the black goat of the family

I was never the black sheep. My personality was never sheep-like. It was more like a goat’s. I would butt heads (figuratively speaking) sometimes, just for fun. I easily digested (figuratively speaking again) things that others found inedible, unpalatable. I adjusted to new (social) terrain very quickly and rarely lost my footing. I was smarter than I looked or acted. I was at home hanging around with the herd, and sometimes I just liked perching atop a mountain by myself. I could be stubborn or easy-going, spastic or graceful, noisy or quiet, and sometimes if I was startled I would faint. I was the black goat of the family… and everywhere else.

College and marriage tried desperately to drive that out of me. Both institutions really wanted to to conform, toe the line, jump through hoops, and do others’ bidding without question. No self-respecting goat would ever do that. This goat came horrifically close, though. Even the strongest of us can be beaten down. Everything hinges on at what we hit bottom and decide: Is it time to call it quits, or have I really had enough of all their shit? In April of 2003, after trying to “fix all [my] problems” because of an ultimatum from my passive-aggressively abusive then-wife, I finally told her I had really had enough of her (and everybody else’s) shit. (I didn’t put it that way, though. I wasn’t rude.) She said nothing for about thirty seconds, though she looked at me like my hair was on fire. I remember what I said.

“I’m done trying to change myself any more. You knew exactly who I was when you married me. We dated for almost three years and lived together for two. I never lied about who I was. I never acted differently around you. You’ve made me miserable for years. You’ve known, but you’ve not cared, just demanded I change more to suit you.”

She said she’d leave if I didn’t reconsider.

I told her: “Do you you gotta do.”

That was it. She moved out later, in August. It was such a relief. Yeah, I was depressed, directionless for a good while. I’d not been single in ten years, and I still had the kids with me most of the time. I had next to no money and no prospects. I was off the chain, though. I was a free goat. Now, seven years later, I’m much more confident, stable, and happy. It’s taken a while to get here. Along the way I’ve dropped several other toxic or unhealthy relationships and come to terms with them and things done (and not done) during them. There’s still more work, shaping up to be done. I’m still getting my sea legs back. (I know that’s not a good goat-ish analogy, but it’s the best one for the point I’m trying to make.) I’m in a good place, though. The outlook is good.

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Visual Inspiration—Photo Prompt #14 (via Strangling My Muse)

Of course, I had to do this one.

Visual Inspiration—Photo Prompt #14 Let this image engage your muse. Write a paragraph, a short story, a poem, a memory, a journal entry…or whatever you feel inspired to create. … Read More

via Strangling My Muse

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No, but I’m full of ideas.

For the past couple of days I’ve slowed my pace. After a fairly hectic and expensive summer, I am allowing myself time to decompress and enjoy the weather. I’ve thought, but I’ve not writ. I’ve watched films. I’ve read. I’ve cleaned the house and bombed for bugs, and then I cleaned again. (The cleaning and spraying/bombing process will continue indefinitely until the damnable yet useful creatures are annihilated within the confines of the domicile.) The kids are back in school, and my life is once again sedate.

I had lunch today with an old friend, a playwrighting/theatre colleague I’ve known since 1989. We talked about how busy he is and the inherent jumble, bustle, exhaustion, effort, and sometimes confusion of taking on multiple enterprises. He’s a professional commercial photographer, a traveled and sought after artistic photographer, a semi-professional playwright, a small-venue theatre and short film producer, and a novelist. He’s been doing all of them for going on twenty years, and he’s very, very tired. He’s quite happy with his achievements, but he’s just plain worn out, to the point that for the past two or three years it’s really not quite been worth it for him personally. He’s asked me off and on for the past umpteen years why I don’t do more theatre and films and write more. I often make excuses, but today I had an answer. It’s something I’ve thought about for a while now, since we last had a really deep conversation. I said (now paraphrasing, of course):

I learned about contentment and how to find it. I know what I like, what I enjoy, what makes me smile and be satisfied, and I know their opposites. I cut out the junk as much as I can, and I work on the good stuff as much as I can. The kicker is I don’t push myself. I don’t run, dart, dash, sprint, zip, or otherwise speed through things the way I always used to. I enjoy the stroll. I don’t attach myself to projects just to have something to do or because the people are cool and the like. I really take stock and make sure I have the time, the inclination, and the energy for anything, everything I do. If I’m missing any one of the three, I respectfully decline. When I’m in, I’m all the way in, when I’m working with others. So I don’t join in all that much. I’m concentrating on a balance of original work of my own on one side and collaborations on the other, and I’ve not found it yet. (And that I haven’t doesn’t bother me. It’ll get here.) The key is: I’m genuinely content. I did manage to find that, and that’s really the hinge for everything else. As an old Jamaican coworker years ago used to say, “It’s all good, man.”

I know that was a ramble there, but I expounded a bit here for the post.

I’ve also cut down on internet usage, soft drinks, white bread, tv news, and other things. I’m listening to more tunes and playing with my cat and my neighbors’ dogs and horses. The hectic pace of summer has subsided, and things are back to what passes for normal. It’s all good.

Garden Variety keeps roiling in my noggin. It’s taken something of a different direction. I mean… it may be taking a new direction. I’m not sure of it yet. There’s a new angle under consideration, influenced I’m sure by recent readings in a different genre. More on that as it develops.

Other than that I’m pretty boring.

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To some friends and all strangers:

Sophistry does not make your arguments correct. Skillfulness at performing intellectual and semantic contortions only proves how good a bullshitter you are. Sophists are illusionists, nothing more.

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Via Great White Snark: The Difference Between Nerd, Dork and Geek (Venn diagram) (via auryaun)

It’s official. I’m a geek.

The difference between a nerd, dork and geek, explained in a venn diagram. … Read More

via auryaun

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Why am I up so late?

I believe the writing for Garden Variety will begin soon. The basics have been stewing for a spell now, and nothing new is forming. Now it’s time to put things together and see how they gel initially. From there the marathon begins. I have the main characters in mind, the time and place, the (very) general landscape, and the inciting incidents, as well as a few key scenes I’d like to see. There are also several optional elements I’ve got in mind. Of course, their use depends wholly on how the story ultimately unfolds. And lastly, I know how I want the story to end, its outcome, the final shot. I’m thinking zither music only for it as well. Or maybe Tom Waits’ song “Black Wings”. Maybe both. Heh.

Short post. That’s all for now.

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There really is no normal.

I always thought two great things about acting and reading/writing was the chance to get to know myself better and the chance to explore human nature in general. Then once I’d been doing both for twenty-plus years I realized being able to do those wasn’t always something I was going to enjoy. I can work to change things about myself, for sure. The task can be a rough road to hoe, but it can be done. That isn’t the case with human nature, with humanity in general. The more I see, the more I explore, the more I pay attention to what has gone on before and what is going on now… The old adage rings truer than almost anything else ever I’ve read or heard uttered:

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

It was almost crushing when I realized that was the case. Time, of course, has done its work, and I’m at peace with the realization, years later. It led to a certain level of contentment and of determination about my life, not to mention an amount of freedom and openness I hadn’t felt since I was a kid. This topic wants to be a larger post, but this is going to have to do for now, just a section in another. There’s a lot swirling about in the ol’ noggin about it, and it’s going to need some time to gel. I just wanted to start on it a bit, just to get things going.

There’s a Lovecraftian script in my head somewhere. I don’t mean one about Cthulhu and Company. I mean “Lovecraftian” in terms of cosmic horror, Things Man Was Not Meant To Know, humanity’s blissful ignorance of inescapable doom, and such. Once Garden Variety runs its course, I may have a go into this territory. It’s quite an intimidating prospect, though. That the story is in me doesn’t automatically equate to its escape onto paper or film. I am a notoriously perfectionist and absolutely my worst critic. It’s no wonder many of my stories ever see the light of day. Still, the ones that have… have been very good ones, just what I wanted. I reckon there’s a balance there. Maybe.

I may be in a show in September. A playwright friend of mine has a script he wants me to be in on for performance. I read it a few months ago and suggested some revisions and clarifications. It works a lot better now, and he’s asked me to be in the production next month. And I will. He and I go back twenty years. I don’t see him or hear from him much these days, but he’s a good sort and I trust him. He’ll be returning from abroad soon. Details soon.

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