Hello everyone. It’s been a long time since I’ve really posted anything. I don’t even know if most of you remember me. But I wanted to share some good news with all of you, I finally self-published my first book! You can check purchase it via lulu.com, it will also be available on amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com in the next few weeks. Please click the link below my cover and it will bring you to the above mentioned website for further detail.
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A friend of mine recently accused me of being privileged for my being white. Here is a list of things I am privileged for:
- I am privileged for being forgiven in the eyes of Christ, because I do not deserve to be.
- I am privileged for being born in the greatest country in history, because some are not.
- I am privileged for being able to look beyond the color of skin, because some cannot.
- I am privileged to have been raised in a family that loves, because some are raised hating.
- I am privileged to have been an alcoholic, so I may appreciate sobriety.
- I am privileged to have been homeless, so I may appreciate shelter.
- I am privileged to have gone bankrupt, so I may appreciate money.
- I am privileged to have known loneliness, so I may appreciate friendship.
- I am privileged to have known heartache, so I may appreciate healing.
- I am privileged to have been incarcerated, so I may appreciate freedom.
- I am privileged to be single, so I may appreciate relationships.
- I am privileged to know failure, so I may appreciate success.
- I am privileged to have traveled the country, so I may appreciate liberty.
- I am privileged to have been a dishwasher, so I may appreciate good jobs.
- I am privileged to have been kicked out of school, so I may appreciate learning.
- I am privileged to know how to read, so I may appreciate history.
- I am privileged to know how to write, so I may appreciate the written word.
- I am privileged to have health, so I may appreciate my body.
- I am privileged to ride my bicycle, so I may appreciate my driver’s license.
- I am privileged to know hard work, so I may appreciate a paycheck.
- I am privileged to have gone hungry, so I may appreciate food.
- I am privileged to have gone thirsty, so I may appreciate cold water.
- I am privileged to have slept in subways, so I may appreciate warm beds.
- I am privileged to have known mercy, so I may appreciate compassion.
- I am privileged to have prayed with the hurting, so I may appreciate peace.
- I am privileged to have known destitution, so I may appreciate my blessings.
- I am privileged to have understood death, so I may appreciate life.
- I am privileged to ride the public bus, so I may appreciate cars.
- I am privileged for my meager possessions, so I may appreciate the less fortunate.
- I am privileged for my talents, so I may appreciate my weaknesses.
- I am privileged for being born, so I may appreciate the world around me.
- I am privileged for understanding hard times, so I may appreciate victory.
- I am privileged to have known brokenness, so I may appreciate wholeness.
- I am privileged to be able to read my bible, so I may appreciate religious freedom.
- I am privileged to be able to speak my mind, so I may appreciate free speech.
- I am privileged to be mental, so I may appreciate sanity.
- I am privileged to stop writing this post, so I may appreciate free will.
- I am privileged after all.
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.
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.
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.
Week seventy-five prompt: Write 33 words about absolutely anything.
Judge Henry smacked his gavel and roared with maniacal laughter. The psychotic defendant began to mimic the Three Stooges and the aging Judge could not control his emotions. He was retiring soon anyway.
Authors note: On September 1, 1939 Adolph Hitler thrust the world into World War II by advancing his armies into Poland. Two days later Britain and France declared war on Nazi Germany. This is a fictional account of a woman from Kansas who was called to help the Jewish people’s residing in Poland. This is the second of many letters she wrote home. Music to Read by:”Sanvean” by Sarah Brightman
4 September 1939
My dearest Bartholomew,
We have been heading further into Poland as the Nazis are conquering every town, city and farm. Oh, my husband! Such a terrible evil that’s come upon the world, the gunfire I spoke of can be heard in the distance. It’s coming closer and closer everyday, but we are moving faster too. Planes are bursting in midair and falling to pieces. Children are screaming, young boys are gearing up to protect their homeland! As we move further east, the Polish military is moving west towards the battlefront. They look defeated Bartholomew and frightened. The past two days have been spent traveling underneath the protection of shadows. We don’t have automobiles or horses so we must trek with haste. It is a scary time! I want to come home to Kansas, to see your bearded face, to touch Thomas and scold him about homework. I want to hear our chickens and clean our home and cook you dinner. But I know I cannot leave this war-torn land of the Poles. Not when so much is at stake. These poor, destitute people are trying desperately to keep hope within their hearts, but my beloved, it seems the enemy is gaining more ground everyday and that the Lord has abandoned us to our fate. What a foolish thing war is. What a heart wrenching, agonizing, greedy atrocity. This man Hitler will burn the world down to gain what he’s after. My ignorant mind cannot fathom what he really wants, I am not good with politics, you know all this.
My Jewish friends are speaking less and less as the days move forward. Our group has almost twelve people, down from twenty, the ones who have abandoned us decided to move further south, away from the onslaught. My town of Poznan is probably destroyed, torched to the ground by wicked men in black uniforms and hatred in their hearts. How I miss those ancient buildings and beautiful rectories and delightful eateries! My translator, God bless her heart, is attempting to keep me within the loop of things going on. But she has her own family to look out for. I am afraid she will leave me Bartholomew! She talks only when necessary, with war raging in the west and her homeland being gutted by Germans, there is not much to talk about.
I am such a nervous wreck, I think I have grayed more in two days than in the past fifteen years. My mind is in a constant state of bewilderment, my heart, full of dread so thick I could keel over at anytime.
But I must remain strong Bartholomew. Remember the young girl I was telling you about with the brown dress and blue handkerchief? She has yet to leave my side. She holds onto my leg for dear life. I fear for her, yet her parents seem unconcerned with her welfare. Oh, I must sound terribly brash in my estimation of their love for her! Who am I to make such an accusation? Her father, Tosiek, is one of the elders and he is arguing with the other men. His wife, Olenka (my translator), was telling me late last night that the other elders want to head to the city of Lodz for safety. But she is afraid this could be Hitler’s main objective. They want to head further east towards Warsaw. But what do we know? An American from Kansas and a bunch of farmers?
Oh my angel Bartholomew! Please continue to pray for my group. I fear they are starting to lose all sense of the practicality I mentioned in my previous letter. Luckily, we’ve managed to stay out of main cities and in the softness of the beautiful hills and fields. Unfortunately, I feel little comfort at this fact. Last night we slept in an abandoned Church in God knows where. All I knew was shear exhausting from walking and running all day long. Our food supply should last another few days. Some of the people in our group have departed, but maybe it’s for the best. With the shortage of food and water, there will be more for us. Oh, is that terrible of me husband? Is it horribly selfish to think of myself while others are undergoing slaughter and violence on a massive scale? I wonder if those young men are dying for thirst. It breaks my hearts more and more each day if I dwell on it too long. I would bring them water if I could, I would bake them something!
The church we slept in last night resides on a rolling hill overlooking mountains and a small lake. There was a fishing boat floating around the water all by itself. Heaven knows what happened to its captain. The nuns had planted roses and yellow tulips around the wooden base of the church. There are stained glass windows depicting scenes from the bible (what else would you expect to see in a church?). The sanctuary was very small with only five pews on each side, yet it made for comfortable sleeping quarters. The altar was carpeted and the friars podium stood unmolested, unused and collecting dust. candelabra’s were empty, a stack of hymnals and bibles were covered in cobwebs near a corner. It looked as though no one had used it for years. Such a shame Bartholomew, if the men in charge of Germany would only fall on their knees and repent, the world could be saved from what is undoubtedly to come. I feel it in my bones, this war will demolish what’s left of humanity. I walked away from the group to see if there was a kitchen of sorts. I figured if I couldn’t speak their language, I sure could cook something to ease the pain we all felt. We have five delightful, beautiful children in our midst. The little one I spoke of is sitting near as I write you this. She is such a big help to my spirits! You would adore her!
There was a small kitchen with a few spare ingredients inside old wooden cupboards. I had one of the men start a fire in the hearth. I made a pot of broth and for dessert I made small cakes. There was not enough for everyone so we had to cut them into pieces so we could all share. But, there is one old man in our group who is rather ornery and did not take lightly to having to share his cake. Olenka tried to make him understand but he did not want to hear it. He screamed and cursed at me Bartholomew. I cried in front of the men. I didn’t want to, but I was so upset that I couldn’t feed him more, but I must choose wisely the battles I come across. I gave him the benefit of the doubt and tried to give him my portion, but he stormed out of the church, we have not seen him since. I admit that I am glad he is gone, he gave me an odd feeling whenever he was in my presence.
How I need you now more than ever! I must end this letter, our tribe is moving out again, I don’t want to be the one to hold everyone up. Pray like you’ve never prayed before. Pray for my safety, but I ask that you pray more for our Jewish friends because they are in the most distress. Bartholomew, I hope I can pen you another letter in the coming days. But I know not what is to come of me or where we will find ourselves next. I still believe the Hand of God is on our lives and He will direct our paths. Until next time my sweet, sweet husband. Have I told you I love you recently? Well, if you are in doubt, I do. Very much so. Tell my Thomas to be a good boy and finish all his homework. To the end of the earth, my love will never end.
Love forever, Gracie
Authors note: On September 1, 1939 Adolph Hitler thrust the world into World War II by advancing his armies into Poland. Two days later Britain and France declared war on Nazi Germany. This is a fictional account of a woman from Kansas who was called to help the Jewish peoples residing in Poland. This is the first of many letters she wrote home. Music to Read by: “Barber: Adagio for Strings, Op 11” David Zinman and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.
2 September 1939
Hello my love, I wish I could bring you wonderful news of my stay here in Poznan, but darling I cannot do such a thing, at least in these dark times. The Germans have done the unthinkable and have entered our beloved country. Last night they came across the border unannounced and certainly unprovoked, Although miles away, we heard planes diving through the sky. The people here are fleeing for safety and I am so very terrified…my Polish is limited, but horror in the eyes is a language anyone can understand. And most of the locals are filled with it, including myself. Oh! How I wish you were very near to me right now my sweet, sweet Bartholomew! I need your strong arms wrapped around my waist, I need you to pray for the safety of these poor creatures. They are still scarred from the first war, I am afraid all the progress they have made these past twenty years is all for naught. The men in the village have been up all night discussing ways to defeat the invaders without the aid of their own army! They are very brave, but I don’t think they are talking practical. I believe it was a rather serendipitous time for the Lord to send me here to help, the small villages on the outskirts of town are filled with old men and young boys, one young man, the same age as our Thomas, rode all night on his horse to bring us news from the border. What I gathered from my translator is the Nazis have monsters made out of metal (I assume he meant tanks) rolling across the landscape, thousands of heavily armed troops, and blood, oh Lord, how he described the blood and destruction! Those poor souls, my heart is breaking as each hour passes, the boy, Jedrik is his name, is weary from his travels and the women are feeding him bread and sausages. But he is talking in a fury, the peasants are smoking pipes and listening with rapt attention. I cannot bear to look at their downtrodden faces, their eyes are empty, and I think so are their hearts. Some are drunk and yelling retribution, but many men are already defeated knowing the might of Hitlers military. Many Jews are here with us and how I love them so! Bartholomew, they are the most fearful. There is a man here by the name of Ezekiel, he received a letter from a relative in Munich last month, telling him of the dreadful things being done to his people in Germany. They cannot buy bread, or soap, their synagogues are being razed to the ground! Bartholomew can you imagine that happening at home in Kansas? Why, Mrs. Leroy would run those thugs out-of-state herself! But I am afraid it is happening here darling. What can I do for these people other than comfort and pray and bake pies? I know nothing of wars and armaments and peace treaties. If they were to hand me a gun I would be liable to shoot myself, or worse, my host family.
My love, I had to stop writing because we’ve moved from our house to a farm ten miles east. I am scared. Never in my life have I known such dark terror. We had heard horses galloping close by and Mirka and her twin brother Mirek went out to see what was happening, the Germans are coming Bartholomew, they are drawing near quickly so we have fled to a small church. I have come to the realization that you may never receive this letter of mine, you may never see me again my precious husband and how that hurts me so! What will become of my Thomas? Was it foolish to come here to help the Polish resettle? I am not so sure, but as always, I believe His hand will guide my little group. My mind is playing tricks on me, I think I hear gunfire in the distance. Little children are crying, men are dying because of the wickedness and greed of mankind. Innocent boys will go to their graves fighting for this small nation. Pray Bartholomew, tell our friends back home what is happening to the world…now I know I am not going mad, planes are flying overhead, dropping bombs! The noise is hell. I am looking at the people huddled around the dark tables, they are exhausted due to our long journey today. I don’t know where we are, I am too skittish to ask our translator. I feel very much alone now. What was I thinking love? I am a homemaker from a farm in Kansas, I thought I could change someones life. But maybe I am. There is a little girl sitting next to me Her face has dirt smudged across her forehead, she is wearing a brown dress with a white apron. There’s a blue handkerchief in her hair, she must be no more than four. She is a Jew. How could anyone want to hurt such a precious child because of their heritage? This is madness, pure and simple madness! You know my anger is nonexistent, you know I wouldn’t hurt a fly, but now I want to hurt those Germans. May our Lord forgive me, but I am looking at this child, watching her watch me and I would risk my own hide for her. Do you remember the stray cat that managed to find its way into our chicken coop last year and caused all that trouble? Remember the broom I used to chase it away? That is how I feel now Bartholomew. I want to chase those horrible Nazis away from my roost.
They are such a peaceful people, farmers and bakers and homemakers like myself. They don’t want trouble anymore than we would want it at home. Things are quiet at the moment, but things are very tense, no one wants to make a sound and it is dreadful. The silence is downright dreadful, not that it matters because I could not communicate even if I wanted to. My rudimentary skills would not be appreciated at the moment, I am just waiting and listening. Waiting for someone to tell me what to do, listening for inevitable gunfire to erupt. You know how I bake when I am nervous? It sounds so silly but I wish I could bake something right now. Anything to keep the fear away from this small sanctuary. The men are arguing now over something, I think it has to do with us just sitting around. Luckily the women here are talking some bit of sense into them. I keep hearing the words “Jews” and “Nazis” and “death”. Oh, I think they want to banish the Jews from here! Bartholomew! This is such a devastating travesty! They’ve done nothing wrong! I must go now sweetheart. I must do something because things are quickly getting out of hand and I will not allow this to take place, not while I am here. I love you with all my heart, tell our son that I love him too. I will write as soon as I can…
Love forever, Gracie