Without a shadow of a doubt, this is my favorite season of the year. What's not to like about it? The days are short, and the nights are long. Everything's discounted in just about every store. There's pretty lights in just about every direction you look, and the music, oh, the music. Christmas music is both peppy and jolly. Add outlandish decorations to the mix, and you have what should be the makings of a holly, jolly season!
As you might surmise, the grinches of the world baffle me to no end. For instance, I have this one friend, who just hates the whole nine yards about the holiday, from the shopping to the music, and everything in between. He does everything to register his intense dislike for the season, but run around yelling, "Noise, noise, noise!"
If you can imagine this(because I have a hard time doing so), he does all he can do to get his wife to agree to take their Christmas tree down on Christmas night. His pleas begin pretty much right after their kids go back to their homes with the grandchildren. The strangest thing about the whole deal is, oftentimes his wife agrees with his cockeyed plan. Hating Christmas to that degree is something I will never understand. Even contemplating such an opinion is a downer, and definitely the opposite of the spirit of the season, which admittedly, I do embrace in an extreme manner.
This friend of mine gets annoyed when he comes over to my house during January and my tree is still up and lit. I'm a firm believer in keeping my tree up, so long as the needles of it are still clinging on for their very lives. One year, my tree lasted until St. Patty's Day. Who am I kidding? If my wife would let me, I'd keep the decorations up all year long. When my wife started going out with me, she was surprised to discover my tree still set up in May, and still, with some needles on the poor thing. You can never have too much Christmas!
What is it about Christmas that fires my engine? Well, it's the jolliness, which is definitely infectious. Even the most curmudgeonly(is this even a word, hmm), of curmudgeons, from Thanksgiving through New Year's Day, walk around with wide smiles spread across their faces. Although the stores are filled to the brim with shoppers, most everyone is in a great mood. It certainly is the most wonderful time of the year, and I wholeheartedly agree with Elvis. If everyday were like Christmas, what a wonderful world it would be!
This past weekend my family had their annual get-together. The gathering took place at a restaurant in one of those event rooms, most likely invented by restaurant owners to segregate the type of customers from regular folk who, you might assume would scare away normal people. The type of room definitely invented with my family in mind.
Generally, separating my family from the rest of the restaurant patrons is a good idea. One never knows what sort of outburst might occur when my family is in the same space at the same time. Many years feel like the worst of the worst outtakes from those holiday movies. You know, the kind of flicks where everything that can go wrong, as far from okay as the imagination will allow. The kind of outtakes I'm talking about are the sort that end up on the cutting-room floor because some producer felt the scenes went beyond what any audience would ever believe. Well, think of those situations, go further out into The pale, well-beyond The Lights, and maybe, you've conjured the proper image of one of my family's typical gatherings.
Some years, the get-togethers feel more like a gathering of immortals, all vying to be the last one standing, rather than a Christmas celebration, but this year was surprisingly different. No fights broke out, no centerpieces were thrown at anyone, no trees were set on fire, and nobody went to the hospital. It was a relatively, peaceful event. Imagine that!
Everyone, including myself, behaved themselves and acted like adults. Nobody came close to resembling redheaded stepchildren being unleashed upon the world by some evil genius. I think the magic sauce that altered the usual family dynamic was my grandbaby, but who knows? Maybe my family is like a broken clock, and this year was the one year, in which, it was right. Nah, I believe my grandbaby made all the difference.
Everyone took turns holding my grand baby, who ate up all of the attention. She was passed around the table, as if she were the greatest gift of all, which, by the way, I believe her to be. A good time was had by all, especially by the one who really matters, my sweet grandbaby, Little Zee!
I suppose I should get back to editing my current work-in-progress, so, good night, good luck, and remember the most important thing: Oi to the world and everybody wins!
Letters dance across my mindscape like sugar plums gyrating by themselves at a ballroom dance. They are all looking for partners to be delivered from their lonely state of existence. A sense of purpose is what moves them. They just don't know what that might be, so they search for something, anything, to fulfill their wildest dreams of becoming more than a singular utterance, lone weirdos, twirling frantically on the floor.
As these sugar plums bounce, twirl, jump, and bop across the ballroom floor, they are all seeking the attraction of other loners. Many of them link arms to try something new, and lo and behold, begin to do more harmonious whirling, a jitterbug or a jive. They had started to express something, but will those passions transform them into stories? Will the energetic couples be able to turn their movements into something glorious and able to withstand the test of time?
Some tales are automatically glorious, like a sensual tango or a mouthwatering, fruit pie. Others are more like a graceful waltz or a delightful plum pudding, not so brilliant or mind-blowing, but still, a far cry from just being okay. Then there are those stories, for whatever reason, never pop or develop past their dissonant beginnings and end up in the trash bin, separated into lone utterances, once more. It is a marvel to think it all began within the mindscape as The Dance of The Sugar Plums. Through it all, there comes a time when every writer asks: What is this thing I do?
You may think the answer to that question is complex and would come with some convoluted and wordy explanation. I don't know how other authors view how they do their craft, but in my case, the answer is simple and can be explained in two words. Simply put, I create!
Writing is a process, which has many steps. Once a story comes to life, there's the editing, formatting, and finally, the marketing of the finished tales. The common thread for each part of the writing process is creation.
No matter where any particular story is along its path from the mental, drawing board of my mind to being sold, creativity is the required element. When problems crop up, I troubleshoot the issue and craft an innovative solution. If anyone tells you, selling books is not an imaginative task, that person has never had to create Tweet after Tweet that touch people to such a degree that gets those folks to take action and buy their work.
In many ways, once the proverbial ink has dried, my work has just begun. For me, writing stories comes easy. At any given moment, hundreds of tales thunder across my mind. All I have to do, is find the time to get my thoughts into a tangible format. Getting the world to know my stories exist, that's the hard part and the rub of it all!
I write dark, fantasy stories that can be read as stand-alones, but they also go together to form a tapestry, so much greater than the individual tales. My mind leans toward the complex, but I've managed to simplify the complexity, so my musings can be served up in bite-sized morsels. The same holds true for every other piece of the writing puzzle. Anyway, that's how I view this thing I do.
Every writer has to find his or her own way of cutting through the noise. Hundreds, if not thousands, of stories are uploaded by hopeful writers to Amazon every day. Now, that's not counting the upteen millions of tales already being sold on the site. Yes, cutting through the noise is the apt term for it. To accomplish that Herculean task, every ounce of creativity the artist can muster is required, which brings me to my last point.
I view myself, not as an author, but as an artist, whose medium is words. My canvases are my pads of paper, which are ultimately transcribed into my computer for eventual publication. I say artist because it's broader than being a mere author. Anybody can write. Only the artist creates something out of thin air. I like to think I do just that with a panache like no other.
And now, you know the rest of the story behind this thing I do. In closing, I hope all of you have a safe and jolly season. However you may choose to celebrate the holidays, don't let the bright lights keep you from doing your own Dance of Deliverance underneath the moon within the ever-increasing darkness, as the days get shorter and shorter!
I apologize for my neglectful ways, regarding this blog. I didn't think it had been that long since my last post. When I looked at my notes, I realized what seemed no longer than a blink of an eye, had been a little more than a month ago, since I gave you my thoughts about art and culture; particularly, dealing with the removal of art from our public spaces. My, how time flies when you're having fun and are as busy as hell. Both are the reasons behind my absence.
At the beginning of November, I started taking care of my grand baby, while my daughter and son-in-law toil in their respective salt mines. This latest wrinkle in my life has been a commitment, but also, an amazing labor of love. You don't stop to think, I didn't, anyway, when you sign up for such an endeavor, how much time, to which, you're actually committing. Until you have a need to probe deeper, twenty-four hours seems like an eternity, certainly enough time to accomplish just about anything, anyone could possibly want done. As every normal human fully understands, nine hours a day, adds up to some real time, over the course of a week, and the weeks don't stop coming at you. I've never been accused of being normal, but really: Who would've thought, time is so persistent and never-ending?
It had been a long time, since I've had to pay attention to such everyday things, as hour of the day and schedules. What is so obvious to anyone who clocks in at a particular time, every single day of the week, slipped by me. God bless all of you who have regular jobs with bosses, to whom, you must answer and be responsive, in order to get that weekly paycheck, entrepreneurs, like myself, do not receive. Working for oneself at home has its benefits, but a regular paycheck isn't one of those. Nobody ever said, "A writer's life is a normal one."
My irregular schedule is the reason as to why I can take care of my grand baby, five days a week, ostensibly, until The Crack of Doom. I call my new endeavor, Grumpy Daycare. This name began as a funny thing to say, but has stuck. I am Grumpy and my wife is Granny. The name also conjures other images. As you can imagine, going from having no schedule whatsoever to being at the beck and call of a three month old baby, made me a bit grumpy, to say the least. I had forgotten how demanding babies can be. Whaaa, pay attention to me! Whaaaa, change my diaper! Whaaaaa, feed me!
Once you cut through their cute facades, babies are such tyrants. These little podlings(Yea, I know. This term spikes of being an alien, but who hasn't thought of babies as being some alien species?) seem to think the world revolves around their wants and needs. They cry, and their caretakers dance to their tune; changing them, feeding them, and making silly faces or whatever appears to suit the fancy of these little dictators. Before you know it, nine hours have passed, and the parent of this tyranical, bundle of cuteness has returned to bring their podling back to their homestead(Perhaps, for The Mother Ship to study us silly humans). For you see, time does fly, when you're having fun!
Being around a baby on a regular basis gives one a fresh outlook on life. These little darlings are windows into our own souls. Probably, because these podlings are constantly probing for the meanings of our lives and transmitting the data back to The Mother Ship, but don't hold me to that conception. If there is a superior race of aliens studying us(Since they came to us, there would be no other way to see it), I wouldn't want to get on their bad side. No matter what lies behind the inquiry, babies make you think. Through their growth, which seems to happen daily, and their unconditional love, babies get you to see the most mundane aspects of life, as if, for the first time. It's the most uncanny(And maybe, unsettling) part of being a caretaker for these tiny podlings.
The other day, little Zara caused me to reassess how we learn to do the things we do. Her full name is Zarathustra Dragonslayer, but we simply call her, among other things, Zara. How many names can one being have? It would seem as many as everyone in the family can create, but I digress. What's new?
As I watched my little Z(There I go!) figure out how to get her pacifier back into her mouth, it occurred to me, what a complicated task that could be. Little Z surrounded her coveted device with both of her hands. Then, she pushed the pacifier up her chest and toward her mouth, inch by breathtaking inch. It looked like a military operation gone awry, with the small device appearing to have a sentience of its own.
She would get the pacifier almost into her mouth, then it would tip and fall away from her. Each time, she shook her head, cooed like an owl, and pulled on the ribbon, connected to the end of the Great Device of Sucking Satisfaction, to bring it back onto her stomach and begin the operation again. It was so funny to watch. After a good half-hour, she finally got the pacifier into her mouth. The next time was slightly quicker, and now, Zara puts it into her mouth like a pro, most of the time, anyway. They do say, practice makes perfect!
That incident reminded me, nothing is ingrained in any of us. We are all born as blank slates. Throughout our lives, we cause information to be written onto those slates. There is nothing we can't learn. We just need to give ourselves time to understand, whatever it is, we desire.
No matter how much we think we know, our slates never have everything written on them. I guess they call that realization, wisdom. Time, patience, and persistence are all that's required in order to make sense of even the most complex of tasks. Life gives us experience, which is turned into wisdom and written upon our slates, to make them that much, less blank.
Now, you know the rest of the story behind the grumblings of Grumpy Daycare. As such, I leave you with one last thought: No matter how much you may love The Dark, you need to fill the darkness of your mind with the light of knowledge, and as much of it as is humanly possible!