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Blog, Journals, Lifebook

In Lieu of Flowers on Valentine’s Day

~ Lifebook #16 ~

Some guys go for the flowers and chocolates. Me, I get my wife, who is an avid reader, books on the major holidays. The reasons are obvious, but also because they last longer than candy and flowers. Healthier too. The permanence of books can represent the longevity and permanence of a relationship. Remember that, fellas. And you’re welcome ūüôā

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P.S. Of course you later follow it up with a nice dinner out and some fun and games at Dave and Busters ūüėČ

Blog, Journals, Lifebook

I Nearly Died a Year Ago Today

~ Lifebook #15 ~

Well, not quite (however, June 1st, 2013 was a different story), but, let’s just say I was lucky to survive this event relatively unscathed a year ago today.

So I was involved in a car wreck on my way home around 6:30 PM on February 2nd, 2016. The 2014 Kia Forte EX sedan I’d been riving at the time¬†was rear-ended by an elderly fella who seemed a bit out of it (onset of dementia, I suspect). I was at a stop light, perhaps 4 cars back when BAM! My world was jolted, jostled, rattled, rocked ‚Äď whatever synonym you want to use. I was unharmed, miraculously, I suppose because he obviously wasn‚Äôt going too fast, but unfortunately/fortunately the rear of the car took the brunt of the impact and the collision¬†forced my car into the SUV ahead of me, hardly even damaging it, yet crunching the frontend of my car pretty good. Long ordeal short, my car wound up being totaled (the estimator got up to $10k in damage and knew another $5k was likely and thus I got a call from¬†an¬†adjuster and was happy to‚Äôve had GAP insurance as well).

Here’s a look at that smashed backend.

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However, this unfortunate event eventually lead to the acquisition of the car I drive now, the black 2016 Honda Civic EX sedan on the right. Third new black car in a row. I wanted dark gray but they could not find me one with dark interior.

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I often complain about my having bad luck (it’s probably not as bad as I’d like to think), but this is a situation where bad luck had a direct through-line to good luck. Not the stuff you can quite capture in a bottle or duplicate, but I am grateful for the random occurrences when they arrive.

 

Blog, Journals, Lifebook

Lifebook 14 | Goodbye, Grandma

My maternal grandma, my last living biological grandparent, is gone. She died yesterday, January 12, 2017, in her sleep. It was a good life at nearly 95 years, despite all the hurdles she’d faced pretty much her entire life. Now she can rest in peaces, forever without worry.

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Blog, Journals, Lifebook

Lifebook 13 | 2016 X-Mas Gifts

A few notable X-Mas gifts I received this year.


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Drink coasters, presumably for my office/study/man cave! I have three desks in my house so I’ve got at least one on each.


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This hefty, heavy coffee table tome documents the making-of, while also commemorating the 30th anniversary of Master of Puppets, one of the most influential musical masterpieces by Metallica, which is one of the most influential and favorite bands of mine. Over 250 pages of rare photos, exclusively-written content and great testimonies of the legendary tour. Naturally also serves as a memento of late bassist Cliff Burton as this was his last recording.


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One of the best reviewed and most successful videogames of the year. I’m a crime fiction fiend, so it should be great fun. My plan is to dive into it on New Year’s Day.


I absolutely must get my remaining kids at home, ages 16.11 and 11.9, into the greatness of Star Wars. They’re highly resistant to things, despite my pass success rate of exposing them to things they like. As great as they are, Episodes IV – VI are ancient in their eyes, and as for the dreaded prequels, I refuse to fully acknowledge them, nor would I subject them to my children. I think the perfect gateway is The Force Awakens, given that it is contemporary at just a year old, and also features a female lead. Wish me luck on this arduous task.


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One of two Marvel Studios films I’ve yet to see (the other being The Incredible Hulk). The plan is not only to see all the movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but also to own them all. I have a few more to add to my shelf. Aside from the Hulk, the only other one I missed seeing in the theater was Thor: The Dark World, and I think my viewing experience suffered from not having seen it on the big screen. I hope that’s not the case for Ant-Man, as I’ve been told by a few friends that¬†it’s one of the favorites of the bunch.


Yes, it should be evident by now that I am a big, geeky kid!

I hope you all had a safe, warm, tasty, satisfying, fun and family-and-friends-filled holiday season.

Best,

-BLR image_for_christmas_gift_clip_art

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Blog, Journals, Lifebook

Lifebook 12 | The Irony of Being Laid Off

Pretty much immediately after the Election was “won” by a conman, the interest rates went to hell in the industry I worked in, which was mortgage. When that happens things inevitably¬†get tricky for financial institutions, especially for mortgage companies that have most of their business tied up in refinances rather than purchases. A couple of days after the Election, we received¬†the warning in a mass email of coming hard times. I started noticing a flurry of management meetings and furtive glances around the office by members of the management team. And then, just this past week, a more ominous warning via a mass email came down portending that the next 180 days were going to be severely rocky. In other words, cue the cut backs on staff.

The rest, as they say is history, meaning my employment.

And now I have unexpected free time on my hands due to this unintended vacation. Surely that means there’s more time to read and write, right?

Ha! No.

That’s more time to stress over the process of finding new, promising employment in one of the two slowest months in the job market, just prior to the holidays. Christmas and the New Year looms. Who can relax enough to enjoy the escapism of reading? Who can relax enough to be creative? I mean, I have plenty of creative projects to work on, hell, I was just in the middle of developing one with my buddy and artist Jack when this occurred. It’s all inside me, yet there’s this immense blockage that has imposed itself in the middle of the process, uninvited.

My muse has been usurped. As if I need ANY extra distractions, reasons or excuses for not writing fiction. Not since I’ve been a grown, responsible adult have I been able to dive into my fiction during high times of stress and calamity. In the early years as a New Adult, that was an option. When you’re in your 40’s things of non-reality seem to become frivolous diversions from the very real, dire task at hand.

So, yes, there’s cruel irony in my newfound extra time to myself. What I really want to do at this very moment is actually the last thing I am able to bring myself to do. I’m lucky to’ve ¬†squeezed out this little missive, all things considered.¬†

After all, there are resumes to update and polish, and job applications to complete. Certainly no fun in that task.

Wish me luck. I’ll need it.

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Blog, Book, Journals, Lifebook, Local Heroes

Lifebook 11 | Local Heroes . . . 5 Years Later

So this past week, November 22nd, to be precise, marked the five year anniversary of the publication of the first ever physical book to bear my byline on the cover (as editor/compiler). Local Heroes was a small anthology conceived, compiled and edited by yours truly and published by now defunct small press publisher Static Movement (with an assist by the also now defunct publisher Pill Hill Press and Amazon).

As the proud compiler of this anthology I somehow managed to select some exceptional work from my fellow scribes. As noted in the introduction, the sequencing of the pieces  (24 in total, including one by me) was a tough task not unlike that of a DJ deciding which songs to get the party jumping and keep it rocking throughout.

As stated in my introduction, I had to go with the three stories that emotionally impacted me the most as the lead-off trinity. “Virtual Memory” by Bob Eccles (known more for his horror stories), was a sci-fi story with so much heart (break) that I did become a little misty-eyed when reading it, which doesn’t really¬†happen when I’m reading short fiction. I believe that story went on to win an award of some kind (I just can’t remember which).

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The second piece, “Football and Faith” by Kevin Wallis, also pulled on my heartstrings a bit.

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And then “In the Eye of the Beholder” used a game of baseball to tell a very touching coming-of-age tale that gripped me immediately.

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There were several¬†military stories that tackled heroism in their own unique ways. Guardian angels also had a strong presence, as well as what can only be described as, well, ¬†‘local heroes’.¬†

For the theme of Local Heroes alone makes it an important book, so¬†I’m happy and proud to’ve helped bring it into the world, even if for only a small press print run.¬†

Today I think the theme of local heroes is a very timely one, all things considered. I’d love to do a sequel someday.