Thursday, August 30, 2012

Back To School: Redux

Between emotional extremes, life continues, unfinished, uncertain, frightening but marvelous.

Yesterday I met with my academic advisor, a woman I have not seen in a decade, and together we poured over my college transcripts to decide my best course of action for the upcoming semester. Yes, indeed. I’m returning to school.

The run from the parking lot (in which I parked illegally, as I did almost my entire career in college) was longer than I remembered. I was late as usual, a steady reminder that even older, I still misjudge the travel time from my hometown to the university. I never seem to factor in the parking and walking portion of the trip, a rather important portion of the equation. Perhaps this time I will learn more and reform.

Or not. I muddled through the first time.

From english major, to maintenance man, to possible teacher. A longer path than I anticipated with a destination I hadn’t expected, but there you go, Folks. Life in all the vagaries, in all the guises and missteps and exaltations, is nothing in the end except life. My life in this case.

I start next week back to the grind, taking education courses while planning for my ultimate goal of getting into a masters program next summer. Then an intense year in which being broke will be an aspiration as the hunger will prod me to achieve that wonderful prize at the end; a chance to teach secondary school.

Let that sink in. Jealous?

Me, I’m equal parts fear and excitement. But that’s life, isn’t it? We just have to find a way to live it the best we can.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Football Season Starts And I'm Undefeated

I'm imagining I'm in the blimp... how about you?
Man, it's fantasy football time and that has definitely sucked up my time today. I could be doing so much more with my life than trying to decide if it's worth dropping the veteran Carson Palmer from Cincy for the rookie QB Russel Wilson in Seattle. No way Wilson continues to stay as hot as he was in the last preseason game, but geez, Palmer burned me last year, never producing when I really needed him. I have Peyton Manning and can only hope that he is super motivated after sitting last year.

Then there's running back considerations. Lots of backups to pick up but few front line guys. Is Cedric Benson going for a thousand yards this year? Who knows.

Why stress over fantasy football you may ask (and if you are, I understand and release you from further reading)? The answer is pride and the chance to get a trophy and admiration of all those who know me and quite possibly somewhere in the mix world peace may be achieved. I'll start with the trophy and let the rest sort out as best it can.

Last year I was fifth and though fifth out of twelve seems bad (mediocre if you are so kind), if you only knew the rubbage I had to struggle with all year, the crummy luck, the possible collusion between unnamed owners in my league who wanted me to lose even more than they wanted to win. Terrible is the life of a marked man.

I feel like a star QB with a target painted in florescent paint on my back and on my front.

But this is my year, Folks, my time for glory. I'll be able to shake my fist to the sky where the football gods dwell and claim my victory in manly defiance, my wounds packed with dirt but my courage unquestioned.

All that is left to be said is, "bring it on!"

(Was that too much? I tried for subtle but maybe I over stepped a wee bit. What do you think?)

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Manuscript Length A Thing Of The Past

I was speaking with a friend yesterday who asked me what I did with my writing. I was confused at first with the question before realizing that he didn’t read my blog, didn’t know much about that aspect of my life. After a silent and brief sulk, I told him about my blog.

He then revealed he was writing, scribbling as he said on note paper, and not knowing what to do with the poems and stories and true-life confessions, destroying them for lack of an appropriate alternative.

I suggested a blog or publication.

He returned with the comment that presenting his work to the masses was akin to walking around naked; not appealing and certainly not an option.

I thought, What’s the problem?

Of course, I had the same hang-ups, the same fear of being judged before coming to the conclusion that my fears were an excuse not to try and that in the end, any embarrassment was tolerable when weighed against the alternative of failing due to simple inaction. If people think my writing is crap, then so be it, but at least I’ve given it a chance to be judged, to be weighed and measured.

Being enlightened and refined, I of course said none of this to my friend. Instead I told him to just do it, using the stand by psychology I learned from Nike in my formative years. I’ll share in my writing, but mushy face to face stuff? No thank you.

Rub some dirt in it and stop crying, Man!

Damn the torpedos!

You know what I mean, Folks? Manly shit between manly men. I ain’t talking about fears and such with a friend, no way. Besides, I’m pretty sure that the phrase, just do it, implies all that anyway.

Getting past the mushy minefield, we moved into the merits of publishing, as blogging was met with an instant disdain. The question arose as to length of manuscripts. What is the correct length in order to publish? I’ve been thinking of this question for awhile now and this is the simple answer I gave:

Whatever length you want. If you self-publish.

The conversation veered at this point but my mind still worked on that question of length. It was the first time I had vocalized my thoughts on manuscript length, even if briefly. Manuscript length is no longer valid in the digital age tied as it was to production cost more so than any other factor and shouldn’t be a top consideration for writers any longer.

If my friend wants to publish a two page short story or poem or laundry list and charge $1,000 dollars to the public, then why the hell not?

I want to explore this more, but for now, what do you Folks think? Does anyone care about manuscript length or should they? Shouldn’t the writing take precedence rather than the business?

Or did I plant a seed in my newly writing friend’s mind that basically screwed him before he even begins?

Monday, August 20, 2012

Or So I Believe

Writing is in the blood and the blood flows in the land in which we are raised. Or so I believe.

It would be impossible for Stephen King to erase Maine from his writing as it would have been for Faulkner to pretend he wasn’t from the South. The best we can do as writers is to go out into the world so that we aren’t too insular and gather to us all that we see, then translate it using the essence inborn.

When travelling this past year, a second level awareness of my own inner Mainer was there in the back of mind. I was an interloper, just a tourist, I didn’t belong in the places I found myself, but there I was anyway.

I could never be a voice of Quebec, not could I give true character to what it means to be a Kiwi. No, my blood was grown in granite, dusted with salt spray from the Atlantic. I can’t be anything except who I was born to be.

That doesn’t mean that I can’t stretch the boundaries of birth. It doesn’t mean I can’t be better, taking from experience and adding it to what I am, and thus improving my own character by becoming aware of what it means to be Other and temporarily seeing, imperfectly, through the eyes of someone else.

I believe we can evolve our character. It takes a willingness to first recognize who we are, where we come from and an openness to allow for change to occur. Through travel we can achieve more rapid evolution of self.

I think I’ve grown in the year gone, that some of what I’ve experienced has made me consider who I am and what I believe. More, I hope that the why of who I am and the origins are more defined.

I can’t see the world without seeing it as a Mainer because that is who I am, but I can’t understand what a Mainer is until I see the world because perspective makes us greater than we would be otherwise.

Or so I believe.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

One (magical) Year And Counting

We can go to many beautiful places in our lives, but no where can we go that is magical unless we go with someone we love. 

I went to many magical places this past year.

I love you, Shayna.

Stonington, Maine. Photo: Dana Moos

The year begins August 13, 2011 in Stonington, Maine at a small church next to the ocean.

Quebec City. Photo: Ilmarin

Immediately following the wedding, we headed to Quebec City for a three day mini-moon. No snow in August, but who really cares about weather on a mini-moon, right?

Queenstown, New Zealand. Photo: Shayna Nickerson

Thanksgiving. November 2011. There was snow when we left Maine but after a full 33 hrs of travel, we found ourselves in a place we both fell in love with. Oh New Zealand, how we wish you were closer.

Seventeen days for a honeymoon were not enough.

Connecticut. Photo: David Rumsey

Seven hours away is Connecticut, and my brother-in-law, and his new wife, and their two dogs, and their cat and several friends, and, well, we make this trip often. Often enough that I can't give a specific number. But yet as often as we go, it never seems enough.

Prince Edward Island. Photo: Smulan77

Who knew that camping in June on Prince Edward Island with a puppy would prove to be such a wonderful trip? I kind of miss the tent but not the puppy teeth.

Newport, Rhode Island. Photo: NJYachtCharters1

A music festival in July proved an adventure and also that we have lots to learn, like arriving much, much earlier than we thought. 

The folk festival crowd? Dedicated. We'll have to work smarter next year to carve out a space a bit closer to the stage. And maybe learn to hold any bathroom urges because those port-a-potties were life scarring. 

Quebec City. Photo: Mark Windrim

Back again, but instead of a mini-moon, we celebrate our first anniversary in a city that has great food, great wine and most important, a kick ass mall where if one were inclined, he could carry bags of heavy stuff for his beautiful wife for hours and hours.

Magical places, Folks... 

Here's hoping you all find your own magical destinations. 

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Of Carts & Horses: Writer Woes

The horse before (Des)cart(es)? 
You know Folks, the saying, ‘Don’t put your cart before the horse’? Yeah? Well I figured out the reason this past year and guess what? The reason isn’t because it’s hard for a horse to push that cart, because really, horses are big strong animals and if they want to push a damn cart, well, I guess that cart will get pushed.

No, the real reason you don’t put the cart before the horse is simple:


That’s right. As you get busy arranging that cart, turning your back for just a minute, a mere tick of time, that ungrateful horse just ups and leaves. And let me tell you Folks, chasing down a horse once it has a head on and he’s full of thoughts of freedom and green pastures elsewhere, well, that takes time and dedication.

So, I’ve been chasing that damn horse for the better part of a year and trying to situate things better so I don’t, in the future, waste even more time running around in the puckerbrush cursing the horse, myself and life in general.

There is a better way that I hope I found which will make life so much easier and allow me to finally get my cart rolling in the direction I intended.