On Being An Artist Extraordinaire (Pronounced “Ar-teest”)

Last evening, something pretty awesome happened in my subjective reality on this side of the proverbial wormhole of existence. Yes, I said “awesome.” What can I say? I am a child of the 80’s and back then, awesome was arguably the most used superlative (runners-up: Gnarly, rad (as in “radical”) and excellent). We–as in Nicole, Cara, Natalie and I–were fully engrossed in our nightly routine: In our PJs and “settled” with the Good Night Show on in the background. Nicole and Cara were playing tic-tac-toe, i.e. Cara’s new, favorite game. They were doing so on her new, Barbie Doodler when Natalie… the best way I can describe it is “toddled up.”

Picture this, if you will: Curly, crazy hair. chubby cheeks, a pair of “Heal the World” PJs and a bottle hanging out of her mouth. Always smiling, unless you take her last bottle away from her or try to put her to bed before she’s ready. I’d post a picture of her herein but I’m leery of plastering my kids’ faces all over the internet and always have been. Anywhos, she “toddles up” to Nicole and Cara, grabs the pencil that you draw on the doodler with in her right hand, holds it almost as well as I hold a pen, and starts… well, doodling.

It wasn’t anything too out of the ordinary: Just some scribbling, punctuated by the occasionally triumphant “anh!” or “Hodor!” Yes, I wrote Hodor. I swear that Natalie’s taken to saying that, recently. If you are a fan of either the Game of Thrones television series or books then you understand the significance. If not? Well, my wife thinks she’s trying to say “what’s that” and it comes out sounding like “Hodor” but me? Come on. The kid has a dragon named Smaug and saw the Lord of the Rings movies for the first time when she was two months old. Ya’ think I’m trying to instill my interests in her at an early age? Survey says: Undoubtedly.

But I was visibly shocked. I couldn’t believe it. We couldn’t even get Cara to hold a crayon pre-turning two and even then, she wasn’t really interested. But Natalie? Fourteen months young and counting and she’s already holding a “pencil” perfectly and understands what to do with it. I immediately went into the playroom which adjoins and generally overflows into our living room, got a crayon and a pad of paper, came back into the room, sat down on the floor with both, motioned Natalie over (she came), and handed her the crayon. What did she do? She sat down on the floor, the nipple of her bottle still clamped between her teeth, and started scribbling. Scribble. “Anh!” Scribble some more. “Hodor!”

I was so gul’darned proud. This went on for about five more minutes before she lost interest and started attempting to eat the crayon which I quickly stopped. Thereafter she went back to her “ba-ba” and Wibbly Pig and all returned to normal. But for just one singular moment in whatever passes for time ’round these parts, an entire future passed before my eyes. The too-be-told story of Natalie Marsh, Artist (pronounced phonetically as “Ar-teest”) Extraordinaire.

It’s no secret to anyone that knows me and knows Nicole that Cara almost immediately adopted her mother’s personality. She’s analytically inclined (as much as a four year old can be), well-spoken, can already count to 70 (with a little bit of help) and knows how to add and subtract using props, i.e. fingers or Cheerios. She knew how to spell her name shortly after she turned three and was able to write it by three and a half (though she’s still having difficulty with her “R’s.” Hey, “R’s” not an easy letter to master!). But numbers? Numbers are her passion. Much like my wife, who as you may or may not know is a pharmacist (sarcasm fully intended; if you don’t know that by now then you’re not reading the right “Random Musings”). I’m not bragging guys, i.e. my kid is smarter than your kid. I would never do that. I’m just stating the facts. “Just the facts, sir. Just the facts.”

But what about me? What about my characteristics? Save for a slightly twisted sense of humor–she’s fond of making a special trip to sit and “toot” on Daddy’s leg before laughing like a loon and walking away–an expansive imagination and a penchant for over-dramatics, she’s about 70% Nicole and 30% me. Which is fine. I will never complain. Nicole’s my wife and Cara’s my daughter, and I love her… love them implicitly.

But Natalie? It’s like she adopted her Daddy’s personality from day one. She’s stubborn, knows what she wants, gets emotional when she doesn’t get it, loves hugs, fancies a good drink (milk, in her case, Scotch in mine) and now? Now, she’s showing an early, artistic penchant. And this? To have a child that has the potential to not just be yours but to be like you? It’s the most awesome, gnarly, rad and excellent thing that can possibly happen to a parent.

Nicole’s taking the minions out to Target, today, to get Natalie her own crayons. “My First Crayola Washable Crayons” and if you have toddlers and haven’t tried them yet please: Try ’em. I’ll even link them for you HERE. Let me know what you think. And I’ll be sure to keep you abreast of Natalie’s burgeoning career as an artist (again, pronounced “ar-teest”) moving forward.

I could speculate on where Natalie might go from here. I could come up with a whole scenario involving her being an artistic prodigy: About her rising up through the ranks of that particular society and having her first gallery showing at age 10. I could. Heck, what parent doesn’t envision a successful life for their minions? I could even postulate about a collaboration with her dad one day in which she illustrates something that he wrote. I see a picture in my mind of me, older, grayer and hopefully thinner, standing next to her with her crazy, curly hair, each of us holding up a book that I wrote and she created the cover for. That, guys? That’s a pleasant vision.

I know I’m a dreamer. It’s who I am, who I was and who I’ll always be. I want the fantasy. You know, the one that I envisioned years ago after eating a really bad bowl of New England Clam Chowder, back when I lived somewhere between Indianapolis, Indiana and Abington, Pennsylvania and no one lived anyplace else. You don’t? Okay. I promise that one day in the near future I’ll tell you more about it. But this isn’t about my dream for me. It’s about my kids. And I’m allowed to dream about my kids and their lives 10, 20 years from now, aren’t I? Of course I am. It’s part of being a parent. I believe in supporting them in whatever they choose to do. After all, that was what my mother did for me regardless of her own, personal biases towards certain careers that I considered. Booyakasha, Mom-Mom Minnie: RESPECT.

But for me, this isn’t about Natalie’s burgeoning career as the next Salvador Dali. Heck, she might abandon her new crayons all together next week. It’s about one of my girls showing an inclination toward the type of person that I am, however briefly. Not that showing an inclination toward Nicole is or would be a bad thing. Quite the contrary: I think it’s great that Cara’s so much like her Mommy and if Natalie ends up being the same? Awesome, gnarly, rad and excellent. But I take a great deal of pride in even the remotest possibility that one day, Natalie might be an “ar-teest” extraordinaire like her Daddy is, or wants to be (whether I am or am not I leave for you to decide).

But I would caution her the same thing that people cautioned me for years. That path? It’s not lined with rubies and emeralds, i.e. it’s not always profitable or socially acceptable. It’s a struggle for a long time. Heck, it still is. Just because I published a book and it’s sold modestly well up until this point doesn’t mean that I’m a successful author. Heck, I haven’t even broken even yet though I’m pretty close. I’m closer to relevancy than I was before, when ENDWORLD – A Novel was little more than a file on my old HP 286 with the monochrome screen. But it’s not my career. Not yet, at least. But I’m one step closer to it being so than I was a couple of years ago and that? That is a comforting thought. For me and, I hope, for my wife and my minions.

Bring an artist? You have to work at it daily and when you’re tired of working at it? You have to work at it some more. That’s the only way it ever goes from being a hobby to a career. You’re not always going to be accepted. Quite the contrary: Career-types discount people that write, or draw, or sculpt because of the age-old stereotype of the starving artist. That’s understandable, and that is not, I repeat NOT a knock on people that chose a profession. I married one of those people. Some of my closest compadres are doctors, lawyers et al. I love them and admire them all the more for their accomplishments.

But the idea of the starving artist? It exists. It pervades our society. Some of the greatest “ar-teests” in history were. Van Gogh was a pauper who was never recognized until after he died. Dylan Thomas chose a life of poverty as a “minor artist” because it offered him a different way of living, albeit a way that inspired him. Henry Miller was a Bohemian. I could list other names but to do so would be counterproductive. There are a thousand and one, both known and unknown that meet the classification.

But what the white-collar, career-types despite my respect for them and what they have accomplished in their lives don’t always take into account is that starving artists? They worked and are working just as hard and at times harder than them. Art? It is their career, however un-fulfilling it is monetarily. And the rewards for the ones that stick it out and find eventual success? Relevancy? They are the dream, i.e. the rubies and the emeralds. Not many people can say that they’re living their dream existence on this, or any side of the wormhole but me? Well, I may not be living it now but I still believe that one day, I will. By the grace of a sometimes humorless universe, I still believe in the fantasy that was spawned by a bowl of Bad New England Clam Chowder so many moons ago. And I will continue to work toward it, ’cause it’s what I chose. It’s who I am. Not the whole “me,” but a gul’darned big part of it.

I just talked to Nicole a couple of moments ago. She, Cara and Natalie went to Target despite the torrential rain that has been pounding southeastern Pennsylvania since I woke up this AM. They didn’t have My First Crayola Washable Crayons so instead, Natalie got jumbo ones and Cara got markers to practice not only writing her name and playing tic-tac-toe, but drawing, as well (she actually does a really good face, and a few weeks ago, she drew a whale that I actually recognized as a whale). She–Cara–has taken an interest in drawing houses, lately, and I showed her the rudimentary way to do it: One square, a triangle on top… you know what I’m talking about. Maybe she’s got an artist in her, as well. Maybe Natalie will be the doctor. Maybe they both’ll be white-collar career types or maybe they’ll both be starving artists. Whatever they become in the next 10, 20 years I will love them implicitly, and I look forward to seeing them grow, and develop. And if, one day, my dream of collaborating on a book with one, or both of them comes true?

Well, guys? That would be pretty awesome, gnarly, rad and excellent, all at once.

All together now: “Hodor!”

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In Which I Blog Backwards

You read the “headline” of this blog entry right, guys. “In Which I Blog Backwards.” I’m actually going to write my closing statement first, which means you get a quick payoff. Thereafter you can go about your merry, non-sleep deprived business, unlike those of us who are already counting down the hours until we can go back to sleep. For the record? A shade under 12 hours by my best estimation. Analysis? This is going to be a long f*cking day. But in the past, sleep deprivation has equaled creativity for your old buddy the Madchronicler. So this could be really good. Or really bad. I don’t know. “It’s a mystery.”

Anywhos, the payoff. Here you go: Only a parent can comprehend the sheer horror of a child or children, not sleeping the night before said parent has to return to work after a three day weekend. Likewise, only a parent can appreciate the utter contentment of falling asleep, even for a whopping 15 minutes with their formerly wakeful child (or children) passed out on their chest. That is, until fatigue sets in an hour later while they’re driving to work and they almost crash the rental they’re driving in to a ditch.

Winky emoticon. Smiley face. Have a great week.

There you go. If you want, you can stop reading now. Or, you can read on and see how I ended up there. Or here. I guess it all depends on your perspective. I think I went cross-eyed again. Time to crack Monster Ultra Energy Drink numero uno. I have no idea how many of these I will go through between now and… 11 hours and 40 minutes from now. I know you’re not supposed to ingest more than three in a 24 hour period but seriously, guys? I don’t know if three’s going to cut it. I’m pretty foggy, right now. Dear Body: Please give me a caffeine consumption exemption for today. Por favor, no heart palpitations. I just want to remain clear-headed enough to get some work done. I promise I’ll return to my max limit of two MUEDs tomorrow. Do we have an accord?

I have no idea what I just wrote. Something about energy drinks and Spanish. Seriously. I need to go back and reread it before I continue. BRB.

Okay. Done. T-minus 11 hours and 15 minutes now until I can place my weary head down on my pillow. Assuming my minions cooperate, tonight. I honestly believed that they’d cooperated last night. Everything went swimmingly. Both girls were bathed, watered and in bed by nine PM. Nicole and I were watching “Game of Thrones” by 9:15 and “The Killing” by 10:15. Ah, Slit Your Wrists Sunday, otherwise known as the most depressing television night of the week. It didn’t help SYWS’ cause that last night’s eppy of “Game”–“The Rains of Castamere”–will go down as arguably the most gruesome and depressing episode of the show’s three year run, but I’ll spare those of you that haven’t seen it yet any spoilers save for (SPOILER ALERT) this little meme that has been circulating since the credits rolled, last night:

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Ladies and gentlemen? George R R Martin. For the record, please note that I did say “SPOILER ALERT” above so spare me the hate mail/hateful comments. It’s also not really a spoiler: Anyone who was watching when they killed Eddard “Ned” Stark in Season One knows, even without reading the books, that GRRM has no qualms about killing off his main characters. It’s all part of the whole “Game of Thrones”/”A Song of Ice and Fire” experience. The BLANK or “RW,” as portrayed in both the television series and the books is just another way that GRRM equal parts embraces us and shuns us as fans of his work. And I f*cking love that about him, which makes me equal parts a fan and a guy that wants to kick him in the nads if I ever meet him. Dear George: I love you. But I also hate you. Please, finish book six really, really soon so I can see what happens to the few remaining, favorite characters I have left. Sincerely, Me, AKA A Die-Hard, Stone Cold Fan of Everything and Anything “A Song of Ice and Fire.”

But I digress. Sh*t, when do I ever not? As the midnight hour rolled around and all remained quiet in the Marsh household, Nicole and I finished our SYWS routine by watching a couple of episodes of “Friends” before bed. We turned off the television and closed our eyes at approximately 12:30 AM. The sound of the rain falling against our windows lulled us to sleep. Thereafter? All h-e-double hockey sticks broke loose.

It started with my oldest (an enigma in and of itself; normally it’s my youngest that kicks off the late night/early morning festivities). At approximately 1:30 AM I heard Cara in the hallway outside of our room. I got up, and stepped out. She was standing outside our doors crying. I asked her what was wrong and she tearfully informed me that she had “changed her underwear” because the one’s she had been wearing “were dirty, Daddy.” That was all.

I escorted her back to her room, got her a drink, removed her “dirty” underwear from her bed (they actually weren’t dirty; not sure what happened there) and got her back under her covers. Within a minute of when I did so she had fallen back to sleep. I include this herein not because of it’s impact: Had she simply gone back to bed and had nothing else happened I would have been fine, albeit a bit groggy this AM. Nothing new for a guy accustomed to writing until one or two in the morning some nights, and certainly nothing a Monster Ultra Energy Drink couldn’t cure. Nor do I include it for comic relief i.e. my four year old, recently bathed daughter changing her clean undies in the middle of the night for no foreseeable reason.  I include it as a proverbial Prologue to the story. Her part = Over. Kinda’ like CENSORED’s role in “A Song of Ice and Fire,” but without pissed off daddy’s/granddaddy’s that vaguely resemble Filch from the Harry Potter movies.

I crawled back under my covers and closed my eyes. I listened to the rain–the Rains of Broomall–falling against our windows. All was quiet. Peaceful. I started to nod off. Then, as quick as a crossbow bolt fired from a balcony, I heard a preemptive whine from my younger minion. It was followed by another. And another. And did she just say “Mom,” too? The realization hit me like… well, like a crossbow bolt fired from a balcony (sorry, guys, but fogginess = The reuse of the same metaphor, potentially on multiple occasions). She wasn’t just stirring. She was waking up.

I laid in bed for a moment and prayed for it to subside but I knew better. Natalie’s been gracing us with her presence for over a year now (one year old as of last Thursday; Happy Birthday, Natal-ya!) and if there’s one thing I’ve learned about her it’s this: When the whines in the middle of the night are unintelligible she’s just having a dream, or experiencing a Night Terror per the pediatrician. But when words like “Mom,” “Da,” “Ba-Ba” and occasionally “Ca-Wa” can be discerned between the whines? Yeppers, boys and girls: We’re f*cked. And be “we’re” I mean me and Nicole. Cara could sleep through the apocalypse if given the opportunity which, hopefully, she won’t be but Natalie? I swear that kid hears a pin drop and wakes up.

After a few, anxious moments I stood and made my way into her room. She was standing in her crib waiting for me. I picked her up and held her. She wanted “down.” So I put her down. She proceeded to head over to her “NATALIE” bench–i.e. the ones you buy at Pottery Barn Kids that have the letters of the child’s name embedded in them like puzzle pieces. She removed all the pieces and begin playing with them by the light of her nightlight, “coo’ing” like the most contented toddler in the whole. Wide. World. After a few moments of letting her play she started rubbing her eyes. I relocated her to her crib along with the puzzle pieces. Survey says: Bad move. As soon as her rear hit the mattress more crying and gnashing of teeth ensued. She likely would have rend’ed her garments too had she been wearing a shirt and pants. Thank God for PJ onesies.

I left her for a few moments but after about 10 (or 120; I honestly don’t know what time it was when I left her/went back to mine and Nicole’s room), I simply realized the inevitable: Sleep wasn’t going to happen. Not for me, not for Nicole and not for Natalie. So I gave up, went back into her room, and relocated her downstairs to the combination living room/playroom around five or so in the AM.

A quick parenthetical aside (as I crack MUED numero dos and look at the clock–t-minus six hours and 15 minutes until I can, hypothetically, rest): Had I known how grating the Fisher Price Disney Princess Little People Castle sounded at five in the BLEEPING AM, I never would have gotten it for her for her birthday. No lie, it’s like finger nails on a chalkboard just… without a slate. Or chalk. Or even a classroom. End parenthetical aside.

Anywhos, once downstairs, Natalie was as happy as a clam. Around 5:30, she started rubbing her eyes, again. I got her her morning “ba-ba” which she drank on my lap until she passed out 5:55 in the AM. Mind you, most days this kid sleeps until at least seven so this = Highly unusual. I carefully shifted my position until she was lying belly-down on top of me and closed my own eyes. Cue 20 minutes of restful bliss until Nicole got out of bed, Natalie heard her, woke up, started “mom, mom, mom’ing” like it was going out of style and that, friends and countrymen/countrywomen? That was my night.

In summation? Total time spent consoling the minions between 1:30 and 6:30 in the AM roughly two or three hours (I can’t really be sure because I was kinda’ a zombie for part of it); total time spent nodding in and out of sleep one and a half or two and a half hours depending on your perspective and total time spent actually sleeping? Ayuh. Twenty glorious minutes. Amount of rain dumped upon my area of DELCO between 1:30 and 6:30? I’m not entirely sure, but judging from the sound of it I’m guessing at least an inch, maybe more. Finally, number of times I checked my Twitter and Facebook feeds to see people’s reactions to “The Rains of Castamere?” Countless. Seriously. I probably checked it 50 times post-the eppy ending and the moment when I almost crashed my rental in a ditch this AM.

Perhaps I should elaborate further on that last. Perhaps not. It’s really not important. I didn’t. But it was close. Damn Rains of Easttown-Tredyffrin threw me off. Lesson to all of you reading this, right now: Never rub your eyes vigorously when driving through a construction zone in the pouring rain on 20 minutes of sleep. You… miss things. Like cones. I’ll just leave it at that and let your imaginations do the speculating.  

And there you have it. That was my night last night. And my day today? A relatively normal one save for the haze that has surrounded me since I “woke up” and the last remnants of MUED numero dos coursing through my veins, presently. T-minus four hours and 55 minutes until I can crash. In between, I need to drive 36 miles, pick up my minions, drive home, make dinner, clean and water them, get them ready for bed and probably watch either “Sofia the First” or “Dora the Explorer” for the umpteenth time. Not because I don’t want to play Rapunzel, but because I honestly don’t think I can. Something tells me that once my a** hits my couch at home I’m done for the evening. Put a fork in me. Sorry, Cara Bear, but you’re going to have to put your little sister to bed tonight. Daddy’s going to either A.) Curl up into a ball in the corner and rock back and forth while singing “The Rains of Castamere” or B.) Start playing “Candy Crush Saga.” Yes, “Candy Crush.” For all you Candy Crushers like my wife that have been waiting for me to start playing I’m close. Damn close. I don’t know that my brain will be able to handle anything else after I finish this blog entry. Which, in all honesty? I probably should so. Okay, then. Commence ending.

Don’t get me wrong, guys. I love my aforementioned minions. With every ounce of my heart, soul and mind. They, along Nicole are my life. There are other “things,” both animate and inanimate that “are my life” to some extent. But those things? Things like blogging, MUEDs, SYWS, GRRM and the “RW?” They are secondary to Nicole, Cara and Natal-ya. But some nights, guys? Some nights when the Rains of Broomall pound the windows of my humble abode in DELCO… some nights when minion one changes her clean underwear for no reason in the middle of the night and then gets upset about it… some nights when instead of a quick whine, I hear “Mom,” “Da,” “Ba-Ba” and occasionally “Ca-Wa” mixed in from minion two… some late nights/early mornings when I regret purchasing the Fisher Price Little People Disney Princess Castle with every ounce of my being because that which, by the light of day seems awesome oft times, in the dead of the night, is the most annoying thing ever… those times?

Wait for it.

Those times I both embrace and shun my life on this side of the proverbial wormhole of existence. And I love the f*ck out of it for that very reason. Because only a parent can comprehend the sheer horror of a child or children, not sleeping the night before said parent has to return to work after a three day weekend. Likewise, only a parent can appreciate the utter contentment of falling asleep, even for a whopping 15 minutes with their formerly wakeful child (or children) passed out on their chest. That is, until fatigue sets in an hour later while they’re driving to work and they almost crash the rental they’re driving in to a ditch.

Winky emoticon. Smiley face. Have a great week, everyone. And remember:

And who are you, the proud lord said, that I must bow so low? Only a cat of a different coat, that’s all the truth I know. In a coat of gold or a coat of red, a lion still has claws. And mine are long and sharp, my lord, as long and sharp as yours. And so he spoke, and so he spoke, the Lord of Castamere. But know the rains weep o’er his hall, with no one there to hear. Yes now the rains weep o’er his hall, and not a soul to hear. 

T-minus four hours and 25 minutes to go. Oh! And the Lannisters send their regards.

Of March Madness, Nutrisystem, Miley “Twerking” to “The Rains of Castamere” and the Grand, Quiet Time of the Aspiring Writer’s Soul

Otherwise known as “the time after you ship your recently (or not so recently in my case) completed, e-formatted novel off to a handful of Beta readers and your editor but before you decide on a cover, typeset it and upload it to Amazon.com for sale.” Yeah. I figured that “the grand, quiet time of the aspiring writer’s soul” was a bit more eloquent, not to mention a blatantly obvious shout-out to Douglas Adams’ “The Long, Dark Tea-Time of the Soul.” You may agree. Or not. Either way, its your prerogative, Bobby Brown.

Seriously, though? If it wasn’t for March Madness right now I’d be going completely stir crazy. Few sporting events get me more excited than the prolonged, three week orgy of basketball, brackets, beer and wings that is the NCAA Tournament. Sadly, this year’s “orgy” involves following the action primarily on my phone and my computer, mourning the first day loss of one of my Final Four teams (curse you, Lobos!), drinking glass upon glass of water (already up to five, today) and eating Nutrisystem Mexican-Style Tortilla Soup.

Regarding the latter, a few words to those of you that are considering adopting Nutrisystem as a means of dropping a couple of pounds before an event like, but not limited to a wedding: The food’s not bad. Taste wise its all pretty good. But the portions are tiny as f*ck. They’re made even tinier when you follow the instructions, only to have your already minuscule container of Mexican-Style Tortilla Soup blow it’s load all over your microwave. You are left with a bit less than half of your original meal. Were it not for the multi-grain tortilla and two pieces of cheese I brought as a “Smartcarb” and the apple I brought as a “Powerfuel” I’d be screwed until snack time. Is starvation a part of the Glycemic Index? If so, then this diet is working phenomenally! I’m down six pounds since this past Sunday. But I think my stomach is beginning to eat itself. If I break 10 pounds by this Sunday I’ll already be 75% of the way to my “goal weight.” Know what that means?

You’ve got it, guys! Wings and beer for the Sweet 16!

Basketball and dieting aside, this really is a quiet time in my life. One of the quieter ones that I can remember. I don’t know that much has changed. Responsibility-wise I’m in the same boat that I was in a year, two years, and even three years ago. Sure, I’ve got an extra little one to care for and sure, my three and a half year old is no longer as portable as she once was. But things aren’t that different. It really does come down to the whole writing thing. I’m not actively working on anything right now, be said “anything” Endworld – A Novel, one of its planned sequels or something else. In truth? The only thing that I’m doing right now is updating my blog. While that technically is “something else” its different. Discrepant (one of my favorite words that I never get to use). Discordant? Only if I’m trying to sing a duet with my three year old. I swear that kid already has a better voice than I do.

Hence the fact that I’ve been pumping out two blog entries each week for the last couple, a fact which hopefully isn’t getting too tiresome. What can I say? I need to be writing. Its ingrained in my DNA. My Biological? He was… is a writer, though his style of writing is a  wee bit different than mine. He was always very talented at describing a scene in the least amount of words possible. Me? People have told me that I’m too wordy in my descriptions. Some have told me that my strength is writing believable dialogue, something that my aforementioned Biological was never able to do well. Mind you, I haven’t read anything that the guy has written save for a few letters in the last almost 20 years but based on their content? Yeah. His writing style hasn’t changed much since he crossed the proverbial line from “Father” to “Biological” (he hadn’t been “Dad” in a while). He was always more James Joyce than Stephen King.

Me? I’m a mutt. I’m the bastard offspring of a dozen different writers and their styles. I’m the aspiring author Frank Snow of Broomall, Pennsylvania. If you have no idea what that means I urge you to subscribe to HBO and watch “Game of Thrones.” It’s the best show on television. You have until next Sunday, March 31st to get caught up before Season Three begins. Seasons One and Two are only 10 episodes long each. Plenty of time. You may have to sacrifice a game or two of the Tournament but I promise you that you won’t regret it. It has something for everyone. Even boobs and a**. Why boobs and a**? Trust me: You’ll understand by the end of the first episode.

Furthermore, don’t just watch the television show and accept it as canon. Read the books. There are five of them so far with two more too come, and “A Game of Thrones” is just the title of the first one. The others are “A Clash of Kings,” “A Storm of Swords,” “A Feast for Crows” and “A Dance with Dragons” (author: George R R Martin). I know that reading for leisure is, for many younger people as tortuous as watching paint dry and the prospect of reading something longer than 1000 pages is almost, but not as frightening as watching Miley Cyrus “twerk” in a unicorn suit. But try it. You might be surprised. I used to consume 1000 plus page books like “It” for breakfast when I was a young “whipper snapper.” I read the Bible for fun. Books like those? They not only made me want to be a writer, they made me lust to be one. ‘Course, if the prospect of reading something longer than 200 pages doesn’t appeal to you, you likely won’t purchase my novel when it becomes available (423 pages, pre-edit and pre-typeset). And if the process of making money for a living appeals to you? Well, you can still make money as an aspiring author but guess what? You won’t be doing it as a writer. You’ll be doing it as a Retail Manager. Or an Office Manager, and you’ll be writing in what little spare time you have.

I’m not trying to discourage you from following your dreams, guys. I did. I still am. I’m simply stating the facts as I see them. The unabashed truth on my side of the proverbial wormhole of existence. Let me take this opportunity to say thanks for reading “Random Musings,” even though many of you may now be departing for that really spiffy cat blog you saw beneath my URL on Google. For those of you that decide to remain, I promise that I’ll keep updating this site, even after Endworld – A Novel goes “live,” whenever that ends up being. Some days, the long road from conception to publication, self or traditional really does seem endless. People told me that, but I never believed it. Until now, that is.

Ah, the grand, quiet time of the aspiring writer’s soul. I’ve been here before, and I forgot how incredibly dull it is. On a happier note, my March Madness bracket–which took a beating yesterday–is looking better over the first slate of games of today. I figure if I can get out of today with five or six total losses in the first round (I currently have four) and still only one team out of my Sweet Sixteen eliminated (curse you again, New Mexico!), I’ll be able to make up many of the points I squandered yesterday on teams like the aforementioned one and Pitt (the last stand of the Big East? Come on, Pitt! For f*cks sake, it was Wichita State!), even though I’m also -1 in my Elite Eight and -1 in my Final Four. On an even happier note, I just consumed a piece of Nutrisystem chocolate cake and my stomach has, for the moment, stopped eating itself. I am feeling less starved than I was feeling a few hours ago. Might this whole Glycemic Index thing actually be working? Survey says: Probably not. I’m likely just getting used to the emptiness.

No sooner had I written the last paragraph than Ole’ Miss went on a run and is currently leading another of my Sweet 16 teams–Wisconsin–by six with a minute and a half left to play. Make that seven. Well? You can’t win ’em all, I guess. Some days, though? I wish I could travel to the future. In doing so, I would be able to:

1. See who wins this year’s NCAA Basketball Tournament and adjust my bracket accordingly. Maybe then I’d not risk something as sacred as my Sweet 16, my Elite Eight and my Final Four on a mid-major school like New Mexico or a proverbial disappointment like Wisconsin. It seems that every year, one of the regions of my bracket begins, right around this time on the second day of the Tournament, to look like the scarred surface of a battlefield. This year is no different. The West? Yep. It’s lost. On a happier note, I’m still perfect in the Midwest and the South, and I only have one loss in the East. A man can dream. A man can…

2. See what happens in Season Three of “Game of Thrones.” Okay, I’ll admit that I already know what happens and all I’m going to say to those of you that have A.) Never read the books or B.) Not made it through “A Storm of Swords” yet is this: The Rains of Castamere. That may hold no significance for you now but trust me when I tell you that by the end of this season, it will. As will boobs and a** for all you young “whipper snappers” that watch it and everything else on HBO for… well, boobs and a**. I think I’m more interested in seeing the reactions of the people that have never read the books to what happens than I am in actually seeing it. Their reactions? That would be enough to get me to travel into the future. Yet while I’m there, I think I’ll…

3. Check and see if adopting Nutrisystem was really worth it. How do I look at the wedding? Do I look “tight” or do I still looked like a stuffed sausage wearing pinstripes? If the former, hooray. I now have motivation for sticking it out until the end of the program. If the latter? Well sh*t. I might as well just stop on the way home and pick up a bucket of wings, a jug of blue cheese and a case of Yeungling to watch March Madness on my phone and my computer with. Because really…

4. I could see if it was all worth it. All the writing and revising; all the waiting and wondering about whether or not people will like Endworld – A Novel. Beta readers are great, and if you utilize them right you get a good cross-section of your potential audience (young adult mixed with new adult mixed with middle agers mixed with ole’ timers) to give you feedback before you go “live” with your book. But if I traveled to the future, I’d be able to see the finished product: The cover, the interior et al. I’d be able to read the reviews that people have given it on Amazon.com.

It may seem to many of you reading this blog that I devote a lot of time to talking about my novel, and very little time actually working toward getting it published. Trust me: I’m working my a** off. So much so that when I’m not being an Office Manager or spending time with my family its all that I’m doing. That’s what makes now so strange. I feel like I should be working on it. But there’s not much that I can do at the moment. The book? It’s in good hands. I need to be patient. After all, I have all the time in the world to do this. Why not do it right? I assure you that I will be talking even more about it as the next few days, weeks and months pass. Hell, I’ll likely be marketing it here on “Random Musings” one it goes “live.” I know, that cat blog is looking more and more appealing by the word, isn’t it?

Sadly, I can’t travel into the future. I can’t see the outcome of the Tournament, I can’t see myself in a mirror and I can’t know based on the opinions of a few people if my book is going to succeed or fail. What I can do is cheer for the teams that I picked that are still playing. I can drink my eight plus cups of water a day (up to seven, now), consume my “Smartcarbs” and “Powerfuels” and force whatever I choose as my Nutrisystem Dinner Entree down my gullet. Most importantly, though? I can “just keep writing, just keep writing,” even if two blog entries a week balloons into three. I can’t allow myself to get rusty because once Endworld – A Novel is, blessedly, done and “live,” there’s a second and a third book to write. Maybe more. Who knows?

In closing? Well, I can do this one of two ways. I can post the video of Miley Cyrus “twerking” to Flo Rida’s “WOP” or I can post the lyrics to “The Rains of Castamere.” Both represent an ending: One to a career (sorry, Hannah Montana, but this is the low point of your ever diminishing career) and the other to… well, no spoilers. Obviously I’m more inclined to post the latter, but the masochist within me really wants to post the former. I know! Someone needs to overdub Miley’s “twerking” video with Bronn singing “The Rains of Castamere” pre-the Battle of Blackwater. Then? Well sh*t. If anything can penetrate the grand, quiet time of this aspiring writer’s soul, that’s it.

Get on it, Youtubers. And everyone? Have a great weekend. Winky emoticon. Smiley face.