V – Vexfest: Different Stereotype (NaPoWriMo #26)

I sort of got the idea for this from another A to Z blogger, Sandra of What Sandra Thinks, specifically her Bitchfest 2017, where she adds “special touches of sarcasm, darkness and foul language.” Since I find her humor refreshing, I decided to take a similar, but more serious, path.

Vexations create a state of being annoyed or frustrated. I confess that during my life I’ve been guilty of many of the things I find vexing. My greatest frustration may be my own human condition. We have many words devoted to being pissed off. I am not the only one.

***

Vexatious Me
by Bill Reynolds

With all the natural evil that be,
I am most troubled by
The moral evils that I see
Placed peeps on peeps. I’m vexed and…

Affronted by unfair stereotyping,
Aggravated by sense of entitlement,
Angered by any amount of animal abuse.
Annoyed by the foolishness of youth,
Bugged by too much welfare abuse,
Bent out of shape by all the bullies,
Disgruntled by job discriminations.
Displeased with wasting time, including mine.
Embittered by lost love.

Enraged by abuse toward women.
Exasperated by flawed governance.

Frustrated by incompetence, especially mine,
Furious over child abuse, anywhere, any time.

Indignant over unjust justice.
Infuriated by big black lies, also
Irked by little white ones.

Irritated by misunderstandings and
Miffed by gossip for fun and pleasure.
Offended by those too sensitive,
Outraged by starving children.
Peeved by human weaknesses, yet
Piqued by those better than I.
Pissed off when treated unfairly, and

Riled by my own pride.

Worried that nothing will change.

***

I failed to mention other drivers (texters, Beemer drivers, and Mercedes too), the wealthy, other people’s kids and dogs, and the folks who work at the driving license places in virtually every state. Also, virtually anyone who disagrees with me about nearly anything at all. And then there are people who are more vexatious than I.

Relax and go with the flow. We’re only human,
but let’s look both ways to enjoy the view.
Mind the gaps my friends, lest you get too twisted.

 

T – Tercet: In Real Time (NoPoWriMo #24)

The tercet is a poetic stanza of three lines with a rhyme. While there is no specific rhyme scheme necessary and some even venture into free verse, I prefer to not to dig in unplowed turf. However, I did play with this and came up with rhyming lines one and two in each stanza, and using mid and end line rhymes in line three: aab2, bbc2, etc.

***

In Real Time
By Bill Reynolds

Not to be seen, heard, or specifically smelt.
We know it’s there, cuz experiences felt,
No gods can stop it, no power to quit.

Some sew it wisely, while others just wait.
The outcome’s the same, we share the same fate.
Fight back as we may; that is only delay.

Wind we can feel, the rain we may taste.
But the passage of time, we have little to waste.
Let’s consider the past; make choices that last.

Perpetually running, it passes in silence;
Everything changes, nothing is timeless.
Reality speaks loudly, but time passes proudly.

***

Thinking of time, be looking both ways.
While minding the gaps, watch only today’s.

Not the Same Kennedy

Do you mentor?

Do you mentor?

Few of us are born with an inaccurately low self-esteem, but the potential is there for disordered self-image. I may have inherited my mother’s negative opinion of personal abilities (hers and mine), but the passing of the flaw was socio-cultural, not biological. How I got that way is unimportant. What is important is that while humility may be a good thing, too often people miss much in life because they found their way to the “I’m not good enough, I can’t, I am too scared, or nobody loves me” quagmire.

Jack was my teenage friend, and the first to motivate my turnaround from I cannot, to I can. I’ve met others who helped me see my greater potential to achieve. They always came into my life at the right time. My post on synchronicity tackled the phenomenon. Some are still involved in my life, and some inspirational souls have recently landed in my patch of life.

When I first met Hilton M. Kennedy he was a Master Sergeant in the US Air Force, and he would soon be my boss and direct supervisor. The man I eventually called Ken, but many called Mac, had olive colored skin, lots of jet black hair, was several inches shorter than I, and smoked too many Salem cigarettes. I don’t know if Ken was a hyper-active child, but he was one for the most effervescent men I had met. Ten years my senior, Ken reeked enthusiasm. Other than being married, where we worked, and the Air Force, we had little in common, at first.

Ken’s personality included talking fast, a trait one seldom finds in a Louisiana native. I enjoyed our many chats where he made me believe that he was interested in me, and that I would have a successful future. Many of those discussions were accompanied by measured amounts of fine liquor. Living in Ankara, Turkey, ensured financial advantages for Americans in the late sixties. Of course, fine liquor required equally fine cigars.

Do what?

Do what?

I began to see good changes in myself. I was becoming more confident. My self-opinion and hopes began to unfold from whatever dark recess of my mind they were held captive. I attribute any success and goodness in my life to many people, some from my past and some in my life today, some from almost 50 years ago. Hilton Kennedy was the right guru at the right time in my life.

We became personal friends and our families got close as he kept tabs on my career following the end of my enlistment and his eventual retirement. We went to visit him, and he and his wife visited our home. Eventually, our relationship was more friendship and less his being my mentor and advisor. One of the last times I saw him, my wife and I were guests of he and his wife in Rome, New York. He played the harmonica and I thought all was well. But it was not to be.

To remember a friend

To remember a friend

In the late eighties, I learned that my friend and mentor had been diagnosed with Huntington’s Disease, a dreadful genetic illness with no cure. The mental  and physical degradation was disastrous for someone who was such a fast-paced, high-stepper in life.

It was horrible. I didn’t know what to do, what to think, or how to feel. While I felt bad for him and his family, I regretted the worlds loss of one of the good ones. Fortunately, the regressive disease was stopped when Ken died of a heart attack at the age of 55. I faced the loss feeling that any suffering by Ken and his family was aborted.

Ken has been gone for over 25 years. I remember, and I’m grateful for that man being in my life and the difference he made in me simply by believing in me, showing his faith in me, and his eventual friendship.

Look both ways every day.
You may be the long remembered difference is someone’s life.
But, mind the gaps.

Nano Rebel – Dream On

2016 Nano ends at midnight next Wednesday. I’m passing 48 of the 50K goal today, so I’ll meet the challenge this weekend. However, as anyone who writes knows, there is much more for me to do.

musing2

For the past four weeks, my life has been like this: up between 5 and 8 AM, plan to write, but read the news, read and answer emails, look at my memoir and plan some more. But I only write a little. Look at Facebook and write some snarky comments there, read some blogs, go for a walk while listening to music for about an hour; return, eat, stretch, talk to wife, and finally begin to write.

Following an hour of writing; take a break, eat more, get coffee, then back to writing. After pushing out about a thousand words, take a long break and do more useful and constructive things like doing dishes, replacing light bulbs, talking to neighbors, and reading. I write more in the late afternoon and evening with interruptions for football, NCIS, or Blue Bloods. It seems to have worked because I’ve averaged almost 2,000 words each day.

musing1But this memoir – the thinking, remembering, musing, pulling out old photos, doing ancestry research, looking for old friends and finding some, but reading obits of others — it’s so different because it is about me and people who’ve affected my life. Learning and writing about myself every day is interesting for a guy who disliked writing about himself.

Writing fewer words on this blog so you can listen to the song and see the lyrics that say it for me: Dream On, by Aerosmith.

 

Indeed:

Half my life
Is books, written pages
Live and learn from fools and
From sages
You know it’s true, oh
All these feelings come back to you….

musing3“Sing with me, sing for the years, sing for the tears.”

We dream on, love on, live on;
but look both ways and mind the gaps.

 

Nano Rebel – The Big Picture

My Analogy

art-memoir-analogy3Let’s make a pencil drawing.

As we create this drawing, our personal art, we move the pencil across the page. As it leaves lines and other marks on the page, let’s say those marks are in the past – our past. We are creating the art, but we drew the lines and made the marks, past tense.

We can see the pencil point. The tip is touching on the page. We may look directly at it, or not. That small point of contact with the paper represents our present time — now. It’s in that brief instant of time where we live. We may look at the past marks, or we may focus on the pencil on the page. We may move it in any direction, going fast or slow, applying firm of soft pressure. We may even lift the pencil from the page and move it to a different location.

art-memoir-analogy1

As we move the pencil, the point joins with other lines on the page. Our present reaches into our past. As our vision unfolds, we make plans for where the pencil will go next, how we’ll maneuver it, how we apply pressure to it, how we will lift it off, and return it to, the page. As our drawing takes form, the page fills with marks and lines.

The blank part of the page is the future. We think about and plan our next moves, or we allow our hand to be guided by external forces, moving us into our personal future.

We keep looking to see the entirety of the drawing. We consider the past lines in light of our future plans. We make decisions to move lines in the present to be tangent with, or to intersect lines of the past. Thus, we create a new future that mingles with, and eventually becomes, our past.

We erase. We change it. We keep looking at our whole life as art. As we move in closer and back away to change our perspective, we begin to see the big picture of our life.

art-memoir-analogy2As we draw, we feel things: love, anger, spiritual things, and the passions of life. As we experience our feelings, our work of art changes. Those emotions travel to our hands to control the pencil that is drawing our life.

We learn as we draw. What worked? What didn’t? Where did we succeed and what were our failures?

As we fill the page with marks and lines, there are more lines and less white space. We are running out of places to make our marks. We don’t know how many more lines and marks that we can put on the page.

Our drawing, our art, our life. It’s on the page, or is it?

Mind the gap.

art-memoir-analogy4With 10 days of Nano remaining, I’m rolling along with my memoir. Finding memories and searching for lost feelings. It has helped me to keep writing in a searchable chronological order, so that as I recall things I want to add; I can find the right place to write (draw?) those memories.

Now, with over 34,000 words, I can tell that I may have to run this stuff past some involved eyes before I consider asking anyone to read it for feedback. Along with trying to write over 1,500 words a day, I’m reading Writing is My Drink, by Theo Pauline Nestor, and Your Life as Story by Tristine Rainer.

Have you ever tried to write your life story as a fairy tale? I have. Try it sometime.

art-memoir-analogy-5“One should either be a work of art, or wear a work of art.” ~ Oscar Wilde

To see your life story, look both ways.

NaNo Rebel – One Week Done

Telling my story

Telling my story

In the first five days of NaNoWriMo, I’ve written 11,000 words toward the goal of 50,000 before midnight of November 30th. Since my personal goal was 2K words a day, I’m ahead. I have picked up on several things about my writing.

  • I am not isolated. My wife comes and talks to me routinely, and I go talk to her. I have vacuumed the house, gone to meetings, and done shopping. I answer phone calls (not doing surveys or talking to telemarketers, and I voted early), and I go for walks.
  • I have time available to write. Being retired, I could write all day and night. But I can take time for a football game, and maybe some NCIS or Blue Bloods. I read about what I am supposed to be doing: writing memoir. I talk to people, often about things having nothing to do with writing.
  • I think my weakest writing skill is the art, the creative parts, the telling of the story. I blame my experience with technical writing for part of that. But for this memoir, I continue to work on my skills to show and tell from my POV at the time. Can I be both protagonist and antagonist?
  • If I read a sentence that I wrote last week, I will change it. It will be better, but the challenge is to write, not to re-write and edit. This slows me down, but it looks like I can semi-comfortably write a maximum of about 3-thousand words a day. I did 2,800 twice last week.
  • I made an outline, a spreadsheet, and a memory list. The list has turned out to be the most valuable. I never look at the outline or spreadsheet. My only problem with the memory list is that I write in chronological order and the list random.

img_0833-1

  • Here are examples from my list:
    1. Working to pull out coal stove and put in gas hot water heater and gas stove for cooking.
    2. Looking up at Dad realizing I was looking at a drunk man who didn’t care. I had eerie feeling that he resented me. I was not seeing my father.
    3. Helen Hxxxxn (Whitey) BB gun. Tomatoes.
    4. Peggy Rxxb and the Rxxb family.
    5. Carol Mxxar and Joe Mxxxxen
    6. Dog named Rusty and my treatment of the dog
    7. Age 5 birthday party
    8. Danny
    9. Raised by both bio parents…first in fam….Linda was second, but hers divorced (he left) right after Linda graduated high school
    10. Mom’s relationship with my half-bro, Danny, and my view of it.
Write. Just write you must.

Write. Just write you must.

I will be writing this memoir for a long time to come. I’ll win the Nano challenge and complete this memoir, but not anywhere near at the same time.

I miss writing this blog, but I choose not to do both.

If you ever consider writing memoir, I suggest it. For me, it’s not about the book, it’s about me. I still have a lot to write and things to decide. Do I want to write about something or make it available for others to read? Those dark “things” about me? I work at keeping the words and stories on my intended spiritual track, but in my mind, everything relates – particularly during my formative years.

The following excerpts from my memoir are from two more dramatic events, both relate to a nun who taught me. Context is that I had just learned that the same nun who taught 7th grade will be teaching 8th next year, then we jump to what I was worried about.

Blues Brothers movie, my fav part

Blues Brothers movie, my fav part

….“Mom, Coughlin is 7 to 12th. Can I go to 8th grade there? I’ll go next year anyway.”

“Now, Billy-boy. Why wud ya? Jist graduate St. John’s. After I see ya graduate, God can take me. It’ll never happen again.”

“I’ll graduate Coughlin, Mom.”

8th grade was worse than 7th. Even Father Burns was afraid of Sister Mary Siena, and for good reason. She was the tyrant of the school.

Gerry Dxxxxe sat behind me. As I was turned around explaining something of extreme importance to Gerry I heard, “Mister Rxxxxs, what is the answer?”

“The answer to what, Sister?”

“Young man, you better know the answer to the question I just asked the class.”

After I suggested that she asked one of them, the anger-crazed dark shadow in black habit grabbed her instrument of torture and death. As she stormed down the aisle heading at me, in her hand was the yard long wooden pointer. It was round, about the circumference of my thumb. She yelled for me to standup and turn around.

As it turns out, blows to the flesh behind the knees with such a pointer are not soon forgotten….

At times, how I saw it.

At times, how I saw it.

Life is interesting,
look both ways and mind the gaps.

Guest Blogger (Frat Friday)

My guest blogger today is my ten year old grandson, Christian. He recently won a writing award at school and I thought he and I could collaborate on today’s Frat Friday. Christian wrote this.

What happens when you are one inch tall?

This morning, I woke up and I was one inch tall. I looked down and said, “That’s a far drop to the floor.” So, I jumped and landed on my night stand. Then I climbed down the wire that was connected to my lamp. I got on the floor. “Finally,” I gasped. I slid through the little crack under the door. But, I forgot about something.

Slightly open door, light shining through crack

Slightly open door, light shining through crack

I eventually managed to get out of my room. Then, I saw something. It was asleep. It was fuzzy, and it had big white teeth like a shark.

Christian's story1

It was my cat. I was terrified that I would end up in the creature’s slimy stomach.

Christian's story4So I snuck like a Ninja, undetected by the dozing, fat, fuzzy feline. Then, my stomach rumbled because I was hungry. Cats have very sensitive hearing. She woke up and chased me. I quickly climbed some drawers to the stove.

Then, the fuzzy and dangerous varmint turned on the stove. And I had a nice game of ‘The Floor is Lava.’

Christian's story3

Finally, I got off the stove and jumped into the cereal box. The cat fled and dozed off again. I sat down and ate cereal in the box. Being one inch tall can be dangerous, but it can also be quite a fun adventure.