21 May 2017

Of Dads and Circuses

Apparently, today is the last day for the venerable Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. It’s doing its final performance tonight. I’m kinda sad and not sad that it’s ending. I always liked the circus when I was a kid (although I’ve always hated clowns) and have some good memories about circuses. I’ve never been a fan of mistreating animals, though.

Yesterday was the 13th anniversary of the death of my father so I want to share a circus memory involving him.

Almost 23 years ago (this coming July) I fell while trimming a tree and severely broke the end of the long bone of my right arm at the wrist. It was early in the morning of my father’s birthday and involved a trip to the emergency department, an elastic bandage (they didn’t cast it ‘cause I was going to need extensive surgery) and a few ibuprofen. Here’s the kicker: we had made these big plans to take my father to a fancy dinner and then downtown to see the circus that very night. He loved the circus and all he wanted for his birthday was tickets to the circus.

We went to dinner and went to the circus. About an hour into it, the ibuprofen wore off and I was in such pain. I didn’t even think to bring more. No one had any in their pockets or purses and I was dying. I finally had to excuse myself, leave the circus, miss the second half and suffer in the car in great pain. My father offered to leave to take me home and I told him I would be okeh. No way was I going to be responsible for him missing the circus!

That’s it. That’s the story. My dad had a fantastic time and then I had to have surgery. If you’re interested, you can read an old blog entry I did about that whole other part of the story here.

18 May 2017

You

Three years ago this month I wrote the following in frustrated response to another one of those young snot-nosed brats who went around killing people ‘cause he couldn’t get laid. I never published it; but rediscovered it today when perusing some of my old writing. Sadly, it’s even more relevant now than three years ago with even more people of privilege thinking their privileges are problems. 

You're twenty-two and still a virgin and you think that's a problem. You drive a BMW and have wealthy parents but can't get a date and you think that's a problem. You have been given everything in life you ever wanted, you've been coddled and pampered and spoiled yet you think you have a problem.

So, you think you'll solve your "problems" with knives and guns. You think you're a big man by shooting people you don't know, and running over people you never met. You think "exacting revenge" will make people appreciate you. Well, you're wrong. You're nothing but a petty little coward who, rather than taking his bat and ball and going home, ruins the lives of so many others with bullets and knives. As if that will help.

Life owes you nothing; if you want a better life, make your life better. Success will not be handed to you; you have to work for it. Money will not be handed to you; you have to earn it. Friends and lovers will not be there just because you want them; you have to work to be someone who others desire to have in their lives.

Instead of looking at others to change, change yourself. Make yourself someone who others want to be around. Make yourself someone who achieves success through hard work. Make yourself someone worthy of taking up the space your body occupies.

Because, when you compare your life to the lives of others who have far less, you will soon realize that these "problems" of yours are not problems at all: they are privileges you have but do not appreciate, they are opportunities to make the world better that you are squandering, they are little lights of hope and courage that you are not sharing with others. They are, in the end, the good in you that you're refusing to make visible.

14 April 2017

22

It’s been nearly two years since my last novel, but my newest one is now out! It’s called 22 and is a story unlike anything I’ve ever tried before. It has a more diverse cast of characters and follows the course a single gun takes as it makes its way across the country and touches many lives in the process.

The story begins with a young woman named Miranda. Miranda looks 22. So, she tells everyone she’s 22. The super of her apartment thinks she’s 22; the owner of the bakery across the street thinks she’s 22 -- and most importantly, the men she allows to pick her up on the beach think she’s 22. She uses her looks to great advantage: an afternoon of sex, perhaps a few dollars for rent, food, maybe a new dress or two. If the men are willing to pay for them, why shouldn’t she accept them?

Miranda’s life changes one morning as she’s walking back from the bakery. She’s taking donuts and coffee to the man she allowed to pick her up the previous afternoon when a young man with a gun tries to rob the bakery. There’s a scream and a gunshot.

Here, then, is an example of the “butterfly effect”: the theory that a single occurrence, no matter how small, can change the path of the universe forever.

22 charts the course of lives changed by a single occurrence: the addition of a gun in a world where guns are heavily regulated. Is it the answer one person is looking for? A way out? A way to make some extra money? A way to end the pain? Some lives change for the better, some for the worse, some end forever.

Of course, things don’t always work out the way we might expect. Actions have consequences. And some actions have unintended consequences. That certainly proves true for Miranda.

(See links in the "My Books" section to your right.)

01 April 2017

'twas a Mouse that Broke the Ice Queen

I like pulling April Fools jokes on people. One priceless example happened when I was working in a bank in Berkeley (CA) in the 1980s. We had an assistant manager who was cold as ice -- nothing was ever right, nothing ever good enough, and the fact I was gay sent her over the moon (and not in a good way).

In one conversation she mentioned how she hated mice (big surprise) so I conspired with other management members (who sat near her) to slip a fake mouse into her top desk drawer. Come the fateful day, we all waited as she sat down to her desk that morning, started to work, spoke on the telephone. I dropped all kinds of clues to the other management members so that she could hear: mouse droppings had been found in the break room, some scratching had been heard, etc.

But, she wouldn’t open her desk drawer. Finally, I asked to borrow a pencil from her. She opened her drawer, saw the fake mouse and shrieked and we yelled “April Fools!” She asked who was responsible and I told her it was me. Then came the payoff: she started laughing and laughing and laughing. Perhaps it was the first time anyone did anything fun to or with her (because of her horrible attitude).

Interesting to note: after that, she was still cold as ice and mean, but she did show me a slighter softer side.