Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Just Another Year in Just Another Life



Well another year down and a quick look back at what my thoughts were of the previous three hundred and sixty five days. Take the journey with me and you too may remember.
I’ll start with the now late ‘ReadWave’ site. Based in England it had a rather large global readership and some interesting young ideas and comments. The reason for joining the site was they would post monthly ‘writer challenges’ and would choice the best of the 800-word articles. Most articles I wrote got between fifty to one hundred reads, but some caught fire. When it shutdown I had accumulated over sixty one thousand readers with as many themes and thoughts and comments. It was an interesting experiment.
The subjects were across the board of romance, music, world events, and more romance. With such a broad range of readers, I tried to post thoughts that may attract attention and get a youthful point of view response.
Romance went the full gamut of what is love to breakups to praying for a period. I can only write from real life experiences.
Sadly world events were more about wars and shootings and disasters. Everyday there seems to be another occasion to write about. I tried to write a different point of view than all the social media comments and finger pointing. It seems we like this stuff so it keeps happening and then we wring out hands and wait for the next atrocity.
Music was one of my enjoyable subjects. I started reading other’s thoughts about ‘ole’ music references, so I just added what it was like being there. Great fun. Then I went out and bought another guitar.
Of course I also wrote about other things as abuse or bigotry or loneliness and death. Some of the subjects we don’t want to discuss and use our distractions to avoid them.
I also seem to write about holidays and human reactions and even a few unusual stops at religion. Old girlfriends, pets, homes, trips and the mundane were all fair game. Whatever rattles around in my brain gets written down and presented to the world. It is sort of like a secret diary that is not so secret.
Some of the comments are funny, some are enlightening, some are reveling and some are deleted. Fortunately (or unfortunately) the social media network is my only outsource of ideas and music and thoughts to friends and strangers. I probably repeat themes as I shovel out the unnecessary thoughts and refocus on what interest me. A word or a sentence or even a vocal can spark a thought.
The rest of the year in review was fairly mild. No major projects or problems or disruption to a quiet retired life. The weather was varied as seasons go and the entertainment was electronic but not televised. Breaking old habits are hard to do but that is why we make resolutions.
Dull? So be it. It is just another year in just another life.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Set In My Ways



Have you noticed your parents as they get older do not try so hard to entertain you? Perhaps it is just physical restrictions or a mental realization that you are not as important anymore.
I don’t believe they don’t care but when they are in a wheelchair or a bed, they are the focus of attention. Have you noticed they don’t want to be? What’s up with that?
Grandma or Grandpa should be pampered upon their later years, but they don’t like all the fuss. What is it about getting old that we descend into ourselves? When family and friends are around, they try to look like they are enjoying all the flowers and cards and long speeches that puts them to sleep, because the rest of their time is waiting to be fed and engulfed in their own thoughts.
No matter the home’s activities, and elderly person has plenty of time to reflect on their life as it starts to fade. The physical abilities are obviously going and if the mental capabilities hold up, they are lost in their dreams.
I just figure you get set in your ways.
I put my shoes over here and I put my laundry over there and I put my glasses in the same spot every night. Then someone comes in and starts rearranging all your patterns. This is worst than just losing your keys or forgetting you had left the cottage cheese out. This is changing your routines.
When we are younger this disruption to our daily patterns are not so disturbing because everyday is a new adventure. Complying with a companion is easy to achieve the pleasure of their company.
As we age, reading becomes more difficult and moving from place to place takes longer and just getting out of bed is a process of determination. The little things become must more important.
Is the toothbrush in the same place? Are the shoes where I left them? Is my coffee cup where it is supposed to be or has it been moved? Any disruption to this pattern can ruin a day.
I think of a neighbor who was here when I moved in. She and her husband had settled into a home and enjoyed a life of retirement. He died. She got Alzheimer’s and progressively left reality. I remember going into her house to talk to her live-in nurse and she just sat in a chair staring into the fog. She could be prompted to move and eat but she never spoke a word. Her eyes told volumes of what may have been bouncing around in her head of these people invading her inner sanctum.
Will I get to that point? I hope not, but every morning I wake up to the sunrise and start another day. I will follow my daily routine as long as I can without looking too far into the future or dwelling too much on the past.
I’m set in my ways.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Fighting For Your Life


With all the reporting of accidents and shootings and whatever provides people to become victims I keep reading about people ‘fighting for their life’ and I wonder?
Are they really fighting for their life?
From what I’ve seen, them folk are just laying on a gurney being wheeled into a hopefully sterile room and surrounded by masked folks in baggy robes poking tubes and needles in them. There are lights and beeps and lots of hustle but not by the body lying down.
Having been wrapped up to diminish the blood and pumped full of drugs to reduce the pain, a body is quickly removed from the site of the distress to a medical center with all the appropriate technology and personnel to solve the problem and bring back life.
It may not be the quality of life that was previously enjoyed, but these folks know how to keep a body alive. Is the limp and sometimes unconscious body fighting for their life?
We just don’t get much choice in life. We come in and go out without a timeline. The mother does have a choice and we can end the timeline at anytime, but most of us just go down the path of life until it runs out.
Do we fight for our life while we have it? We enjoy spectacular adventures and humanity if so blessed. We venture to foreign lands and learn different histories and sample unusual taste and smells and it all adds to our life.
We also abuse others and ourselves and that too is all about life. We make decisions by what options we find and travel paths we determine. As much as we try, there is no one to blame but our self for what we have done.
It would be nice if we had the final decision on when to take the last breath, but do we fight the inevitable or just sink?

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Alone With Your Thoughts



When you are alone with your thoughts, what are you thinking about?
With all the constant distractions and noise and interruptions, when do you actually get to be alone with your thoughts?
I’m not talking about the bathroom. It is the one place you are alone and in no rush. You should be alone in there with the sounds and smells you make.
We find little time to be alone with only our own thoughts. Children are too busy discovering the world around them and parents are too busy trying to direct their children and adults are too busy trying to accumulate their riches. Only the elderly seem to have the time to reflect on what is important.
As a cyclist, I have time to be alone with my thoughts. Unlike automobiles with their electronics and speed, a steady heartbeat pace gives time to observe and appreciate the surroundings and mull over sights and sounds of the day. With legs pumping to continue motion the only sounds are the atmosphere and what is going on in your mind.
The end of the year is time for reflection but this isn’t it. This is about just being alone. And when you are alone, what comes to mind? There are some people, times and some thoughts that never seem to leave. You dream about them. You think about them when you are shaving. You carry them with you.
They maybe thoughts of pains, they maybe thoughts of joy, they maybe thoughts of wonder but they will continue to follow you. They are the experiences of life.
I enjoy my time alone. I enjoy mentally watching the movie of life go by. I’ve learned to appreciate the visions and have come to terms with the meanings.
So take some time for yourself. Find a quiet place and just contemplate your meditations.
You might just like what you discover.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Too Many Keys


At the end of the year I try to clean up old news and put away what are memories and what is trash.
I carry a large round key ring with a tangle of jangle. Some are to open a door or lock a lock or keep the outside out and the inside safe.
Through the years I found it necessary to lock away my secrets. Those around me learned to respect my allusion of having some private special items and they built their own walls.
Anything that we hold valuable we want to preserve in a safe place. Some are kept from other’s eyes and some are displayed with sarcastic pride. Like a museum or a bank we can view what should be cherished but locked away.
So I’m looking at all these keys and wondering? I have half the amount of keys that I used to have. Locks and more locks and more lock guarding my secrets.
I look at my dwindling group of keys and wonder do I have less to protect and preserve or does it matter?
Like going through your parent’s private correspondence or photos of people you have no idea who they are, who’s secrets are important?
There are a half a dozen keys to locks I couldn’t match without hours of investigation and is it worth it? If it has been locked away for so long does it need to be opened?
Unfortunately there are keys to the inner sanctum of the heart no one can open. At least, it cannot be opened without a key.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Alone For Christmas, Again



December 25, 2015 – It is a warm sunny morning. The air is thick with the past two days of heavy rains and more to come, but it feels like spring more than winter. A couple of cups of coffee but I’m anxious to get outside.
This is the quiet day. At least the quiet morning where everyone is inside enjoying their Christmas and the roads are clear.
To my surprise, there are others, who I guess are on their way to grandma’s house. Still this is the quietest morning of the year. No big trucks or leaf blowers or chain saws or jack hammers.
As I start my weave through the sleepy neighborhood I pass a few people walking their dogs or just out for an early morning hike in this remarkable weather.
On this one day, like no other, people are smiling and seemingly in a happy mode. Everyone nods and says “Good Morning” or “Merry Christmas”. Why can’t everyday be like this?
I slowly coast through streets I had not visited in awhile to see the changes. A new tin roof over here, a new fence over there, and addition and a complete new house built in a well-established neighborhood.
There must have been a war of balloons as the remains of the defeated lie all over the lawns. I pass the victors, Mickey Mouse, Snowman, M&M Peanut guy, and a giant Reindeer, standing proudly in another yard. I move quickly pass for this scares me.
A few strays dogs and cats wander about and the birds beckon for me to come home.
Sweating like it was summer, I roll up my sleeves and spread out the buffet of sunflower seed, peanuts, and blueberries with an additional surprise of some of the neighbor’s generous gift of a coffee cake. The critters now share the abundance for they don’t know it is Christmas or Friday or noon. They just know when they see me, there will be food and fun available and this morning is the perfect morning after days of rain. And my entertainment is to watch them frolic.
But the idea of this story is what started last night.
Christmas eve, rocking on a darken porch with a break from the rain and the last minute shoppers are home and wrapping packages. Not as many decorations out this year yet down the block someone decides to fire off some fireworks. Fireworks for Christmas?
Well as the story goes, one of my neighbors walking his dog and his munchkins sees me on the porch and says, “Merry Christmas”. Then he turns to his kids who are not as tall as the fence and ask them to say, “Merry Christmas”. I do my best Santa interpretation of “Ho Ho Ho” as they walk by.
One of the boys says, “Are you alone?” then he and the other boy start asking his dad “Is he alone?” and “He is all alone?” Their father scolding them said, “Don’t be disrespectful.”
That caught me off guard.
“Respect” is not a word I’ve heard much recently. I don’t think the kids were being disrespectful because they don’t know what Christmas is like being alone. They are not old enough to comprehend people who are not gathered around the Christmas tree with family and presents and warm cheer, but there are those of us who are not.
Respect is a positive feeling of admiration or deference for a person or other entity (such as a nation or a religion), and also specific actions and conduct representative of that esteem. Respect can be a specific feeling of regard for the actual qualities of the one respected.” Wikipedia.
Now I remember a time when we were to respect our elders for their longer time of being around so they were smarter than us. Just being older does not make you wiser. Some of the most admirable people who we quote in our memes left us too early.
My thought about this word was do we respect each other?
From looking at comments on news sites and social media, we may have lost this human emotion. What I read are rude and sometimes disgusting disrespectful slams at each other’s thoughts, opinions, biases and ideologies.
It seems this action/reaction is like slapping each other in the face. First you slap me and then I slap you and then you slap me and then I slap you harder and you slap me harder and I slap you twice and you slap me twice and I make a fist and punch you and you make a fist and punch me and I punch you harder and you punch me back and I get a stick and hit you and you get a stick and hit me and I get a bigger stick and hit you and you get a bigger stick and hit me and I get a gun. Then it is over.
War has no solution.
As I rode silently around the neighborhood this morning appreciating the sounds of laughing excited children with the Santa surprises, I passed a few houses where the yelling had already started. Maybe we all can share peace and goodwill even on this day?
So my New Year’s resolution will be ‘respect’. Respect others; not so much for their wealth or worldly possessions but simply that they share our travels on this small spinning planet. Together we have created many wonders and some overwhelming disasters, but we keep trying. Whether we believe the same or vote the same or even look the same, we should have the respect that we all share the same air, drink the same water, walk the same roads into tomorrow.
Home alone for Christmas thoughts.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Anniversary



The other day I was talking to a friend and he said an anniversary was coming up and he’d like to avoid it.
Anniversaries are those times that come around every year, like birthdays and Christmas. Whether marked on the calendar or not, it will come around the same time like it or not.
I personally forget dates and names and even times, but some anniversaries are hard not to remember. If an anniversary falls on a strange day it may have to be in your reminder list but if it falls on a holiday?
So today is one of those anniversaries I cannot forget. The yearly celebration of this day was so much of my holiday spirit I may get a little teary around Christmas and it is not about Santa. 
It seems thirty-two years ago this woman and I went down to Williamsburg and got married. We had no idea what we were getting into but we made each other happy.
It was a cold winter that year. I had reserved a room at a hotel that no longer exists but since it was Christmas they moved me up to a suite at the same price. Being in a hotel during a holiday like Christmas means you get excellent service because you are the only one except for the folks working and who would rather be at home with their families. My new wife kept telling everyone we were on our honeymoon so we got additional gifts of free champagne and half price meals. The pipes in the hotel froze so there was only hot water every other hour but we timed it right. Because of the plumbing problem, the suite was half price. Does it pay to get married?
I had no idea what this woman was going to introduce me to. The adventures we went through together amazes me to this day. Not everything was wonderful but everyday was remarkable. There was no direction to our travel but we shared it all together. 
I live in the same place we returned to and am surrounded by the memories and her unbelievable variety of interest and skills. Every day I take a moment to remember our adventures with a smile. I never expected that.
So this evening at 8:23 I will raise a glass and toast this wonderful woman.
“Happy Anniversary”

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Entertain Me!


With all the folk coming around for the holidays and the kids and dogs and food and babies and decorations, the best distraction is to entertain.
For all these folks, familiar or foreign are in your private space and you job is to entertain them.
With that as a goal there are several options. Television is always a good start. Get a big screen that will cover a wall and it will get someone’s attention. Get a few televisions so you can entertain the kids with video games and the sports fans and the movie fans. Be sure to get plenty of batteries for the multitude of remotes.
Photo albums are always a good distraction. Like the old vacation slide shows but can now be emailed back and forth on your phones. Current pictures of newborn and selfies can be hours of fun.
A seasonal soundtrack is always popular blasted over everything else to keep the party going. Techies will love to discuss the latest gizmo while the youngsters have already put in their earplugs for their own music.
A few disasters are always possible to change the mood of the crowd and after enough hours and beverages, the tone of the evening will deflate and the best solution is to find the sheets and climb under them. The pros will show everyone off to their designated places then turn to the chore of cleaning up so the morning rush won’t be overwhelming.
Some of these times can become very special.
I’m not sure if this is the same for your family or if this is just the juxtaposition of the world now. There is a different way for me.
There will be a full moon on Christmas this year. The weather is to be warm. The thunder rain may be over by then, but if not it will be the soundtrack for this year. A glass of wine and a rocking chair will be enough. The sound of the remaining leaves with a possible crunch in the shadows of someone looking for that late night treat. A possible guitar instrumental may acuminate the evening but time will tell. Floods of thoughts of past seasons and possible future seasons may bring a tear and a smile.
As the sun rises on the next day, the circus of family will start again.
I found my entertainment. Come join me.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Being in the Band



It is a social forming tradition to join a club or a team or (dare I say it) a band. The cogitations of the word “band” can be formidable.
There are the jazz bands or the rubber bands or the symphony orchestra or even rock bands, but there is nothing like a ‘marching band’.
There is something special about wearing a costume and walking down the street while playing music.
Being in an orchestra means you get to dress up in black and somehow get respect from playing composers music from eons ago. In a rock band you get to play whatever you want to make noise and wear whatever you want and maybe even get some groupies. In a jazz band, you are interested in the music and not in the audience.
But the marching band has to have the discipline to march in step, wear silly hats with plumbs and outfits you would not wear to the Dairy Queen while playing everything from show tunes to the national anthem with a massive drum beat keeping you in step.
There is marching to the beat of the drum that impresses the audience with it’s precision but mostly it is just walking down the street in a parade or football game. There are songs that sound best by the marching band except when they turn the corner and you can’t hear them anymore.
What about the xylophone player or the piccolo or the bassoon or any of the reeds whom are drowned out by the brass players? A marching band is all about trumpets and trombones and tubas and a bunch of drums.
A marching band needs to be loud and brash.
I’ve never participated in a marching band, but my dad did. There must be some passion to walking in front of people, playing an instrument with the score on a little stand attached, in step with a bunch of others wear the same outfit that would never be picked out of the closet and enjoy it.
Suppose a marching band wore tuxedos like the orchestra? Wouldn’t that be classy? Well the violinist in their long dresses would probably stumble. Where are the violins in a marching band? Or the cellos? Or for that matter, how about the electric guitars? Unless a marching band is on a float, they can’t rock. Besides the extension cords would have to go on forever.
Middle America gets ready. There will be another parade and celebration of some sort and down the middle of Main Street will come a marching band. Playing loud and proud behind the color guard and some girls in short dresses twirling batons. There is usually some guy in a big hat kicking his feet up high and throwing a big stick around while he is prancing. Following the marching band will be some convertibles with signs of the dealerships with smiling girls in prom gowns waving at the crowds. There is one with the mayor. So that is what he looks like. Then another marching band will show up.  
Like football teams, every school has a marching band. They are a team too with unique uniforms and plays and positions done to a musical soundtrack. And like any teams, friends are made and acquaintances who can share the experience years later even though they don’t touch their instruments again.
When you hear the whistle blow, applaud and stand up and appreciate your neighbor’s kids or maybe even your kids marching by. Take pride in their accomplishments. They can walk in step and play music.
Try that Led Zeppelin or The Royal London Philharmonic Orchestra.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Jesus' Sister



You didn’t know? Well there wasn’t much written after the baby boy was born. And there certainly wasn’t much written about girls.
Yet by what was written in ‘the book’ Jesus had a big family of brothers and sisters.
I won’t get into detail, you can read the scriptures and interpret it for yourself in whatever translation you want, but Jesus had a sister. There may have been more than one.
So if this guy Jesus had a sister what did she do?
We’ll call her Jane just to make things simple.
So if Jane was Jesus’ older sister she did what older sisters do.
She probably played with him to keep her mother busy with other things. She may have dressed him or even protected him from bullies. She may have comforted him when he was sick and formed a bond to always be there for him.
And little Jesus may have looked up to his older sister Jane for consoling and direction.
Or maybe Jane was younger and looked up to Jesus for advice? She could have believed her big brother was her great protector. She could have played dolls or catch with him between his chores. She could have been there at the cross.
I have no idea where Jane or James or Jean or any of the other family went or did through history. Whether they passed down their family history to their children is unknown. Where they’re any cousins who would say, “I have an uncle Jesus who is the Son of God”.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

The Girl in the Cowboy Boots



There is something about when a girl walks by in cowboy boots. She has a statement few can make.
I’m not talking about the little ones in their cowboy boots twirling batons or twirling ropes in little fringed vest and 10-gallon hats. They are the cute little models whose parents have bigger problems.
I’m not talking about the over indulged aged grannies wanting to relive their wild times but just looking scary. 
I’m talking about the young lady who can wear a short skirt and cowboy boots. There is something special in her swagger. She is sassy.
Now I’m not forgetting the guys. A guy who wears cowboy boots with his pants pulled down over them must be hiding his real cowboy. A buy having his pants stuffed down into his cowboy boots. Unless you have dust on your sleeves and smell like a cow pie, you ain’t no cowboy.
But a woman who feels her inner self and squeezes in a cowboy boot with the heel and the stitching and the tooling makes a statement about herself. 
 
I say, “Fellas pay attention to this lady”.
Also be aware she is someone who can break a mustang, even if you think you are stallions.

I Forgot



What I see is, as we get older, we forget. Some may think it is a painful sign of age, but maybe it is a blessing.
Sure it can go too far like Alzheimer’s but what about just those little things that become unimportant? Not just forgetfulness like where you laid the keys but just stuff that others might remember but just isn’t important anymore.
Maybe it is the association with others that we must remember to share? If the conversation starts with “Did you see…?” or “Have you read…?”  or “Did you hear…?” then it is your obligation to chime in with your remembrance of the same occurrence and can only add your opinion by this knowledge.
Does this fill your head with useless information that is not worthy of remembering? What is worthy of remembering?
We use sound and images to remind us of distant times and faces. We gather to expand our knowledge of what was important, like family dinners or funerals.
We associate with those who enjoy the same likes and dislikes as ourselves and shun those wallflowers that bring nothing to the table. Our habit is to disassociate ourselves from those different from ourselves without thinking of the intolerance of their interest.
When we look at the normal nonsense of the daily news, we are flooded with questions of how we will interact with the breaking stories. After awhile of reading so much foolishness we may start to turn away from what is uninteresting and focus on what really matters to us.
The daily news becomes entertainment rather than journalism. Turn it off. The majority of the reading material is converted to sponsored content. Unsubscribe.
So maybe not remembering is a good thing. I won’t know until I’m sitting in that wheelchair on a sunny porch for hours trying to remember what there were for lunch until the sun goes down and someone wheels you back in front of the television.
What was your name?

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Uncle Jack


“He was an ornery ole coot”, my mother would say.  “Old Jack was a character though”, she would respond with a smile. “Got to love him.”
Uncle Jack, as I called him, because my mother was his wife’s sister, never said much to me. At family gatherings he would sit over in a corner chewing on his soggy cigar staring out a window while the women would chatter and gather in the kitchen.
His disheveled appearance and weathered skin showed a life of experience but he never spoke of it. He wore it like his old navy uniform I found in the attic after he died.
“Jack”, mom said, “was a boson’s mate in the navy.” I never understood what that meant, but he kept his uniform neatly folded and tidy in a wooden footlocker. There were some duty papers and picture in there too, but mom wouldn’t let me see them.
From the history I heard from mom, Uncle Jack went to work at the factory after the war. I have no idea of what he did or how long he worked there.
I did hear he got married to Aunt Thelma, mom’s sister. I never met her because she died in a streetcar accident and mom doesn’t talk much about her. I think mom didn’t like Auth Thelma’s choice of Uncle Jack, but there was little contact.
Mom took my sister Jenny and I to see Uncle Jack one time. He lived in this dilapidated apartment house on a side street in a poor section of time. I remember the room was bare with a table and a single bed and the footlocker and a chair by the window. Mom and Uncle Jack stood in a corner and she gave him some papers and a box. I don’t remember him saying anything. He just scolded and chewed on his cigar.
Jack (I never called him that for fear of getting a whack on the head) has a certain old smell. The dust on the floor and the unmade bed showed me he didn’t move around much. His sleeves were rolled up showing his old tattoos His crew cut had grown out but somehow he kept the sides clean. I never saw him light the cigar but it always had some ashes falling as he moved it from side to side in his mouth.
Uncle Jack had deep sunken eyes that seemed to see through you. They did not show any joy but just struggle. Perhaps it was his two sons who he raised but died in the next war. Maybe after his wife died, he gave up?
Mom bought a plaque to put on his grave that said “Jack”. Maybe that is all he was?

Monday, December 14, 2015

How Do You Define Yourself?



Like an employment or loan application, you state your name, address, city, state and zip code. Is this all there is?
What is it about you that make you who you are?
Obviously, like a grave marker, there is the date of birth and death. Defining dates but there must be more.
After the basics are the questions of your employment. Who do you work for? How long have you worked there? Where did you work before that?
That is easy until it gets to ‘titles’ and ‘salary’. Both of those define you.
Who is your father? Who is your mother? What about their parents? What they did to bring you into this world and raise you influenced you and helps to define you.
Are you married? Do you have children? Questions that usually come from family also define you. Are your children home bred or adopted?
If you apply to one of those online dating services, the profile might become personal. Are you a good kisser?  What is your favorite sexual position? Maybe that should stay behind closed doors?
What is your skin color? Hair color? Eye color? All these define you. Just ask the police filing descriptions in a crime case.
What is your faith? What church do you attend? Is this prying? It doesn’t seem to be by the news headlines. Does what you believe define you?
How is your health? It is a subject shared with friends, neighbors and even strangers in the grocery checkout line. Serious injury, apparent or not, or the common cough or backache defines us. We love to share our ailments with others. It seems to bring us closer together.
What about your home? Are those roses planted? Do you cut your own lawn? Do you match your neighbors or not? Our living arrangements define us.
Could go on and on for details like the rash on your butt or that strange smell you wake up to or if you drive your kids to school or make them walk or how many times you make the bed?
As teenagers, our pimples, our shoes or how we danced defined us?
Many of these definitive qualities change through the years. The hair will get lighter and thinner, the fashions will become looser, the pace will become slower and the vision will start to fade. The definition of who we are does not easily show our inner core.
For each of us are individuals with different likes and dislikes and taste and feelings. That is what makes us each unique and interesting.
Our outside shell, warts and all, cannot describe what brings tears to our eyes or anger to our heart. Our experiences and our interactions with others cannot be shown in our disguise. Our formatting due to family and work requirements only shows we obeyed the repetitive propaganda.
Don’t look in the mirror.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Good bye


In 2014, I was invited to join ReadWave. Someone had seen this blog and asked me to join them, so I made the move.
It was an English based site that Huffington said…

Their mission statement said:
What’s your story?
ReadWave is a place for sharing your three-minute stories.
We believe that 3 minutes is all it takes to tell a story that can change your life. We call these stories ReadWaves.
A ReadWave can be about anything - a confession, an experience, an inspiration a life-changing decision or even something fictional.


What interested me was a monthly challenge. Some would ask a question like “What would you say to the President?” or “What is the best moment of your life?” As a writer I enjoyed the idea of writing about a subject I wouldn’t have thought of and also see what others wrote on the same topic.
So I quit this blog for a year and moved to ReadWave. The readers seemed more global and the comments were refreshing. There was a youthful feel to it.
I was constantly explaining my lack of knowledge of the proper writing techniques to those who corrected my errors but it was a learning experience.
With around 61,000 readers I wrote about subjects as varied as love, technology, politics, religion, and personal experiences. Titles like “Giving Away My Daughter” or “Are You Happy?” or “She doesn’t know I’m here” or “Pissing With The President” to “The Older Woman”. My writing seemed to be popular in China but I don’t know Chinese.
The algorithms were well written to alert of comments on a story via email. After become an editor of a theme, alerts were emailed to new story request.
Themes like Enviornmental, Family, Travel, People Watching started to appear because ReadWave allow all the writers to create a theme. Unfortunately without administration, themes were duplicated and too highly specialized to apply to. 
Additionally editors of themes were not corresponding and it just became overwhelming. Connection to the site became unreliable and frustrating. Slowly trash was creeping in until steaming advertisements replaced actual story telling.
Then I got this email….
“Dear ReadWavers,

It's been over two years since we started this journey with you - striving to create a thriving community of readers and writers wrapped in the most beautiful experience possible. 

As I’m sure you’ve noticed, over the last 6 months the team behind ReadWave have been involved in other projects and we haven't been able to give it the love it deserves. ReadWave needs an owner who has passion and a vision for what it could become. 

With this in mind, we’ve decided to either find a new owner for Readwave or draw this chapter to an end and close the site. 

Our timeframe for deciding is before the 20th of December, so please copy and paste your ReadWave stories to a word document to ensure your work is not lost. 

If you’d like to buy ReadWave from us, email offers@readwave.com with your offer before the 11th December and we'll get back to you with next steps. We’d like to be transparent with any potential buyers so here are our metrics:

- 55,377 stories

- 18,157 registered users

- 1,316 logins in Nov.15

- 337,877 pageviews in Nov. 2015

- 186,287 uniques in Nov.15

Finally, we’d like to thank you for all your support over the years – it’s been truly wonderful to build this community with you.

Onwards and upwards!

The ReadWave Team”
So it seems ReadWave has shut down. It was an interesting experiment without a thought of revenue or administration but it was fun while it lasted.
I guess I’ll come back here and post my thoughts to ever wants to read and comment.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Here is my review

 
You read this stuff before going to a movie trying to evaluate if the cost of the popcorn will be worth the entertainment value of attending a performance.
The same for books or music or many other art forms that are reviewed by people who may or may not have enough background knowledge in the field to assess the quality of the presentation to form an opinion.
My likes or dislikes may differ from a reviewer. My opinion of the person doing the reviews also varies.
Many years ago, there was a guy I knew and worked with who had some fabulous musical appreciation, but it was based on classical music. He was assigned to become a rock reviewer.
Reviews being subjective can’t take in all reader’s desires to understand the author’s innermost feelings and thoughts upon writing the piece. Also for a musical presentation or a Broadway show there is a one-time viewing and then a hastily written review. A symphony concert has an entirely different audience and presentation than a rock concert though I must assume bassoon players have groupies too.
Not all reviews are totally subjective. Reports on refrigerators and guitars and cars and hotels may be very objective because there is a base you can measure, but you can’t do the same with emotions.
Reviews are one person’s opinion of a one-time event. The same band or orchestra or performing artist can be view on different occasions by the same critic and seen in very different ways.
Good or bad, what we read is slanted by one person who may have just found out they had cancer or been kicked out of their apartment or has a bad hair day. An educated informative review can become critical.
Now to prove my point, how would you review a friend?
Just like your taste in a type of music or an author or even a fashion style has changed through the years, what about your friends.
Friends are those folks you feel comfortable with for whatever reason and enjoy their company. We try to keep in touch with friends by mail or phone conversations but we all grow apart. Some friends are lost and new friends are made. Some are just ‘work’ friends and some are just ‘play’ friends. Friends show up when you need them and ask nothing in return.
I suggest you write a review of your friends. It may be very reveling and bring you closer together.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Let's Get Drunk and Talk


It is a funny to think that we do this, but we do.
A gathering of strangers or familiar faces seems to make it much easier to converse with alcohol. It is fashioned as an acceptable procedure to offer and apply drink or drugs to enhance the conversations and possibility of a joyful gathering.
“What can I get you?”
Maybe it is the season of holidays as an excuse, but it seems every weekend there is a beer feast or a wine tasting or some special event to allow us devour our spirits. Bacchus would be proud of us.
With a bar on every corner it is easy to step in with a friend and have a drink. When the waitperson approaches the table the first question is “What would you like to drink?”
Is it an excuse to say what you really want to say using the drink as the motivator or an inhibitor annihilator to late your true feelings out without need of an excuse or a pardon. The drink can bring about shy mischief or grow into inexcusable mayhem. The numbers of drinks are only a crutch to be used for our inability to be honest with ourselves. Barley, grape or spirits can be bragged about with the hangover later.
This didn’t always happen. When we were younger we could honestly talk about all our teen angst without a drop of alcohol. We talked about some pretty deep subjects like war, music, girls, music, school, girls, fashion, girls…. Well you get the drift.
My groups of friends were not real big drinkers so most of the late night discussions were on brick walls past curfew. There were no judgmental evaluations because we didn’t have enough experience to judge. The main point of our profound speeches was to have an ear to listen.
Somewhere along the way we conformed to our parents lifestyle and set up bars and wine racks and learned enough to fashion an Old Fashion or a Highball or an early bird Bloody Mary. What was appalling to our rebellious values turned into the regular cocktail hour?


Unfortunately there is a small window between getting tipsy and sleeping behind the couch and so many tales will stay hidden from even John Barleycorn. Our social acceptance to conformity gives us an excuse to become comfortably numb and we don’t have to talk about it.

So step up to the bar. What can I get you to drink?

Slow Dancing

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Somewhere I read or heard or viewed a statement that ‘slow dancing had died’.
WHAAAAAAAT!!!
There is no slow dancing? This can’t be? Slow dancing is a fabric of life, the meaning of all that is important.
Then I thought about it. Maybe they are right?
I’ve been to a few hipster spots with a very loud DJ turning tunes and flashing lights for youngsters to bounce around in their finest attire fueled by alcohol until exhaustion hits and the bouncer throws the clinging couple out the door.
There just doesn’t seem to be that time at the end of the party when the lights when down low and the music soften for ‘The Slow Dance’.
Maybe it is just a moment in time or a reflection of the past, but dancing or some attempt at moving to the music was a rite of passage. At a certain age, the sounds you hear are no longer that old fuddy-duddy music of your parents. The beat gets your foot tapping and you body starts to sway back and forth uncontrollability.
In my pubescent years, I was sent away to camp every summer. It was to build my manly skills of sailing, archery, ball games and other stuff that bonded boys to other boys. It also got us out of the house for the summer.
Everything was dirt and rough and dirty until one day all the campers were called to the dining hall and this strange foreign woman in tights decided to teach us how to ‘dance’. It was part of our social programming. The college counselors turned on the record player and enjoyed the show of dozen of young boys trying to follow her moves. More like awkward spastics than gazelles, we learned the cha-cha, the twist, the stroll and most important the box step. Since boys don’t touch another boy, the teacher had to go one-by-one to each of us to practice the 1-2-3-4 and repeat.
To culminate our initiation into dancing, an evening was arranged for the girl’s camp to come join us for a night of joy and laughter from our elders watching. Both genders hugged opposite walls until we were pried out to the dance floor to try and duplicate what we had learned but just fumbled and shuffled about with one another.
Then came the slow dance.
We slowly approach a possible partner and asked for her hand in a dance. There was much giggling and embarrassment but we all found girls who didn’t mind touch our hands. The boys tried to lead and the girls tried to avoid being stepped on. These were the same girls who had previously seen us skinny dip but never joined us (for that would have been a different story). We held each other at arms length but it was still something special in her hair and her dress and her smile.
Through cotillions and formal dances, there were more steps to learn but chaperons kept the slow dance partners away from body contact.
Finally, a couple could sneak into a darken club and groove to the music without parental guidance. No matter the finest attire was soaked in sweat and no one cared. We were working it out to the music.
Then the slow dance came on.
A boy and girl held each other so close as to squeeze the stuffing out of each other. A fluid move as one body filled the dance flow. There was no one else in the crowded room but you and her. Hot sweaty stinking bodies sliding against each other in a prelude to foreplay.
I remember being on the stage instead of the dance floor and getting multiple requests to replay the slow dance.
I thought at every wedding there was a slow dance (sorry Joel) like a ritual of passage from father to husband. I thought school proms were produced for the slow dance.
There is a new generation of steps and dance moves and most I would never attempt, but the slow dance. It will live on.
Those secrets messages whispered in each others ear, the feeling when she doesn’t want to hold your hand but wrap her arms around your neck and rest her head on your shoulder, the movement of two bodies as one will create moments that no photo can capture.
 
May I have this dance?