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If We Were Having Coffee #6

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If we having coffee I would once again have a number of choices to offer you: a few different breakfast blends, a blueberry blend, a Columbian blend, a cappuccino, and that decaf breakfast blend that just won’t go away. I’m going with Seattle’s Best Breakfast Blend and Irish Cream creamer. I’ll have to venture to the Pacific Northwest someday.

I’ve been traveling a little bit more for work this last month. A few day trips, a conference near Pittsburgh, and a trip to Cincinnati. I have another trip to Houston coming up which I always enjoy. Great Mexican Food and Whataburger highlight my trips to Texas. They are also as close as I get to my home state of Arizona so I take advantage of the culture similarity. Traveling there is a teaser that makes me a little homesick.  I get that way every now and then.  Although I love my life in New York, and it is home now, Arizona will always be my first home.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you we are busy planning all the things that go along with a senior graduating high school. June will be a busy month. I think we have most of the college details nailed down with the exception of some last minute local scholarships we know my son is getting but are unsure of the financial award yet. They all add up and thankfully will lessen the burden on my wife and me.

We are planning his graduation party for this summer and will most likely have it at a fire hall near my house.  It’s common to rent a fire hall up here. The cost is reasonable, and the money supports a volunteer based fire department.  We’ve never planned a party like this so we are treading on an unfamiliar path. It’s exciting.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that all of this college preparation and graduation planning is bittersweet.  I am proud of my son for all of his accomplishments and the opportunity he has earned in being accepted into a very selective program at the university he will be attending yet I am saddened by the fact that he will be gone.  I know this is part of parenting but it doesn’t lessen the sadness I am feeling. Maybe as that dorm move in date gets closer, the excitement will trump the sadness.  Maybe not.

All I can hope for is that my wife and I have prepared him properly for the journey he is about to take. It’s been a little tough on us because we could not speak to him from experience.  My education was done entirely through a combination of night school and online classes while my wife’s was done while working prior to our children’s birth then finished up once they were in school. Neither of us know what it would be like to live on campus. What we do know though is what the priority will be: school. We both have confidence in him.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that there will come a morning in late August where my wife, my twelve year old, and I will wake up and start our day a little differently than we have every other morning. There will be something missing that morning and unselfishly, it will be a good thing.

A short two hour drive away, my son will be waking up in a dorm room and starting his day a little differently than he has every other morning.  I can only imagine the thoughts that will be going on in his head that morning. The excitement and nervousness that his first day of class is about to start will most likely be overwhelming.

And then, like every other school morning, his cell phone will ding or vibrate, and there will be a group message that either my wife or I start that will state: Love you all, have a great day!

And we will all respond like we always do and there will be some sense of normalcy returned to us for the remainder of the day.

I wonder what his morning coffee experience will be like that day.

Until next time…

Over 110 Million Copies in Print

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What writer wouldn’t want to see that blurb in their bio along with #1 New York Times Bestseller next to the title of their latest book? To the average writer, the reality check of this happening might rank up there with winning the lottery. But yet the writer continues to write.

I’m thinking about this because I just finished a book a few weeks ago by David Baldacci. On the back cover I happened to see the “over 110 million copies in print” comment.  Yet the following week, I found myself reading a book by a much lesser known author. There’s no mention of how many copies in print or #1 NYT Bestseller, yet I enjoyed it as much as Baldacci’s book.  Wait, did I say as much as?  To be honest, I enjoyed it more and left her a review that stated that.

For the last year, I have been reading a number of books by authors most people have never heard of. Some are indie authors while others are represented by smaller publishers. I have found most of these authors through social media and a few were found in the bargain books section at Barnes & Noble. In between reading popular authors such as Baldacci, Silva, Kellerman, Rollins, and Gardner, I have found authors like Dena Rogers, E.L. Wicker, Lori Lesko, J.S. Snow, Wendy Tyson, C.L. Pauwels, Mark Rubenstein, Brendan DuBoise, J.D. Ludwig, and the book I just finished reading last week by S.S. Lange.  As a reader, I’ve enjoyed reading every author I just mentioned. Famous or not.  As a writer, I am inspired by all. Famous or not.

I tend to use music, art, and sports analogies when trying to express my thoughts.  I might do that more than I should but those particular arenas are enjoyed by many and at some level, I would hope, familiar to most.  So my thoughts on music, art, and sports? Some of the best music I have ever listened to might have been in a bar or on a street corner. Some of the best art I have been privy to appreciate has only been seen by a few. Some of the greatest sports moments I have witnessed were at the amateur level or with participants just competing for the love of the sport.  To me, it’s always about passion and sincerity and that performance will always shine; a permanent marker in my mind.

I can say the same about the written word.  There are some amazing writers out there and I am grateful to have experienced their work whether they’ve sold 110 books or 110 million books.

So take in a good bar band, explore a starving artist fair, or watch an amateur sporting event. And while you are at it, discover a new author.

Congratulations to the following authors who have new releases out within the last few weeks:

  • Paige Randall (@ThePaigeRandall) who can be found HERE
  • Wendy Tyson (@WendyTyson) who can be found HERE
  • Lori Lesko (@LeskoLori) who can be found  HERE

Until next time…

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

If We Were Having Coffee #5

 

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If we were having coffee, I would show off our new coffee carousel we bought last weekend. There are now breakfast blends, a Kona blend, cappuccinos, and a few decafs that will probably occupy space for some time. I’m going with a breakfast blend, sweetener, and French vanilla creamer. I’d also offer you a fresh blueberry muffin my wife just made.  We pick blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries each year and freeze them for use throughout the year.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I missed work on Monday.  I aggravated something in my lower back over the weekend and woke up Monday barely able to walk. I was fortunate to be able to see the doctor later that day, and the combination of Tylenol, anti-inflammatory meds, and Icey Hot have me feeling much better.  I’m going to milk it a little though so I get excused from weekend chores which should allow me some extra writing time.  Unless my wife reads this of course.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I watched my son play tennis this week. He decided at the last minute to not run track this year and went out for tennis instead.  He has now played four years of soccer, two years of baseball, one year of track, and now tennis. He’s really made the most of his time in high school.

I only played football in high school although I should have played tennis. I got grounded the summer between my freshman and sophomore year and my mother made me play tennis with her each day as part of my punishment.  This is the same mother who grounded me by making me read books, write book reports, and keep a vocabulary list one summer. She had played tennis in high school and placed in doubles for state. It was humiliating and not cool for a fourteen year old… then.  Some older kids would watch and tease me as my mother would beat me time after time. She challenged them to play and one kid did. He was seventeen. He started playing every day with us and our skills improved with my mother’s coaching. We started playing doubles against two kids who were our school team’s doubles champions.  After beating them, numerous times, they encouraged me and my new friend to try out for tennis.  We were too cool for that and told them tennis was gay. Especially the little white shorts they had to wear.  Ok, ok… to all my gay friends – lighten up. That was decades ago; different time, different era.  I was a closet tennis player but I’m coming out here.

I drove my son to the high school this morning to catch the bus for an out of town tennis meet. Or do you say match?  While we were waiting in the parking lot, a large bus pulled in and this excited my son because he had been told they were taking the little yellow bus. He’s use to the bigger sports that get the full size bus.  The big bus wasn’t his. It was the track team from another town coming to a meet in our town and they were lost.  The tennis coach gave the driver directions to the Athletic Complex,  the little yellow bus pulled up, and I wished my son good luck. I was in a hurry to get back home and get out of chores, you know, because of my back. Ouch.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I followed the big bus out of the parking lot back towards the highway. I noticed they went the wrong way and were heading towards Pennsylvania so I followed them. About five miles down the road, I believe the bus driver realized he was lost and pulled over. I pulled in front of them and got out of my car and walked back to the bus as he was opening the door.  The driver and two coaches both smiled at me when I told them they were still lost; like they didn’t already know that. While they were laughing in agreement, I told them to follow me and I would take them to the Athletic Complex.  They made it to their track meet and I saw the driver, coaches, and a few kids waving at me as I turned around and headed home. Cool.

I’m going to have one more coffee then get back to writing. If the meds kick in shortly, I might just head outside and help with the yard.  Spring cleaning can be somewhat therapeutic. My back will get better. I’ve found over the years that my body is quite resilient.

Maybe I will buy a  racquet and play tennis with my kids. I’d like that.

Until next time…

B

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Check out #weekendcoffeeshare at Part Time Monster

Car Problems, Road Trip, & Stir Fry

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I wanted to focus on my WIP this weekend so I wasn’t going to write a post but as fate would have it, the weekend has been kind to me so I thought I might write something.  I also needed to step back from my story for an hour or so.  Like most of you that are writing something beyond a blog, I am questioning writing time commitments, social media balance, and general life commitments. I have both a short story and novel in progress and need to refocus a bit on both. Yeah, writer problems….

Car Problems

A few weeks ago, my son got a ticket on his way home from town. He didn’t come to a complete stop at an intersection. In New York, you are required to get an annual vehicle inspection and our inspection had expired.  I rarely drive our car and my son and wife have been sharing it for the last few months because we need to get his Jeep fixed.  Our tags are renewed every two years and we get plenty of notice that they are about to expire. The state does not do that for inspections. I suppose one could make the argument that the stickers one must place in the window should be enough visibility to an owner as to when the inspection or tags are due. It was sure visible to the cop (a friend of ours from Little League… small town living). Thankfully he only was ticketed for the inspection having just expired.

About that same time, our engine light came on, the wrench light came on, and our car made a clunking noise when shifting into reverse.  Transmission problems can be expensive and I had suspected we might need tires too. Bad timing considering we were just getting ready to pay property taxes, something my fellow New Yorkers know is painful.

We took our car in Thursday and I assumed we would spend the weekend without it. This in itself creates a logistics dilemma for us considering we have four people all needing to get home at the end of the day and I drive a little Ford Ranger truck (I should be driving a BIG truck but mine is paid for and I only spend $15 a week on gas). We made it through Thursday and Friday, and to my surprise, the garage called us Saturday morning telling us the car would be ready by noon. Tires, transmission tune-up, oil-change, a rear turning bulb, and state inspection fee. Not near the damage I was expecting on the transmission and far under what I had budgeted. I now have a legal car and official form to take to village court on Tuesday.

Road Trip

On our way to pick up the car, my wife suggested we head to the city to take the kids shopping and have dinner (you know, because we now had extra money.. I know women understand this).  We haven’t done this since before Christmas and her argument made sense. If we went yesterday, we could relax today… and I could get some writing in. Neither of us felt like cooking so it sounded logical to me. Deal.

The car ran beautiful on the trip there. She got her fix at Michaels and Hobby Lobby, the kids got theirs at Target, T.J. Maxx, and Burlington Coat Factory, and I bought a few books at Barnes & Noble.  We decided on Chile’s for dinner after not finding a parking place at an Italian place. Probably the better decision anyway considering two of us weren’t keen on Italian food yesterday. We had a wonderful dinner and I had my first Summer Ale of the year. I am somewhat of an oddity when it comes to beer. I have my last beer of the year sometime in early December and don’t have another one until sometime in March or April. Our snow has melted, it’s sunny, and in the fifties. That beer tasted so good.

Stir Fry

Stomachs full, our extra money and then some spent, we were on our way home listening to an Earth Wind & Fire CD my 12 year old son bought. There is something special about my children enjoying music I listened to growing up. My eldest went through it a little by getting caught up in eighties music. My youngest however has downloaded music from both the eighties and a decade earlier. What sort of 12 year old listens to Cat Stevens? We also listened to some other oldies and about an hour into our ride home, my wife shouts at me, asking if I “knew what today was.”  Ugh, Saturday?  A good day? A day to be thankful our small town mechanic is honest?

She said it was our anniversary. Not our wedding anniversary but the anniversary of the day we met. We both always remember these things but our life has been a bit hectic as of late. Neither of us remembered yesterday but one of the songs fueled a memory of a tape I had made her so many years ago. Yes, this was back before digital music and playlists.

Twenty three years ago in Arizona, a buddy of mine showed up on my front porch asking me if I wanted to go out to a nearby lake with him, his brother, and his cousin. She was from NY and visiting him on her spring break.  She was blond, wearing a tie die one piece short outfit, too white for April, and annoyed the shit out of me for the next few hours. Despite that, we had a great time and all went out to dinner and a bar later that evening. After the bar, my buddy and his cousin followed me back to my house with everyone now hungry again.  While I was standing in the kitchen cooking, my buddy headed off to the bathroom. During the few minutes he was gone, his cousin kissed me. Yes, alcohol played a part but I was sober enough to realize I was kissing my buddy’s cousin and it freaked me out a little. He came back in the room, we all ate an early morning meal and they were on their way. The next day, they were back and we spent an awkward day together, made even more awkward by day’s end when my buddy asked me if I would entertain his cousin during the evenings for the next week while he worked his second shift job. I agreed.  The next weekend, she went home. My buddy joked that she and I would be a good match. That surprised me considering he knew me and how many years I had been single not to mention the crazy eighties I had lived through. I was NOT the guy you wanted dating your sister or cousin.

Less than three months later, I mailed a one way plane ticket to a girl in New York. My buddy and I split the cost of the ticket. She came.

The first meal I ever made my wife was stir fry chicken twenty three years ago yesterday.

Until next time…

B

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Sometime in 1992

 

Photo (stir fry) courtesy of Pixabay.com 

 

If We Were Having Coffee #4

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If we were having coffee, I would have a number of choices to offer you today: a Kona Blend, a Breakfast Blend, Hazelnut, Maxwell House’s House Blend, and I still have that box of decaf.  We had family over for Mexican food yesterday and bought a number of different flavors to satisfy a house full of coffee drinkers. I will have the hazelnut this morning.

I would tell you a how a writer friend of mine explained what a Kona Blend was to me and likened it to using a Monet for a doormat. I understand now, but instantly thought a Monet doormat would make a wonderful impression. No disrespect to Monet or all you art aficionados of course.

Friends. I would ask you if you thought you could be friends with someone you’ve never met. Well could you? I can and feel I have made friends with a number of beautiful souls over the last year. Strangers, acquaintances, and friends. I won’t get into semantics.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I am not as depressed as I initially was after completing the FAFSA application for financial aid awards from the two universities my son was accepted to. There is this magical formula that decides what our expected family contribution should be that almost sent me over the edge.  Financial aid award packets arrived this week. I also did some research on tax breaks, federal work study, and additional scholarship monies my son should receive. My son did his part in earning a very large merit scholarship and he has made his decision on which school he wants to attend now with the more expensive of the two private colleges now being cheaper. I knew it would be his first choice anyway. He loved it despite the fact that they don’t allow freshman to have cars on campus. No worries though because the school  gives free bus passes to students.  He will be able to get to the mall and we can postpone getting a new car and giving him ours for a year. It will still be very expensive but bottom line is it’s doable for us with some minor household changes. We are excited for him and feel very blessed at the opportunity afforded him.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you how upset I was at the recent events at a university in Kenya. I just can’t fathom what happened and it saddens me; a shopping mall last year and now a university with innocent people dying for what? Both acts defy any sense of reason. There was a HBO documentary on television the other night about the incident at the mall. Stories of how an act of terrorism brought about acts of heroism and human spirit. Muslims, Christians, Hindus, blacks, whites, mothers, children, store employees, police officers, and students.

Yet here I sit making minor adjustments with bills, getting rid of some premium channels, adjusting our phone plan by getting rid of our land line, and postponing the new car. We are spoiled as a country and I wonder how many people here realize how fortunate we really are as we continue to complain about such trivial crap in the greater scheme of things.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you about a touching post I read the other day on Facebook by one of my friends from graduate school.  She had commented about how she couldn’t imagine what the families of those Jewish children who died in a fire in Brooklyn last month were going through and said she was praying for both them and their families. She is originally from New York City and is also a mother of two kids herself.  She and her husband are Muslim. Her husband is also an officer in the Marine Corp. What does that have to do with anything? Nothing yet everything.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I welcomed the day with more snow. Much of it had melted over the last few days with warmer spring weather finally arriving. The forecast called for less than an inch of snow today. They were wrong. I think we already have two inches. I love it. Some of you are already planting flowers or gardens. For us, our first planting isn’t until May. It will all work out.

Lastly, I would tell you Happy Easter or maybe Happy Passover. Regardless of your religious convictions or non-convictions, beliefs or non-beliefs, I would just want you to have a happy day.

Until next time…

The view from my kitchen window this morning

The view from my kitchen window this morning

 

Smells Like …?

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Alright, not Teen Spirit although Nirvana might have been onto something.

Olfaction and petrichor?  How can two seemingly bland words mean so much?

While writing yesterday, I found myself struggling with finding the right words to convey how something smelled. Of all the senses, I seem to find the most difficulty in this descriptive arena and I’m not sure why. It’s not for lack of having a sense of smell; it’s just my difficulty in describing it. A scene in my story takes place late morning in a diner. A small town diner to be exact, where the dining space is limited, sounds reverberate throughout the rooms, and smells permeate your being the moment you walk in.

So what does breakfast smell like? To me, it usually smells like eggs, bacon, sausage, potatoes, and coffee. Sometimes there is a hint of maple or fresh fruit. Other times it smells like chorizo, warm tortillas and beans. When summer arrives, it often smells like a mixture of all of the above in addition to campfire and pine scents. Breakfast is a beginning, a huge “hello world” to start the day. It could also be the end of a day, say Denny’s at one in the morning. Maybe that is my dilemma. My scene takes place late morning. Breakfast at this time of day in my story serves two purposes: my character is simply hungry and needs to be seen. Maybe the smells don’t really matter here or maybe there is an association with the smells of breakfast that fits my plot.  Damn, I might have solved my own problem.

Smell association? I could run with that. Hotdogs smell like baseball. Hot buttered popcorn smells like the movie theater. Turkey and stuffing smell like a well-deserved after dinner nap. Patchouli smells like the seventies, although I hear it’s making a comeback. And then there is rain.

Of all the smells that stimulate my senses, next to breakfast, my favorite is the smell of rain. Having spent the majority of my life in the Southwest, rains were not as common as they are now. We would get a rain during the monsoon season that was usually preceded by a smell of dust or dirt in the air. Of course the ominous purplish brown sky moving slowly in our direction was a hint of things to come. The smell always hit us first and remained during the first few hours of rain. I loved those rains. Now living in a rural area in the Northeast, we get rain year round. I haven’t figured out winter rains yet but spring, summer, and fall all have very distinct smells associated with each.

Maybe it’s the novelty of year round rain that I find myself using it in my stories. Rain is more than a smell here. It is a time of year, a sense of peacefulness and beginnings, or a reminder of nature’s strength. It’s about both solitude and love. It’s about springs first planting and fall’s last leaves blanketing the forest floor. My favorite rain by far is summer rain accompanied by a lightning storm. We have a covered porch off the back of our house that faces the woods and I can sit out there for hours taking in a summer rain. This rain to me is intimate. It’s about both humility and power. It’s about amazing light shows and musical sounds that tickle your senses. It’s about the dampness that caresses  your skin or the way an evening coffee just tastes different. And when it’s all over, just as it began, it’s all about the smell.

By the way, olfaction is the sense of smell and petrichor is the scent of air after a rain.  Yeah… my thoughts exactly.

If I could sum up my feelings of a summer rain storm in a song it would be this one.  Go ahead, take my hand, close your eyes, turn up the volume and listen. Tell me if you smell the rain.

 

 

 

If We Were Having Coffee #3

 

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If we were having coffee, I would offer you a Kona blend in a confident manner that might suggest I actually know what a Kona blend even is.  I could offer you a Breakfast Blend just to get rid of it. I inadvertently missed the green “decaf” marker on the side of the box and not surprisingly, the box has lasted almost two weeks although I have been having a late night decaf coffee now and then.  OK, I’m just kidding. I wouldn’t sneak you the decaf.  That would just be selfish and cruel. Actually, I’m a bit wired after having two cups. I’ll take the decaf.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you the last four weeks have been a bit of a downer for me. I had a death in the family and for some self-torturous reason; I have subjected myself to news overload.  I continually bounced around stations absorbing enough news that should have made me an expert on current events but all it did was confuse the hell out of me and make me wonder if I was living in two different countries or there was some parallel universe where these events might be legitimately interpreted differently. Regardless, they are just different degrees of negative interpretation.  Enough of that.

Life’s balance. I’ve also been reading a number of blogs that have compassion based themes reminding me of why there is hope. There are kind, unselfish people out there and that is uplifting. I don’t see much of that though on sensationalized news stories.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I’ve been writing seriously now for almost a year. I had a short story published and shared it with my aunt and with my uncle who just passed away. They both enjoyed it and encouraged me to keep writing.  Prior to his passing, my uncle even commented to my mother that he enjoyed it. My mother didn’t even know I was writing. She is a writer, an English major, and has had numerous papers and poems published.  My uncle’s passing reminded me how quickly someone can be taken from us so for her birthday a week and a half ago, I sent her a print copy of the collection of short stories I was published in. I autographed it, thanking her for making me read as a child. She read it, sent me an email telling me how proud she was, encouraged me to continue writing, and more importantly, told me it made her cry.  Approval.  She also took on an editing job last week for a sci-fi novel. Her first since she retired years ago.

If we were having coffee, I would suggest that all the events of the last four weeks are having an effect on a short story I am writing. Writing triggers. It’s somewhat of a dark story about a man who has made a decision to kill someone. I had the story completely outlined and short of giving you a synopsis (which I am lousy at) I can feel weeks of grief, music, negativity overload, compassion, and family love taking my story in a different direction.  Maybe.  Another thousand words will tell.  Maybe I will have my mom edit it.

Would you like another cup of coffee? I need one, decaf just doesn’t cut it.

Back to writing…

“No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.”  – Robert Frost

Music Association – Into The Mystic

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Music is genuinely a part of my soul. Like reading or writing, music can raise my blood pressure, bring me to laughter, or bring me to tears. Most people I have discussed this with hold the same relationship with music. Whether it’s the lyrics or the musical arrangement itself, it resonates with us. We have workout playlists, mellow playlists, rainy day playlists, and so on. I would imagine the lists are as complex as human emotion.

For me personally, a particular song, or sometimes an entire album or artist, often has some association with it: a person, a place, an event, a mood, an object, or a particular time in my life. Sometimes that connection is stronger depending upon the magnitude of what I am associating it with.  For example, there is a Creed song titled Arms Wide Open. My association, and an easy one, was my anxiety of becoming a father for the first time. AC/DC’s Let There Be Rock? My Gibson SG. Fleetwood Mac’s Silver Spring takes me back to an airport where I said goodbye to a girl I was dating so she could return home to an ex-boyfriend who had pleaded for one more chance. Iron Maiden’s Wasted Years: long story, lol. Metallica’s Nothing Else Matters: my wife. I could go on and on with this.

I haven’t posted for a few weeks because I had a death in the family. My uncle passed away in February and his death hit me harder than most.  I wrote a tribute to him HERE because I needed to write but then spent the next few weeks trying to comfort others all while sitting over 2000 miles away. His service was last weekend and most everyone in my family made it to Arizona with the exception of me and few other relatives and friends. I couldn’t go for a number of reasons and it was tearing me up.  Throughout the weekend, I got texts and updates from numerous family members including pictures: the funeral service cars being led by a group of motorcycles, the bikers lining the walkway with American Flags they’d had folded up on their bikes, two young Marines folding a flag, and then pics of family members and friends. They made me a part of it despite their own grief. That was last weekend. I had cried the morning my mother texted me he had passed and I cried when my sister sent me the pictures of the Marines folding the flag but other than that, I have been a bit numb and not really dealing with this.  That was until last night.

Thursday, my uncle’s fiancé texted me asking me about the town I live in and if it was in what’s called the Southern Tier, in NY. I replied yes. She had friended me on Facebook and I noticed she had gone to college at a University that is located about 15 miles from me. I was going to mention it to her earlier but felt it wasn’t the time because she was obviously grieving. It turns out she is from this area and was born about 25 miles from where I presently live and grew up in neighboring towns. Her mother and two of her kids were born in the same town I live in now. The same town my wife was born in and my reason for now living in NY. And it hit me, what are the odds that a boy and his uncle, who both grew up in a small mining town in Arizona along the Mexican border would find their soul mates from the same small rural county in New York? Crazy.

So back to last night. People have been continually posting things on my Uncle’s Facebook page.  I’ve read most of them but somehow missed two posts.  One of them was re-posted by my uncle’s fiancé, thanking the man who had posted it. It was a tribute he had done for my Uncle with photographs of his time in Vietnam along with an old CCR song playing in the background.  Last night I decided to watch it again and started to get emotional. When it ended, I noticed the same guy had done one more so I watched it and completely lost it.  I don’t think I have cried like that in years.  Maybe I needed it.

So… Fortunate Son and Into The Mystic now have a face, a time, a place, and so much more.

Meet my uncle – Charlie Sotelo:

 

If We Were Having Coffee #2

“Life is a song – sing it. Life is a game – play it. Life is a challenge – meet it. Life is a dream – realize it. Life is a sacrifice – offer it. Life is love – enjoy it.” – Sai Baba

Because I don’t know what else to do in this moment.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you how in awe I was of you the first time you came home from Vietnam. I was so young then and didn’t fully understand why you were gone but I remember your crisp uniform and the foreign coins you handed me. You were still in your teens yet had aged.

If we were having coffee, I would thank you for being there for me and my brother when my parents divorced. You filled a void that made a cruel situation bearable. I remember playing in the front yard only to be interrupted by the sound of engines and chains clanging as you and your friend rode down our street to deliver the go-cart and minibike you had bought us, your boyish giggling to my mother’s protests that we were too young. The weekly Rat Patrol adventures in your Mustang, the rides in your patrol car, the constant showering of presents, the groceries to help my mom out… you were always there for us.

Years later, you got the bar and gave me my first steady job. I was only thirteen and had to walk up to the highway and hitchhike there each morning. A miner and customer of yours always stopped to pick me up, one day telling me to skip the long walk up to the highway and he would just pick me up at the end of my street. In addition to my weekly pay, you told me I could have free soda, a bar sandwich, a pack of smokes occasionally, and play as much pool as I wanted.  All I had to do was show up and get my job done cleaning up so the bar would be ready each day before you opened. I started missing an occasional day or two each week and after plenty of warnings, you had to let me go. I was so ashamed that I had let you down.  My first steady job and I was fired by my own uncle.  I’ve never had a problem getting up early again nor have I been fired since.  You taught me.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I never felt worthy as an adult to attend the reunion you had with the remaining scouts from your company.  It was a war I never really understood yet learned more over the three hours I was privy to listen to all of your stories, sharing both your laughter and tears with your Marine brothers. I was honored.

If we were having coffee, we would probably laugh at how something we both initially despised (social media) let us both keep up with our daily lives despite the miles that separated us. You still encouraging me like you always have, you getting to know my wife and children and now encouraging them, you only being a mouse click, email, or text message away. You introduced me to your daughter, my cousin and her beautiful family. I shared in your joy at finally finding love this late in life. I would also tell you I agree to disagree on many of your political and social rants but thank you for challenging my thought process. But you already knew this and can laugh with me about it.

If we could have just one more coffee, I would stand up and hug you and tell you I love you for everything you have ever been to me: a big brother, a substitute father, a teacher, and the most caring Uncle I could have ever been blessed with.

I love you Uncle Charlie and look forward to meeting up with you again in that next dimension.

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Charlie Sotelo August 8, 1945 – February 21, 2015

 

The Right Words – A Short Story

I wrote a post a few months ago HERE about having a short story selected for publication by a start-up magazine. It finally happened about the middle of last month and although a few friends of mine (thank you Dena and Em) have promoted it on their websites, I haven’t really promoted it at all other than a few tweets and an update to my projects page.

The name of the Magazine is LIPHAR (pronounced Lifer). LIPHAR is an online magazine dedicated to Literature Art and Photography. They also publish a collection of short stories. My short story was included in their second volume of short stories.  Prior to submitting to the magazine, I had purchased their second and third issue of the magazine and enjoyed what I saw and read. I also purchased LIPHAR Short Stories Volume 1 and was pleasantly surprised at the quality of short stories they included.

The day Volume 2 came out, my wife downloaded it on her Kindle and read my story again. When I got home from work, she showed me the cover, the list of stories, and the list of authors. Authors that included me. Seeing my name in print for the first time was an amazing experience and then sadly, short lived. My wife mentioned that italics were missing where I had used them to show the main character’s thoughts. I grabbed her Kindle, read a few paragraphs into my story and confirmed.  No italics… anywhere.

An excerpt from my story as I wrote it:

                “You just don’t know what it’s like being a teenager today,” piped up Sammy, who had an annoying habit of defending his older brother, whether he completely understood the conversation or not.

                Oh really, Einstein, because I was never a kid?  Straight-laced Dad couldn’t possibly know anything about that subject, right?  

I will skip the expletives and tell you I was disappointed. My first published work, out there to at least friends, family, and the other nineteen authors and I’m worried my writing will come off more amateurish than it already is. More than anything, I was afraid it was a distraction in my story. My wife, kids, an editor, and a few friends read my story in MS Word format. They can read it now sans italics and know what I meant but can the reader who has never read it? Am I making too much of a simple formatting error on the part of the publisher?

A few readers did read it and reached out to me through social media and told me they enjoyed it. I also bought the print version of the book and took it with me on a business trip, reading about ten of the other stories while on the plane and I found great stories from writers with varied experience and portfolios. If there were errors, I didn’t catch them. I simply enjoyed the stories.

Thirty days later and I am over it. Like I stated in my previous post, it was my first. Not perfect by any means but memorable, and I am both proud and thankful.  I can live with that. I can also “look inside” on the Amazon page and see my story listed and my name. That is freaking cool!

So, self-promotion time it is, along with promoting the other nineteen authors who share this experience with me. Thank you LIPHAR.

 

u_1421306484book2cover500jpgWe are proud to present the second collection of 20 short stories by 20 different authors. The stories may have or will appear in past or future issues of LIPHAR magazine. Most of the authors presented here have an extensive portfolio of other books and stories that you may want to check out. From heart- warming family situations to the totally bizarre, including alien worlds and ideas, you will find stories that get your attention. The stories cover a wide genre and offer a cross-section of writing talents. We have not edited the stories in any way and are publishing them as we have received them.  We hope you enjoy the stories as we also hope to publish many volumes of short stories.

Available on Amazon

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