AR – 1ip 5ervice

AR – 1ip 5ervice

my father called his wallet a billfold

simply put a portable engagement

for goods and services

our n.r.a. has a billfold too

simply put a stable lobby

for goods and services

guised as rights (by god no less)

you are folded under leather

with no haggling in the street

with no argument for debate

           you are wrong

           they are right

          — i never feared the paper tiger

                                           — until now


So, This Is Aging

So, this is aging.  This is the not-so-sorry ending.  I recall my mother, she and I seated at the kitchen table.  She is examining my hands, comparing my hand to hers.  Tracing the length of my fingers she comments on the elegance; the narrow tapers, the fine strong nails.  The reach that I have inherited from her own graceful fingers.  I see for the first time the wrinkles and creases upon her hands.  Healthy, well veined hands, taken care of.  “I am the product of this household” I think, “a product of this woman”.  All innocent and observational, we two seated at the most familiar of places in our home.  This kitchen, this sunshine sneaking through the eastern facing window, mom’s jewelry shining.  I am in stasis.  I know this important and I don’t know why.

This was to be a cement-edged memory for me, soft within but hard on the outside.  Hard to contain that memory, that breeze that came into the window.  We both were vulnerable, and it was my mother who allowed that breeze to become visceral and tangible for me.  I knew it was important and I didn’t know why.

Now as I type I look down upon my own mother’s hands, and everything seems clear to me.  I’m not sad, certainly not nostalgic.

Indebted.  Yes, that’s it; I feel indebted.


So, This Is Aging

The Eye Versus The Lens

The Eye Versus The Lens – Character Development In Writing

On my daily walk today I began to think about the concept of looking at a character through a different ‘lens’.  My thoughts then turned to looking through my own eyes versus the possibility of changing the lens through which I view other people.  This thought actually popped into my head because I was thinking about a girl.

mismatch_1bThis is a girl that grew up under the watchful eyes of many, myself included.  Beginning at an early age she would dress flamboyantly, often wearing brightly colored, mismatched clothing.  She was also somewhat socially awkward by general societal standards.  These judgmental reactions on my part seemed appropriate at the time, yet now this girl is a young lady, so I can relate to her in a more adult way.  I began to  consider my previous judgements of her, suddenly finding myself with a new perspective on what she was trying to accomplish.  Her early desire as an adolescent to be outwardly creative manifested itself in a very powerful way.  It said to her peers, “Do not approach me in the guise of friendship if you are not comfortable eschewing the constricts of accepted social order.”  This turned into an explosion of realization as I continued my perambulations.

Why had I thought of this acquaintance before as a ‘kooky kid’, only now to consider her a creative, thoughtful and empowered young lady?  The thunderbolt then came clear to me.  When she was a young girl, I had judged her based exclusively upon my own station in the social construct.  To me she was just ‘that weird child’.  In other words, I was seeing her through my own eyes, disregarding all else.  I’m not embarrassed by this, because humans are hard wired to make quick judgements of people around them for survival reasons.  Once our assessment of a person shows that they pose no threat us, we begin the unconscious process of pigeon-holing them.  These pigeon-holes are constructs we can understand quickly, but they do tend to be a teeeeeeny weeeeeeny bit biased… (cue the sarcasm card).

Skinhead.  Hopeless romantic.  Kindred spirit.  Junkie.  Bum.

Often this is where we stop considering the person, but as writers we can not afford to do that.  Why?  Well…   The skinhead probably has a history that would be of great interest to me.  The hopeless romantic probably has insights into how her own friends relate to her.  The kindred spirit becomes a lifelong friend because we share so many interests.  The junkie and the bum will certainly have a backstory worth listening to- after all, no one starts out their life thinking “I want to be a junkie; or maybe a bum.”.

So my walk is coming to an end, I can see my house from here.  What changed for me?  Why am I now reassessing that ‘kooky little girl’ as a ‘creative, self-confident young lady’?  Simply put, I changed the lens through which I observed.  This is a critical distinction from using my eye alone.

My eye is attached to my brain, very closely in fact.  It takes in valuable information and helps me sort through my world.  This is great from a survival perspective, but it’s useless in sizing up a personality.  For that I need to dig in deeper.  Am I suggesting that every single person you encounter in your day should be subjected to an in-depth interview?  Well, yes and no.  No because you would never get any of your work done.  Yes because when you begin to reinterpret these people in your mind, you will most likely come away with a better understanding of them, yourself, and ultimately the characters you create on paper.

To this day I rarely speak to this girl, she is the daughter of some friends.  We have very little in common outside of our coincidental existence and our use of opposable thumbs.  My point is, when I look at her through a different lens I see infinite potential in what she might mean to a character.  It is well beyond the scope of reality to hope that I might become a little girl in the USA, now that I’m an old fart of a guy teaching myself to write novels.  My eyes are fixed now, and so many of my judgements are too.  Yet when I teach myself to refocus, to alter my perspective, to change the lens through which I observe; that is indeed where the magic resides.

Thoughts?  Comments?  Do you have a similar epiphany to share?    ~TH~

Perspective, always perspective

Simply by living the lifestyle of some adulated rock star recently, I successfully aggravated my physical condition.  In short, my gout flared.  This time in my right ankle.

Gout is a form of arthritis usually brought on by poor diet and being overweight (yep, yep).  I won’t bore you with the details, there are reams and reams of articles on the subject.  Suffice it to say it can be excruciating, as was this bout.

I landed in the guest room of the house, completely bed ridden.  Let me just say that Laurie keeps a magnificent guest room.  I now type (day three, almost healed) sitting up and watching the snow gently fall on this pristine scene.


You know, for being stuck in bed with a painful foot a guy could do a lot worse.  ~TH~

No One Is Looking At You

I have good news and bad news.  The good news is no one is looking at you.  The bad news is the same.  Yep, we spend a lot of our waking hours vying for attention of some sort, but we sure don’t want it when we slip on a sidewalk.  It’s yet another balance point for writers- and I have encouraging news for you.  Right now no one is looking at you.

No one was looking at Arnold Schwarzenegger either.  Have you heard of him?  Yeah, I thought so.  Well believe it or not, there was a time when you had absolutely no idea who he is.  Can you remember that time?  Of course not!  He’s always been in your field of vision, right?  That’s the way it is with our heroes and villains.  They pop up on our radar and it feels like they’ve been there forever.

As a lowly writer (or lowly whatever you currently are right now) you’re constantly repositioning yourself to be “seen” or “not seen” just like in real life.  Picking up your girlfriend at the end of the road because her father hates your guts?  Unseen please.  Strumming your guitar and singing your fresh new song at the local coffee shop?  Make mine seen, leave room for cream.  The tricky part is getting what you want when you want it; and as always the word balance comes into play.

Do you know who I’m looking at, thinking about right now as I type this?  Me.  The same guy that, as a baby was absolutely convinced when mommy left the room- *poof* – she was gone forever… until she peeked around the corner again.  Then that little tyke started to put it together.  “Hey, there’s another part of this world out there I haven’t even seen yet!”.  Time to explore…

Folks, that baby is still inside you, trying to make sense of this nutty world.  Reexamining your place in it.  Attempting to make your own piece fit.  If you’ve been here on terra firma long enough you know that the puzzle keeps changing, so your piece has to keep changing too.  It’s not growth I’m talking about.  I’m talking about self assessment.  I’m talking about you, looking at your place in the world realistically.  This kind of thinking helps shield you from those rejections (or perceived rejections).  This kind of thinking keeps your overall perspective in order.  This kind of thinking gives you confidence so that when the time is right and people really are looking at you, you’ll be ready.

How are you going to build your own Arnold Schwarzenegger in the mirror?  Well, don’t worry about that quite yet.  Just get into position and be ready, content in the knowledge that right now – no one is looking at you.  ~TH~