27th October 2017

I had so many ideas of how to do it like I’m sure most people do. On the 26th I thought of doing it in this sort of little park nearby it. Park might be a strong word. It was a little spot with trees and a little fence and playscape, complete with a solitary streetlight. I could see us being there, coming home after a little light grocery shopping. I brought the ring with me but we came back a different way and there was no way for me to carry the bags and wrestle the little ring free. We always end up with more than we intended. See book store trips from September 2016. I was a little disappointed but it was that night I decided when I’d do it.
We had made plans to finally go up the mountain where the giant cross resides and I figured that was perfect. Because the ring looks better in the daylight and there’d be a memorable locale. Pretty much anywhere in Skopje, you can see the cross on the mountaintop.
Friday morning, we made our way up. Bus ride to the park where the cable cars reside, we rode the swinging things up. My first thought was damnit there are so many people.
We had lunch looking down at the countryside and I was reminded of the woods near my childhood home and all those times I’d sit and wish I had someone by my side. I looked at her and again for the millionth time I remembered how I never thought I’d be this lucky. Throughout my life I’ve gone through waves, for every great person that has enriched my life there’s a legion of others that make me embarrassed to be a person.
Most people I wouldn’t drive ten minutes down the road for.
On the mountain, I noticed an area that wasn’t so densely populated with strangers and I steered her that way. Because sure, I wouldn’t mind being that guy at the airport on his knee but she would. We found a place to sit and in my jacket pocket I’m fighting the little plastic bag the ring was in. I was quietly freaking out because plastic is loud and she’s going to hear and also WHAT IF I DROP IT CUZ THESE DAMN SWEATY PALMS?
IT’S SIMPLE. DO NOT DROP IT.
At the same time I’m thinking about this rock I used to sit on that was in the woods near where I grew up, it overlooked the street and in a way it felt like I was there again, but with her.
Then a new pang of fear: what if she doesn’t love the ring?
The only thing that saved me here was she was occupied by her phone. Finally, I got the ring out of the little plastic baggie. Godamn I should have thought this through.
Spoiler: She loved (and loves) the ring.
She was surprised and she didn’t notice my scrambling or the plastic bag trouble.

I love her. She’s worth traveling across the world for. Again and again. Until we don’t have to leave anymore.

When we finally rode our own cable car down, we waited so long because we wanted our own, our perfect day on the mountain became super perfect when we met this delightful gang of trouble.

But then the bus driver was late, just proof that there’s always a Richard around.

 

Happy Valentine’s Day to my love. And to everyone else reading this too. Wait for the love you want, the love you deserve.

2017 in review – I love TV and Sense8 and the Wachowski’s

Over the last few years, I’ve really noticed a shift in my habits and hobbies, I guess you’d call it. Growing up I loved movies and I’d say I still do but there’s a different kind of relationship now. And I’ve begun to understand that my relationship with film/cinema isn’t the same as a lot of the more hardcore movie people. I have no connection, no romantic feelings about going to a theater. The memories that stand out the most aren’t pleasant and the movies I love the most are ones I never saw in theaters. But I have vivid memories of TV shows, and over the past decade I’ve really formed lasting emotional connections to TV shows, in a way that film has never ever come close to. It’s probably been more than ten years at this point but decade just feels good.
Late 2005, I have this foggy memory (as most of them from then are) of staying up all night, bloodshot eyes and no desire to face the inside of my eyelids and so channel surfing seemed fine at the time. It was just before sunrise and I got lost in this scene upon a rooftop, it was raining and they were dirty and bloody. I wrote it off and almost changed the channel because it seemed like a soap opera but in that moment I understood that drama was important. It was a rerun of an early episode of Angel and I don’t think I’ve been the same since then. They aired the reruns in order, two by two and I watched the entirety of Angel twice over before seeking out Buffy.
Just for the record, Wesley’s journey from season 3 of Buffy all the way into the end of Angel is the finest character arc. It’s the benchmark.
I could write here about staying up late and learning how to “function” on five hours of sleep when I discovered Lost in 2007. Or the late night I found Hannibal on TV, I caught the end of the pilot and how I hated myself for writing that one off as well.
Wait, I just found the pattern. Revelations happen late at night for me and I’ve spent the last ten years or so working in those hours.

Since Fringe ended, TV for me hasn’t been the same. My heart remains broken over the cancellations of things like Terminator and Caprica and Hannibal and it just seems there isn’t as much to get really invested in. I have to make it an effort to not rewatch Lost every year. I think I’m close to ten times that I’ve watched it all. I stopped counting. The show I rewatch every year now is Mr. Robot. I have a full fledged review of the latest season forthcoming so I won’t waste time here about that one (spoiler – season 3 is hot fucking fire). Actually, I do watch The Expanse over as well, it’s almost time again for that!
As for 2017 specifically, I’d like to talk about two shows that actually are both Netflix originals. First being the life changing and utterly beautiful SENSE8.
I would follow the Wachowski’s anywhere. I’d fucking storm the gates of hell with them.

>>Shit is about to get real so if you want, now is the time to turn back, X out the page in your browser.<<

Still with me? Cool.
Sense8 is perfect and by perfect I mean it’s a flawed masterpiece made by perfectly flawed humans for every other perfectly flawed person to ever walk the Earth. The first season I loved but I understand it’s not for everyone, I get it. They were figuring it out, we all were. Season 2 is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before.
UNLIKE ANYTHING I’VE EVER SEEN.
I can say and I’m going to say that it’s because of the Wachowski’s that I write stories, I mean not solely but whatever. And I can also say that it’s because of the Wachowski’s that I’m happier in the skin I reside in. It’s because of them I want to write stories for all people, stories about people that don’t look like me.
Every single episode of season 2 of Sense8 has everything you could ever want. Somehow they managed to craft those episodes in a way that allows a huge emotional victory and often a devastating twist or loss. I was cheering and crying and all sorts of things every single episode. My favorite is Lito, his journey has been fantastic to watch, all the highs and lows are incredible. The show is a gift. I’ve gotten so much from it. Season 2 is everything I could ever ask for. It’s feel good TV with a healthy dose of intrigue and sci-fi.
And it’s almost similar to Firefly in how terrible Netflix has treated it. They waited forever to make a decision on renewing it after the first season. And next to no time to cancel it after season 2 aired. It’s almost like they WANTED to kill it on the first day of Pride Month.
But they can’t take the show from me. It’s part of who I am.
And I am not alone.

It might be like going from breathing fire to building igloos but I don’t care. The other show that made a big impact in 2017 was The Punisher. Before this one dropped, I had about zero faith in the Marvel TV landscape. The Defenders was okay. It was about three hours too long and like I don’t like the guy playing Luke at all. I was ready to be super bummed about my boy Frank being dealt the short stick but NOPE. It exceeded even my wildest dreams.
The acting is on a level I didn’t expect and I didn’t ever expect to be in tune with it as much as I was. While watching I was locked in and actually “fell for” story twists I don’t think I would have otherwise. Because typically I’m pretty cynical about those type of things.
I think I first fell in love with the Punisher years ago because he was an adult that was allowed to unleash his rage and as a kid I had a lot of trouble with anger and Frank Castle sort of took some of it from me. As an adult, I find it all ridiculous and I’m so glad that they took the character and story as seriously as they did. Jon Bernthal is incredible. So much so that I kinda feel bad for hating Shane on The Walking Dead.

Other highlights of my TV watching life in 2017:
*The entire season one of Mindhunter. Watching this with Aleks was especially entertaining because we don’t really get a chance to watch more serious things and being able to see her really dive into something that challenged and satisfied her intellectually was a complete joy.
*Season 2 of The Leftovers is brilliant. Skip season 1 and just watch season 2. Seriously, do it. If you really dig it then maybe go back or just press onward. I have heard plenty of people just watched season 2 and 3 and had limited difficulties. Season 3 is on my to do list but the timing has to be right.
*I can’t remember if I started it in 2016 or 2017 but I know I finished it in 2017; Person of Interest is great fun. I’d say it’s worth watching just for Amy Acker but I could say that about anything with her. She’s incredible (they better give her something real to do on The Gifted, not just worried mom)
*If you’re not watching Speechless you’re missing out on so much happiness.
*Lastly, I’m so fucking stoked that Sterling K Brown is getting so much recognition these days. I’ve been hoping for good things for him for years and it’s happening. In the biggest way.

This has been long but I’m not apologizing, every post won’t be this long. I just really love TV.
Thank you for reading, if you’re reading this.

This is the 2018 I am making…

It’s officially one week into the new year, and yeah I’m still reflecting on the past year but I wanted to stop for a minute and share some of what 2018 looks like for me. If you’ve been following along at all, you know that I have a novel in the works and whether you know it or not I had planned to release it in May 2018. Well that isn’t going to work anymore.
Over last summer I hammered away at a 2nd draft that while writing it, I was I immensely proud of, and I am still proud of it but also… it sucks. Except it doesn’t. I see writers saying that a lot but it’s not true. Because I can see how it can be better, I can see how I can make it better. It doesn’t suck, it just needs work. A lot more work than I thought it would need when I was writing it so I’ve pulled the throttle back on my plans. You see, my original plan was for this book to be off with an editor now and I’d be knee deep in writing the sequel. That doesn’t work because if I had started work on the sequel based off of the 2nd draft of the first book then I’d not only have to change one book but two.
Perhaps the biggest factor is money. In order to present this thing properly and professionally I need much more money than I can afford at the moment and in the foreseeable future. The priority here is getting my fiancée into the country, which costs a small fortune— more than I plan to spend of the initial release of the book (to put it into perspective) but it’s looking to be more like a blessing. This being my first novel I’m still learning and rewriting this thing is a learning process because it’s not at all the same as editing a short story. If the May release window was still possible then I think I may have rushed everything together just to meet that date. I don’t have to release it then. What I have to do is be smarter about money and work on putting out the best novel I can.
I do think I can still release it in 2018 and that’s where the big goals of the year come in. My plans for January are pretty busy. Lightspeed Magazine opens for submissions next month and so I have about a month to get this short story done (if you would be interesting in beta reading, let me know) the idea is to sell a short story or two to help fund the book launch. That makes more sense to me than begging for money and I don’t really have time to run a Patreon community or something similar.
Speaking of time, if there’s one thing that sort of fits a New Year’s Resolution, it’s time management. I suck at it so much and need to get better, I think this busy year will probably help me quite a bit.
To put it all in nice list, here are my 2018 goals(in no particular order):
**Finish new sci-fi short and begin submitting it
**Continue writing and working on novel
**Be more consistent on the blog
**Continue the application process to bring fiancée into the country
**Travel across the world, collect fiancée and bring her home
**GET MARRIED
**Be happily married
**Switch shifts at work
I was going to put a lot of those things as one bullet point but I wanted to illustrate how big it all is. To put it into terms that are easily understandable, it’s like having three full time jobs.
Similarly to how I felt like a “real” writer last year while I was collecting rejection letters, all of this makes me feel like a true adult. Rather than a pretend one. It’s all exciting and terrifying and overwhelming and so many things, as soon as I focus on one I’m feeling another and then another and it’s like a finger spinning a globe, scraping across all of the countries in a flash.
Here’s to a BIG year!

As always, thank you for reading.

Inner Beauty

The loudest of lions
He is the king, even behind bars
and you looked so beautiful
The way you held my hand, I’ve never felt so complete

Interlock with mine
If only we could stop time
Tell me we’ll be fine
When can we speed up time?

Are the loudest lying?
We have our own brand of quiet romance
and I’ve learned so much
The way you care, it’s like I’m finally breathing fresh air

Crawling out of the mine
Your beauty isn’t my only find
Standing with my straightened spine
With you I don’t feel so confined

This Heart Is A Gunshot Wound

The last time I stood there,
The rain was falling like my own tears
This is the closest I’ll ever be to you
This is the closest that I will ever be to you
After a few minutes I couldn’t tell my tears from raindrops
The tears shed for our common hurt
The raindrops fell for us that day
and that was the first time in months my mind was quiet
All the questions stopped spinning around my head
Though today they still remain
and I know they will always be there
It’s a result of the choice you made over three decades ago
and like that windshield my mind will never be cleaned

After the war, the one the history books remember,
We both know there were other wars that you fought
You didn’t come back the same
No, nothing was ever the same
When the guns and cannons ceased fire, others began firing
I wonder if they said it to your face
The way similar people said it mine
Did you believe what they had to say?
All I know is they took you and locked you away
I hope it wasn’t the way I imagine it to be
and I wish I could save you from that place
The way I was saved from a similar place
I hate the thought of them feeding you pills
Keeping that beautiful mind frozen in place
I wish I knew how you got out of there…

They say that birds of a feather flock together
Are you the reason I always thought I’d die at 25?
I’ve read the words that you wrote
and I’ve read the ones that Grandma Bea wrote
I wish I could travel back in time
and show you what she wrote about you, shortly before…
She wanted to hear from you, she loved talking to you on the phone
What were you doing those last few years?
Did you buy the gun specifically to end everything?
Was your sister’s wedding too much to bear
because of the girl you wrote about?
How long did you contemplate the choice before you pulled the trigger?

I am the nephew you probably never thought you’d have
and I’m already older than you allowed yourself to be
Your middle name is my first name
and I’m sure that I’m the only one who has visited you in years
Your brother and sisters continue to call you crazy
and I think it makes it easier for them
I’m sure you felt unloved but trust me that isn’t true
In our family, it’s frowned upon to be honest and show any real emotion
Which is probably why we both turned to writing it all down

I love you Uncle Brian but you stole from me
You are but you really could have been my favorite uncle
and you threw away the chance to find the joy that was waiting for you
I can’t begin to describe how my niece’s beautiful blue eyes make me feel
and she’s beginning to fumble around with my name
You missed out on all of that with me
You missed out on all of me
and I missed out on all of you
My mother still gets uneasy around Thanksgiving
Your mother didn’t cook the year you killed yourself
My mother tried to and I think that’s why she doesn’t like to cook
Over 30 years later and the hurt remains
I’m sorry it had to be this way
I’d give just about anything to talk to you and get to know you
You’re the reason I don’t completely curse this blood in my veins
If there is one person that I would get along with
and actually want to be around, it would be you

Years ago when I was much younger, your mother lit up when I asked about you
Even with all the hurt you caused her, she chose to remember you fondly
The choice you made, that bullet, it was a mistake
and no matter how much anyone wants to, it can’t be taken back
I do hope you found peace
but at the same time I want you to know the hurt you left behind
That bullet didn’t just put a hole in your head
It tore through every single person that cared for you
You put it in yourself and now it’s lodged in all of us
and it can’t be removed, it will always be inside of us

There are multiple holes here
I just want the complete story
I just want to know you
Like the way it feels that you know me
Are you really watching over me?

The Birth of Axis

How could she be like that?
I did as she asked, I’m walking aimlessly
Replaying it all over and over
The street lights flicker, I expect the light to fade out
She was so great to me…
My Connie, she said she loved that
but I suppose nothing lasts forever

“It’s time to say, I’m sick of you.
I’ve had it, I’m tired of this indecision
No longer can I be your sky so blue
I have to cut you away with one incision.”

She was right, I feel like I’m bleeding
Without her I’m just like a starless sky
A city with no power, she was…
No she IS my light
I realize now that life is nothing more
Than an invisible line
All we have is a tightrope to tread
A fence line with forces on either side
Pulling and pushing, it’s all never-ending nonsense
I feel like a tree trapped in winter
I know I am alive but I’m cold
and there’s no real sign of life
CONNIE, my love I’d give it all
I just want to shine beneath your light

“No don’t you dare say a word.
I’m exhausted and unable to be your possession
Do you know you’re just absurd?
It’s overwhelming being your one obsession.”

I wish I could have asked her
All the reasons why
but I just have to accept that I’m wrong
Her light, her presence is all that’s right
The rest of the world is fucking wrong
I hate being just another face
Just another incorrect insignificant imbecile

“Who the hell wants to be your one thing?
I’m just done, fucking finished.  It’s over.
Turn around and find yourself a new song to sing.
Your love is like a drug and now I’m sober.”

Rounding another corner, stumbling through the memories
These quiet streets I wander are perfect partners
To the dark lifeless mental roads
and I wonder why those pills haven’t done a damn thing
I swallowed the whole lot, I expect to fall flat
On the punished pavement pounding at my feet
Or is it the other way around?
and why are these streets so silent?
For once I actually want to hear the city’s song
Perhaps I am dreaming a dangerous dream
Feels as if the city is focused elsewhere
It’s a big place, I wonder where everyone is
Perhaps there’s something happening on the other side?
and like that it’s almost like the city answers…
I hear a siren fade in and then out
Is it possible every siren has died?
A more prominent answer slowly develops
and overcomes my free will
I’ve never seen it in this light

“So just go, walk fast
Our lines no longer intersect
I’ll never say I had a blast
You are nothing but another regret”

Her deadly words, my darling
She led me here to this awing architecture
It’s nestled nicely within the darkness
The lonely street lamp falls a mere five paces ahead
If it’s a warning, it goes on ignored
Dead center now, the view from the ledge is so lovely
On a night like this will I even make a sound?
A grumpy voice calls out:
So what if you die?
You’re only a sugar high.
What? Is someone there?
Yes I’m the voice of the unfair
Reach out and catch more air
You’re out of breath, look to your left
I am the one ushering in your death.
I look to see a creature
What kind of insanity is this?
Wait, it’s one of the stoic statues
Okay fine, I’m a gargoyle
I’m here to either fulfill or foil
It’s really all up to you, stranger
So… you’re too frightened to face her?
Hey, I’m only doing what she asked!
No need to get snippy, just relax
I’m here to help one way or another
So which will it be tonight brother?
It’s rather simple, will you end with a leap
Or do you think your life is worthy to keep?

*Some Time Later*

It’s been hours and she hasn’t slept
Every time she shuts her eyes
His face flashes like an audience applause indicator
Except this flashing sign reads: Torment
There’s only one thing for her to do…

The silent streets whisper a haunting sound
Which offers her zero relief
As she closes in on his street
A flashing precursor fully awakens her
She’s no longer experiencing the drowsy decay
and as the lights and the accompanying racket
Pass by swiftly, her eyes snap back
Another light now fills her view
An uncontrollable gasp echoes out of her mouth
His residence… now only flames
and it’s well beyond saving, though the responders still try
She’s beside herself and forgets to control the car
The ambulance serves as a crashing reminder

Bean

And I believe we can grow
Even if we can’t let go
Some are hidden and some show
Our own rigid scars to bear
No torment doesn’t play fair
It all seems too much to wear

Tell me, how can this be?
The windshield is dirty
All I want is to see
But it’s unclean always
The sight lost, gone for days
Wish it was just a phase

I see the sky empty
Lingering above me
Could I pay you a fee?
Is there an entity
With the power desired?
Just melt that gun with fire
and prove that you exist
Until then, I’ll resist

I can’t wash it away
You’re scattered every day
Trembling hands made the choice
Life is lacking your voice
Lost in an explosion
Can’t reverse the chosen
I knelt before the calling
and found what was falling

and though the windshield’s dirty
I found what was left for me
My own living memory
Overlooked and out of sight
A place bathed in shining light
Where growth keeps on through the night