Thursday, May 27, 2010

Both Are Hungry...

A village elder sat at a telling-fire one night, surrounded by the youth of his tribe. They came to him in the evenings, when the day's work was done, to hear the tales of their people, and to learn from the wisdom of his many winters.

One of the young men asked, "Grandfather, what will you teach us at this telling?"

The elder looked at the faces of the children and young men and women who had gathered around his fire this night. When he had captured the eyes of all present, he began to speak in a voice quiet as the kiss of a spring wind on the trees, but was nonetheless heard by all those who turned their ears to him.

"Each of us, my children, has two wolves that live and war within us.

One wolf is angry and afraid. This wolf meets the rise of the moon with hatred and fear. It seeks to destroy that which it fears, which is all that is. It is hungry, and seeks to consume us from within, til we are hollow and feel only its fear and share its anger and hate. It seeks to devour.

The other wolf is full of life and power. This wolf meets the rise of the moon as the return of a friend, and howls its greeting with cheer. It seeks to share with us the joy of the hunt and the thrill of life. It, too, is hungry, but it seeks to fill us with the life it consumes. It seeks to share its power, and to leave no moment of the day unlived.

One wolf seeks to steal its strength from us.

The other seeks to share its strength with us.

Both war against the other, one seeking to control, the other seeking to share.

Both are strong, and both are hungry."

As the elder stopped speaking, a hush fell over the gathering while the youths pulled the last of his words from the air.

At last, one small boy broke the silence.

"Grandfather," he asked. "Which wolf is stronger? Which wolf will defeat the other?"

Once again, the elder met the eyes of all those gathered before whispering his answer.

"The one that you feed."
This is not my tale; it is simply my telling of a story that has been told many times before.

It is often attributed to the Cherokee Nation, but similar versions of it have been told in many lores around the world.

I share my re-telling of it with you today because it has special relevance to my life (and the lives of many of those around me, I believe) right now, and it seemed important to share it.

Though I've heard this tale many times, earlier this evening was the first time I truly became aware of which wolf I have been feeding.

I have my brother to thank for this.

Thanks, Drew.

Thanks for reading my ranting,

Double Whammy...

Today's kind of a "blah" day for me.

Ten years ago today, I got married.

Six years ago today, I buried my Dad.

Burying your Dad on your wedding anniversary?

Not fun.

I remember that except for one change, the guys that formed my wedding party were also the pallbearers for my Dad.

For a couple of years, on this day, I still had my anniversary to help balance the painful memory of saying goodbye to my Dad.

Now that the marriage is over, this day is just kinda...double "blah".

I'm not depressed.

Truthfully, I'm not even very down.

I've got the good memories of my life with my Dad and I have the good memories of before my marriage went sour to keep me going.

Like I said, just kinda..."blah".
Thanks for reading my ranting,

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A Long Time Ago...

Thirty-three years ago today, my world changed forever.

I was only six, so it's not like I had a huge amount of life experience to be changed, but on this day, my world became infinitely larger.

You see, thirty-three years ago today is when this happened:

May 25, 1977, "Star Wars" was unleashed on the world.

My Uncle Doug took me to see it (thanks, Unca Guggie!), and it opened my eyes to a galaxy full of imagination in a way that nothing before could.

I had not yet discovered "The Hobbit", much less LOTR. I had not yet discovered "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe". The original "Clash of the Titans" was still four years away, so my love of mythology and sword-and-sorcery tales was still sleeping undiscovered inside me.

"Star Wars" was literally the biggest thing I had ever seen.

From that moment on, it was "Star Wars" all the time. There were books, bubble-gum cards, comics, sheets, t-shirts, and those wonderful, wonderful toys.

To this day, my mother still complains about having to make black icing for the Darth Vader birthday cake I had the following year.

This was not the "Special Edition", which is the only version some people have ever seen. It was not titled "Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope".

It was "Star Wars".

This was before VCR's (yes, kids, there was a time that we couldn't just watch any movie we wanted to any time we wanted to), and cable tv was still in its infancy, so seeing this in theaters was a BIG deal.

The older kid that lived down the street owned a movie projector, and he bought the two-reel home movie version of "Star Wars". A bunch of us neighborhood kids would go down to his house on warm summer nights and watch the abridged version on a screen in his backyard, the soundtrack playing on a cassette player.

It lit a fire in my imagination that is still going strong. It made me want to tell stories. In fact, the first "story" I ever wrote was "Wookie World", in second grade.

It wasn't very good, but that's not the point.

The point is this: although many other wonderful stories and movies have inspired my interests and fueled my imagination, "Star Wars" will always be the first and the grandest.

My life-long love of science fiction and storytelling can be traced directly back to this day, thirty-three years ago.

Even now, when I see those blue words "A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away", followed by the giant yellow "Star Wars" flying into the screen, accompanied by John Williams' thrilling fanfare, I feel a surge of excitement.

Thirty-three years evaporate away, and I'm six again.

If you can't tell, I love this stuff.

Nothing else has come close.

Thanks for reading my ranting,

Monday, May 24, 2010

Look Out, Jet Li: There's a Hunter Behind You...

My son Hunter is now a senior yellow belt in his Tae Kwon Do class.

I decided to post some pics because I am so very proud of him.

Of course, Blake is very proud, too, and desperately wanted his picture with Bubby:

And of course, here's Hunter hamming it up (I think he may have inherited some of the goofiness and sense of humor that I got from my Dad):

And to be totally random, here's a pic of what looks like a two-headed gosling (posted mostly because I think the description "two-headed gosling" is insanely hilarious):

Beware: one of the heads is aaaangry...

Hunter, it is an honor being your Dad.

I love you.

Thanks for reading my ranting,

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Laughing, Living, and Falling Through the Roof...

My Dad died six years ago today.

I have 33 years of memories of my Dad (that's more than a lot of people have, and I'm always grateful that I had my Dad with me for so long), and naturally, today is kind of a reflective day for me.

Just a few random thoughts about my Dad:

Living with my Dad wasn't always easy; he was a man's man who grew up on a farm in the 40's and 50's, and he didn't hesitate to mete out justice when it was deserved. He was also a fair man, and I will admit to fully earning every punishment he brought down.

My Dad was a Vietnam veteran. He didn't talk about it much, but whenever I was tempted to mouth off, I would stop and think "Wait a minute. My father...has killed people. I need to stop talking now."

My brother never did quite get this, but somehow managed to survive into adulthood.

I remember once when my brother was about ten, he and one of his friends made a lot of phone calls to that "Psychic Friends" hotline (I don't remember exactly how much it came up to, but I bought my first car for less. I'm not kidding.), and none of us knew about it until my Dad got the phone bill.

I had the good fortune to be sitting with my Dad at the table when he opened the bill. He calmly read the contents of each page. Then he quietly got up, walked to the refrigerator, got a beer, and headed to the back door.

"I'm going to go sit out in the garage for a while, son."

"Why, Dad? What's up?"

"I'm going out there so I don't kill the Boy."

Amazing that none of Dionne Warwick's psychic friends warned my brother that "your father will pick up a car and slay you."

Also amazingly, the Boy lived (though the quality of that life was questionable for a while).

I remember once when I was, I think, fifteen. I got home from school, and realized that I had forgotten to take my keys with me that morning, so I was locked out. "No problem," I thought. "I'll just sit here and read, and Dad'll be home in an hour or so."

For some reason, I decided to climb up on the roof of the porch, and do my reading there. I don't know why; I was fifteen and did a lot of stupid things for no apparent reason.

I shimmied up the support column and got onto the roof. My plan of sitting there, peacefully reading, would have worked had it not been for two things:

1. The wood on this section of the porch roof was very old, and

2. I was a very...large...kid.

I was taking a step when one leg went through, and I couldn't get the leverage to get unstuck, so I sat there for an hour and a half, my left leg stretched out before me, my right leg dangling through the newly-formed hole, a Nike-clad pinata just waiting for someone to come along with a stick.

When my Dad got home, he stopped and looked up at me from the sidewalk in front of the house.

"Having *snicker* some problems, Son? *chortle*"

"Don't laugh, Dad. This isn't funny."

"Oh, it's funny from down here. Believe me, Son, I'm not laughing with you..."

He then walked over and poked my leg. It had fallen asleep long before, and the movement caused a wave of pins and needles to race up and down my poor, defenseless appendage.

I could hear his peculiar, infectious cackle (hee-hee-hee-SNORT-hee-hee-hee-SNORT) trailing behind him as he went to the garage to get the ladder and rescue me.

I'm laughing as I write this, because that's what I remember most about my Dad.

Laughter. Lots of it.

I didn't inherit his cooking skills (not completely; I'm good, and I can turn a mean flapjack, but as my friend Rob says, "No one made pancakes like your Dad."), and I didn't inherit any money or cars or anything like that.

My Dad left me his laugh.

When something strikes me as funny (and being me, something strikes me as funny every day, folks), I let out my Dad's hee-hee-hee-SNORT.

It's a priceless gift, this laugh, along with the desire and ability to share it with others, like my Dad did.

Today isn't a day for mourning my Dad's death.

Today is a day for celebrating my Dad's life.

People are born, and people die; everything else comes in between.

My Dad had a good "in between".

I hope you've had a chuckle or two while reading this, because that means, even though he's been gone for six years now, my Dad is still making people laugh.

He'd like that.

Thanks for reading my ranting,


Sunday, May 16, 2010

Blog Bling

Thanks to my new friend Ashley, I have another prestigious award with which to decorate the ramblings of my brain.

First of all, thank you very much! It's always good to know that folks are enjoying the scraps of thoughts that my clumsy fingers manage to stitch onto the screen.

Now, to the Nitty and the Gritty, not necessarily in that order.

The first part of the process is for me to list ten things that make me happy, so here we go:

1. My sons, Hunter and Blake. God has blessed me with two wonderful, loving, laughing children. Their intelligence, sense of wonder, and outright fearlessness (except for werewolves, and let's be honest, they scare all of us) both keeps me young and makes me so very old. I almost lost them once, and I thank God for them and enjoy them every day.

2. Monkeys. C'mon, you knew that one was coming. Nothing says comedy like our simian cousins. One of the few things I ever wanted out of life was for monkeys with blue tuxes and roller skates to usher my wedding. This did not happen. I am no longer married. You do the math. Of course, if I ever get married again, I am willing to give this up. I have matured, you see, and now realize that a far more worthy goal is to have my own island resort, staffed by monkeys with tuxes (I'm not giving that part up; monkeys + clothing = hilarity) to bring me drinks, and juggle flaming bowling pins when I get bored.

3. Music. I listen to everything from Mozart to Metallica. October Project is a personal favorite of mine, and though they haven't been together for over a decade, their two albums are treasures that still brighten my days. Their lead vocalist, Mary Fahl, went on to a brilliant solo career.

4. Star Wars. Yes, I'm a geek, and I love every minute of it. I saw Star Wars in 1977, when I was six, and it was the biggest thing I had ever seen. It started me on my life-long love of science fiction and fantasy, and helped inspire my goal of becoming a professional writer. I loves me some Star Trek, too, and there are lots of other quality films and books that inspire me, but Star Wars will always be the first and biggest.

5. Wasted days. A chilly, rainy day spent indoors reading (or just doing whatever it is I feel like doing) is a boon to the soul.

6. The art of Arthur Rackham. You've seen his art, you probably just don't realize it.

7. Stuff like this. I can't help it; it makes me laugh every time I see it.

8. That moment of excitement and joy that comes when you get a great idea for a story, or when you break through with a bit you've been having trouble with. That burst of creativity is one of the main reasons I love telling stories.

9. The folks at the sci-fi/fantasy forums at Writer's Digest. Not only have I learned a great deal about honing my craft from the amazingly talented writers who frequent the forums, I consider them friends, and value the sense of community I found there.

10. A quiet, starlit night.

I'm supposed to pass this on to five others whose blogs I enjoy, so here we go, in no particular order:

Nicole--a relatively new acquaintance, I've come to enjoy her story-telling and her voice.
Amber--Amber is going to Korea soon, and will be posting the experience on her blog. I look forward to vicariously visiting another country.
Mr. Door Tree--I'm a big comic book fan (surprising, innit?)as well as many other types of illustrative story-telling, and this blog has been a fountain of wonder.
Brandi--Quite honestly, one of the best writers I've had the pleasure of meeting.
Kim--Kim is a wonderful, caring person, and I enjoy her views on life and literature. Plus, she has the word "dystopian" in her blog heading, and that's just cool.

There are several other folks I would like to mention, but most of them have already been given this award by someone else, plus I could only pick five.

So now you know a little bit more about me and the things that make me happy. Some of you may find this interesting, some may find it disturbing.

But I hope it makes most of you happy.
Thanks for reading my ranting,