AAAHH! I’m Almost A High School Graduate!

I have a calendar in my bedroom. It’s this giant–well, not giant–calendar, I suppose, that  has all my favorite little due dates and events written all across the days; and they are numbered.

I was looking at this calendar yesterday, flipping forward through time to the month of May and thinking about what I wanted for my birthday when, out of nowhere, it hit me: I am going to graduate high school a week after my birthday, on May 27th!

“Oh, Mamma mia,” I said–then I passed out on the floor.

Correction: I did not pass out. Rather, I screamed in my brain–or my brain screamed in me?–and went to finish that darn math homework that I had been putting off for three days. So, yes, I did freak out. Everyone freaks out. But that’s okay. It’s only high school, after all.

Only high school?

I have to find a college!

I have to buy a house! Or an extremely cheap apartment with a dirtbag for a landlord!

I have to cook! And not Hot Pockets or Pop-Tarts!

I have to be a man!

How does that work, by the way? Do I grow a rug on my chest the night after graduation and find myself speaking like Christopher Reeves in Superman? Is my dad gonna leave a pair of boots outside my door with a note reading, “Son, it is time for these boots to be filled?”

High school is slowly slipping away…I think I might cry, tear up a little. I’m being taken willingly away from this minefield of social cliques where, if you have a wayward opinion, you’ll get the shit kicked out of you and be forced to eat it on a silver platter; where the food is–okay, the food is allright. Oh, sob, sob, tear; waterfalls from my eyeballs. Tell my principal to save a spot for me in the lunchroom for when I–oh, wait, I won’t be coming back.

At least in college, or, hopefully in college, there will be freedom and excellent food and magnificent teachers and Shetland ponies…and four quartz diamonds and…a pool shaped like a brain and filled with money?

Sorry, I was reading from the wrong script.

Someone traded me for Impossible Fantasies For When You’re Totally Broke.

Yay, college?

Think daily,

A Southpaw

I’M BA-AAACK! SOUND THE ALARMS!

Greetings, dear People, I have at last returned to this pleasant planet Earth. Been a while, hasn’t it? I dare say, it’s been almost two months; now that’s far too long to be away.

Just so’s you know, I’ve been busy. Not like I went off the radar and ate raw fish in the woods–trust me, the raw chicken’s way better. No, no, I have had college and two novels and work and life and a bunch of stupid excuses no one wants to hear.

Either way, here I am. If you could see me, I’m smiling. Or am I? Wait, am I?

Now I am.

What have I done? Well, lots. I got money, assignments, grades; somewhere along the line, I think I picked up a bit of self-esteem? I dunno. Things happen so much around here, it’s hard to keep up with the tiny details.

I went bowling…if anyone cares…

It was in this real seedy joint, Summit Entertainment–well, okay, not seedy in the day, but at nighttime–

Went with a few coworkers, chatted, encountered a guy who hung out in the girls’ bathroom to give out his number. Typical bowling cliches; I’m serious, nothing special.

I got third place, yes, me, Mr. I-Can’t-Catch-A-Damn-Football-To-Save-My…Or-Someone–Else’s-Life. No trophy, no kiss, nothing–and, y’know, I was looking forward to getting a plushie. Nope. Just me and a few sympathetic claps. Oh, there was one “You go, man,” but that might’ve been the weird deejay.

Wait, he left before then, didn’t he? Went to the bathroom, I think.

Now, Laser Tag was a different story. I didn’t get third place. I got eighth. Also, I almost ended up in a fight with these two linebacker-sized dudes ’cause one of my coworkers decided to flip them off.

To be honest, though, I’d have mopped the floor with them. Of course, we’d have to pass the mop off to one another; you can’t expect to mop an entire building without some teamwork.

I suck at Laser Tag, anyway. Always trying to act like I’m in an action movie, then some forty year old guy gets my chest, and–yeah, no, that’s depressing enough.

Making myself cry here. Didn’t know this was going to be such an emotional experience. Let’s bring it in, guys. C’mon, team hug, okay, not too close, no–ouch, you’re stepping on my foot!

Can cross Bad Idea #10 off the list now.

Ah, who am I kidding? All my ideas are bad! Everyone gather around the bonfire! Gonna burn this mother down!

No, we’re not. You can take off your Angry Mob costumes.

What we are doing is reconnecting, right? Heh…get it, ’cause connections and Angry Mobs, eh?

I have no idea what I’m saying.

Think daily,

A Southpaw

P.S: Feels nice to write that again.

 

Image Credit: Golda

 

Mountains

Sometimes I feel like I just want to go into the mountains, say “Fuck it,” and just stay there for the rest of my time. See it as some kinda therapeutic practice–some bullshit excuse for not wanting to deal with all the stress of everything; and man, I dunno, but college is a hard fucking thing.

It doesn’t get easier, that much I know is true. It’s not even fun half of the time. Is it supposed to be? Am I missing some great answer; this grand illusion is obscuring all that I can see?

What am I supposed to be, a nicely dressed, nicely combed college student who swears up and down all of that scholarly shit that’s not even truthful half of the time? What the hell’s with people nowadays, anyway? Half the time, they’re preaching stuff I doubt they even believe; the other half the time, they’re complaining about the truth of the matter, leaning in favor of the candy-coated, cherry-on-the-friggin’-top version.

Truth is, it ticks me off. Oh, yeah, you think I’m into that? Hell no.

I don’t wanna feel like I’m pretending anything, either. It’s like we gotta wear masks everywhere we go in this life, switch them out for different occasions; it’s a load of crap, man, I tell you.

Be who you’re gonna be. Yeah, Barbie sang a song about it, so maybe she’s got the right idea.

Be who you’re gonna be regardless of what people say, think, or do, ’cause the only person it matters to is you.

Sounds easy. It’s not. I’m sure most of you, if not all, know that, might even have trouble with it on a day-to-day basis.

Keep fighting the good fight, though. It’s the best you can do in this world, just keep your head up; but I know most of this will go over most of your heads, as we only listen to the advice that sounds good to us.

Right? Wrong? All of the above?

I dunno.

Think daily,

A Southpaw

Stranger In A Wasteland

Saw this couch in a field in Falcon. Someone’d left it there; it was all ratty, torn out from the inside. Foam crumbles surrounded it, and there were droppings beneath its springs.

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Strange, is all. You don’t typically see couches left in the middle of nowhere; I didn’t want to touch it, either, scared of what might be on the fabric. If anything, it was surreal–facing out to rolling hills, houses in the distance.

Then I came across this quilt–

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Beautiful quilt, yeah? Who chose to throw it out? Looked to be holding something, but I didn’t want to unwrap it; again, safety’s priority number one out there.

Stranded objects in a wasteland, each of them with their own mysteries, perhaps a story or two.

Think daily,

A Southpaw

 

From the Standpoint of A Teen…

What’s up, everybody?

I haven’t seen you guys the past few weeks, been hectic with college starting back again. I got papers and more papers. Not to mention, I’m also working on two of my novels, trying to salvage enough time to accomplish all of it.

I’ve been good, y’know, being eighteen, getting used to Life; although, I’ve been getting used to it since I came into this world. It’s not as if once you leave high school, you’re initiated into this Adults-Only Section–and no, I’m not talking about the place where they store the dirty movies.

That ticks me off. Not the dirty movies, just the adults who forget what it’s like to be young, to have a fresh view of the world. I’m talking about the adults who patronize those on the fringes of adulthood: this teeter totter that rocks perilously over either side of an angst-filled abyss.

We don’t have a friggin’ map. People don’t provide one for us, and most of the time, we have to cut our own path through the jungle. Machetes are not provided. Also, water evaporates fairly quickly.

Guess I let it get to me sometimes, which is not so bad as it is disheartening. I think it’d be better if we all shook hands and congratulated one another on our accomplishments–but the world can’t always be so black and white.

We have different perspectives for a reason, yeah? For one, we’d be super bored without them. Imagine having a conversation with someone about Lord of the Rings, and for some reason, the other guy is as big a fan as you are, which should be impossible, ’cause you’re number one, right?

That’s to say we’re all a number one in one area of our lives. Least, I like to think so. Maybe you’re number one at pool or darts; hell, give hockey a shot, and you might end up in the NHL.

Chances, man, take ’em, but don’t get me started on how many times I’ve missed out on publication opportunities because I’ve forgotten the deadline. Yeah, I’m working on that part, getting better, though; y’know, learning from failure.

I know for a fact that the majority of my followers are adults, so, if you’re reading this, lemme plead to you from the standpoint of a teen:

  • We’re not all lazy, and if we are…we’ll work on it, got eighty more years, anyhow.
  •  Getting a job is not as easy as it used to be, but we’ll bust our asses until we find one.
  • Lastly, do you remember when you were our age?

Yeah, yeah, I get it’s called a generation gap, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it; and besides, the best way to get past a gap is to build a bridge.

A metaphorical one, of course.

Think daily,

A Southpaw

 

 

Alex Schomberg

Does Genre Fiction Get A Bad Rap?

So, is it just me wondering this, or are there a bunch of you curious about the same thing?  Genre Fiction. This is Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Horror, you name it; it’s everything except Literature, and it doesn’t look like its reputation in the the writing community has become any less infamous.

I’m a writer and a reader. I love all books, be they The Silence of the Lambs or Tess of the Durbervilles. ‘Course, the quality wanes in some books, and in others, it surpasses my expectations, but, man, that goes for everything on the planet.

What I’ve noticed, though, is that Literature often criticizes Genre Fiction for not having enough beautiful, inspired prose, while Genre Fiction complains Literature can be boring as hell.

I can see both sides of the argument, and I understand them. They’re rational, for one, and, well, you’re not gonna go to Tarzan of the Apes looking for artful sentence structure, and Tom Wolfe’s writing is not so heart-pounding and adventurous, as it is introspective and inspiring.

The conflict; however, boggles me. Most genre fiction is influenced by classic literature.

We wouldn’t have I Am Legend without Dracula.

We wouldn’t have Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone without The Fellowship of the Ring.

We wouldn’t have Jaws without Moby Dick.

See, comparisons are scattered all over history, but most times, people forget to look.

It’s all art, right? At the end of the day, man, they’re just stories written for different purposes, drawing out different lives and scenarios, putting characters against unimaginable conflicts, hoping they’ll survive.

Books are great. Art is great. Literature and Genre Fiction are great.

Yes, they’re separate in structure and character and conflict and other writerly mumbo-jumbo, but they are connected through the art of writing; and since both are written–well, there’s one comparison.

Think daily,

A Southpaw

 

Photo Credit: Alex Schomberg

 

Sitting, Relaxing, Reflecting…

Today I decided to eat my lunch on my front porch–why? well, I’m gonna tell you.

I made myself two sandwiches, ham and cheese, threw in some Tostitos chips, too; and I put it all on a napkin. Then I went outside and sat and ate and observed.

A question came to me: How often do we notice the small things?

By small things, I don’t mean the rabbits that occasionally pick at our back lawn, nor do I mean the birds roosting in our trees. The small things, to me, are the aspects of a usual item we often neglect after a certain time.

I was sitting on the porch, listening to dogs barking, wind whistling, when I looked over at the stucco lining our house. Now, this house was built a year before my family moved into it, and we’ve lived here for over eleven years; so it’s expected for the house to age a bit. It’s only natural.

The stucco lining was cracked apart, as if a sledgehammer had slid across it. Cracks spiraled in every direction, and there was a large white space where the stucco used to be.

In over eleven years, I hadn’t noticed this.

I took a bite out of my sandwich, studied the wall, wondered how long it took to deteriorate, why it deteriorated. I’ve already given the answer. It’s age. The stucco grew so brittle, so fast, it gave way.

Chilled, I took another bite out of my sandwich and looked at the sidewalk beneath my feet. It wasn’t broken, but it was grimy; dirt filled the cracks, so much so even ants didn’t want to traverse the terrain.

‘Nother victim of age, of life inevitably having its way.

Around then, I finished my sandwiches, started in on my Tostitos chips. Bite came after bite, and I couldn’t get age out of my mind. It frightened me, made me reflect on all those times I’d walked past the stucco and the sidewalk without the least consideration for their appearance.

I got to thinking about my life and how I’m halfway through being eighteen; my, what a fast ride it’s been. Pictured myself as an old man sitting on the front porch of his own home, wondering where the hell the time went.

Maybe I’ll be a grandfather. Maybe I’ll be alone.

If I’ve learned one thing so far, it’s that life doesn’t work in predictions. You can guess all you want, but every event is determined by how you approach it firsthand. So, fortune telling’s bullshit.

I hope I won’t be alone, and I hope I don’t pass by this short life as if I were walking past a section of cracked stucco. That’d be sad. Worse, it’d be a waste of each day and month I remain here.

I try my best, though, cherish the small things. Hard work’s gotta count for something.

Think daily,

A Southpaw

 

Photo Cred: M.C Escher

What’s Next, Then?

So, heh, got a funny story for you folks.

Okay, now get this–

I work three nights in a row as a dishwasher at Great Wolf Lodge; wait, that’s not the funny part, don’t laugh yet.

I work those three nights, and now that I’m on break I choose to work several more nights, ’cause why not? As of now, then, I am working Friday through Monday next week, which means I miss New Year’s Eve and Day. Well, I sort of miss the day, since I’m at home in the morning, but whatever…

You guys aren’t laughing. Did you miss the punchline? Was I not clear enough?

Alright, alright, I’ll say it again. Wait, what? You’re bored of it now?

Fine. I’ll move on.

What are we moving on to, though? I’ve been asking myself that question for a while, tossing it back and forth in my head; if you were wondering, no, I haven’t found an answer yet, so stop bugging me.

I’ll be working on my novel or washing dishes or lying in bed, staring at my gray ceiling; and the questions will creep in unwanted: What’s Next? Is There A Point To It All? Am I Spinning Fruitlessly In A Circle While Life Slips By Me?

I like to think those aren’t true, but, gee, what is or isn’t true nowadays? Our own perception of truth is clouded because we’re surrounded by so many falsehoods. One minute we’re learning about the Emancipation Proclamation, and the next we hear Abraham Lincoln was abducted by aliens at seven years old.

I mean, c’mon, people, everyone knows the Emancipation Proclamation was totally faked.

Just like the Moon Landing.

What I’m trying to say is that if we can’t count on the legitimacy of all this external stimuli, then what’s to stop us from misconstruing the truths and lies about ourselves?

People insult me; they say I’m gay, but I know I like girls and I’m just getting confused.

Well, what do you think? The only way to be sure is to confront the question yourself; those others have no justification in claiming one thing over another.

I feel like I’m swimming in a fucking abyss, tidal waves crashing over me so much I can barely breathe. But I tell myself I’m fine.

Are you? Don’t jump to conclusions. The worst thing that could happen is that you end up believing in the wrong answer…which you don’t want. Look in a mirror and ask yourself honestly if you’re fine. Again, the truth can only come from you.

This bleak and dismal stuff can get depressing, but I think it’s a fair topic. There’s too many times I find myself stuck in a dull mood because my future is unclear; although, let’s be honest, folks, who the hell has a notion of how their life is gonna turn out?

From our first step to our last breath, we’re all a little mystified, aren’t we?

Don’t know about you, but I am. Ahead is sometimes foggy, and the past, oh, the past, is always so visible; God, if I tallied how many times I looked back on the past in nostalgia, or as in most cases, for fulfillment, I’d be at a thousand…maybe two thousand, and a quarter.

The present is a tricky dude. It’s satisfying for a few seconds, then it descends into oh-no-how-did-I-not-predict-this and I-thought-I-could-see-the-friggin-future-darn-it.

Yeah. Tricky. Slick. Slicky.

By the way, that’s tricky and slick combined. Just saying.

Still, the best we can do to combat it is to hold fast to the handlebars and not fall off the ride; since, even though it gets bumpy, there are occasionally a bunch of flashing lights and stage performers to entertain us during its slow parts. Then you gotta deal with the lines at the end, as well as the parking lots–

Sorry. Got off topic there; then again, I believe I’ve said all that needs to be said.

Guess there’s nothing left than to wish you all a Happy New Year’s, and to hope you keep an optimistic outlook on your futures, too.

It can be difficult, but it’s worth it.

Think daily,

A Southpaw

 

 

This One Stressful Day

Ever have those times when you have to stop and wonder how you got into a certain situation? It’s not what I’d call a moment of reflection, nor a Oh-my-God, how did this happen situation; it’s more of a what the hell did I do to bring me here of all places?

I had a time like that. Yeah, it was today; in fact, it’s still fresh in my mind, like a tray of cinnamon rolls fresh from the oven.

See, it started with my brother asking me if I had used his bathroom. ‘Course, why would I use his, when I have my own, right? So, my answer’s no. He doesn’t like that for an answer, and he goes storming off down the hall, raging about his toilet flooding the bathroom, swimming crap included.

For all those who just lost their appetite, allow me to let you know I am eating ice cream, so if anyone is losing anything, it’s me–then again, I could still be happily eating while writing this; all bets are off.

I sigh, look back at Netflix, since I am a lazy college kid on break, who only works three days a week; yes, yes, I’ve heard all the criticisms. Then I realize I’m an adult, and as an adult, I have to deal with said swimming crap.

“Josh,” I call, “show me this bathroom.”

I’m expecting turds hanging ten on toilet waves, a piss monster rising from the shower, but I do not have these expectations fulfilled. Rather, I see a sticky floor with food crumbles scattered all over the tiles, and it stinks, too, which makes it worse.

My brother and I then grab the bleach and pour it all across the floor. This makes an even worse smell, but by now, who honestly cares? I emerge from the bleached bathroom, unscathed, save for a burning sensation on my shins; as it turned out, some of the bleach had sprayed onto my skin.

What luck.

I look at the bottle of bleach, read the warning about getting the stuff on your skin, and   I groan. Apparently, if it got on your skin, you had to spray the affected area(s) with water for fifteen to twenty minutes.

So I tell my brother to leave the bathroom alone and enter my own shower, fully dressed, and take down the shower head and spray my shins for fifteen minutes.

About then, I start wondering what the hell did I do to bring me here of all places? It’s 1:00 in the afternoon, and here I am standing in a shower, washing my legs free of bleach, while toilet water slowly sinks its way through to the kitchen ceiling.

Life. I swear I don’t even attempt to understand it sometimes.

I ended up burn free, and the bathroom was left alone; however, our house now reeks of bleach.

Hooray for toilet problems.

Think daily,

A Southpaw

A Southpaw’s Year In Review

My, but this has been quite the year, hasn’t it? I realize a post of this nature may be premature–after all, there are two weeks until 2018; but I’m a stickler for breaking the norm, so sue me.

What is there to say about 2017? In terms of development for this blog, it was an important year. So many events happened that unexpectedly shaped the type of content I write, some of them tragic, and some of them lighthearted. All the same, though, they played a part in Thoughts of A Southpaw’s evolution, and I am glad to have been able to document them for the sake of my readers, be they weekly or occasional.

You understand, much of the time–I will admit, not all of the time–this blog is meant to help you guys think or cope or laugh, or smile a little on a bad day. It’s For the People, By the People, Of the Pe–okay…I’m getting a bit too Founding Father on this thing.

Let’s run over 2017’s Top 5 most popular posts, starting with–

  1. Small Town Losses (This was a heartfelt one for me, and a lot of other people. A tribute to a great person.)
  2. Meet My Cousin: William Shakespeare (I was genuinely surprised as to how much this post blew up. I was just fooling around one day, and–well, there you go…)
  3. Prom and Punch (Another surprise, but this one, I think, had some certified funny moments…maybe…)
  4. Sunshine Comes Around (Boy, this was a hard post to write, and I can only hope it helped some people get past their own dark moments in life; so, in that, I see this as one of my most important posts.)
  5. Graduate (A happy post that attracted a lot of attention on Facebook, which, again, surprised me. Three cheers for graduation, too!)

All of those posts I feel had a significant role in forming the current Thoughts of A Southpaw, as well as what it might become in future years. They each had their own tones and messages–even though it seems like a few have no messages whatsoever–and for that, I see them as unique on this blog, reflecting the perspectives of my readers.

Perspective. That’s a big thing I’ve learned. The views and tastes of my readers influence the output of this blog. It’s one of those things that always keeps the posting interesting; it brings something new every time.

What else have I learned? Things. Stuff. Nonsense.

I am still learning how to write an effective blog post, as I believe there is no one way to write anything, and we are all constantly refining our approaches towards a project.

Here, then, to 2017, a year of great changes and introspection. May there be many more years ahead as significant as this one, and may there be many more readers to experience them.

Together, we’ll see what 2018 has to offer…

As they say, though, C’est la vie, whatever will be, will be.

Think daily,

A Southpaw