Do Not Shake / Contents Under Pressure Pt. II

11225719_887967697909136_2835803698790692544_nLast week we returned from our yearly trip to Cabo, Mexico. I know that sounds like I live a fancy life, but the truth is SF to Cabo is ridiculously cheap. Like five days at a 5-star resort, all-inclusive (all you can eat and all you can drink), on the beach, airfare, accommodations, infinity pools, all of it–little over $500 a person. I went to fucking Minnesota for AWP. Three days in the mutherfucking snow cost me twice that much. And that was just for the flight and hotel, never mind the overpriced coffees and watered-down hotel drinks in a room full of mealy-mouthed, mumbling writers.

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First father and son trip to the bar. Look at that snarl! That’s my boy!

So we go every year to Cabo. It’s become, like, a family tradition.Very kid-friendly (they usually have a Kids’ Club), we just hang poolside and chill. The whole Clifford clan goes. Although with the addition of Jackson, I’d say we’re more a brood these days, but that phrase lacks the alliteration I love. Anyway, Justine got her Mother’s Day spa treatment, and Holden got to swim like a fishy. Jackson, well, he doesn’t know what planet he’s on; he just lay there talking to (cooing at) a plastic chicken. I was able to relax in the sun and read The Girl on the Train, which as I said last week is fantastic!

If I was a younger man, I’d probably take more advantage of the nightlife (discotheque) and (for all intents and purposes) free margaritas. But the truth is I am an old man. And after the kids’ show every night, which started at 8, usually a variation of “head, shoulders, knees and toes,” and ended at 8:15 p.m., I headed back to the room with the baby, while Justine and Holden hung out to enjoy whatever campy musical the resort featured that evening. That’s right. My 4-and-a-half-year-old son stays out later than I.

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stephen-king-on-writingStephen King says in On Writing, a fantastic writing guide that I have yet to read because Tom Pitts quotes it to me every day, that you should take off 6 weeks between drafts. Since I’d just wrapped up December Boys, the sequel to Lamentation (recently nominated for an Anthony Award. Can’t remember if I mentioned that) rewrites were scheduled to start mid-June. Except the book is due in July. With the new baby and wife’s work schedule I lose that luxury. Stephen King famously wrote in a closet after a graveyard shift, with screaming kids and an alcohol problem. I am not Stephen King.

gary-busey-emerges-bankruptcyYou may recall (in Pt. I of DNS/CUP) my eye had recently started twitching, and how I believed that nervous facial tic to be a by-product/transference of the anxiety suffered by my protagonist, Jay, in my novel. When I finished the draft and left for Mexico, the twitching stopped. I wondered if it wasn’t all in my head.

Tweek_TweakAfter thoroughly kicking my own ass for committing the unpardonable sin of “my characters talk to me,” I returned home, and with deadline fast approaching, had to jump back into the novel a few weeks early (forgive me, Tom/Stephen), and, damn, wouldn’t you know, soon as I am working on that fucking book again, putting my boy Jay through the wringer, there goes the fucking eye. Twitch, twitch, spasm, twitch. I feel like Nathan Thurm.

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Call me Hall & Oates: I’m a family man.

Now I’m a pretty grounded cat. Outside of writing and make-believe worlds. High strung, sure, but grounded. Yes, I talk to myself. Yes, sometimes I answer myself. I had a brief bout where the state declared me mentally unstable in the mid-90s, but I bounced back from all that. Growing up is hard to do. For some of us, it damn near kills us. My flirtation with madness was a quasi-dimensional affair, with equal parts chemicals, biology, mental illness, environment, and just about everything from snails, puppy dog tails, and, well, meth. My point is, like I once overheard my mother say: You couldn’t pay me to go through my 20s again.

I find this manifestation, my adopting of “my characters'” mannerisms fucking bizarre. I should know better. I do know better. If another writer told me this, I’d think (s)he was full of shit. But that’s true for most stuff. When I hear yet another Bay Area resident claim gluten intolerance, my (inner) eyes roll. “It’s all in your head!” I want to scream. (Apologies to those of you who actually have Celiac.) Then I go to the shrink to talk about the various types of cancer I don’t have. Everybody’s crazy. What can you do?

Mad Max & Feminism

Book Review-The Girl on the TrainI’d planned on using this week’s blog post to gush about The Girl on the Train. Much like I fell in love with Gillian Flynn and Gone GirlGOTT is the latest popcorn literary thriller to capture my heart. And after I left message professing said love on author Paula Hawkins’s Facebook page, she wrote back (in total British fashion) calling my compliment “completely lovely,” which made me flush as a school girl on Homecoming night (I assume I’d be going to the Big Dance with a Brad. But I may be projecting). So, seriously, read that book. I mean, if you read this blog, then you like what I do, and if you like what I do, you’ll have to like that book. Because Paula Hawkins is where I hope this ride takes me.

farside_sheep1_1However, on Friday the lovely Justine and I went to see Mad Max: Fury Road, a film I had zero interest in seeing. I’m just not a “Mad Max” guy. I’d been watching Todd Robinson and Co. go nuts about its impending release, and I didn’t get it. I’d seen parts of the original, snippets of its sequels, and they were okay, but I was decidedly meh about this one. Post-apocalyptic wastelands sorta depress the shit out me. I heard one guy at the theater say how he always gets Mad Max and Kevin Costner’s Waterworld confused. Yes, one is a lot of sand and a shortage of water, the other vice versa, one rocks, the other sucks, but that’s how I felt. A tyrant rules the precious resource, band of rebels band together to rebel, etc. And, yeah, I was wrong.

11259151_674494655989392_7575626668108946317_nMad Max: Fury Road is probably the best action film I’ve ever seen. Now keep in mind #2 on that list is The Rock, and you can get my sensibilities. Still, the film has a 98% or some shit on Rotten Tomato (I use RT pretty much exclusively. They are never wrong. Although the 6% for Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 might be optimistic. I am stealing that joke from Entertainment Weekly).

png_base645d25284dc5b834eBut honestly even if the wife didn’t want to see MMFR, I might’ve gone once I learned Men’s Rights Activists were upset about the film’s “feminist propaganda” (we’ll get to that “criticism” shortly). Like hearing an opinion from a Phish fan on his way to Burning Man, I know that no matter what that opinion is I am going to feel the exact opposite way. Because Phish sucks, and Burning Man is for dust-covered dipshits.*

(*I am also stealing that joke. No [further] offense to BM-goers, many of whom I consider friends, but apparently this year’s event went public on Facebook, and was trolled viciously [and hilariously]. I feel like I really started something.)

cebf6df2391f54fe56cbbd1f9925e0865d61211dfe9db09e66c34aeeaa24d970Like most, I’m sure, I find the concept of “men’s rights” laughable. You don’t get to champion minority status/cause when you are the oppressive ruling class. Duh. It’s like the Louis CK skit about the benefits of privilege. Or the alleged war on Christianity, Christmas, or any other mainstream institution. Trumped up-charges, manufactured for effect. I have seen the enemy, etc.

Having proponents of such a group criticize a film for “promoting a feminist agenda,” I mean, fuck, you know that shit’s gotta be good. And Mad Max: Fury Road is better than good. I called it among the best action films I’ve seen, but it’s honestly one of the best films, period. A lot goes into making art great, and the recipe is hard to replicate. Trust me–I spend every day trying to mine and mimic the ingredients to whip up the concoction for y’all–it ain’t an exact science. There is a special blend of character, pacing, plot, etc., that goes into this shit. Waterworld and Pride & Prejudice (and Phish songs) have those things, too, but they still suck.

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Amy Dunne: the only woman who could make P&P tolerable.

11220852_10203180816236099_7003819408255868816_nI can’t deduce why MMFR is so fucking good. Except to say it perfectly combined all those narrative elements with stunning visuals and a kick-ass soundtrack, and I walked out going, “Holy shitballs! That was AMAZING!” If I was a filmmaker, I might be more interested in deducing the why. But for our purposes today, I’ll just say, you should see the movie (and then read The Girl on the Train.)

31525266111346264_n9gevlro_cRe: the “feminist propaganda” of the former, I have no fucking idea what anyone could take objection to. There is nothing in the film that I’d consider overtly “feminist.” Not that I’d mind if there were. The movie is simple great storytelling with fascinating characters and arc. But it makes sense a female-centric film that transcends SNL skit is going to piss off some asshat.

joss-whedon-strong-female-charactersWhen I think of true feminism in the arts, I think of Kathy Acker, one of the seminal writers of my 20s. But the truth is, as a white dude, in his mid-40s, even one who wants to believe “he’s cool, he’s hip,” I don’t encounter much oppression or marginalization these days. I try to be aware of the injustice. I want to believe I can be part of the solution and not the problem. But sensitivity doesn’t address global scale, and intentions and/or sympathy do little to fix gross inequalities. I know I should do more. Life is hard for everyone. Like Willa Cather said, “Even the wicked get worse than they deserve.” (I stole that from a Law & Order episode.)

11059562_10205839536400271_256735521798792115_nThen again, I’m not the jacktard who calls to boycott a movie that dares have a strong female character who thinks/acts independently and doesn’t need a man to save her. Without spoiling, Charlize Theron’s Furiosa wants to escape a tyrant. Same as Max. And countless other movie characters. There’s a scene where Furiosa makes a shot Max couldn’t. I guess that’s what they are upset about. Or maybe because Furiosa is trying to free sex slaves and wants to find her mom? Hope for a better life is too badass? Beats me, man.

When I think about feminist film, at least the mainstream, populist ones, Thelma & Louise comes to mind. I’m not sure the movie started out that way. At least not to the bean counters trying to make a buck. But it ended up championing women’s causes, or at least feeling like it stood opposed to the status quo. And that resonated with me. Maybe because I was born in the 1970s and the movie came out at the right time. I seem to recall people (who will never be in my kitchen) chiding that movie for being “feminist propaganda,” too. And (spoiler alert) we are talking about a film where a rape victim shoots a would-be rapist and the two women commit suicide in the end. Even that was deemed a threat to these guys. I don’t know how you can appease MRAs. Except make bigger trucks to compensate.

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Fuck Indiana and Its Pizza, Too

no-pizza-for-you-thumbSo you might’ve heard they passed a law in Indiana a couple weeks ago saying you could blame your religion if you don’t like gay people. Then a pizza place owned by a family that doesn’t like gay people came out and said they wouldn’t cater a gay wedding. This prompted the go-to-joke of “Who has pizza at their wedding anyway?” And the slightly funnier variation, “No self-respecting gay couple I know is going to have pizza at their wedding!” People on one side came out and mocked the homophobic pizza owners. The other side used the opportunity to forward an agenda; and the pizza people made a lot of money (with a little help from crowd-funding opportunists). Yay, capitalism.

wpswi150402And none of this would bother me much. OK. That’s not true. It would bother me a lot. Like a lot of things bother me. But as I get older, I force myself not to let things I can’t control negatively affect me (it’s an addict thing). So I avoid bad news, try to eschew controversy. I don’t get outraged when hate wins out, because it usually does. Sorry, hippies. The Beatles were wrong.

http://www.funnyordie.com/embed/3d615f6121Itumblr_static_4e94xhvtyqo0sssscwsswg8cs‘ve made my position clear that I support equal rights (I don’t like calling it gay rights, because last I checked gay people were fucking people too). I have a lot of friends I know a lot of people many Facebook friends, representing several stops on the political freeway. Left, Right, and everywhere in between. So it’s either a testament to evolving thought, or I’ve just weeded (scrubbed?) out the bigots. Even my rightest of right friends aren’t doing jumping jack over Indiana’s new law. It would seem, in a world on the precipice of famine, draught, war, and zombie apocalypse, my friends all understand who kisses whom isn’t a big deal or a threat to their sexuality.

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I have, however, encountered a couple “devil’s advocate” arguments re: the Religious Freedom Law, which present an interesting jumping-off point, at least for blogging sake. I will dispense (and throughly dismantle) these two points now:

The “I Don’t Want the Government Telling Me What I Can Do” Argument

10906043_10205439512580725_7898001824029905889_nThe gist of this one says that while I/he/she/you/theSpanishwe might not agree with Indiana’s misleadingly titled “Religious Freedom” law, which allows business owners to discriminate against blacks, Jews, gays, “do we really want the government telling us what we can do”? And to that, I’d say, No, sir, I sure don’t. I don’t want the government telling me a damn thing. Who does? Except that the government tells us what we can and can’t do every fucking day of our lives. We can’t take things that don’t belong to us. We can’t do drugs. We can’t bludgeon dipshits. Most of our lives consist of being told we what we can or can’t do. For instance, if it was up to me, I would steal, shoot heroin, and punch people in the head all day long. But I can’t. Because, y’know, the government.

11078077_10152813152236167_8283189262783733411_nHyperbole aside, I get the point. It’s a Libertarian ideology, and I dig the gist. Government is run by people. People are morons. Ergo, government fucks things up. Makes sense. But in order to get along, we, as a people, have consented to the formation of a government, which sometimes has to make judgment calls. Why? Because two people can’t reach a consensus on what to eat for dinner most nights.

10348384_10152645481466787_3619039485530914732_nAnd one of the big regulatory efforts–because we tend to not like people who are different than we–concerns eschewing discrimination. That has been the case in America since 1964 (Section 202). Which is why the Indiana law, when it is eventually challenged federally, will be shot down. Its temporary inclusion on the books is due to the exclusion of “sexual orientation” among the list of things business owners can’t be dicks about when the law was passed in ’64 . (BTW, I am hardly legal scholar. I heard this on fucking FOX News. When FOX News is calling you out for much xenophobia, you might want to ease up on the hot dogs and Wonder Bread.)

So what’s the point of passing a law that is constitutionally baseless? Sad to say, we can blame the usual suspect: organized religion.

oThis one kills me, because I identify as Christian. More of a lapsed Catholic, but still, I believe in God. And anytime I admit that, I feel the need to immediately follow with “But I’m not that kind of Christian!” Which is just, well, fucking awful. I mean faith should be something good; something spiritually nurturing. I don’t need to jam my faith down your throat, and having it doesn’t give me the right to tell you what to do.

A Business Owner Shouldn’t Be Forced to Go Against His/Her Beliefs Argument

Again, on the surface–I mean, if you don’t scratch too deep–this one seems almost reasonable. You have a deep religious conviction. Group A, B, or C behaves in a way that violates said belief. You should’ve have to make them pizza. Except, no, not really.

Here’s the problem with saying you are such a devout Christian that you just can’t bring yourself to do business with a homosexual: you’re a fucking liar.

10155227_10153407312907985_8500589088680559738_nYes, the Bible says homosexuality is wrong. The Bible says a lot of stuff is wrong, including, but not limited to, wearing make-up (Jeremiah 4:30), having tattoos (Leviticus 19:28); men going sans beards (Leviticus 19:27); persons not combing their hair (Leviticus 10:6) (Leviticus was a killjoy, eh?); eating shrimp, bacon, fat, and pretty much anything with flavor. The Bible is pretty big about telling you what you can eat (Exodus 23:19; 34:26). And then there’s the hate for new moms, women without hats (not to be confused with their male counterparts), women on their period (the Bible, written by a bunch of dudes, has a lot of rules for women. Imagine that?).

10472741_10153769045603327_2819240071661950929_nThe Good Book also frowns upon adultery, lying, and lust. So if you’ve ever jacked it, gone a day without washing your hair, or worn a polyester blend shirt, might want to wash your hands before you start throwing those stones (honestly, if you’ve been jacking it, you probably want to wash your hands, regardless). Then there’s the irony of creating a pizza in the first place. Because unless you’re killing that pepperoni on the spot (Deuteronomy 14:21), the only topping you can offer is sin.

So, in closing, until you are ready to deny service to all the Avett Brothers, you don’t get to say “Oh, but the gay one counts more.”

Picking and choosing which items you agree with isn’t a belief system; it’s a lunch menu.

10801480_10153280462767228_6337990962343847272_nForget that the Bible was written, like, thousands of years ago when they believed the Earth was flat and no one understood how gravity worked. Disregard that it was written by about a hundred different authors, passed down orally, and that the world was a very, very different place. Let’s cast aside too that the whole book is pretty self-contradictory (Eye for an eye vs. turn the other cheek); and that text contains way more condemnation of wealth, greed, and money than it does homosexuality. If you’re going to claim the teachings of the Bible govern your actions so thoroughly that you couldn’t possibly bake a gay pizza, you sorta have to buy the whole pie. Even the parts you don’t like.

I’ll never understand how people calling themselves Christians can take a book, whose overarching message is peace, love, and understanding, and use it to justify hate. But whatever. I don’t have to dinner with you.

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(The Myth of) Writer’s Block

ccsu-logo-courtesy-cccsuWhile recently promoting Lamentation on an East Coast book tour, I attended an afternoon symposium at Central Connecticut State University, The Power of the Pen: Careers in Writing. Or something like that. Basically important professors, editors, authors, and, well, me, hung around a room with coffee, sitting on panels, and hanging out with students trying to talk them out of a writing career answering questions about how to make their dreams come true.

2027c1111fb08f133402fb45fa2daf4eDuring a Q&A session, a student asked one of the panelists, “How do you deal with writer’s block?” And the panelist (I forget her name. She shouldn’t take it personally. I can barely remember my own kids’ names these days; half the time I call Jackson Holden, and at least once I week I call Holden Lucky, our dog) had a terrific response.

The author said, “How do I deal with writer’s block? By having a deadline.”

The answer drew a lot of laughs, and it is a funny line, but the woman (it was either Susan Schoenberger or Deborah Cannarella) wasn’t joking. Even if she was adding levity and humor to balance out the inherent gravitas of the academic setting (see? I could write literary fiction if I wanted to).

11052374_10153114583111291_3382672513185136999_nI haven’t been on Facebook much lately. It’s been a little sad. Not so much because I miss the cat videos and/or seeing which of my friends is a right-wing gun lunatic (I’m looking at you, Marc! Don’t shoot. Seriously. Don’t shoot), but because nobody notices. This isn’t a “poor me” post. Well, I mean, not any more than usual. Social media creates a false sense of popularity. Like those who announce with great fanfare their decision to exit the vapid pointlessness of it all, only to discover how little they are missed when they’re gone.

My 68 daily notifications and 300 likes on a pic of my kid are no more (sigh). So is having my fragile, eggshell self-esteem buoyed by (mostly) strangers.*

aCartoon-facebook-twitter*Although here I have to say that this really is one of the best parts about Facebook. A lot of your 2,000+ friends, sure, you only know online. Which is still cool. But when you are a writer, and you have to do tours and go out into the public, you actually get to meet many of these people face to face. Having my friends Susie and her mom drive three hours from Melbourne to Miami; my buddies Rory and George crossing state line(s) to see me read in Norwalk–just because of words I wrote? It’s, well, fucking humbling.

And now back to our regularly scheduled programming

periodic-table-of-procrastination-FB-pleated-jean560I’ve been writing a lot lately. I know. Yay for me. As most of you know, I sold the sequel to Lamentation. The book, December Boys, takes its title from this devastatingly beautiful Two Cow Garage song, and picks up where the first one left off (no shit). And it is over halfway done. I have the plot, characters, arc and ending all figured out. I should make my July deadline, no problem.

When my agent, Liz, sold the sequel, I hadn’t written a word yet. We sold the book on proposal alone (which doesn’t happen often–so to everyone who bought Lamentation, thank you. Now tell your friends). And the timing was less than ideal.

bc85fa3e2cdb8c913915b32afd8cb7dfOceanview made the offer in January. Or about a month before my second son, Jackson Kerouac Clifford, was due. When I was a kid, my father changed exactly zero diapers. In those days, men had three jobs when it came to babies: get her pregnant, drop her off at the ER; pick up the cigars. I did not know a lot of hands-on fathers growing up. That is not the case these days. Especially in the Bay Area. Even if my lovely wife Justine does most of the heavy lifting (and the poor woman just doesn’t sleep).

I had just finished Occam’s Razor, which we are currently shopping (and a novel I am convinced is a slam dunk). After you wrap writing a novel, you are pretty drained. At least I am. It takes me 6 months to write a book. 3 to draft. 6 weeks to let it stew. 1.5 to rewrite. Which meant, despite being wrung and empty, and in no mood to start anything new let alone an entire fucking novel, I didn’t have a choice. I was under contract.

writers-blockHere is where my wonderful wife (and mother-in-law) bailed me out. Every morning, Justine would be, like, “OK. Write.” There was one day where it was 10 a.m., and I was cleaning. Justine said, “Why aren’t you writing?” And I said, “Because this is how much I hate first drafts!” Even with the baby here, Justine and her mom, who comes over to help in the mornings, give me the time to write (I am most productive before lunch).

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I’ve had writer’s block in the past. Or at least I thought I did. Nothing cures the condition like having a deadline. When you have a book due in 6 months, you can only waste so much time cleaning or hanging around the Facebook. I am fortunate enough blessed like a mutherfucker to be allowed to write books for a living. Sure, I had to get hit by a bus to make it happen. But the Lord works in mysterious ways.

56861335There is a trade-off, of course. Life is reciprocity. You lose the luxury of writing when you feel like it; you don’t get to wait for the inspiration to strike. It becomes like exercising. The days you can take off are the days where you feel like doing it. It is work. And writers (like most humans) are inherently lazy. But here’s the funny part. Like exercise, once you can get yourself moving and get past the natural predilection to procrastinate and put-off, you begin to work, one painfully wrenched muscle at a time, and you’re back in the flow; you’re back in the game.

If you would’ve asked, when I completed Occam’s Razor, how soon I would be able to start another book, I would’ve sworn, no way could I even think about writing another one for at least six months, and honestly probably a year. Physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually impossible.

b0d7932266cc7f60f6aa14186fe053cd45e2aade_mUntil I had to.

There are other benefits and neat things I discovered about writing two books back to back, the way connections fire faster, association grows more organic, etc. But I’ll save that for another day. For now, we’ll just close with: Papa was right.

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Book Tour 2014: Bouchercon

bcon14-logoThese next two weeks, I’ll be in and out on book tour, with a slew of panels, readings, and interviews slotted. The first leg saw me in Long Beach this past weekend for the Bouchercon Conference. Next, Miami and the International Book Fair. Which promises to cut into my time for blogging. So before I hit the road again, here’s a quick update.

Bouchercon is the annual mystery writers conference held in America’s second-tier cities. Albany! Long Beach! Cleveland! But it’s the best fucking conference I go to, this year no different. It’s also where they hold the yearly Anthony Awards. As of this writing we are pulling for Matt Coyle, Todd Robinson, and Sarah J. Henry*. The Anthony Awards are a big deal in the crime writing world. Last year Johnny Shaw won. The other day I had a dream Kate Upton chose to marry him over me. Because he had an Anthony. So, yeah, it’s a big fucking deal. Like last year, my buddy Tom Pitts joined me for the road trip.

(*Congrats to Matt Coyle, a fellow Oceanview label-mate, on his Anthony!)

10177440_10203062507542491_2799367638374991969_nThe conference is one of the few times I am happy to leave my house. Although, this year my bum hip didn’t allow me to stay on my feet for long. I’m drafting this Saturday, before a long nap in order to make it out till midnight. But no later than midnight. Like my dead friend Troy’s (dead) father used to say: anyone up after midnight is up to no good.

10401943_723470941068401_5953279840175552659_nThe highlight of this year’s B-Con was the panel I was lucky enough to be invited on: Crime Novel as Social Novel, moderated by the lovely (and immensely talented) Hilary Davidson. Hilary is just one of those individuals who instantly brightens a room with her mere presence. And the panel was a blast with Tim O’Mara, Sarah J. Henry, Bill Loehfelm, the indefatigable Les Edgerton. I don’t really think of myself as “social” writer, but, of course, that’s exactly was every writer is. When I first began penning fiction, I used to wonder: “how will I make my viewpoint known?” You show don’t tell–you’re writing stories w/ characters who are not you–where’s the chance to, say, bash rightwing religious nutjobs or homophobes. You get plenty of chances, trust me.

62668_10150705231897639_859158932_nSo that was terrific, the panel. Packed house. Lively discussion and discourse, engaged audience. Sold a bunch of books at the signing. I was able to meet my current publishers, Pat and Bob Gussin, who showed up to B-Con, and thank them in person for the tremendous opportunity. The OV team did a bang-up job with Lamentation. So few writers get the opportunity Oceanview has given me. I’m embarking on this tour, in part, to reward that faith.

lamatations_featuredMy agent Liz Kracht came down, along with agency head Kimberley Cameron. I got to meet the Cine Lit folks who are trying to sell the Lamentation film rights. Which has HUGE remifications. Because I promised my darling wife a pomeranian if they ink that one.

The only bad part of the trip was my fucking body wouldn’t hold up. I brought the cane. Didn’t make much of a difference. Coming off a bad cold, I hadn’t been able to exercise, and my shelf life was for shit. I was in bed by 9 most nights. Which sucked. Because B-Con is all about the schmooze.

Still, I’m glad I made the trip, and maybe hitting the hay early will work out. I am not as impressive live as I am online. Even in this diminished capacity, times like these serve as a nice reminder of how far we’ve come. Especially for a pair of old ex-junkies.

Back on the 5 Sunday, returning to San Francisco, Tom and I stopped at a roadside for a quick bite. The only thing worst than fast food, Tom said, is gas station fast food. So we decided to opt for the healthiest option they had, yogurt.

“I’ll get the stuff,” Tom said. “You get the spoon.”

Where had I heard that before?

*

That’s it from the road. We’ll be back to assorted sex scandals and/or my love of Taylor Swift soon.

Catcalling

10690250_10203718497735864_6934140713873984869_nI’ve been in therapy most of my life. I know. Shocking. I don’t think you need to be crazy to benefit from therapy (although it doesn’t hurt). So recollecting which therapist said what is a little tricky. This time I’m thinking about came after my second divorce, so we’re talking Miami, circa 2006. Anyway, I was seeing a female therapist, I remember that much, and I was bitching about something, because that is pretty much what you do in therapy: you bitch. My second wife had run off with a friend so I was more aggro than usual, run-of-the-mill annoyances getting me down. I can’t recall what had me so upset this particular session. It could’ve been the woman who yelled at me for running a red light, even though it was still green on my side (because sometimes timers work like that). Or some dude might have had 36 items in the express lane. Or maybe an undergrad didn’t wait her turn at the Bursar’s. I don’t know. I just remember after I was finished with my harangue, my therapist said, “Wow. Manners are really important to you.”

Fuck yeah manners are important. How the hell else we gonna navigate this place? Listen, I don’t like your shitty ideas any more than you like mine. But we have 70+ years on this planet together; manners are the guidelines to getting along.

Last week, I posted this video at the office. If you’ve been on the Facebook, you’ve no doubt seen it six thousand times.

1010134_10152778134346465_8019368899641739239_nI really don’t preach controversial on social media. I think it’s pointless. There has never been a divisive issue decided by a meme. But this one seemed harmless. I mean, I’ve witnessed this sort of behavior on the streets, but not nearly as much as women say it happens. That is because, as my lovely wife Justine will tell you, I am oblivious. Doesn’t register because creepers don’t threaten me or mine. At least not as long as I am there. Always seemed more pathetic to me than dangerous. Seeing that video opened my eyes.

It can happen like that, realization. I’ve told the story of how I tuned out all news reporting following the Yankees historic collapse in 2004. I can compartmentalize like a mutherfucker. Not much of an excuse. Except the world can be a shitty place filled with shitty people doing shitty things. Got to pick your battles, right?

Someone is wrong on internetAnyway, I posted that video not expecting to upset anyone. Or at least I figured we’d all be on the same side of upset. Catcalling is abhorrent. Never once in my 44 winters have I considered grabbing my johnson and hollering out a moving car at a stranger. (Who does that?) After uploading the clip, I went to go meet with Dr. Goldberg, only to check FB a few hours later to see my wall blown up. I don’t think vitriol equates to instability, but when I see all caps, I delete the thread. I am on Facebook to keep in touch, but I also need it for my career. And you don’t sell books by getting people mad at you.

I was shocked what a hot-button topic this was. My defense is even lamer because my own lovely wife has told me numerous times that it happens to her. Regularly.

10406837_10153348142079896_5175723128996830581_nNot really sure why it didn’t compute. I mean, we’ve been out together when she says she’s been catcalled, and I can honestly say I’ve never noticed, or if I did my reaction to the guy was more, “What the fuck is wrong with you, dude?” Hardly threatening. But I am a (big) man. It makes sense women would be really annoyed (and threatened) by this shit. What I didn’t anticipate was the sheer number of people, women included, who don’t think it’s any big deal. Once my eyes were opened, I was ready for a this moment of United Sisterhood that never came.

I was speaking with my friend Mike Joyce, editor of the always-awesome Literary Orphans, expressing this idea to him, namely, why isn’t everyone outraged? That woman in the video is clearly getting sexually harassed, yet many of my FB friends (as well as the strangers who chimed in) brushed it off. Which left me confused. Mike said that it might have to do with the dreaded f-word (feminism). Y’know, reverse PC stuff. Like, “OMG, give me a fucking breaking! These dudes are just saying hi. Lighten up, Francis!”

10384896_703410239741138_3746558214420519983_nSeems clear cut to me, and I don’t know how feminism (i.e., equality) could be a bad thing. But I do know there are some people–women included–who violently oppose it. Writing this blog, I think I remain bipartisan. I am a left-leaning commie bastard, but I have no desire to soapbox from the mountaintop. Moreover I think we have to be tolerant of other’s POVs. Especially when we don’t agree because that is the point of being tolerant. Getting along with people who agree with us isn’t an issue. Because they fucking agree with us.

So I moved the discussion over here. Off my wall. Onto my blog. In case I cut short anyone who still had something to say. Figured we’re better off in this part of town where I can monitor response a little better. Comments welcome. Love the discourse. But, please, no E-SCREAMING. I am not interested in accusations; I prefer refined, polite, civil conversation. Because manners are fucking important.

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Rock and Roll Fantasy: Ice Is Gonna Break

For today’s blog, I’d planned on writing about my new cane. I finally broke down and bought one after my body broke down the last time. But honestly that essay would’ve merely been an excuse to post a video of Christopher Walken tearing shit up, cold pimp style, in The Dead Zone.

But as fantastic as that video (and, really, entire goddamn movie) is, in terms of blog hits, I do less well with personal exploitation and much better with topical, current events. (My second choice would’ve been another love letter to Gillian Flynn and Fincher’s masterful adaptation of Gone Girl. For the six of you out there who don’t know what I am talking about: Read that book. See that movie. As I told my wife walking out of the cinema opening night: I think Amy Dunne is my dream girl. Says a lot about me. And for those of you who’ve experienced GG and just didn’t like it? Well, I can’t help you.)

Then this happened.

TWO FEMALE TEACHERS ACCUSED OF GROUP SEX WITH STUDENT

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celebrity-pictures-nick-nolte-mugshots-hawaiianNow, keep in mind that photo above is their mugshot. If we judged everyone by his or her mug shot, Nick Nolte wouldn’t have a career. When you look at their pictures not set against jailhouse concrete, they are clearly both very attractive–young (24 and 31, respectively), cute, blonde. And I’m spending a lot of time talking about how pretty these women are, because when the news broke, reaction was pretty much the same all over, a variation of Don’t Call This Boy a Victim. And I’ll admit, my first response wasn’t all that different, a “Where were these teachers when I went to high school (snicker, snicker)?” (Although the prospect of a Ms. Daniels and Ursala sandwich wouldn’t have been quite as appetizing, amiright, Jim and Jack?). There’s that whorish babysitter/every teenage boy fantasy thing going on. I get it. A little like when I got caught making out with the hot chick in rehab and the counselors high-fived me. The plot line is every porno, or at least Van Halen video, circa 1984.

Except….

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Looks a little different made up, don’t she?

I started thinking. What if the teachers were men? Caught with a female student? Or how about two guys caught with a 16-year-old boy? Yeah, not as funny anymore. Nobody is cheering and winking; no one is writing op-eds championing locker room bravado; there are no rock DJs posting the dudes’ pics on their website, stifling a giggle on air. A girl would make the men creepers. And if the victim was a boy? We’d want those skeevy old pervs strung up by their balls. So why’s it any different because the perpetrators were pretty woman?

We all know there’s a double standard when it comes to sex. Guy who gets a lot is a stud, girl who gives it up a slut. But this goes beyond that. You’re talking about teachers in positions of authority, charged with the emotional well being and guidance of a student, and what they did violates that agreement in every possible way. The story only entertains in the abstract. With the slightest examination, what these women did is the very definition of abuse.

I know 16. Fuck, I still feel like I am 16 most of the time. A good part of you is put together, and granted most of that part wants sex, but the rest of you is a mess. And despite the “Dear Penthouse, I didn’t think this would ever happen to me” vibe, there’s no way you can consider, even the most mature 16-year-old, consenting.

porn-logic-pizzaSure, 18 is an arbitrary number. But a good chunk of our society if made up of arbitrary numbers. You need a cut-off point somewhere, whether it’s a speed limit or McDonald’s Dollar Menu (in that later case it’s almost always gonna be a dollar). And when it comes to sex, 18 is one we agreed upon for a number of reasons. While I think it’s ludicrous you can die for your country (or get sentenced to life in prison) but still not be able to (legally) have a beer, we’ve made a few advancements. We don’t have 5-year-olds sweeping chimneys. 12-year-olds don’t get married off (except remote parts of the south). And the law (if not always better judgement) says you can’t have a threesome with a 16-year-old, no matter how much of a male adolescent fantasy it fulfills. At 18, you might not have it all figured out. But you know fuckall more than you do at 16.

21178_10200418706301488_1526628093_nThe bigger question I have is what the fuck is wrong with these women? Married mothers crippled by suburban ennui? OK. Want to get some action on the side. Whatever. Not my neighborhood. You’re telling me there’s not a college bar nearby? Ever hear of fucking craigslist? Sex with a stranger isn’t something you have to talk guys into. To paraphrase a very disturbing story from my buddy Tom Pitts, “What kind of a death wish do you have to have?” Even if you hate your job–and your husband–teachers, at a public school, videotaping sexual liaisons with a 16-year-old boy, and expecting him not to boast to every buddy in the locker room? Makes you a fucking moron.

10513367_10204430811271717_6269839677200380172_nI don’t care if this kid looked like Brad Pitt in Thelma & Louise. What they did is no different than Polanski or Michael Jackson or anyone who preys on the underage. They took advantage of situation and circumstance to break the rules in order to get what they wanted, when they knew damn well it was wrong. Like Antwone, they “should’ve better fucking known better.”

Afterschool Special: You Are Going to Prison

sellakidneyBack at the end of my drug run, prison had gone from possibility to probability, to mutherfucking certainty. That’s what happens when you violate terms of a plea agreement. Following arrest, arraignment, and sentencing for my part in a counterfeit checking scheme, I was told to report to the Sheriff’s Work Alternative Program (SWAP), where I’d be expected to work for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, 7 a.m. start on the dot. If I completed this program for 3 months, a felony would be reduced to a misdemeanor, and I could get on with my life. (Some life.) But it was a little tricky. I was opiate dependent, didn’t shower regularly, and was covered in open, gaping sores. Frankly, if I was the kind of guy who could hold down a job I probably wouldn’t be printing checks to myself. And there wasn’t a lot of leeway. Show up late once? San Quentin. Piss off a guard? San Quentin. Too sick to work? San Quentin. In the words of Suzie Chapstick, wasn’t no fucking way I was completing three months. I was about 50 lbs. lighter than I am now; a good stiff wind could lift me off my feet and deposit me 4 boroughs away.

My girlfriend (Amy in Junkie Love) and I were sentenced in November, with a SWAP start date of January 1st. So we watched the big clock wind down. Sorta like that scene in 25 Hours but with less Barry Pepper crying as he beat the shit out of me. With each tick, the reality of long-term incarceration began to become more and more of a reality. There was no escape in San Francisco.

Unknown-1So I started doing research. I mean, I’d seen prison movies, and San Quentin was no joke. I can’t stress enough, I’m not the guy I am today. I didn’t lift weights back then. Years of drug abuse had stripped me of any backbone. I was a sniveling, whiny coward (albeit a fresh-faced pretty one, minus the meth craters). I knew I wouldn’t last. I picked up this book–or rather I found a book, most fortuitously, on the street, because as Tom Pitts says, “Pickings are slim when the gutter is your library.” It was called You Are Going to Prison.

I’ve read plenty of horror. Stephen King’s got nothing on this book. Fucking terrifying. Author Jim Hogshire cited, in great detail, the prevalence of rape, which, he maintained, was 90% black on white, and scared the ever-loving mutherfuck out of me. Payback is a bitch. Read that fucker cover to cover, and back again. I couldn’t put the book down, trying to pick up, y’know, helpful tips. I was studying one day at Hepatitis Heights when my buddy Dan Jewett stopped by. Seeing the the sheer panic on my face, he asked what’s up.

I waved the book frantically. “This is where I’m headed if I don’t turn my life around!”

“Shut up,” Dan said, “You sound like an Afterschool Special.”

10462416_10152721947059715_5711838731105741797_nThose of you who have read JL know how this story turned out. December 31st, I fled SF. Being a moron, I went to L.A., ignoring intrastate extradition (I’d later learn they have buses running the 5 all day long. Then after a few bad days I checked in to a long-term treatment and got better. (That’s a little condensed.)

I know some people who say prison actually helped them, saved their life. I would not have been one of those people. Prison would’ve killed me. I am not cut out for that world. Never was. I am not a tough guy. The bigger problem is that, despite the perpetual scowl and preaching of utter disdain for my fellow man, I really want people to like me. I mean, I need people to like me, and I try so desperately to not be an asshole; I have no business in hardcore criminality. My first night in San Quentin would’ve gone something like this:

jail_cartoon_art_drawings_Big Inmate: Hey, man. You look sick. Need some dope? Cigarettes? A friend?

Me: I don’t have any money.

BI: Don’t worry about that. We’ll take care of it later.

Me: OK.

I’m serious. That’s how fucking clueless I was.

Disney jail. Not the same.
Disney jail. Not the same.

I’m thinking about this because I am at Disney with the boy, a fully rehabilitated suburban dad (I drive a minivan). After those six months drying out, I went back to school and kept my nose clean. People were awesome, helpful and forgiving. My mother got to see me graduate college before she died. I went on to earn a terminal degree in my field, which allows me to teach at the university level, and through the amazing folks at the Clean Slate Program, my record was expunged. Like Mark Curry says, I’m back to square. (And in case you missed it the first time, here is my Golden Globe-turning PSA for the Public Defender’s Office. I show up around the 2:50 mark.)

But boarding the plane, I remembered this weird episode in Florida. This would’ve been 2007, while I was earning my MFA at FIU, so I would’ve been long on the straight and narrow. I was at the Oakland Airport. I’d flown out to see this girl, we’d spent the weekend together, and I was kinda sad to be leaving her, lonely. I was watching a football game at the bar, when this dude strikes up a conversation. Nice guy. Normal guy. His name was Christopher. So we start talking, and turns out he’s a Dave Gilmour fan. Used to play in a band, like me, and they, like my old band, used to cover “Cry from the Street,” this great ballsy bluesy tune from Gilmour’s first solo record. I was glad to have someone with whom to converse. And I’m always quick to talk about my love of Dave Gilmour.

tsa-cavity-search-cartoonThen after about half an hour of some really cool conversation, the guy, Christopher, says, “Hey, man, I’m going to grab a smoke. You mind if I leave my bag here? I don’t want to go through security again.” Like I said, this is 2007, TSA was even tighter than it is now. And much like I might’ve accepted cigarettes in prison, only to be sold to a two-ton fuck named Mr. Zero, I want the guy to like me. Except, I mean, how many fucking times do they say over the loudspeaker “Do not accept bags from strangers.”

So I’m just, like, “Um. No.”

Christopher was very upset, and kept pressing and pressing, going on about how big a pain in the ass it would be to take his bag, how we weren’t strangers anymore but friends, way overselling it. Which only made me say no more. I mean, I was nice about it. But no fucking way.

Finally he skulks off with his bag to go smoke.

When the plane touched down in Ft. Lauderdale, I saw him smoking a cigarette on a bench outside. I tried to say bye to him, but he wouldn’t even look up.

Unknown-2It’s taken me about seven years to realize something. (This is how slow I am on the uptake.) I think that dude was working for TSA or something, some security op trying to trip me up. I am not a paranoid guy. But as I go back over the conversation, I remember how he glommed onto everything I said, and then built off it. Like, maybe I’d say, “I like the Yankees,” and he’d be, “Oh yeah, my team too. Remember Mattingly in ’85?” I felt weird at the time, and I feel weirder now years later.

Ah, hell, maybe I am being paranoid, and this dude really just wanted me to watch his bag. (Even that’s weird, though, isn’t it? Who asks a stranger to watch their bag in an airport these days?) Two things I do know. One, I’d handle prison much now. And, two, thank God I’ll (probably) never have to prove that.

Capitalism: A Necessary Evil (Maybe)

kfc3shrunk1A few weeks back, you may recall this story. For those too lazy to click on that link, a little girl, Victoria Wilcher, suffering severe facial laceration from a pit bull attack, was purportedly kicked out of a Mississippi KFC for upsetting the other customers with her appearance, this, according to the girl’s grandmother, Kelly Mullins. The public expressed outrage (everyone loves little kids. Just ask prisoners in San Quentin. Abuse a child, and see how long you last until your rear end meets the broken end of a splintered mop handle). KFC immediately stepped up and pledged $30K toward reconstructive surgery. And we had our feel-good story of the week. Sort of. Until it turned out the grandmother lied. The incident never occurred. (Grandma sticks by her story; KFC’s investigators say the restaurant wasn’t even open that day; there is no video, etc.) Then the public was outraged again. KFC, to its credit, honored the original pledge, and a mauled little girl still gets her surgery.*

(*The family has since refused KFC’s contribution, but private donations, totaling more than $100K, should more than cover it.)

ThanksObama-44445I am a lurker (ask my wife). I like to peruse comment threads of topical hotbed issues, across various I-net sites, to get a finger on the public pulse. I never comment because last thing I need to do is spend time I should be using writing arguing with strangers about politics. And no matter what the topic is, eventually it all comes back to politics. When this story first surfaced, I lurked and discovered the prevailing sentiment was what you’d expect–“Evil corporation,” “Heartless SOBs,” “This poor, beautiful little girl,” and so on. But when the story turned out to be a hoax, that quickly changed to variations of “lowlifes lacking morals,” “lazy hillbillies taking advantage of the system,” which eventually devolved into attacks on Obama. (Fascinating to watch how that happens.) The gist was, invariably, variations on “How could they?!” As if people were genuinely shocked someone would lie to get money.

936056_669607509793590_6603543856566614687_nI am never shocked. My opinions didn’t change. The mere notion of KFC is still evil, and not because because of the crap they pump into their chicken before lowballing a gullible public in the form of breaded tumors (albeit, deliciously breaded tumors). They are evil for something beyond their control. KFC is merely supplying a much-needed demand. Rock bottom grub. People don’t eat KFC, or fast food in general, because they felt like skipping their reservation at Chez Panisse. And I don’t fault the poor family for lying. Because everybody lies. We all wants the ends.

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Yes, lying is bad. Stealing is wrong. Shouldn’t kick cats. We all know this. But, despite what a few noobs will tell you, health care in this country is fucked. I do my best to steer clear of divisive issues on here. I make a few exceptions. Gay (i.e., human) rights is one of them. Health care is another. I’m not touching the politics of it. Left, right, I don’t care. I just know it’s fucked. And if you don’t think it’s fucked, then you are wearing a very different brand of quality shoes. Which is cool. But that don’t mean a lot of bastards aren’t walking around with inadequate footwear.

screen-capture-1It’s a little like the current state of the New York Yankees under mediocre (and visionless) GM Brian Cashman. If NY fires Cashman, I don’t know with whom you replace him. Ain’t my job to figure that out. I only know that glorified intern ain’t the answer. A team with more revenue than any other team in baseball–and in almost 20 years of that fucktard being in charge, he’s put together EXACTLY ONE Championship-winning team. (The late ’90s were all Stick Michael.) (Baseball bitching aside over.)

MKybStQEveryone deserves equal access to health care. It’s a fundamental fucking right. How do you pay for it? Beats me. I just will never believe that the quality of one’s very health ought to be tied to how much money he or she has. Does that make me a commie? I don’t give a fuck. You want to argue about welfare or drones or minimum wage or six hundred and one other divisive topics? Have at it. I will lurk in the comment threads.

Let’s assume KFC is telling the truth here, that the restaurant wasn’t even open, and that grandma out-and-out lied, and that the entire thing was nothing but a ruse designed to get money from a gullible public, either to pay for the health care or just because the family lives in Mississippi. I’m not touching the morality or ethics of it. All I’m saying is I get it. I am never surprised when people do what they do for money.

10509642_10204184269675886_2599838543994475580_nCapitalism is a little like what Churchill said about democracy: it’s the worst system, besides all the others. I love the idea of socialism. In theory. But I am also 43 years old. Anyone who believe others will play and share fairly lives in Fantasyland, is 22, or a hippy. For some reason, the early 20s seem to engender this weird, optimistic belief in the best of man; and fucking hippies, well, they’re hippies. Who knows why they do what they do?

atlas-shrugged1I am not a fan of Ayn Rand, neither person (horrible, horrible human being) nor writer (and somehow, inconceivably, an even worse writer). Capitalism does terrible things to a great many. But, fuck, that shit ain’t going nowhere. Like my rehab counselor once told me after one of my junkie “down with the Man” harangues: “I don’t hear private property owners bitching too much about the evils of capitalism.” Cream rises to the top. So does the scum. People don’t play nicely. And the two driving forces of mankind are A.) we are self-serving, and B.) we lie. Which is why we have capitalism. And now that I’m a private property owner, I’ve given up that fight. Which I suppose makes me a lying, self-serving sonofabitch. Oh, well.

You’ll just never hear me uttering “how could they?” Because that same driving force, selfishness, works across the board. It’s primal. Or if you want to go all hippy and flip that shit to a positive, people look out for their own best interests and those of the ones they love. Ergo, capitalism. Selfishness in action. Should people deliberately deceive and play upon the sympathies of others for profit? Obviously not. Should there be charges against those who do? Probably. Maybe. I don’t know. Should they get the money still? Not for me to say. All I know is that, in terms of shocking, someone trying to bilk the system for cash ranks somewhere between Brian Cashman fielding another lousy amateur draft and Kate Upton landing on a Sexiest Woman Alive list.

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The Fine Print of Time Travel

KauaiAs I prepare to fly to Hawaii to teach my two-day panel, I am reminded, once again, all I really want to do is teach. Not that I’d ever give up writing or creating music (i.e., the new EP every 2 to 3 years to be released into obscurity). That part of my existence is woven into the very fabric of my body, like a fine grandmotherly needlepoint. I hope to release enough well-acclaimed books that my old college (CCSU) will come calling (my life is a quest to have exceptions made for me. I hate filling out applications). Then I can teach alongside the professors who taught me. It’s good to have dreams.

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10003547_10152146538742737_1993159460_nWay I see it, I spend a good chunk of time teaching now anyway, only I do it for free. With co-editing Flash Fiction Offensive and my editor’s job at Gutter Books, I work with authors, one on one, all the time. I vowed when I signed up for FFO that I would read every piece, start to finish, and respond with a personalized note, accepted or rejected. I also promised I would, whenever I could, provide an author critical feedback if his or her piece wasn’t quite up to snuff. And, yea, this makes a non-paying gig that much more cumbersome. But I’m not a hero. I’m just a man (well, maybe slightly more than just a man. Somewhere between man and god. A titan, perhaps?)….

Actually, my willingness to help authors isn’t noble at all. In fact, it probably attests more to my twisted psychology than anything else. Some choose to focus on the positive. I’d rather go to a dark, evil place that makes me feel bad about myself. Just how I roll. For starters, I offer my time freely to other writers because I want to help me (that’s my favorite subject, y’know?)

2007-07-18-timetravelI want to go back in time and help a younger me, to be exact. Logically, I know it doesn’t make sense. But I do it constantly. I try to be a really good dad, let my kid be silly, make mistakes, and when he draws on the wall or whatever, I respond how I wish my father had. Rather than scream or call him incompetent, I try remember what I felt when I was that age. My confusion led to insecurity, which later mutated into something much more sinister. My primary motivation is to spare my boy that future. Same thing with writing. 

Coming out of grad school and trying to get published was, believe it or not, one of the harder experiences of my life. I mentioned the other day my motorcycle accident, but for as horrific and near fatal as that crash was, in terms of personal pain, the event probably ranks somewhere between dental work and one of the lesser college heartbreaks. Not fun by any stretch. But not that bad. Sure, the crash was life-altering, but for reasons other than simply pain.

127155_v1Physical pain is easier to deal with than emotional pain. Or going bald. At least for me. I’d take a lifetime of one over the other. I mean, if life boiled down to  those two shitty choices. And, in a way, it has. I have chronic physical pain from a debilitating motorcycle accident, and, yet, this is the happiest I’ve ever been. Because somehow, at 43, that soul-crushing angst/ennui/misery has been lifted off my shoulders. I still have bad days. But it ain’t like it used to be.

funeralMy last real moral crisis came as I waited for my books to be published. Success in my field proving evasive, I began to doubt myself. Again. Which for an ex-addict is a dangerous place to be. One of the defining characteristics of our ilk is a lack of self-confidence. Buoyed by a disproportional self-esteem. They have a saying in AA: the piece of shit at the center of the universe. Of course, in my case, I didn’t have a lot to support the latter, but overwhelming evidence championing the former. 

I know every up-and-coming author I work with isn’t a former addict. Nor did they have a lousy father. But at the very least, he or she is struggling to get something I have. Not that I have much. But getting published, when you haven’t been able to, it plays out like the Promised Land. There were some great editors (Todd Robinson) who took the time out to help me get a leg up. And there were some amazing authors (David Corbett, Alan Kaufman, et al) who went out of their way to assist my fledgling career. There were also a lot of dicks. 

10341546_820274631335293_4176760670405644623_nSome authors don’t blurb. That’s cool. And many editors don’t have time for personalized rejections, which is why the form letter was invented. But like I do with Holden–like the reason I wrote Junkie Love–I take the time out to teach and help other writers because I want to spare my younger self a little heartache. Doesn’t work that way, I know.

Or maybe it does, in that we are all connected and part of some bigger thing? Who knows? What if the dirty fucking hippies were right?

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