My Comic Book Submission To Oni Press

There is a comic book publisher called Oni Press that has been publishing comics for nearly twenty years.  Back in May and June of 2015, Oni Press sent out a call to writers, artists, and other creators that they would be having an open submission.  It has always been a dream of mine to be a comic book writer, so I thought I would give it a shot.  Unfortunately, I did not find out about the open submissions until the middle of June when the deadline was nearing, but I would not let that stop me.  I spent every moment I could, when I wasn’t working my day job or sleeping, working on my submission, and I ended up completing it the day before the deadline was up.  The submission was based on an idea I have had in my mind for several years that has evolved over time that I had titled Psi-Fi.  I know, that is not the strongest title in the world, but when I originally came up with it years ago, it gave me a chuckle, so I stuck with it as a “placeholder” title.  I probably should have come up with a better title for my submission, but I could not think of one in the time I had to complete the submission.

And so, with one day left before Oni Press’ deadline was up, I sent in my submission as I held my breath.  Keep in mind that there are a lot of aspiring comic book writers out there, and so it took some time for Oni Press to get to my submission and answer me back.  As I waited, my nerves eventually subsided, and I continued on with my life, all but forgetting that I had sent in the submission except for the occasional moment when it would briefly pop into my mind.

Then, on August 14th, I received the following reply from Oni Press:

Dear Derrick Nadeau,
Thank you for sending us “Submission for the comic book series Psi-Fi”. We know how hard pitching can be and we appreciate your earnest effort, your willingness to put yourself out there, and the opportunity you gave us to read it.
Unfortunately, this pitch is not a fit for us at this time. We encourage you to continue honing your craft and developing new stories. A passion for storytelling should never be extinguished by a rejection and we sincerely hope you are able to find the appropriate outlet for your work.
Unfortunately, due to the volume of submissions we have received, we are unable to give feedback on specific submissions.
Thanks again and best of luck.
Sincerely,
Oni Press

So, there you have it.  My first ever submission to a comic book company was rejected.  To be honest, I was not really saddened or even disappointed by the news.  In fact, I kind of suspected that this would be the end result of my submission, so I was not even surprised.  It is, unfortunately, the nature of being a writer that we must be subjected to rejection, and it is up to us to us writers to not let such rejection dissuade us from our course to realizing our dreams.  Unfortunately, Oni Press was not able to offer me any feedback, so I don’t have anything to work with to improve my next submission (Yes, there will be other submissions, fear not.), but I have gone over my submission and made my own notes on what I could improve on.

One thing I thought would be a good way to help myself improve is to post my submission here on my blog, and let others see it and perhaps even offer advice or helpful criticisms.  With that being said, feel free to read my submission and comment on it if you have any tips you would like to offer.    The submission is posted exactly as I sent it to Oni Press without any changes or revision made, Though it has been condensed for this blog.  Looking at my submission now, I see so many things that I wish I had written differently.  If only I had heard about the open submissions sooner, I could have spent more time fine-tuning my submission.  At least I have learned something for the next time I send in a submission.

And so, without further adieu, here is my comic book submission to Oni Press.

Logline for the comic series Psi-Fi

Psi-fi is the story of a peacekeeper with psionic powers tasked with investigating the violent deaths of his fellow psionics.  The investigation leads to the discovery of a powerful psion who is killing his brethren and stealing their energies to turn himself into the most powerful being in the world.

One Page Synopsis for Psi-Fi

Psi-fi is a book that takes a different approach to the fantasy genre.  The setting of the book is similar in appearance and technology level to that of the Old West, while the main character of the book, Hurai, and his Saan brethren are closer in tone to the samurai of feudal Japan. Rather than using magic, which is already prevalent in most fantasy stories, the Saan in my book are a society of psionic user users living among the normal citizens of the world.

The main character of the book, Saan Hurai, is a peacekeeper for the Saan.  During the course of the story, Hurai will investigate a series of savage murders, discover a greater plot behind the murders, and even fall in love as he uncovers a conspiracy that will directly affect his life, and the life of his family.

Outline for Psi-fi

Although I do not have an exact issue count for Psi-fi, I do have a specific beginning, middle, and end for the book which I will describe in this outline.

The story begins with the savage murder of an artist.  Initial autopsy of the artist reveals that the mind of the artist has been completely wiped away, which seems to be the cause of his death.

The hero of the book, Hurai, a peacekeeper for the psionic organization known as the Saan, begins to investigate the murder of the artist.  This investigation leads Hurai to the horrible discovery of a clan of former psionics whose minds have been warped to the point that they are nothing more than mindless, savage, animalistic creatures that attack other psionics and syphon all of their psychic energy, killing the victim in the process.  The Saan decide to call these creatures “psionic vampires”.

Hurai continues his investigation, tracking the psionic vampires to a frontier mining town.  As Hurai investigates the town, he is struck by the abnormal behavior of the townsfolk that live there.  With his suspicions aroused, Hurai decides to spend the night in the town.  Hurai wakes himself late in the night to quietly investigate the town.  As he investigates, Hurai quickly discovers that the town is empty, and tries to discover what has happened to the denizens of the mining town.  As Hurai continues his investigation, he discovers the townsfolk inside the mine, all gathered together, sitting silently and staring blankly at a single man standing before them, performing a strange ceremony.  Hurai attempts to use his astral ability to move closer to the gathering in secret, but is quickly discovered by the leader of the gathering.  Hurai is then attacked by a large group of psionic vampires, and has to fight his way out of the situation, barely escaping with his life.

Hurai then returns to his superiors, and gives his report on the situation.  Hurai’s superiors determine that the strange ceremony was a forbidden ritual performed by an exiled Saan, thought to be dead, that will allow the man to control the minds of the townspeople.  Hurai learns that the man, named Kier was exiled because he was attempting to learn and use Saan abilities that could directly read and control people’s minds, abilities that have long been outlawed as dangerous by the Saan.

Armed with this knowledge, the leaders of the Saan peacekeepers decide to team Saan Hurai up with a woman named Janea, who is a Saan Judicator.  The Saan Judicators are a small group of Saan specifically chosen and trained to read minds for the purpose of judging criminals innocence, without affecting those minds in any way.  Janea is chosen to assist Hurai in his investigation so that she can teach him how to combat and repell any mental attacks that Kier might attempt.  During his training, Hurai and Janea see inside each other’s minds and begin to fall in love.

Once Hurai’s quick training is complete, he and Janea head back to the frontier mining town to confront Kier.  While making camp one night, Hurai’s mind is invaded by Kier, who has been waiting for his return.  Janea wakes the next morning to find Hurai missing, and tracks him back to the frontier mining town where she discovers that Hurai’s mind has been taken over by Kier.  Kier commands Hurai to kill Janea, and Janea defends herself by entering Hurai’s mind and tricking him into reliving a childhood trauma.  Hurai breaks from Kier’s control, and he and Janea then manage to defeat Kier.

Hurai and janea return to their lives as their romance grows, thinking that Kier has been eliminated.  What they don’t know, and what the audience will discover, is that Kier is still very much alive, and has spies in the Saan organization, including Saan Hurai’s commanding officer, Saan Raon.  We learn through a secret conversation between Kier and Raon that Kier has had visions about Saan Hurai giving Kier the power he needs to become a psychic god.  A plan is then set in motion by Kier and Raon to use Saan Hurai as a pawn to accomplish their goals.

From this point on, the story will focus on Hurai and his various adventures as Kier and Raon watch and guide him from behind the scenes.  As Hurai hunts down roaming psychic vampires and other Saan criminals, he marries Janea, and the two eventually have a son.  The birth of Hurai’s son is the moment when Kier sets the next stage of his plan in motion.

Kier kidnaps Hurai’s newborn son, holding the boy hostage as he performs another outlawed ritual on him.  Hurai, along with some of his Saan squadmates and Raon, who has kept his allegiance with Kier a secret, hunt down Kier and rescue his son from the villain.  The story ends with Hurai interrupting Kier’s ritual and confronting him.  During the course of the battle, it appears that Hurai kills Kier, who is weakened from the ritual.  What Hurai does not know is that Kier has actually managed to transfer his consciousness into the mind of Hurai’s son, where he will remain dormant until the child joins the Saan Academy.

At this point, the story will jump ahead several years to the point where Hurai’s son, named Surou, is a teenager and is enrolled in the Saan academy.  While at the academy, Surou begins to see visions of a man who wants him to learn the outlawed Saan abilities to read and control people’s minds.  The man in Surou’s vision is of course Hurai’s old nemesis, Kier, beginning the next stage of his plans, the corruption of Hurai’s son, Surou.

As Kier tightens the grip on the young lad’s mind, Surou’s personality begins to darken and change.  Surou begins practicing with his newly acquired abilities, using his fellow students as test subjects.  When the academy finds out what Surou has been doing, they confront the boy, which results in Surou using his new abilities to kill one of his teachers.

Surou is punished for his crimes not only by being exiled from the Saan academy, but also by being banished to the Wraith Forest.  The Wraith Forest is a “haunted” forest where the Saan send their criminals for punishment.  The ghosts that haunt the forest are, in reality, the psychic essences of the Saan that have been exiled there.  When a Saan is sent to the forest, the wraiths of the forest attack that Saan and rip his psychic essence from the Saan’s mind.

Surou, with the power and abilities he gains from his connection to Kier, not only survives the Wraith Forest, but also learns to control the wraiths of the forest as well.  Surou leaves the forest, and comes across a group of people that need help.  This group is from a small town that is under attack from a force they can’t handle, and are seeking assistance with their troubles.  Surou decides to help the town with their problem, and then uses the wraiths he is now controlling to take over the minds of the townsfolk in order to begin building an army.

Once he has his army, Surou sets a plan in motion that he and Kier have created together.  The plan involves the capture of Saan Batteries, those who have no real abilities of their own, but who have an abundance of psychic energy that they can pass on to other Saan.  As Surou and his army continue kidnapping Batteries, the Saan send Hurai and his squad to investigate.

Hurai is devastated to discover that it is his son, who he thought dead after being exiled to the Wraith Forest, who is kidnapping the Saan Batteries.  The reason Surou is kidnapping Saan Batteries is so that he can syphon their energies to gain the power needed to release Kier from his mind, allowing Kier’s own mind to become so powerful that he becomes a psychic god.  This leads to a confrontation between Saan Hurai and his son, Surou, which results in Hurai being forced to kill his own son in order to prevent Kier from becoming so powerful.

What Hurai does not realize is that by sacrificing his son, he has unwillingly helped Kier complete his plan.  Kier escapes the dead body of Hurai’s son, Surou, and becomes a being of pure psychic energy, a being the Saan refer to as a psychic god.

As God-Kier begins to wreak havoc and spread chaos across the land, Hurai calls on his wife, Saan Judicator Janae to help him stop God-Kier.  Janae and Hurai determine that the only way to defeat the God-Kier is for them both to sacrifice themselves and use the same procedure Kier used to become psychic gods themselves.  After an intense battle, Hurai and Janae are able to destroy God-Kier, but at a great cost to themselves.

The defeat of god-Kier is the end of the story for Saan Hurai and his family, and is the finale I have planned for this series.

Psi-Fi first scene script

I have included two scenes from the first issue of Psi-Fi in my submission as requested.  The first scene, a short, three page scene, is the opening prologue of the first issue, and introduces the reader to the world of Psi-Fi

Page One

Panel 1: This is a full page splash of a lush forest with large trees of various types.  The floor of the forest is covered with an assortment of bushes and different types of flowers and plants.  In the center of the panel, a path stretches from the bottom of the panel out into the forest.  There is a man named Mathus walking down the path into the forest with his back turned to the reader.  Mathus is an artist, and is dressed in simple clothes that are covered in splotches of various colors of paint.  Mathus is carrying various paint supplies as he heads into the forest, an easel, a canvas, paints, brushes, etc.  As he walks, Mathus is looking up towards the tops of the trees and we can see the side of his face.  He is obviously happy and content as he takes in the beauty surrounding him.

  1. Mathus (speaking to himself):                     This right here is my idea of paradise.
  2. Mathus (speaking to himself): A quiet forest to enjoy, and not a single soul around other than me.
  3. Mathus (speaking to himself): I can feel the energy flowing through this forest and                reaching out to me.
  4. Mathus (speaking to himself) :                               I should be able to create an amazing piece in this place.

 Page Two

Panel 1:  Medium shot of Mathus as he is setting up his easel and canvas in a small clearing in the forest.

  1. Narration: As Mathus sets up his canvas and paints, he reaches out with his mind to harvest the psychic energies of the forest and its inhabitants.

Panel 2:  Mathus sits down on the ground, with his legs crossed, facing his easel and canvas.

  1. Narration:                  As a Saan Artist, Mathus utilizes his psychic skills to create his art.

Panel 3:  Close up on Mathus’ face.  His eyes are closed, and it is obvious that he is now in deep concentration.

  1. Narration: The Saan are a race of psychically powered humans that use their mental abilities to enhance their functions in society.

Panel 4:  Same close-up on Mathus, but this time, there are two paintbrushes floating beside his head.  Each brush has a different color of paint on it. 

  1. Narration: There are Saan from every walk of life, including warriors and healers, as well as artists and craftsmen.

Panel 5:  Close-up of the canvas as Mathus paints on it.  There are a couple of paint strokes on the canvas as the two brushes place more paint on it.  All the painting is done psychically by Mathus without the use of his hands.

  1. Narration: To create his art, Mathus pulls the psychic energies surrounding him to find inspiration and to influence his work.

Panel 6:  Back to the close-up of Mathus’ face.  Now, his face is contorted to show that he is suddenly appears to be in pain.

  1. Narration: When the surroundings are peaceful, Mathus is capable of creating serene images of pure beauty.    But a forest is not always at peace…

 Page Three

Panel 1:  Medium shot of Mathus on the floor of the forest.  He is doubled over in pain, clutching his head.

  1. Mathus: Hyaaarrrggghhhh!!!!

Panel 2:  Close up of Mathus.  He is throwing his head back and clutching at his temples.  His eyes have rolled back into his head, revealing the whites of his eyes.  There is foamy spittle shooting out of his mouth.

  1. Mathus: Gurrrrrggggg!

Panel 3:  This panel will take up a large percentage of the page.  It is an aerial shot of Mathus sprawled out on the forest floor.  He is now dead, and his body is contorted to show that he died in great pain as if his brain has exploded in his head.  There is blood oozing from his eyes, mouth, and nose.  His eyes are still rolled back in his head exposing the whites of his eyes.

Panel 4:  This will also be a large panel similar in size to panel 3.  This panel will be a close up shot of the painting Mathus had been working on.  It is a dark image of a demonic looking face.  The colors are all deep blacks and greys except for the eyes of the face which appear to be glowing blue.  The mouth of the face is snarling and full of fang-like teeth.

  1. Narration: Some forests house sinister energies.

End First Scene

Scene Two Script

This scene from the first issue of Psi-Fi is six pages long, and is the introduction to the main hero of the book, Saan Hurai.

Page 1

Panel 1:  Sann Hurai sits on the ground against a tree and closes his eyes.  The other four members of his squad take positions around him, standing guard over Hurai as he concentrates.

Panel 2:  Mirror panel one, with the addition of an astral projection of Saan Hurai leaving his body.

  1. Narration: Hurai focuses his psionic energy to create an astral projection of himself.

Panel 3:  Wide shot of Hurai’s astral form heading towards the outlaws’ hideout.

  1. Naration: Using this mental projection of himself, Hurai will scout the interior of the outlaw hideout.

Panel 4:  Close up of the front door of the outlaw hideout.  The astral projection of Saan Hurai is now phasing right through the door.

1:  Narration:                                      Once his scouting mission is complete, Hurai will return to his body and relay the information he has learned to his squad.

Panel 5:  Mirror panel  4, but this time, Hurai’s astral projection is exiting through the front door.

  1. Caption:                Minutes later

Panel 6:  Medium shot of the astral projection of Saan Hurai returning to his body.

Panel 7:  This will be a thin panel running across the bottom of the page directly under Panel Five and Panel Six.  It is a tight close up of Saan Hurai’s eyes snapping open.

  1. Saan Hurai: I have returned.

Page Two

Panel 1:  Medium shot-  Saan Hurai’s squad leader is turning to face him.  The expression on the leader’s face is stern and serious.

  1. Squad Leader: Report.

Panel 2:  This will be a medium shot of Hurai speaking with his squad leader.  The two men will be on either side of the panel with the word balloons appearing between them.

  1. Hurai: Sir.  There are six occupants in the house.
  2. Hurai: Four men sit at a table in the kitchen of the house playing cards.
  3. Hurai: Our suspect occupies a large bed room in the upstairs of the house.
  4. Hurai: He lies in bed, sleeping, with a woman sleeping beside him.

Panel 3:  Close up of the squad leader.  He is rubbing his chin thoughtfully.

  1. Squad Leader: Excellent work.  And there is nothing else to report?
  2. Hurai (off-panel) No sir.
  3. Squad Leader: Then let us begin.

Panel 4:  Wide shot of Hurai and his squad running towards the outlaw’s hideout.  They are moving as quickly and quietly as they can to remain undetected.

Panel 5:  Medium shot of Hurai’s squad taking positions around the front door of the hideout.  Hurai kneels down in front of the door, preparing to pick the lock.

 Page Three

Panel 1:  Close-up of Hurai placing his hand over the lock of the front door and closing his eyes in concentration.

Panel 2:  Close-up of Hurai’s hand on the lock.  His hand has a faint green aura around it.

Narration:                                           As a scout, Hurai is able to use his psionic energies to easily pick any lock.

SFX:                                                       Click

SFX:                                                       Click

SFX:                                                       Klakk

Panel 3:  Medium shot of Hurai with his hand on the doorknob of the hideout.  He is looking up towards the direction of his squad leader.

  1. Hurai: We’re in.

Panel 4:  Close-up of the Squad Leader.  He is waving his hand to signal his squad to move into the building.

  1. Squad Leader: Quietly now. Follow Hurai’s lead.
  2. Squad Leader: Go!

Page Four

Panel 1:  Medium shot of Hurai and his squad quickly sneaking in the front door of the hideout.  They are trying to be as quiet as possible while also trying to be as quick as possible.

Panel 2:  Medium shot of Hurai and his squad, now inside the hideout, taking positions around another door.  This door leads to the kitchen of the hideout.

Panel 3:  Close-up of Hurai kneeling in front of the kitchen door.  His eyes are closed, and he has his left hand resting flat against the door.

  1. Narration: Hurai reaches out with his mind, taking a psychic reading of his surroundings.

Panel 4:  Close up of Hurai.  His eyes are open now, and he using his hand to signal to his squad that there are four men on the other side of the door.

  1. Narration: With this ability, he is able to detect the life signs of any human or animal in his vicinity.

Panel 5:  Close up of the Squad Leader.  He is signaling another member of Hurai’s squad to come forward.

Page Five

Panel 1:  Medium shot of Hurai’’s squad-mate, Stoffe moving into positon beside the kitchen door.  Stoffe is a tall, thin man with a long face.  He has a short beard and dark hair.

  1. Narration: Hurai’s squad-mate, Stoffe has developed the ability to manipulate weaker minds so that they will not see things that Stoffe does not want them to see.

Panel 2:  Medium shot of the kitchen door.  As Stoffe kneels down on the left side of the door with his eyes closed and his hands raised towards the kitchen, Hurai and his squad begin to rush into the kitchen.

  1. Narration: Utilizing this ability, Stoffe is able to hide the presence of his squadmates from the outlaws in the kitchen as they move in to incapacitate them.

Panel 3:  A thin, wide panel that stretches across the page underneath panel 1 and panel 2.  It is wide shot of the interior of the kitchen.  It is a standard looking 1800s old west type of kitchen with a wood stove and large basin sink in the background.  In the center of the room, there is a square, wooden table.   There are four men sitting on each side of the table.  These men are  outlaws, and are all rough, burly, and appear to be rather strong.  Each man is dressed in plain, dirty clothes, and each has a revolver holstered on his hip.  Hurai, his squad leader, and his two remaining squadmates are each standing directly behind a different outlaw.

  1. Narration: So powerful is Stoffe’s ability that even when Hurai and his squad are standing directly behind a man, they are still not detected.

Panel 4:  Mirror the wide shot of Panel 3 with Hurai and his squad standing behind the outlaws sitting at the kitchen table.  Now, each member of Hurai’s squad has activated their psionic blades, and are holding them in a ready to strike position over the outlaws.

Note-The psychic blades of the Saan are swords, or sometimes daggers, made of pure psychic energy, and should look like they are made of pure energy.  The blades are focused through hilts made of crystal.  Each hilt is carved by its owner out of a crystal that helps to focus psychic energy into the blade.

The crystals are translucent, and glows slightly from the energy passing through it.  Each member of the Saan can determine the color of their blade.  Saan Hurai, for example, will have a bright green colored sword, similar to a Japanese Katana.

Page Five (Continued)

  1. Narration: Every Saan warrior learns to channel their psionic energies through a Psion Crystal to create a weapon of their own choosing.

Panel 5:  Medium shot of Saan Hurai attacking the outlaw in front of him with his psionic sword.  Hurai is washed in the glow of his sword as it strikes the outlaw.

  1. Narration: A Saan uses his psychic blade to incapacitate an opponent. The blade can stun anyone it strikes by temporarily shutting down their brain synapses.

 

Panel 6:  Medium shot of the now unconscious outlaw sliding out of his chair and hitting the floor.  Saan Hurai has deactivated his psychic blade, but is still holding the hilt in his hand.

  1. Narration: If need be, a Saan can also increase the power of his blade to permanently shut down their opponents brain, killing the foe in the process.

Page Six

Panel 1:  Full shot of a large bedroom.  There is a Wardrobe cabinet on one wall of the room, and a dresser with a mirror attached on another wall, near the door of the room.  In the center of the room is a king sized bed.  Everything in the room looks fancy and expensive.  There are two people sleeping in the bed, a man and a woman.  The man , who is on the right side of the bed if you are standing at the foot, is young, in his mid-twenties, and very handsome with short, blonde hair and chiseled features.  The woman, who is on the left side,  is also young and attractive, early twenties at the most, with long brown hair.

  1. Caption: Upstairs.
  2. SFX: Click
  3. SFX: Click
  4. SFX: Klakk

Panel 2:  Medium shot of Saan Hurai and his squad rushing through the door into the bedroom.  Hurai and his squad leader enter first, igniting their swords and taking defensive positions at the foot of the bed.  The squad leader is pointing towards the man in the bed as he is barking an order.  The man and woman in the bed are now awake and sitting up in the bed.  Both appear to be naked with the man being shirtless, and the woman covering herself with the blanket.

  1. Saan Squad Leader: Saan Jerotte, you are under arrest for violating Saan Law! Come along peacefully, and you will not be harmed!
  2. Man in bed (aka Saan Jerotte) What….What is going on here?

Panel 3:  Close up of the Saan Squad Leader.  He is still pointing and shouting at Jerotte.  His face has an angry expression.

  1. Saan Squad Leader: You are in violation of several Saan laws, which include fraud, racketeering, and using your psionic abilities to influence and abuse non-psionic citizens.
  2. Saan Squad Leader: Come along peacefully, or we will use force to subdue you.

 

Page Six (Continued)

Panel 4:  Wide shot of the bedroom from the perspective of Saan Jerotte.  The back of Jerrotte can be seen in the foreground, raising both of his hands towards Hurai’s squad who are standing in a defensive formation around the bedroom.

  1. Saan Jerotte: No!!

Panel 5:  Mirror the behind the back wide shot from panel 4.  Jerotte is still holding his arms up towards Hurai’s squad.  This time, Hurai’s squad is being thrown back against the bedroom wall, the result of Saan Jerotte using a powerful telekinetic push against the squad.   The squad is obviously surprised by this attack, and it shows on their faces.

  1. SFX: Crash!

Panel 6:  Close-up of Saan Jerotte getting out of bed.  He is using his right hand to steady himself while continuing to point his left hand towards the squad who are trying to recover from their crash into the bedroom wall.  Saan Jerotte has an evil smile on his face as he stares down his opponents.

  1. Saan Jerotte: No. I don’t think I’m going to make it so easy for you.

End Scene Two

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Announcement

It has been a very long time since I have posted anything on this blog, and I have decided to make some changes. First of all, I have created The New England Society of Geeks, a blog, Twitter account, and Facebook Page that I will be using to write about topics as a geek from New England. If you are a geek, or a New Englander, or both, I hope you will go and check out The New England Society of Geeks. I hope you will find it interesting.

Secondly, this blog will be metamorphosing into something completely new and different.  I originally started this blog with the intention of using it as a platform to write about things that were occupying my mind at any given time, hence the name.  However, as you may or may not be aware of, my posts on this blog have been infrequent at best.  It seems that I did not enjoy writing about the things on my mind as much as I thought I might.  So, instead, I have decided to shift gears on this blog and from now on I will be using it to showcase some of my fiction stories.  I will write and share short stories, episodic serials, and even the occasional poem with you.  I am looking forward to sharing my fiction with everyone, and I hope it will be widely enjoyed.  I may even still include the occasional non-fiction essay as well if something good should come to my mind that I feel the need to write about.

So, stay tuned to this blog because I will be starting this new direction soon, hopefully this week.  Thanks to those that have read my blog in the past, and I hope you all enjoy the new direction.

Thanks,

Derrick.

My Thoughts On The Boston Marathon Bombing.

I have taken a break from writing my blog the last few months, but I have been thinking about writing again lately.  I had planned on writing a fun piece about the kitten that my wife and I took in last year, but it seems that will have to wait until my next post.  Right now, I need to talk a bit about my thoughts and feelings regarding the bomb attack that happened in Boston on the day of the Boston Marathon, April 15, 2013, and the weeks that followed.  There are so many different emotions and thoughts running around in my mind right now that it is somewhat difficult to sort through them all, but I will try my best.

A tragedy like this always shows us both the good side, and the bad side of humanity. Unfortunately, it seems we have seen these tragedies happen far too often lately.  When I think back on just the past twelve months alone, I am shocked by the tragedies that have happened.  All of these tragedies are horrific examples of the evil that humanity is capable of, yet they also bring out some of the best in humanity as well.  A few of the recent events have affected me on a more personal level, and the bombing in Boston has been more personal to me than any of the other events.

I was born in Massachusetts and I have lived there my entire life.  Boston is just over an hour drive from my home and I have spent many fun days in the city walking the streets and enjoying some of the many tourist attractions that Boston has to offer as well as its rich history.  I have gone to Boston to watch plays, eat wonderful food in several of the amazing restaurants, and I have even gone to the city to attend comic book conventions and other events.  I have loved the city of Boston my entire life, and I will continue to love it for the rest of my life as well.  It is because of my love for the city that this particular tragedy feels so close to home for me and affects me on a more personal level.

It is always sad and shocking to witness an event that causes so much pain and suffering and death, but the fact that I know, and have been to the exact spots that the bombings happened has hit closer to my heart than other tragedies that I only know about through my tv.  As the events following the bombings unfolded, I found myself going through so many different emotions.  It started with shock on the day the bombings happened, followed by sadness as the world began to realize what had occurred. 

I went on Twitter as soon as I could to find out as much as I could about the bombings, and it was there that I began to see things that began to make me angry.  In the midst of all the questions and concerns about what had happened and trying to tell some people from across the world what had happened even though I was not sure myself, I saw a few individuals who immediately used the tragedy as a means to spout off their political views, on both the conservative side, and the liberal side.  I found it very offensive that these people would start spouting their political venom even as the injured and dying were still being taken away from the bomb site to local hospitals for treatment.  That was a time for people to come together and help each other, not try to throw their political daggers around.

My anger didn’t last long however as I saw reports of the people who rushed in to help the bombing victims without concern for their own safety.  It warmed my heart to hear about the marathon runners who continued to the hospitals to give blood despite the fact that they had just been running a marathon.  We’ve all seen these images and stories about the heroes that helped out in any way they could, and it is important to see that there are people like that in this world to counter the evil people who would plant bombs and try to harm and kill others.

Speaking of the stories of the tragedy and the heroes that rose from it, I am now reminded of the news media and their rush to get out the stories involved in this tragedy without taking a moment to verify their reports.  I’m sure everyone reading this will know exactly what I am talking about.  It is a sad fact of the state of news today that reports are rushed to get on the air in order to beat reports coming from online sources and social media that often can be just as incorrect.

As that first week wore on, the non-stop news coverage of the events became almost unbearable to watch.  I have now seen the footage of the initial explosion so many times that I can see every detail in my mind now whenever I think about it.  My poor wife ended up seeing a disturbing image of one bomb victim because one of her friends posted it on their Facebook page without warning anyone about the gruesome details of the picture.  By the time Friday rolled around, I no longer wanted to hear any more about the bombing for a while because I had become overwhelmed, but that is when things began to get interesting.

I woke up Friday morning and heard the news about the shootout between the bombing suspects and the police and I immediately became interested in the whole ordeal again.  I normally have Fridays off, so I spent the day following my normal routines.  I spent time catching up on recorded tv shows, doing my laundry, and other mundane tasks while checking in on the news that had been running almost twenty-four hours straight on every channel every day since the bombings for constant updates.

As night fell on Friday, my wife and I were glued to our tv as we watched the police and FBI search for the missing suspect.  We were on the edge of our seats as we switched from channel to channel to see if anyone had any breaking news.  Finally, the police caught the suspect hiding in the now famous boat and I found myself filled with joy that the suspect had been caught, and pride in all the police officers and FBI agents that had worked so hard to bring this terrorist to justice.  I also felt a bit of relief that the ordeal was finally over, for those of us who were watching at least. 

Unfortunately, for the victims of the bombings, and those that lost someone, the ordeal will most likely never truly end.  My heart goes out to all of those victims, whose stories we have seen more of as time has passed, and I hope they are able to piece their lives back together as best as humanly possible.

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Part of the memorial for the bombing victims.

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Another small section of the much larger memorial.

Yesterday, my wife and I finally made a trip out to Boston to see the memorial dedicated to all the victims and visit the site of the bombings.  I am not ashamed to admit that I got choked up at the sight of all the love sent to Boston from around the world, and at the memory of what had happened on that horrible day.  Boston is recovering from the events of that day and the city will continue to heal for as long as it needs to.   I know that my favorite city will not let these events destroy it and will continue on as strong as ever.  I also know that the city will never forget the pain and horror that happened on that day either, and I know that I never will either.  But those memories will just help to make the city and those that love it stronger than ever.

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A sign hanging outside a building near the bombing site.

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Boston strong ribbon put up in a storefront window at the bombing site.

 Whenever something as horrible as this happens, people always say that they can’t understand how anyone could do something so disgusting and so evil.  To those people I say this, be glad you can’t understand their motivations, because that means that you could never do anything that would cause so much pain and horror, and that makes you a better human being than those terrorists will ever be.

Happy Thanksgiving

It seems I have let a large chunk of time pass since my last post.  I didn’t mean to stay silent for so long, I just got caught up in life.  Though I have neglected my blog for a few months, I have decided that a perfect way to get back into the swing of writing would be to write about my experiences with Thanksgiving, the American holiday of feasting and reflection on the things in our lives that we are thankful for.  There is much for me to be thankful for this year I am happy to say.  One of the things I am very thankful for is the joy of the holiday itself.  There was a time when I felt indifferent about Thanksgiving.  A period of time in my life that I just didn’t care about the holiday at all.  That may sound odd until I explain why.

When I was young, as far back as I can remember, I used to love Thanksgiving.  I don’t remember anything from before my parents got divorced, but I do remember Thanksgivings after that time where my father would take my sister and I to his Aunt Eve’s house for Thanksgiving.  The entire family would meet up at Aunt Eve’s house, and I loved going there. I would get to see cousins, second cousins, grandparents, and family members that I didn’t get to see on a regular basis.  There was always a huge amount of food to eat, and plenty of family bonding.  I look back on those days with many fond memories.

As time passed and everyone got older,  Aunt Eve stopped having big family gatherings at her home on Thanksgiving.  That is when the tradition of Thanksgiving began to unravel, and I began to lose the joy that Thanksgiving used to bring me.  For a couple of years, my grandmother started making Thanksgiving dinner for our more immediate family until she felt that it was too much for her to handle at her age.  After that, my father would take my sister and I out to a restaurant for our Thanksgiving meal.  That only lasted a couple of Thanksgivings until the day I finally gave up the idea of ever having a traditional family Thanksgiving again.  Although I don’t remember the exact year it happened, I will always remember the day my father told me and my sister that we would be on our own for Thanksgiving.  My father had made plans to spend Thanksgiving with the woman he had been dating that would eventually become my stepmother forcing my sister and I to seek out other options for our holiday.

I spent a Thanksgiving or two after that having dinner at the homes of some of my friends.  I am grateful to my friends for allowing me to join their Thanksgiving celebrations, yet I couldn’t help but feel like an outsider the whole time.  My mind just couldn’t accept that this would be how my Thanksgivings were spent, and I longed for the holidays of my youth at Aunt Eve’s house.

I began a new Thanksgiving tradition  a couple of years later when I met my wife.  Shortly after my wife and I began dating, she invited me to share Thanksgiving with her and her family.  At the beginning, I still felt out of place even though my wife’s family welcomed me to their holiday celebration.  Once I grew more familiar and comfortable with my wife’s family, Thanksgiving began to feel like a warm family holiday once again, and I was happy.

Alas, as the saying goes, all good things really do come to an end.  A few years later, I lost my job due to a lay-off right before Thanksgiving.  I was able to find employment a few months later at a new company.  The new company that employed me, however, had a work schedule of twelve hour shifts working seven days a week.  The only time the plant closed was on Christmas day, which meant that I ended up working a twelve hour shift on Thanksgiving day.  Let me tell you, nothing made me feel as indifferent towards Thanksgiving as being forced to spend the holiday at work.  Sure, the cafeteria at work would make a decent Thanksgiving meal for all of us at work that day, but that couldn’t hide the fact that we were stuck at work.

Fortunately, three years later I changed my shift at work and I no longer had to work on Thanksgiving and could return to spending the day with my wife and her family.  That would only last a couple of years, unfortunately, due to a death in the family right before Thanksgiving a couple of years ago.  That year my wife and I had a quiet Thanksgiving with just the two of us and a small turkey that my wife cooked.  Despite the recent family tragedy, spending the day with just my wife eating a good Thanksgiving meal, watching parades and football, and not having to leave the house at all turned out to be a very pleasant way for us to spend our Thanksgiving.  For that reason, that will always be one of my favorite Thanksgivings, even though the weeks leading up to that day were tragic.

Last year, things changed once again when my father and stepmother finally moved out of their tiny apartment into their new home.  Now that they finally had a home with plenty of space to share, my father and stepmother decided to host Thanksgiving dinner.  My wife and I were happy to head to my father’s new home and join my father, my stepmother, and my stepsister and her family, and begin a new family tradition.  This year, we are once again heading up to my father’s home for Thanksgiving.  I am happy to say that Thanksgiving, once again, feels like the proper family holiday it should be.  I am actually looking forward to spending the holiday with my family this year.

After all the ups and downs of my past Thanksgivings, I can honestly tell you that this particular holiday has become very important to me.  Thanksgiving is now one of my favorite holidays, which is something I have not felt in a very long time.

I hope that everyone reading this will have a wonderful Thanksgiving, and I hope you will appreciate the family around you. You many not always get along with your family, but you just might miss them when they are not around anymore.  To those that don’t have family to spend Thanksgiving with, I hope you can find some joy and happiness on the holiday too.  I understand how it feels when you don’t have family to celebrate with, and I know how much of an impact that can have on you.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Hello Newman…..

Hello everyone, I’d like to take a few minutes of your time to introduce you all to my cat Newman.  Newman, say hello to all the fine folks out there.

Tell me that’s not an adorable face.

My wife and I adopted Newman from a local cat shelter with a no-kill policy two years ago, and he has been a vital and cherished member of our family ever since that day.  I remember the day we adopted him very well.  We had lost our previous cat, a part of my wife’s family even before my wife and I met, to old age and serious illness.  After a month of mourning the loss, my wife had finally decided that she was ready to open her heart to a new love.  We went to the shelter with the idea that we would not be the ones to choose a cat, but would instead let the cat choose us.  My wife and I spent a long time walking around the shelter, playing with all of the various cats and falling in love with each and every one of them.  Choosing a new pet out of all the cats we played with seemed as though it would be an impossible task.  It was then that we discovered Newman,  or Larry as he had been called at the shelter.  Newman was so shy and scared that he would only come up to us for a minute or two, rub up against our legs, and then run and hide whenever another cat would come near.  Even though he was nervous, Newman kept approaching us to rub up against our legs again and again.  It was his shy demeanor and determination to introduce himself to my wife and I that made us realize he was the cat we had been looking for.

After signing the appropriate paperwork and paying the adoption fee, my wife and I brought Newman to our apartment.  Being that Newman was so shy and nervous, the trip from the shelter to our apartment was quite traumatic for him.  As soon as we got home, we placed Newman’s cat carrier on the floor of our living room and waited for him to feel comfortable enough to leave the carrier on his own.  It took a while, but when Newman did finally come out, he sniffed around our apartment briefly, then climbed behind our couch where he decided to camp out for the next several hours.  My wife and I waited as patiently as we could for him to come out, but we were starting to get worried about him, so we thought we would have to try to coax him out from behind the couch.  My wife came up with the idea of using one of the toys we had for our old cat, a cloth ribbon on a stick, to play with him and get him feeling more comfortable.  Sure enough, cats love ribbons on sticks, and Newman was out and playing with my wife in a few minutes time.

Here is a picture of Newman and I after he came out from behind the couch and relaxed a little. Look how tiny he was.

We played with Newman for a while, and let him get accustomed to both my wife and I, and his new surroundings.  Later that night, my wife and I went to bed as we normally would, and let Newman be by himself to continue getting situated.  Let me tell you, that first night was not easy at all.  Poor Newman was so scared that he spent the entire night on our bedroom floor crying and wailing.  He got so loud at one point that my wife, no doubt frustrated because she could not sleep, swore she would return Newman to the shelter the next day.  I convinced my wife to calm down, and everyone eventually fell asleep.  It’s a good thing we both had taken the week off from work for vacation, because we were exhausted the next day.  Fortunately, everyone, Newman included, managed to survive that first night.  Here it is three years later, and Newman has become a beloved member of our family.

Here is Newman sitting on his favorite cat tree by the window taking in some sun.

Now, Newman feels right at home with us and is a very happy cat.  I must point out however, that Newman has really become attached to my wife.  Sure, if my wife is not around he’ll be friendly with me, and even climb up on my lap and sleep.  As soon as my wife comes home, it’s as if I don’t even exist.  Even if Newman is sound asleep in my lap, as soon as my wife enters the house, he leaves me behind and instantly runs to her.  In the evenings, if my wife is watching tv, or playing on her computer, Newman has to be on her.  If my wife sleeps too late, which is still pretty early in the morning by the way, Newman will come into the bedroom and start meowing loudly until she gets up.  It gets to be a bit much for my wife at times, but we still love him.

My wife even tried to dress Newman up for Halloween once. It did not go well.

Newman’s attachment to my wife has raised one concern for me, however.  I have tried to tell my wife of my concern, but she just thinks I am overreacting.  You see, I have become convinced that Newman may be trying to kill me so that he can be alone with my wife.  It all started when I would be doing something, say the dishes for example, and I would turn around for some reason.  I would often notice that when I turned around, Newman would be there staring at me.  I would stare back at Newman for a brief moment, then Newman would let out a single meow and walk away.  I didn’t think anything of it at first, until I noticed it happening more and more often.  One day, Newman woke me up out of a sound sleep by jumping on my stomach from the top of our headboard.  That was not a fun way to wake up, let me tell you.  There are other example as well, but I will not dwell on them.  Let me just say that I have been watching Newman closely ever since.  If he is trying to kill me, I will be ready for him.  Just keep this in mind if a long period of time goes by without hearing from me at all.  Then, you will know that Newman got me………..

I caught Newman one day hiding behind our treadmill as he waited to lash out at me. He tried to act innocent, but I know the truth.

In all seriousness though, my wife and I are very happy to have Newman in our lives. He may frustrate us on occasion, but that is true of any relationship really.  Newman has brought so much joy into our home and our lives would not be the same without him.  Recently, my wife and I bought ourselves a new house, see my previous post http://wp.me/p28lvf-4x for details on that.  Moving Newman to the new house proved to be very interesting.  My wife put Newman in a room by himself and we let him come out on his own just like we did on that first day we adopted him.  Newman spent a couple of hours hiding behind boxes, but eventually ventured out to explore his new surroundings.  My wife and I were actually surprised by how quickly Newman adjusted to the new house.  Then, on the third or fourth day at the new house, we bought a cabinet for the dining room that I had to put together.  Two hours of screwing the cabinet together and pounding twenty-eight nails into the back was apparently too much for Newman to handle.  Poor Newman ran upstairs, hid under the bed, and would not come downstairs for two whole days.  Newman eventually found his courage again, and I am happy to report that he is now relatively comfortable in our house and is ready to claim it as his own.

In closing, I offer you a couple more pictures of Newman so that you can see why we love him so very much.

Here is Newman sleeping on a blanket on my wife’s chair. It’s a tough life I tell ya.

Here is Newman in a tub of towels fresh out of the dryer. What is it with cats and freshly washed towels?

Here is Newman sleeping in a pile of pillows on our bed. He has the whole bed to himself, and I am very jealous of him in this picture.

I hope you have enjoyed meeting Newman.  He has brought a lot of joy into the lives of my wife and I, and I’m sure we’ve brought plenty of joy into his.

Our House…Is A Very, Very, Very Fine House

I realize it has been a while since my last post, but I have a very good reason for that.  I am very happy to announce that my wife and I have just bought our first house after many years of waiting.  Buying and moving into our new house has taken a lot of our time, and I am glad that we are finally settled in and can get back to a normal, although completely new, semblance of life.  As I stated, getting our new home has been a long, roller coaster ride of a process, and we are very happy that it is over.  When we began searching for our house, everyone we knew told us that it was one of the single most stressful experiences anyone can have in life, and they were absolutely right.

In the beginning, when my wife and I had finally reached a point where we were ready financially to begin looking for our new home, we were very excited.  We looked forward to each weekend when our realtor would take us out to look at homes.  We wanted to look at as many as we could, and when we weren’t out looking, my wife and I would search the internet for homes in our price range.  It was very easy to fall in love with houses we saw online, a lot of work goes into making the houses look good in listings.  The houses we looked were an interesting variety, ranging from comforting and homey, to not quite as nice as we had hoped.   My wife and I looked a couple of nice houses that we really liked that, unfortunately, turned out to be in unappealing neighborhoods.  On the flip side, we also looked at a few houses that were in decent enough neighborhoods, yet the houses themselves were disappointing.  After a couple of months of searching, the fun of looking at houses began to wear off, and my wife and I were beginning to grow anxious to find our home.  We had to constantly reassure each other that we would find our perfect home, and we would know it as soon as we found it.

To be honest, I thought that was just something we would tell ourselves to feel better.  Yet, as soon as we walked into our home to look at it, we pretty much knew instantly that was the perfect house for us.  Of course, it probably helped our decision that the house we looked at prior to our chosen home was an absolute dump.  The people who lived in that home didn’t even bother to clean up the house before showing it, which I still can’t believe.  The house was in rundown shape, and the family had trash all over the house.  The garage alone had a large pile of used pizza boxes stacked up in the middle of it!  I truly felt bad for the realtor that had to try to sell that house, and I wonder if it has been sold yet.  After looking at that disaster of a house, we came directly to our house.  While waiting for the realtor to arrive and let us in the house, my wife and I took a look at the outside of the house and the surrounding property, and were very pleased with what we saw.  Then, as soon as we walked inside the house, we instantly fell in love with everything we saw. As we walked around the rooms of the house, our happiness increased.  Although we loved the house, we did have another house we had previously looked at that we were also happy with, and the decision came down to those two houses.  After taking the rest of the weekend to discuss the pros and cons of each house, my wife and I made our decision and haven’t looked back since.

Choosing our house was only part of the battle though.  After choosing a house, you must then apply for a mortgage.  That is where the real stress begins.  Even though my wife and I had already applied and received pre-approvals from four different banks, we knew that it was not a guarantee that we would be approved for a mortgage.  My wife and I put in our application with the bank we preferred to use, along with as much of our financial information as we could give them, and waited for their response.  In the immortal words of Tom Petty, the waiting really is the hardest part.  As each day passed, the stress level of my wife and I skyrocketed.  Adding to the stress was the fact that days would go by and we would not receive any contact from the bank at all.  My wife and I fully understand that this is a busy time of the year for the banks, and that a lot of people buy homes around this time.  We also understand that those of you who have already gone through the process most likely went through the exact same experience, but knowing these facts did not ease our stress in any way unfortunately.  When the day finally came that we found out we had been approved for our mortgage, my wife and I were ecstatic.  The stress we felt instantly melted away leaving behind only joy and excitement.

Ironically, as we were going through the whole searching and buying process, my wife and I slowly began to despise the apartment we had been living in for nine years.  We began to notice that things that we had once tolerated because we had no other option, began to grate on our nerves.  Whether it was the upstairs neighbors stomping around at all hours of the night, or the fact that I worked later hours and could never find a parking spot when I came home from work, everything about our apartment that used to just be a minor annoyance seemed like the end of the world.  Nothing will make you hate living in a tiny apartment more than waiting to move into your new, beautiful house.  The day we moved was exhausting, as moving always is, and joyous at the same time.

Now, my wife and I are happy to call ourselves homeowners.  We no longer live in a dark, dungeon-like apartment, we live in a house.  It is our house, and it is indeed a very, very, very fine house.  We may have only one cat, and he never goes out into the yard, but we are truly happy.

Mother

For many people, today will be a happy day bringing gifts to their mothers, perhaps taking them out to eat, or just finding some time to spend with one of the people they love most in the world.  I wish all of you a very happy Mother’s Day.  Mother’s Day for me, however, will always be a day that let’s dark and bitter memories rise to the front of my mind.  You see, I have not spoken to mother in nearly twenty years.  That may seem harsh to some people, but I assure you I have my reasons.  Please allow me to explain.

When I was in my preteen years, my parents got divorced.  Their divorce was not a smooth one.  In fact, I’m pretty certain that my parents hated each other by the time their divorce was finalized.  They may even hate each other now, we don’t discuss that time period much in my family.  One thing I do remember vividly is how often my parents would argue with each other, and how intense those arguments could get.  As is the case with most divorces, my mother was given custody of my sister and I, while my father fought just to get visitation rights.  I don’t have a lot of memories of my childhood, perhaps because I have chosen to bury those memories in my mind, but I do remember that my mother gaining custody of us was the beginning of what would perhaps be the worst time period of my entire life.

The first thing I remember my mother doing after gaining custody of my sister and I was moving us to a completely different town, leaving behind our friends, family, and most importantly, our father.  I remember we moved in with a man that my mother was dating, who looked remarkably similar to the singer Rick Springfield.  I don’t remember the man’s name, but I do remember that I did not like him at all.  When I was a very young child, the tendons in one of my legs were not growing properly.  I had an operation on the leg to fix the problem, I still have the scar on my ankle to prove it, but it took me a long time to recover from the operation. I spent a few weeks in a full body cast as a child, which I’m sure must have been unpleasant even though I don’t remember any of that time.  For many years after the tendon problem, and operation, I would occasionally find myself walking on my toes instead of walking properly on my feet purely out of habit.  I was so used to walking in this manner, that it took me a long time to break the habit and walk on my feet normally.  My mother’s boyfriend could not accept my ‘habit’ at all and would yell at me every time he caught me walking on my toes.  I tried to stop, but walking that way had become second nature to me, and I did it without realizing I was walking that way most of the time.  After a while, my mother’s boyfriend got so tired of seeing me walk that way that he decided to start spanking me with his belt whenever he caught me.  I do remember my mother trying to stop him from hitting me at least, but he was determined to break me of the habit.  Eventually, I was able to break the habit without his ‘encouragement’.

The next thing I can remember is that my mother, for reasons I cannot recall, decided she was going to move across the country with my sister and I because she had family out that way.  I don’t remember if she was still seeing the Rick Springfield lookalike at this time, perhaps they had broken up and that’s why she wanted to move.  As you can imagine,  the idea of my mother moving my sister and I across the country did not sit well with my father.  I believe it was against the custody agreement to take us out of state, but I’m not entirely sure.  My father decided to prevent the move by taking us away from my mother one day.  It was there at my father’s apartment that I experienced the single worst moment of my entire life that I will never forget as long as I am alive.  I remember clearly my mother standing in the doorway of my father’s apartment, because my father would not let her enter the apartment at all, screaming at him to give us back to her.  My father, also yelling as I recall, told her that she was not allowed to move us out of the state, and he would not let her take us away.  It was at that moment that my mother said the words that would haunt me to this day.

My mother told my father, point blank, that she just wanted to take my sister with her, and that my father could keep me.

That is the moment that the truth finally came out.  My mother didn’t want me.  My mother never wanted me.  My mother only cared about my sister, and never really cared about me much at all.

I hope with all my heart that anyone who reads this will never have to go through what I went through at that moment.  I’m not even sure I fully understood what she meant at the time she said those words, because I was so young.  Yet those words have haunted me for years.  My own mother, the woman who gave birth to me, did not want me.

When people tell you that everything you do and say has an effect on your children, I can tell you from personal experience that they are completely correct.  I am now, and have been since that day I believe, extremely afraid of rejection in any form.  Any time I feel any sort of rejection at all, whether it is real or just in my mind alone, I tend to fall into a depression.  This has affected my personal life in many different ways.  I have always had trouble talking to women because of my fear, which is no longer a concern thanks to my wonderful wife, and I have been afraid to face rejection with my writing as well.  You would not believe how long it took me just gather up the courage to finally start this blog, which is why I am very grateful to you for taking the time to read my words.  I don’t actually blame my mother for my fear of rejection though, I don’t want to be one of those types that blames their parents for all their woes.  Her rejection of me may be the cause of my fears, but it is up to me to overcome those fears, and I am working very hard to do so.

I didn’t break contact with my mother immediately after that day, that came years later when I became old enough to realize what my mother had done to me.  My mother has made attempts to talk to me on occasion, but I no longer want to have anything to do with her.  I don’t hate my mother now, though I did for a very long time.  Now, I have accepted the fact that I don’t need her in my life, and I am happy without her in it.  My mother did not want me as a child, and I have no need for her as an adult.  In fact, I didn’t even invite my mother to my wedding, and my wife has never actually met my mother either, and I have no desire to change that fact.

I hope that after reading this, you will think about your relationship with your own mother.  I hope that you have a wonderful relationship with your mother and that you are very happy to have her around.  If, like me, you do not have a relationship with your own mother, I hope that you will read my story and know that you are not alone.

Happy Mother’s Day to those that are celebrating today.

Dedicated To My Uncle Lenny

I told my cousin that I was going to write this post many months ago.  I guess it’s about time for me to actually write it then, even though it’s the hardest post I’ve tried to write yet.

I don’t have a lot of memories from my childhood, which I believe is because I have blocked them out of my mind.  I won’t discuss the reasons behind my memory blocks in this post, that will be a post for another day.  This post is about the fond memories that I do have about my Uncle Lenny, and the strange impact his death had on me.

My Uncle Lenny was one of the most interesting and fascinating men that I knew when I was a child.  Uncle Lenny seemed like a very busy man to me when I was young because he had a lot of hobbies as I recall.  One of Uncle Lenny’s favorite hobbies that I can remember was ice racing.  My uncle owned a car, which he may have built himself, or had at least modified, specially suited for racing on a frozen lake bed.  The car had chains on its tires and a painting of Snoopy in his pilot costume on the side of the door.  I remember going to the races and cheering my uncle on as he raced.  I’m sure I often froze my buns off, but I remember the races fondly.  In a related hobby, my uncle also owned a kit car that I think he built himself  in his spare time, or he may have had it built for him, I’m not quite sure.  I remember the car was a beautiful blue sports car, though I don’t remember the make or model, that sat very close to the ground.  I thought that car was the coolest vehicle of all time when I was a kid.

Beyond cars, I remember my Uncle Lenny owned his own telescope.  Uncle Lenny loved taking me and my cousin and sister out to his back yard and showing us the stars in the night sky.  Uncle Lenny was the man who introduced me to all of my favorite constellations in the sky as well.  I owe a large part of my love of space to my uncle.  Perhaps I should buy my own telescope to relive those wonderful memories one of these days.

Uncle Lenny had a great sense of humor and a wild imagination too.  My father told me a story once that my Uncle Lenny once spent an afternoon around the holiday times sitting in front of his Christmas Tree, concentrating on moving the tree with his mind.  The funniest part of the story is that at one point, my uncle actually believed he had managed to move the tree a couple of inches using telekinesis.  My father told me that my uncle was so excited by the accomplishment, he had to tell everyone.  My uncle was so proud of his accomplishment, even if nobody, my father included, would believe him.

My Uncle Lenny was great, and I loved him very much.  That’s why my reaction to his death has always confused me, and still confounds me to this day.  Let me try to explain how I felt, and hopefully you will understand.

Uncle Lenny died when I was thirteen years old of a massive heart attack.  My uncle was somewhere near my current age when he died, that’s one of the reasons I’m trying to lose so much weight now.  I remember the day I found out my uncle had died very clearly.  I had walked into the house after hanging out with my friends to find my cousin and sister sitting at the kitchen table.  They were both very upset and crying ,  it was instantly obvious that something terrible had happened. I asked what had happened, and my cousin told me that her father, my Uncle Lenny, had died earlier that day.

The death of  a relative, particularly one as close as my Uncle Lenny was, is a tragic and painful experience that we all must deal with at some point in our lives. Everyone deals with that loss in a different way, but generally it is met with grief and sadness.  When my cousin gave me the news about the death of my uncle, I don’t know how my outward appearance must have seemed to my cousin and sister, I just remember how I felt inside.  I remember thinking, oh, that’s too bad, as if I had just learned about the death of a stranger that I had never met before, or someone’s pet that I had only heard them talk about.  I felt no immediate grief, sadness, or even loss.  I can’t even say I felt numb or surreal at all.  At that moment, it was as if my mind didn’t even register what was really going on.  To this day I don’t understand why I felt that way, and I still feel bad that I wasn’t immediately distraught or even mildly saddened by my uncle’s death.  The days leading up to my uncle’s funeral did nothing to change my feelings.  I wanted so very badly to feel grief at my uncle’s passing, I just didn’t.

I remember very well the day of my uncle’s funeral, I recall it raining that  day.  The moment that stands out the strongest for me is my family and I waiting inside the entrance of the church that held the funeral services.  I stood there next to my father and watched as the rest of my family filed into the church, each face soaked with a sad combination of tears and rain, still wishing I could share their grief.  It wasn’t until I saw my aunt and cousin exit their car and approach the church that something changed.  I can’t say for certain what had happened in my mind at that moment, all I can say is that when I saw my aunt and cousin walking in, seeing them crying and distraught hit me so hard that it caused me to instantly break down and release all the tears and grief that had been missing from the previous days all at once.  I felt as though someone had punched me so hard that the pain reached my very soul.  There are only a few times in my life that I have cried as hard as I did at that moment.  I still get a bit teary eyed when I think about that moment.  In fact, my eyes are watering a bit as I type this.

After that moment, I was able to feel the full grief of my uncle’s death.  Oddly enough, I am grateful that the grief did at last come.  I have not had such an odd reaction to a family member’s death since my uncle died, and I hope to never feel that way again.  I think missing the grief immediately, then feeling a few days worth of grief all at once, is without doubt one of the most horrible feelings I have experienced in my whole life.  At times, I have felt guilty about my initial lack of grief.  When I feel the guilt, I remember how much pain I felt when I saw my aunt and cousin at the funeral, and I realize that the grief did come, it just took some time

 I have often thought about how my life, and the lives of my family would be different now if  Uncle Lenny were still alive.  I love my Uncle Lenny, and I miss him very much. Sharing all of this with you is my way of honoring the memory of my uncle, and I thank you for reading this important posting.

The Hidden Meaning of Over The Hill

Recently, while celebrating my thirty-eighth birthday, I started thinking about the  term “over the hill”,  as many do when they get older.  “Over the hill”, in my mind at least, used to conjure up images of frail people who have passed the prime of their life physically, or even mentally in some cases.  We all know the overused jokes we tell when someone we love reaches an age that could be considered “over the hill”, it seems as though  there is an entire section of the greeting card industry dedicated to the jokes.  As I thought about the term, I realized that I am indeed “over the hill”, just not in the traditional sense.  Rather than physically or mentally “over the hill”  I have discovered a hidden meaning that I had never thought of before.
When I was younger, I remember hearing adults talk about the things I liked,  music for example, and telling me how much better it was when they were my age.  As a young man, I would just laugh at the elder people and ignore their statements as bad taste.  How could things possibly have been better such a long time ago than they are right now?  Ah, the arrogance of youth.  I’m sure I’m not alone in this arrogance, it’s a common story, but I have to say that I get it now.  I understand what those adults were saying because I now feel the exact same way.  The irony has not escaped me.
For example, as a child of the eighties, my childhood was filled with wonderful toys and cartoons that I remember with great fondness.  I have tried to watch some of the cartoons out today and I’m afraid I find them severely lacking in comparison.  As I grew into a teenager, I listened to the heavy metal and rock music that was popular at the time and watched some of the best television shows that have ever aired, in my mind at least.  In the present day, I just don’t find the music scene as compelling, and the state of television today is mostly sad, with a few exceptions.
I honestly do miss the way things were when I was younger, whether they were actually as good as I remember is irrelevant, and wish I could go back to those times.  I find myself looking at things today with disdain, just like the adults who used to make comments to me about how much better things were when they were young.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying everything is complete garbage nowadays at all.  I think the point that I, and every adult before me, am trying to convey is that I feel nostalgic for the days of my youth and that I wish those days had never changed.  But alas, everything must eventually change or risk growing stagnant and die.  That is the nature of life I suppose.
The hidden meaning of the term “over the hill” that I have discovered is a realization that my time has passed as far as pop culture is concerned, and it is time for me to accept that the younger generation now has the influence.  I don’t have to like it, but I might as well accept it.  I’ve joined the “over the hill” club, but I’m ok with that because I understand them now.

The Impact You Have

I have heard it said that a person can judge the value of their life by the impact they have had on others.  If that is the case, then I have learned that my life has more value than I have realized.

Recently, I attended the birthday party of a friend I have not seen in a very long time.  In fact, the party was filled with many old friends that I have not seen in a long time.  As the party carried on, I got to catch up with my friends, find out how their lives have played out, and reminisce about the good old days.  In fact, I was actually surprised to see how many people still  remembered me.  My closest circle of friends I knew would remember me, I still see some of them on a semi-regular basis.  It was my outer circle of friends, those I would hang out with at parties or who I became friends with because they were friends with my closest friends, those are the people that surprised me.  It’s funny, but I always thought I was a rather forgettable person because I’m generally a shy and quiet person.  I guess I’m not as forgettable as I thought because many of the people I thought might not remember in fact did.  It’s nice to know that I at least had some sort of impact on people’s lives.

As the night moved forward, it was interesting to see how my friends lives ended up and to think about how my life had ended up as well.  And yet, being in a room with so many people that used to be such a big part of my life began to make me feel nostalgic for the old days when we all used to hang out together.  The wild and fun filled days of my youth when life was all about having fun.  At least, that’s how it seems in my mind.  It’s a funny thing the way the brain can make your old memories seem so wonderful that you end up missing the old times even if they weren’t always as wonderful as your memory may make them.  I believe that is what is referred to as seeing things through ‘rose-colored glasses’.  It’s also funny how one person’s memory of a certain event can differ from another persons memory at times.  Our memories are a big part of what make us who we are after all, and the memories of the people in our lives are a big part of what makes our friendships as well.

As a younger man, I always enjoyed hanging out with my various groups of friends, raising the proverbial hell, and enjoying life as much as possible.  Unfortunately, life moves on and we tend to lose touch with our friends, and even our ideas of  just ‘hanging out’ evolve as we grow older.  That is just a simple fact of everyone’s life.  It doesn’t usually happen on purpose, though I suppose there are exceptions, but it is a by-product of growing older it seems.  Think back to the friends that have left your life, for whatever reason, and you will see how true that is.  Within the last couple of years, social media web sites have helped me get back in contact with friends I have lost touch with.  At first, I was reluctant to join any of the social sites, but thanks to my wife’s encouragement, I joined Facebook, which then led to Twitter and eventually to the blog you are reading now.  A blog which is hopefully being read by friends I may not have been able to get back in touch with any other way.  I guess there is some value to the social media sites after all, just as there is value in nostalgia.  Nothing, however, can compare to the value of the friends who have had a great impact on your life.  Remember, you’ve probably had just as big of an impact on their lives as well.

On that note, I send out my thanks to all my friends who have impacted my life and have let me have an impact on theirs.  I can’t fully express to you how much being your friend has meant to me over the years.

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