Monthly Archives: June 2014

A writing environment

Closing my eyes, I can see it. Sometimes it is more vivid than when my eyes are open.

Just starting out on my writing journey, I really have not gotten a handle on what environment I need to be in to write my best. Personally I sometimes think that this is a waste of time and I should be spending my time on something else, maybe it is guilt that my to do list is long, but I sit here tapping away at the keyboard.

But when I start typing and the words start flowing, it is such a good feeling, a new high that I have never felt before, I want to learn more and grow and share what has long been locked in my mind, too uncomfortable to express, fearing that no one will like what I have to say anyway.

To me, the environment inside is more important than where I am, the ability to see the images and words in my mind clearly as I transpose them to paper or screen, that is the environment that I need to be in. I could be in the most remote corner of the earth, alone in a cabin in the woods or in a room with no one else around and still find my self getting distracted. The phrase “in the zone” comes to mind.

See Ya

I know, but….

When does it all change?

When will I be able to free myself from this self-bondage?

I want to do better, to feel better, but something inside stops me.

I see happy, joyous and free all around me, I want that….I need that.

I know the answer, I see the answer, I know what needs to be done, but I don’t want to do it. I’m afraid.

When you have felt a certain way for so long, it becomes part of you, whether it is good or bad, and letting go of that feeling is like giving up part of your soul.

I know, but….

Change and They

Change is good, change is necessary, change can rule your life or change can leave you behind wondering what happened. . .

Life is short they say, then why do some days take so damn long to arrive? Like Christmas to a 6 year old! And who are “They” anyway? Is there a committee of people that make up a collective “They”? And who is to say that “They” know what is best anyway?

So are “They” saying that change is good? And why should I believe what “They” say anyway? What are “They’s” qualifications? Is there a committee? Does it have term limits?

There are change of hearts, change of minds, change of underwear (just in case you are in an accident), change of plans, loose change, spare change, a change of scenery, change of opinion (That would be a politician AFTER election), time change, fear of change, foreign exCHANGE (OK, that was a reach), the dreaded gate change, change machines, change a diaper (old or young, your choice), change of address and that is just off the top of my head.

So are “They” saying that all change is good? Or just certain change? Maybe we can just change who “They” are and form our own opinions and stop listening to what “They” say.

Just a thought, just tryin’ to figure it all out

See ya!

Alone in the room

One of the worst feelings I know is to be in a room full of people, and feel completely alone

However, one of the best feelings I know is to be in a room with no other people, and NOT to feel alone at all!

When I am writing or even thinking about writing, I do not feel alone. Even though I just started actually writing a couple weeks ago, it is something that I feel that I need to do. I am sure I am not the only one to feel this way either. I am not good with spoken word, I get flustered, tongue tied, or am afraid that what I say will either turn someone away or bore them to death, or just make them not like me for some reason.

I am terrible at maintaining a conversation, but I so want to have them. It is that awkward pause that gets me every time, you know that time when you just look at each other and then lose eye contact, knowing that it is not going to come back so you just stop talking. I know that it is me and that it is something that I need to work at and I will….in time.

As I have said before, I am not good at talking, but I have a lot to say. This world has so much to give and I plan on getting what is mine, and hopefully leaving something of myself for someone else. I can’t really get it, unless I give it away. I have grown up being selfish, self-centered and egotistical and still am, but am working on that too.

I haven’t written in a few days as I spent the weekend at a very spiritual convention listening to some awesome speakers share  with a lot of people that share a common bond. I missed it, guess I felt the need to try to get back in the swing of things. Even if no one ever reads what I am writing, it feels so good to get it out, to let the feelings out of the steel trap that I call my head and be able to move on to other thoughts. Like many of the people behind the blogs that I read regularly, my head can be a very scary place at times and I really think that it is OK, as long as I am channeling my thoughts out and trying to do something constructive with them.

Just needed to get this out….

See Ya!


Block Party

Think about an event you’ve attended and loved. Your hometown’s annual fair. That life-changing music festival. A conference that shifted your worldview. Imagine you’re told it will be cancelled forever or taken over by an evil corporate force.

Every year on Bissell Drive, they would put up police barricades on both ends of our small street and we would have a block party. Everybody came, even people that were friends from those “other” streets were invited to join.

They would set up volleyball nets, come up with games for the kids, I think I remember a dunk tank one year, and we would all just come together as a community and just enjoy the day. I remember a kids pool filled with what seemed like thousands of ears of corn on the cob bathing in sugar water, just waiting to be put on the grills for us to pig out on. We would walk around the block eating corn, and by the time we got back to the grills, there were more ready for us. Burgers, hot dogs, bratwurst, and everyone brought something to the party. Homemade cole slaw, potato salad, macaroni salads, and of course a huge dessert table.

We would be out there all day, from noon until sunset, at which time the kids were banished from the street so that the parents could have their own party. Of course since everyone in the neighborhood knew everyone, we would all figure out someone’s house that we could all sneak to so that we could spy on the grown ups. Now this was before cell phones so it was basically a word of mouth thing, but we all figured out a way to get where we needed to be.

Then one year they just decided not to have one. W-w-wha-a-t-t-t??

“Too much work and too many people have moved away, just not the same.”

End of more of our innocence, back when neighborhoods actually meant something, when everyone knew everyone and took care of each other when we needed help. When kids could not get away with anything because even though your mother wasn’t watching, there was a good chance that somebody’s mother was. Kept us all out of trouble mostly. When any day of the year you could find something to do or someone to do something with. Hanging out in people’s garages to play ping pong or talk about the little league game last night. As we got a little older the games of spin the bottle in someone’s basement.

Hey, maybe we can look at starting a block party where we live now. . . . . but we really don’t know the neighbors that well and kids are probably too old, just wouldn’t be the same.

And maybe they are right, it would be a lot of work.



It Is Not Me

Writing 101, Day Twelve: (Virtual) Dark Clouds on the Horizon

Today, write a post with roots in a real-world conversation. For a twist, include foreshadowing.

Self-worth, what does it really mean? It means everything to me, at least now it does. Spent too long thinking I had to live up to others expectations and failing miserably, always worried about what people thought about me or said behind my back. And it is amazing how quickly someone can lose it, simple little remarks can harm someone for a very long time.

Palatine High School, Palatine IL 1979. Even though it was 35 years ago, I remember it like it was yesterday. Left history class with my friends to go to our lockers to get ready to go to next class. It dawned on me that I had walked out without grabbing my book from the wire shelf under the wooden chair that was attached to those way too small desks and turned back, telling the guys that I would catch up with them.

Went back into the classroom and there was someone already sitting at my desk, a self proclaimed bad ass that really seemed to enjoy fighting, because he was in a lot of them over the years. That heavy feeling that develops in your chest when you are getting into a situation that you don’t want to be in came on immediately. But I had to get my book and get to the next class so I walked up to the desk and started reaching for the book, it was just sitting there. Well BA saw me and reached down and grabbed the book and flashed an evil smile towards me.

“What you want man?”

“Just want my book” I mumbled

“What? Can’t hear you”

“My book, just need the book” I said, trying to speak clearly as a crowd started to form around us

“How do I know this is your book?” He said as he opened the book to the first page, where my name was clearly written. “What’s your name fatty?”

“umm…Mark” I said meagerly

“Speak up loser”

“Mark! Please just give me my book”

“Pork? Is that what you said? Your name is Pork! Is that short for Porky?” Laughter all around as my face started to burn with embarrassment and I started to tremble. “Here you go Porky” and he tossed the book to me.

We’ve all seen the movies and TV shows where the kid is getting picked on and all he can see is the blurry laughing faces all around you and there is no escape, let’s just say that I knew that feeling that day. I could not get out of there fast enough and no matter how fast I ran, I could not outrun that terribly cruel new nickname that spread like wildfire through the school.

We all have a bully story, whether we are the victim or the perpetrator or just a bystander. And it will continue to happen, unfortunately that is just the way it is. Self-worth is such a fragile commodity and it can and will disappear in an instant. It is kind of like trust, takes a long time to build it and just a moment to lose it.

I can’t change other people, I can’t change the way that they think or act. But I can change myself. I will never understand how people can say things that they know are going to hurt someone else, just not my style. But I do know now, that those people that are hurtful towards others are the ones with the problem, not me! Just hoping and praying that those that are younger find this out sooner rather than later.


Crab-Apple Trees are Only Good For Climbing!

Today, tell us about the home you lived in when you were twelve. For your twist, pay attention to — and vary — your sentence lengths.

Today’s assignment in writing 101 is to talk about the home I lived in when I was 12. Going to start talking about the HOUSE, and then describe the HOME. Because in my opinion they are not the same


We lived in the northwest suburbs of Chicago in a red brick/blue siding home. I believe they call it a raised ranch. Walking in the front door there are steps going upstairs and steps going down stairs. Upstairs was 3 bed rooms and a bathroom to the left, kitchen straight ahead, dining room and front room to the right. Downstairs the family room and one bedroom to the left and Dad’s den, a bedroom and a bathroom to the right. For the record, the difference at our house between a living room and a front room, is the living room had a TV.

Outside was a front yard that went around on the west side of the house to meet up with the backyard, separated only by a chain link fence. On the east side was the driveway that led back to the 2 car garage that Dad had built when I was younger. In the middle of the front yard was a big crab-apple tree that sat right in front of the picture window that was in the front room. In the back was a red wooden porch coming from the kitchen. The aforementioned garage and a shed, one of those with the aluminum siding that was bought from a local hardware store and constructed by whoever Dad could get to help. My sister painted a large “E” on the door, I guess in case anyone forgot who it belonged to. Backyard was completely fenced in with chain link fence.


Living in Chicago suburbia, there was always something to do or somewhere to go and plenty of people to do it with. Our entire neighborhood basically grew up together, very rarely did anyone move away. There are 7 houses on our side of the street and 9 on the other side and everybody knew everybody. A day rarely went by when there wasn’t a baseball, football or hockey game in the street depending on the season. Or a basketball game in my driveway that could last long after dark once all the outside lights were turned on. At night “kick the can” or dodge-ball games under the street lights would go on until the grown ups decided it was too late for us to be outside and called us in.

Inside the house with my three sisters, two older, mom and dad was our dachshund named Jeffy and a parakeet that started his stay known as “Jingles”, but whose name was shortly changed to “Bird Brain” by my Dad who would always be greeted by a plethora of squawks and yells and whistles every night after work until he went to the cage and played with the bird.

Dinners were eaten as a family unless little league games or practices were going on. Used to ride my bike up to the ball fields unless “it looked like rain” as our cars would not have been able to get me and my bike back home afterwards if it did. We were expected to help around the house, you know….CHORES! I was responsible for keeping the grass cut and learned a very hard lesson one year that I will never forget. Kept putting off that last cut of the year, mostly because of that damn crab-apple tree in the front and all of the small pieces of fruit that fell every year that had to be picked up, bagged up in those brown paper grocery bags and put at the curb. The only thing that tree was good for was for climbing. Anyway, grass didn’t get cut for a couple weeks and crab-apples just lay rotting in the yard until Dad couldn’t take it any more. He told me that no matter what, I was to get the yard done on Saturday. I know now that he was probably hoping that I would show some initiative and get it done without any kind of threat, but that usually didn’t happen.

This is probably the end of October or beginning of November in Chicago, and although it did not usually happen this early in the season, it snowed that Friday night. Not a lot, but enough to  cover the grass…..and crab-apples. Of course my first reaction was of relief since there is no way that you can cut grass in the snow, right? WRONG! Was out there for hours trying to get the yard done, with an ever watchful eye always hovering around to make sure I was working. Had to bag the grass of course and because of the snow and the apples, had to stop every couple minutes so I was out there forever. I know now that this was a lesson about procrastination, but when you are 12, it is just plain mean!

There are so many other memories of my childhood HOME, some good and some not so good. Not sure why the crab-apple/snow grass cutting story was at the fore front of my memories today, but I just went with it.


This Is The Life – Dream Theater

This video still mesmerizes me every time I watch it. The words, the scenery, wanted to share it

Meatball, Carrot and Potato Stew

Today, be inspired by a favorite childhood meal. For the twist, focus on infusing the post with your unique voice — even if that makes you a little nervous.

Always looked forward to dinner when I was a kid, to what Mom was going to make us. We had our regulars, porcupine meatballs, chicken and dumplings, hamburger/potato soup, on Tuesdays we had leftovers and on Saturdays, money permitting, she made steak or a roast. So simple, but such good memories

Maybe it was because we actually sat down at the table together more often than not, then we would have to help with the dishes so that we could go back outside and play until the sun went down.

No radio, no TV, no taking the food to the bedroom so that you can get back online with your friends. Good mood, bad mood, happy or sad, we sat at the table and ate dinner.

But the one meal that to this day, 40+ years later that I could never get enough of, Meatball, Carrot and Potato stew. Personally do not know the recipe, but I do know that it is stored in Mom’s memory and even when I did write it down, it just never turned out the way that she made it.

It was the sauce that it was cooked in, I know there is tomato sauce and Worcestershire sauce and……other stuff…..and she would put it on to cook early in the day and just let it cook on the stove on low. Eventually the miracle that is the crock pot came along, but don’t remember if this concoction ever made it to a crock pot…..maybe…doesn’t matter.

It was my choice for birthday meals, much to the chagrin of my sisters who did not understand that out of anything in the world, I would want this. They liked it, just apparently not as much as me.

OK, here is how it works:

1st pass – You have to get the carrots out of the way to make Mom happy as we all know how good for you veggies are. So you get 2-3 meatballs, as many potatoes as you could get away with and as few carrots as you can get away with. Smash up the meatballs and the potatoes, get some butter for the potatoes and carrots, then I would do something that gave me double the pleasure….


#1 – I love ketchup, #2 – My sister thought it was absolutely gross that I dipped my buttered potatoes in ketchup. It was a win-win. And considering our “assigned chairs” were right next to each other, gave me just that much more satisfaction.

2nd pass – Can’t go until everyone else has all they want on the first pass, but going back there is usually plenty of meatballs, just a few potatoes and a mound of carrots. If you pick through the carrots, avoiding them like the plague, you can usually find all of the small pieces of potatoes floating in the sauce, then you are ready to mash again!

Just had a thought, probably should not have written this right before I went to the grocery store…..


Cool autumn breeze shakes leaves from the trees, squirrels run to and fro looking for something to put away for the coming winter. A small wooden bench, badly in need of a touch up on the green paint sits in the middle of a clearing, walking path in front and trees filled with yellow, gold, brown and red leaves making that sound, the sound that tells you that summer is long gone and winter is too near.

An old lady sits on that bench alone, with her oversize canvas bag filled with balls of yarn on the ground in front of her. She only needs one color, it is her favorite color. She hopes that she will be able to get the sweater done in time for Christmas, not that it really matters because this year no one is going to be able to come to the house. Too many obligations with their own families, no time to visit….maybe next year. Sure is getting cold early this year, but not too cold to force her to stay in that big house all by herself, not just yet. Too many memories, and knowing that they will not be adding any this year hurts, it really hurts.

A couple stroll down the walking path, hand in hand, not talking. Just out for their daily walk together because….well, because that is just what they do. Even when there is nothing to say, they can still get out and walk together, hold hands, enjoy the scenery, the trees, the animals. Not too many people on the path any more, making time for walks just doesn’t seem that important to others, but they do it every day, just to get away from life for a few minutes and breathe some fresh air.

There is that lady sitting on the bench again, is that going to be me in twenty years? God I hope not, every day she is there just sitting and knitting or reading or just sitting and looking around. So depressing. I have so many things to do today, I hope that we take the short way so I can get on with what I need to get done. But it sure is pretty out here with the changing leaves and the breeze blowing them every which way, kind of mesmerizing if you stop and just look…….come on, I don’t have all day. Company is coming over and I have to get ready, Lord knows if I don’t do it, then no one will!

As the couple walks by the bench, the man just stares at the bag of yarn, and at the red sweater that is developing from her consistently moving needles. He cannot stop looking, as tears start to well up in his eyes for reasons beyond him he tries to look away.

What is different? I see her every day as we pass by, sometimes we wave, at least when we know that she sees us. But we have never stopped to say hi. Why do people always look at someone that they don’t know, especially older people and say “she seems like such a nice lady”. How would they know? Looks can be deceiving, I would know. What if no one ever stops and talks to her, who does she have? Does she live around here? She is knitting a small sweater which means she has to have family, right? But still, what if she is alone? What if I stop and say hi, would that mean anything to her? Would it mean anything to me? Why am I feeling like this? I am sure she’ll be fine, everybody has somebody, right! Well, maybe tomorrow I’ll stop, seems that we are in a bit of a hurry today.