Time with Friends

January 5, 2018

Funny little vacation. We went to Vegas because two of my best friends live there and I saved enough last year to visit them. While the one friend we stayed with has known me and Sophia for at least 14 years, the other friend I wanted to see has been my best friend since freshman year of high school some 34 years. When we were both about 35, I bought us both tickets to Vegas to celebrate 20 years of friendship and our birthdays. It was a formative trip—despite constantly getting lost while driving—and it impacted him enough to move there when he left NYC. However I never realized how much that trip impacted me until I got there with Sophia.

A lot of the places we went to 14 years ago are gone, and the strips have changed enormously. I know this because I kept telling Sophia about it every place we went, and wouldn’t shut up. I’d talk about all the things we did, the places we went, and where they used to be. When we did meet up with Will, it was like old times for both of us, except for meeting Sophia for the first time, and we got a local’s eye view of the area.

But going to Red Rocks Canyon sealed it for me. Originally, I was going to take Sophia to either the Grand Canyon or Zion National park. When I realized it was four to five hours traveling time to get there and back, it was going to be Zion. When I woke up with the cold my daughter had and I was fighting to keep from getting, Red Rocks was a happy substitute. Will and I went to Red Rocks that trip 14 years ago. It was fun—eventually, in time. We hopped around a bunch of the rocks on one of the trails, then got seriously dehydrated and delirious trying to hike back to the car without water. This time I made sure we had extra water and not stay out in the sun too long.

A lot of ghosts were playing with my head as Sophia and I hit a short trail further up from where Will and I were years before. I was so happy to be climbing on rocks and steppes with her, more cautiously in my age but still out of both our comfort zones. I could feel the past reverberating through th present, very conscious that I was reliving an old adventure with a new partner in tow. Reminiscing made the new time even more special.

When the New Year rolled around on the West Coast, I was saturated with nostalgia. I used to always go to New Years with the friend I was staying with in Vegas, but this would be our first New Years together in at least 5 years. Getting both of them together for the first time in person, even though they’ve been Facebook friends for years, was a real trip. Two friends I’ve spent many times together with my daughter welcoming a new future. Rarely do past, present, and future intersect so vividly and I hope we have more like them.



It’s one of those times when I can’t complain about things. Work is good, Sophia is doing fine in school, writing is slow but steady, I’m sticking to my meds regularly, getting sleep, and making gym a habit. Things aren’t bad. So why do I feel like my head is about to explode from stress?

For the last few days, I’ve been anxious for no obvious reason. Nothing is going wrong but I’m under this overwhelmning feeling of dread. At church, they had kids (and any willing adults) to light a candle of gratitude for something. I fought off the urge to go up and light a candle to be grateful for Ativan.

I honestly can’t think why I’m on edge. Ages ago, my therapist told me I’m always waiting for the next shoe to drop. While I’m not waiting for a shoe to drop, I still am dreading something and have no idea what or why. Maybe I’m nervous that I’m doing okay. Maybe it’s because I think I’m not doing enough—even though I’m doing plenty. Maybe it’s the nature of mental illness and how it ebbs and flows from dramatic heights to stiffling depths. Maybe it’s a lot of things. Either way, I feel off.

I hate it, I’m used to it, and I hate that the only thing I can do sometimes is ride it out. My anxiety isn’t a curse or a gift, but it’s an ever present source of annoyance. It doesn’t stop me completely, but it slows me down considerably. Still I move forward one step at a time. It feels like molasses but I’m moving.

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.”

NaNoWriMo, Hmmmm?

October 23, 2017

It’s that time of year again when I need to figure out if I’m going to take part in the National Novel Writing Month­—or NaNoWriMo—at all this year; and if I am, figure out what I’m going to do. This year it’s a fairly easy answer to the first part, Yes, and I know what project to work on.

For the last few years, I’ve been trying to turn an old web series video project into a full length theatrical play. I had enough of the series started to give me pat of the first act, and I had to get the rest done. For the better part of a year, I’ve been stuck on the first scene of the second act, making very little headway. I went back to look over some of my original notes (SUPER helpful) and, since I now have a better idea of where to go with the play, I decided to jump start the process by committing to at least one page a day for the NaNoWriMo. It’s there to spur on creativity and the writing process for millions, so I might as well take advantage of it. Is it a novel? No, but a good play reads like literature and I’m moving ahead with that.

Actually, I didn’t know about Script Frenzy for screenplays and plays back about ten years ago. They do their writing for April. At the time I wasn’t in the state of mind to take that on, and it has now been defunct since 2011—pretty much near the height of my mental collapse. The NaNoWriMo is still going strong and any writing is good writing, so might as well take advantage of it while I can. I will be avoiding the NaNoBloMo—National Blog Posting Month, same November month—as I don’t want to overload myself.

We’ll see how all this goes. Not going to post updates or page/word counts as many do, but I will definitely assess things at the end of the month.

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?”


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.

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.


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
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.

It’s hard to say which I’ve been losing more of: my courage to write or my will to write. I can’t say it’s a lack of ideas, although writer’s block doesn’t necessarily mean a loss of ideas. In all my life, I’ve never been unable to generate ideas; my head is constantly filled with them. While overload of ideas might be a problem, I’m not sure that the case with me at this time. Thinking it over, I’ve narrowed it down to lack of courage and lack of willpower. They are subtle, but there are differences.

Courage is easier to define. It’s having the balls not just to write whatever comes to mind, damn the critics—both inner and outer—but also the balls to do it regularly. It’s not the same courage that it takes to put on a uniform, pick up a gun, and fight for your country; it’s the courage to put thoughts to paper or posts to prevent countries from going to war. That and every bit of sentiment and emotion from there on down. Willpower is the practice itself. It’s the daily effort to stare down a blank page or screen until your eyes bleed or you start writing, whichever comes first. The more often you do it the easier it gets and the more reflexive it becomes.

Mine has always been a struggle between courage and will. There are days I have the time and abililty to write, but my inner voices have me silenced. Other days I know exactly what to say, but get swamped, exhausted, distracted, or all three at once. The end result is the same: months without any writing output and occasionally forced to produce on a deadline. And all that while writing becomes fearful, less instinctive, and less productive.

It’s not effortless to write this, but it’s not easy. This isn’t what I should be writing now, but it’s what I can put out now. I’ve been underusing muscles, not only in the gym, but in my mind. My knees are bothering me, but that can be healed with rest and physical therapy. My stagnation is bothering, but the only way to fix that is to write a little bit at a time. Hopefully I can heal myself, body and mind, eventually.