In Full Swing in Spring (it seems)

Blog, Journals, Lifebook, Update

~ Lifebook #17 ~

Spring always brings turbulent weather and this year’s season of renewal has been no exception. A monsoon season in both April and May? C’mon, now, that’s going a bit overboard. May is usually my favorite month of the year because of a few reasons, such as it being a period of time (usually) beyond extreme weather, a time of moderate temperatures (usually), the flowers are in full bloom and the NBA Playoffs are happening. It’s arguable that May, along with October, is the most beautiful month of the year. I do like beautiful things.

This Spring brings things that seem to represent my getting back into the swing of things. To wit:

  • Started a new job recently, effectively returning me to the mortgage business. The new position comes with my highest salary yet. That’s kind of the idea as you progress through your working life, whether transitioning to a new industry or remaining in the same one. It’s rare that your cost of living decreases over time in this society, so continued growth in earnings is just what the accountant ordered. Now . . . if I could just get used to working 8-to-5, meaning having to go to bed no later than 1 AM . . .

  • Recently rekindled my burgeoning creative partnership with my old writer friend Jennifer Macaire. We’ve been kicking around the idea of co-writing a book or small series of books (likely a trilogy) the past two years and that’s still the plan. After presenting her with an idea for a different approach to a collaborative novel experiment, she has tasked me with the initial conception of our project, which, funnily, was the opposite of what I wanted to do. But I’m glad she did because I got started on it (tentative codename: Project Seven) right away that Friday and have conceived what I think could be a very interesting YA urban fantasy series. The brainstorming sessions I had last weekend also got my creative juices finally flowing on an older idea (codename: Project Arcana) that I’ve kicked around in my noggin probably since Moses reportedly parted the Red Sea. So it’s good to be back in a creative and productive state of mind and I can’t thank Jennifer “Sneezy J” Macaire enough for indulging and inspiring me to get the ball rolling.

  • The band has been about as active this year so far as we were in all of 2016.  A month or so ago we put the finishing touches on our initial 5-song EP (although we still need to mix it, master it and release it). There are rumblings of finally returning to the stage by this summer, but as I’ve learned in the 2.5 years of this band’s existence, I need to curb my expectations, if not my goals for it altogether. We’ve only played one show (in January 2016) and written eight songs in all that time. Yes, we are men in our 40s, all four of us married, three of us with kids and jobs, so naturally a band at this point in our lives is going to be a part-time venture. One would be foolish to think that what we did in our youth and 20-something years as musicians could ever be replicated now. The dedication of time, hell, the availability of time for guys not far from middle-age just isn’t there. It can’t be. And that’s a hard, inconvenient truth I had to come to grips with in 2016. For now I’m happy to ride the wave as it comes (and goes).

 

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In Lieu of Flowers on Valentine’s Day

Blog, Journals, Lifebook

~ 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 🙂

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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 😉

I Nearly Died a Year Ago Today

Blog, Journals, Lifebook

~ 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 – whatever synonym you want to use. I was unharmed, miraculously, I suppose because he obviously wasn’t 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’ve 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.

 

Lifebook 14 | Goodbye, Grandma

Blog, Journals, Lifebook

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.

Lifebook 13 | 2016 X-Mas Gifts

Blog, Journals, Lifebook

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

Lifebook 12 | The Irony of Being Laid Off

Blog, Journals, Lifebook

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.

Lifebook 11 | Local Heroes . . . 5 Years Later

Blog, Book, Journals, Lifebook, Local Heroes

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.