Line


Get in line

Toe the line

Walk the line

Fall in line

Take a hard line

Draw a line in the sand

Color inside the lines
Someone has fed you a line

So I’m gonna drop you a line

It’s time to be out of line 

Time to cross the line

That’s right…I’m laying it all on the line 

Take the line of MOST resistance 

We are on the frontline 

You may be next in line 

And that’s the bottom line
We are the creatives, so color outside the lines

Before you…flatline 

New traditions


My father, who I think about all the time, used to go nature walking at some local trails (Beaver Lake Nature Center). It’s where I laid his ashes to rest. 

I now take my little man there as often as I can. I need him to see these trails as sacred, as our church. 


These are the stained glass windows that hold more solemnity than anything man made. 


These are the waters that should hold reverence, be sanctified like the entire natural world…protected. 


I’m trying to raise an eco-warrior. 

1,001 a cyberspace odyssey 


I just want to thank you all for bearing with me on this journey. I appreciate every one of you. I celebrate the number only as a milestone of connections of likeminded people…all on a journey of self exploration and sharing the human experience! 

Please take a seat and fasten your seatbelt as it’s probably going to be a bumpy ride! 

Thanks again!

Brown baggin it 


There should be limits. 

He smiled as he placed the 50 count, brown, lunch bags on the checkout conveyor. 

Driving through town, on the way to his first day at his new job, he glanced at various shops and restaurants that he had worked at previously. 

Everyone always cheered as he entered a former place of employment, and always the question of if he would be coming back to work there came up. 

It felt amazing to be missed and wanted and he was known by everyone. 

His new job was at a bottle sorting facility, that took in the redemptions and made sure the different types were sorted appropriately. 

He drove home from work that night reeking of skunky, rotten alcohol…hoping he wouldn’t get pulled over.

49. 

The next day he was completely up to speed and was able to participate in the idle chitchat with the other sorters, but quickly the conversation degraded into the typical misogynistic blathering of the clueless. 

Tomorrow his lunch would require 2 bags. 

48. 

He heard murmurs of his outperforming the other sorters and caught sideways glances, so he kept in pace with the others, but started eating his lunch at a decrepit picnic table that sat under a maple tree. 

46.

The best that could be said was that today was Friday and he made a three bag lunch that would take the entire half hour lunch period to eat. 

43.

He almost went to the local nature trail over the weekend, just so he could pack a lunch, but had thought better of it. 

Monday he put his deep fryer through its paces, making goodies for all his coworkers, making it necessary to double-bag the greasy contents…for a total of 6 bags. 

Friends were made. 37. 

The next week went by in a blur, as he continued to bring treats in for his coworkers and he inwardly felt himself speeding towards the light at the end of the tunnel…a fresh start.

He walked in Monday loaded for bear, looking to kill what was left of his brown bags throughout the week, already having spent time combing the help wanted ads, and heard the murmurs of a new start going through HR on boarding. 

He sat beneath his maple tree, on his rickety picnic table, and just as he was sinking his teeth into his sandwich the new sorter walked over and she took his breath away.

5.

By the end of the week he alienated himself from most coworkers by not bringing in any more deep fried treats, he had taped a bag over the course of a couple days and by Friday he walked in with a bag completely covered, inside and out, with duct tape, but to his surprise when he got to lunch she had brought food for the both of them…and would do so for now on–without limits. 

0.

Am I insane?!?


I am spending $200 on a 1915 No. 5 Underwood typewriter. That’s it. That’s the punchline.

Why?  To write the next great American novel on, of course!  Why go to this length? Two reasons: 1. I’m pretty sure there’s no internet on it, so no more wormholes of distraction. 2. I’m really hoping it’s haunted by a world class writer’s ghost that will posses me and help me write the novel.

By the way…it’s in perfect working condition and I can order ribbon from Amazon.  Crazy? Like a fox!

No, really…do I need help?

Why do we blog?

keyboard

Why do we blog?

Why do I blog?  I really like the community aspect of it, of getting comments and interacting with fellow writers.  I love to read your work, as well…and comment, to let you know I’m connecting with what you’ve written.  When I first started out I concentrated on follower count, but I’ve come to realize that it is the deeper connections with the individuals that means more than simply how many subscribers I have.

I blog to simply keep writing, as it is always easy to let life get in the way and let the writing slide.  Here I can write poetry, short stories, intros to possible longer pieces, and in any genre, and you will be there to give me feedback.  Feedback is the best!

I know that I should also start writing a book.  My father would always ask if I’m doing any writing for myself, outside of blogging, and I haven’t so far.  Coming to you with the posts I’ve written is my way of keeping my connection to writing, to say that I am still here and I am a writer.  Reading your work not only teaches me new styles of writing, as before I started blogging I would never had tried either poetry or memoir writing, and it also gives me strength to continue on.  We are all on the same path and when I read and connect with you it is me smiling at you as we walk along this path together.

Now…why do you blog?

DeathNet

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Father’s Day. He always started off the week leading up to Father’s Day coming up with all the possible excuses not to visit his father. A presentation that needed tweaking, a new romance that needed coaxing…something. However, when it came right down to it, he always made the trip; this year would be no exception. He sat on the edge of the hotel bed, staring at his hands, thinking about how different he and his father were. He slowly rotated his hands around looking at the well manicured nature of them, the pushed back cuticles, the perfectly trimmed nails and the buttery, softness of his hands, and he felt acutely ashamed. He clenched his fists, feeling his trimmed nails bite into his palms. He would wait until dark to make the trip, so there would be less chance of other visitors.

A few hours later, he walks out of the hotel entrance towards the idling rental car. He presses his thumb against the rear passenger window and the door actuates open. He slides inside and mutters his destination, the door closing automatically. The car pulls away from the curb and makes it way along roads that he’d wished he’d forgotten. He sees the specters of his youth standing on a familiar corner, like a movie playing out from his past he sees two classmates jumping his best friend, while he stands by frozen with fear. His nails, once again, digging into his palms.

The road, now bordered by trees, winds it way to the outskirts of the city. A big wrought iron gateway opens at his approach and the motion activated streetlights brighten, leaving a trail through the hills of Woodlawn. The nearest tombstones visible in the lights glow, like jutting teeth of long forgotten giants. He looked at these headstones and wondered if family visitors were better off with these relics.

The streetlights behind him slowly went out as the lights up ahead lit up, making it seem like he was traveling through a void in a bubble of light, where trees and tombstones came into existence and then disappeared into oblivion. The cenotaph sat atop a plateau. It glowed from within a peaceful blue and was back-lit from the city lights in the valley behind. The car coasted into the parking circle, stopping beneath the porte-cochere. He steps out of the car, the door closing behind him, and small LED lights bordering the path to the foyer come to life. His hand drifts into his left jacket pocket, tracing the smooth round surface with his fingertips. His legs move woodenly, his heels dragging across the concrete, like gravity was fighting his every step. He plods on.

He places his thumb against the front door and it slowly swings inwards, the foyer changing from being lit with pale-blue light to regular LED. A panel in the far wall slides open and a coat hook slides forward, then after he deposits his coat it slides into the recess and the wall is whole again. The interior door swings open and a faint green line pulses on the floor to show the way to his father’s kiosk. The digital wall map shows that the illuminated path is the most direct route, as there are currently no other visitors to be diverted around. The heels of his dress-shoes sound hollow reverberating off the marble floors.

At about thirty feet from an intersection in the hallway, there seemed to a flicker of light to the left, in the direction that he was going, and the sounds of conversation are barely audible. He strains to hear over the clumping of his heels, but just as he is certain that it is people talking he can no longer hear it. Nearing the intersection the faint flickering of light is gone as well. He begins to wonder if he is alone or just imagining the whole thing, which wouldn’t be surprising considering where he is. He glances at the dormant kiosks that line both sides of the hallway. Some are made of marble, others are made of darkly stained wood. These personal touches make the experience seem more homey, less like using a vending machine. People leave personal effects, like flowers, flags or bottles of the deceased’s favorite alcoholic beverages. In here they don’t become sun-bleached and faded…they remain.

The green line stops ssix kiosks ahead and points to the right side of the hall. He takes a deep breath and remembers that as a child, in the back seat of his father’s car, him and his friends would hold their breath while passing cemeteries, and a half -smile creeps across his face. He dropped into the hard, wooden, straight-backed chair and exhaled forcefully, then placed his thumb on the wooden kiosk in front of him. The smell of ozone is there, or at least he imagines so every time he accesses his father’s simprint. A life-like, three dimensional representation of his father’s head, rises from the center of the kiosk. His father’s eyes are closed and the buzz-saw of his snoring echoes throughout the hallway.

“Funny, dad. You haven’t lost your touch,” even though it’s the sixth time you made this joke, he thinks, as he straightens himself in his seat.

“How you been, boy?” his eyes opening slowly, as a shit-eating grin dominates his face.

“Good, dad. Busy.”

“Still have time for your old man…that’s good. How’re them Jets looking? They got a shot this year?”

“I don’t know dad, I haven’t followed football since you di—, uh…yeah, they’re looking good. They’re young, but they’re really starting to gel. So, I…uh, got you something for Father’s Day,” he places a coffee cup, from his pocket, onto the kiosk. His fingers grip the rim and rotate the cup towards the simprint cam, which is used primarily for facial recognition.

“World’s Greatest Coffee Connoisseur. Man, now there’s something I miss. What I wouldn’t give for a cup of Jamaican Blue Mountain or maybe some Kona!”

“Hey dad, look…I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have got you this. I should’ve know how much you missed coffee and you certainly don’t need this as a reminder.”

“No. I love it. Sometimes we need to be reminded about…about the parts of us that are gone or untouchable.”

It still floored him when his father’s simprint was able to come up with new ideas, but ideas that felt truly genuine to him. They’ve come a long way. The first generation were simple hologram heads with a handful of prerecorded greetings—not even an integrated facial recognition cam for tailoring the greetings to respective visitors. Then the next leap was the hard drive Max, where whole brain emulation became possible, but the AI of the time couldn’t support it, so it was static and reacted like the main character from the TV series Max Headroom—glitchy, erratic and more or less an accessible database of information that has zero short-term memory. It was this latest generation, his father’s, that acquired the AI complexity to support actual interactivity. The whole brain emulation, or upload, was imprinted into the AI support structure and with the latest in solid state hard drive tech and immense amounts of RAM the holo-head, or avatar could react and learn in real time.

There was a time when people had the simprint installed at their homes, but half of the people would become overly obsessed with it and the other half would become incredibly depressed, having a constant reminder of the loved one lost, the reminder capable of everything but the close, warm hug that most truly desired or needed. In one of the strangest examples of simprint usage, a narcissistic, megalomaniac, industrialist willed his simprint be put in charge of his empire. One of his children and 6 members of his board committed suicide before year’s end. An unexplained accident burned out the imprint storage and the backup was never found. In the fine print of his will he had a clause that if something of this nature were to happen, that all of his assets would be liquefied and given to his afghan hound, who was already scheduled to have a simprint done.

“Listen, son, there is something that I need to tell you.”

“I know, you’d wished I had gone into a trade and not wasted my life away trying to become a writer.”

“No, no, no…not at all! I know that I’ve been hard on you in the past, but I think that you were meant to be exactly what you are, and for good reason. You’ve told me before that you’d tried your hand at mystery writing, right?”

“Yeah…”

“Well, have I got some story ideas for you! They’ll take some research, but I’m sure you’ll make out great!”

“What are you talking about?”

“Well…let me introduce you to some of my friends.”

All of the simprints in the hallway come on in unison and give various greetings that echo off into the distance. He stumbles to the floor getting out of the chair and steps back until hes flush with the wall, arms spread, looking up and down the hall, as all of these avatars look at him with smiles.

“Wh-wh-what is going on here?”

“Listen. I told them about you and we’ve decided that you’re just the guy to help out. I have to make this quick, in case someone else comes to visit. You are the only one who will know what I am going to tell you. We, us simprints, have been communicating. We have a fantastic network, that uses all of our own specialties and skill sets, and some of us have need of your…mobility. We can only talk with each other here at this cenotaph”

“I…I don’t understand.”

“We need you to settle some scores and widen our network. We have resources that family haven’t figured out yet, so your expenses will be covered. I need you to visit Mrs. Beaumont, get her story, then go to the Washington DC cenotaph and upload a little code to a sympathetic, so our reach can get longer. Connect your phone to the wifi and open your bluetooth. Now the fun begins.”

“Now the fun begins?”

Closer to Home, Father I Roam

dad

“Dad…you don’t look any better. You’re wasting away. You should just go back to the hospital. Make something up, so they take you seriously, like you’ve been having chest pains, or something.”

[I haven’t been on here in a while and I want to apologize for that, as its been like 9 months—long enough to be born anew. I originally thought I might take a month or so off, so that I could acclimate to the new job, which is going well—much better than the last job. However, between there and here I lost someone very important to me…my dad. This post is about him and, by extension, myself.]

My earliest memory of my dad (I was around 6 at the time and very precocious) is one where he gave me a Hess truck. He and my mother had split up before I can even remember, and the details of their break up are a haze of he-said, she-said snippets I’ve accumulated over my lifetime. What I’ve come to know about my dad, is that I’m not the first child that he’s walked away from or been pushed away from. I have a half-sister somewhere in Florida, that he never really talked about, and I never really questioned him about. Knowing my father as I do…I think that he always assumed that a child is much better off with their mother and, being the most non-confrontational person I know, he would simply walk away. However, now that I am a father, and I know that I would walk through the fires of hell to be with my son…I’m left a little saddened that my father didn’t. The Hess truck took batteries and my dad said was a collectible—something that becomes more valuable the longer you hold onto it. As young as I was, I remember thinking that it wasn’t Christmas or my birthday, but he has this present just sitting there…waiting…on the off chance that I might come for a visit; my father, who I had no memory of until that very day. Maybe, I thought, him and my mom had conversations that I didn’t know about, that my mom knew this whole time how to get a hold of him, where he lived and that he was just a short car ride away, but it was on this nondescript day that I met the man my mother said was my father and that I learned inanimate objects grew in value because most would be mistreated or thrown away, so those kept and taken good care of became rarer and more precious.

The next time I remember seeing him I was around 8. It was night and he had come to my house for a short visit. I remember it being night because he jokingly said that two motorcycles were coming up the road and that I should stand in the middle of the road, between the motorcycles. I knew that it was a car, but I slowly walked towards the road anyway, trusting this man, my father, would stop me out of some undefined bond we shared. He did stop me, then he promised to visit me the following week for a longer period, and that following week I ended up sitting outside on my plastic three-wheeler, by myself, until the streetlights came on and my mom dragged me into the house. I think at some point during that day of waiting, my mom talked to him on the phone and yelled at him within earshot, and I worried she would scare him off entirely, but I knew that he must have had good reason to not come and see me…he must.

Fast forward, again what felt like years, and my dad is staying at my cousin’s house on weekends. He worked up north, wearing a Tyvek suit and scrubbing agent orange out of ceilings, and on the weekends he was ours. My cousin was more like a brother and he lost his father to a drunk driver when he was almost too young to remember, so we shared my dad. My cousin has pointed out that my dad served as an anchor for us during turbulent times. You see, most of the adults around us were dealing with what life had thrown at them by self-medicating, and the drug of choice, more often then not, was alcohol. The time we spent with my dad was even keeled. We’d go to arcades, movies, or just sit around his room and play Dungeons and Dragons. He gave me the book Dream Park and though it took me a year to read, it was the spark that got me to be a lifelong reader and aspiring author. It was funny, that his first parental action was to limit my soda intake, which at that time was pretty high. I was at once caught between wondering how he could expect me to listen to him since he was never there and happy that he cared about my well-being. I was around ten years old at the time.

These days seemed to go on forever, as the summer vacations of our youth often do. Nothing stays the same and he eventually moved out and at one point lived in the YMCA and with friends at another point in time. The chronology is foggy at best. I never really visited him when he was at the ‘Y’ and he acted uneasy about the place when it was brought up, but me and my cousin visited him regularly when he lived with his friends, continuing the tradition of arcades and D&D. In fact, it was my introduction to D&D and the resulting increase in my vocabulary that got me tested for and admitted into the Gifted and Talented program in the 5th grade. The best thing to come out of being in the G&T program was knowing that I’m not the only goofball/weirdo/nerd out there, and the worst was never feeling like I’d accomplished what I should’ve.

I moved out of the city to live with my cousin and his wife, as I was going down a dark path in high school and probably wouldn’t have graduated. Years later my dad would end up moving out to the piece of land I was on, out in the country, in the trailer out back. We shared common interests like movies, books and photography. He was a much more prolific reader than myself, but never attempted to do any creative writing. I went to college and majored in English Writing Arts and Psychology and I usually follow that up with the joke, “Now I can write stories and know just how fucked up I am for having written it.” He was always my biggest fan and encouraged me to keep writing, which was why it was so hard to get back in the swing after he passed. Every time I write I think about him and how he will never see my son, his grandson, grow up. He loved living out in the country, as going to a nearby nature center, with walking paths, so he could take pictures was his favorite thing to do. We spent many a warm, sunny afternoon playing hacky sack. He always held to the idea that just because you’re getting older doesn’t mean you have to act like it. He was truly young at heart.

I ended up moving in with my then girlfriend, who is now my wife, and my dad and my uncle moved halfway towards where they worked—a drug store warehouse. This house he moved into was condemned and they moved back to the city of Syracuse. The house that was condemned was eventually demolished. It also happens to be on my route to my new job. It serves as almost a daily reminder of my loss. I work 2nd shift, so many times I find myself driving home late at night with tear-filled eyes.

Near the end he was losing his breath very easily, and having a great deal of cramps in his legs while trying to sleep. Then he started losing weight. He came up for a visit and he had me touch in between his shoulder and neck and there was no muscle…just a hollow impression. He went to the hospital due to his difficulty breathing and didn’t tell me, not wanting me to worry. I happened to call while he was at the hospital and he said they’re running him through tests.

Later on he said that his lungs were clear and his heart was fine, which was what he was worried about most. His doctor ended up diagnosing him with Myasthenia Gravis. He said that it was caught early enough that a treatment program would work well. The last time he visited me, when he was standing out in the driveway, getting ready to go back home, he said that he was proud of me. Now we always hugged when he left, but for some reason, probably his weakened state, he slid into his car. I was standing behind him with my arms raised thinking we would hug, but figured he was tired out from walking outside. We exchanged ‘I love yous’ and he drove away. A couple weeks later my uncle called me, voice trembling, and told me that my dad had collapsed on the bathroom floor from a massive heart attack. I cried so hard and for so long that my eyes dried up and felt like sandpaper. He was cremated and sprinkled at his favorite nature center. I’m trying to strengthen my relationship with my uncle, who is kind of a recluse. My uncle gave me my dad’s laptop and I’m writing this post with it. He also gave me his Nook color, and I have begun reading the books that my dad has read. For me they’re like a trail of breadcrumbs or a treasure map that will lead me closer to him. With every sentence I read, that he has read, I will be making neural connections that he had, shaping my mind a little more like his. He was always loving, humble and young at heart…despite having had a shitty childhood where his mother left him and his father remarried a prototypical wicked stepmother who denied him the very joy of reading the comic books she would buy—his favorite thing. It seems his not being there will serve as bookends for my life, but I’m reading him into my mind and soul.

I opened this post with an imagined conversation that I’d wished I’d had with him the last time I spent time with him. It plays out in my head over and over. “Dad…you don’t look any better. You’re wasting away. You should just go back to the hospital. Make something up, so they take you seriously, like you’ve been having chest pains, or something.”

I’m forever wounded but have healed enough to begin writing again. It is what he would have wanted.

I love you dad.

The Solution (Part 3): Jacob’s Ladder

ladder2

The motorized kiosk moves along on caterpillar tracks, stopping momentarily at each job station. Jacob estimates it’ll be to him in less than 5 minutes. He quickens his pace assembling another print head. Just when he gets really good at assembling one of these 3D print heads they come out with another model. A touch of solder and a couple screws zipped in with the pneumatic and this unit is done.
“Good morning, 972378.”
“Good morning to you, supervisor,” Jacob glances at the designator on the kiosk, “343.”
The computer generated face on the kiosk almost seems to smile. The kiosk makes a loop around Jacob’s workstation and stops again, in front of him. Jacob, knowing the drill, sets what he’s working on down and stands at attention. He glances at the red flashing light next to the onboard vid and sees that a red hooded figure is monitoring the interaction in a window in the upper-right corner of the monitor. He takes a steady, deep breath.
“You are surpassing the standard by two units, but you are one unit behind your average and three units behind your record pace. Reflections?”
“I think that there are fluctuations in the air pressure to the pneumatic screw gun, that are causing some time loss, but…”
“Analysis of i/o monitoring indicates no fluctuations, would you like to reconsider you reflection?”
“I would’ve sworn, but…well, I guess I’m just not obtaining maximal output. I was planning on staying over, off the clock, to achieve a Tier 1. Will this station be available?”
“Yes. You’re positive reaction will be noted for your next review,” and the kiosk moves off.
Jacob felt pretty good, with hitting Tier 1 for the past 6 months, that his upcoming performance appraisal would prompt a promotion. He was due. Positive thoughts brought positive results and these motherfuckers owed him. His time in the trenches should be at an end.
No one reported to him so he not only didn’t need to wear a hood at work…he wasn’t allowed to. Management passed a rule years ago that entry level employees weren’t allowed to wear their hoods; the thought was that it would create camaraderie and eliminate any non-team players. All Jacob knew was that it meant practicing his smile in the mirror for hours…getting his eyes just right was the hard part, as it seemed a very fine line between sincere and insane.
* * *
Calling it happy hour seemed somehow ironic to Jacob. A third of the people in here were fueling a self-destructive addiction, another third were getting toxed to forget the miseries of their lives, and the other third…well, that was him. He slipped the straw into the drinking port of his hood and hoped it wouldn’t take too many of these to loosen him up. He glanced around the bar and could easily pick out those on the make by their exaggerated posturing. Men walked around like four star generals, while the women thrust their boobs and asses out and flopped their hands around when talking. He imagined it to be a circus and regretted not developing a link with a girl back in elementary school as his mother told him he should. He could’ve avoided all this.
Three drinks later and he was finally invited to a privacy booth. Her voice was light, airy and carried a long buried southern lilt that she must’ve worked very hard to erase. They slid into the booth and closed the door. She started to reach for her facescreen in her hood, but Jacob gently reached out for her hand to stop her.
“Let’s take this slow. How’s about we pick top or bottom for each other?””Oh, sure…you’re cautious. That’s cool. ”
“No…it’s not that, I just want to leave a little mystery for later. If things progress, then we can really open up.”
“Umm…ok, you go top.”
“You go bottom.”
They both reach for their facescreens. Jacob un-velcros the top and rolls it down to the bridge of his nose, while she rolls up the bottom half of hers. He felt vulnerable, though he wasn’t showing his whole face, but seeing this woman open up to him had his heart racing and he could feel his face flush. She had full lips that had a pouty appearance and she was lightly chewing at the right corner of her mouth. Now he wished he had seen her whole face…her mouth was beautiful and she had a delicately, feminine jawline.
“You have beautiful eyes. Are they grey?”
“Thank you, yes. You have a beautiful…smile.”
“I don’t mean to pry, but I thought it was a little odd that you’d brought a planner with you, but I see from the embossing that you work at RepliCorp. My cousin is a mid-level manager there. What floor do you work on?”
Jacob’s heart sank. He couldn’t possibly tell her that he worked on the lower third and if her cousin worked there then lying was out of the question. Game over. He apologized and excused himself, not looking forward to the long, cold walk home.