advice

Life–Well, It’s A Cheesecake, Isn’t It?

Life–well, it’s a cheesecake, isn’t it? I’m not talking a single piece of cheesecake, no; in fact, I mean a pie of cheesecake. See, you can say you love every flavor in one of those creamy things, but we all know you’re lying. No one, no one likes all those pieces. There’s always the singularity–the missing link, if you would, that we all wish would get the hell out of Dodge, you know?

Life is interesting for me. It has been interesting for me. I work a pretty fair job in the field of manual labor. I’m a regular blue collar, sweeping brooms and wiping out toilets. It’s meh, to be truthful–and if there is one thing I have learned from this job, it is the sometimes nasty truth.

Drugs, for example, are nowhere on my to-do list. Day in and day out, I see people ravaged by constant drug use. Their faces are old, older than their age; and in their eyes is a haze that never seems to dissipate. I can see the blankness in some of their faces, and it is hard to watch at times.

These folks do this for fun, mind you; and, hell, perhaps it’s to find an escape. But, for me to know what it will do to them in the long run…it can be heartbreaking to see someone throw away their potential like that.

I speak from no experience; and, yes, I might also be speaking from a safer perspective, but I am innocent, after all.

I come from a small town where the craziest thing I have ever witnessed is a bleeding lady taken away on a stretcher after her husband’s psycho ex-girlfriend drove her motorcycle into the back of their car. Before this job, before this peek into another life, that was the craziest crap.

I have seen stuff since then. People who absolutely loathe their lives. Temper tantrums that can get way out of proportion. Worms swimming in some worker’s shit, and let me tell you, that was in two different Porta-Potties.

It is disgusting, but at the same time eye-opening. Would I have experienced this bit of life, this slice of cheesecake, if I had not taken this job? Would I be less of an innocent man than I am now? Would I even be writing this post?

The answers aren’t clear. When are they?

Life is a lot larger, a lot nastier. There are tendrils where I used to see sunshine. Adults can be total assholes, immature for that matter; or, they can be some of the best of the best.

A cheesecake? How about a loaded die? I’m serious. You don’t get to choose what happens in this world. The die is rolled–the numbers are chosen, and you either deal with the unfair, or you get out and do the best you can to force those numbers into your favor.

Win-win, or a lose-lose. No way of telling until you’re standing right in front of it. By then, too, the smell can be so bad, you aren’t sure you want to test your luck.

I say do it, but do it wisely. If you’re dumb when it comes to making those important decisions, you’re going to get landed with a nightmare, one of which you have to climb out of yourself to reach those sweet dreams.

Be smart out there, guys. It will pay off.

Think daily,

A Southpaw

 

 

Sticking To Your Guns

So, I got into Film a few days back. You know, Film. Movies. Screenplays. Trailers. Special FX, which I used to think was an acronym for an alternate Fox TV channel. I had a desire to make a movie, to film some weird crap, and other random stuff.

Then I stepped right back out.

One thing I have always known I wanted to be is a writer. A legit pen-smith–hey, it’s the best I could come up with. The writing thing is my life; tis’ my breath, and a bunch of different Shakespearean linguistics.

We have film, and we have writing.

I could devote time to teaching myself the art of making films and directing movies, or I could continue to devote my time to pursing a career in writing, one of which I am heading towards as fast as possible. There is a decision, then–what is the answer?

Now, before all of you start shouting at the top of your lungs to tell me your viewpoints, your varied and seasoned perspectives, look at the decisions you have made in your life thus far:

Are each of them making you happy?

Are you good at what you have decided to do?

If your life were to be just that, and only that, would you be satisfied–at least for the first three days?

Writing makes me happy. It is my dream to never want to retire because I am doing what I love to do, so long as I keep up the hard work and strive to be the best, in my eyes. Plus, I’d be satisfied for the first four days before I went looking for people to watch and listen to.

Hint-Hint: We’re writers. It’s what we do.

Not much of that would be true for film, and; in thinking about it from an outsider’s point of view, why shouldn’t I want to stick to what I’m good at in the first place and become a professional in it?

I’m sure there’s tons of people out there who have followed their dreams and followed their talents, cause’ why not? We’re supposed to be better at certain things and worse at certain things. If we were one way or the other, we probably wouldn’t be human; at best, we wouldn’t be from this planet…at all.

Imagine tons of aliens walking past you everyday. The guy at the water cooler today, the one who made the burbling noises right when the cooler was doing so? Yeah, definitely a spacer.

Oh, and the guy who stole your donut off your desk this morning.

Never mind, actually, he’s just of the species Asshole.

Think daily,

A Southpaw

 

Photo Credit: Boris Vallejo

Dyscalculia: The Reason I Can’t Do Math

Well, I figured it out, folks.

After countless years of striving to perform well in math–that sounds weird for some reason–and busting my ass studying for tests that I end up failing the next day, despite my being an annoying optimist throughout that time, I have discovered my problem–

I have Dyslexia–shit, I mean Dyscalcium.

No!

I have Dyscalculia, which I thought was some fresh way of labeling dunces who can’t make it to Calculus without passing College Algebra. Sure described me well, eh-heh…cough.

Apparently, Calcul–some-random-crap affects a person’s ability to comprehend math equations, perhaps even the ability to recall certain formulas after the person has studied them time and time again. It also prevents them from understanding advanced concepts–they cannot get past the introduction stage.

So, say I write out the Quadratic Formula. I might be able to remember it.

But what if I write out the Hyperbola formula, fifteen times?

Still won’t be able to get it; and this is not only the Calcity-Calc disability, but a symptom of ADHD and math anxiety: not the fear that math mafia gangsters will come steal your abacus–instead, it is becoming uncontrollably nervous before a math test out of fear of, dare I say it, performance issues.

Sound like any of you people?

I had no idea of it until this day. It would have been splendid news six years ago, but, alas, the world of science is slower than molasses–I mean, how long did it take ’em to figure out what molasses was, anyway? I coulda been a better math student is all I’m saying; granted, I’m pretty much done with math for-ever, except for when I have to pay a tip and pay for gas and calculate taxes and pay my bills and…

Aaugh!

Math is EVERYWHERE! There is NOWHERE I can hide!

Somebody, shield me with a Dickens novel! No, not A Christmas Carol, it’s too small!

Is that–

Oh, thank God, I thought you were handing me–

A MATH BOOK?

Think daily,

A Southpaw

 

 

This Life of Mine

Recently, I have realized how fortunate I am in this life of mine. I have a caring family, a supportive house, food, and clothes; not to mention, I have the opportunity to experience a university and become educated enough to pursue a lifestyle of my choosing.

My ultimate dream? Be a professional goddamn writer, to see my books on bookshelves; but, the truth of it is–all I want is to be happy. I care not whether I have bags o’ money running out the windowsills, or owning the largest mansion in America, even the world.

Material wealth means little to me; granted, it keeps me alive, but tis’ not my lifeblood.

I am able to think those thoughts and dream those dreams, because I live in a place of good fortune, a place where determination is my motto. I will head off to college in two months with the mindset that whatever comes out of these upcoming four years will be taking me the tiniest step closer to where I want to be in this life of mine.

And isn’t it incredible? We all have our own lives, our own motivations, the somethings no one can take from us without putting up a fight. It is will. It is will, and it is confidence. Those are our superpowers in a universe of chance, since all that happens is determined by the roll of the dice, right?

Or wrong?

Think daily,

A Southpaw

Without Boundaries

Did you know that, last week, I drove on a road without any markers. There were no yellow lines, nor white lines, not even those funny little hash marks I like to watch evolve into the lines. T’was a blank road, but for these tiny plastic colored boxes that people carelessly ran over. It wasn’t as if those were the only things keeping us from total road anarchy, or anything!

I gotta tell ya, it was frightening. Frightening, why?

I was scared of crashing. I was scared of having no direction.

I was scared of being free.

Eventually, that stretch of road ended, then came the regular, painted pathways for all us  tired drivers. The fear had dissipated, sure; but I felt disappointment creeping within my relief. The adventure had come to an end–now the same ol’, same ol’ repeated itself as it had done so many times.

The blank road left a mark on me, not a mark that you can see; actually, it’s a mark on the mind. An imprint. If being free frightened me, what did it say about my reliance on rules and the general structure? What did it say about the sense of confidence in myself, in my motivations?

Sure, the rules are necessary. Half of the world would probably be brimstone and nuclear radiation if not for those pesky things; however, being without them for barely a minute made me wonder about how terrifying it can be to break the rules, or to go down your own path.

Being a trail blazer, rather than a trail follower, is not an easy task. I would not hesitate to say that pursuing such a path can cause you to feel alone, or perhaps separated from the rest of the common world–and it has those effects, but through them, I realized, comes benefits.

I can join a flock as easy as anything, but to create, to engineer, my own flock…

Why, I’d have to be the craziest person in the world; I would have to be declared mentally insane–have to be chained to the walls of a prison for the nutty–to want to experience so much isolation.

And mayhaps I am the craziest person in the world.

The way I see it, though–if I can have conviction in what I believe, what I feel is honest to my self, then I am fine with being the craziest person in this whole, wild world, so long as  the Earth keeps turning, and the rest of this rolling landscape of truth and lies, of blame and guilt, of honesty and falsity, stays its form, never unrolling out of its original clay.

Think daily,

A Southpaw

An Open One-Year Anniversary Letter

Dear The World,

Once upon a time, I started a blog. This was to be an ordinary blog; in fact, it was a summer assignment for my high school English class. I had always expressed interest in blogs and the art of blogging–it seemed so down-to-Earth and personal, at least from what I had read and seen.

I started this blog with the intention to complete my assignments and talk about the books I had been told to discuss. That intention carried me somewhat far, but, a few weeks into the process, I thought of writing a post about a random horror movie I had recently watched on Netflix, and so I did.

Even though the movie post didn’t get many views–to be honest, there was no attention to me at all on the Interwebs–I still had the spark of wanting to write differently, to write out of my own head, which is what I do. This is stream of consciousness writing, no planning whatsoever.

The thing that strikes me now is how ashamed I was of wasting my time on a blog that was obviously going to go nowhere fast, when I could have been spending my writing energy on the novel I was finishing. It was, to me, an act in futility: simply write out the assignments and be done with it.

But that is not how I saw it, that is not how I see it.

There was a moment, a singular moment, that changed my point of view. See, I was sitting in my high school library, reading as always, when a senior guy walked up to me and said one of my posts had touched him.

The post in question: Small Town Losses. It was a tribute to a lost friend and the effect it had had on our small town; and how, despite the tragedy, we still banded together as a unified people. I think that post touched a lot of people, perhaps it is still touching them whenever they read it for the first or the second, or the fifteenth time. If so, all I can say is it is my pleasure.

His comment threw me into a loop. I don’t generally believe most of the stuff I write is heartfelt or touching, let alone therapeutic. I see what I write as the thoughts of my psyche, always revolving around instances which may have no outlying significance, but which, within, are bursting with importance.

His comment caused me to evolve. Where previously I had been writing for the sake of my own sanity, I was being forced to realize the impact of my words. It is not for my sake that I was given the ability to write, it is for those who read the words and receive some emotion, some feeling which reaches to their core. It is for those who cannot themselves speak of what they experience, and who would rather see their beliefs and desires and fears expressed for them.

Writing isn’t for the writers. Writing is for the readers.

A year in, I have changed, contrary to the thoughts of my younger self. This blog is more than just an outpouring of random thoughts of a southpaw–it’s an outlet that can help people understand themselves, so they can be what they were meant to be, or do, or create. It took almost a year for me to see it, others, I suppose, less; but don’t we all at first ignore the perspectives of others towards ourselves?

I think we do, but, I also think we eventually see the validity in the opinions of those others, as well the vitalness of what they say and how it relates to us. A matter of perspective, really.

Thank you, Readers, for helping me see the weight of words on the heart.

Thank you, Readers, for sticking with my cheesy voice for a whole year.

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

How To Be Anti-Social

You just got called anti-social.

But what, you ask, can you do about it? Who knows. But why, you ask. There’s got to be a reason, right? You can’t stand being called anti social: a tag associated with all this loneliness and depressing crap that you think of as pointless drama.

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You hold it off for now–it’s a thing you don’t want to deal with at the moment, but, eventually, it will become a reality; or is that another misconception? Is being social all that great anyhow? So you’ve learned to chat, Cathy, and the people you surround yourself with are new and colorful and vibrant, otherwise known as the words used to describe a box of Crayola colored pencils–how much of it is touching you as a person, as an individual? When you look into the mirror, do you see you for yourself, or–you for someone else?

You mull it over, take a nap, eat some food, the regular routine. Next day: you’re back at that one place, be it school, or work, even your own home, where you were tagged anti-social. Maybe the accuser isn’t there. They’ve gone off to do other things, but, you’re told, they’ll be back soon. Soon translates to you as never. They will never come back through those doors, into that room, so you can ask them, “What made you so curious as to what I look like on the outside, but you could care less about what I’m like on the inside, where it matters?”

Confusion takes hold. You start questioning, yourself, others, the world–and what does it all amount to but a tiresome headache and a conscience that has trouble forming cohesive thoughts? Anti-Social. The words are in your dreams; 24/7 you’re plugging your brain away at figuring out what the hell that person was trying to say. You lose sleep. You question your morality, who you’re meant to be. Frequent questions to yourself are, Am I a good person? Am I supposed to be here? Am I–it goes on and on.

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The world folds in, it feels as if you’re drowning in a placid lake, no tidal waves or whirlpools to suck you down. You alone are sinking yourself to the bottom of the abyss, a weight tied to your ankle. And always it’s those words–anti-social. They’ve become so common in your thoughts, you’ve formed a stigma around them. Anti-social, to you, is all you can be–but, then, you realize, it’s not.

Perhaps you never talk to people as often as you’d like; and perhaps you never talk to people as often because–well, you don’t like to talk. Does that mean, however, that you have to wear a binding around your mouth because you’re a little on the silent side of life? Not quite; in fact, not talking to all those people gives you, individually, strength.

Your solitude feeds you.

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It comes, at first, as a shock. How could you, the one who never talks, never voices their opinion, never laughs at jokes, be more correct than the one who labeled you?

But with all shocks, there is a numbness–and in this numbness you reflect, drawing your mind back to the happiest places and the memories you formed from being who you are. You remember life didn’t used to be so bad, it was a game you loved to play everyday. Sure, there were storm clouds on sunny days, rain drops on your umbrella of smiles, but you turned out fine.

You become whole, reinventing inside a palace of glee and laughter and purity that overshadows the darkness of your former shell. With this spirit, you step once more into the world and look around, identify those struggling from the same self-inflicted disease, the massive, horned bull named Doubt, and, ripping the page out of your book, the page someone decided to write in for you, when, in truth, it wasn’t their responsibility, you take on the crushing weight of the demon that has plagued you time and again, that has chewed up your courage and spit it across the universe as a warning, a warning that you are dangerous, considered highly toxic; and everywhere, from the deeps of the dark to the climes of the miraculous, people stray from the phenomenon that is you.

Then, after it sinks in, you know they’re right.

You are dangerous.

All should steer clear, all should tremble when they hear your name, because you, unlike any other human in the existence of anything, are weaponized, armed with the hidden secrets of your self–the source of power no one can attack if they can’t find it.

You are a weirdo.

You are a freak.

You are the unknown that frightens people so badly, they have to give you a name, and it is–

Anti-Social.

Think daily,

A Southpaw

Oh, Boy, Another Writing Rejection

This has to be, what, the thirteenth or fourteenth time I have been rejected by a short story magazine? Just so you know, I keep count–there’s this stack of rejection sticky notes hanging on my cork board, stuck to it by a thumbtack. They’re accumulating, so, in a way,  I suppose that’s a good thing, getting my stories out there and what not, even if they don’t make it.

I got this batch of short stories, at least seven of those puppies, waiting on special opportunities to free themselves and go out to those great readers that I will have someday. You see, there is no way I’m giving up. I’m gonna shoot off stories until I get published, damn it! And you can take that to the bank, or the publishing company…or wherever you stow your own stories, be it in a crate or a refrigerator.

Fun Fact: Tom Wolfe wrote on top of a refrigerator. Yeah, try that one on for size, you chair lovers.

Rejection is not so bad to me, most of the time. I view my failures as stepping stones, telling myself, “okay, buddy, you didn’t get in this time, but what can you do next time to make sure you receive a personal rejection instead of a form rejection?”

Oh, don’t you just get sick of those? It starts off all kind, “Thank you for submitting, such-and-such to our splendid magazine,” then comes the hammer to the gut, “but we do not think it exactly fits our tastes,” as if, instead of being publishers, they pursued a life of culinary critique. Ah, yes, hand me the fried lobster, would you, dear writer? In the end, they sometimes give you a little compliment, wish you luck, the sort of stuff that makes  you want to nod your head while gorging on a Klondike Bar, not me personally, but, hey, whatever works.

I persevere, however. I fight the good fight and write once more into the night. Ah-ha, it did rhyme! I then search the darkest corners of the Internet for magazines accepting stories and blast ’em off, like Buzz Lightyear blasted Toy Story to the top of the Box Office. You go, Buzz! Be a friggin’ incredible Space Ranger! I’m gonna stay here and write some more stories.

Just can’t wait until I get done with these two novels, then we’ll see how hard it is to get published. Oh, you betcha, it’ll be a trial–several trials, in actuality–but I am ready to kick it old school and get my stuff out there!

Whoo! Whoo-hoo! Writing rocks, dudes! Cowabunga!

Ah, crap, I think I stepped too far into the surfer lingo, ’cause all of a sudden I’m in the ocean. Well, the laptop’s sinking now, so…I guess…wait…I think…I’m…breaking up…the connection…seems…to be…going on…the fritz…

Later…dudes…and…dudettes…

Think daily,

A Southpaw

 

Interview With A Blogger

Tell me something, chaps. Tell me who you really are.

No, I don’t mean the you in public or the you in school or the you around your family–I mean you, the actual living and breathing sack of flesh that you are. Maybe with a bit more personality thrown in.

You don’t want to tell me?

Oh, I guess you don’t know me that well. Here, my name is Will, nice to meet you. A little more introduction? I’m a senior in high school…I run a bit…I write a bit more…and sometimes I frequent television, mostly Netflix.

That’s your name? Great name! Might give it to one of my kids–if I ever have any. See, a joke, I just broke the ice a little. Tell me a bit more about yourself. Okay…uh-huh…I love doing that, too! We’re like twins–except not at all!

Allow me to continue:

I like to eat cheeseburgers–love me some bacon!–and my favorite TV shows have got to be Mad Men and Breaking Bad. I’ve written a couple novels and recently I got third place in a writing contest, got some money off it. Family is also pretty important to me–hanging with those people, well, maybe not 24/7; but I plead the teenager rule.

Now you go and tell me all the happy things in your life. Doo-doo-doo…and boom, we say our good-byes and part ways. Life continues on as it always has, will, and is–hey, that confused me.

Say we reverse. Say we go back and, instead of telling all about the happiest parts of our lives and acting as if we are all living in a Leave It To Beaver rerun, we take a chance and spill our guts.

Second Go:

Oh, I guess you don’t know me that well. My name is Will Boswell, a name I happen to really really like. Little more introduction? I’m a senior in high school and cannot wait to be shot of this crappy joint, I mean it is bugging the hell out of me, all these tests and the homework. Oooh, gimme a break.

Your turn! What? Not feeling as up to it as you were the first time? You say you’re a tad uncomfortable? I’m not what you thought I was when you first talked to me? Interesting how our perceptions can change when we say we know a person through and through, but, as it turns out, we don’t…at all.

What if you told me all your secrets? All your taboos?

Hell, I might ditch you then and there–but, then again, I might not. It depends.

That’s a smart ass answer. 

Yeah, it is, but you are lying to yourself if you say you’re not wondering about that question.

I do; in fact, quite recently, I decided I hate it when people assume they know me, when they say I’m perfect. Hey, if a can of Pringles can’t be perfect, then I can’t either. We’re not gods here. We’re all humans–like I said, living and breathing sacks of flesh.

Then why, why do people freak when they learn you’re not all you’re chocked up to be?

It’s like we enjoy staring at a portrait covered in drapes. We can eat our snacks and drink our drinks and watch–just watch it be covered. But, take off the drapes, we leave. Jack Nicholson walks into the room and says, “We can’t handle the truth,” then he morphs into Jack Torrance and butchers all us remaining folks with a friggin axe. Redrum…Redrum…

What would happen if we took off the drapes in the first place?

You have an answer? No? You just created another secret, added another drape.

End of session.

Think daily, 

A Southpaw