Paused

Birds flying north for the spring
Paused in hypothetical flight
Above vibrant hues of blue
Splashed across life’s canvas
Whirls and whorls spinning faster
Yet as constant as the setting sun
The water calm and inviting
Paint-thin and sliding away
We stand on the edge of the pier
Conscious of the full-stop
Urging it on in whispers and cat-calls
Urgent like the coming rain
Set to the tick-tock of the clock
Fragmented like frames on a reel
Clicking slowly into place
One at a time, in perfect rhythm
But with no rhyme or reason
Constructed solely to please
Weeds overgrown from disuse
Nuance shifting like sands of time
Sound echoing in the distance
Calling out to yesterday
When dreams were new and bulletproof
Yet fragile like glass
The birds move slowly forward
Leaving smudged clouds in their wake
And we walk the other way
Into the future.

Sam

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Water Cooler Musings: Art for Art’s Sake

Wow. I have been remiss ever since I started working on novel #3, so much so that I completely forgot to post a Water Cooler Musings for last week. For that I am sorry, but I will make it up to you by posting two this week. So, we’ll be drinking a lot of water. That’s cool.

So, this morning I received the daily prompt in my inbox. Now, you know I so it sporadically, but this one spoke to me. In fact, I posed it to my colleagues at the water cooler and they had a lot to say about it as well. It was something like, “Do you feel you have to agree with an artist’s opinion or point of view in order to appreciate his/her art?”

This turned out to be quite the contentious subject, with some of us believing strongly one way and the rest believing just as strongly the other. There was no middle ground. And I guess that makes sense with this topic. I certainly think you can enjoy someone’s art without believing the way they do, say politically, spiritually, or any other way. I don’t think Snoop Dogg is a good role model, but he has some seriously slamming beats. I am not a fan of the way Liam Gallagher lives his life, but I can sing every single song Oasis ever produced (with the British accent too). Andy Warhol lived a life I would never live, and did some pretty disgusting things in the process. But he also created provocative art that speaks to me. The same is true of Edgar Allan Poe.

But some people at the water cooler think someone’s life and convictions can’t help but bleed over into their art, making it propaganda, and making it impossible for them to give it credence. For example, Adolf Hitler wrote a dynamic treatise entitled Mein Kampf that has definite merit on its own, but this group of people cannot even bring themselves to read it because of the other things its author did.

And I understand their side. I do. They can’t separate the person from the art, and I can. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not patting myself on the back for being able to do this, and the rest of my water cooler buddies agree with me on this. I’m just calling a spade a spade. Art must exist separately from its artist, true art anyway. Yes, the artist influences the art, but then they set it free. And it must sink or swim on its own.

There is an artist who urinates on his canvasses and calls it art. That is not art. And I judge the “art” as harshly as I judge the person. The same is true of the “meat”art, in which the artist hangs dead carcasses from the ceiling and invites gallery goers to observe. That is also not art. But when it comes to real art (and we disagreed on what constitutes real art, and what doesn’t fit) there is a huge dividing line.

On which side do you fit?

Sam

Water Cooler Musings Archive

Two Hours on a Sunday Afternoon

You’ll never believe it! Something happened yesterday afternoon that hadn’t happened for a very long time. It was fantastic. It was divine. It was like a meteor streaking across the breadth of the sky, like firecrackers exploding in midair into millions of brilliant colors. I know what you’re thinking, and you would be right. Yesterday afternoon my wife and I got to spend two hours together… ALONE.

When we first decided to have children, it was a lot of fun figuring out how we were going to parent. We dissected every single thing about the process, from who was going to take the kid to ballet class, to whether or not we would “believe” in Santa Claus, to even what cities were best to raise children of mixed race in, but for some reason we never thought about not having private time again. Why didn’t anyone ever tell us about that?

So, we have two children who are always underfoot, who always crave every last moment of our attention, who don’t seem to want to do much alone. Add in the fact that our only babysitter is my mother-in-law, so we tend to be at her whim when we want some time alone, and you’ll understand why yesterday was so dynamic. To put it into perspective, the last time we got a couple of hours alone was when the last Arnold Schwarzenneger movie came out. You know, unless you count an hour or so at night after the girls have gone to bed, but one, or both of us, tends to knock out early.

That’s why yesterday afternoon was so incredible. When you become a parent it’s easy to forget that you still wear other hats, especially for the first year or two. Your life is so wrapped up in being a father that you lose sight of that fact that you’re still an individual, a son, a brother, and, yes, a husband too. But those are parts of your life that cannot be neglected. You need them to see the whole three-dimensional picture that is you, to appreciate who you are, and to not get lost in one facet of your personality. Those first two years after having our first child, I honestly think we lost ourselves in parenthood. But now we’re coming back, in bits and pieces, rediscovering ourselves as individuals and as husband and wife.

Having that two hours together was magical, and it also helped us to appreciate our roles as parents too. Having that time apart from the kids gave us better perspective to deal with them when they returned. Plus, they got to spend quality time alone with their grandmother. So it was a win-win. But even more than that, I got to spend time with the woman I chose even before I chose to have children. I got to spend time as just a husband, and I’ve missed that guy.

Sam

When Inspiration Strikes

Well, well. I like awards as much as the next person, and my blog has been recognized by Daryl G. Stewart with a “Very Inspiring Blogger” award, so thank you to Daryl for the kind words about my blog on his. I take these kinds of awards seriously because it means I’ve touched at least one other person with my brand of witticism, with my tales of the homefront, and with my creative writing and photography. So, thank you to him. Now, on with the show…

Here are the official rules of acceptance:
• Display the Award Certificate on your website. CHECK.
• Announce your win with a post and link to whoever presented you with the award. CHECK and CHECK.
• Present 15 awards to deserving bloggers. COMING (but only 5 — sorry).
• Drop them a comment to tip them off after you have linked them in the post. A LINK SHOULD SUFFICE.
• Post 7 interesting things about yourself. COMING.

MY OWN VERY INSPIRING BLOGGERS:

1. shaunanagins.com – What can I say about Shauna? She inspires me with her writings, and particularly with her compilations on The Taboo Tab. Approaching subjects that are often… taboo is an interesting concept and each one of her writers holds my interest every time. The most recent one is on financial crisis, and I love it. So thank you for inspiring me, Shauna.

2. sanesamantha.wordpress.com (or Insanity) – Samantha (cool name, by the way) always has something thought-provoking on her blog. And while I am usually not a fan of writing on writing, she does an excellent job at showing her process and letting her readers see into her mind. It’s amazing, and I always wonder what’s going to be next, but I don’t wonder if I’m going to like it or be challenged by it. I always am. Thank you, Samantha, for being certifiable.

3. happinessatthebottom.wordpress.com – These thoughts are always deeply insightful. I particularly like the latest entry, “The Power of ‘I Don’t Know.'” They make me think about myself and my own spirituality, as jaded as it can be at times. It’s uplifting, and that’s hard to find in many blogs these days. Thank you to the bottom.

4. justlikemine.wordpress.com – What can I say about KC’s diary? It’s incredibly revealing about who she is, and I like that because I try to do the exact same thing here. Sometimes I fail, but at least I did my best at trying, and I feel that so much with KC. I feel like we are kindred spirits, and she inspires me to keep writing my story on here. So, thank you KC. Yours is just. like. mine. 🙂

5. cnmill.wordpress.com – My final inspiration comes from cnmill, who makes me break my rule on reading writers writing about writing (did you follow that?) because she lays her hopes and fears bare on the page, about being an author, about getting her work published, and about paranoia, as her latest blog admits. I like her naked style of writing, and she inspires me to continue working on my own work, even when I get paranoid myself. Thank you, cnmill, for your thoughtful analysis of your process, and for letting me into your world.

NOW ON TO THE SEVEN THINGS ABOUT ME:

I’m pretty much an open book all the time, so this is the hardest part of accepting the award, but I will do my best to let you in on some things you didn’t know about me.

1. I have 13 half-siblings. No, not step-siblings. Half-siblings.

2. My first car was a Ford Probe, mint green. Now, imagine all 6’5″ of me fitting in a Ford Probe. Cue laugh track.

3. The first short story I wrote was called “The Sinister Smile,” and it featured a pitcher bound on revenge. It has a very small hint of the writing style I would grow into, so it’s interesting to critique at this point. I may re-write it someday.

4. I am a huge fan of Tracy Chapman, Cher, Sarah McLachlan, and Tori Amos. Yes, I’m straight.

5. The Olympics is a huge event for me. When they are happening you might as well not even try to speak to me. You should see the miles of footage I have copied of every Games since 1996.

6. The first time I had my head shaved it was the coldest day of the year, and I didn’t have a hat. Talk about forethought.

7. I started a Facebook book club at the end of last year, I enjoy reading with others so much, and the discussions are amazing too. You can join too if you would like. 🙂 Its name is the Literary Society Book Club.

Hope you enjoyed and were inspired by my inspirations. Have a great day!

Sam

The Mechanic Street Chase

No one would ever confuse me with a great outdoorsman like Paul Bunyan. For starters, I’m hardly ever outdoors, except for getting in and out of my car, and in and out of buildings. I used to get outside more back when I was coaching, but since I stopped, it has been pretty much hit-or-miss if I decide to visit god’s country. I like to chalk it up to growing up in a major city where there was really no nature to speak of, where there were many more things to do indoors, and to the fact that I grew up in a heavily sheltered household. I just didn’t spend much time outside, and I think whatever it was clouded my opinion of nature and where I fit within it.

My children don’t share my general distaste for the great outdoors. In fact, they follow after their mother, who grew up in the country and who spent a great deal of her childhood outside. She has a pretty big green thumb, and spends a lot of time working on the yard, tending her little garden, and going for invigorating walks. Now, don’t get me wrong. I tried the outdoor walking thing too, a few summers ago. I even made it a regular habit every day to walk (and later run) through the hilly neighborhood in which we live, but then tragedy struck.

Okay, I tend to get a bit dramatic, but it was a serious situation, I assure you. I was running down the block, over on Mechanic Street, when I heard this rustling coming from behind a house. I kept running, but then I began to look around me as the sound began to get louder. All of a sudden from behind one of the houses came two snarling dogs. Now, in Newport here there is a leash law, supposedly in place to keep innocent pedestrians like me safe, but these two canines had no such leashes holding them back. They began to chase me down the street, and I swear one was salivating. I hastily discarded my standard running pace and took off like a shot down Mechanic Street and onto Main Street, the dogs nipping at my heels. I honestly thought they were going to tackle me and rip me to pieces (I told you I lived a sheltered life), so I kept going, even though my lungs felt like they were going to explode at any second.

Then, a miracle happened. Once we hit Main Street they seemed to slow down, and I realized why as I looked over my shoulder. Their owner had come out of her house and was chasing them down the block, yelling at them to stop. She may have been yelling for the whole length of the block, but I hadn’t heard her in my mad dash for freedom. Eventually I guess she got through to them, because they slowed down, and I kept accelerating, not even stopping to thank their owner for her timeliness. Indeed, I wanted to put her in jail for not observing the leash law in the first place. Hmph.

But what stopped me from going running any more that summer, and indeed for the summers since, was not the fear of the dogs chasing me down the block again, but it was what I did while I was running to get away from them. I screamed like a little girl (sorry if there are any little girls who are reading this and taking offense — none was meant), from the moment I first saw those dogs to the moment I finally pulled away from them on Main Street, and there were many people out and about on that brilliantly nice day. Every single one of them heard my high-pitched screams as two little dogs followed me to the end of that street, and I just couldn’t bring myself to face them anymore. Ironically, I have no problem saying that’s the reason I’m not doing it anymore, knowing that someone from that block could even be reading this blog entry.

So, I don’t go outside that often, but I have been known to head out there more so lately having two young children who adore the outdoors. I just keep an eye out now for people and their dogs along the way.

Sam

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