There must be 50 ways to celebrate your lover

Ah, my wife.

I present to you a woman who never gives herself enough credit. She never thinks she’s smart enough, funny enough, pretty enough, good enough.

Well, today, now, here, on the 50th anniversary of her birth, I’m here to celebrate the woman that never celebrates herself. The one that always…always…puts others before herself.

So, let’s look at these one by one, shall we?

She never thinks she’s smart enough. Yet, I can’t tell you how often she’s taken charge of a situation and, going on nothing but gut instinct, made the decisions I was too stupid or too locked up with emotion to make. And each time, I didn’t just question the decision, I openly opposed it. It was wrong. Every time, I knew it was wrong.

Yeah, the only damn thing that was wrong was my opinion. Karen was right. Karen is always right.

It’s tough for me to write that, but in my heart, I know it’s true. It’s hard to admit that I’m not as smart as I think I am, and that my wife often outsmarts me. Doesn’t matter if it’s a big life decision, or something as simple as watching an episode of Criminal Minds and she always guesses the plot before I do. She does it every damn time. And I’m the writer, dammit!

She never thinks she’s funny enough. Okay, well, to be fair, I’m a sarcastic joker and I’m always on. I’m sure that gets tiring. But then, add into the mix our daughter, who inherited the sarcasm gene from both parents. And there’s Hunter, our son. He’s hilarious. In fact, our daughter actually created a Twitter feed for him, Willy’s Wise Words. And then there’s our friends Ryan and Lisa. Ryan’s gotta be one of the funniest people I’ve ever met, and his wife is hilarious too (especially when she cracks a joke, laughs at it, and says, “I’m funny!”). So, in a group like this, it’s hard to consider yourself funny.

And yet, Karen is often hilarious. She won’t let me post the video, but there’s a lovely few minutes of footage of Karen when she had dental surgery, and being stoned afterward on the drugs that’s simply gutbusting. There’s also this one, where Ryan plays on Karen’s fear of defying superstitions (specifically, opening an umbrella indoors).

How about that scream, huh? Jamie Lee Curtis had nothing on her.

But even this past week in Vegas, Karen had us in stitches by simply doing the John Belushi SNL sketch about cheeseburgers. You know the one.

“Chee’burgarchee’burgarchee’burgarcheepcheepcokenocokePEPSI!”

Yet, when Karen does it, she does this weird thing where her face freezes up and her lips don’t move. It’s unexplainable, and a riot to watch.

So is watching her try to curl her tongue. Or when someone’s getting to her and her chin sharpens. I can’t explain it any better than that. Her chin gets…pointier.

And then there’s what happened this last night. We went out to dinner and, as I sat across from her, I reminded her this was her last meal as someone in their forties. Then I said, “Jeez, tomorrow, I’m gonna be married to an old lady.” And her immediate response was perfect.

“You won’t be if you keep that shit up.”

She never thinks she’s pretty enough. I remember, long ago, I worked in a camera store, on the camera sales side. On the opposite side of the store was photofinishing. I stood with one of my coworkers and we watched this hot woman come in and drop some film off. The coworker nudged me, and said something like, “Damn, she’s got a great ass.” Then she turned around and he said something about her being hot. I ignored him, because she walked straight across the store to me, leaned over the counter and kissed me. My coworker’s jaw damn near bounced off the counter. Yeah, that hot girl was my girlfriend. And now, just a hair under 25 years later, she’s my wife.

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The amazing thing is, over those intervening years, she’s only gotten more beautiful. Maturity suits her.

Vegas

She never thinks she’s good enough. This, above all the others, shocks me. Over the years, I could not have asked for a more wonderful wife. She always supported me in whatever I tried to do, believing in me when I didn’t believe in myself. She always put my needs and others that actually didn’t deserve her attention ahead of her own. She would bend over backward to help anyone in need, even those that had been horrible to her. If it weren’t for my wife, I would never be the guy I am today.

And she’s the ultimate mother. Seriously, if it had been up to me to raise the kids, they would only have memories of sitting in front of a television with some sugary cereal to eat, and maybe a lot of Beatles and Pink Floyd playing in the background. Karen planned all their events, their lessons, their sports, trips, vacations…everything. I’m useless when it comes to this stuff. Seriously, I’m lucky to get myself dressed in the morning.

And overall, beyond all that, she’s been my partner through life. We’ve navigated many rough waters together, sometimes paddling in sync with each other, sometimes trying to paddle in two different directions, but always in the same boat. And our destination is clear. We’ll be there for each other, no matter what. But for me, Karen’s the one I turn to, the one I talk to, the one that is my rock.

My point here is, though she’ll never admit to it, she is smart enough, funny enough, pretty enough, good enough. She’s more than I deserve, and all that I desire.

I can’t imagine my life without this woman and, today, as she celebrates five decades of life, I’m glad that she chose to spend more than half of it with me. I hope she’ll be with me when we’re staring down 100 years.

I love you, babe. Happy birthday.

 

Hostage night in Canada

Whaddya do on a rainy night in Toronto?

MacLean & MacLean – What Do You Do On a Rainy Night in Toronto?

It started off so well. A good friend and writing colleague of mine, Patricia Flewwelling, asked me if I was interested in going to an event put on by the Crime Writers of Canada, CWCbetter known as the CWC, announcing the short lists for their Arthur Ellis awards. A handful of authors, including three I had books from, would be reading, cool people like Jill Edmondson, another author, would be there. Possibly even Paul Alves from Bookguys.ca I really wanted to meet him, but unfortunately, he didn’t make it.

bookguysSide note: if you’re interested in books or movies, check out bookguys.ca. It’s cool.

Anyway, the event sounded like an interesting Thursday night out. So I said yes.

Pat, who’s from Montreal, was staying in a Howard Johnson’s (better known as “HoJo’s”) in the extreme east end of Scarborough. So, I drove there and parked my truck. We would take Pat’s car, which is smaller than my ridiculously big fat Dodge Ram Hemi, and much more amenable to parking in downtown Toronto.

Pat shifted the detritus from the front seat to the back and I climbed in. The next half-hour was rather hilarious as I watched Pat, who is used to driving in Montreal, proceed to sputter and rage at the drivers on the 401 and Don Valley Parkway. It was then that we realized this was, in our thirteen years of knowing each other, that I was in the passenger seat.

We made it into Toronto, running late. The CWC event started at 7:00, and we were parking right around then. Pat found an underground spot, we drove in, got the ticket, and parked, then rushed out to the event.

arthur ellisOf the event, I won’t say a lot, except that I really enjoyed Howard Shrier‘s and Robert Rotenberg‘s readings, as well as a couple of others. I got my books autographed, met Jill and it was decided that a few of us would head over to a bar for a couple of drinks. I didn’t mind horribly, though I’d hoped to be home by 10:00. Howard Shrier mentioned he’d likely only have one as he had an early meeting with a publicist for his new book in the morning. Good, I thought, we won’t be late then.

Around 10:30, I started making noises about leaving. More drinks were ordered. Around 11:00, I made some more noises. Around 11:30, it looked like it was going to happen, then I realized we hadn’t paid yet, so we had to wait for checks. That led to another round of drinks and toasts.

Finally, we got out at 12:30.

Pat and I hit the streets, wet with light rain. We made our way back to the parking lot. I figured, well, it’s 12:30 now, so it’ll be at least an hour before I’m home. I’d better grab a coffee for the road. So we hit the Tim Horton’s across the street, then laden with coffee, tried to get to the car.

The garage door was down. No matter, there was a stairway leading to an entrance. I walked down it, jiggled the doorknob. Locked.

Locked?

Heading back up, I looked at the sign. Yes, it said it was open 6 am to 7 pm and, forgetting for the moment how ridiculous it is to close a public parking lot at 7 pm in downtown Toronto, I looked for the note that said something about “no entrance after hours.” There was none.

I called the number on the sign and it went something like this:

“Hi, I’m parked at the 1075 Bay Street parking lot and I need to get to my car.”
“Come back at 6 am.”
“You’re kidding, right?”
“No sir.”
“Look, I need that car. I’m from Courtice and I’ve got someone here from Montreal that needs to get back to her hotel room and her dog.”
“There’s nothing I can do.”

1075 Bay Street Parking...better known as the Ninth Circle of Hell

1075 Bay Street Parking…better known as the Ninth Circle of Hell

So I swore loudly and disconnected. As I did this, it immediately started to rain much harder.

With nothing else to do, Pat flagged a cab and we headed back to her hotel room in Scarborough.

We’d just gotten into the cab and were discussing options (both of us needed to work in the morning, we were trying to figure out ways to get Pat’s car) when the Wife called. “Are you planning on coming home tonight?”

I explained my situation and told her I was on my way back to the truck. As I told her this, I had a flash of a memory. A memory of me looking at my keys and weighing options.

“Oh shit,” I said.

Both the Wife and Pat said, “What?”

“I just realized,” I said. “I left my keys in Pat’s car.” I let that sink in. Pat’s car. Currently receding behind us at 110 kmph. “I can’t drive home.”

I have a real problem with keys. To find out more, read this.

My first thought was to get the Wife to drive out and meet me in Scarborough, but she reminded me that our daughter had taken the car and was sleeping over at a friend’s place. They were celebrating the end of their first year of college. “She’s likely had a couple of drinks by now,” the Wife said. So that was out. I could tell by her voice she was not happy.

It was decided at that point that I would sleep on the floor in Pat’s hotel room. Pat warned me that, because she’d been drinking, she’d likely snore. “I snore too,” I said. “No biggie.”

I apologized to the Wife, Pat apologized to the Wife, and I hung up. $70 and 30 minutes later, we got back to the HoJo’s.

Pat’s mother had been dogsitting, and offered me a ride back, but with my daughter out, there was no way I would be able to get back to Scarborough, or to work in the morning.

Now, Pat’s mom is nice, but by now it was around 1:00 am, and I’d made the decision to get up at 5:30 to go get Pat’s car right when the garage opened at 6:00. So I just wanted to lay down and sleep. Pat and her mother chatted about the dog, about pizza, etc.

I’ll be honest here. When I’m tired, I can get rude. I’m sure I was rude, but neither Pat nor her mother mentioned it. They’re both far too nice to say anything.

Me? I grabbed a couple of pillows, dropped them on the floor, took off my button-down shirt so I’d look a little presentable in the morning and stretched out in my jeans and t-shirt. Pat’s mother left shortly thereafter.

Ever tried to sleep on the floor of a hotel? The carpet’s thin. It smells. We hadn’t thought to request an extra blanket, so there I was, fully clothed, contacts still in my eyes, trying to sleep. Let me break the next few hours down for you.

1:15 – 2:00 am:
Pat and her dog Dixie settled into bed, and both started slow, regular breathing. I tried to ignore the discomfort of the floor and focus on getting to sleep. Instead, I felt the slow thrumming of that last coffee jangling my nerves and popping my eyes open. Cars and trucks drove by. Dixie breathed. Pat breathed. Then I heard the shift of Pat’s breathing and thought, wow, if that’s what she calls snoring, that’s nothing. Ten minutes later, it got louder. Then louder still. It crescendoed to a room-rattling snarl, before reaching a peak, a snort, and a sound like glib-glab, then stopped. Then the whole cycle started again, taking about fifteen minutes from first heavy breaths to final glib-glab.

2:00 – 2:30 am:
The snoring was now done for the night. Next came the argument in the front lobby. I could tell the one guy was the poor bastard manning the desk of a Scarborough HoJo’s in the middle of the night, but I couldn’t tell who the other guy was. And the yelling didn’t serve to educate me any further

“I’m gonna call the cops.”
“You aren’t gonna call the cops.”
“Yes I am. I’m gonna call the cops.”
“You won’t call the cops.”
“I’m gonna call them. I’m gonna call the cops.”
“Go ahead! You call the cops.”
“I’m calling the cops.”

Seriously. If I wrote conversations like that in my fiction, I’d immediately delete it.

Not able to sleep, I pushed a pillow up against the wall and sat, arms on knees, head on arms. Did nothing.

2:30 – 3:00 am:
Two dogs. Two separate occasions. The first, some little pipsqueak of a thing, out in the hallway, yipping, then it was quickly cut off. The second was a bigger dog, and it barked five or six times.

Gave up and stretched back out again. This floor wasn’t getting any more comfortable. Smelled like dogs and dirty feet. I tried not to think about how many feet had walked the spot where I lay.

3:00 – 4:00 am:
Gave up, turned on my side, got as comfortable as I could. Fell asleep for fifteen minutes or so. Woke up, turned to other side, got maybe another half hour’s sleep.

4:00 – 5:00 am:
Got cold. Dreamed of my warm leather jacket, sitting not a hundred yards from where I lay, locked in my truck. Pulled my button down shirt off the chair and draped it over me. Watched the time go by in ten minute increments. Amused myself by counting to six hundred to see if I could accurately predict ten minutes. Nope. Had the Canadian comedians MacLean & MacLean’s song running through my head. Whaddya do on a rainy night in Toronto? Though their answers were funny, mine were just sad. Lose a car. Lose my keys. Lay awake on a floor. Curse the world that allows parking garages to close too early.

I can’t express the precise toll sleeping on a hard, cold, malodorous floor will take on you. How badly it stresses you to want to sleep, to need to sleep, to beg to sleep, but sleep doesn’t come. Instead, the night is spent staring up at a small green light on the smoke detector, the only point of interest in an otherwise dark room. The thoughts, every time the time is checked, of, That’s XX less minutes of sleep. I have to get up in XX hours. And too soon, that last thought changes to I have to get up in XX minutes. And finally, pushing up off the floor, tired, depressed, frustrated, and feeling two decades older than four hours before.

Though I’d originally planned to get up at 5:30, boredom and my bladder got me vertical at 5:00.

Called a cab company. The cab that should have been there in five minutes took more like fifteen. The cabbie called me to ask me where the hotel was. He later admitted he was a little concerned about picking someone up in Scarborough (he normally worked the western end of Toronto).

He finally found me, and by 5:30, I was on my way back to Pat’s car.

$75.00 later, he dropped me in front of the despicable 1075 Bay Street location right at 6:00 and I walked in, ready to drop a can of whupass on whoever happened to be working that morning.

There was no one. The entire place was automated.

Tell me again why a parking garage with no humans, only automated systems, needs to be closed at fucking 7:00 pm?

Found the car, pulled up to the exit, plugged in the ticket. Wasn’t surprised to see the daily maximum of $12.00 had, of course, been doubled. Why shouldn’t they hold your car hostage overnight, then bill you $24.00 for the privilege?

At this point, as I pulled out my credit card, I could only laugh. I stopped at the exact same Tim’s and ordered a big, fat coffee. Because, you know, there’s always time for Tim Horton’s.

I drove back to the hotel in Scarborough, got there about 6:30. Parked Pat’s car, snagged my keys, took her keys back to her, then got back in my truck and, bone weary, headed home.

Got home about 7:00. Got my son up for school, walked the dog, had a shower, ironed a new shirt and headed back out to spend a full day standing in the Oshawa Centre to observe how one of my company’s stores run.

The next time I get invited to an event in Toronto, I’m still going to say yes, but I’ll be goddamned if I’ll park at 1075 Bay Street.

And it will turn out to be something better to do on a rainy night in Toronto.

Spoon feeding the Boy

Spoonman, come together with your hands
Save me, on together with your plans

SoundgardenSpoonman

It’s been two months since I’ve really had to think of something to blog. Got a little worried for a bit. Well, until we went over to the Hickey’s for a typical Saturday evening. Should have known there’d be some material there.

As I usually do whenever trying to recreate an evening with the Hickeys, I’m going to preface this with the warning that no amount of words can adequately or accurately capture exactly what happens in those few short hours. But I’m going to give it a shot.

Now, the interesting thing is, this time, it seemed to be primarily my own family that provided most of the fodder for this blog.

Not sure if you’ve ever played the game Spoons, so a bit of a description is in order. Imagine ten people sitting at a large antique dinner table (though any table will do). Laid out on the table are nine spoons…one less than the number of players. Each player is dealt four cards. Cards are then shifted down the line of players as quickly as possible, with the aim of being the first to get four of a kind. Whoever gets the four of a kind then snatches a spoon, setting off a mad scramble for the remaining spoons. Just like in musical chairs, there’s always going to be one person that gets left out because there isn’t enough spoons to go around.

spoons gameIt’s usually the last spoon, grabbed at the same time by the last two players, that’s the most hotly contested. Fingers tighten. Wills are tested.

Each time you miss a spoon, you gain a letter. When you’ve collected five letters–S-P-O-O-N–then you’re out. So getting those spoons is serious business.

Well, I’m sure in other households it’s serious business. With the Elliotts and the Hickeys, it can be life or death.

Seriously. In the past, I’ve seen people dragged across tables, one hand furiously clutching the contested spoon. I’ve seen players dive under the table. I’ve seen spoons bent and twisted into wet spaghetti shapes.

bent spoonAnd the players! I’ve seen red faces, clenched, white-knuckled fists, bulging biceps, gritted teeth, steely determination.

You’d never know this was a game.

Anyway, let’s go back to this particular evening. We’d brought our niece over as she’d come to visit for the weekend. Now, you may argue that it was unfair to bring her into that hellish arena, but then I’d just say you don’t know The Niece. She can hold her mud, let me tell ya.

To be honest, and in the spirit of full transparency, I put the blame squarely on her for the unfortunate events that transpired later that evening.

It started with the first round. My daughter, the Girl happened to be seated directly across from the Niece. And they tussled over the first spoon. It wasn’t horrible, but it was a tussle.

The second round went the same way. Same two people.

By the third round, they had kicked the chairs back, and stood, pulling and straining, each refusing to back down. Until the Niece dipped her head in and the Girl yelped. The Niece bit her.

Yup. She really did. She pulled that move early and used it unabashedly. I think the fact that she busted that one out quickly speaks to her upraising, don’t you? Perhaps she wasn’t breast fed enough, or bottle fed far too early, I don’t know.

Anyway, the game progressed, with various tussles at various times. The faces, the fists, the biceps, the teeth, the determination. Yadda yadda yadda.

At one point, the spoons got snatched up. Now, you have to understand, just because you grabbed a spoon, it doesn’t mean you necessarily keep it. They are fair game to be grabbed. This is why, when you get one, you pull it tight to you and cover it with most of your body.

In this case, the Boy had snagged a spoon and sat with it proudly gripped in his fist, the bowl of the spoon pointing skyward. Then another player swooped in, grabbed the bowl-end and stole it right out of his hands.

I don’t believe the Boy was amused. And I believe it stiffened his resolve to never lose another spoon again.

Then came the time when that last spoon came down to myself…and the Boy.

I should note here, that when I say “the Boy” I’m actually referring to a sixteen-year-old teen that’s as tall as I am and quite strong for his age.

So this was no mismatched battle of wills between a man and a little boy.

The boy grabbed the spoon but was at an immediate disadvantage, having caught only the handle of the spoon. I, on the other hand, caught it right in the middle. Somehow, in the ensuing struggle, the spoon got bent around my middle finger, so both the bowl and the handle faced the same way.

And the Boy kept tugging at it. It hurt like hell.

Unfortunately for the spoon, we’re both quite competitive and neither was giving up. Each time he pulled, it grated against a nerve in my finger and sent jangling pain up my arm.

Yeah, yeah, I know. I should have just let go. But I never claimed to be that smart.

Anyway, when he made no headway with that, he decided to engage the Niece Maneuver. Oh yes, he bit me. This is where I look disapprovingly at the Niece, by the way.

But let me clear: he did not just open his mouth and clamp down on my hand. Nope, he’s nastier than that. He actually grabbed at a small bit of skin on the back of my hand, just behind my first knuckle, pulling it up so that it resembled a skin tent. I was, quite frankly, surprised that my skin could flex that much.Hand1

And. He. Would. Not. Let. Go.

I had visions of a small chunk of skin from the back of my hand finally giving up and tearing away under the onslaught of his chompers, leaving him with a tasty treat and me with a bite-sized slash of missing epidermis.

Honestly. I pictured it. I kept waiting for him to pull back and have a piece of me in his mouth.Hand2

And. Still. I. Did. Not. Let. Go.

That kind of says something about me, doesn’t it. And yes, I realize, what it says isn’t that flattering.

Ultimately, I did the only thing I could do. Being the older, more responsible person, being the parent that should be setting the example and give my son the valuable life lesson than can only be found at turbulent times like these, I seized the opportunity.

Yup. I grabbed a solid wad of his hair and I frigging pulled for all I was worth.

Initially, I thought it was a mistake as that tent grew into more of a teepee, but ultimately, the Dad Gambit overcame the Boy Variant of the Niece Maneuver.

So, after all that, I got the damn spoon.

In the end, neither of us won the game.

Which likely was the overall learning of the evening.

Or maybe it was when one of the Hickeys looked at me and said, “You notice it’s only your family that was doing all the biting, right?”

Post-apoc-a-lip-service

I didn’t want to (and still don’t want to) write a “post-apocalypse” blog because that whole Mayan thing is simply one more example of the vast majority reading only the headline and not the full explanations, or they were too damn lazy to find out the real story.

In my lifetime, I’ve survived at least two raptures, the Mayan apocalypse, Y2K, and both Saved By The Bell and Glee. I’m a survivor.

glee-logo

Anyway, something did capture my attention this morning, the always-interesting blog of Jason Darrick. He wrote a blog based on some tweets done with the hashtag #ApocalypseConfessions. I’ll let Jason explain it, because he does it better than I ever could.

A funny thing happened on Twitter yesterday, at least, it was meant to be funny. The hashtag “ApocalypseConfessions” made the rounds, with most people throwing a joke at the wall and hoping for a retweet or two. The thing about me is that I don’t open up very well, so I took the opportunity to speak some truths about myself, not so much in the event that we all die, rather because there’s demons in my head that alcohol just won’t kill. So below are my confessions along with two retweets that apply to me.

Jason

He then went on to list fifteen tweets that applied to him. He didn’t add any explanation, which I found equally interesting, letting those little 140-character blasts stand or fall on their own.

I’d like to add some commentary on some of them, simply based on my own experiences. I checked with Jason first. He said he doesn’t mind.

#ApocalypseConfessions I really hate the personal situation that I’m in. I’d rather be with someone(s) than alone.

Ah, this is a great place to start. I’ve seen this a lot, especially with my own family. I come from a family of people that really can’t be alone. Unfortunately, what that means is, they’ve made some truly horrible choices in partners, simply because they settled. Yes, it’s shitty to be alone, however, I also believe you have to be comfortable with yourself before you can be comfortable with someone else. Never settle. Someone out there is waiting for you. Don’t let them slide by because you grabbed the first one that showed any interest. As the song says, shop around.

#ApocalypseConfessions I often feel that the image I project isn’t anywhere close to who I want to be. Rather, it’s who everyone wants.

#ApocalypseConfessions Why yes, I AM afraid to be myself. That’s why I have a blog under an assumed name.

These two seem to go together well. This was also the topic of a brief conversation I just had with the Girl yesterday. I’m always reminded of the Billy Joel song when this topic comes up.

Well we all have a face
That we hide away forever
And we take them out and show ourselves
When everyone has gone
Some are satin, some are steel
Some are silk, and some are leather
They’re the faces of the stranger
But we love to try them on

We all have many images or faces we project. There’s the professional, assured one we wear at work. There’s the sometimes vulnerable, sometimes confident, loving one we wear to our partner. There’s the gently authoritative one we wear for our children. But sometimes we just need to let them drop and be who we are. Because, in the end, if others can’t like us for who we are, if we have to play someone different to get that job, to get that partner…then really, are they worth being around? Be honest to others, but more importantly, be honest to yourself. Don’t wear the face of a stranger.

#ApocalypseConfessions I motherfucking hate Xmas. I put a brave face on for my daughter.

I’ve covered this one at length here. Long story short, this is one where you simply have to put your head down and barrel through it. The good thing is, it ends. The bad thing is, it keeps coming back. Later on, this is another face of the stranger you can drop with your child, when they’re old enough to understand. But they’ll likely appreciate what you did for them. Being a good parent means thinking of your kids before you think of yourself. You’re doing that.

“@stateofego: I’m deathly afraid of failure. This fear often holds me back.  #ApocalypseConfessions” DITTO.

My favourite quote of all time is, “What would you attempt to do if you know you could not fail?” by Robert Schuller.

It seems to also fit nicely with a quote from Frank Herbert’s Dune:

“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”

Fear Litany Worm

Fear is crippling. If you fear that you can’t put on your shoes, you won’t put on your shoes. If you fear anything, then try it.

This may be the main reason I’m so loyal to the company I work for: About a decade ago, they sent me on a course that was designed only to allow me to coach agents much better. Which it did, however it gave me a life lesson I never forgot. They, over the course of two days, taught me that if I’m comfortable, I’m not learning. They forced us into uncomfortable situations, then allowed us to learn from them and succeed. It’s a lesson I’ve never forgotten and I’ll be eternally grateful for them teaching me.

I’ve accomplished so much by allowing myself to be okay with being uncomfortable. Has it always worked out? Hell no. But it has worked out much more than it hasn’t. And once you get a couple of those victories under your belt, it gets easier. Give yourself permission to fail, then go and do something that scares the shit out of you.

“@StaceyONeale: I have over 100 unread books in my house and my kindle. 80% of them I got for free. #ApocalypseConfessions” Over 200 for me.

This is something I’m going to total up too, but I think I’ve got you both beat, between traditional books, ebooks, and audio books. A culling is in order. But it’s also wonderful to always have something to look forward to, isn’t it?

#ApocalypseConfessions I never wanted to be a reviewer. I was told authors just do it. Had C. not invited me, I wouldn’t be at DT.

#ApocalypseConfessions I wanna write about pro wrestling and work for Cracked. That way I’d have all the base forms of entertainment covered

For these two, I’ll always say to write what pleases you first. It’s great that C. invited you, because it took you out of your comfort zone. On the other hand, if it’s no longer helping you (and I’m talking in general terms to any writer here), then move on. Too many writers don’t challenge themselves enough (and I’m likely talking to myself here too…so I hope I’m listening). About a year ago, Ed Kurtz approached me to write about a PI that investigates a case that turns supernatural…his excellent Sam Truman series. Now, I was born in 1962, so what do I know about being an adult in 1960? And I’d never written a PI story before, so what do I know about being a PI? Of course I said yes to his offer. Still not sure the experiment was a full success, but I enjoyed the experience, let me tell you. If you want to write something, don’t keep wishing…write it. It may be shit, it may be gold, but it will always be a learning experience.

#ApocalypseConfessions Joking aside, that last tweet was true.

So write about pro wrestling and create a Cracked.com article. Do it.

#ApocalypseConfessions Goodreads says I’ve read 18.5 books this year. That’s more than theyears 1995-2008 combined. Yes, I regret that.

According to my website, I’ve read 95 books this year and I’m still pissed that I’m not closer to 156. I really wanted to average three a week. Though, to be honest, I could go through double that and likely still not be happy. I’ve even tried to do the speed-reading thing, but it doesn’t work for me. Anyone got some tips for reading faster? I’ll take them.

#ApocalypseConfessions About 8 years ago, I planned on moving East to work in porn. If I was in shape, I’d still do it.

Okay, I originally wrote, “This one’s so far outside my experience range, I can’t comment on it.”  Then I thought about that…and of course I have stuff to say about it.

ninja porn

I’m not a big porn guy. Hell, I’m not even a little porn guy. Porn doesn’t work for me, though I must say, I find it fascinating how something that, even only three or four decades ago was still very much an underground, never-discussed thing, is now so mainstream. But that’s the internet for ya.

But that’s not what I wanted to say. The point here is, I find it absolutely fascinating that the person who wrote most of these tweets obviously doubts their abilities in many ways, yet they are confident to actually come out and state they wouldn’t mind working in porn. I’m known for saying a hell of a lot of off-colour things, but I don’t think I could ever work up the courage to even state in a public forum that I’d like to work in porn. And I know I couldn’t actually do it. Instead of being known as H.R. Puff ‘n’ Stuff

hr-pufnstuf

(I always thought that was the perfect pornstar name), I’d likely be known simply as SD&RB, which was an acronym my college roommate used to use. It means “shrink dink and raisin bag.” Yup, that’d be me on a porn set.

So, bravo Jason. Good for you stating that one. That takes balls. (see what I did there?)

#ApocalypseConfessions I write short stories because I can’t be bothered with long rewrites. Working to fix that.

This comes back to the “write what you want to write” suggestion. For me, initially, I couldn’t even envision myself writing anything longer than about fifteen to twenty pages. Why? Because I had never done it before. Then I started on this neat little story about a demon in a high school. This little short story, after all was said and done, turned out to be something like 400 manuscript pages. 100K words.

Write the story that’s inside you, not what you can be bothered with.

#ApocalypseConfessions If you’re hitting on me, you need to make that abundantly clear. I’m terrible at reading women.

Good lord, this sums up my love life from the age of 12 to meeting my wife. Women essentially had to throw themselves at me for me to take the hint. And yet, for all of that, my wife still insists that I chased her. Wrong.

#ApocalypseConfessions I keep hair on my head because folks don’t like me being bald. I hate my hair.

Then go bald. It’s your head. What if someone said they didn’t like your nose? Would  you change it? Not only should you be the person you want to be but, within reason, look like the person you want to be as well. I only state “within reason” as, if you work in a professional, suit and tie environment, then you either have to conform or be so damn good at what you do that they tolerate your personal appearance.

But as much as possible, go by this quote from an unmarked grave in Kansas: “Be what you is, ‘cos if you be what you ain’t, you ain’t what you is.”

“@babymoondrop: I buy books, but I never read them #ApocalypseConfessions” A million times THIS.

I’ve bought books that I was sure I was going to read, only to get a few pages in and hate them, so I never finished them. Some book by Charles Stross. Writing Down to the Bones by Natalie Goldberg. That one damn near killed me. I can only handle so much New Agey shit before I start getting the heaves. Then there were some I shouldn’t have finished. American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown. But I don’t think I’ve ever let a book languish just for the sake of not having read it. I always get around to it. May take some time, but I’ll always get around to it.

APsycho

Anyway, that’s Jason’s list and some of my added life lessons and crap commentary. Feel free to tell me if I’m wrong on any of this.