Does the fork in your road have seven lanes or is it just me?

Photography by Gabriel circa 2012.

Photography by Gabriel circa 2012.

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything on my blog. Five months to be exact. I know it’s been too long because the creative blood in my veins have begun to clot along the interior walls of my heart. I wish I could give you semi-decent excuses for my absence. You know the usual balderdash. This happened, that occurred, I was too busy with work, I got married and the wife popped out a litter of pups, went on a walk-about in Australia so I could seize manhood by growing a scraggly beard and skinning rattlesnakes, or that I was building a sailboat in order to ride the high seas like some rich kid who has nothing better to do with their time. (Just for the record I don’t know how long it would take to build a boat, considering I have no idea how to use tools or even the basic concept of woodworking. I would have to interrogate my friend Jacob on that one.)

Excuses like that seem legit and some would even consider them noble undertakings. But alas, I don’t have any room for them in my excuse folder. Although I did manage to grow a beard towards the end of 2013. I was very proud of my beard. But it’s too hot in Florida, even in the dead of winter so I shaved it off.

In a one of my previous posts I had mentioned that I moved down south to get away from life up north. That kept me busy for a while. You know, settling in, finding employment, etc. But then (unfortunately) I was called back to New York for several weeks in order to take care of some personal business. After those shenanigans were dealt with and after it was apparent (yet again might I add) that my New York Jets would not make the playoffs, I flew back down mid-December in order to find work and wait out the rest of the horror that was last year. I am not complaining, unloading, or even giving you a list of things that in all probability you don’t really care about (wait, that last one might be true), I am simply trying to explain where I’ve been.

I think mindsets have a huge say in when a self-entitled writer decides to pick up their pencils (or laptops) and squeeze out a few coherent sentences. For instance, I take Instagram photos and write silly little fiction tales to go along with them just to keep sharp. But I don’t think many people appreciate my doing so (with a few exceptions of course). I mean come on, who has time to read fifteen sentences these days (he says with the roll of his eyes)? People probably think I am being snooty, or showing off, or just plain bats. I don’t care. Like I said, it keeps me sharp and it’s nice to think it could invoke emotions out of the crowd. Who doesn’t like a little commentary to go along with a pretty picture?

But it’s that whole mindset problem . I’ll tell you a secret, the wires in my brain have managed to get tangled up over the past few years. So much so, that if you took an x-ray of my noggin I bet it would look like a ball of yarn someone left under their recliner. If your mindset is dragging you down and you find yourself trapped in the dreaded doldrums, fear not. It makes great fodder for the weary writer looking to muse something poetic and original. I know this to be true in my own journey through life, especially the past six months. I think one of our problems (the unpublished) is seeded in the fact that we are hopelessly emotional and we sometimes forget how to channel the positive/negative energy emanating from our own deceitful nature. Now I know I run the risk of being mocked, condemned and even tarred and feathered for such a blatant statement, but it’s true. I think of it like this: painters paint by what they wish to see, musicians create music by what their ears want to hear, and writers scribe from what they feel deep inside their bellies, where things churn and swell and eventually come out in a flurry of ingenuity, hoping someone will take notice. Don’t get me wrong, every facet of artistic ability stems from the deep longing in our souls to make beauty out of nothing, to inspire someone, to change the world from their own perspectives, and since I can’t paint nor play an instrument, I have to rely on words and sentences to convey what is going on inside the ball of yarn I call a brain.

What do you like to read when things go sour? What section of Barnes and Noble do you peruse when all is well and the world is your oyster? What corner of the library do you find yourself in when things aren’t going right and when every door slams shut on your face? What’s your favorite Starbucks to visit when you are in love and you want to journal some sappy nonsense about your better half?

Maybe you’re like me. Straddling the fence between every place and no place, reading everything or reading nothing, loving all or feeling nothing but that silent emptiness of loneliness. I’ve been trying to pray more these days. I took a long hiatus from the practice because I felt the Lord wasn’t hearing me, or that I wasn’t asking hard enough. I think King David must have been feeling the same type of emotions when he wrote the Psalms. It’s a wonderful biography of a person that God called “a man after His own heart”.  Meanwhile he was one of the biggest basket-cases in the Old Testament.

But the Psalms are different. David takes the reader on a journey to the top of the mountain with songs of love, faithfulness, joy and peace with his maker. On the other side of the token, the not-so-bright side, he brings us into the valley of his lamenting. He is scared and lonely and doesn’t know where to run and hide. He begs for help and sheds tears because there’s no one to comfort him. If I close my eyes I can see him sitting on a hill, faithfully tending his flock while all of these emotions are running through his spirit. This was the man who slew a giant with a stone! A shepherd boy who was to be king of Israel. When he wasn’t writing, he was running from Saul, when he wasn’t running from Saul, he was trying to figure out which road God wanted him to take.

Doesn’t this sound like us at times?

So, my fellow unpublished friends, cheer up. Use your emotions as a tool to write wonderful things. Use it as a compass to change the world because people need directions. There’s too many forks in the road.


Trifecta Challenge: Haiku for Water

Trifecta week eighty-three: Write a Haiku.

Ocean waves thrust lazily onward

Among sandy shores water recedes without grace

Palms sway against time eternal


Here’s to the Greatest Speech.

Trifecta week eighty-nine: Write a 33-333 word story using weak as your prompt. Authors note: Please read my story before watching the video! I do believe this old clip is one of the most inspiring speeches I have ever heard…it’s worth watching. 

My friend Charlie brought hope to millions that day. I call him friend but in reality we never met. I happened to be sitting a few rows behind him when he stood nervously and gave the greatest speech my ears had ever heard. Sometimes when the burden of life and lust swarm the confines of my heart I will close my eyes and think back to those years long gone, years that are dissolving from my memory like ink on paper, slowly fading with age. I smile when I picture that little fella standing on trembling knees with the courage of a lion coursing through his bloodstream.

Before entering the arena I overheard pompous aristocrats call his arguments weak and his ideals outdated. They called him foolish as they smoked their cigars and drank their brandy. They mocked his stature and with forked tongues they poked fun at his appearance.

I watched him with hope. I had just returned from the front lines and my morale was desperately low. I was tired of witnessing hatred and listening to evil men spew wickedness from the depths of their rotted mouths. He was sitting patiently for his turn to speak. His head was bowed slightly and his eyes appeared closed, as if praying for the strength to declare to the world what he felt in his soul.

My friend took the stage and silenced the naysayers. My friend walked bravely up the platform and melted the crowd with his first sentence. His words echoed out of the speakers on that crisp afternoon and if I listen hard enough I can still hear them, I can still see tears falling from blank faces, and when my memory does not fail, I can smell victory over gunpowder.


Trifecta Challenge: Because of Abel

Week eighty-eight: Use the word band as your prompt to write a 33-333 word story, poem, etc. I decided to capitalize on one of my favorite songs. Enjoy.

He brought them together because no one else wanted to deal with outcasts. The man sitting next to Abel gnawed his fingers until they bled. Desperation ravaged his tear-streaked face, his voice was hollow, his soul teetered on emptiness, he sucked on his hand because the drugs were gone and it drove him mad.

A young woman of twenty-eight stood erect in the corner. She spoke to herself in small whispers and played with the dirty locks in her scalp. She had been a mother once but the city took her child. Abel found her curled in a ball behind an abandoned warehouse. “Gone, gone, all gone away, never to return, like the Great Oz, gone from my arms” she had mumbled to no one in particular as he picked her up from the ground. A small shoe was entwined in her thin fingers and she held it close to her chest.

Darrell was rocking back and forth near a dirty window. He was watching traffic slither to a standstill on the street below. Saliva dribbled down his chin and stained the sweater Abel knitted for him.

He loved them desperately and without condition. They were his people. They were his band of merry misfits and nothing would ever hurt them again. Abel stood with a gentle grace and opened a small book.

“OK everyone, let’s begin.”

Like wounded sheep in need of healing they approached their shepherd and listened to the words he spoke.


Life as a fictional character.


I don’t know which is harder to endure, sitting still and watching life fly by in a haphazard whirlwind of confusion or getting on your blistered, war ravaged feet day after day and traversing towards that mysterious goal you set out to accomplish. I don’t know which is more heartbreaking, remaining stagnant where you stand, hoping for something to come your way to lift your spirits or leaving what is familiar, what is safe and what you know will be there when you open your eyes the next morning. I cannot bear to stand these quandaries.

Sometimes I wonder if every human is confronted with perpetual crossroads, if the decisions we have to make are merely a cosmic joke told by the Grand Jokester to keep things interesting, or they actually mean something important and are not to be taken lightly. I always felt that my life is akin to a never-ending maze of sharp corners and wicked speed bumps followed by tumultuous alleyways and finally rounded off by a series of burning rings that I must jump through. I don’t mean to be dramatic. I don’t mean to sound as if my life is harder than anyone here in the audience and to be honest I am not even voicing a trivial complaint. I think it’s alright to question the cosmos once or twice. Hell, the only bad question is the one that’s never asked.

I guess it would be nice to saunter down that smooth, cobble-stoned walkway once every few months or so, just to be reminded that life doesn’t always have to be a sharp kick in the ass. The first twenty-nine years of my life I convinced myself that hard times make you tough, make you strong and that it will put hair on your chest. I usually welcome those moments when I go face-to-face with the gods and clash my sword against their shields and listen to the metallic ring of victory. But there are times I don’t wish to do battle because I do not want to put up a fight.

I am thirty now and I am tough. On a good day I am strong, and there is too much hair on my chest, I shave it once and awhile but it grows back thicker and will itch like something else so I let it grow ginzo style because I know women love hairy men.

Please do not misunderstand where I am trying to come from. I don’t want an easy life. I never wanted the path of least resistance because without some of the trials and tribulations I would not be the man I am today. Personally I don’t envy those boys and girls who never know what it’s like to have hardships. It certainly gives you a much better perspective on adulthood and you’re more apt to appreciate the things you do have in this world.

They say it’s about choices. It’s all about choices and nothing else. What about circumstances? What about luck? What about all that bullshit I hear about parents abandoning their children? What about poverty? Disease? Handicaps? Addictions? Are not all these factors somewhat involved with the so-called choices we make? I can’t sit here and write to you people and tell you I have stood my ground and avoided stupidity like one avoiding an avalanche. Because it would be untruthful and it would contradict the mission that has been ingrained in my heart to help those suffering.

I make dumb decision every day.

My point is I want to be at peace with myself. Even for one week. For one week I want to roll out of bed with gusto and smell the flowers and all that malarkey. I want to throw open the bedroom door and inhale deeply and whistle my ass into the shower. I want to have breakfast with a beautiful woman who thinks I am the greatest creature in the universe. I need the life that Lyle Lovett was singing about when he croaked over cream in his coffee and flour tortillas and Sunday mornings and how his chick knew him better than anyone else. That’s the life I secretly wish for.

But I am a fictional character. There is a curse to those of us who sit down and scribe our thoughts and musings and tell tales of grandeur. When you spend most of your time inventing worlds of make-believe and the entire goings on involved with said world, you can accept your talent and bask in the god-like glory of being the mastermind behind every masterpiece your nimble fingers create…or you can become depressed because the lives you invent are not reality. They are figments of another place and another time, and if you dwell on them too long, you may wind up sitting in a padded room while brutish nurses feed you horse tranquilizers and your hair grows old and grey. By that time no self-respecting American women will have you.

Yet there is a certain glory to it all. There is a sense of accomplishment and peacefulness. There is a part of me that loves to create and to fantasize and to make pretend. I guess this is what helps me stay young and sane and in-tune with my Zen-like nature. As someone who fabricates stories I have many characters running around the confines of my skull and they are all pushing and shoving and vying for position. Each one serves a purpose, each one was created at a certain low point in my life, and sometimes they cannot be found when I am in dire straits to help assuage those hard choices I mentioned earlier.

I think this is where most of us writers go awry and become unfulfilled. We spend hours upon hours pretending to live in the stories we write. We daydream about living out the lives we give our protagonists and all the while neglect our own realities. I won’t speak for all of you, but I know that when I come to a proverbial fork in the road, I will shut my eyes and seek advice from someone I created, yes I am fully aware of how it sounds, but I don’t care, because I know some of you will understand where I am coming from. I think most people do this type of meditation but are too afraid to admit it.

I travel often. I am what they call a drifter, a hopeless wanderer, a man who searches when his heart cries out for something new. I drove across America last year and spent three months on the road. I loved it dearly and managed to come up with several wonderful ideas for novels. Adventure makes me feel whole. When I feel my feet sinking into the sands of monotony I pack my meager belongings into boxes and move on. I will be leaving my residence shortly to regain something I had lost over the past several months. I will take those characters with me and they shall comfort me when darkness creeps over the vastness of earth and eclipses the sun.

Forks and crossroads.

They can be friend and they could be foe. But it’s just a matter of perspective. Isn’t it?    


Trifecta challenge: The Ring between her fingers

Trifextra week seventy-seven: Write a 33 word story based around these words: ring, water, stage.

Anna twirled the diamond ring between her fingers before dropping his token of lust in a glass of warm lemon water. She would marry him-but her true love waited hopelessly behind the stage.

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Trifecta Challenge: Jonathan’s cane

Trifecta week eighty-six: Write a 33-333 word response using the third definition of the word “crack” as your prompt. *This story was nominated as the Second Place winner for the week! :)

Haunting echoes of plastic striking wooden floor beams reverberated throughout Jonathon’s humble abode. Each step was taken in doubt, every inch he progressed was a shot in the dark, it was the blind leading the proverbial blind.

Sofa on the left, chest on the right, move forward three yards and it should be there. He had to remind himself where everything was placed. His aide, a young woman with a soft angelic voice, explained the layout. The sight was gone, but the memory, that wickedly deceiving memory was sharp as the Nautilus. Three, two, one…bingo. The starched cuff on Jonathon’s flannel retreated from his wrist as he leaned forward to grab the window frame. Using his sense of touch he carefully searched for locks. When his arthritic fingers located the small mechanisms he unlatched them and opened the window. Fresh air hovered around his face and he inhaled the scent of wildflowers and pine needles. He inhaled deeply. Invigoration took control and memories swirled about his brain.

With a great sigh he bowed his head and imagined walking out of rehab and into the world below his room. Smells like urine around here. But out there, deep in the wilderness, smells like freedom. Go ahead, who’s going to stop you?

He couldn’t. He had made a promise to her.

Keeping his hands on the chilled glass he felt the crack in one of the panes. Have to stop losing your temper champ because it doesn’t do you any good to get upset. It was dull to the touch yet threatened to slice skin if one prodded too much. Jonathon ran a thumb over it hoping to feel something familiar. He was desperate for anything to remind him he was alive. He pressed down harder and waited for blood to flow.

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