Saturday, April 12, 2014

Peace And Love... It's Not Just Hippie-Dippie Bullshit, Man

Today is Saturday Song Salute, but before I get to that I want to first talk about a few things that are on my mind and heart. I don't do this much anymore, as many of you who follow my blog already know. I used to fasten my heart to my sleeve via life update blog entries, but stopped doing it awhile back. I'm trying to be more professional even though I still think it's important for people to know what's going on in the hearts and minds of their fellow humans. I like to believe that by writing about the serious thoughts in my own head and allowing others to read them, that I become an avenue of learning and healing for those who choose to read. I am grateful for everyone I've ever read who took the time to write something down that I desperately needed to hear at a certain moment in my life, so I guess I feel like I'm returning the favor when I do it.

So what's on my mind then? Yep, you guessed it: love/relationships. I've been going out again. Yes, to the bars. Where else can one go where you find yourself surrounded by people willing to chat with complete strangers? Bars are unique in that everyone who's there is there for the exact same reason: to drink a few and unwind. Granted, when you break it down a bit further the reasons become more defined, but in a nutshell most people go to bars to relax and unwind. Everyone knows the minute they pay their tab and walk out those doors, every aspect of their regular lives will be there waiting for them: jobs, relationships, responsibilities, bills, health issues, the banality of life, but while we're inside the bar drinking and conversing we forget that other part of life exists. If only for a few hours.

I recently found myself having a conversation about my cat. I was talking to a girl and she asked me what my cat's name was. I said he had an embarrassing name and that I didn't want to tell her, but she insisted on knowing, to which I replied with this ultimatum: I reveal my cat's name if she agrees to answer any question that I ask. She agreed, so I asked her this: "What do you want most in life RIGHT NOW? If you could have one thing, what would it be?" Her response took less than a few seconds: "Peace and love." I told her that was two things, but I let it slide since they were both beautiful answers. Obviously the conversation that followed was filled with heartfelt, alcohol-fueled ideas of what peace and love meant to each of us and even after she was long gone, I continue thinking about it now.

That's all we truly want in life, right? Peace and love. It doesn't take a complete stranger to reveal that, we know it all along but often times we simply forget. Maybe the expensive toy parked in the garage that has four wheels and a motor temporarily distracted you from it. Or maybe your last failed relationship has distracted you. Or maybe juggling two jobs and raising children has distracted you from it. So many things can step in the way at any given time, some of which are wonderful, but peace and love always seems to be right out there... just beyond the fingertips of your outstretched arm... waiting. And yet most of us have no clue as how to reach out and grab it, and so we forget about it and instead go for the things we can reach: money, booze, drugs, vehicles, television, occupational advancement, sports, sex, etc. We each have our own list, varying here and there, but for the most part they're all quite similar regardless of socioeconomic status. Some just get more than others.

I've had all those things already and yes, they seemed to make me happy at the time. I remember when I lived in North Carolina and owned a jet ski and a boat and would go to Lake Hickory every weekend and frolic on the water. That was a blast! So much fun was had, but in the end my wife and I divorced and all those things went away and I was once again left with that empty feeling inside and that nagging question: what do I want in life? Peace and love, man. That's all I really want. I'm always happiest when I'm in a relationship with a girl, even if it's a shitty relationship. I find peace in companionship and find love there too, even when I shouldn't. So what does that mean? If I find peace and love in relationships that aren't meant to be, how in the hell does this whole peace and love thing really play out? When I'm single I tend to get a little crazy and walk through Salem with one flip flop while cursing like a mad man, so I know that isn't the answer, but if the opposite isn't either, then what is?

I think it comes down to finding it within yourself, huh. That's got to be it. If you find peace and love within yourself, and I mean REALLY find it in there, then no outside force can fuck with you. Ever. Nobody can take that away. I've come a long way from the depressed Mick that used to write horribly sad shit so many years ago. Over time, I've listened and learned and grown considerably closer to truly knowing the peace and love inside me. It's there. I can feel it on my good days (which are more often than not) and I'm getting better at embracing it, but I'm far from perfect at all of this. I'm a novice here, just like you. I'm not afraid to say I don't have everything figured out yet. I also realize I probably never will, but I assure you I will never stop reaching for and wanting it. Peace. Love. Happiness. Yeah, that's all I want.

That and a jet ski again.

In sticking with the current theme, this Saturday Song Salute goes to Carsie Blanton and her song Smoke Alarm. I discovered this amazing artist via a podcast called Tangentially Speaking (host Christopher Ryan, author of Sex At Dawn). His podcast, by-the-way, is absolutely worth listening to and I can't recommend it enough. Intriguing guests and fascinating stories told in a remarkably intelligent and casual way. Tangent! Okay, back to Carsie. In the song Smoke Alarm, Carsie sings about the brevity of life and how we should never allow a moment to pass us by. If an opportunity presents itself and excites our inner being, then by god we need to jump out and go for it! Letting moments like that slip on by in a life that is infinitesimally short on the grand scale of things is equivalent to committing an act of sin. When listening to this song, the cliche "live life to the fullest" comes to mind as does the aphorism "carpe diem", but both are invaluable to experiencing everything you can in life and gaining a better understanding of why we're here in the first place. If you see something you like grab onto it and enjoy it while you can, because it (and you) might not be around to grab tomorrow. As always, use your headphones to fully appreciate and enjoy the following favorite song of mine:


And then this showed up on my FB wall the day after I wrote this blog entry:
http://www.lifebuzz.com/start-doing/#!DVmc4

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Blog Tour: My Writing Process

I've been asked to join something I know nothing about. It's called the Blog Tour. Apparently a group of writers have come together and decided to share their process of writing with anyone who is interested in learning more about it. You know, from the people who already do it. Turns out I am one of those people. What is my main motivation? My extremely unreliable memory. This is why I didn't do very well throughout my schooling years. I have horrible retention skills and my brain is constantly erasing life as it happens, so I got in the habit of writing my thoughts down early in life that way I could always "check my notes" if I wanted to remember past events. People who know me will immediately recall how often they'd see inked words on the back of my left hand, on the fleshy part near the thumb joint. That's been my daily post-it pad for years.

A little about me:

I am a thirty-something middle class garbageman living in Salem, Oregon. I wrote my first poem in middle school. It was about the blonde curls of my beautiful math teacher whom I had a major crush on. I wrote my second poem shortly after finding out she was fucking my favorite science teacher. I was immediately heartbroken and felt as though I had been robbed of my adolescent fantasy, and I quickly started learning about the little angles love can take in life. From there, poetry simply became a part of who I was. It wasn't until much later in life that I actually began branching out into writing prose; before that it was all poetry.

1) What am I working on?

Nowadays I find myself writing short stories and poetry mostly, but have recently written a full length novel called In Through The Eyes, which I plan on self publishing soon along with a compilation of poems and short stories. The novel idea came to me shortly after learning about an online annual event called NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). This is a great way for writers like me who have been considering writing their first novel, but never really dug their toes in. It was just the motivation I needed to get my ass into gear, so I joined up a week before it started and went for it. After writing 1,600 words every day through the month of November I succeeded in completing my goal of 50,000 words by December 1st. The book has since grown to right around 60,000 and is now in second draft mode.

The story follows a garbage man, Fischer, who has led an insecure life as a recluse, antisocial oddball. His life takes an up-turn when he meets a girl who begins to break through his walls, opening him up to the outside world he's been missing all along, but all of this progression comes to a screeching halt when an incident at work changes everything and Fischer begins going through radical behavioral and physiological changes.

 2) How does my work differ from others in its genre?

I'm not sure really. I feel that it will simply fit right into the thriller/horror genre without making any big waves or splashes. It's a very fun story to read in that it's simplistic and easy to digest; it will not win any awards for "most thought provoking" or "disturbingly brilliant analysis on life", but it will take you on a wild ride with the main character in a way that you won't easily forget. I tried to make it a story for all, although some of the scenes that occur could be geared toward a slightly older audience.

3) Why do I write what I do?

Honestly, because of a troubled past. Poetry has always been a release for me, much like the pressure valve on a steam engine. I tend to wander through life without much direction, constantly seeking out new niches where I feel most comfortable, and upon settling I often find that my emotions swell over time and my heart begins to grow weary. The poetry I write is often poignant and difficult to read, but a necessary part of healing and growing. When it comes to the stories I write, they are simply a creative avenue of escape; new worlds for myself and my readers to live in temporarily while the real world spins hurriedly around us.

4) How does my writing process work?

Pretty much in flux with my personality. There will be days/weeks where I don't want to be around people, so I retreat to my writing desk and spend time with my muse. Also, life experiences tend to drastically affect my level of writing. For example: the loss of love may send me spiraling into the depths of creativity for weeks or months on end, whereas witnessing a falcon splatter across the front of my work truck may only be a blip on the writing radar. Also, in all honesty, alcohol is a factor too. If I'm drinking, the relationship between writer and muse becomes more relaxed and our courtship is far less a challenge. I'm not sure why this is, but it is. I've written many a favorite poems and prose while under the influence, and conversely, I've written many favorites while completely sober. It just seems to come easier with the former, not the latter.

This is the part of the Blog Tour where I'm supposed to introduce a new writer to the ring, but I regretfully announce that I have no one to introduce, so I will instead just thank Riya Anne Polcastro (Storyteller Grrrl) for giving me this opportunity to present myself to the writing community and allowing my personal story to be there for others to explore. Miss Polcastro is without a doubt a terrific writer and storyteller and I feel honored to know her as a friend. Her words will create all the waves whereas mine will create mere ripples. If you haven't already, go check out what she's been up to over at http://serratedroses.wordpress.com/2014/04/01/187/ and tell her hello. She's been busy getting her own novel ready for publishing and I highly look forward to seeing the final product.