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Monthly Archives: September 2013

The Albatross…

albatross“What are you gonna do with that?” That’s what my wife asked me while I was staring at an old fictional story that I am always talking about finishing but never have. Actually that’s not true. Now that I think about it, I never actually talk about finishing it. I just talk about the act of writing. So maybe that’s why I bristled with such brief and concentrated irritation when I didn’t have an answer for her, because I could not envision it being finished. And to be honest with you, I’m STILL a little irritated about the question. No- it’s not the question that irritates me. It’s my answer that irritates me. Because I. DON’T. KNOW… I WANT to finish my old story, and I want it to be great. But I’m afraid and I don’t know what it is I’m afraid of. I’m afraid of looking stupid. I have to say, it’s an ironic thing to be blinded by your own vision and crippled by your own control… but I’m sure that theme will pop up again so I’ll try to avoid any digression there.

There is an old maritime poem with a metaphor for a never ending burden someone must endure. The metaphor is in the form of an albatross. Here’s what the trusty ol’ wikipedia says about it.

The word albatross is sometimes used metaphorically to mean a psychological burden that feels like a curse.

It is an allusion to Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (1798).[1] In the poem, an albatross starts to follow a ship — being followed by an albatross was generally considered an omen of good luck. However, the titular mariner shoots the albatross with a crossbow, which is regarded as an act that will curse the ship (which indeed suffers terrible mishaps). To punish him, his companions induce him to wear the dead albatross around his neck indefinitely (until they all die from the curse). Thus the albatross can be both an omen of good or bad luck, as well as a metaphor for a burden to be carried as penance.

Melanie is a great sport for putting up with this dead albatross I bring into the house on a weekly basis. “What are you gonna do with that?” She asks me, just hoping for me to see exactly what it is I’m playing with and reply with certainty that “I’m going to throw it away.” or with confidence, “I’m going to make it fly.” But no… I just spread it’s limp wings and furrow my brow with confusion as they fall back just as limp and dead as before- awkwardly a feather comes loose and drifts to the tiled living room floor. The weight of it’s mass too heavy to fly- crumpling as it slips from my grip and to the floor with a soggy slapping sound.

Oh this albatross… wasn’t always an albatross, you know. At one time it was actually an IDEA. And it was a REALLY good one too… It even had a name- Neon Continental. It was going to reach out and uplift the downtrodden and astrocised members of the midwest that just didn’t “fit in”. Those who were suffering from the effects of severe alienation from the society that was rejecting them with fear and ignorance. This albatross… Neon Continental was a love story to serve as a beacon over the bible belt and save the lives endangered by their own hands or loved ones. That may be grandiose but through intention alone it would bring forth into the light, all of the admirable qualities of the down cast, and highlight all of the flaws of the social elite. The darkness of midwestern ignorance would be cast aside as it leveled playing fields, shattered archaic barriers, and protected hope itself. Dieing dreams were saved on a daily basis and the unifying laughter of children was the song of this… this dead albatross in my living room.

“What are you gonna do with that?” She asks me… At this rate I’m just going to stuff it and have it mounted over the fire place out of shameful spite. Or maybe I’ll just cook it up and eat it while crying in bed like a woman in menses with a tub of ice cream. I don’t know. There may be no breath in it’s chest and no wind beneath it’s wings, but I am not yet remotely prepared to throw it out because I still believe it can fly. I still believe it can soar to reach those misunderstood unfortunate souls being lost to fear and darkness… but at the moment, it is merely serving to befuddle me as I struggle to articulate an answer to my wife’s subtly prodding question. “What are you gonna do with that?”…”goddamnit,” I sigh. “I don’t know.” Sometimes I don’t understand how she can take me seriously on anything. Then this mild paranoia starts crackling on the outskirts of my mind and I start thinking that I am in fact NOT being taken seriously and I begin reading too much into the mundane mannerisms of others, once again blinded by my own vision…

I just wish there were more hours in the day. If I have any legitimate excuse to make it would be the matter of time. Between work, weekly house chores, and daily familial duties there just isn’t much time left until I need to recharge my body with food and rest. (I also believe it’s important to take some time to just relax with your loved ones.) I remember not too long ago in my 20’s when I could go on as little as 4 hours of sleep a night. Granted, it wasn’t very good for me and aside from a finicky knee, I am more healthy now than I was in my 20’s- but that’s because I get my rest and I’m not recklessly partying all night long or cramming for final exams like I did then. Melanie is now 25 weeks pregnant with our daughter, Violet. I’m hoping that the necessity of waking hours will be ramrodded into actuality by Violet’s arrival. If not, then I need to figure out just what the hell to do with this albatross carcass. Wouldn’t want the baby playing with it.

C.

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/09/16/writing-challenge-dialogue/

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Posted by on September 14, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Fighting with Rudy actually…

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Hello there true believer… it’s funny, I used to really enjoy that opening. And maybe I still do. It’s a great salutation with an acknowledgment of positivity that sort of creates and instills positivity in the reader even if it’s not initially there, which is a great feeling… but it works entirely different for the speaker because the positivity HAS to be there initially and almost inherently in order for it to be done with any honesty or passion to have any impact whatsoever. Because if that positivity isn’t there, then I just don’t see the point- in anything, much less trying to compose some words to spin a positive and relatable message and I’ve been having a hard time doing that with any harmony for the last couple of weeks… but I suppose I’ll try anyway.

In times like this, I often look for entertainment in sources of inspiration like the stories or creations of others that have successfully danced a happy jig on the grave of adversity. Last night I spent the better part of the night watching Rudy, a 1993 production of the true story of an unlikely champion of human will. He basically lived an entire young life being blatantly told by his loved ones that he was something he was not, and simply relied on the power of his own desire to realize his goals.

Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger was a 5′ 6″ 175 lb. dyslexic kid that dreamed of one day playing football for the college of Notre Dame. Because of his undiagnosed dyslexia his grades in high school were never good enough to even be considered a candidate for an ivy league institution such as Notre Dame. He talked about it all the time time though. Always telling his friends, family, and teachers how one day he would be riding the throes of glory on the field of The Fighting Irish. But all anyone saw was just some big mouthed kid with a brain and body that were both too small to equal such big dreams. People couldn’t even see past their own perceptions enough to provide him with any form of emotional or moral support. He was on his own to work harder in EVERY way than anyone had ever been expected to work. However, one day through years and years of adversity and trials, and heartbreaking hard work, he actually made it on the team.

Most of the time he served more as a practice dummy, with his small body taking the brutal blows of young men much too large to be seen as peers or contemporaries. Due to his small size, there were occasions in practice when his teammates would go easy on Rudy. But this only caused Rudy to get in their faces and slap them around for not giving their all, which only resulted in even more brutal punishment for someone so slight. The larger players actually complained that someone so small as Rudy was making them look BAD for the coaches! Yet the majority of his time on the team, he wasn’t even allowed to suit up on the field for games which caused his own family to not even BELIEVE him because they never saw him on television on the sidelines. But all that hardly broke Rudy. Bruised, battered, and grossly underestimated, he was still happy just to be a part of the team. He was proud and grateful for every bruise and because of this; though he hardly looked the part and was lacking in natural ability, through the power of his own will he had actually become the most important team member. He was the heart of the team. Men that towered over him actually looked up to him as a source of inspiration.

Then one day in his senior year in 1975, in the last minutes of the the last game of the season his dream came true. Though it was only for a matter of minutes, for just a few minutes, his dream came TRUE. Years and years of excuses and being overlooked and never given even the benefit of the doubt were cast aside with absolutely no regard whatsoever. There on the field, the one person everyone said couldn’t do it… DID IT. He sacked the quarter back! Though it was the only tackle he ever recorded in game time, somehow it was THE ONLY tackle that mattered because in those few minutes, he became an actualized person. If there was ever a great meaning to life, Rudy discovered it and showed everyone. There on the field was Rudy- riding the throes of glory on the field of The Fighting Irish, and being carried away on the shoulders of his teammates. Starting from literally NOTHING, he had actualized his lifelong dream.

He soon graduated from Notre Dame with a degree in sociology and inspired 5 of his younger brothers to do the same. Whereas before they were all expectant workers of their local steel mill.

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I’m not going to jump on some self righteous soap box here and moan to you about how hard I had it, and how much I relate to Rudy’s story. Honestly I’m not sure if I can relate to a story of such remarkable and unconquerable spirit. But I appreciate it and admire it greatly from the inspiration it elicits in me. In all honesty, the key difference between Rudy and I is HUGE. He didn’t need anyone to believe in him, whereas I do…

When I was a kid, I had the walls of my bedroom literally covered in what I wanted to do with my life. I wanted to make comics. I wanted to write them, I wanted to draw them, I wanted to be KNOWN for them. But most of all I wanted to inspire others with them. I wanted to create magnificent stories of triumph like that of Rudy. I wanted to tell stories of hope so that in some small measure, the mark I made on the world would be a positive one, however small it may be. I wanted to help people by letting them know that everything is okay, things aren’t really as bad as they seem, and life is good. But I suppose the grip of my will is weak because life has knocked me so far from that course that it’s not even funny. At this point the only thing I have in common with Rudy is the begining of his story, where he started from nothing.

Most of you know that I am soon to be a father to a baby girl named Violet. I am of the opinion that though I am just as imperfect and flawed as anyone else, I will be a good father to Violet because of how grateful I will be for everything life with her throws at me. I am also of the opinion that this is a typical level of intention and self expectation for someone in my position. And while my intentions may be common, I happen to know that life knocks many people off this course of behavior. I mean, EVERYone’s parents have screwed them up a little bit in some form or another. It’s basically inevitable. Life happens and parental obligations are often used as an excuse for letting go of personal dreams. Letting go of dreams is painful and scarring, causing unbridgeable distance and emotional unavailability. It’s just bad for the spirit. When a dream dies, a certain part of that person dies and is forever stunted. Things just aren’t as fun as they should be. A bruise is just a bruise and not a badge of admirable courage. Fear is ever present and Love becomes a chore. But… what if some of that could be prevented by staving off any personal frustrations and knowing that in the face of failure, at least you tried and you showed up for the tryout. And even if you failed once, you got back up and tried again, if only to take another hit. Instead of making an easy excuse for yourself out of your child (or someone else for that matter), you provided them with an example of strong character, and let them see that dreams can and DO come true. What if the natural damage of growth can be lessened or even prevented by a balance formed between both taking care of your child, AND taking care of yourself? Why can’t they both be done? Is it possible that being a healthy actualized person can greatly increase your odds of successfully raising another healthy actualized person? I honestly don’t see why not.

C.

 
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Posted by on September 2, 2013 in Uncategorized