On the Year That Was, and What Lies Ahead

You know friends and sometimes constant readers? I had a whole blog post/piece of Mental Flatulence planned for this New Year’s. It involved Time Travel, the Eagles repeating as Super Bowl Champs et cetera et cetera. I even started writing it, but I quickly realized that finishing it before the ball drops in Times Square at midnight tonight/tomorrow would be impossible. So I scrapped it in favor of this. FYI: This is not going to be a long post which, for me, is a bit of a surprise and for many of you is likely a relief. Breathe easy, folks. I’m only going to take up your time for a few paragraphs. I expect that many of you have plans for tonight and are anxious to get to your revelry. I am, as well—whatever that revelry will entail. But before we crack open our respective bottles of champagne and sing “Auld Lang Syne,” a few… parting words before we close the book on 2018.

I’m sure that one or two of you reading this are looking forward to burning this past year in effigy and embracing 2019. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t ready to do the same. As you know, 2018 has been… a bit of a rough go for your old buddy the Mad Chronicler. I’m not going to rehash the events of the last year herein. As my friend Heather said in a Facebook post earlier today, it has been, at times “a bit of a crapfest.” She’s not lying. It has. And while much of what has happened was… expected? Foreseen? It doesn’t lessen the impact. But surprisingly enough, I’m not ready to… what did I say a few years ago at the tail end of 2016? Oh yeah. “Take a barbwire-wrapped baseball bat” to the year that was. I tend these days to look for the positives in each negative. The silver lining or linings, so to speak. And this past year? I learned a lot. A veritable f*ckload of things, honestly. I’ve talked a little bit about those things over the last few weeks but the most important thing I learned this year is resilience. I’ve always been someone that could role with the punches. That’s a trait I inherited from my mother, a single mom who survived cancer, worked two jobs to put food on the table, survived a couple of at times ungrateful kids and never once flinched. My mother is the definition of an Iron Woman, guys and gals. I don’t speak about her enough in these blog entries/pieces of Mental Flatulence and I should. Mom? Thank you for teaching me that I am, in fact, “Braver than [I] believe, stronger than [I] seem, and smarter than [I] think.” I didn’t know it until this past year. I thought that was just another of your convenient clichés (and you have a lot of them which is not a bad thing) but this year? It proved to be integral. It’s not just a cliché for me, now. It’s a mentality. Thank you for that. Even at 43 plus years old on this side of the proverbial wormhole of existence, I can still learn a thing or two from you. Booyakasha, Mom. Respect. I love you.

This past year, I also learned that perception and reality are two completely different things. I’ve often confused the two in the past. Call it a product of naiveté, even at the ripe age of 43 years young. I confused the two because I wanted the outward perception of what was my reality to be my actual reality. Another, less elegant way of referring to this is in referring to the difference between a Sh*t-Eating Grin and a real one. A Sh*t-Eating Grin? “So nice to see you! Everything is GREAT. My wife is GREAT. My marriage is STRONG.” That was how I wanted to be perceived for the longest time. Always striving for acceptance by the cool kids or, in this case, my peers. That’s been me and was me for a good portion of my life. But in the end? I realized that a false smile betrays who you are deep, down inside at places you don’t like to talk about at parties. The fact of the matter is? I’m still Frank Marsh. Still that geeky kid that you remember from grade and high school. Still a hopeless romantic and eternal dreamer. Still the guy that used to go on four hour, round trip diner runs at 12AM the night before a Midterm or a Final. I’ll never be a facsimile of a smiley face and I don’t want to be one. When I smile now, I want it to be genuine. And there are moments. When I look at my minions and think, “if I do nothing else good in this life on this side of the proverbial wormhole of existence… if I achieve nothing more than I have too date, at least I had a part in THAT. In THEM.” That’s the real thing, everyone. And that may be my goal… my resolution for 2019. At least one of them. I also want to start running again and who doesn’t want to drop a handful of pounds? No one, I’m sure. But above all else? I want my smiles to be genuine next year. No more outward perception of peace. If I’m at peace, you’ll see it. But if I’m not? If I’m tortured? I’m not going to force a grin to save someone’s ego. Long story short? “This is me.” Deal with it or don’t? I’ll wish you well in all your future endeavors either way.

And finally? Everything that has happened over the course of this past year has gotten me writing again. Whether it’s this little blog entry/piece of Mental Flatulence, HEAVEN AND ENDWORLD or that new story idea I referenced in my last blog post and finally figured out/jotted down a rough outline for yesterday, I’m doing it. Maybe not at the speed and production levels that I was writing at back in my recent heyday of 2011-2013, but give me time. I’m building up a tolerance for it. It’s just like running in that sometimes, you’ve got to walk, and then walk quickly before you can run. You’ve also got to stop smoking cigarettes and lose weight but damn, y’all: One thing at a time. I can’t change everything at once.

Which leads me to a quick little announcement here, on the cusp of 2019. Are you ready for it? Okay. Here it is.

CHILDREN OF ENDWORLD is coming.

Yep. You read that right. Over the last few days I’ve spoken with my editor and my cover artist. My editor is almost finished (booyakasha, Amy. MAD respect) and my cover artist has my concept in-hand and is starting to work on it. Assuming everything else including formatting goes according to plan—which it almost never does but I’m optimistic this time—I’m targeting a Spring, 2019 publication to coincide with the six year anniversary (six? Has it really been six years? Jesus, I feel like George R. R. Martin) of the release of ENDWORLD – A Novel. So for those of you that have been waiting? Thank you for your patience. A million and one thank yous. You will soon get to read the continuation of William MacNuff’s story which, I’ll not lie? Heads down a dark path or two between the covers. I hope you enjoy it. And I hope you know how deeply personal a book it was for me to write. At times even more personal than these little ditties. If the last six years brought me anything, it brought me perspective and that bled out of my reality, and into the pages of CHILDREN at a number of points. It’s still got robots, and supernatural, existential sh*t, and one or two little plot twists which I will NOT reveal herein but at it’s core? It’s a vision of my life over the last half dozen years. A true autobiographical fiction. Damn. I really need to patent that term at some point.

And with that everyone? I’m done. I could write more but I think the message I wanted to convey with this has been conveyed. Am I ready to burn 2018 to the ground? F*ck yes I am. But I’m not going to do so without carrying the lessons I learned this year, however hard, with me into the future. 2019 awaits. It is a blank slate, guys and gals. Maybe the Eagles will repeat as Super Bowl Champions. Maybe Time Travel will be discovered. Maybe CHILDREN OF ENDWORLD will go onto sell a million copies and launch me into the realm of literary super stardom. Or? Or. Maybe I’ll simply continue to let life come to me and just… exist. On this side of the proverbial wormhole of existence. Eternal optimist. Hopeless romantic. The once and future Mad Chronicler. Frank Marsh. Me.

“Should old acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind? Should old acquaintance be forgot, and auld lang syne.”

Happy New Year everyone. Winky emoticon. Smiley face.

F.

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