Posted in Freedom Friday

Friends, Love and Other Things

I had a Freedom Friday post dedicated to Black Friday scheduled for today, but I felt the need to push it forward a week so I could write about something else that’s been on my mind. [Update: Pushed the Black Friday post to next year.]

Friends forever.
Friends forever.

I recently visited the blog and Twitter feed of a longtime author friend of mine. In the interest of respecting their privacy, I’ll use they and them as a means of address. About this friend, I’m overjoyed to have learned they’re in good health again. They were going through a rough time last year—hospital, surgeries, going to sleep and not knowing if they’d wake up. Yet, despite the chaos, they pulled through. Today, they are healthy, exercising, eating right, and have a renewed sense of accomplishment and productivity. I admire their will to live and their ability to bounce back from such a devastating blow. To me, they are the truer hero than the fictional characters I write about on an ongoing basis.

Cancer is an insidious disease. It tears apart families and destroys lives. I hate it and wish medical research would hurry up and find a cure. Regarding this author friend of mine, their family is no stranger to the dreaded disease. And, from what I’ve pieced together, it seems to have resurfaced. I’m not sure what I can say here: I hope for the best? get well soon? No matter what I say, it never seems enough. The words sound fake, and I wish I could do more.

I guess the only sincere thing I can say is that my thoughts are with you.

Anyway, I have a few things I would like to briefly touch on for the remainder of this post.

First, Aristotle once said this about friendship:

“What is a friend? A single soul dwelling in two bodies.”

I can’t say how beautiful a statement that is. It captures the essence of two people bonded to one another by a single heart. Oh, how devastating it would be if one-half was no longer there. Holidays wouldn’t be the same. Birthdays wouldn’t be the same. And the other half wouldn’t be the same.

Second, friendship and love are siblings:

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

“Love never ends.”

Oh, to love and be loved in return.

Finally, the “other things” portion. As the end of the year approaches, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for coming to my site and offering support.

At the risk of sounding preachy, can I be so bold as to ask something of you?

Appreciate those around you. Never let them go. When they’re no longer there, it’ll be too late to say I love you. Be kind to one another and give to those in need. And—live to make every breath count.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ALIEN INVASION, on sale now.

Do you have friends you’re cheering for during their trials?

Posted in Freedom Friday, Other Things

Sweet Spots

As you know, I leave Freedom Friday to talk about things that may be on my mind, but don’t know where to fit them into the grand scheme of things. Sometimes I’ll pour it all out in a stream of consciousness, not really editing any of it in hopes what I capture will make sense later on. Sometimes I’ll write a story with a specific point in mind, with nothing but an idea to lead the way.

My family's trip to Niagara Falls.
My family’s trip to Niagara Falls.

Today’s a mix. I have something on my mind, which, at the same time, can constitute a stream of consciousness—yet I’m editing as I go along—so that sort of defeats the purpose of writing the first thought that hits the paper.

Anyway, I want to talk about sweet spots. Don’t worry. This is not about food again, although that would be cool to write about, too. The sweet spots I want to talk about have to do with times and places in my life that, for the lack of a better way to describe them, inspire me.

I’m talking about standing at the top of the stairs in my home overlooking the foyer from behind the railing. I’m not sure what it is that makes that spot so inspiring—it just is. The same goes for the window in our bedroom. I can stare outside all day, watching the leaves fall, the neighbors walking their dog, and kids going to school. It’s another sweet spot I can’t live without.

It's that time of year in our neighborhood.
It’s that time of year in our neighborhood.

Driving behind the wheel of my car also provides me with an incredible feeling. I suppose because I love to drive, it makes it all the more exciting, but that’s not it. I had a piece of crap car for a number of years before this one, and loved to drive it. However, I didn’t consider sitting behind the wheel a sweet spot. I think I like the car I have now because the display is blue. At night, the glow makes it exciting to drive.

Yet those are only things and places. My current seed of happiness is autumn. I shouldn’t talk about this subject again, you’re probably sick of hearing it. I can’t help it though. This time of year is my absolute favorite time. Yes, it’s cold. Yes, it’s dark. And yes, some folks experience SAD, but who can say they hate the howling of the wind on a cold fall night? Who can deny the rain’s power to persuade with thunder and lightning to boot? Who dislikes raking leaves? I know I don’t. It’s my happiest time of year!

The best part? Winter’s right around the corner. Hats. Mits. Heavy coats. Ah, but let’s not forget the hot chocolate, the flannel PJs, and the warm open fire.

Who has time to waste hanging around online? Facebook can wait. Twitter will always be there.

Good books are waiting for a ravenous reader. Family time is the only time. And the joy of going out with good friends at the local tavern calls.

These are the sweets spots in my life, and I’m enjoying them. What are your sweets spots?

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ALIEN INVASION, on sale now.

Again, I ask, what are your sweets spots?

Posted in Freedom Friday

I Wish…

Everyone has a bucket list these days. Seems like the right thing to do. For Freedom Friday, I thought I’d share my own bucket list. And since it’s the New Year, I figure I could double up by also presenting this post as a 2014 wish list of sorts. I hope that makes sense. I’m sure you’ll muddle through it.

When you wish upon a star
When you wish upon a star

Let me preface every wish with the following intro: In 2014…

  • …I wish I didn’t have to wait in line anymore, such as when I’m shopping and the line comes to an abrupt halt by a thrifty shopper five places ahead because they want a price check on the cocktail olives they’re going to consume with their martini later that evening before passing out in a drunken stupor.
  • …I wish I’ll finally be able to find a parking spot closer to the mall entrance rather than two-hundred car lengths in the middle of nowhere forcing me to walk the distance of a mile to get to that precious birthday gift that in a year no one will remember.
  • …I wish drivers will leave the passing lane open to those of us who actually want to use it as a passing lane therefore allowing us to get to our destinations without feeling we owe them our firstborn.
  • …I wish I will never have to worry about brain freeze ever again.
  • …I wish the water fountains at the mall didn’t spurt torrential rain when I lean into them forcing me to walk outside soaked and drying my hair with a towel.
  • …I wish I’ll have the opportunity to say, “Two hundred channels and there’s so much on.”
  • …I wish my “please” will not mean “step lively” but instead those hearing it will understand it as my way of saying “haul ass” as in, “Can you haul ass and get that for me?”
  • …I wish food manufacturers will not fill half a bag of chips with air.
  • …I wish Spider-Man will make an appearance in the next Avengers movie.
  • …I wish when I’m looking for the salt shaker I discover it in the same place where I’d left it instead of finding the garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, ginger, coriander, cumin, black pepper, chili pepper, cayenne pepper, clove, savory, marjoram, sage, and all the other exotic spices we have in our culinary arsenal we call a kitchen cabinet.

These will do for now. I’m not interested in vast riches, wealth or anything like that. Although it would be cool to wish for a comfortable life, I don’t make it a priority. So many other things in life are way more important anyway. Nothing quite like a good chat or sharing a meal with friends. I suppose as long as everyone gets along, that’s all that matters.

Let’s make it official. In 2014 I wish everyone would get along.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, now on sale.

Do you have any wishes for 2014 you’d like to see happen in your life?

Posted in Monday Mayhem

Warm Bodies

Having seen Warm Bodies two nights in a row last month, the subtle thought of a zombie apocalypse entered my mind. I shouldn’t say subtle, I would say blaring. As funny as some scenes were, some interesting concepts came to the fore worth discussing. I’m hoping this Monday Mayhem post can do the film justice by exploring those ideas.

Warm Bodies (Photo Credit: Jonathan Wenk)
Warm Bodies (Photo Credit: Jonathan Wenk)

I’ll try writing this post having in mind not to give away any plot points or spoilers. I’ll attempt to keep it as general and as high concept as possible.

One of the main themes the movie emphasizes is love will cure all. It’s no secret that when people feel lost and alone they turn to family and friends for support. Why is that? Family is the crux of a stable society. When one becomes injured, family can help with raising the spirits. Who else knows us better than family? However, what is one to do when they possess a fractured family? This is where friends come into to play. Friends—good friends—the kind that have been there through good and bad, light and darkness, joy and pain, they’re the ones who can provide support when all seems lost. Warm Bodies makes it plain that having a support system will make all things better. Love will cure all.

Oh, Romeo, Romeo! The movie drips with references to Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet, which, by the way, aside from Hamlet and Othello, is one of my favorite plays of all time. Again, I ask the question, why? Why the references at all? Is there significance with the way the characters interact with one another and how the main theme plays out?

Warm Bodies (Photo Credit: Jan Thijs)
Warm Bodies (Photo Credit: Jan Thijs)

For those who don’t know, the story of Romeo & Juliet is about love conquering all. It’s about feuding families who, by death, quell their quarrels. The entire opening of the play gives away the whole story:

Two households, both alike in dignity,
In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.
From forth the fatal loins of these two foes
A pair of star-cross’d lovers take their life

As with the play, Warm Bodies tells of two families at war with one another, a war that can cease only with death. Yet, death is not what it may seem. For some, death may be life. And life is all that matters.

The last point the movie highlights is that no matter how bad things get, they can get worse, and they usually do. We shouldn’t ever give up on what we want from life—even if we’re in the throes of darkness. Our life is our own, to make of it what we will by sheer will and integrity.

These are the things I’ve learned watching Warm Bodies.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, on sale October 22.

Do you have a lesson you’d like to share having watched the movie? If not, do you plan to watch it?