The Blog: It’s Only Temporary

Talking Shop With The Campus Author

Today was the first day back to the day job for 2014.  Fortunately I am afforded the ability to work from home, so I chose to do that today to ease myself into the “New Work Year“.  I will brave the office tomorrow and hear all the stories of co-workers Christmases, New Years celebrations and other things they did whilst we were on holiday – today was about me finding my rhythm and getting back into the work mindset.

That got me thinking about my writing, which to be honest wasn’t far from the forefront anyway.  As I was powering up the work laptop this morning I couldn’t help but pause and think how great it would have been if I were powering up my computer instead and that 2014 was the first year of being a full-time writer.

As fortune would have it, Caitlyn (a.k.a. The Campus Author who wrote A Common Language) was in town and came by for a visit so we could catch up and talk shop.  I don’t have many people with whom I can talk about writing, so it’s always a welcomed diversion from the daily grind when the opportunity presents itself.  It was fun sharing ideas, tips, discussing our individual approaches to “Zero Drafts” and what I call “The Bucket Theory” and of course sharing books we have read recently that the other should pick up.  As I worked my way through the 400+ emails I received whilst on holiday we carried on our conversation for most of the afternoon.  It was the perfect way to get my year started.

I think about writing all the time.  Actually writing is something I need to be better at finding the time.  In talking with Caitlyn this afternoon I expressed my concern with the fact that I feel so rusty at it that I know whatever I write will be shit and most likely will be shit for a while until I find my rhythm there too.  She shared a brilliant idea that I am going to use where I write something that will never see the light of day and use that to “grease the gears” so to speak.  A short stories collection centered around a single character or characters, a never ending saga that spins into oblivion – whatever it is doesn’t matter.  It will be beautifully horrific!  Exactly what it is meant to be and I can’t wait to get started.

So here’s to 2014.

A year of a lot less thinking and a lot more doing.

Christmas Vacation Has Begun!

Carolyn Christmas Concert - Dec 17 2013I posted this picture on Google+ this morning and wanted to add it here with a little bit more thought.  I wanted to add this thought on the original post but I think it has a better place here.

While writing that post and thinking about what Carolyn said in regards to me not being able to hear her, I started wondering –

Do all little children think that their parents don’t see them or hear them when they are participating in events such as this?

I started to think back about my time in orchestra and realized that at the time, I thought the same thing.  How could they possibly hear me and my lonely violin over the entire orchestra?  It’s practically impossible, right?  Unless I’m that one lonely squeaky out of tune note that causes the audience to chuckle a bit.  Yet I remember my parents telling me that they could hear me and how well I did.  I was certain it was just obligatory and that they were doing their duty as my parental units.  But in spite of all that and though I didn’t act like it at the time, I appreciated it and was glad they said it.

Then I started thinking about last nights show and realized pretty much all I can recall hearing is Carolyn.  All I remember seeing is her.  Maybe it’s because I hear her singing around the house and know her voice.  Maybe it’s because I have super human hearing.  Or maybe it’s because as parents – we all do.  Every parent has the ability to pick out their child’s voice, cries and laughter from a dozen others.  That’s how we know to sit and leave you alone while you play at the park and continue our “adult” conversations when you are laughing and squealing and yet come running the instant you injure yourself and that squeal changes tone and you need us.

So to Carolyn I say – I heard you . . . and you sounded lovely and looked so grown up on that stage!  Even if you are your father’s daughter and think I didn’t hear you and was just being polite.  I heard you.  I’ll always hear you.  And most importantly – I’ll always want to hear you.

Profit, Passion & Inspiration

Passion, Profit & Inspiration

I saw this video posted on my cousin Jill’s Facebook page this morning and it got me immediately thinking about this website, my work here and the work I’m doing for NerdCRIT.com. To be honest, I only know about Alan Watts what a quick WikiPedia search provided. That being said, the message in this video spoke to me and I felt compelled to have it here for inspirational purposes. I know it sounds trite of me to say that because obviously that is what the video is intended to do. But it also touches on something that I did as well in my very first posting on this website. This year is about doing what makes me happy. Writing, creating new media content and simply enjoying the things that I had not allowed myself to for far too long because I felt I had to prove my maturity. And let’s face it – a grown man reading comic books at the office doesn’t scream maturity. But it is me and is one of the things I love to spend time doing. Which brings me to my next point.

Most of us, if not everyone reading this, has heard the quote “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” I started what I call “My Life” at a very young age with the birth of my oldest daughter. With limited education that consisted mainly of public schools and one semester of community college under my belt, I felt as though I had positioned myself to only accept those opportunities that were presented to me and was not given the luxury of choosing to do what I love. Meaning I would and did take any work I could find that would provide the means necessary to care for my family. For anyone who has felt the same you know it is a frightful and seemingly helpless place to be.

This lead me down a path of very peculiar jobs that made for a confusing resume. On paper I was a lost soul and it was painfully obvious to anyone who read my work history the situation I had created for myself. Of course this lead to several rejections for work that at the time I thought I wanted. Looking back now it wasn’t the work itself I wanted, but the salary that came with it. I was doing exactly what Alan Watts references in the video. I was “…doing things you don’t like doing in order to go on living that is to go on doing things you don’t like doing – which is stupid!” I’ll never forget the most depressing first day I had when after only a few hours I found myself sitting out back of the property with a pit in my stomach thinking to myself – “This?! This is what my life is going to be from now on?” and thinking how helpless I felt in not being able to change my situation for the better.

For this reason my wife and I encourage our girls to do what they are passionate about. Though we may not agree on what they should be doing we ultimately concede that if their career path makes them truly happy, then they should pursue it now while they are young and free to do so. Sure – money and financial security is a necessary part of our survival. However, the extent to which one finds them selves financially secure is relative to the person and their ideals. My wants for my daughters may not be in line with their wants and goals. It really doesn’t take make much money to survive in this world – but what does happiness cost? That is the balance most of us struggle with.

This website and what I am trying to achieve with NerdCRIT.com is my attempt to now pursue that which I love doing and not worry about the money. I am fortunate enough to have a career now that provides for my family but is also something I enjoy doing. But enjoying something is not the same as loving it. I love to write. I love to create things and I love all the nerdy things that make up NerdCRIT.com. I, unlike my daughters, am starting down the path of pursuing what I love somewhat late in the game. Though I cannot pursue my passion on a full time basis, I can in my spare time regardless of the financial aspect. Which oddly enough is what I should have been doing all along. The only result I am looking for is happiness and the ability to say “I did that.”

My cousin Mark embarked on a similar endeavor this past Thanksgiving when he became a full time farmer. In line with my contemplating “passion versus profit“, I asked him this evening if he is happier now being a farmer as compared to when he was punching the corporate clock. I asked him to put aside the money aspect of things and just focus on his happiness. His answer surprised me in that he is somewhere in the middle. Perhaps the journey is too fresh to compare the two. Or maybe the stress of starting over again as a farmer, though it is his passion, is something that he wasn’t expecting because he did say the stress level is “VERY high”. But then he said something that to me has always embodied who he is. He said “Audentis Fortuna Iuvat” – Fortune Favors the Bold. I admire his tenacity and willingness to jump feet first regardless of the path and to always seek the good no matter where the road takes him. Those innate qualities have always lead him to succeeding in just about everything I have ever seen him attempt to do.

I am inspired by those individuals who, after trying to go about succeeding in life by following the paths laid out by others, take it upon themselves to carve their own path to happiness. The work is difficult and the end rarely in sight – if ever at all. However, the path is theirs! It exists because they chose to make it exist and for those bold enough, just being on that path is enough. It is enough because regardless of where they end up it is exactly where they were ultimately headed.

And if they have stayed true to themselves, then I believe they will have found their happiness.

-BK

Writing Challenge from The Daily Post

Last week, The Daily Post offered up an interesting writing challenge that I decided to take part in.  The perfectionist in me has prevented me from posting my story until today.  You can read all about what the challenge is by clicking here.

I’m including the picture in my story as well for you to reference while you read.  Let me know what you think in the comments section below – good or bad, it’s all helpful.

Enjoy!

-BK

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Picture Worth 1k Words WP _ photo courtesy of Cheri Lucas_Jan 2013Time stood still.

That moment when I stepped out of the streetcar onto the cobblestones my heart sank and the world became a photograph that will forever be etched into my memory. I stood there incapable of drawing a single breath as the pure terror of what I saw shot through my body like electricity. In my head I heard his voice saying that one word again and finally understood what that word meant. That word now embodied my entire world and judging by the lecherous grin on his face he saw the impact his word had finally made on me too.

“Insurance.”

That one simple word and the sight of them together has me frozen in time not knowing what my next move will be. Even worse – I don’t know what he has planned for his. I’m trapped in this one moment of time reliving the last 16 hours in a fraction of a second and left to wonder what is in store once the clock begins again. To everyone in the world who has ever said “It will all be over in second” to somebody – go fuck yourselves! Seconds like the one I’m in now can last an eternity.

“What?”

It was all I could mutter. Sure, I was fishing for more information that I knew he wouldn’t give – but it also gave him the chance to speak. Evan loves to hear the sound of his own voice. Maybe once he started talking I could gauge from the tone of his voice how willing he is to resolve this whole thing amicably. It was all I could think of to say considering his brief time in my life. It was the only safe thing to say knowing all that he has done and likely will do again. Hopefully, just not to me.

“I’ve acquired some insurance should you decide not to show.”

Jesus fucking Christ! This guy just won’t let this end quietly. He is in complete control of me and he knows it – but he’s making sure that I know it too. Cocky bastard is probably grinning at me through that Goddamn cell phone of his that he thinks makes him look like some CIA spook. Who knew the official sponsor of pretentiousness would be Samsung.

“What are you talking about? I’ve done everything you’ve asked! I’m coming to meet you tomorrow – please . . . Can we just end this?”

“This never should have began, Kate. I’m just seeing it through to it’s rightful conclusion.”

I knew there was nothing more I could say to that. He was right. I did start this and everything that has happened since has been my fault. I never should have tested his resolve the way I did because now for the next few hours – he owns me. Thankfully up until now nobody has caught wind of what has been happening. If I played this right I may be able to pull this off. Then everyone who could have been hurt will be none the wiser. Their lives will go on and remain untouched by this lunatic. But that also meant I would have to face him alone. At least he let me pick where that would be. It has been the only gentlemanly gesture he has made since I have known him.

“I’ll be there, Evan. You remember where the trolley stops by the Red Door Cafe on Marcona Street, right?”

“Of course. How will I know you?”

He knew I’d pick some place public that had enough pedestrian traffic in an effort to keep him from doing something to draw attention to us – like say, shooting me in the head once I was within his range and he is able to confirm my identity. I have to say it like that, “…within his range…” to remind myself that for him there isn’t much that is ever out of range. It also serves as a reminder that up until then he has yet to put a face to my name. So far, that has been my only way to maneuver in his world undetected. That, to use his word, was my insurance.

“I’ll be wearing a black tank top, white pants and sunglasses in my hair. It’s blond by the way, not that you care – and long. Just past shoulder length. Think you can remember all that for the next 16 hours?”

SHIT! That slipped. I shouldn’t have said that and taunted him now when I’m so close to being finished with him. The only flaw in Evan’s character that I’ve ever been able to detect is the vanity he has when it comes to his intelligence. He prides himself on always having more knowledge than his opponent on everything they happen to be involved with together. And more often than not, knowing things outside of their business dealings that cross over to their personal lives and who they are when they are not dealing with him. Make no mistake about it, it’s not just you who’s in lieu with the devil once you make your deal – it’s everyone you have ever met or will meet from that day forward. No doubt he caught that snark and will make me pay for it.

“For your sake, Kate – you had better hope I can. You see, the insurance policy I took out to ensure your presence tomorrow is . . . Well, quite distracting. I may just decide to focus on them instead. That way I wouldn’t have to occupy my mind with such a remedial task as remembering your wardrobe selections or color of hair. Then again, I’m sure the family resemblance will be quite noticeable once you step off the trolley. Perhaps that will ease my burden.”

Assumptions get people killed in my line of work. I assumed he had on me the same thing I have on him when he made the reference to “family resemblance”. An old photograph of my parents wedding day. Maybe some video from a family vacation that my mother posted on YouTube a few years back. It wasn’t until now that the depth of what this man is truly capable of came to light for me.

Even from behind I knew he was holding my baby sister.

Dinner, Distractions and Discipline

Typically during the first week of December my office undergoes a metamorphosis. Since it is located at the front of the house and is an “open air” concept it is a necessity that I move my desk from it’s semi-permanent location so that the Christmas tree can be seen from the front window. So, for the month of December I no longer have my view out of the front window and gain a feeling of seclusion that during the weeks to follow I grow to appreciate. It gives me the opportunity to truly focus on my work and not spend time staring out the window looking for the mailman or some other distraction to pull me away from what I should be doing. Having spent most of the morning Saturday moving my desk back to it’s rightful place and once again having my view of the street out front of my house restored I was reminded of my penchant for simple distractions. This caused me to take some time to think about my goals for this year and what I need to do in order to stay true to the road ahead.

As I said in the first post for my new home on the Internet, I have multiple projects that I am working on this year. As the days continue to fly by and I assess what I am striving to achieve in just a few short months and the amount of work involved I realize that I will need to work on being more disciplined than ever before if I want to have the slightest hope of achieving my goals. Discipline has never been my strong suit. Anyone who knows me can vouch for my innate skills at finding mundane distractions to occupy my time that have absolutely nothing to do with my work. And my skills for justifying that wasted time can be even more impressive. However, I have made the commitment to myself that this year will be different. That I will put more effort towards my goals and really work on achieving them as opposed to simply talking about and wishing they would come to fruition.

So, armed with the knowledge and self-awareness of my dedication deficiency I quickly put my hands to work writing once my office was ship-shape and in Bristol fashion. I set to work writing a post that I had been putting off for NerdCRIT and set about finalizing the touch up work while it was being reviewed by my daughter. You’ll understand why I am waiting on her once you read it. The thing you need to focus on here is that I wrote. I didn’t just think about writing – I wrote. Furthermore I decided that I will do my best to make time every day to write in some creative form or fashion. The length of the exercises aren’t necessarily as important as the fact that I get in the habit of writing and getting my mind in the mode of creating new ideas, content, etc. I’ll set more stringent guidelines for these exercises as they become a part of my daily routine so that when November comes I’ll be prepared for NaNoWriMo.

Dinner at Samantha and Henry - Jan 12 2013Once I finished writing and was pleased with my accomplishments for the day it was time to head out to our friends Samantha and Henry’s house for a family dinner. Henry had made pork and sausage jambalaya with collared greens while Samantha made her white chili, corn bread and biscuits. I’ve added a picture of my plate here just so you can see how good it was. Samantha is a new mother to our God son Alexander and has started a blog of her own called Samantha:  A Domestic Goddess. I highly recommend checking it out. Not because she’s my friend, but because she puts several of her recipes online and I can vouch for each and every one of them. Not to mention she gives very sound advice not only on parenting but on life in general. So check her work out and tell her I sent you!  Oh – and there was also some shenanigans surrounding finger nail polish.  That picture is on Instagram, so feel free to click the link up top to see what that was all about.

Now that my writing exercise for today is complete – it is time to go see how the Houston Texans are doing in the playoffs. Baltimore Ravens already won yesterday so my dreams of a Houston vs. Baltimore Super Bowl hang in the balance. Plus, as I’ve mentioned before – I am a masterful proponent of procrastination.

-BK