10-Word Story Challenge #3

November 14, 2017

I’ a little behind (okay WAY behind) in getting these out, but I’m still doing them. These are published here as posted on my Facebook page. All stories are credited to the author; unmarked entries are my works.

Blind Dates

“Her rusty blonde hair matched her seeing eye dog’s.”

“Is this her?” He thought. “Please, not him.” She thought.–Gregory M. Bruce

“Oh, great! Short in stature and on manners. Cheap, too!”–Gerri Hancock

“After creepy intimacy, neither knew the other’s name, nor asked.”–Heather Munn

“Through dinner and drinks, we never glanced past our phones.”

“I like red”. “I like green”. “We complement each other”–Rod Cummings

They didn’t say another word. They knew it was over.”–Gregory M. Bruce

Their love was truest because neither could see the other.”–Rod Cummings

Dad! You’re my Tinder Date?!?!?!”

It was a blind date, but I needed the blindfold!”–Marc K’urlii Eytina

As she gazed upon his face, rage swelled within her.”–Joel Araujo

It was clear that he could turn heads and stomachs.”–Gerri Hancock

“Exactly what made you think she was MY type?”

“The lobster and wagyu surf and turf, please” “Goodbye ‘–Rod Cummings

She turned the corner. Was blind, but now I see.”–Scott Will

“Cousin Jenny! Why are you–?” “I think I’m your date?”–Rod Cummings

“The waiter, in an act of pity, comped my meal.”–Gerri Hancock

“She was cute, but her mother was HOT.”

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This was my Facebook status last weekend:

To ALL African-Americans out there,
I voted for Jill Stein in 2016,
and it didn’t matter because
it didn’t help Trump get elected.

Some Background: We all know the events of last year’s presidential election. Hillary Clinton got 65.9 millions votes to Donald Trump’s 62.9 million yet lost the electoral college by 77 electoral votes. I didn’t vote for Clinton, voting for Jill Stein hoping to get the Green Party to 5% to get matching funds in future elections. That never happened as she only got 1.6% of popular votes and no electoral votes at all; yet that still hasn’t stopped many on the left from blaming her and/or those that voted for her for costing Clinton the election and giving Trump the presidency. If the 2,395,271 voters–or 1.7% of popular vote–had cast a vote or president had gone to Hillary, she would have won. Or if the 46% of eligible voters who stayed home instead cast a vote, she might have won. There are many more ways Clinton could have won, but somehow it’s the Green Party voters that did it.

But this election has been analyzed and as depressing and bruising as it was why bring it up again now? Because Hillary wrote a book about the campaign. Titled “What Happened” Secretary Clinton recounts, in her estimation, why she lost the presidency to Tiny Hands Trump. According to the review in the New Republic, “this book is precisely what her critics predicted it would be…When Clinton does discuss what went wrong, it’s mostly to point fingers.” From the leaked pages criticizing Bernie Sanders, it was pretty much how I thought it would go. With the release of the book, a lot of unhealed wounds from 2016 were ripped fresh and people were arguing like it was the day after the Democratic Convention.

To that end a friend of mine put up a Facebook post defending Clinton in that progressive men were berating her for writing a book, asking “if you wanted Clinton to stop Trump, maybe you should have voted for her?” So with my own hackles admittedly up and unnerved, I commented “I’m berating her for blaming everyone but herself for her own loss. And that’s when the trouble began.

My friend had a “troll”/friend–a liberal “progressive” who got on my case for supporting and voting Stein over Clinton. It went back and forth for a while, but I got pissed when he said I wasn’t a “real” progressive while implying I also wasn’t a real “Negro.” I know, I know, I should have cut my losses at the word “negro” (his word, for real), but he caught me WAY off my scheduled meds, so the full Brooklyn experience was in full effect. When he countered that no one in the African-American community would agree with my decision, I put the headline above as my Facebook status. It was a middle finger to his challenge, even though I really should have taken a few deep breaths and walked away. I got some support and some arguments on the post, but one good point made out of all of them: why are we still having this debate when we should be working on fighting the current administration?

My friend is absolutely right (as she usually is). I got sucked into a blame game when there’s more important work going on or that needs to be done. It doesn’t even matter how many of my friends are with me or not, as long as I’m arguing with internet trolls whose opinions are meaningless to me, I’m wasting my time. Rather than bother with it, I’m writing it out of my system and letting it go. I couldn’t care less what he was trying to prove, I don’t care what others I’ve never met feel about my choices, the fact is the election is over and we need to get to work and fix things. Everyone wants to hold onto grudges because it’s easier to look backwards than it is to move forwards.

Consider this: my status headline soon after the first one was the following:

Ten Things the Drumpf Administration has done while We’ve been talking about Hillary’s Book.

The comments included links to things Trump did from the Tuesday when the book pages were leaked to the Tuesday after the book was released (see the links below). Granted more has happened since I posted the links, but that’s why we need to pay attention. Clinton’s book should be treated for what it is: another big distraction keeping our minds off of real problems.

I can’t guarantee this will be my last troll battle on the internet and it’s not our first, but each time it gets easier to ignore the insects and keep moving forward. Haters are gonna hate and I can’t do anything about that except remember not to make their drama yours.

 

What Trump Has Done While We’ve Been Arguing About Hillary’s Book.

White House to Lower Refugee Quota Below 50,000 

Trump Ends DACA

Trump Pushes Tax Reform After Response to Hurricane Aid

UN Pushes Sanctions on North Korea

State Department to Close Guantanamo

State Department Approves $3.8B Sale to Bahrain

DeVos to Scrap Campus Rape Protections

Hurricane Harvey “Toxic Soup” in Houston

DOJ Won’t Charge Police in Freddie Gray Case

Trump Election Commission Setting Up Road to Voter Restrictions

 

10-Word Story Challenges

August 30, 2017

Lately the 10-word story prompts have been really spurring on my creativity. Trying to get a story in ten words or less is pretty fun and can be challenging (for a real challenge, try the 6-word Science Fiction challenge). I was doing this with friends on Facebook with a theme to follow. I will in the future post one theme only per post, but since I was late getting this together and as one challenge had more turnout than the other, I’m listing two themes today. Most entries are written by me except where indicated. Hope you enjoy these from me and my friends.

School Experience:

One year older, new grade, new school, same old target.”

Two jobs to afford private school. He’ll appreciate it later.”

Learning would be fun if it weren’t for the people.” –Scott Will

When the day finally came for her ascension, she panicked.” –Marc Eytina

Screenwriting Bachelors. One sale kills debt. Who ordered venti frappucino?”

Birthday Party:

Robert cried at the ‘Happy birthday Roberta’ cake.”

Surprise!! Happy birthday Jim! Jim? Someone call 911.”

Blood. Placenta. Screams. Yup. Just like my birth day.” –Rod Cummings

Why are you naked? I thought it was my birthday.” –Antonio Jacobs

““Candlelight dinner. Two hours waiting. Solo birthday toast again.”

Things were fine until the piñata. Emergency rooms suck.”

Birthday wrapping without Biggie here ain’t no rap at all.” –Gregory Bruce

Cake was never the way Josh celebrated. Not after Copenhagen.” –Marc Eytina

I said I’d THINK about a puppy. I did. Enough!”

“Happy birthday to me. Happy birthday to-” sigh. Click. BANG.” –Rod Cummings

Birthday shopping for someone with nothing and doesn’t want anything.” –Gregory Bruce

Make a wish. Poof! Things look different through your eyes…” –Antonio Jacobs

‘Quick! Open mine next!’ ‘No thanks, Schroedinger, I think I’ll keep it closed for now.'” –Rod Cummings

The cake. The bloody knife. Nobody singing. Bobby’ last birthday.” –Gregory Bruce

‘Surprise!’ They cried! ‘Wrong house!’ I replied” –Rod Cummings

Why does this sparkler candle say ‘dynamite’?” –Rod Cummings

Seriously, what’s a baby going to do with myrrh?”

I should have words to talk about the Nazi riots and terrorist acts in Charlottesville, Virginia like all my other friends, but I don’t. I don’t, not because I’m immune to the goings on (definitely not as a person of color) or because I don’t care about it (I do of course) or even because I’m inundated by too many negative news about racism (who isn’t these days?). I don’t because the day of the events in Charlottesville, I was sheltered by events at the Boston ComicCon.

While antifa groups were clashing with Nazi Klansmen, my daughter and I were trying to figure out how to go to two separate events simultaneously. When a car plowed into peaceful counterprotesters killing Heather Hayer and wounding 19 others, we were listening to Jim Cummings (voice of Winnie the Pooh) talk about his encounter with Mel Blanc. While friends were posting our “President’s” lack of concern/concern over the events, Sophia was talking to people easily about their love for particular anime. Where people were trying to reclaim their “greatness” in being white, we were watching female Aquamen, Black Batmem, and a few Rocky Horror Frank-n-Futters all wandering the expo center looking for Pop vinyl figures and T-shirts. I even ran into the comic artist Buzz, who is a friend from high school, and he gave my daughter an autographed copy of his Best of Art book. It was a perfect environment for my daughter to learn what was good in the world: love of art, music, culture, fun, games, costumes, and appreciation for the art and passion of others.

Yes it was a horrible day for our country, but my daughter and I, and all those others at the con were sheltered from almost all of it for a while. I say sheltered because I know geek culture isn’t immune to problems of race, misogyny, anti-LGBTQ sentiments, and other such problems (e.g GamerGate, diversity in movies/comics and the backlash, etc). But within geek culture the tendency is towards acceptance and openness that is sorely lacking in society in general. And yes we have our Nazi-Geek-Gatekeepers as well to contend with, and we hate them, too, but they are often more annoying than dangerous (also they are often in worse physical shape than most, so they are easy to fight or flee as the situation calls for). For the most part it is great to see groups from all races, ethnicities, countries, genders, sexual orientations come together around art and culture in a way that is positive and caring.

I am not trying to make light of what happened in Charlottesville and other such places, but I offer a way to counter those responsible. They are the cloistered and closed-minded that feel they are losing their society when it is actually growing around them. Education and experience of the new and unknown will always grow our sensibilities and empathy. And I don’t mean that the art of comic books or the culture of science fiction will save us, but consider this: societies are always defined by their art, music, and cultural similarities. Such is the same with geek culture. As such, it is art and culture that binds us together in large swaths of people and open-mindedness that will carry that hope into the future, and this is what will sustain us and our souls. It is when we nurture that fascination to discover new art and stories that expand our understanding of the world that we grow as people, thus growing as a community. This is what I see BLM, LGBTQ, women, antifas, and all marginalized groups fighting for: to grow the community to include—not exclude—everyone. We should always stand against racism and fascism in all its forms; but we must be open to culture to know what we are fighting for.

Redux

August 7, 2017

I hate feeling stuck, especially with writing, but that’s where I am. I’m taking an older project that was supposed to be a web series and adapting for a stage play. The first act is done, but I’m stuck at Act 2, Scene 1, and it’s driving me nuts. I knew how I wanted the act to end and I got it there, and I know where the rest of the play is supposed to go, but where I a now is unsure. I don’t know where I am and how to move forward (story of my life, I guess). Part of it is I’m used to stopping and starting on a dime, moving on from the end point. Not this time. I’m going back to what I wrote and read it from the beginning, plus rereading my character bios just so I can get reacquainted with the material and get where to go. I don’t like it, but it’s necessary.

Some of the blog writing is helping me climb out of this writing rut. Plus there are a couple of inspired prompts that got some creative juices flowing again. It’s been a while and I am apparently much rustier than I thought. I need to rework some muscles and stretch out after a long absence.

Marquee Humor

August 6, 2017

This was up at the Apple Cinema Theater in Cambridge, MA about a month or so back:

Wonder Woman
Captain Underpants

Help me out on this one. Is this a) Microagression/Misogyny, b) Bad Publicity, or c) Porn Movie Title?

Summer Fun

August 5, 2017

Yes, I’m really lost these days and not enjoying a lot of what my life is like today. But I can’t keep writing the same blog over and over again thinking it will do me any good. It helps to get it out, but that’s what therapy is for. I’ll probably blog about stuff like this again because, for better or worse, it is a part of my life I have to deal with. However, right now I feel like I’m dwelling on it too much, so for something different.

Sophia finished her summer Arabic Intensive last week. In late spring, she told e she didn’t want to go to the same camp as she did last year because she didn’t like all the activities she was doing (I think mostly the active physical stuff). That surprised me because she seemed to like it at the time and she said she had fun. Now I was suddenly scrounging for another place for her to go to for part of the summer. I told her we’d try to find something she’d have fun doing; the next day she brought me the application for the Arabic intensive. It’s si-days a week over almost all of July learning to read, write, and speak Arabic. I asked is this really your idea of having fun for the summer, and she said yes. So she signed up, she was accepted, and, the Tuesday after graduating middle school, started digging into Arabic.

Despite being quiet all the time about anything and everything, I always asked how she was doing in the sessions. She’d simply say fine and hop on her computer. If I pressed her for details, she was kind of vague about answers. So I let it go and it became a routine for July. The last Saturday session before the intensive ended, she burst into the house carrying three different plastic shopping bags, and yelled “I bought fruit!” The weekend before was their big field trip to the Islamic Center in Roxbury—which I was hoping to hear more about, but no such luck—but that Saturday they went to the farmer’s market is Haymarket in downtown Boston, which had a lot or Arabic and Middle Eastern sellers. They were given a dollar to spend on whatever, and buy and talk to the sellers in Arabic (I gave her allowance that morning so she was able to buy a lot). When she got home she couldn’t stop talking about buying fruit, talking in Arabic, telling me about different character usage in words, and a whole host of other things about the Arabic language that I didn’t understand at all, but she went on for about 45 minutes nonstop. It clicked with me about the farmer’s market because the marketplace is customary in Arabic and Islamic countries, so it made sense that they expose her to some of that directly—though she couldn’t haggle with these sellers as is fairly customary in Arabic markets. We talked about that too and she was pretty much on air the whole time.

The intensive was pretty good for her. She gets some language credit for high school, but she will be taking Japanese when she gets to Boston Latin Academy in the fall. Needless to say she had the right way for her to enjoy the summer.

Things in my life seem to be slipping away. Things that were at the core of my identity, things I could look to and say “this is who I am,” are becoming lost to me over the years. I had creative life goals to work for; now making it through the day is the only goal I hope to achieve. I was a nice guy for so long that it was evident; these days even saying “I’m a nice guy” rings false to my ears. I feel bitter and empty, and it’s showing more and more. I’ve been on a slow downward spiral for close to a decade, even with some financial stability I feel lost. Even though I’ve hit bottom, every time I start to climb out of it, falling back makes the hole deeper.

What’s hardest is I’ve shut a lot of people out. I don’t talk to anyone on the phone anymore, except my parents. Facebook comments to friends are common, but not always updating my status is not so much and vague.Trying to bridge that gap is a major challenge for me. I’ve abandonned them, but I’ve twisted it in my head so they’ve abandonned me. Since reaching out has never been my strongest point, I wind up stuck and alone.

My blog posts are non-existent as of late, I know that. I barely write anymore. I have so much unfinished work at various stages and they are laying dormant. And much like reaching out, it’s not that I’ve lost a gift as that I’ve abandonned those gifts. Instead of the passion I felt to start writing a project, I feel ashamed to try and start where I left off.

Things are a jumble in my hear. It’s all an endless void of suck. Thoughts and emotions get mixed up and I’m lost. I feel bad not that I’m letting myself down, but that I’m letting everyone else down. I always put myself last, so it’s okay, even though it’s not. I’m not in complete despair but, I can recognize the look and details of it as it appears closer. I knew it before sometime ago so I know what it looks like. A blog post won’t flip everything around, but it’s something.

Poem: Saliva

May 1, 2017

As Chuck D. once said, “I don’t freestyle much/but I write ’em like such.” A poem I wrote a while back about the written and spoken word. I read it at church for a poetry service on Sunday.

SALIVA

I wish I could spit.
I wish I could throw
Verses and verbs
Masses of words
Heavy hitting or honey soaked
Making their way from
Throat to mind
In slow trickles or flash floods
Cleansing thoughts
Eroding emotions
Clearing sediment and sentiment
Caught in its wake
Polishing rough ideas
Into smooth, oblong and rounded
Philosophies.
I wish I could flow
A constant stream of
Running tributes and tributaries
Interconnecting rapids
And rapid fire monologues
Faster and faster
In waves of crashing consonants
Constantly streaming sentences
Flowing down streams of consciousness
Flooding the banks and barriers
And other internal censors
As a torrential downpour of ideas
Runs into the sea.
I wish off the top of my head
I could spew forth
Rhymes like Vesuvius
Stopping people and cities
Dead in their tracks
Or smack like Krakatoa
A pop heard ’round the world
Making my presence known
Metaphors harden when
They hit the water
Bedrock expanding outwards
From the sound of my voice.
But I don’t spit.
My words sink slowly
Into the sheet
Filling in the veins of
Pierced wounds on a page
Fangs put to parchment
Ink of mixed blood and venom
Deadly to the glance
Waiting to strike
And with a touch
Seeps into the skin
Disrupts the system
Coursing through your mind
One word at a time.

Dear M,

Hi. I know it’s been a while since we’ve talked/texted/emailed/communicated at all, and I wanted to apologize for that. Actually I want to apologize for a lot of things, the biggest is being a lousy friend. That didn’t start immediately after we broke up, but soon enough.

I know we weren’t together for all that long, but the break up stunned me. Even after talking to death about it–how you weren’t ready for a relationship, how we both wanted different things, how we were better of as friends–it’s not something I wanted. But if I pushed harder I’d lose you as a friend. So I talked myself into staying a friend even though I wanted to be more. But even that was, to be brutally honest, cynical on my part, because somewhere in the back of my mind (the reptilian part I pretend I don’t have), I was hoping you’d “change your mind” and take me back. There was a flicker of hope that kept me going and kept up a “friendship.”

I think I was angry that you got over thing so quickly and I was stuck. You lived your life, and I couldn’t go forward. You got married, had kids, look even better now than you did 15 years ago, and I only grew bitter. That wasn’t your fault, but I resented you like it was. Still, to be your “friend” meant ignoring my feelings; so I did and blamed you for it. I became the jerk I was trying not to be.

That changed recently. I was driving a delivery when a song I never heard before came on the indie station. It was “If I Loved You” by Delta Rae. Great song and the final chorus got me bad:

“But I don’t love you much as I want to
I don’t love you, no it would be a lie
And you deserve love, you’re better than a good day
And you’ll find it but just not in my eyes
‘Cause it ain’t here love…”

It’s simple, powerful and everything you were saying to me 15 years ago but I didn’t want to hear.  It finally sunk in and yeah I get it. I was angry for stupid reasons fueled only by my own ego, and held you responsible for nothing that you did. I’m sorry I’ve been such an asshole and sullen and resentful and not considering your feelings. You deserve better that my attitude and I’m truly sorry for that.

I hope you can forgive me for all this, but (I finally realize) that is your decision.

David