On Turning the Big 3-8 (Otherwise Known in My Subjective Reality as the Big 4-0 Minus Two)

Earlier today (yesterday, actually), I sketched out a swooping blog entry on turning the big 3-8, otherwise known in my subjective reality as the big 4-0 minus two. As of 12:33 AM on my birthday, August 20th, 2013 I have decided to scrap it. ‘Cause really, what more do I need to say about getting older that I haven’t already said a dozen times before in a dozen different ways? I have a bit more gray in my hair and my beard… okay, I have a LOT more of both as well as this one, pesky gray chest hair that keeps coming back no matter how many times I pull it. I have a few more aches and pains than I did at this time last year. Yadda, yadda, yadda… I’m sure you get the picture.

But do you know what, guys? Everyone gets older. It’s a natural fact of life. It starts from the day we’re born and it progresses onward and upward until the day, hopefully decades hence when we leave this life for whatever comes next. I’m no different than any of you reading this, right now. I’ve accomplished a lot in my now 38 year existence on this side of the proverbial wormhole of existence. I’m married with two beautiful daughters; I’m a published author, albeit a self-published one; I have a steady job and a loving circle of extended family and friends that I would not trade for, to employ one of William MacNuff’s old cliches, “all the tea in China” (despite the fact that William has no idea what or where China is). For the most part, I’ve spent the last decade plus as a living and breathing facsimile of a smiley face and save for one or two vices–smoking, and the occasional drink to name two–and a few minor health issues I’m in pretty good shape. So why lament getting older? Did I think I was going to be 25 for the rest of my life? Survey says: H-e-double hockey sticks no.

So I’m not going to write some long and meandering preponderance on aging. In truth, I’m not really struggling that much with the age-thing, presently. Instead, I am officially going to go “against the grain” and declare today a day of affirmation for me, a pseudo-madman, residing on one side of the proverbial wormhole of existence. Why? I’m glad you asked.

About an hour ago (it’s now 1:26 AM). I stepped outside onto my stoop to have my customary first birthday cigarette. It’s a practice that I’ve adhered to for many, many years: I sit on my stoop, I smoke, and I think. I ponder where I’ve been and where I’m going. I hadn’t intended tonight to be any different than years past but guess what? No sooner had I stepped outside into the cool, yet humid night air than I realized the moon was either Full, or a day or two away from it. So I broke out my trusty smartphone and guess what? August 20th, 2013 is the day of August’s Full Moon. But it’s not just any Full Moon. It’s a Blue Moon, i.e. the third Full Moon in a season with four total (most seasons only have three).

I know that that is not the popular definition of a “Blue Moon.” The popular definition of it is the second Full Moon in a single calendar month but… and I’m sorry to burst your bubble, amateur star gazers… that’s not an entirely accurate definition. The first is the actual, traditional definition (CITATION). So August 20th, 2013 is a traditional, Blue Moon. A rare occurrence that spiritually (correct me if I’m wrong) signifies a purging, i.e. emotional, physical et al.

So I got to thinking: What better time to purge myself of my age-old preconceptions about aging and my birthday? Why not embrace it rather than rage against it? Survey says: Why the f*ck not?

So I decided. I came inside, sat down, fired up my lap top and started typing. Which brings me to “right here, right now,” and there truly is no other place that I’d rather be. Shortly, I’ll finish this little “quick hit,” head upstairs and go to sleep. And when I wake up? I’ll be spending my birthday with my girls. I already got to share midnight with my wife, Nicole. She gave me my first birthday gift: An interchangeable Sonic Screwdriver with 80 different, potential combinations to “customize my Doctor Who experience.” While some of you reading this may not appreciate that as much as others understand that it is, hands down, one of the coolest birthday gifts I’ve ever gotten and I am incredibly thankful to Nicole for getting it for me. Booyakasha, sweetie. RESPECT. I love you.

Later today, we are making an early sojourn to the zoo with our minions (pre-things heating up here in southeastern Pennsylvania) to check out the new kid’s center there. Thereafter? Well, I’m not really sure what the rest of the day is going to hold but I’m open to any and every possibility. I’m going to cherish every second… every minute, and every hour because I can. I should. Because birthdays are supposed to be fun, right? Somewhere along the way, I forgot that. Early onset dementia? Maybe. Then again, maybe not. Disillusionment seems a more likely possibility. I’ve disillusioned myself into thinking that my birthday is a bad thing, i.e. it’s just another day, another number and another step closer to the big 4-0, the big 5-0 and onward and upward until the “D” word arrives.

No longer, though. Today, I am the big 3-8, otherwise known as the big 4-0 minus two. And I’m okay with that. I’m okay with the extra gray in my hair and my beard and that lone gray chest hair that just won’t. Go. AWAY no matter how many times I “prick” it. I’m okay with a few minor aches and pains. Because I’m not 25 anymore. I haven’t been for over a decade. I’m 38: Older, wiser and happier than I was back then. I remain a living and breathing facsimile of a smiley face and come what may? I will always be that.

Not just “once in a blue moon.”

Winky emoticon. Smiley face. G’night, all. Pleasant dreams.

My Own, Personal Samwise Gamgee

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“It’s like in the great stories… The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think… I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something…. That there’s some good in this world… and it’s worth fighting for.”

Eminent Sage of Wisdom, Literary Hero and Gardener, Samwise Gamgee (from The Two Towers)

Okay so admittedly? I would have preferred a non-Sean Astin portrait of Samwise “Sam” Gamgee but unfortunately, the only JPEGs of Sam on the internet are either pictures or memes like this one from The Lord of the Rings movies. But this one kinda’ resonates with the theme of this little blog entry.

I’d wager that most everyone has either read the books or seen Peter Jackson’s masterful movie trilogy at some point in the last decade plus. If you haven’t? Seriously, people. PRIORITIES. I’m not saying they’re Star Wars good but next to Star Wars it’s arguably the greatest trilogy in movie history (NOTE: I do not include Indiana Jones because of the travesty that was “Crystal Skulls”–even though it was the fourth movie and is not, technically a part of the “trilogy”–Back to the Future because of “Part Two” and The Godfather because of “Part Three” and Sofia Coppola). Read ’em, or see ’em at some point before you die and parents: Get your children to read them AND The Hobbit before they’re too old to appreciate them. You can avoid The Silmarillion if you’d like. There are days I wish I had.

Everyone has a favorite character or characters in the Lord of the Rings books or movies. My wife, Nicole? She loves Strider/Aragorn (not Viggo Mortensen, mind you, but the character he plays). My friend Caren (booyakasha, Caren: RESPECT)? She loves Gollum. There may even be one or two people out there reading this that like Frodo though I’ve got to tell you, I was never a big Frodo Baggins fan. Sure, he’s the ring bearer for 90% of the books/movies and that has to count for something but really? Save for the whole holding-the-evil-at-bay thing long enough for him to dispose of the One Ring in the fires of Mount Doom what does he really do? For sh*t’s sake, he technically doesn’t even keep the evil at bay long enough to dispose of the ring. Were it not for Gollum’s interference, he likely would have stayed invisible, walked past Sam, out of the cave, back down the slopes of Mount Doom, out of Mordor and into a dark hole somewhere to live out his years. Sauron would have won, The Shire would have started looking like a post-Industrial ruin ala Detroit and… well. I’m guessing you get my point.

But Sam, guys? For me, Sam has been and always will be the true hero of The Lord of the Rings, AND my favorite character. Don’t believe me? Re-reference the above meme and tell me I’m wrong. Please. One particular part of it sticks out in my mind, though:

“Even carries him [Frodo] up Mount Doom.”

Why? Because everyone, at some point in their life needs a Samwise Gamgee. When the going gets to be it’s toughest, everyone needs someone that is willing to pick them up in their weakness, throw them over their shoulder and carry them. We can’t do it on our own. No one is THAT strong.

I’ve encountered many people over the course of my almost 38 year existence on this side of the proverbial wormhole of existence that claim to be that strong but I have never met anyone… EVER… that didn’t need to be carried every so often. Whether carried by someone else or carried by God like in the poem “Footprints” (also a personal “fave,” and I’m not an overly religious person), I consider myself a very strong soul. But there are times in MY life where I’ve needed to rely on my own, personal Samwise Gamgee to cook me a “brace of conies,” or talk me down from doing something stupid like handing the One Ring over to the Nazgul. And oft times I, too, have put a proverbial sword point to that noble person’s neck because I didn’t WANT to keep going. I wanted to give up.

Those people? Top to bottom, from my wife to my mother and my sister to my co-workers to my friends of a couple of months to my friends of a couple of decades… to all of them, I owe an eternal debt of gratitude. As Ed Wilkinson says in ENDWORLD – A Novel, “Wus.” I have no idea what it means. I Googled it and came up with “a derivative of the terms ‘wuss’ and ‘p*ssy'” but my OWN friend, Ed, used to say that too me all the time. I think it’s an Eastern term of endearment. If he’s reading this, maybe he can chime in. And Ed? if you ARE reading this and you really WERE calling me a cross between a wuss and a p*ssy, f-you, buddy. And “wus” right back at you.

But even that is not enough, sometimes. Sometimes, something more is required and that something? My own, personal Samwise Gamgee? That which this blog entry would be dedicated to if it had a dedication page? I’ll give you three guesses and the first two don’t count.

One…

Two…

Three.

Give up? You make me sad. WRITING, ladies and gents. WRITING. When things start to go cuckoo, I always turn to writing. There have been times when I’ve told myself that I wouldn’t: That I’d put it on hold until such time as I… for lack of a better phrase “sort my sh*t out.” But that’s about as realistic as the idea of Gandalf and the Balrog falling through Middle Earth and popping out on the other side to do battle, Gandalf with his sword and staff and the Balrog with his fire… sword, whip, WHATEVER (I’m sure it could morph into a spoon if Bal-lee Baby wanted it to; the perks of being an “ancient evil”).

Last week, I wrote that I was at a crossroads with Children of Endworld. A dark place that I really don’t want to go. But I’ve determined something in the last few days, ladies and gents. I’ve determined that I NEED to keep going for a couple of reasons. First and foremost because people are counting on me to finish it in a reasonable amount of time and not 19 years from now when I’m almost as old as Gandalf (okay, maybe not THAT old; he’s, like, thousands of years old, and I’m a pup by comparison). Those people? The ones that enjoyed ENDWORLD – A Novel and want to read more? Well, I guess I just don’t want to let you down. So either tonight or tomorrow, I’m going to resume what I started and see what happens. Amy Veitz (my editor) be forewarned: Parts One and Two are going to be popping up in your email within a few moments of when I complete this. By virtue of being the person who volunteered to reign in my oft times “tough language” a couple of years ago you get first dibs on William’s continuance. I look forward to hearing back from you. Booyakasha: RESPECT. Winky emoticon. Smiley face.

The second reason? Because writing has always been, for me, my most important Samwise Gamgee. That in no way, shape or form discounts any others from my beloved wife, Nicole, to my friend and brother Matt who once upon a time took me out to Denny’s every night to help me put my life into perspective, and lately has been doing the same. Not Denny’s. We’re too old for a Grand Slam breakfast, nowadays (clogged arteries and all that). Booyakasha to YOU sir. Once again: RESPECT.

But writing? Writing has been the lone constant for me for as long as I can remember. It has carried most of my equipment (or, if you’d prefer, “baggage”). It has never defeated a gigantic spider but it HAS helped me get passed my nightmares. It ALWAYS puts up with my whining (and by God, I do a LOT of whining, you just don’t “hear” it on here). It never saved me single-handedly from an Orc tower but it DID rescue me from a lot. From the loss of my adopted father many moons ago to the saga that was me, and the Feminine Bane of My Early Existence back when we all lived in “Oz” and no one lived anyplace else. It has oft times carried me up the slopes of Mount Doom.

Do I give it enough credit? Probably. Does it deserve more? Again, probably. I owe it to my own, personal Samwise Gamgee to… as Sean Astin historically ad-libbed during the shooting of “Return of the King,” “be rid of it once and for all!

“Come on, Mr. Frodo! I can’t carry it for you, but I can carry you!”

Admit it, guys: You teared up. I still do, every time I see it.

And I always will.

A Pseudo-Madman’s Double Life (Guest Starring Clark Kent/Superman, the Fisher Price Little People, Susan Lucci, the Genie from “Aladdin,” Jerry Siegel, Joe Shuster, Professor River Song and Some Guy Named Frank Marsh)

I lead a double life. Kind of like Clark Kent/Superman but without… well, super powers. I’m not faster than a speeding bullet. Nor am I more powerful than a locomotive. I am unable to leap tall buildings in a single bound unless said buildings are my youngest minion’s Fisher Price Little People play sets. If you look up in the sky, you will see birds and planes, but you will never see me. I dwell here upon the humid, oft times soggy surface of Terra Firma on this side of the proverbial wormhole of existence, somewhere between a little town in eastern Pennsylvania called Broomall and a little town west of Broomall called Royersford, Pennsylvania, with the occasional foray even further west to York, Pennsylvania or south to Baltimore, Maryland.

Despite all this, I do lead a double life. Sadly, mine is not nearly as interesting as the son of Jor El’s so really, why even claim it? Simple: Because it’s true. If you want to know why, I invite you to read on. If not? Thanks for playing. You win nothing! I’m not cruel. I just don’t have anything to give away. But if you’d like a copy of my debut novel, ENDWORLD drop me a line either here, or on any of the myriad other sites that I whore myself out to and I’ll hook you up in exchange for an honest review of my “big, meaty book for summer reading.”

No sexual innuendo intended, guys. I’m a happily married man. That’s what one reviewer called it, though. “Five stars in my log,” she said with an exclamation point. Apparently, a few people agree with her though I wouldn’t know because I’ve only got five total, published reviews between Amazon (four) and Barnes and Noble (one)Which is an incredibly uncouth way of saying “please read and review my book because unless I get 10 positive reviews on Amazon it will never be featured as anything other than an afterthought on any site and will be doomed to obscurity.” I may be biased… ah, who am I kidding? I am biased. ENDWORLD is better than “doomed to obscurity.” I know it.

Seriously, guys. I know I’m not supposed to self-promote on here if I ever want to get Freshly Pressed but I need you on this one. One free copy of ENDWORLD in exchange for an honest review. That’s all I’m asking for. You choose the e-platform: EPUB or MOBI. I can do PDF, as well. Up to you. Get in contact with me and you’ve got it. I’m at 424K on the Kindle Best Seller list currently, which isn’t bad when you consider Amazon’s got over two million titles on their site, but my ranking has been steadily dropping since the end of May after plateauing at 11K. I’m starting to get depressed. I don’t know if I can go on… 

Okay. I admit it: I’m over exaggerating. A lot. It’s all I can do to keep up with my oldest minion who, I have officially concluded, is four going on 14. There are established drama queens less dramatic then her. Don’t get me wrong: I love her and think she’s hysterical, but if nothing else, she’s got quite a career ahead of her on “General Hospital.” Susan Lucci? Eat your heart out. And watch out.

But I digress. This blog entry isn’t about ENDWORLD. Well, not directly. And there’s no better means of turning people away from your product than by whining about it. So I’m not going to whine anymore. I’m going to “stick with the plan.” And that is?

I lead a double life. Really, I do. The truth of this fact really hit home for me earlier today. I was “tweaking” the ENDWORLD site with some new info, and I got an email from a prospective vendor asking me for my name and my title. In the past, I’ve simply written “Office Manager/Inside Sales” without a second thought, but as I wrote it today, I realized that I wasn’t being entirely truthful. And I pride myself on bring truthful. I was being pseudo-truthful–that’s what I am from eight in the AM to five or 5:30 in the PM every Monday through Friday, plus every fourth Saturday–but it ended there. Pseudo. The truth?

The truth is that I am an Office Manager/Inside Sales representative during the time frame specified above.   But from the moment I leave work to the moment I return? I’m something far different. I’m a father/husband/homeowner/”indie” author/eternal optimist and hopeful dreamer. I’m also an avid sports fan though right now, I’m not exactly enchanted by what’s going on in Philly sports. Seriously, Phillies? You win six games in a row, get over 0.500 for the first time all season, get your fan base fired up and then you lose three games to the frackin’ Brewers? They’re the Brewers for God’s sake! They haven’t been better than “slightly above average” since the mid-1980’s. That’s not a knock on Milwaukee, nor is it one on Wisconsin. I love both. Really, I do. But the Brewers? Really? 

Okay. Enough about that. Rooting for the Phillies… h-e-double hockey sticks, rooting for any of the major Philadelphia sports franchises has been a tiring task these last few years. Almost as tiring as self-publication though without the sublime joy of knowing that something you wrote is now available for purchase via Amazon, Barnes and Noble and multiple other sites (links to buy at www.theendworldseries.com under “Where to Buy ENDWORLD – A Novel“)! Pick up your copy TODAY and PLEASE post a review when you’re finished! End the shameless self-promotional portion of our program. I now return you to your regular blog entry, already in progress.

The specter of 2008 still looms largely in my mind. I remember watching my Phightens hoist the Commissioner’s Trophy and thinking that the drought was over… that we were ensured multiple championships not just in baseball, but in football and hockey, as well (basketball? Not so much). How many have we won since? Survey says?

Zero. New York, Pittsburgh and Baltimore have all won at least one. Even Boston’s won one. But Philadelphia? Nada. Zilcho. Zip-a-dee-doo-da, zip-a-dee-aye, my oh my what a crap-tastic time to be a Philadelphia sports fan. And it’s not getting better anytime soon. The Eagles are rebuilding, the Flyers are chronic underachievers and the Sixers? Yeah. Not so much. Dare I pin my hopes on the Soul, again? They started what I thought was going to be a championship renaissance in my hometown back in 2008 by winning the Arena Bowl. Might they be able to do it again? Maybe, but even they’re pretty bad, right now. Which is really just a drawn out way of welcoming you, my readers back to the drought. See you in another 20 or so years on Broad Street. End parenthetical, sports related aside.

I lead a double life. I’m not Clark Kent/Superman. My secret identity is not a costume that I wear beneath the t-shirt and jeans that I sport to work every day, or the dress shirt and slacks that I wear when I visit my York office or travel to Baltimore. It’s the extra Google Chrome screen that I keep hidden on my second monitor. It’s the Word Document that I oft times edit during “down times” like today. You can never see it: It’s hidden beneath a proverbial bank of windows that contain pertinent information to my daily existence. And I rarely do anything but edit or “tweak” while working because despite what you might be thinking, I actually like my job, alias my mundane, routine existence. I’m proud of all that I’ve learned and how good I’ve gotten at what I do in the last almost eight years and I’d rather not risk losing it. So I refrain.

But admittedly? On occasion, one or more of the developing characters in my head–my own, mental Peanut Gallery–cry out for help or attention, much like my youngest minion is fond of doing when she’s playing with her Fisher Price Little People play sets and I’m rehearsing Shakespeare with my older, diva-licious minion, tears and all. Those times? I minimize everything from Outlook to my company Intranet and I answer the call. I may not be faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive or able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. I may not be a bird or a plane but in the subjective universe that exists inside my oft times ridiculed, “big” head? I’m a god. Not the God. There’s only one of them and you’ll know I’m referring to him or her when I capitalize the “G.” But god. A lesser deity with immense, cosmic power… 

And an itty bitty living space, otherwise known as my cubicle. Thank you, Genie from “Aladdin.” Those times? Not even the son of Jor El can stand toe-to-toe with Frank Marsh, though in the grand and not subjective scheme of things, my “power” is nothing compared to his. Assuming, of course, that Superman is a real man. Which he is. Or isn’t. I’m not really sure, but I like to think that somewhere out in the vast multi-verse that is… well, this he exists. Maybe through one of the many other wormholes that pseudo-madmen like me can cross through. Maybe not me, per say, but another one? Most definitely.

I’ll let you in on a little secret, guys. The wormhole that I’m always referring to? The wormholes? It’s… they’re not real. Not tangible. They’re a metaphor for imagination, something that people like me and the guys who created Clark Kent/Superman, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster know about. This side of my proverbial wormhole of existence = IRL. The other side is where ENDWORLD and all my other ideas come from. If you didn’t know that before now there you go. I’ve just revealed a little known secret about me, myself and I. There are others, but I’ll leave them for another time. I can’t give away everything now. As Professor River Song is so fond of saying, “spoilers.”

When I leave my Monday through Friday, and every fourth Saturday mundane, routine existence, there’s no need to wear my disguise, though. I’m like the son of Jor El returning to his Fortress of Solitude. The place where I can just. Be. Me. Not the guy that’s had to learn how to be an engineer in the last almost eight years, but the guy that existed before that. The husband. The father. The homeowner. The eternal optimist and the hopeful dreamer. And the avid, albeit long suffering Philadelphia sports fan. I like that guy too. He’s the guy that’s writing this blog entry, presently. His words? They’re not appearing on a secret Google Chrome screen on his second monitor. They’re appearing on the 13 inch screen of his Samsung, I5 laptop, the same one that he… that I wrote 75 to 80 percent of ENDWORLD on and the same one that I’m currently writing CHILDREN OF ENDWORLD on. Which, by the way, is 70+ pages “to the good.” Part One = Done. I’m taking a day or two off before I begin Part Two. Unless my mental Peanut Gallery cries out in distress before then. Then, like every other super hero that leads a double life, I’ll be obligated to answer the call.

So long as it doesn’t conflict with my youngest minion’s desire to play with her Fisher Price Little People play sets or my oldest minion’s desire to reenact “MacBeth.”

Susan Lucci? Eat your heart out. Watch out. And if you’re reading this? Drop me a line. I’ve got a book I’d love for you to read and review.

😉

In Which I Attempt to Write About Something Other Than My Novel and Fail

Sorry if the title gives away the ending, guys. Note that in it, I wrote “attempt.” As in I have no idea if I’ll be able to, but I’m sure as H-E-double hockey sticks going to try. The thing is? I’ve been so preoccupied with launching ENDWORLD – A NOVEL that I’ve forgotten what it feels like to write about something other than it. That’s no reflection on my state of mind with regards to it, i.e. I’m not exacerbated with it. Quite the contrary: I’m quite pleased with how it’s doing so far, and the reception that it’s gotten. Mind you, it’s only received one review (Booyakasha, Anonymous; Respect)–a positive one, I should add–and I have no idea what all the other people that have bought it and are reading it think of it. But I’m optimistic. I’ve always been pleased with it, even back when it was a 200 page (and some change; I think the original draft was 207 pages), fictional autobiography of my life. Will others be? That remains the ten thousand dollar question, guys. Pleased or not, I did my part. My “due diligence ” if you will. Regardless of the reception it gets, I published what I felt was a good novel. I’m planning on writing two more. And some other stuff, too, but that “stuff?” I’m not going to show that hand yet. As Philip Henslowe said in “Shakespeare in Love”:

That said? I have officially f*cked up my “attempt” to not write about ENDWORLD – A NOVEL within a paragraph of when I started writing this blog entry. Survey says?

FAIL. But at least I got to embed one of my favorite scenes from one of my favorite movies in this blog entry.

Mysteries. Life’s full of ’em. The eventual success or failure of my debut novel is just one of them. Solving the mysteries that I encounter on this side of the proverbial wormhole of existence has been a driving force in my life for years. I’m not talking about X-Files-esque mysteries like the existence of life on other planets (“It’d be an awful waste of space if there wasn’t,” right Mister Sagan?). Nor am I talking about philosophical or spiritual mysteries like the existence of God or a God Particle (I believe in both, if that’s even feasible). I’m talking about lesser, more personal mysteries like the one I asked all throughout my early twenties, “will I ever find happiness?” FACT: I did. Or the one that I’ve been asking since I was a proverbial babe of 19, working in the damp and dusty periodical room of a college, “am I capable of writing a novel?” FACT again: I was. I did. Actually, I’ve written three. I’ve rewritten one and I’ve already started rewriting the second.

Will I be a good father? I hope I am, though there are days when I question it (generally every Bath Night, which as I posted on Facebook and Twitter last evening is, I have concluded, the sum total of all the bad sh*t I’ve done in my life being revisited upon me by the Almighty). Am I a good husband? Well, Nicole rarely complains though I’m sure there are things about me that she would change if she could (note that I wrote “rarely” and not “never”). BTW, sweetie, that’s not an invitation to comment about excessive flatulence, BO or something similar here on “Random Musings.” If you have a problem with any of the above things please, let me know privately. Or, if you want, you can DM me via Facebook or Twitter. We are, after all, living in a world dominated by social media. Why shouldn’t we converse via the internet? If we do that, you can watch “The Voice” or play Candy Crush Saga while I “tweak” ENDWORLD – A NOVEL‘s Amazon or NOOK listing and listen to the soundtrack to “Tron: Legacy.”

Sarcasm fully intended, sweetie. I like talking to you IRL, even if said conversations consist of a series of acknowledging grunts and sighs when one of the girls awakens from her slumber, or a car alarm goes off at three in the f*cking AM after you’ve worked a 17 hour shift prepping for your inventory and I’m still damp from getting splashed repeatedly by Cara on Bath Night. F*cking Bath Night. I swear to God, the God Particle and/or the Almighty, Bath Night is the Bane of my Current Existence.

See? Another mystery solved. I’ve been searching for the Bane of my Current Existence ever since I retired the Feminine Bane of my Early Existence X-amount of years ago. Bath Night? It’s the early front runner. That said, whenever I refer to “The Bane of my Current Existence” from now on remember that it = Bath Night. At least until I find a better one. Jeezy-peezy, one of these days I’m going to put together a glossary of Frankisms and post it on my sidebar for those of you that haven’t the slightest frackin’ idea what I’m talking about when I say things like that, or I refer to people as…

Yeah. I know. I almost went there. Good thing I stopped myself, huh? That word = Still on sabbatical until such time as I either A.) Recoup the money I spent to prep ENDWORLD – A NOVEL for publication or B.) Simply can’t hold back my desire to remind all y’all that “the world is full of PLURALIZED BLANK” again. Knowing me, the latter is a lot more feasible than the former.

Incidentally, the above AVI file is a scene from the movie “Puss in Boots.” “Puss in Boots” is one of Cara’s favorite flicks, currently. It ranks up there with “Tangled” and “Caillou’s Holiday Movie” as one of her own, personal all time greats. If you haven’t seen it yet, I highly recommend it. Even if you, like me, couldn’t stand the “Shrek” movies. Talk about ideas based solely on excessive flatulence and BO (with a little fairy tale mash-up thrown in for good measure). IMO, the “Shrek” movies represent a nadir in the animated feature film that has blessedly been redeemed in recent years by movies like “How to Train Your Dragon” and “The Princess and the Frog.” Not to mention “Toy Story 3” and “Brave,” the latter of which was not perfect, but was definitely better than anything in the “Shrek” franchise.  I’m hoping that trend continues with “Monsters University” this summer, the sequel to another of Cara’s most requested movies.

While I’m on it, here is what I presume to be Cara’s list of the Top Five, best movies ever made:

  1. “Tangled”: Hand’s down her favorite movie. She never gets tired of watching it, or playing Rapunzel. Daddy normally gets to play Eugene or Max, Natalie plays Pascal and Mommy? Sadly, Mommy gets the unforgiving role of Mother Gothel. Every. TIME. I derive no satisfaction from that, BTW. None, whatsoever. Um… yeah. None. MOVING ON.
  2. “Finding Nemo”: Who doesn’t love this movie? Lovable characters? Check. Adventure? Check. A completely unheralded, burgeoning romance between Marlin and Dory? Check, check, check-skee. Oh, come on. You didn’t see that when you watched it? I’m sorry if I ruined your childhood. Me, personally? I’m holding out hope that the forthcoming sequel, “Finding Dory” ends with her and Marlin tying the knot. Maybe in a ceremony presided over by Bruce the Shark. Remember, “Fish are friends, not food.”
  3. “Caillou’s Holiday Movie”: Honestly? I don’t get the appeal of Caillou. I’ve heard all the arguments for the little guy. Primary colors. Morality lessons about everything from how to treat others to how not to run in the park wearing sandals (okay, so the latter isn’t really a morality lesson; it’s more of a common sense one, i.e. what idiot runs in sandals?). Music. Short episodes to mirror the short attention span of toddlers, preschoolers et al. Teachers praise it. Cara loves it. And Natalie already recognizes it. But “Caillou’s Holiday Movie” is an exercise in excess. I can take one, two or even three vignettes at a time. But a full length movie made up of a dozen of them, all tied together by a singular, flimsy thread, i.e. Caillou’s desire for Santa to bring him a toy space station? Come on. It’s too much. And the songs in it? Sadly infectious. They pollute your brain like a virus until one morning, when you’re getting ready for work, you find yourself humming “Bent and Tiny Christmas Tree” to yourself in the shower. A lesser man would hang himself as soon as that happened but me? I persevered. That’s not to say I didn’t want to off myself when it happened. I simply chose not to.
  4. Any hour long “Dora the Explorer” special: It could be “Dora and the Enchanted Forest Part One,” “Part Two” or “Part Infinity.” It could be “Dora and the Snow Princess.” If it’s more than 28 minutes long it’s automatically one of her favorite movies. Unless it’s “Dora Rocks” or “Dora’s Fantastic Gymnastics.” Both are only 30 minutes long and both are repeated viewing in the Marsh household.
  5. “Puss in Boots”: Next to “Finding Nemo,” this is my favorite of her favorites. How many of you reading this saw “Django Unchained?” Think an old-school, modernized western like “Django” but without the excessive use of the N-word, a blood splattered Plantation or Leo Dicaprio’s totally underrated performance (not that I minded the Academy giving the Oscar to Christoph Waltz but seriously? DiCaprio and Sam Jackson were both better in their respective roles). Less violence, too. That’s “Puss in Boots.” It’s worth it, if only for the Dance Battle. Trust me: You’ll understand better when you see it.

“Monster’s Inc.,” “Cinderella” and “Brother Bear” get honorable mentions. Those of you that think on the basis of what I just wrote that Nicole and I let Cara watch too much television rest assured: We don’t. Other than the occasional movie that she only gets to watch when she’s either A.) Good or B.) Too much of a handful to control without a Disney movie, a juice box and a bowl of Cheez-Its, the only time she generally watches television is in spurts between six and 8:30 in the PM. The rest of the time we’re either playing, or drawing, or making puzzles, or going to the park/mall/Target/Target for Daddies (AKA Home Depot)/food store/Linvilla Orchards, or going to visit family and friends… I’m sure you get the idea. My life at this juncture… my schedule is anything but open, guys. That’s why it never ceases to amaze me when I have time to write a blog entry like this one. Monster Energy Drinks help immensely with that last.

How do I do it? I don’t know. Once again, “it’s a mystery.” One of the many that I find myself grappling with presently. Not mysteries of cosmic significance, and not even the ones that I dealt with in the past like “what causes a Biological to leave his children behind him and flee west?” That one, along with the mystery of the Feminine Bane of my Early Existence, has been officially retired at this juncture. C’est la vie. No more. Thank f*cking God, the God Particle and/or the Almighty. I’m glad, really. I’d much rather ponder lesser mysteries like “what the f*ck is in Gogurt that makes it so appealing to children,” “why do people love Bieber” and “why does my house always smell like a**?” Those mysteries? They remain unsolved for me, a still pseudo-mad denizen of this side of the proverbial wormhole of existence. Just because I’m published now doesn’t change that. if anything, it compounds it. Hopefully you’re as happy about that as I am.

And that, guys? That’s about all I’ve got for today. I’d like to thank “Random Musings of a Pseudo-Madman Version 2.0” for giving me an outlet to write that is only loosely linked to ENDWORLD – A NOVEL which, I should add, is NOW AVAILABLE to purchase from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, in the iBookstore, for your Kobo, via Smashwords or in print at Createspace! Get your copy, today!

Begin and end shameless, self-promotion. If you’re interested in more of it, though, you can check out the book’s website, http://www.theendworldseries.com for “everything and anything related to ENDWORLD – A NOVEL and THE ENDWORLD SERIES!”  

Okay. Enough already. I get it. Really. I’ll stop. MOVING ON, this process was incredibly therapeutic  It was nice… damn nice to spend some time just writing. I didn’t feel like I needed to check Kindle Direct, NOOK Press, Createspace or Smashwords and guesstimate how many units of my book I’ve sold/how many have been downloaded. I didn’t feel like I had to check my Twitter feed, or check Facebook, or answer emails and texts, DMs  et al. The nice thing about “Random Musings” is that it gives me a place to just. Be. ME. The Madchronicler, otherwise known as Frank Marsh: A regular Joe Schmoe in the grand scheme of things, and a self-proclaimed…

You know it, fellow you-know-whats. You know it. Have a great day. Booyakasha. Respect.

A Pi Day Reflection on High Blood Sugar, “Pinky and the Brain,” a 1200 Word Short Story, Purpose and an Un-extraordinary Life

Good day, everyone! Happy Pi Day! No, I’m not talking about “pie.” I’m talking about Pi, alias the irrational number that we all learned about in math: 3.14 et cetera, et cetera. Though a piece of pie would taste good to this sugar-deprived, pseudo-madman right about now. Sadly, my desire for a piece of pie will have to remain unfulfilled until such time as I reduce my blood sugar from where it is to a manageable number sans medication. Thanks, Doc L. I know you’ve got my best interests in mind, but really? Depriving me of pie… of anything with sugar in it is almost as bad as depriving me of caffeine. At least I can get the latter with no sugar in it. I can’t exactly get sugar without sugar.

Oh f*ck. I’ve gone cross-eyed again.

Believe it or not, Pi Day, irrational numbers and my sugar intake (or lack thereof) are not the things perplexing my oft perplexed mind, currently. In truth? There really isn’t anything new perplexing me save for the same sh*t that has been on my mind for the last couple of weeks (book stuff, of which you guys are already aware). Instead, I’m reflective. Yesterday, at the urging of my wife, I did something that I never thought I’d do. I entered a short story in a contest. But not just any old contest. I’ve done that plenty of times before this. No, guys. I entered a short story in a contest sponsored by an organization that specializes in giving non-professional authors like myself with children an opportunity to showcase their work. Sounds innocent enough, right?

And it is. In fact, I’m very impressed with the organization and what it stands for. So why write that its “something that I never thought I’d do?” There are multiple reasons, none of which reflect poorly on the organization in question or others like it. Primarily? I wrote that because X-amount of years ago when I wrote “The Wandering Seeker,” I never dreamed that the scene portrayed in it would be a scene from my own life.

I don’t know if I can publish it here on “Random Musings of a Pseudo-Madman.” That’s http://www.randommusingsofapseudomadman.com. Yes, I wrote “.com,” and not “.wordpress.com.” I have, as of yesterday afternoon, purchased the domain name though really? The prospect of anyone ever using a domain name even remotely similar to it is pretty remote. What can I say? It’s a part of my ongoing bid to dominate the internet on my side of the proverbial wormhole of existence. I already own “frankmarsh.net” and am eyeing up “frankmarsh.com” if the person in DC that holds it ever relinquishes it. To quote one of my all time favorite cartoons:

Pay no attention to the snippet of Raul Julia from “Street Fighter: The Movie” at the end of the clip. I’m sorry, but it was the cleanest one I could find on Youtube. And really, WTF does Raul Julia have to do with “Pinky and the Brain?” Note to self: Make sure to tag this blog entry with “randomness,” as well, when completed. Thanks for f*cking my world up, WelsheyOneder.

But I digress. I was writing that I don’t know if I can publish “The Wandering Seeker” here because of the contest rules. No submissions of previously published material can be entered. Once I put something on “Random Musings” it becomes a part of the Eminent Public Domain. I don’t know if blog publishing counts as publishing so rather than risk it, I think I’ll deign to not post it. That doesn’t mean I can’t tell you about it, though.

In short (and it had to be: 1200 words max; limiting a short story to 1200 words is almost as daunting a task as writing a novel, at least for my long-winded a**), “The Wandering Seeker” is the story of a father who is awakened in the middle of the night by his daughter whimpering in the room next to his. He goes into check on her and asks her what’s wrong. She informs him that she heard crying outside her window and it woke her up. “Oh, that’s nothing,” the father says, “that’s just the Wandering Seeker.” She asks him who the Wandering Seeker is and he tells her a story about a person that used to wander the world… “the worlds” searching for answers. His travels took him many places but in the end? He ended up settling for a normal life and not an abnormal, pseudo-chaotic one. He met a woman, fell in love with and married her. He had a couple of kids. “He doesn’t wander anymore.” The tears that the man’s daughter heard? They were an echo of the Wandering Seeker’s tears. “He cried because he didn’t have a family to love” her father tells her, “but now? He doesn’t wander anymore. He’s stopped crying. But occasionally you can hear him on nights like this one.”

There’s a bit more but rather than ruin the O’Henry ending (which, if you know me is pretty predictable), I think I’ll stop there. Keep your fingers crossed, guys. I’m still waiting for my “big break” and while I don’t know if this could be it, the reward and the platform said reward would provide me would be very, very beneficial to a burgeoning writer, about to publish his first novel. But the contest? It really is supplemental to the story: A story which I wrote long before I met Nicole.

You see, “The Wandering Seeker” was another one of my early-adulthood attempts to envision my life as I desired it to beand not as it was at the time. But the amazing thing about it? As opposed to my other attempts to write “Autobiographical Fiction,” the events depicted in “The Wandering Seeker?” Well sh*t. They came true. Everything down to the color and style of my wife’s hair in it (brown and curly, a part of the story which I was, sadly, forced to edit out to get it under 1200 words), the color of my daughter’s eyes, her age and the style of her own hair (aspects of the story that I did retain; in essence, I made it 1200 words about a father and his daughter and not 2000 words about a father and his family).

Now, you could argue this eventuality a couple of ways. You could say that the story, which was written with my ideal in mind some 15 plus, very odd years ago could not help but come true. You could say that I would not have settled for anything less than the woman pictured in the story and the little girl that was, quite obviously, a hybrid of her appearance and my own. Contrary to that interpretation is another, though. One word… a word that I’m leery of attaching to anything for fear of either sounding like someone not grounded in reality, alias someone who believes in things like the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny. Or that Pi has a final number. That word? Fate. Or destiny. Or any number of other synonyms that exist.

Let me be frank with you, guys (no pun intended, or course): I don’t believe in fate, destiny or whatever you want to call it. I believe in pulling myself up by my bootstraps. I believe in free will. But I do believe that we all have a purpose and that purpose is hard-wired into our souls pre-conception. Getting there? It’s up to us. Some of us achieve our purpose and some of us don’t. How we are judged by the almighty for our incapacity to either use what he or she gave us or not is purely speculation on my part. I won’t know if I succeeded until I’m gone from this world… from these worlds. Even then I may not know. But I trust in the belief that I have clung to since I was a child. If one day, I die and find out that it was all a farce? Well sh*t. It won’t be the first time someone played a cruel joke on me. Hardy har-har. Insert pie in the face here. 

But being a good husband and father? I truly believe that those things are a part of, if not my whole purpose. The scene that I pictured in my story? It was bound to happen, but not because it was destined to. Nor because I had the foresight to extrapolate what mine and my ideal woman’s daughter would look like at 20-something years young. I don’t even know that I could do that now at 37, going on 38 years old. It happened because when God or whatever gods you believe in was dolling out souls back in late 1974 and early 1975, he or she took one look at the wispy “stuff” that was going to make up mine and said, “do you know what? This one? He’s going to be a good husband and a good dad. He’s going to put his family before anything and everything else in his life. If his daughter calls his name crying in the middle of the night, he’s not going to roll over and cover his head with a pillow. He’s going to get up, no matter how drowsy he is, and make his way groggily into her room. He’s going to sit with her and tell her a story. I’ll let him decide the content of it.”

That’s me, folks. About as plain as can be, really. I’ve been summed up in many ways by many, different people over the course of my… for the most part… un-extraordinary life. Some have called me a lover. Some, a fighter. Some, a big p*ssy and some a fedora and trench coat wearing elitist (you know who you are). I really could give a flying f*ck what people think of me. Some may believe that this blog is just another means of me, drawing undue attention to myself and I’ll concede that while I don’t believe that people always embody the traits of the Zodiac sign that they were born under–mine was Leo, BTW–that particular trait? Yep. I do have it. But only to a degree. I am also humble. I believe that everything that I have, pre-programmed or not, is a gift. And I cherish it. My family? My ability to write? My sometimes quirky sense of humor? My capacity to love unconditionally? All. 

I mentioned earlier in this blog post that I was not perplexed, but reflective. I’m reflective about where I am now this chilly, mid-March Pi Day in 2013, and where I was then, an undetermined day of an undetermined month some 15 plus, very odd years ago when I first wrote “The Wandering Seeker.” Back then, the life that I have now was a dream. Today? Well, guys, I may not yet be a published writer… I may only be a part of the Eminent Public Domain currently… whatever I am, there is one thing that I am for sure. And that is? If you know me you already know the answer. I’m the guy who got out of bed and told one of, or both of his whimpering daughters the story of the Wandering Seeker. Beyond that?

Well sh*t. You don’t want me to give away the O’Henry ending now, do you?

“They’re Pinky, they’re Pinky and the Brain Brain Brain Brain Brain.

🙂