Can’t say for sure how many more days our little lad will stay snuggly-safe within the womb of the most amazing woman I’ve ever known. You don’t have to be a paranoid freakazoid to wonder and worry what kind of world, life, and situations your current kids, newborns, or future spawn will endure, take-on, or even conquer. I half-jokingly said to Ariele the other day that I thought our boy would be the kind of genius who’d ultimately do some padded-white wall time. It didn’t go over well, even though I’d meant it as the highest compliment possible. “How so,” you say? I guess I’m a firm believer that (at times) if you are really in-tune with everything going on around us, the good and the bad, that you would go nuts, you’d have to go nuts, I’ve gone nuts and I am most assuredly no genius. “Oh sure, Rosch, you would think your kid was going to be gifted,” some Frenemy might be condemning. Yeah, I’ve got a big ego. Which is odd, because I’m also acutely aware of my simultaneous esteem issues. I’ve also put into the works the possibility that he could just end up being another constructive cog in the machine. A kind cog, hard worker, responsible, respectful, etc. but no more special than shoes. Though recently I heard the phrase, “You’re as cool as shoes.” Think about it, they actually are pretty f’in cool when you remember what they do. Either way, I can’t shut off the brain on this anymore than I can shut it off on any of it. I can meditate it out, run it off, carb-load it out of my system momentarily, but ultimately the endless spirals of what-ifs will always come crawling back. And so then, I got to thinking: maybe The Bean will lead the resistance against the robots or machines. Maybe he’ll be part of a larger group of people his age who actually change politics as usual. Maybe there’ll be no politics. Maybe he and his generation won’t even have to read an article about an NYC development with Rich/Poor entrances. One can hope. Will he write ads for a living? I doubt it. I’ve got a feeling computers are damn close to having the IQs and algorithms necessary to deliver marketing that isn’t too far removed from the shlock and drivel that inhabits a good deal of whatever space me and my cohorts can stick it in, on, and around. I’m not damning the fine-advertising, the kinds that inform and entertain (hopefully both), but if Amazon is working on programs that write books based off of collective-human narrative preferences, you can be sure shorter communications about the latest x, y, and z aren’t far behind. Like so many before me, I’m jumping the gun by twenty years of course. Who can say if he’ll be a rockstar, a writer, a fighter or a lover, or something not yet a thing? But, until he decides in some future unrealized reality on what to “be?” Well, I’m kind of vibe-ing on the notion that he might just become the guy whose decision or insight almost singlehandedly ends wars forever. I mean human wars obviously. After all, by then we’ve got to be taking on locust-like aliens hellbent on devouring what natural resources The Bean and his cohorts have managed to restore and protect, right?
I can only surmise that a big part of why many of society’s ills remain, by and large, unchanged is that there exists a general fear of unmanageable retaliation. We don’t all know one of the many martial arts that might equip us to thwart the blind aggression that might ensue if and when we point out the perverse behavior of another human being, or for that matter, a corporation. We share our personal stories about all that bothers us at our dinner parties, amongst friends on nights out fueled up on our trusty truth serum, and from behind the only seemingly cloaked key strokes of our home computers. But how often do we stand up for what’s right in the actual moment?
Easier to let things slide. Less hassle to pay an extra dime here or there and not have to do the infinite amount of leg work required to right a painstakingly obvious wrong. “Unbelievable,” we might mutter as we watch a woman drop a dirty diaper from her SUV and into the gutter of an otherwise pristine Brooklyn brownstone block–true story that one. And I did watch a braver soul attempt to get her to pick it back up, I believe her response was, “It’s not even soiled.” You see, a pee-peed diaper is just fine.
Rare is the day that I don’t encounter a situation that if put into perspective becomes crystal clear in its wrongness. That might be the net result of being a city dweller, an avid walker, and a guy who always has his peepers scanning left, right and back again for potential thuggery–and that’s regardless of the city street I find myself on. I doubt anyone has ever given the quaint sea-side town of Mendocino, CA a more thorough examination, or painted so many possible, though not probable, acts of pure evil onto its ocean-air-fresh canvas.
As tends to happen when I abstain from blogging for a period of time, I’ve made a mockery of getting to the point. I suppose on this evening, when I am looking back at many of the things that actually occurred to me, or in front of me, over the course of the last four or five weeks, I am wondering–when was the last time I made a fuss over something egregious in an effort to end it, better the situation for others down the road, or at the very least point out its absurdity publicly in the hopes that others might see it for the farce that it is. What was the last incident in your life that you took the extra time to do the same?
Having a book out in the world has been a real treat–mostly. I don’t have actual numbers put together, but I think it’s safe to say that for every three people who have taken the time to read it, one point five have liked it. I never expected everyone to like it, even so, it can be difficult to absorb critical reviews of something so very personal to me. Taking in things like, “the best writing in this book was the word end,” is especially trying when the review has been written by a reader who either scored the book for free because of my own promotions or due to a review service traditional publishers use known as NetGalley that I ponied up some dough for in order to expose the book to a broader base of readers. I suppose that’s what I paid for, honest reviews from complete strangers.
I put a great deal of time into researching the pros and cons of that move, and there was one warning that in hindsight seems particularly spot-on, something along the lines of this: when you offer up your book for free, a lot of people who never would have wanted to read it in the first place, will buy it, without making sure that it is something up their proverbial alley, and as such, will proceed to pan it relentlessly even if they didn’t bother to make it past page six. That has happened a number of times, and to some extent, my title My Dead Friend Sarah has also put the content of the book into the wrong hands–people looking for paranormal YA fiction about ghosts and dead folk to be exact.
Such is the case with my most recent panning–the reviewer even begins her umpteen-hundred words long review by making the admission that she downloaded it for free because she thought, “it was going to be a ghost story or at least have some paranormal/scary elements to it.” She isn’t the first to decide to read it for that reason, and I suspect she won’t be the last. I’m not going to belabor all of the things she found wrong with the book after being “compelled to finish it despite its shortcomings.” She was nice enough to give it two stars instead of one, just because of that compulsion by the way. It was her right to review it–her right to express every little dissatisfaction with it and post her beliefs on multiple sights, doing her civic duty of making sure the rest of the actual paying public isn’t duped into reading my book that isn’t about ghosts, or according to her all-bold Amazon review headline, “…isn’t about a dead girl named Sarah.”
My shiny happy sober brain has me knowing that reviewing her blog, So-and-So’s Dark Fiction, here, and discussing its merits as determined by me, a highly decorated marketing/design/communications professional, would be a colossal defeat to higher-road types everywhere–and not becoming of an aspiring author either. But, The Demon, as I’ve come to calling that part of myself that still lurks within me even in sobriety, wants out of his cage. He has a wicked tongue, and he’d love nothing more than the opportunity to put into words a verbal assault to strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy the naive brother he shares a body with. (I guess he, The Demon, also likes butchering quotes from Pulp Fiction, thus really revealing his age to the kiddies out there).
Nope, gotta keep that slick son-of-a-bitch caged for at least another day. Thus, I’m off to try and run him into submission with a four of five miler–but only after his morning smoke. After all, her own demon is an unknown, and if I were to let mine pick a fight with hers publicly, there’s always the very real chance hers would come find me and snuff us both out. The Demon would love that.
My paranoia never leaves me completely, but it’s seemed relatively quiet upstairs the last few days–if I didn’t know better I’d say the curse had been lifted. I hadn’t give much thought to my current state of bliss, at least what bliss is for this guy, until I started formulating ideas for this very post. It wasn’t the first time my mind put wondering against the notion that some day I’d not be able to write for this blog anymore, and that perhaps I’d have to change the title to Level 9 Happy Goodness Times. In and of itself, that thought proves things are still cranking up there. The battle between my brain and me rages on, but at times it plays a quieter game–moves to destroy my sanity with the more subtle themes of self-doubt and dread. I think my psyche knows that if it positioned every evil twist, potential fate, and the doings of others as over-the-top Hollywood blockbusters, that in time those fabrications wouldn’t impact me with the same ferocity. And so, this past weekend, it decided to play me a quieter head-film, in the vein of an Indie feature that dwells in subject matter one might describe as more probable in the real world, and only seemingly less heinous due to the lack of guts, blood, and booming soundtrack.
I spent a great deal of time working on my next novel on both Saturday and Sunday. It was equal parts rewarding and frustrating, not too disimilar from the efforts I put against My Dead Friend Sarah, but perhaps with the additional creative-crushing notion kicking around that the table of my life has now been set with some lovely place settings, at least according to some, and this second book will serve as the metaphorical meal for those waiting patiently at this table to consume it. Yeah, there might be a little more pressure this time around–no one even knew I was writing the last time, and even I had no expectations going in to that one, other than to complete a rough draft of a full story in a timely fashion, rather than give up just twenty-two or thirty pages in, like had been the case in previous attempts made by a younger, and often pig-stink drunk or hungover from having been pig-stink drunk, version of myself.
If you care to know, I can tell you that in spite of the laundry list of thoughts that worked feverishly to prevent me from putting pen to paper on the next book, I was still able to get quite a bit done by committing to the doing of it as though the results of my labor meant nothing to me or anyone else–even though they eventually will. Only by committing to writing was I able to ignore the following gems of delusion that seek to keep me lethargic and in a permanent state of sloth: This story had been told before, You can’t write in 3rd Person, People were just being nice about the first one, Did you read what you wrote in the last chapter–laughable Rosch, The title is taken, The title is taken because someone is writing the exact same plot as you at this very minute and will publish their story long before you are finished, You are missing out on a great day out there that could be your last, You aren’t getting paid squat to write this book–mind telling me what the point is friend, Wouldn’t our time be better spent coming up with a gadget people really need, Being a writer isn’t a real job Peter, stop wasting time on this and let’s butter-up that resume with actual accomplishments.
It’s going to be a long, slightly different journey than the last. Here’s to hoping the part of my brain that likes me continues to do just enough to beat back the parts that most definitely don’t.
I’m lacking a solid impetus for one of my first thoughts from this morning, other than the baseline of my existence which is putting paranoid rationale behind seemingly trivial things from time to time. I took a short walk for coffee this morning, and began wondering if maybe autostereograms, the very ones made popular in the nineties, (you might know them as 3D pictures, or even Magic Eyes) are in fact some sort of test devised by ‘the them’ to decide who can and who can’t come. Come where you say? I’m not sure, perhaps the next inhabitable planet currently being constructed unbeknownst to us still dwelling on this slowly dying one. Or maybe where is here, and the act of coming along just means getting to stay alive to be a part of the future. As I let myself stew a bit on this out-of-nowhere five-thirty AM autostereogram theory, it occurred to me that many of my varying doctors over the years had them hanging in their offices. Perhaps they have been tasked with screening the population for more than just herpes – maybe they have been put in charge of dividing all of us into two groups: those who can see the cow in the field, and those who can’t. There may even be a third group which is: those of us who can’t see the cow in the field, but after being told what we are looking for, claim that we now can see that cow in the field, or spaceshuttle, or bunny. At the risk of outing myself (it’s a slim risk, because I’m sure they already know which group to which I belong) I’ll tell you I’ve never seen anything in a single one of them. Since ‘they’ are probably aware of this, I guess my existence, as I know it currently, is the result of not having been able to cross my eyes enough to reveal a pouncing tiger or humpback whale behind that mess of dots and colors. I made claims to having identified the hidden image when I was younger, even when I couldn’t, and the way I figure it – this means ‘they’ have classified me as easily susceptible to suggestion even in the face of zero evidence. I’ll be a good soldier for whatever cause ‘they’ might be planning, if indeed, I am already not.
If you know me, you are aware I don’t like stuff. In particular I don’t like piles of papers – although putting random bills, junk mail, statements, receipts, catalogs, and holiday cards into stacks does make the ownership of pressed pulp more bearable. Despite the intensity of this loathing, I will let one, two, and even three piles accumulate over months as I try to decide what is the best termination method for them. A habit of shredding unwanted sheets, pages, and envelopes of the aforementioned, moments after I receive them and deem them unwanted, has never materialized despite having owned two perfectly good shredders. Apartments with fireplaces are ideal for this dilemma, though they are few and far between in the city of Manhattan. Putting out a large bag of paper-recycling leaves me all kinds of uncomfortable, because it must sit on a NYC curb for a day or so, free for all manner of hoodlums and scoundrels that pass it on their way to cock-fights and other alleyway shenanigans. Sometimes I’ll load my beater with a couple of bags and seek out one of the more hidden dumpsters in Brooklyn to rid myself of papers that these types might use for some of the following: mock my ATM habits, condemn my choice in cheap, but stylish furniture catalogs, insinuate I have a problem with Diet Coke after viewing a Walgreens’ receipt, or taking the one or two photos I might have tossed, from my less-than-handsome days, to scan and paste somewhere for the entire world. Truth is, I don’t have much to hide outside of the usually identity information lots of companies would like me to pay to protect. Even so, when we left our last apartment I made sure to trash the things I didn’t want see in three separate bags that I set out at three separate times, and at three separate locations. I’m a lot of things: paranoid, a waster of gas and plastic bags, the former owner of two perfectly good shredders – but at least I’m not lazy.
If you speak enough crazy to your friends and family as I have over the years, there is a good chance one of them will eventually utter the phrase, “Not everyone is out to get you.” A little Googling on that same phrase revealed to me that a lot of people do indeed feel quite the opposite – that the whole world and its inhabitants are constantly conspiring to see them fail or prevent them from obtaining this or that. I’ve never felt the same.
I’m of the following opinion: It only takes one. Just one really smart, evil and super dedicated person to “get you.” Just one person you wronged so significantly – even if it is in their own paranoid head – that he or she makes it his or her mission to destroy you. But to do that this person would have to be pretty damn clever, probably college educated, free of sloth and not easily distracted by American Idol and the like, and high enough in the corporate pecking order to request off the necessary time to construct and execute a plan for your destruction – oh, and probably single, otherwise their potentially saner spouse/partner/lover might talk them out of it.
So see? Not everyone, not even half of everyone, could be out to get me or you. Because to my knowledge American Idol and the numerous shows that mimic it aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. But there probably is one person out to get you. At least now you might be able to whittle down that list of potential threats.