I’ve been keeping busy with my writing project. I’ve had two rounds with an editor that I found on Fiverr. $40 bucks for 80 pages. I hope the old adage, “You get what you pay for,” doesn’t apply here.
In the past I used an awesome editor. But this is just a little side-project that I’m trying to churn out fast. The girl I’m using is a Univ. of Florida graduate who majored in English, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed.
Here’s a little sample from the collection. It’s a flash-piece I wrote when I was volunteering for Lumina–a group of volunteers who write hospice patient’s life’s stories right before they pass away. (If you can make it on time.) This one has nothing to do with a patient.
That Great Gretsch Sound
Looking at the old orange hard-shell case, you can tell that what’s inside has been around a while. Scratches run deep like a road map of the places it’s been.
Opening the worn brass latches unleashes a waft of smoke that gently hits the nose. When the lid folds back, the crushed-orange velvet encases a dark orange sunburst 1939 Hawaiian-style Gretsch guitar. The floating tortoise pick-guard is held on by a small brass bracket that violently protests when you strum too hard. The neck tappers from the body to the black head stock, which suits my small fingers as I press down the silky smooth strings on the ebony fret board.
But the best part of all is the harp like sound when the Old-Girl is strummed ever so gently. The vibrations call out, “Please don’t put me back in that case Mister. I’m beggin’ ya.”
It’s really not as interesting talking about making something as it is actually doing it. Yesterday, Day 3 of my project, I spend time looking up e-book cover designers on Fiverr. If you don’t know what Fiverr is, it’s a website where people all over the world will do things for $5 bucks. A word of caution, it can get a little addictive.
Want someone to write your girlfriend’s name in the sand at sunrise for her birthday and send you a pic of it? You can find that on Fiverr. Want someone to dress up in a hula skirt and sing a Happy Birthday song? You can find that too. But you can also find normal stuff like guys who will design book covers and proofread your stuff. So that was yesterday’s project.
Today’s work? Editing pieces. Fun stuff I know, but it’s got to be done. Do yourself a favor and do something a little more interesting than I am today.
Today I registered my domain name. It’s
There’s nothing there yet. But I’m doing one task a day for 30 days. And I kind of feel like since the book is already written, I’m way ahead of the game.
I did spend a several hours pouring over old stories and essays. Just looking through old memory sticks was a chore itself. I kept getting tied up in old memories. It also made me remember that I want to write a memoir on my 12 years working in jails and not to include those essays in this project.
I have a long list of stuff to do. And I’m already thinking about what I need to do tomorrow. Either way, I did my work for the day.
November is National Novel Writing Month. Every year thousands of writers from almost every country in the world sign up at http://nanowrimo.org/ to get support to write their novel.
I am kind of participating this year, but I’ve decided to focus on a collection of short stories instead of a novel.
Today is daylight savings time. So when I woke up at 5:00 am this morning, I decided not to just lay there. I got up and picked 21 of my short stories that I will be putting in a collection. I will be using my blog to update you on what I’m doing and keeping myself accountable. I plan on releasing the collection online.
The name of the collection is Bob Marley Never Smoked Pot and 20 Other Mostly True Stories. I’ll keep you up-to-date on the progress.
For now, here’s a little song dedicated to The Legend himself.
I got a new foster dog this week. He’s a 8.5 lb. Chihuahua-mix named Vladi, after Valdmir Tarasenko, a St. Louis Blues hockey player.
We also call him Yadi after the St. Louis Cardinals catcher, who if his thumb wouldn’t have been hurt we would have perhaps beat those bastardous-assed Cubs. Either way, both Yadi’s are loved.
This is my second foster dog, or at least I like to say that. The first one was supposed to be an adoption, but it was a pitbull and I couldn’t bring it with me to my apartment after I sold my house. So I found someone to take him.
The apartment that I live in now has two Pitbulls in the building. I have half-a-mind to turn them in since I gave up mine. But I won’t. I know pits are like any other dogs. Except the one downstairs, Lucy, she’s a brown 10 month old pit and will only shit inside the apartment.
I only know that because the guy downstairs used-to scream, “God Damn it Lucy! You fucking asshole! No! No! Why will you only shit inside the apartment? You fucking asshole dog!”
The mother-fucker woke me up at 7:00 am on Columbus Day screaming at Lucy. The one day I get to sleep in late during a week day and he’s screaming, “No Lucy! Don’t you dare fucking shit in the fucking apartment again!”
And before I knew I was yelling, I heard myself projecting, “He doesn’t fucking understand English asshole!”
I haven’t heard his voice in two full days.
I have seen him however. As my daughter was walking Vladi, Lucy stepped out of the shadows with her owner attached about 10 feet away. Lucy locked eyes on Vladi and Vladi stopped, looked at her, stepped to the side, then started, “Yap, Yap, Yapping,” away.
I yelled, “Jaya, stop right there!”
“But Vladi wants to meet him,” she said.
“Jaya! Stop! Jaya!”
The neighbor scooped up Lucy and carried her inside.
I told Jaya, “The next time I tell you to stop, you better stop! You don’t know dogs like I do.”
Now I’m not saying all pitbulls are bad, but I do know better. And even though I had one of the sweetest pits ever, I’m not chancing my daughter and foster dog to Lucy “The Shitter.”
Lucy is nice to me, but I have to force the owner to let me pet her. She has no manners at all and it’s obviously not her fault. People who don’t know the basics of dog ownership, ruin these dogs. It’s the same people who take a 10 month old pitbull for a 1 minute walk in the front yard, then wonders why it shits in their house. These are the kinds of people who end up dropping their dog off at the shelter.
If you don’t know what your doing, educate yourself, otherwise don’t get a dog, especially a puppy. The easiest kind of dog to break in is one that is over 2 and under 8 years old. They are still young enough to play and go on walks, but old enough not to eat up your shoe collection.
But if you do decide to get a dog, please get one from a shelter, not a breeder. There are so many dogs put to death every year. In fact, “Vladi-Yadi-we-likes-to-party,” was supposed to be put to sleep the day he was rescued. The girl who rescued him loves the Blues and that’s how he got his name.
And just so you know, he’s up for a foster-to-adopt situation, but he has to go through his first round of heart worm treatment first. He’ll be ready in 30 days. He’s crate-trained, loves kids and won’t shit in your house.
Let me know if you’re interested.
I watched a documentary called Happy the other day. The filmmaker interviewed people from all over the world who consider themselves happy-people. Believe it or not, the US and Japan have some of the unhappiest people in the world and we are considered two of the richest countries per-capita.
So what makes a person happy? Well, there are many things, but a few of the biggest points that I took away were: People who have close family and friends are generally happier than people who don’t. I think most of us could agree on that.
The second take-away for me was: People who do things for intrinsic value vs. extrinsic value are way more happy.
Just in case you need it, “Intrinsic motivation is when you want to do something. Extrinsic motivation is when somebody else tries to make you do something.”
So I decided to write this little blurb today, even if no one reads it, because of its intrinsic value to me. Just knowing that I may have passed on something to someone that might make them happy makes me happy. (And because it was a really good documentary. Watch it.)
I was talking to a friend today about the TV show called The Big Bang Theory. I asked him if he ever read the Vanity Cards at the end of the show. He said, “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
I couldn’t believe he had never seen the vanity cards at the end. They are only flashed up on the screen for one or two seconds, but still, it’s one of the best parts of the show. The cards are usually a slice of life story or they are about some humorous way he came up with the idea for the show.
I decided to look up the Vanity Cards on Chuck Lorre’s site after talking to my friend. It was the first time in 9 seasons of The Big Bang Theory that I checked these out. When I got to the site, I was surprised to see that Chuck Lorre was on vanity card #502. After reading #500, I decided to post it here and to apply it to myself.
I’m on blog post #237, and this one makes #238. I might not have a hit TV show, but I know one day I will be at post #500. And when I get there, I hope I can gain some of the wisdom and insight that this guy has over the years of writing these things. For now, I write these just because I can. (And like to.)
…Chuck Lorre Vanity Card #500
When I sat down to write this, my five hundredth vanity card, my first inclination was to use self-deprecating humor. Something along the lines of how proud I am to have a large body of work. Sure, it has no real value, but hey, it’s still large. If a person were to sit down and try to read all my cards, the verb “wade” might come to mind. But then I thought, “No. I am not going to waste this momentous event with false modesty. I am going to trumpet my accomplishment. I am going to take a well- deserved bow for eighteen years of hard work. Unpaid work. Work done just for the love of doing it. And let’s not forget, I’ve really spilled my guts in some of these things. A man’s life and innermost thoughts exposed for all to see. And oh, how I’ve labored over the jokes. Literally thousands of hours, grinding away, trying to find just the right combination of words to make you laugh. What was I thinking with the self- deprecation? Five hundred vanity cards. Who else has done that? I’ll tell you who. Nobody. Just me. Yeah, that’s right. You heard me. And I’ll tell you another thing. No one ever will do it. You know why? Because you have to produce five hundred friggin’ TV shows first!”
Okay, I’m done trumpeting.
“I feel like 41 is too young to have gout.”
But my doctor of 13 years and my wife’s Uncle said, “Nope, it’s gout. No beer and no red meat for a few weeks. Did you eat something recently to trigger this?”
“Yeah, a pork knuckle sandwich and a bunch of IPAs. You know, Indian Pale Ales?” This doctor happens to be Indian.
He laughed and said, “Yes, I know them. No more of those for a while. And then when you do, only in moderation.”
“I don’t do moderation well.”
“You wanna walk?” he said.
I went to get my prescription filed at the grocery store right across the parking lot from the doctors office. Outside they had a giant smoker with two signs: the first let me know that I was in the “Slow Smoking Zone.” The second read “BBQ Ext. 75 feet away.” Which let me just say, was bullshit. It was at least 175 feet away. And when you have gout, that matters.
I really wanted ribs. I used my phone-a-friend and got over the craving and picked 3 chicken drumssticks instead of rib tips and the lady gave me 2 cups of sauce on the side. I grabbed a Pure Black Tea, paid and found my way to the deli table.
I was halfway through my second drumstick when a 70 something year old lady sat down at the table in front of me and said “Hello, nice weather we’re having.”
We exchanged several pleasantries and I could tell she wanted to talk. I know I didn’t, I was eating chicken legs. But I looked around and saw that 2 grocery guys were talking to each other and not paying attention to us, so I told her about my doctor’s visit and how I couldn’t have beer or BBQ for a while.
She said, “Oh and it must feel like the end of the World for you!”
“Yeah kind of. At least it’s the end of summer,” I said.
“It’s time to wake up kiddo. You can’t live like you did in your 20s. You start eating right, so that weight comes off, and when you’re my age you won’t be dealing with the same crap as your friends. Most of them will be dead.”
“Oh I forgot,” I yelled, “there was a funeral right outside the window at the doctor’s office. I took a picture of it before the doctor came in.” She looked grossed out at that statement. “But when I was talking to the doctor I said, ‘I don’t want to end up in that funeral over there.’ He just laughed and said ‘Yeah, I noticed that.'”
She waved it off and said, “Keep eating that chicken, enough with the beer and you’ll be ok.”
I thanked her for the conversation, headed past the beer isle toward the pharmacy, grabbed a few iced teas and thought, Well here we go again.
A little inspiration.
BTW, the title Out With’da Gout is a phrase my cousin’s friend says when he calls in to work when his gout flares up. I think it’s hilarious when he says it in his hillbilly accent. Now I can’t stop saying it. I almost said it to my boss when I called in today from the parking lot of the doctor’s office. “I’m out with’da gout.”
I have recently been accused of being a book hoarder. I have also been accused of not reading all the books I own. There are hundreds on the shelf, so maybe they’re right. Ok, it’s true, both statements. But for the record, I have read more than I haven’t.
Either way I’ve started pulling half-read books off my shelves and am knocking them down like cans on a fence post.
I just finished Life Without a J.O.B. by Barbara Winter tonight. It’s a classic how-to find your bliss book. I have 10 or 12 pages left in The $100 Startup by Chris Gullebeau. He documented 50 entrepreneurs who started their businesses with $100-$1000. Once I finish The $100 Startup, I’m moving on to The Art of Original Thinking by Jan Phillips.
I almost feel like a have a really cool used book store in my house. The shelves are full of essayist, poets and philosophers. There should be enough material to get me to the end of the year. Maybe my New Year’s resolution will be to finally break down and buy a Kindle, then I won’t be able to see all the books I’ve bought but haven’t read yet.