It Hit Me

The favorite conversation of people just out of high school seems to be something like, “it hasn’t hit me yet…that we’re out of school…forever, like, I mean, forever…” I’ve been hearing it for some time, tossed here and there, in and out of random conversation. Of course, I never really joined in, considering I kept telling myself it had already hit me–out of high school, big whoop.

Well, I thought wrong, like I always do. It’s that youthful arrogance, gets the best of me sometimes. And where I thought the reality had passed over me subtly, it instead did so abruptly.

See, I was walking back from a three mile run, coming down my street. Nothing particularly interesting was going on in my head–just the normal thoughts and thingamabobs that pass through the head of your average teenager. Then I saw the boy on the bike.

He was no special boy, had on a red helmet and a yellow shirt. His bike was a small black Huffy, if I remember correctly, and it had no training wheels. The importance of the lack of training wheels–his father was standing beside him as he pedaled his bike across their driveway, his hands careful around the boy’s back, being sure for balance.

A car had pulled up to their driveway a few moments earlier; in fact, that was what caught my attention. Out came an old man in a square black hat, carrying a bag of some sort, and an old woman with her purse in a nice dress. These, I assumed, were the grandparents of the boy; and I was proven right when the father pointed to them and told the boy to show grandpa his bike.

It was nothing significant, you see. A boy learning how to ride a bike with the help of his father, and his grandparents standing beside the both of them, watching in the joy that can only come from having walked both of those lives. No, the events weren’t important, but the situation, the coincidence, was everything.

I almost stopped walking, this strange feeling rising in my gut, of–of something; hell if I knew what was going on in there. The father was pushing the boy along on his bike as the grandparents laughed and pulled more bags out of their car–what on Earth was causing this sensation in me?

Then, I realized.

It was life.

I was witnessing these separate generations of collective lives, with me having only now begun to set out on my own life. Touching would be barely skimming the instance; rather, it was delightful–it filled me with a happiness and a shock, at understanding what could, what might, lie in store in the future.

Could I end up being a parent?

Could I end up being a grandparent?

Life is chock full of surprises, as they say; and, right then, I got it. It hit me. High school is over, not too many tears are shed over that, but I am moving onto somewhere new: a locale of brilliant spontaneity. Who knows what’s gonna happen? I wish I did, but at the same time, I don’t.

And to think–

All of that came from a four-year old boy riding his new bicycle.

Think daily,

A Southpaw

High School Is Silly, Really.

I just finished my last day of high school. Well, aren’t any of you going to congratulate me? Where the hell is my cake? Or the graduation money that I specifically wrote in the invitation for each of you to bring? What a bunch of lazy bums. I can’t count on anyone, can I?

It’s funny. I started this blog before senior year, and I am still writing on it after senior year has ended; although–I am sure–there are some of you out there who wish I would have stopped this blog a while ago. Been a lot of changes to it since June, not all of them the best decisions I’ve made for this blog, but, you gotta give a guy props, right?

See, when I was sitting in my math class today, with the last high school final I will ever have to take, I thought about how silly high school is, and how when you get out into the real world, it is an insignificant part of your life. I know, it seems like four years would be memorable until you’re fifty, but, considering I’m getting up in my age at eighteen, I have a seasoned view of the world.

You look at the social class system in any high school, and you realize it could not have happened any other way. Put a bunch of hormonally charged teenagers under one roof, with authority figures they disrespect, making no one special-er than the other person, what else is gonna happen? They’re going to form cliques to make sense of the craziness of their school work, like those five page math homework assignments, or an essay due by Friday, assigned on Thursday.

People make it seem so damned important, when, honestly, it’s like being King of Shit Mountain. Sure, you have your toilet paper rolls, but none of that is going to wipe off the stuff on your shoes–it’s permanent, dude. And you stay up there long enough, the fumes’ll get to ya. Trust me, I–actually, I don’t know. I try to steer clear of the likes of Shit Mountain and Piss Lake, since, you know, they’re bad for my hygiene.

Anyways, on to college and a whole bunch of new experiences and yay-college-is-so-fun!

Geez, I hope college isn’t just a revamped high school…yikes.

Think daily,

A Southpaw

Life Will Slip By

Spoiler alert, in case you didn’t know: my mom and I share the same birthday. Yep, it was a little present from me to be born on the happiest day of her life–although, she berates me for it a lot of the time. What can I say? I’m a surprise wherever I end up, at least, that’s what people tell me.

People don’t actually tell me that. I just told a white lie.

Ahem. I turned eighteen yesterday. Lotsa fun. Happy times. Got a cake. And a car.

Let me rephrase that–I got the license plate and the keys for the car my dad and I have been building since last summer. There, now that sounds better, doesn’t it? It’s a 64 Chevy Nova, you know, just a pretty friggin awesome vehicle for driving around while wearing sunglasses and blasting Mozart–whoah, big mistake, I meant rock and roll.

I realized something while I was celebrating, while I walked five miles all by my lonesome and contemplated–well, things. Age is not a determinant of who you are, or who you will become, it’s a milestone, a telling of how far you’ve come. You can be six years old and be a total jack ass–and, speaking of which, that’s probably true in most cases. On the other half, you could be sixty years old and never have accomplished your life’s dream. Sad, yes, but sadly also true.

I am at the age where folks look at you as an adult, or, a guy who knows how to plunge a toilet. I have responsibilities now, massive ones, that, granted, can be spread out over time. And what I’ve heard the most?

Life is going to slip by you in a snap.

A frightening thought for a man on the edge of his adult life.

Fortunately, or unfortunately, I don’t believe most of that advice. I see life as happening fast, sure; but I feel I’ll make the most of it. Really, it’s the best you can do with how much time is given. Make the most of it. If not…then maybe those words speak some truth.

I don’t know. I’m only eighteen, haven’t experienced much yet.

All I can hope for is that it’ll be fun.

Think daily,

A Southpaw

Give It Up.

I want to tell you guys something, something special.

When I was a freshman in high school, I ran Track. I have gone over the sport in an earlier post, told you all about how much fun it was to belt out a two mile an hour after a mile–and I’m sure some of you think I’m being sarcastic when I say that, but, unfortunately for you, I am not.

The team was–well, I wouldn’t really call it a team in the first place. We were the Distance Runners, the Sprinters, the Throwers, and the Jumpers, not specifically a Track team. We had our class sections, too, the Freshman and the Seniors, being the most separated of those ranks.

It wasn’t only the students, either. The coaches didn’t see eye-to-eye on most things; in fact, most talked behind one another’s backs–and so, it transferred to the students, creating a whirlpool of bad attitude and glum that made running not fun at times.

Of course, I was new, had no idea what the team was like; but, even then, I didn’t give a shit about some invisible system run by people who had had it run for them, and them before; and it probably went back and back. Who knows? All I knew was that it felt weird.

I went about my routine for a while, and ran races as was expected during the season, but throughout the whole thing, I was observing and gaining insight on this overbearing atmosphere, not liking it too much. The different events never interacted with each other. If they did, it always turned into an insult battle: who works harder…who has the tougher workouts…

Before I delve further, I want to clarify that I myself succumbed to this attitude for a time , enough to make me sick and attempt to abandon the ideals that had been planted in my young mind. It was a battle progressing into sophomore year, but I at last broke it this year, after a period of self-enforced solitude for junior year.

Anyways, it sucked. Lines had to have seniors leading them, even if it meant stepping in front of the freshman already standing there; the events engaged in horrible arguments, calling names–again, even the coaches joined in, behind the scenes; and there were derogatory comments tossed around from one end of the track to the other, so you couldn’t escape them.

That was what got me. The derogatory comments.

If a senior said openly the freshmen will not be making it to State, I got pissed. So, they thought the team wasn’t skilled enough to carry its talent through the classes, and what exactly gave them that authority? Their experience? Could they see into the future? If so, then my school should have invested in a Clairvoyant course, all psychics to the front of the class.

I hate it when the upper echelon tells the lower echelon what it can and cannot do.

I hate that there are echelons.

Why not join up, be a team, to inspire others with your camaraderie?

Why not, instead of saying, “give it up,” say, “give it all?”

I wish I had spoken up, but I was a freshman who thought his words meant nothing. I sat back and watched, sure; however, I also learned, and I spent time preparing what I would want to change about our team, to make it a team. There were successes, also failures–but I kept striving forward, despite the view of others that the team could not and would not change.

As a senior, it is great to see the change implementing itself–as they always say–slowly but surely. The team is a team, for the most part. There are some kinks here and there, but they have a long time to straighten out the hose.

I only hope it will stay straight.

Think daily,

A Southpaw

 

A Hundred Posts Already?

Wow.

Seriously, wow.

Words cannot express–

Actually, I shouldn’t ruin this moment by talking. Deep breath. There we go.

Well, it–it has been a ride, has it not? We’ve been through, what, eleven months now, and we are almost at the year anniversary. I won’t get too sobby, since I have a lot more to say on the year anniversary, but, I will say, I am so surprised.

I never thought this blog would pick up, become an actual facet of my life. When I first started, I was telling myself that a blog was a stupid way to spend my time–that it was taking away from my novel; however, as time went on, it weaved itself into something unexpected.

I do not believe I would have discovered my voice as fast, had it not been for Thoughts of A Southpaw, one of the things I look forward to most every Monday and Thursday. It has been a wild ride, I gotta tell ya. I’ve done things with all these words I never would have thought possible.

As I sit here at my laptop, hearing the rain patter against the basement window, I feel excited. Why, you ask. To be honest, I cannot wait until we reach 200, even 500 posts, not because it’s a big number, but because words can change people: it can affect them in ways invisible to the naked eye.

If people read these posts and laugh, or smile–or feel as if a connection sprang up spontaneously between them and this blog, then we have done those people, and the world, a great service, and there is little else we can do than smile along with them.

I would raise a beer, but I am not yet of the drinking age, so a Powerade will have to do.

Here’s to the future, and all the good it may bring us.

And here is to you guys, you who spend the time reading these posts and spreading their messages–even if those messages are angsty teenage emotions–and you who have stuck with Thoughts of A Southpaw through the splendid number of, say it with me, 100 posts.

That is incredible.

Thank you all so much.

Think daily,

A Southpaw

This Time I Confused C.J Box

A week ago–don’t ask me why I didn’t inform you guys earlier–I met a writer named C.J Box, an interesting dude. Have no idea if any of you have heard of Mr. Box, let alone read his books. Honestly, until then, I had not read one either, so…joke’s on me. Ha ha. Funny.

I was invited to an award luncheon by my local library. The primary reason: I got third place in a mystery story contest. Fun stuff. Anyway, got there, met some folks–isn’t that awkward table talk just the best?–and ate a tasty salad, a tasty chicken, with tasty potatoes and green beans; and, oh, don’t let me forget the delicious chocolate something that looked like a cake, yet tasted like a fondue. I got full pretty fast–but, I am a runner, so…

The luncheon was created around two artists receiving awards, one of those being C.J Box, and the other a kind, local artist by the name of Charles Rockey, who is also a spectacular person, and I love his views on what art should be. It was a meeting of the minds, in other words.

So, get this, I show up to the thing, thinking, “okay, not the only teenager here–won’t be that awkward;” and, lo and behold, there is nothing but a mass of middle-aged men and women putting their fancy fur coats on the coat rack and fawning over the stack of C.J Box books. Then there’s me, a bearded teen in an enormous leather jacket, with a book in one pocket, and two bouncy balls in the other. I smiled at people. Those same people smiled back–some rolled their eyes after smiling, but that’s not the point.

For the most part, I stood around, humming to myself, until the doors opened and we were allowed to go take our seats in the ballroom. A bunch of kids and a few adults sat beside me, and we talked. Thankfully, the awkwardness died out around minute fifteen of companionship. All of the kids were writers who had placed in the contest, but I cannot tell you how the adults got there. I never did ask.

Rockey ended up being sick, unable to show himself, but he made sure a two dimensional bust of himself was present. His daughter shared his words, and they were quite touching; for, to have that feeling of sensing great artistry is hard to come across sometimes. By the way, his book of drawings and stories–a work of fifteen years–was selling for 250 dollars.

Us writers had a chance to talk to C.J Box before he spoke his piece, so, me being me, I went up ready to ask him a question. After we took a picture, he shook my hand and said, “Now, did you have something you wanted to ask me?”

I said, “Are you a plotter or a pantser?”

He squinted a moment, opened his mouth as if to speak, closed it, and said, “A plotter or a   what?”

For those of you unfamiliar with the term, a pantser is someone who uses no plans to write stories, but goes with the flow, as they like to politely say. I have confessed to being one myself, since I hate planning out stories.

He told me he outlined every aspect of his story; and, inside, I was wondering how someone could pull that off without getting bored of the story. I spend around four to five months on a novel, and that is without planning. How on Earth can a person plan as long as it takes to plan, then actually write the thing down, and add in a few rewrites afterwards?

Now, I know some of you are shaking your heads at my close-mindedness, but you gotta remember that I’m a teenager, and it is hard to come by these things adults call brains sometimes. I mean, do we have to get a surgeon in here? Feeling empty!

Mr. Box had some great advice in his talk, so I told him after the luncheon had ended and  he was signing my book at his tiny table. I think I was the second to last person in the line. See, I had been smart and waited for all the other guests to get their books signed in the beginning–how’s that teenage brain working now, huh? He said the expected good luck and all that jazz, but he had one more tidbit I thought was hilarious.

Want to know it? Do you really?

Get ready for 25 years of hell.

And I thought, “Buddy, I’m already going through it.”

Think daily,

A Southpaw

 

 

 

 

Fever Dreams

You know, it friggin sucks when you’re sick. As a matter of fact, that is why this post is a day late–I know, I know, the angry mobs are going to start busting down my door here in a minute. Just want to tell those fellas to hold on, and for them to let me get my bearings. I am, after all, ill, so…don’t expect lightning fast reflexes.

The coughing I can deal with, no big problem there–even if it feels like my lungs are exploding every thousand coughs. But, here’s a light of hope: it only hurts when I laugh. Ha ha ha…ooh, boy, that joke kinda died out quick, didn’t it?

It is the fever, this damn mind scrambler, that has me foaming at the mouth. I try to sleep today and, guess what, I have the weirdest dreams. One of them was about a dragon, at least I think so. It’s hard to tell when I’m slipping in and out of a dream state during the three minutes it takes me to fall asleep, which, as well, sort of has its perks.

I want it to break; however, I know the minute it does, those dreams are only going to get stranger, and I am probably going to wake up screaming, or in a cold sweat–oh, great, that means the fever’s breaking!

For now I sit and drink water and read books, going through this especially creepy horror novel right now. Not in the mood to eat. Not in the mood to move–to speak. Now it sounds like I’m bitching, so better cut this short before the mob really does crash in on me for whining about a fever and some seriously weirdo dreams.

Ah, life is too short for puny sicknesses, do you all agree? That’s my axiom. Anyhow, hope none of you are complete sickos right now–but, if you are, may I recommend a quick and costless cure?

Laugh a little bit. Even if it sets you on a coughing fit.

Think daily, 

A Southpaw

Constant Motion: The Story of My Life

In a world of seemingly perpetual motion, I am always trying to stay on the track.

Every day I treat differently–no, it’s not as if I give the weekdays pet names, like Wedny or Sundah. What I mean is I come into each day with a goal–I am going to do this, or I am going to do that; and during all those seconds and minutes and hours I push to accomplish that goal.

Sure it sounds typical to most of you. We are, as the human race, a pretty determined people. And kudos to all of you who feel they relate to this post. I’d give you cookies, but I forgot to bake them–or did I eat them?

Now, I hope there is still a large amount of relation between us when I say, “I cannot binge watch.” Seriously, I don’t think it’s in my genetic code. Gasps! Screams! Spilled ice cream cones! See, whenever I sit down to watch a TV show, I try limiting myself to around two episodes, tops; anything more is pushing it.

I would love to watch six episodes in a row, however–

My mind won’t let me.

It sees that I am reaching my two episode limit, then jerks up the alarm. Bwah Bwah, it goes out my ears, Bwah Bwah YOU’RE NOT MOVING! ARE YOUR LEGS BROKEN? HAVE YOU FALLEN AND YOU CANNOT GET UP?

“Nah,” I respond, “I just wanted to enjoy myself for a bit.”

Mr. Mind does not agree. So what Mr. Mind does is snap on a little guilt machine, making me feel ashamed for wanting to devour so much TV; unfortunately, it works, and I turn off the TV and curse myself for wasting so much precious time–even though I usually have around six hours left of daylight.

I get to work. It’s the only thing I can do. Doesn’t matter what I’m engaged in, so long as it is not watching the TV, or napping on the bed, or eating crap tons of food for no sane reason, save to kill a few minutes. This makes me both irritated and grateful. Irritated, because I would like to binge some times and laze around; and grateful, because it shows I have limits, even when those limits are, at times, overbearing.

Call it Constant Motion, The Story of My Life.

There are some occasions, where I win the battle and watch my two episodes without a guilt trip, but Mr. Mind does not get paid the big bucks for nothing. He saddles up and lassos that guilt complex hours after I have had my fun. For God’s sake, he’s like the Terminator: you kill him, feel like a bad ass, and he comes roaring back in the sequels, with a deeper accent and a hell of a lot more wrinkles.

Hasta la vista, ba–oh, shit, how’d he get behind me so fast?

Sorry, Arnold, just as my mind is always moving, so is my mouth.

Think daily,

A Southpaw

 

 

A Nightmare On College Street

It’s beginning to sink in…

You see, college is just around the corner, and I feel unprepared. It’s not as if I’m not ready, which I am; c’mon people, gimme a break! But it is scary to consider there will be no more guiding leash. Only yesterday, my mom was telling me I had to get a full-time job this summer. Geez Louise, Mom, I’m eighteen, it’s not like I can be a functioning member of society!

Eight hour work shift, my ass. I’ll go the full nine yards–yep, that’s me, being the overachiever. Get busy at a restaurant washing dishes, or pile horse crap onto a trailer at some farming store. Sure. And how much am I getting paid again?

College’ll be fun, of that I have little doubt. I’m studying for a teaching degree, gonna educate these high schoolers about the beeuty of grammar–oops, spelling error. I look forward to attaining my degree and becoming a teacher, which will be my safety net while I write stories and send them off to publishers. I’ll teach stuff. I’ll say stuff. I’ll write stuff on a whiteboard. Man, it sounds like the best job in the world, don’t it? Add on top of that a shitload of coffee and–well, you know what comes after you drink a lot of coffee.

Dorms don’t seem my cup of tea. I have heard plenty of horror stories about roommates and their different variations. It’s like someone puts together a Build-Me-Frankenstein doll kit and sticks all these body parts and brains on bare bodies. Yuck, gross image, right? Might have to go wash out the old noggin after that one.

But I digress–God, I hate when people say that–college is not all it is cracked up to be. No…it’s much more terrifying, a real fright for the kiddies. When people leave college, they always say…”I had to ask where the bathroom was on the first day” and, even scarier, “The kid in the desk next to me drooled on my notes.” The horror! Oh, what a monstrosity!

And on top of all that,

I have to pay for it!

Think daily,

A Southpaw

Sunshine Comes Around

Sometimes it can get dark, and, for most of us–if not all of us–that is a relatable fact. Life is not always this rainbow filled paradise that someone stirred up inside a milkshake, it’s actually a road that changes quite often.

Some say it’s a tough road, some a pleasurable road.

Me?

I think it’s just a road, dependent on what you yourself call it. I am not walking the same road as someone halfway across the world–no way is that possible; but they could be wishing they were walking my road, I could be wishing I was walking theirs.

As I sit here and chomp on Easter chocolate, I think about times I’ve wished to walk another road, or, even, to stop walking it entirely. Grim, I know; and, trust me, I never want to find myself thinking thoughts like that again. But you can’t build a wall around everything.

For me, I think, that can be easy to forget, maybe for others it is, too. Acting as if you can move through the world and be indestructible–I’m a teenager, whaddya gonna do, sue me?–it can size you up pretty well in your mind, then, when you think you have it great and the troubles are all fading, the tiniest thing breaks through your defense and crushes  you.

I had dark thoughts. Thankfully, they passed, but when I thought them, when I was in that stage, where it feels like a million dumbbells are pressing on your chest and you’re suffocating from the immense weight so badly, that any chance to remove the weight, the insanity, the stress, is taken, and it is taken with haste.

I felt decrepit, an old man walking in a teenage body; there were times I felt weak, unable to accomplish the routines I was committed to so fondly; and there were times I wanted to get away from it all–would a miracle show up and transport me from this hell that seemed never-ending?

Folding inwards was the route to my happy place, going deeper into my mind than I had in years. Night after night, I plugged away at a novel in which every dark ingredient of my conscience was added to this infesting depression–it was, at times, heartbreaking, blissful, tragic; and, when I reached the ending, both satisfying and saddening.

If you lose yourself, lose who you are, not who you think you are–the grit and bones of yourself–it can be shattering: you can look at the world in such a way that the sky seems to always be cloudy, that it contains these tumultuous emotions and is waiting for the perfect opportunity to barf it all over you. No one around you reveals their true self, that it’s always one mask or another, then you realize you’re the one who is wearing different masks, and now they’re worn and battered from constant use.

It almost happened to me, for about five minutes. It was draining, and; frankly, I have never been in a darker place. From my point of view, however, what else had I to do? A family member was going through cancer, suffering so often, and so much, it got to be unbearable to stay in the house. All of our solutions were going to shit, one after another the doctors kept coming up with blanks. And I felt it was up to me to maintain happiness in my family, each member dealing with their stress in their personal ways, while I was stuck in between a rift of sunshine and darkness–and eventually the darkness overcame the sun, as much as it hurt to know.

“How do you get around that?” I asked myself, and the truest answer for me was, keep writing, keep doing what you love, what keeps you sane. I did. I finished my novel, the darkest story I have ever written, and within those words was the five minutes of total surrender. I still get a chill when I read the scene, as it is personal and full of hatred at everything, regardless of how much these things had supported me beforehand.

I write this because I know I’m not alone. Millions of people go through the worst times of their lives, worse than my own experiences by miles, and many of those people have trouble finding a crack in their storms of darkness.

I write this because I want you all to remember sunshine comes around. It may not seem so at the present, but it is fighting to reach you, all the people surrounding you, who love you, would lay down their lives to help you see the light, if only for five minutes.

And sometimes, five minutes is all you need.

Think daily,

A Southpaw