Conversations From the Road – Middle-Aged Pets

My two pets have now entered what is considered to be middle-age for them. My cat Ronan is about twelve now (in human years) and my dog Darcy is eleven. But both of them have chosen not to read the memos about being middle-aged pets that tell them they are supposed to be slowing down or getting cranky. Then I realized both of them just don’t have the faces to be cranky, or the temperament, and in Ronan’s case, the brain cells.

Take Ronan: He still runs around my place ghostbusting at least every other day, knocks stuff off tables in the middle of the night to wake me up, and meows to try and tell me he’s a poor unfortunate soul whose dish is empty (most of the time he meows just when he can see the bottom of it). The thing about Ronan is he’s got gorgeous eyes that are perfect circles in shape- no arching eyebrows or big bones for his forehead. He’s got this round, wide-eyed face with an upturned mouth and long whiskers. And despite acting like a doofus a lot, he’s actually pretty smart as he just recently proved to me.

Last Friday I came home from my morning run, and he walked up to me with his right eye half-closed and a small open-scratch like wound underneath it. It looked like he’d been in a fight, but I know for a fact he hadn’t gotten outside. I tried asking him what the hell he did to his eye but of course got nothing but meows. I think he probably scratched himself, but I told him if he let me doctor it and keep an eye on it I wouldn’t take him to the vet. I told him if he bit or scratched me once I’d toss him the carrier and haul him in and make sure the vet stuck a needle in his butt. He’s let me doctor it without a single hiss or anything and it’s fine (it’s already closed up and fur is starting to grow back over the spot). But he’s gained  a couple of new nicknames: One-Eye, and Fight Club (I tell him now when he goes up to the door that he is NOT going to kitty fight club).

Then there is Darcy. People are surprised when I tell them how old she is because she sure doesn’t look or act her age. She’s got white fur on her nose so I think the only real sign of aging will be if the rest of her blond fur on her head turns white. She’s tall and straight and fluffy, and she still jumps on me when I get home. She’s also still got super-sharp hearing- she can hear someone talking twenty feet outside in just a normal voice so she can bark at them. And she still makes me walk every single day like she has since I got her as a puppy.

I know they’ll slow down some day. They’ll start to move slower, their sight and hearing will start to go. I promise that I will do everything I can to take care of them and comfort them till the end. And I will be with them at the end and do my best to make that end as peaceful and pain-free as possible. I think this is at least four to six years away as they just don’t show any signs of slowing down or any health issues. They eat well, play with me, drive me nuts sometimes with their shenanigans, and still do their business every day, too.

I’m glad they don’t have cranky faces but that their faces will be forever young. That they’ll have the same wide-eyed goofy-grins and doofus behavior no matter how old they’ll get. And I promise that after they both cross the rainbow bridge, I’ll definitely adopt again. I’ll talk about going to a shelter and the Universe in all likelihood will put a couple of animals in my path and save me the trip (that’s how these two were adopted).

These two are very important to me because there were days when taking care of them, and not just feeding them and taking care of them got me out of bed, but they kept me on the road because as I tell them, if I don’t drive we don’t eat. And all they’ve ever asked is for me to shelter them, feed them, and love them. In turn, they’ve snuggled with me when I’ve been huddled in bed not wanting to face the world. They’ve made me laugh, they’ve gotten me moving, and they’re always happy to see me (well, Darcy always is though Ronan shows his happiness at seeing me by standing by his empty dish and meowing at me).

So here’s to two pets who refuse to think they’re growing old, and we’ll always be forever young to me.

Breaking Radio Silence – The Look of Shame

This will eventually end up in the book ‘Breaking Radio Silence’ in longer form but here’s a shorter version.

One of the very first things I learned in life was the meaning of the word ‘ugly’ as it applied to me and it was a bad thing because I was fat and clumsy. When I was eight years old, my spine began to curve but everyone thought I was just slouching and lazy. Five years later, I was diagnosed with scoliosis, curvature of the spine but it was too late for non-surgical correction. So since I was eight years old (give or take), my body has been fat, misshapen, and lumpy. Because of my scoliosis, my physical activity has been limited in addition to me having damaged body parts due to being out of alignment. At this point in my life, I honestly don’t give a shit if someone thinks I’m ugly or if they even tell me because I’ve heard every variation of that and I’m still here. But the wound is there, and it always will be.

In the last six years, one of the things I’ve have learned to do is to reject shame and guilt I had no business feeling or taking on in the first place. It has taken me the past six years to understand the shame and guilt I have carried over the way I look and how to let go of it. One thing that has helped me is a memory I will always treasure:

One of my earliest memories is of my mother looking at me with enormous love in her eyes and a beautiful smile on her face as she said to me, “You are a beautiful girl.” I heard that all my life from her and I know she meant it with every fiber of her being. I remember all the times we went shopping together for clothes and how we always had fun together doing that. Because when it was just the two of us, it was all about having fun with no shame or guilt. That ended when my mother had her mastectomy, the first of many surgeries she would have after she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. In addition to multiple, horribly-scarring surgeries, first and second-degree radiation burns, chemotherapy treatments, hormonal imbalances that made her gain and lose weight, and hair loss were enormous feelings of shame and guilt over what was happening to her.

And my mother only broke down once with me and cried over it. It was one afternoon when we were alone and she told me how she was so afraid my father might leave her because of her cancer and what was happening to her afterward. All I could do was hold her and comfort her as best as possible. Now that thought never entered my father’s mind though if he had left her my last words to him would have been, “You are dead to me.” But he always tried to comfort her even I did the opposite: I gave her a space to vent, to speak honestly and truthfully, and to say things that would make most people very uncomfortable. I won’t go into any detail past a certain point about those conversations, but I knew how people looked at her, with pity and revulsion, or worse, trying to bullshit their way around the ugly truth she lived with every single day until she died.

In the last decade of my mother’s life, I learned just how terribly she’d been raised. She’d been raised to have no self-confidence, no self-esteem, and worst of all, to believe she was ugly and worthless if she didn’t at least try to conform to some bullshit unattainable beauty standard. My mom spent most of her adult life on a perpetual diet, following exercise fads, and gaining and losing weight. Yet she never, ever forced any of that shit onto me. She always looked at me with love and acceptance, told me I was beautiful, smart, capable, and kind. She gave me the self-confidence and self-esteem she never had despite a lot of assholes in the world trying to take that from me. In her eyes, I always felt like I was good enough, like I was worthy of love and respect. I did my best to try and make her feel that way and I hope she felt that from me.

I would love to tell her I’ve learned to let go of a lot of shame and guilt over how I look and a lot of that is because I remember the way she looked at me. I have made a commitment to do my absolute best to look at people as they are and accept them as they are, and to try and be compassionate and accepting. Now that doesn’t mean I have to take shit from people because people who are mean and cruel, regardless of whether it’s thoughtless or thought out, deserve to be held accountable for the pain they inflict with their cruelty. I know can’t pull someone’s head out of their ass for them. But I can stand up for myself and for others and say this: there is NO shame in how you look. Ever.

Books Are Not the Threat

This past week was Banned Books Week and this year close to a thousand titles have now been banned or challenged in libraries and bookstores across America. Why? Because of conservative, right-wing, neo-Nazi white Nationalism.

I’ve been thinking back to my high school years (I graduated thirty years ago this year) and back then when books were banned or challenged it was always for language and sex. That’s still the same bullshit excuses given today but the books being targeted today are written by and about people of color and by and about queer and non-binary people. To me, if people are racist, sexist, homophobic, and transphobic assholes, they need to find the tits or the balls to come right out and say so. And if reading about an experience that doesn’t mirror yours in any way, shape, or form makes you ‘uncomfortable’, get over yourself.

Books are not the threat.

Thirty years ago, queer kids were deep in the closet. It wasn’t just because of the young Republican conservative-asshole bully crowd but from adults, school administrators especially. In my senior year I learned through various sources that there were at least a dozen kids who were HIV-positive and hiding that from school administrators because they felt the administrators would have found a way to run them out of school and out of town. And these young HIV-positive students were right in feeling that way because we’d all seen Ryan White and other young people run out of schools and towns out of fear, ignorance, and hatred about HIV-positive and people with AIDS. And we also remember seeing young gay men dying alone and being treated with such hatred simply because of a virus that was allowed to run rampant before anything was done about it.

Thirty years ago, I used to hear from asshole-adults that if I, or other white students listened to rap music or read books about black history that ‘we were trying to be black’ and black students heard that if they listened to rock and pop music or read too many books by white authors that ‘they were trying to be white’. These white-asshole adults would have probably shit bricks if they knew I listened to Ice-T’s band Body Count (they had a song called ‘Cop Killer’ that really made the shit hit the fan), NWA (‘Fuck tha Police’ anyone?), or read ‘The Autobiography of Malcom X’. And the word ‘transgender’ wasn’t in the lexicon back in my high school days so transgender kids were so hidden that even their closest friends may not have known what they were going through.

Books are not the threat.

I’m so glad there is so much literature out in the world today for young people to read. Books about people of color, LGBTQ+, and more. I’m so glad young people have the language to put their thoughts and feelings and experiences into. I’m so glad writers are telling their stores and sharing true history so we can learn from it. And anyone who says that young people today shouldn’t be exposed to things that might make them ‘uncomfortable’ or in all ridiculousness make them queer, need to shut the fuck up now. Today’s kids are so much more resilient and stronger than any previous generation simply because of the threats they have lived under since they first walked into a school. Young people today unlike my generation don’t fear nuclear war- they fear a gunman walking into their school and murdering them. They fear a world that will be slowly destroyed by environmental degradation that will deprive them of a lifetime and a future for their children.

Books are not the threat.

I never had kids but if I did I would have read the books they were reading alongside them because if they wanted to talk to me about they read, I would have wanted to be able to talk from knowledge of the book itself. I NEVER would have restricted my child’s reading, or what they could talk to me about. And most of all, I would have accepted them for the person they were because they would know themselves better than I ever would. And yes, I would have loved and accepted my children if they were queer or transgender. So it breaks my heart to know there are children living in fear of being kicked out of their homes simply for being queer or transgender. And it makes me want to rage at parents who would reject and hate their child simply for being who they are. For these children, books may be their only way to learn about themselves and put their thoughts and feelings into words. So to deny them these books is to hurt them so deeply and create wounds that will never heal.

Books are not the threat.

If reading about history or experiences that are painful and horrible makes you ‘uncomfortable’ I will say this to you: your ‘discomfort’ means nothing in the face of other’s suffering. And NO ONE is accusing you of perpetuating past suffering or being a part of it or any bullshit-argument like that. If you think you’re that special, you’re not. And I’m not either. In the grand scheme of the Universe, we’re just specks of dust coming together then turning to dust floating through the Universe over and over again. Our time here is very brief but we need to make the most of it. And you don’t fuck things up by digging in and not learning how to do better and repeat history that doesn’t need to be repeated. Most of all, books about painful chapters in human history aren’t a threat to you at all.

I’ve been asking myself why I’m writing like I do because I know I can’t change minds past a certain point, and I certainly can’t pull someone’s head out of their ass for them because no one on Earth can do that. I’m writing like this to add my voice to the conversations we need to have and are having as I write this. And also I write because I want to show that life itself is pretty messy and fucked up sometimes, but it doesn’t have to be a total fucked-up mess. We can do better and we can learn from the mistakes of the past. Books are not the threat.

Conversations From the Road – Writing Every Day

“Write every day.”

That’s a piece of writing advice I’ve heard since I started writing almost forty years ago. And you know what? It’s good advice. Because writing, like anything else a person wants to get good at, takes practice. For me, I like writing every single day. When I don’t I get depressed and feel like a walking lump of human shit because my mind doesn’t have an outlet. But ever since I started writing, it’s been a battle for me to pursue it every single day (or close to it depending on other things happening in my life). Why? As I’m fond of saying, it’s a long story. So I’ll just give you a basic highlight reel here and tell you I’ll go into this in more detail in my book, ‘Behind the Story’.

After I graduated high school I really didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life other than write. My parents were okay with me living at home and doing chores and errands and babysitting for pocket money while I wrote. Around that time I read a book called ‘The Artist’s Way’ by Julia Cameron. At that time I loved the book for its’ embrace of creativity, ‘artist’s dates’, and ‘morning pages’. What I didn’t understand at that time I remember was that I would need to overcome a lot of obstacles in order to really create to the fullest extent of my abilities. But at that time I hadn’t gone through the worst of what life was about to put me through.

In the past, I’ve always said I couldn’t write during the most stressful times of my life because of stress. But now I know that wasn’t true. I stopped writing during high-stress times simply because I was afraid of dealing with someone mouthing off at me accusing me of neglecting my responsibilities or being a selfish bitch. I NEVER, EVER neglected my responsibilities in order write. Once I took on the responsibilities I did I did my best to put my writing down low on my priority list. I did my best to hide it or minimize it. Yet I always felt that wasn’t enough for some people and that if I crossed a line only they could see, then the shit would truly hit the fan for me. Looking back, I realize if I had continued to write during those high-stress times, and if I had put more into my writing that I might have been able to deal with things better than I did at the time. And also, I think if I had told people to fuck off right to their damn faces and told them they had absolutely NO say in my life and what I did with my own time, I think like most bullies they would have backed down.

What those old bullying voices have evolved into are feelings that I need to be rigid and focused in writing. And every time I’ve tried to fit myself into a rigid format, I grind to a halt. I grind to a halt because I need the freedom to write what I want to, and to let shit out on a daily basis. In ‘The Artist’s Way’, Ms. Cameron talks of ‘Morning Pages’, which is where you write three pages by hand every morning without editing or reading back over them at all. My late father would call that ‘clearing the mechanism’. My version of ‘Morning Pages’ is two pages typed single-spaced on a laptop and posted on the internet. Why? Because I like doing it and I do have people who like reading what I write. And most of all, because no one has had the tits or the balls to come at me and tell me otherwise. If someone did try and put me in my place or shut me down writing-wise, I’d tilt my head to the side and go, “Really?” in the most shocked and sarcastic tone I muster. Then I would straighten my head and say with all the feeling I could muster, “Fuck off.”

I want any writer reading this to know you can say, “Really?” followed by “Fuck off.”, if someone tries to shut you down or just mouth off and be a jerk to you. If your writing is not getting in the way of any responsibilities you have to yourself or to others, then it’s no one’s problem. If someone doesn’t like that you write, that’s on them. I know I’m not everyone’s cup of tea and I don’t need to be. I used to think I had to try and please as many people as I could, or appease them if I couldn’t make them happy. To that I say, “Fuck that shit.” Or as the late Rick Nelson sang so well in his song ‘Garden Party’: “You see, you can’t please everyone/So you got to please yourself” (written by Rick Nelson, Universal Music Publishing Group, original release July 1972)

What I also didn’t understand about ‘The Artist’s Way’ when I read it way back when was that writing could be a form of therapy. Almost thirty years later, I understand that concept very well. And maybe there is still some echo of my past thinking someone will come at me because of that. If they do, well, read the above paragraph though I hope I quote Rick Nelson instead of myself.

So going forward, two pages every day of whatever comes to mind. Some excerpts, stories, and more to come.

Behind the Story – My Complicated Book

When I first came up with the idea that would morph into my book ‘Behind the Story’, I thought I’d dispense advice and things I’ve learned over my almost-forty years of writing along with how the writing business has changed in the last forty years. But then a thought came into my mind:

My relationship with writing is complicated.

And why that is, my dear readers, is a complicated answer that will take a whole book to explain. Problem is, I don’t feel like I’ve done the work on that answer like I have with my other two books in my non-fiction triumvirate as I call them (Breaking Radio Silence and Stand or Fall).

My complicated relationship with writing begins with my origin story. It goes back close to forty years and deals with two people are now ghosts in my life: my father and mother. There’s so much about my writing and them that I have never talked about and I’ve just really begun to go back through all that history. This is the stuff that probably won’t see the light of day until the book’s publication because of the emotional charge on it.

My own writing journey has had its’ emotional highs and lows. From the highs of writing and learning, of the hope and aspirations sent off with every submission, and to the lows of rejection letters and harsh criticism. When I started writing it was pen and ink and now it’s pretty much all electronic. Yes, a writer can self-publish but there’s no guarantee of success. There’s so much more work involved and for me, that’s a story I’m in the process of living in order to document it.

Recently, I’ve been trying to write about how and why I started writing but back then I didn’t think about how to start writing or why I was doing it. Yes, I really just picked up pencil and paper and started writing. And for so many writers, that’s the way it is. It’s like you have all these thoughts and words and images in your head and you have to find a way to get them out of your head or you feel you’ll go nuts. A lot of writers have said it was write or go crazy and though it wasn’t like that for me as a ten year-old kid, I will say as an adult it has been from time to time. But this struggle led me to another question: why have I kept writing?

I was thinking if writing is so emotionally complicated that looking back on it makes me feel like I’m walking through a minefield, why do keep writing? That question does have an answer: because that minefield never really existed in the first place. For the longest time, I used to think if I truly pursued my writing at one-hundred percent full throttle that someone would try and destroy me. In the last six years of reflection and remembering, I’ve come to realize that anyone who ever shit on me for doing something I loved (writing) even as it had no effect on their lives was never going to follow through on the threat I thought they were trying to hold me back with. Most bullies as I call them don’t think their shit through and just react out of ignorance, fear, and moral superiority. My writing was never a threat to anyone, nor would it have taken me from any responsibilities I’d taken on.

When I started writing all those years ago, I didn’t worry about whether or not I’d be good at it. It was just something I could do without anyone seeing me doing it, unlike being in a physical education class floundering around like the uncoordinated slob that I am. But I was surprised when I read my writing out loud in classes and my fellow students hung on every word. When people told me my writing was good and had potential I felt their sincerity. They weren’t laughing at me or looking at me with pity as I lay on the ground. They looked right at me and told me I was good at putting words together. Looking back, I wished I’d believed them instead of the people in my life who made me think that if I pursued my writing at full-throttle my parents would have disowned me and tossed me out on my ass. That’s a story for another time and place so I’ll leave that one here.

Writing has never been easy for me but then I wasn’t told it was going to easy to begin with. The expectation was that it would always be a lot of work and was going to take a lot of work to succeed at. It’s that thought that truly sustains me as I pursue my writing as I am now. I’m on my own with my only real responsibility just to take care of myself (and my pets, too but they’re pretty low maintenance). If anyone tried to barge in on my life and tell me to do otherwise I’d respond with the sarcastic surprise of, “Really?” followed by a lovely ‘Fuck off.”

But I’m not worried about anyone barging in on me anymore. And my parents were never going to disown me and toss me out on my ass for my writing as they were my staunchest supporters when they were alive and hopefully from beyond the grave. And they were also the first two people in the world to say they weren’t perfect so I’m not worried at all about how I will write about those imperfections along with my own.

And those imperfections are where the complications come from.

Stand or Fall – 2022: The Year of the Pissed-Off Woman

WARNING: Strong and foul language here so proceed with caution.

Like I wrote yesterday, I’m not going to post excerpts of my books-in-progress every week and for ‘Stand or Fall’ today, I have a piece I’ll post here because until the mid-term elections are over and all the votes are tallied, I won’t know the result of how pissed off women are at right-wing politicians who want to send women back to the 1950’s when they were only supposed to be perfect housewives who were closet alcoholics or pill poppers, or just silently raging and waiting for their husbands to die. And no, I’m not saying all women were unhappy back then but a good number of them were and with no real freedom of choice in terms of health, education, and employment this seething rage was real and it’s what gave birth to the feminist movement of the 1960’s.

When I turned eighteen in 1992 and became eligible to vote, that election cycle was called ‘The Year of the Woman’ because a record number of women ran for office at all levels and were elected in record numbers. But soon after, the conservative backlash started and has come to a frightening level of oppression thirty years later with Republicans in Congress led by Senator Lyndsey Graham (R-SC) proposing a national abortion ban today in Congress.

Abortion was turned into a political issue after the rise of the women’s movement of the 1960’s and the legalization of birth control and abortion. Unborn babies became so easy for right-wing assholes to advocate for because these unborn babies didn’t require any medical care, food, shelter, and education because these motherfuckers didn’t give a shit about these babies, most of whom would be poor, black, or brown. In reality what these motherfuckers wanted to do was control women from the cradle to the grave and now have freely admitted to wanting to make sure there is a ‘domestic supply of infants’, especially lily-white babies for rich conservative pricks to adopt and indoctrinate.

In the last two years, a terrible number of laws have been passed across the country to not only outlaw abortion, but to make it a crime for a woman to seek out any information on it or help a woman get medical care. These laws put a target on the backs of millions of people, and especially women like myself who are in an occupation that provides transportation. Yes, these fucking ‘bounty’ laws (most of which are in a holding status), could have put me in jail just for doing my job.

So how in the fuck do conservatives continue to be hypocritical assholes talking about freedom? Only freedom they believe in is what they dictate for others. Or as I like to say, THEY DON’T CARE!

Abortion is a deeply personal and incredibly-difficult decision for a woman to make and therefore it’s not one that is to be made in a public forum or by assholes who have no part in it whatsoever. I don’t believe any misinformed, uptight, judgmental man or woman has the right to tell a woman what she can and can’t do with her body. Not to mention that conservatives feel women should die in horrific ways because of medical complications of carrying a fetus that won’t survive outside the womb. The Republican Party is NOT pro-life. They’re pro-death and for forced-birth.

Yes, this is an issue that has pissed off thousands of women across this country. Women make up the vast majority of new voter registrations and have already turned out in huge numbers in special elections and referendums. I think the mid-term elections in this country are going to be a blue tsunami and make conservative Republicans shit their pants so bad the stench is going to be horrible.

It’s about fucking time these conservative assholes learned to eat their own shit and own it for good. Because this attack on women’s reproductive health and well-being is just the beginning of attacks on women’s right to education, employment, and just being free to live their own lives. I grew up on stories about what life was like for women before the changes of the 1960’s and 1970’s, the flat-out discrimination and restrictions imposed on women simply because of their gender. And we’re not going back in time because you can’t do that no matter how hard the conservative Republican establishment tries to make that possible.

Women are sick and tired of being made to feel like second-class citizens, and for being told to sit down and shut the fuck up by uptight judgmental assholes both male and female. I’m pissed off as hell that some dickhead or bitch who doesn’t know me at all and honestly doesn’t give two shits about me thinks they can tell me what to do with my life. I’m just here trying to live my life and get through the day like millions of other people and I sure as hell don’t need someone breathing down my neck and dictating every move and breath I take. But that’s how conservative people make me feel and I’ve truly had enough.

And I think in November they’re going to find out just how badly they have fucked up. Pissed off? This is just the beginning and there’s now stopping us now.

Breaking Radio Silence – Expectations of a Self-Help/Memoire Hybrid

First, I want to say that not every blog entry on this book will have an excerpt accompanying it. I don’t think I set that expectation, but I want to clarify that I won’t be posting excerpts of the entire book-in-progress. There are parts of this book that may not see the light of day until they’re fully-edited and in the book itself upon publication. This is something I’ve been thinking about for the last few days, and I have my reasons, which I may or may not publicize.

So now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, I want to talk about the writing process for this book and where the ‘self-help/memoire hybrid’ thing came from.

The ‘self-help/memoire hybrid’ came from what I initially labeled this project when I started it way back in 2016. It’s hard to believe it’s been six years but then these last six years have been one seriously crazy-ass roller coaster of a ride for me and a lot of other people, too. When I first started this project I had no detailed plan for how I was going to structure this book or what I was going to write about. No, I don’t plot or plan things out and in a very roundabout nut-ball way it works for me.

Now as I begin to write this book in earnest, I have to tell myself just to get what I can onto the page and then edit the snot out of it later. And yes, writing is a lot of editing, sometimes more editing than actual writing itself. Kind of a nut-ball crazy process, especially since I’m writing on the fly here so to speak. I’m still trying to figure out how to combine memoire with self-help advice but talking about it here helps me work through what is largely an instinctive process for me.

The memoire-part of this book is what I want to use to tell my story because I think using a story-like format illustrates a point better than me just droning on about it. But revisiting some of those chapters in my life isn’t the easiest thing to do either and not just for the emotions accompanying the memories.

I’ve been thinking about why I started writing and for me it’s something I’ve never really had to think about. It wasn’t something I had to sit and debate and run pros and cons on or anything like that. Like a lot of writers, I just put pen to paper and started writing. For some writers, it’s a case of write-or-go-crazy, and I think that applies to this project for me.

The thing I can’t stress enough about ‘Breaking Radio Silence’, or anything I write about in general is that it’s not about revenge or anything like that. With ‘Breaking’ it’s about sharing things I’ve learned about myself in order to help others who’ve been through things like I have. Now when I first started this project I was just doing that soul-searching in order to learn how to make better decisions. I knew I had some wounds to deal with, but the thought of healing was something I didn’t think about at all back then.

I just had a thought: sometimes writing is about doing what may look impossible to do. Because when I start writing something, especially something I’ve never written before like book-length non-fiction I seriously wonder if I can do it. But I know that I won’t be able to find out until I do it. And when it comes to writing, it starts out with one word, then one sentence, then one paragraph, then one chapter, then a whole book.

And yes, as Annie Lamont said in her book ‘Bird by Bird’, sometimes you do have to give yourself permission to write crap. I tell myself that nothing comes out perfect the first time and some pieces of writing will need more editing than others in order to be ready for publication. And anyone who says otherwise or acts like writing is easy, or any ignorant bullshit can shove their bullshit back up their ass.

So no excerpt today but check back next week and I may have one ready to illustrate the basics of a ‘self-help/memoire hybrid’.

Uber Driver’s Blues

A parody inspired by the song ‘Smuggler’s Blues’ by Glen Frey (Songwriters: Frey Glenn Lewis / Tempchin Jack Smuggler’s Blues lyrics © Red Cloud Music, Night River Publishing)

Uber Driver’s Blues

There was no money coming in

No one was hiring, So I had an idea

I downloaded the Uber driver app

Put in all my information

But I didn’t think I’d get onboard so fast

The app went live and I hit the road

So baby I was on the road

I’m behind the wheel, learning how to navigate

Trying to figure out how to do this job

Even though I wasn’t given any info on how to do it

I’m sorry to my passengers whose navigation I screwed up

It was the nature of the business back then

It was the Uber Driver’s Blues

Uber Driver’s Blues

The drivers and the riders, the idiots and the jerks

Bad driving, bad behavior, the indecent proposals I had to turn down

No matter if it’s day or if it’s night

You got to keep driving to get the fare

There’s lots of interesting people, lots of good conversation

But there are a few loony conversations, too

Every rider’s name is forgotten because all you have is their first name

Perhaps you’d understand it better

Driving a car like I do, it’s all about the hustle

It’s the Uber Driver Blues

Uber Driver Blues

You read about it online, watch the YouTube videos

They say it’s not going to last, but we’re still on the road

Moving through the streets, up and down the highways

We drive day and night, we’re here to stay

It’s keeping people like me out of call-centers

You ask anyone else they’ll say I’d do it if I didn’t have to navigate

Or deal with drunks or potential puke

But that’s just between me and you

It’s a decent proposition, this driving around day and night

It’s the politics of the hustle

It’s the Uber Driver’s Blues

Uber Driver’s Blues

In Search of Subtitles (for my books)

Image by hudsoncrafted from Pixabay

Ever since I started my non-fiction book projects, I’ve been in search of a subtitle for each one that fits the book. Why? Because I feel like the subtitle gives the reader an expectation about what they’re going to be reading about. The title is like a summary and the subtitle is like a bit more detail. Today as I got out of the shower, five subtitles came to me and I scribbled them down onto a piece of notebook paper before I updated each page here with the subtitle. Now here’s the story and meaning behind each one:

Breaking Radio Silence: A Self-Help/Memoire Hybrid

In the Fall of 2016 when I first conceived of what would become ‘Breaking Radio Silence’, I simply labeled the file ‘Untitled Self-Help/Memoire Hybrid’. The goal at that time was to use writing to try and figure out why I thought and felt the way I did and to use my own experiences to illustrate anything I learned in the process. The title ‘Breaking Radio Silence’ wouldn’t come to me till the Spring of 2018 and it fit perfectly from the moment it came to me. But for the last four years this has been a book project in search of a subtitle until today. And as I start writing this book in earnest now, I need all the focus I can get so this is why a subtitle was so important for this project.

Stand or Fall: A Rebellion of Hope

After the US Presidential Election in 2016, I (along with millions of other people) went, “What the hell just happened?” I came up with an idea to use writing to try and figure out how things got so fucked up. Now of course I didn’t know what the next six years would go nor could I have imagined what’s happened even in my worst nightmares. At the time I first came up with this project-idea, I simply labeled the file, ‘Untitled Political Book’ because at that time I knew this book was going to be seen as political. Like, duh but I’m not a scholar so I thought I’d make it personal and tell my own story alongside what’s happened in the last forty years or so in terms of politics and the world in general. I was searching for a subtitle for this book because I kept asking myself what the purpose of writing this if not just for myself? And then the quote from the movie ‘Star Wars: Rogue One’ came to my mind, “Rebellions are built on hope.” That’s what I want this book to be, a statement of rebellion and hope.

Behind the Story: How I Write and the Stories Behind My Writing

This book’s origins are a bit murky though I think I came up with this one sometime in 2018, I think around Fall if I remember correctly. Initially I wanted to do a straight how-to book but then I realized for me writing is more than just how-to. There’s a lot to my writing and I think my story in regards to that is worth telling. Now the title of this book was a struggle for me as the title just came to me a couple of months ago but without the subtitle until today.

Uber Tales: Stories and Observations From Behind the Wheel as an Uber Driver

Not long after I started working as an Uber driver in 2017, I began to post on my personal Facebook page stories and observations from the road that I titled ‘Uber Tales’. They took off and people really like hearing my stories and observations so I began to think there was a book in there. As of right now, I don’t have any really crazy or outrageous stories from the road and a lot has happened and changed since I started driving. Also, I’ve read a lot of news articles about Uber driving and I don’t really think a lot of these journalists have talked to a lot of drivers, or any at all. So I want to tell my story and it’s just my story because each driver has their own unique experiences and observations though over the years I’ve talked with other drivers and we do share some common thoughts and experiences.

Dirty Thoughts and Stories: Talking Dirty About Sex and Other Naughty Things and Fiction Inspired By My Dirty Thoughts

This is in its’ earliest stages right now mostly based on my blog here though I think over time I’ll have enough material for a book. This is a mix of non-fiction blog entries that might get expanded into longer essays along with fiction stories. The title is sort of self-explanatory as talking about sex is seen as dirty by a small yet very vocal segment of our population who really just need to learn how to get over their hang-ups and have some fun in life instead of trying to control every aspect of everyone else’s life, especially their sex lives. And naughty fiction is just fun to write and I’m not going to back down on that.

So this is where I’m at on these projects just to give out an update. It feels good to have subtitles I like and that fit well. Now I just need to get my ass to writing, which I will be doing in addition to everything else I need to do (like earn a living, eat, sleep, bathe, take care of my pets, etc.).

Uber Tales –  Married Conversations, Edition

In five years of doing this gig, I’ve had plenty of married couples in the car. And yes, I can gauge the temperature of the relationship by what is said, or not said, or how it’s said, or what they do (or don’t do).

Have I had any couples that were in, shall we say, a frosty mood?

One comes to mind: It was late one night and I pick up this couple (lady and dude) with their dog. They’re not going too far but they’ve been drinking so I’m keeping them out of the clink. She starts in on him about this friend of his who, according to her, is a jerk. She really didn’t like this guy and from what she was saying, I think she was right in feeling like she did. Hubby really wasn’t defending his choice of friend too well and when we got to their house she got out of the car and just walked up to the house without looking back or waiting him. All I could think of was that he was probably thinking about shacking up with the dog in the doghouse because that’s where it felt like she was putting him up for the night.

Have I had any drunk couples and if so, how did it go?

I’ve had a few and a couple come to mind:

One couple I picked up I watched them walk out of the house together and I thought they were just hanging off each other. No, he was practically carrying her down the driveway. Luckily, we weren’t going too far and both were in a good mood and laughing about their predicament. The couple that gets drunk together stays together.

Another couple I picked up one night late from a swanky hotel-resort wasn’t happy. Hubby was practically carrying wifey out of the place and when she got in she cracked the window, leaned up against the side, then moaned and groaned all the way to their place (and had me hoping she wasn’t going to puke in the car- luckily she didn’t). We get to their place and hubby got her out of the car and started walking with her up to their house. But when she reached the mailbox (a nice big stone one), she ducked behind it and proceeded to hurl really hard (only had audio and not visual, thank doG). Hubby just nodded his head and kept walking up to the house. I honestly wonder how much she was going to remember the next morning but was forever grateful she didn’t puke him my car.

Usually when I get a couple in my car, they either clam up and don’t say much or they talk about boring stuff that doesn’t merit an Uber Tale. But in the last week, I’ve had three conversations that were a mix of dumb, condescending, and possible gaslighting.

I pick up this couple early one morning and the hubby contradicts every single thing the wifey says, like dates and what happened and any other detail. I’m thinking one of two things: she’s a ding-bat with a faulty memory (slight possibility on that as she did admit she had their driveway paved with a slight bend instead of straight, which would have been more practical), or hubby was a dickhead who always had to be right. My take was that this was a dysfunctional marriage these two seem to be stuck in.

Then I pick up this other couple and hubby acts surprised by every single thing wifey says, like he’s hearing it for the first time. Wifey doesn’t sound stupid or anything but hubby sure acted like he was a dumb-ass. To me, it sort of felt like he was talking down to her.

Then I had another couple in which hubby was like trying to explain to wifey every single thing he was seeing from the back passenger seat (okay, I understand not a lot of people get to be a passenger in a car looking at stuff). Again, the slightly condescending tone rubbed me the wrong way because he was also contradicting her replies to him, too (attempted gaslighting, anyone?).

From these conversations I was beginning to ask myself: are there really marriages that are this messed up? And I’m wondering how many women think they’re ding-bat idiots when in reality they’re just married to condescending gaslighting assholes?

I’m just glad I’ve never been asked to be a marriage counselor with any of these couples because that’s something I wouldn’t do except for the promise of a record-breaking tip ($100+).

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