Portrait of a suburban dad

September 28, 2017

So I don’t know why, but I’ve felt this need to write about someone in particular lately. I keep seeing his face and thinking about all the things I can remember about the guy for several days now, so maybe writing what I know will get this out of my mind. That isn’t to say it’s been haunting my dreams or bugging me immensely, but maybe it’s just my creative juices churning to do something useful.

I’m 37 years old. I live in the suburbs. I frequently go on walks or runs and see many other men in their yards or driving by, sometimes young fathers, sometimes old timers. A lot of the old “dad” stereotypes are long in the past, but a lot of the time, I see someone that reminds me of him.

When I was five, in kindergarten, I made a new friend. His name was Brad, and his family was new to the little town we lived in. The actual classification was a village, a town under a certain population. It’s now a city, but seems just as small.

Anyway, they moved into a brand new house a few blocks from me. They had just come from Mansfield, and before that, Ashland. His parents and his brother (five years older than him) were all big sports fans, specifically, football.

The man looked very similar to Calvin’s dad from Calvin and Hobbes. Bald, with glasses, but a smile that never seemed to go away. He worked for a food brokerage company in Toledo, and their fridge and pantry were always filled with the newest, best snacks and food. Remember Hostess Choco-bliss? Those things were stuff in the fridge and always an awesome treat when I went over there.

He’d come home from work in a black suit every day. Brad and I would dogwalk up the stairs, and he’d quickly bark out “WALK!” even though we never did. If he was hanging around the house, he’d wear a golf shirt and either khakis or dress shorts.

It was the 80’s, and his tan, 4-door sedan Buick Regal sat proudly in the garage. It was the kind of car that showed status, but not too much. His golf clubs, always in the trunk of that car, were his pride and joy.

The man loved University of Michigan football. On game days, he’d hang the flag with pride outside of his garage. How many times did I see him in a blue or maize polo with a big, embroidered “M” over the left breast? Many.

I only heard him yell in anger once. One Saturday night, I spent the night and when my friend went to the bathroom before bed, he locked the door. For some reason, his dad didn’t like that so he somehow jimmied the door open and screamed about how “we don’t lock doors in this house!” Because, you know, an eight-year-old boy is doing so many horrible things in the bathroom with the door locked.

I never understood why parents enjoy watching their kids take a shit. My whole family often lined up to stare at me as I sat on the toilet. Don’t believe me? Trust me, it’s not something I’d make up. People are strange, but in my opinion, it’s rather sick to willingly want to watch someone take a dump. To each his own, I guess.

So, that was my friend’s dad. I haven’t seen him in years and I know that they moved out of that house way back in the mid 2000’s, but every time I am at my Mom’s and go out for a walk or a jog, I make sure to go by that house. I fondly remember Brad and me playing with GI Joes or Legos, playing Nintendo or watching R-rated movies.

But I also remember his dad.

 

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It finally arrived! Volume Nine of Bardic Tales and Sage Advice is finally here, in my grasp…and it feels delicious!

As you should remember, last July my story “Behind You, in the Corner” was published in a fantastic online publication called Bards and Sages Quarterly. Of course you bought a copy. Then, at the end of the year, there was a poll for the best/favorite piece from each issue. Thanks for voting for me, by the way.

My story won for the July issue. There were a TON of votes on it, so obviously people liked it. It didn’t quite make story of the year, but that’s okay. There was a response to it, and I’m happy about that!

Not only did I get an extra couple of bucks, it was published in BT&SA vol. 9, which we’ve been waiting in deep anticipation for over a few months now. Friday, it showed up and man is it beautiful.

Big thanks to Julie Ann Dawson, the editor. She had the foresight to read my story through to the end, and accept it for publication. I love visionaries like her, they make the world a better place!

And of course, thanks so much to everyone who voted. Thanks for reading my stories, following me, supporting me, all that jazz. I truly appreciate it and mean every word I say. You’re all awesome!

If you would like to buy a copy, go here:

Bardic Tales and Sage Advice vol. 9!

So, in other news, I’m chugging along at the Third Tower. Since I sit in front of a computer all day at work, I haven’t had the drive to write much lately. Then I was like, what about pen on paper? So, several recent chapters have been handwritten. I spent some time last night transcribing them onto the computer, which naturally killed my eyes and back (maybe I should have used a desk chair instead of a wooden kitchen chair?), but they’re all set. The best news is, I’m only 13 chapters away from the end!

I never wanted to have another several years long novel on my hands. I started this three years ago, took a break, wrote some more, took another break, and on and on…

Hell, I didn’t even touch it in 2016! I tried, I thought about it, but nothing came out. Shame on me. But hooray for me for getting it done now! Only a few more weeks and then it’s complete, and I can do anything I want.

Other short stories have been getting done as well. I just had one up on the online workshop last week, and it got 11 critiques! Most of them were very positive and helpful, and a lot of the reviewers “liked” the story. That’s promising!

Next up, I’ve got a mind-fuck fantasy story that takes place in the summer, but autumn has already begun. Hmm, unlike here in Toledo, where it’s been autumn for two days and feels like high summer.

Wishful thinking maybe? Nah, I’ll fight the heat and enjoy my maple pecan lattes and wear scarves like the hipster doof I am.

Later, sexies! Stay awesome, and thanks as always!

Focus Like a Jedi

September 3, 2017

Having hobbies is a great thing. If not for hobbies, what would we do with our spare time? Clean the house?!

Way back when I was 13, my brother and I got a game called Hero Quest for Christmas. It wasn’t your average board game. It had a campaign feature, lots of interactivity, and an ever-changing game board. Neat!

That love of gaming carried over into my freshman year when not only did I get into this new thing called collectible card games, but a few friends introduced me to role-playing games. I mean, I knew what they were, but didn’t have anyone to enjoy them with.

I never looked back, despite a few years of not doing much.

So for the past few years, I’d been out of gaming pretty big time. I wanted something new that I could play, not waste a lot of money on, and actually enjoy with a community of others. Last October, I found my game.

Star Wars Destiny, a new collectible card game from Fantasy Flight Games. My relationship with FFG is long and varied, but I can always count on them to make quality games. This was no exception.

I’ve been into the game pretty hardcore since it came out. Due to a lack of funds and time, I haven’t been able to go to any of the big, major tournaments, but that should change next year. What’s cool is, there’s a new set coming out in two weeks!

It’s been killing me. Specifically, my writing.

Okay, not that much. But I recently made my master list, and I’ve been following it pretty good. Editing, mostly, but things are getting done. I’m happy! It’s a lot better than sitting around and not doing it.

The worst thing is, I’ve been paying a lot of attention to the new cards from the upcoming Star Wars set. More than I should be.

It’s okay, though. This excitement lasts a few days, then dies down, and I’m back to the grind. In fact, as I write this, it’s a three-day weekend for me. What time I have to myself (which is most of it), I can do pretty much anything I want, which again is mostly editing.

However, I did come up with a new story idea the other day. Why?! I’m trying to finish a novel here!

I just need to promise myself to keep working on this. Star Wars is awesome, and I’m super excited about it! But it’s killing me to have to wait. That’s good, though—it isn’t going anywhere.

And neither am I. But the chance to get my writing back on track and have things where they need to be is. Time to keep it moving. Time to put the cards aside for the weekend, and focus. Like a Jedi.