbers or buy me a drink... but, still, I had fun.

I think I'd do it again in a heartbeat... so long as I could find another song from those thousands of rejects.

And, in the end, really... everyone should do Karaoke.