I was not going to blog tonight. The game is on, I have the kids to myself, and they are finally sleeping. The plan was to relax, but then something happened that I will never forget. And this story needs to be told.
First, you need a little background. As I was unloading the dishwasher I noticed that a cocktail glass had cracked and needed to be disposed of. We all know there is only one way to properly get rid of a cracked glass: throw it really hard into a large trash can so that it breaks into a million pieces. This technique is not only effective, but also fun. Obviously, this is what I decided to do. I also had to get it on video because breaking glasses is something that my friends on social media want to see.
Now watch the video (not for the faint of heart):
As you can see, through no fault of my own, I was instantly placed in peril. There was a glass flying through the air with a mind of its own. It may as well have been a grenade. It could have conked me in the head and knocked my unconscious. It could have broken on the concrete and forced me to clean up another mess. And what if the neighbor was out back smoking? He could have ended up in the morgue! My life was flashing before my eyes when something amazing happened. Listen to the video, no screams, no sounds of glass breaking...
It's easy to doubt the existence of miracles until you see one with your own eyes. I hope my story warms your heart. Chicken Soup for the Soul editors can contact me at email@example.com.
A co-worker suggested that I should blog about what "grinds my gears" because I frequently complain about trivial matters. It is a very endearing quality. In fact, it is the prevailing trait of a "crotchety old man", which I am often described as being. I must be a joy to be around.
At first I resisted the idea. Would anyone actually want to read along as I bitch and moan about seemingly mundane things? Eh, maybe. Plus it may be a cathartic experience for myself. Here goes:
Speaking of co-workers, I have another co-worker who enjoys sharing what can only be described as "video recipes". They are the biggest pile of bullshit on the entire internet. Buzzfeed (kill me now) is the most prevalent creator of the videos. I guess people share them so other people will watch the video and be able make quick, delicious food just like the sharer. Too bad the videos are a fucking fraud. There is nothing quick about them at all. For those of you who are fortunate enough to not have seen one, here is an example for "baked potato wedges" (just in case they are taken off of the Applebee's seasonal appetizer menu and you decide you want to make your own) :
Let's begin with a comparison of the length of the video, a minute and a half, with how long it would actually take to make this single serving of potato wedges: approximately 17 hours. So many steps are skipped and the video is sped up. Hell, the recent construction of the new bridge across the Ohio looks fast and easy if you watch a time-lapse video in which the entire construction is shown in 30 seconds.
Now look at the pre-portioned little bowls of spices. First off, measuring out quarters of teaspoons and what not is not as easy as it sounds. And I hope you have a robust spice rack to accompany the 17 different herbs and spices in the average "blend". Out of Paprika? Do not fret, just grab one of those pretty little clear glass bowls with the perfect amount of paprika in it that this blasted video assumes you have lying around.
And what about the 30 minute ice bath?
"Hey honey, let's watch our favorite show on tv."
"I'm sorry, I can't, I am giving my potatoes a thirty minute bath!"
"Okay, I want a divorce."
THE WASTEFULNESS is out of control. If everyone in your neighborhood made these there would be enough paper towels (pat drying the damn things) and aluminum foil (perfectly lining the baking tray) to fill the local landfill. But hey, these wedges have a tangy zip to them!
Last but not least, and the most egregious part of the whole deal, is the complete lack of any mention about the inevitable clean up. Don't worry about how many calories are in the wedges because they will be more than burned off by the time you get the kitchen back to any semblance of what it was pre-wedges. The video shows an entire load of of dishes without even showing what they are going to be served on. And do not try any of that bullshit where you just get by with a "rinse" of the bowls that just has spices in them. A complete cleaning will be necessary.
These videos make me want to vomit.
Now I know what you are thinking: why don't I just ignore these videos? Well, then what would I have to rant about?
Eric Proctor is a "crotchety old man" and the primary writer for proctorstype.com.
I woke up at 6:15 this morning to a quiet house and decided I was going to really get going on the novel. I opened a word document and did a save as "novel.docx" (what is with the "x" by the way?) For a brief moment, things were really coming together. But then I ran into what writers dread more than anything else in the world: writers block.
Now is it even fair for someone who has not written a single word to say they have writers block? There is no evidence that anything is actually being blocked. I could just as easily say I am going to be a professional golfer but have the yips. I am equally not writing and not playing golf to the same degree, right? WRONG. I have actively been brainstorming ideas for the novel as well as discussing it with friends and family. So, yes, there are potential words to be written and they are being blocked. And writers block is a son of a bitch. I just wish F. Scott were around today so he could tell me how he worked through it. My guess would be alcoholism and prolonged bouts of depression. That does not sound appealing necessarily, but sacrifices have to be made for any craft.
Before I pour a 7 a.m. drink, I am going to try a different unblocking method. If you remember from "Writing my novel PART I", I was advised from a google search to write a one sentence summary of my novel before actually beginning to write it. And if I can not do that then I am still in the pre-writing stage. I am most certainly still in the pre-writing stage. I just hope I have not "friend-zoned" myself to the pre-writing stage.
I like to think that blogging about writing a novel is my pre-writing. Unfortunately all this has produced is a main character name (Ted, badass name) and a few loose ideas such as a trip to Paris (badass city), and a favorite band. I am scrapping everything except for the name and (maybe) the trip to Paris. I need an occupation and a time-frame in which the novel is going to take place. From that will come my one sentence summary and we can move onto step 2.
A young professor uses an involuntary semester-long sabbatical to discover himself and look for love.
Many years ago, in an effort to culture myself and escape the drabness of business school, I took an art history elective. Each day the professor showed slide after slide of paintings, photographs, sculpture, and architecture. While doing so he did not merely introduce biographical information such as the artist and the date, he also delved into what each work symbolized. It was an enjoyable class and a real eye-opener for me (it was a real eye-closer for others since it took place in a darkened room at 2:30 in the afternoon) and I would like to do the same for you all with my recent instagram post entitled "The Duality of Man":
"The Duality of Man" by @proctorstype, 2016
Get it? If not, that is okay, there is a lot to examine here. First, let me just say that art does not just happen. Once the inspiration struck (a few beers in), I had a lot of planning and drinking to do. Sure, there were many chores I could have been doing, but those are fleeting, whereas The Duality of Man will outlive us all.
Let's start with a comparison of the two pictured beverages. What jumps out at you? Light vs. dark? Mug vs. glass? Economy vs. premium? Random glassware vs. corresponding glassware? Domestic v. import?
Now apply this to the human condition. No, really, apply it to the human condition right fucking now. The keystones represent the every-man; they are easily obtained, they go down easy, and are fairly neutral, if not over-looked, in the grand scheme of beer. A beer drinker could go through life pounding stoners and be perfectly content. But is this what life is? Is it merely a passing through in which mere satisfaction is the primary objective? Or is there more?
Look at the Guinness. The Guinness is darker and heavier. The Guinness is more respected and sought after. But it does not come without strings attached. The Guinness is more expensive and takes more time to pour. Does Guinness represent a greater good or something far more sinister? Must we strive for something? Is man expected to just wait for the little bubbles to finally go away in order to drink from the cup of life? (man, this is on point right now). The renowned philosopher Brandon Flowers writes "if dreams come true, I get to drink the cup". Is it that the Guinness, the "dream", is required in order to be fulfilled or should we bypass the dream and just start sucking down stones? You tell me.
Last but not least, look at Carl, perfectly placed in the center. One may think that because he is a dog and "man's best friend" that he represents neutrality in this eternal struggle. Maybe he is not the yin or the yang. Well, all of that is wrong, he just happened to be laying there and he made the picture a hundred times better so I left him in. Stop reading so much into stuff.
Readers who have checked in recently know that I am in the initial stages of writing a novel. So initial in fact that I have not written a single word of it. What I have done is come up with a protagonist (part I here) and receive some advice from a two year old (Crosby's advice here). Although I remain wordless to this point, I made a huge stride this morning when I decided on the theme of chapter one: saloning.
Not only is describing a trip to the salon a perfect way to get inside Ted's mind, I am also making up a word (saloning) that may end up in being used as slang by middle-aged women. Twitter followers (@proctorstype) got a glimpse of what chapter one will be about when I live tweeted my salon experience today. Although I do not want Ted to be entirely based on myself, I do want him to share some common thoughts and experiences, with saloning certainly being one of them. Like myself, Ted will feel extremely out of place initially then really delve in and let the salon experience relax and soothe him.
I considered just writing chapter one on proctorstype.com but then realized that I would be giving readers and twitter followers (since I am basically just taking my series of tweets and elaborating on them) the goods for free. And considering the novel's main purpose is a cash grab, I need ensure all the sales I can. So, please continue to read as I waste all my writing time writing about writing a novel, but if you want to know how Ted got his haircut, you will need to wait for the hardback or download the electronic version to your preferred device.
Apparently dad is planning to write a novel (you will want to read about his "progress" to understand my suggestions) in the hopes of obtaining a financial windfall. I think he is going to have to explain to me, again, why this is a sound idea but playing the Powerball is not. Anyway, being the supportive daughter that I am, I decided to give him a few pointers for developing and writing a riveting story.
First off, he is going to question my literary credentials because I am two years old. Well, let me put this in perspective. Every night I get to select five books to read in my tent before I go to bed. On the other hand, dad received a book he was really excited about as a gift last May that he has read about a quarter of. Obviously, at the very least, I can remind him of a few main ideas.
He can't put it down, until 8:05 when he falls asleep.
Every Curious George book begins by telling you that George is a good little monkey and is very curious. In one sentence the reader learns an immense amount of information about George that better helps them understand the predicaments his innocent curiosity get him into. Without developing George as a character, the reader may believe him to be a nefarious actor or possibly even confuse him with the Man with the Yellow Hat.
Contrast this with "Ted". As of right now the plan is for Ted to have a favorite band and from that the reader is supposed to understand why he does what he does and is who he is. Why is Ted vacationing in Paris...because his favorite band is Rage Against the Machine? That does not work. A good development sentence would be "Ted is a fairly well-behaved man in his mid-thirties who occasionally struggles in social situations."
In Curious George and the Pizza the reader is presented with two events that signal the central theme and eventual climax of the story. First, Tony (the pizza maker) receives an order from a nearby factory that is about to close. Then George tries to make his own pizza but ends up upsetting many of Tony's customers. From this the reader knows that something is going to interfere with the pizza delivery and that George is going to need to rectify himself in Tony's eyes. At the risk of spoiling the end, I will stop here, but you get the point.
Now in dad's story, we could use a couple triggering events to understand why Ted wants to vacation in Paris. (Isn't it pathetic that this is basically all we know about dad's upcoming "novel" so far?) Maybe he has a grandmother that always wanted to go to Paris but passes away before she can. This would be incredibly sad, but who knows if dad is planning on taking a dark turn. Or maybe he bought tickets for him and a girlfriend but she dumps him for his best friend before they can both go. Well, I guess that is sad too. Hopefully dad can come up with something better.
Stop screwing around and write word number one of the first sentence.
Do you think Margaret & H.A. Rey were plopped on the couch watching basketball in the evenings? Better yet, do you think they were wasting time writing about writing something else? No. They were writing and illustrating. Oh yeah, dad, you should learn to draw too. Books with pictures are better.