Something New and a New Deal

Rob pic

I’m very excited to announce the latest installment of my short fiction collection The Ink and the Drumming! The second story, ROB, follows Rob Donnelly on what turns into a very interesting day.

When Rob Donnelly woke up this morning, he anticipated today would be the worst day of his life. At one thirty in the afternoon, the divorce he never wanted from his wife of twenty-four years will be final, but he won’t be there. Rob will be spending the day in Philadelphia, where the national tour of a musical he is performing in is currently playing.

Not wanting to let the day get the better of him, Rob has made plans to spend the day solo. As a series of events unfold, Rob realizes that while he may be by himself, he is anything but alone.

Grab your copy from Amazon today!

AND…

Now, through Thursday, October 5, 2017, you can get story #1, MARTIN, for FREE! Just click here!

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SHORT STORY #2 “ROB”

Actors-Theatre-Angels-in-America.-Jon-Genry.-Set-design-by-Jeff-Thomson.

THIS IS THE VERY BEGINNING of the second story from my collection titled, “The Ink and the Drumming.” The first story called, “Martin” is available here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B073HNY59…

 “ROB”

When I was in the third grade, I had a huge crush on Sherrie Ingermann. Ingermann with two Ns. I don’t know why that was important, except to say I always thought the second N was just trying too hard. No one told N Number Two that it was redundant, that nobody really needed it. Maybe what I was always hoping was that N Number Two did know those things all along and stood there anyway, not giving up or giving in.

Anyway, one day in the spring of my third grade year, Sherrie Ingermann took it upon herself to chase me around the playground—up and down the high slide, around the monkey bars where I would almost lose her with an ankle-breaking head feint, and back to the 4-Square court to the side of the kickball diamond where I would let her catch me. She always squealed with delight like a rabid Sade Hawkins contestant when she put her arms around me. I wanted her arms around me, even though I always knew what would come next.

As soon as she was through with me, she would push me away and then kick me right square in the shins with her clogs. Nothing good can come from people who wear wooden shoes—at least from third-grade girls who wear wooden shoes that you have a crush on and who want to catch you on the see-saw every school day of the spring.

Sherrie had been chasing me for eight days in a row. I know this because it had started the Monday prior and went the whole five days of the week. The weekend was off and then back at it on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Five and three is eight, and it was a string of eight straight school days that I will always thank God I had. Looking back on it now, of course, I can see how important they were, those eight crazy days, but it was what happened on the ninth day that set me on a crooked course for all of these years until now.

Actually, let me back up because this bit means something, I think. The night of Day 8 my parents, my two brothers, and I were across the street at my grandparent’s house. We usually had dinner with them on Wednesdays and Sundays. After dinner, we were sitting in the living room and I was sitting on the stairs rubbing my shins. My grandmother said, “Rob, why do you keep rubbing your shins like that? And you’ve been walking with a limp all night.”

“It’s nothing,” I said. “They’re just sore, that’s all.”

“Let me see them.”

“They’re okay! Really!”

“Rob, show me your shins!”

I stood up on the bottom step and lifted both of my pant-legs up to my knee.

“Oh, my word! What on Earth happened?”

Everyone was focused squarely on me, looking at my shins like they were some kind of newly discovered Picasso which had been rescued from someone’s garage sale in Abilene, Texas or someplace.

“Robert. Tell us what happened.”

I thought about lying. I thought about it really hard, too, for about ten solid seconds. But, I decided to come clean and see if they might be able to shed some light on my dilemma. I wanted to figure out how to get her to put her arms around me without having to get kicked in the shins.

“Well, you know Sherrie Ingermann, right?”

“ You mean, the one with two Ns?”

“Funny, Dad. Come on, I’m serious!”

“Sorry. Go on.”

“Well,” I said, taking in a stream of air that let me say the next part all on one breath.

“She has been chasing me around the playground for eight days in a row until she catches me and then she puts her arms around me and kisses me and then she kicks me in the shins and she runs away.”

I didn’t know what to expect. I certainly didn’t expect my grandfather, Pop Pop Jack, to say, “Well, that just means she likes you!”

“How can that mean she likes me, Pop Pop? She’s hurting me every day!”

“Don’t worry about all that,” said Pop Pop Jack. “This is the good stuff! This is when it’s the most fun! She’s chasing you all over the playground! You are a KING, my boy! Don’t worry about a thing and just enjoy it. It all works out. Listen, it’s when she stops chasing you that you’ve got to start worrying. Then you’ll be sad and miss these days.”

I thought he’d lost his mind. But, that conversation has come to mean more to me than any other moment in my life, except my wedding and the birth of my kids.

“No, I won’t,” I said, remarkably confused. “I hope I never see her again.”

That was a big fat lie, of course. You already know that. I knew it was a lie while I was saying it, and to this day I regret that I did.

Day nine rolled around. It was Thursday and at recess, I waited on the see-saw for Sherrie to come around and start the chase. She never showed.

“Hey, Donna? Is Sherrie here today?”

“Yeah. She’s right over there!”

Donna pointed to two other boys in the fourth grade who were out for recess on the far side of the playground. I tried to play 4-Square by myself but the ball I found in the corner was flat. I kept looking over at her and she wouldn’t look at me. I tried my best telepathic mind connection techniques but she still wouldn’t look at me. I saw her a few times in high school some years later but that was it. I don’t know if someone had told her to stop chasing me and kicking me, like if my mom had called the school or something. My parents told me later that they never did. It must have been a stupid coincidence. At least I learned early that love doesn’t just hurt, it leaves bruises.

A Man and His Dog

After the Pet Store

COWN9074WATSON: You know, that sales lady at the Pet Smart really was kind of rude to you.

ME: THANK YOU!! I wasn’t going to say anything but thank you!

WATSON: I mean, she treated you like an idiot who didn’t know anything about me. Like a real moron.

ME: Yeah, well…yeah.

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WATSON: Seriously, she made you look stupid. Don’t you think?

ME: Well…

WATSON: Really dumb.

ME: Yes, okay…

WATSON: Just a fool, an ignoramous, nincompoop!

ME: Got it…thanks.

WATSON: Well, I’m just sayin…I love you.

ME: Don’t do me any favors.

“I’m a Fan Fridays!”

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I’ve been a big fan of the film Midnight in Paris since I saw it in the theater when it came out in 2011. This was one of those rare films that I’ll see in a theater more than once. I saw it a couple of times at the movies and at least a dozen times at home since.

The film is about how we tend to live in the past and think things were much better back then, whenever “back then” might be–it is always different for someone else.

I highly recommend you find a way to watch it, if you haven’t already, and until you do, I want to leave you with this beautiful opening scene. It functions like an overture and is composed of some of the most beautiful movie footage of Paris I’ve ever scene.

And doesn’t the music accompany the film footage brilliantly? Or is it the film footage that accompanies the music?

 

 

 

A Man and His Dog

Spring Is On The Way

WATSON: So, Monday was the first day of spring?

ME: That’s what they say.

WATSON: They? Who’s they?

ME: I don’t know. The people in charge of that stuff.

WATSON: What stuff?

ME: You know…like, when seasons change and all that.

WATSON: It doesn’t feel like spring. It’s too cold! Maybe I should be in charge of the season changing stuff.

ME: Okay. What would you do?

WATSON: Well, first of all, I’d do my spring dance. That should bring on the heat!

ME: You have a spring dance?

WATSON: Yup. And it goes a little something like this…


ME: Well…that’s special.

WATSON: Yeah, it is!

What’s on the Other Side Will Shock You! (No, it won’t)

Other side of the fenceThey say the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. It’s an age-old adage, and I’ve heard it since I was quite young. I’ve understood it as a warning to not covet what others have, and I’ve done a decent job living that way. What I have failed to do until recently, though, is dig a little deeper into what it truly means.

Many might be moved to comment something like, “You need to learn how to love what you have, and be grateful for what God has given you.” And while I think those are true sentiments and make a great deal of sense, it’s not always quite that simple. I believe that a fascination with a neighbor’s grass says less about the grass and more about one’s feelings of lack in life.

Sometime not too long after we’re born, we experience a second birth. This second birth is our awareness that we are individuals, separate from everything else. It is at this point that we experience for the first time a sense of lack—a lack we believe can be filled by things, relationships, circumstances, careers, a set of religious beliefs, and countless other idols. We spend a great portion of our lives in pursuit of what philosopher/theologian Peter Rollins calls the “Sacred Object.”

As an artist, I spend a great deal of my time doing what Hamlet advises his players to do when he tells them to “hold, as ’twere, the mirror up to nature.” One would think I might be able to see more clearly the type of folly that is the chasing after the phantom called certainty and security. But, alas, I am not. Instead, I have broken relationships, ruined opportunities and even injured myself in my various attempts at acquiring what I thought others had and I lacked.

What I am learning to come to grips with now is a simple truth that being whole and complete is not something that this life has to offer. That’s not to say that I believe what happens after this life is what’s important either. I don’t have any idea what if anything happens to us after we die. That would be the other side of the fence.

When I look on my own side of the fence, I see, time and again, that I have been called to help my neighbor and spread love and forgiveness where there is none. The symbiotic nature of our existence, I am finding, is demonstrated in how we love one another. Love connects us and unites us all.

To be content means to give up the quest for the Sacred Object and accept that it doesn’t exist. In the giving up of this desire, we find our purpose in loving and serving others. The return on this investment is far greater than you can imagine. The other side of the fence suddenly looks a lot less green than the garden that has begun to grow right inside your own heart.

I’m a Fan Fridays!

Dave Rawlings Machine

A little late today with this version of “I’m a Fan Fridays!” but I really wanted to get this one in. The Dave Rawlings Machine was invited by producer T Bone Burnett, along with several other artists, to celebrate American folk music in a one night only concert.

The concert was called “Another Day, Another Time” and took place at New York City’s Town Hall in October of 2014.

This number, “I Hear Them All/This Land is Your Land” was one of my favorites. It’s so well played and sung, and when they get to the Woody Guthrie section, I tear up every time. We need this music now more than ever. Enjoy and share!!