Monthly Archives: October 2011

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween from Brown Road Chronicles.

May your day be filled with ghosts and ghouls and witches and black cats and vampires and werewolves and jack-o-lanterns and  friends and family and kids and trick-or-treaters and Twix Bars and Snickers and Three Musketeers and whatever else makes Halloween special for you!



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Last year on Halloween night I was home with the flu. Because we live out in the country, we typically spend Halloween evening at the home of some close friends whose kids are similar ages to our kids. They live in a small neighborhood nearby and the kids can trick-or-treat to their heart’s delight while the adults sit back and share a pizza and a few drinks. That’s the one thing I don’t like about where we live, that we don’t get to experience kids coming to our door, dressed as ghosts or witches or hobos or athletes or all the other myriad costumes. Halloween is one of my favorite holidays and I’ve always felt our home would make the perfect spooky haunted house.

I just didn’t feel up to being out, though, with an aggressive fever and the toggling of sweats and chills. So I sent my wife and the kids off for the evening and plopped myself down on the couch to watch some of the usual Halloween fare on the TV.  Flipping through channels of zombie and werewolf and vampire movies and the yearly Halloween series marathons, I eventually settled on the classic Boris Karloff version of Frankenstein, knowing I’d probably fall asleep in a few minutes anyhow… which I surely did. It was about 8:30 p.m. when I was awakened by someone knocking on our front door.

Who in the hell would be here on Halloween night, I wondered, especially at our front door, which no one ever uses. Shaking the sleep from my head, I hoisted myself off the coach and walked into the kitchen where I could vaguely see someone standing on the front porch.

“Jesus Christ, should I answer it?” I mumbled under my breath as I inched a little closer to try to get a better view of this person who was intruding on my sick-rest.

Soon I was close enough to the front window where I could see outside to the porch and in the faint light cast by the moon I saw a young boy, probably about my son’s age, dressed in tattered overalls and a heavy flannel shirt, all of which appeared to be soaked and muddy, dirt streaks on his face and tousled, sandy-brown hair. Perhaps he was a trick-or-treater, I thought, dressed in the traditional hobo costume that kids have been wearing since trick-or-treating became a mainstream activity… but here, at my house, in the middle of nowhere?

Still questioning my decision to answer, I walked to the door, unlocked the various bolts and slowly opened it to this guest.  The door creaked loudly as the old, rusted metal hinges were forced back to life after many years of sitting still. There in front of me stood this boy who reminded me of the classic Huck Finn character from the Mark Twain books.

“Hi there” I said “can I help you? Are you trick-or-treating?”

The boy looked panicked.

“I was… he paused… with my friend Ollie Evans” he replied. “But I can’t find him. We were playing around in the swamp behind your house and I lost track of him. I need you to help me find him!”

“Ollie Evans… from down at the end of the Brown Road?” I questioned him. “Buddy, what are you talking about?  Mr. Evans died just the other day, had a heart attack.”

His eyes bounced back and forth from me to the blackness outside. “No, we were just trick-or-treating, but then we decided to play in the swamp and I can’t find him now. I need you to help me find him!”

“Son, are you okay?” I asked, now quite alarmed.  “Where do you live? Are you lost? Can I call your parents?”

“I’m not lost. I live just down at the end of Brown Road, just around the corner a little bit. So you haven’t seen Ollie, he didn’t stop by?”

“Buddy, are you talking about Mr. Evans?” I inquired again. “He just died a few days ago, had a heart attack, he was in his eighties. Why don’t you come inside and get dried off and we’ll figure out what’s going on.”

“No, I have to go look for him. Can you please call the sheriff?” he asked, as he quickly turned around, stepped off the porch and ran into the night.

Stunned, I stood there at the door for a few moments, staring out into the darkness of the Halloween night as the faint moonlight cast shadows over our oak trees. I grabbed my phone and considered calling the police before dialing Mrs. Evans’ phone number.

“Hello” she answered in her creaky eighty-something voice.

“Hey, Evelyn, it’s Mr. Warner, how are you doing tonight?”

“I’m doing fine” she said. “Just trying not to think about Ollie too much.”

“Yeah, I understand, he was a good guy” I said. “But hey, he’s the reason I am calling, something strange just happened. A kid came knocking on my door and when I answered it, he was soaking wet, covered in mud and wearing overalls with a heavy flannel shirt underneath. I asked if he was trick-or-treating and he said he had been, but then he said he was looking for Ollie.”

A deep chill crept through my body and the hair on my neck and arms was suddenly at full attention. “I spoke to him for a minute, tried to get him to come into the house and then he abruptly ran off.”

“That sounds like Jimmy” she said faintly.

“Who is Jimmy?”

There was silence on the line for what seemed like an eternity but was likely only a brief moment.

“Are you still there?” I asked, breaking the silence.

She began to speak. “Jimmy was my older brother, just a year older than me. You see, he and Ollie were best friends when we were kids, they did everything together, just two country boys, always outside and roaming around in the woods all day. We all went to school together at the old school-house that used to be across from the cemetery down the street from you.”

“Anyway, back in the thirties when we were all just about your son’s age, the two of them would trick-or-treat on Halloween nights around here.  Of course, just like now, there weren’t any other trick-or-treaters around, you know, all the houses are too far away from each other.  But everybody knew that Ollie and Jimmy would stop by on Halloween night so the neighbors all knew to keep a few treats on hand. They’d walk for miles to the six or eight houses that they could reach. Then they’d call it a night.”

“So you’re saying this kid is your brother?” I interrupted.

She continued. “I’ll never forget the year, nineteen thirty-three.  I was at home, when the sheriffs came to the door and told us what had happened. I remember my Mother collapsing on the floor. You see, on that fateful Halloween night as the boys were making their way back home, they decided to go play around in the swamp behind your house. It was dark and they didn’t have any lights with them… you know how dark it gets around here at night. They were chasing each other around and they got separated and then Ollie got caught up in some weeds in a deep part of the swamp.  He was calling for Jimmy to help but they had gotten too far away from each other for Jimmy to figure out where he was.  Jimmy ran to your house that night and knocked on the door for help. The Browns were living in your house back then. Mr. Brown went to phone the sheriff and Jimmy ran back to the swamp to try to find Ollie. When the sheriffs finally showed up, they were able to pull Ollie safely out of the water…”

She paused again for a long time, before continuing on.

“… but Jimmy drowned in the swamp that night trying to find his friend.”

“Oh my god, I’m so, so sorry” I offered, feeling like I wasn’t doing much to help.

“It’s okay Steve, it was a long, long time ago. We buried him in the old cemetery and although my parents were devastated, we did our best to move on. But for many years afterwards, people claimed to see Jimmy’s ghost wandering around the swamp and around your place on Halloween night. I guess he was still looking.”

“Of course many years later, she added, Ollie and I ended up getting married and one of those years Ollie decided to walk to the cemetery and talk to Jimmy at his grave site, tell him he was okay and that he didn’t need to look for him in the swamp anymore.  He continued to do that every Halloween night for almost seventy years… it seemed to work, no one has seen Jimmy’s ghost since… well, until tonight. With Ollie passing just the other day he didn’t show up at the cemetery. Jimmy must be looking for him.”

Chills roared through my body and in complete disbelief, I said goodbye and hung up the phone.

With a wobble in my knees, I walked back to the couch and sat down quickly as the fever and the shock of what had just happened hit me like a ton of bricks. Still reeling, I grabbed the bottle of Advil and glass of water from the nearby end table and threw back a couple of pills, emptying the glass of its contents.

Boris Karloff was still gracing the screen and I grabbed the remote and abruptly shut the TV off. Although the family was still out I decided to head up to bed to try to get a decent night’s sleep so I could possibly go to work the next day. I slept right through the noise of them coming home and the kids dumping their bags of candy on the kitchen table to sort out their hard-earned loot.

The next morning started at 6:00 a.m. with my alarm blaring in my ears and I crawled out of bed and walked downstairs to find my wife sitting at the kitchen table sipping from her favorite coffee mug.  Still dazed from the night’s activities and wondering if the effects of a fever were playing tricks on me, I sat down at the table and asked about their evening of trick-or-treating.

“Pretty typical Halloween night” she said, “lots of adorable little goblins and ghosts around. The kids had fun though. How about here, she asked, was it creepy being alone on Halloween night in this creaky old house?”

“I was fine” I lied. “I went to bed early. Pretty quiet night, though I’m still not feeling great, I didn’t sleep well last night, had some pretty fucked-up dreams. I think I’m going to stay home from work today. I could probably make it, but they’ll be okay without me for a day.”

“Good idea” she said. “You need the rest. It’s supposed to be a nice day, if you start to feel better this afternoon and you feel like getting some fresh air, the front porch could use a hosing off…”

“… looks like the kids have tracked mud all over it.”


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Skim vs. Fat Free Milk

Son: We’ll I guess I can’t have cereal this morning!

Me: Why would that be?

Son: Because we only have skim milk.

Me: So?

Son: I don’t like skim milk, I only like fat-free milk.

Me: It’s the exact same thing.

Son: No it’s not.

Me: Yes it is.

Son: No it isn’t.

Me: Yeah, I’m pretty sure that it’s the exact same thing.

Son: It’s not, it’s different.

Me: Would you like me to call the U.S. Department of Agriculture?

Son: Who is that?

Me: That’s not important, but I’m telling you its the same thing.

Son: No it’s not, it tastes different.

Me: It doesn’t taste different, what don’t you like about it?

Son: It’s disgusting!

That’s how most conversations about food end with him unless they are foods from the six major food groups that appeal to boys, which I discussed in an earlier post. Those being:

1.  Pasta Foods: such as Macaroni and Cheese, Spaghetti, etc.
2.  Canned Pasta Foods: such as Spaghetti-O’s, Chef Boyardee, etc.
3.  Tube Shaped Foods:  Hot Dogs, Corn Dogs, etc.
4.  Nut and Jelly Foods:  Peanut Butter and Jelly, Jelly Donuts, etc.
5.  Foods with cool mascots: Cereals, Pop-Tarts, Kid-Cuisine Meals, etc.
6.  Foods that used to be chickens:  Nuggets, strips, etc.

We only drink skim milk at our house.  I call it gray milk, because it has that kind of grayish tinge. There are a few different grocery stores around us and some of them sell skim milk and some of them sell fat-free milk so depending on where we shop sometimes we have skim milk and sometimes we have fat-free milk.

My son won’t drink skim milk. He’ll only drink fat-free milk. Actually he doesn’t really drink that much milk but he uses it on cereal. In my superior knowledge of worldly things, I’m relatively confident that skim milk and fat-free milk are pretty much the same thing and that there really is no noticeable difference between the two. But he has it in his head that they are different. This is a recently discovered phenomenon so we think maybe he tasted some “skim milk” that was perhaps beginning to go bad at one time and now he thinks that there is a difference.

So I did a little research. The website makes it, as they say, “quite clear”!

You can read the whole article here if you want… or just read the conclusion which I have copied below.

Skim Milk and Fat Free Milk: Final Conclusion

From the above discussion, it is quite clear that skimmed milk which contains 0.5% fat, is known as fat-free milk. 1% milk is the low-fat milk. 1% and 2% milk can be considered as skim milk. Milk containing 0.5% fat is recognized as either fat-free milk or skim milk. Normally, one cup of skim milk or non-fat milk contains less than 0.5 gm of fat per cup. Skim milk (0.5% fat) and fat-free milk, being the same, do not portray any marked difference in their nutritional value. Fat free milk is just the new term for marketing skim milk which has negligible fat.

See how clear that was. I’m always right!


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The 100th Subscriber Contest

Yesterday I received my 99th subscription.  I know you are not supposed to discuss your subscription numbers, that’s kind of like discussing salaries around the workplace coffee station.  But I am going to break the rules and do it anyway. That may sound like a lot of subscriptions to some bloggers and not much to other bloggers, but I thought it was a pretty neat milestone that I was on the verge of 100 subscriptions.

Other than a very small handful of friends and family (under 5 people) all of my subscriptions are folks that I don’t know other than through this blog. They come from all over the United States, Canada, Australia, Europe and South Africa, which is really cool! I have never really opened this up to my local friends via Facebook, etc.  I have a reputation to protect, you know! I am proud to say I have earned these subscriptions through hard work, shameless commenting on other blogs, dropping a few f-bombs here and there, some cute little poems, and of course writing some pretty good posts (and admittedly some crappy ones as well) that have drawn people to hit the “subscribe” button. As well, because of the sauciness of some of my posts, I have not had the benefit of FP’d to bring readers to me. I’m not bitter about that… it’s okay… sniff… really… I’m not… sniff… seriously… not… sniff… bitter.

A few of my posts have been responsible for lot’s of subscriber activity.  BOOBS, of course, has brought me many readers.  Getting Fu…Fu… Freshly Pressed has brought me a good number of subscribers and is likely the reason I will never be Pressed… but that’s okay… sniff.  Most recently my post The Meaning of Life generated roughly 10 subscriptions. Apparently that struck a nerve with people.

So I’ve decided to hold a little contest to generate my 100th subscriber.

Here’s the rules:

1. You MUST be a WordPress user. It’s just easier to interact with WordPress users.

2. You must be the 100th subscriber.  Yeah, I know that seems pretty obvious! But if I don’t get a chance to announce who the winner is right away and you subscribe thinking you won and someone beat you to it… well… you get the picture.

3. You can’t be a current subscriber… yeah, I know… duh!

Okay, so those are the only rules.

What do you win?

Well, as soon as I can, after seeing that wonderful e-mail come in that tells me the 100th subscriber subscribed, I will edit this post and tell everyone who that blogger is and put a big ‘ol link back to their blog

Then, if you want to, you will win the opportunity to write one guest post on my blog (yes, at my discretion).  That will, of course, put you in front of 99 other bloggers.  Not that 99 are really reading, so maybe 75 other bloggers… or perhaps 50 other bloggers… or perhaps only 25… actually I don’t really know how many of those subscriptions are actively reading.  But in any case, I’ll let you write a guest post.

That’s all you get… sorry there is no money involved… no little graphic awards. You know how I feel about awards, right?  So let’s get this party started. Good luck.





Sarah at Keeping the End in Mind is the 100th subscriber! A quick glance at Sarah’s blog and she appears to be very new to the blogging scene, so please take a peek and give her a warm welcome to our little neighborhood of the WordPress community.  Her theme seems to be about “self-coaching” which is something I think we could all probably do better.  I can’t quite figure out where she is from but some of the word spellings lead me to believe she is not in the U.S.  We’ll see!

Now Sarah, first I will encourage you to update your “ABOUT” page as that is one of the first places readers go when they decide to stalk your blog.  Then, if you’d like to write a fabulous guest post I will post it on my blog here for all these other fine folks to read.  So, introduce yourself, write about whatever you want people to read or know about you, whatever… just keep it… you know… mostly clean.  This is a family oriented blog you know! Yeah and don’t ask all those commenters about that… they don’t know what they’re talking about.

You can reach me by commenting here, or at

Thanks for visiting Brown Road… and for being my 100th subscriber!  Myself and 99 other readers look forward to what you have to say!



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The Tree of Life

Once upon a time there was a tree.
And it grew in a beautiful place in the country.
The tree was tall and had deep roots and solid branches and green leaves.
And it was a proud tree.

One day a boy began climbing the tree.
And he knew that he wanted to climb until he reached the very top.
So the tree carefully guided him from branch to branch, higher and higher.
And the boy felt safe and loved.

The boy continued climbing the tree, a little higher every day.
And as the boy climbed the tree, the tree provided comfort and protection.
Its leaves gave the boy shelter, its branches gave the boy structure.
And its roots gave the boy a solid foundation to build on.

Then one day the boy finally reached the top of the tree.
He was excited and the tree was very proud of how far he had climbed.
But the tree knew that the time had come.
To let the boy go.

So the tree said to the boy.
“My leaves are changing colors and the wind is starting to blow.”
“Find the biggest leaf you see and climb on it and close your eyes.”
“And the wind will take you wherever you’re supposed to go.”

The boy looked to his right and to his left and up above and down below.
And finally, at the very, very top of the tree on the very highest branch.
The boy saw the most perfect leaf he had ever seen.
And he climbed onto the leaf and closed his eyes just as the tree had told him.

Soon the wind picked up and the boy could feel his leaf trembling.
He grabbed on with all his strength to be sure he wouldn’t fall.
And then he watched as the stem of his leaf began to break free.
From the tree that had nurtured him for so many years.

The boy was excited to be free and on his own.
And as the strong wind carried the leaf high up into the air like a magic carpet,
The boy turned around and waved goodbye to the tree.
And it was a proud tree.

Soon the boy was far enough away that he could no longer see the tree.
So he turned back around to watch where the wind might be taking him.
All around, the boy saw the amazing opportunities the world had to offer.
And he settled in for the ride of his life.

The wind carried the boy to mystical places and magical lands.
On exotic adventures and extraordinary challenges.
Through happiness and sadness and love and hate.
And wins and losses and successes and failures.

As the wind carried the boy he felt exhilaration and freedom.
He began to learn to control the leaf and take it where he wanted it to go.
And he grew and gained knowledge and insight and experience and wisdom.
And felt as if he could fly forever.

But eventually the boy grew weary and wished that his leaf would finally land.
And he remembered what the tree had said when he was first set free.
So he closed his eyes just as the tree had told him.
And the wind began to slow down and change directions.

When the boy opened his eyes, the wind had carried him back to the country.
There was the tree with its deep roots and solid branches and green leaves.
As the boy smiled at the tree, the wind blew one last burst.
And he landed safely right at the base of the trunk.

The boy was happy to finally be on the ground.
He knew that his leaf had fallen right where it was supposed to have fallen.
And when the tree looked down and noticed that the boy had grown into a man.
It was a proud tree.

For my son, who is climbing his own tree and will someday have to be let go.


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Breaking Up

Dear New York Yankees,

I am so sorry to have to tell you this in a letter but I just thought it was the best way and at least I didn’t text you. We’ve had so many special times together since we met in 1977 and I really do still love you. I’ll never forget all the beers we shared and the bags of potato chips and hot dogs and all the other great times.  I loved you so much over the years, especially when you had Don Mattingly, those were great times and I’ll always cherish them. In fact, I’ll be honest, because I know you always say how honesty is so important in a relationship, and tell you I’ll always love you, but right now I just don’t feel “in love” with you. Does that make sense? My emotions right now are so crazy I just don’t understand what is going on. Anyway, I think it might be best if we take a little break from each other. SORRY! I’m SO, SO sorry and I know that you’ll be hurt and maybe all we need is some time off, maybe I just need some time off. This isn’t really about you, it’s really about me, please don’t be mad. I know you are going to be mad. God I hate doing this to you, but I just feel it’s not working out like we thought it would, especially this whole long distance relationship. It was so much easier when we lived closed to each other.  But since I moved away, you know I almost never get to see you and I’m just not sure we can make this work any longer. Maybe I just need a little space and some time to work out all of my feelings. Do you understand where I am coming from? I know this is probably coming as a big shock to you and I feel terrible about this and I just hope that you understand what I’m going through right now. I have a lot going on in my life right now and my emotions are all over the place. I know you probably think it’s just hormones or something, but it’s not and I’m just asking you to give me a little time to get my feelings in order.

You know I also think it might be a good idea if I were to see some other teams for a little while, you know, while we work through these issues. Like maybe some local teams. Like maybe the Detroit Tigers. Just for a little while, you know, like maybe just through the rest of the playoffs, and then we can see how it goes once we’ve both had a little space and some time away from each other.  I know how you must be feeling reading this and I feel so horrible about it, but again, please understand that this isn’t about you at all, it’s just about me. I just need some time to figure things out. Does that make sense? Well actually it is a little bit about you. I have to admit, you really left me totally unsatisfied last week during the American League Division Series. I know what you’re thinking, that you had the best record in baseball this year and that is really great and I’m so proud of you and I love you for that, but you have to admit you’ve kind of let yourself go. You’re just not really as sexy as you used to be. I know you have Derek Jeter but he’s getting kind of old now and those other guys like Nick Swisher and Alex Rodriquez just aren’t getting me fired up.  And that payroll of yours, well yeah it does kind of make you look fat. I’m sorry to say those things but I think it’s important to air it all out, you know? Do you understand where I’m coming from? I hope you understand. The Tigers on the other hand, they have Justin Verlander. Anyway, I’m SO SORRY to do this in a letter and I’d prefer if you didn’t try to call or e-mail me or anything like that. I’ll let you know when I figure everything out. Is that okay? I hope you aren’t too mad.  SORRY! 😦



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Madame Gemini, Psychic Medium

“So you really think this is going to work?” I asked hesitantly as I stared around the room at the pentagrams and astrological bullshit that covered the walls.

“Well of course it will work, Mr. Warner. As I told you when we first spoke on the phone, I have done this successfully numerous times before.”

“Yeah, but, you know, can you really communicate with the dead? I mean I know it says on your sign, Madame Gemini, Psychic Medium, but I’ve always kind of figured all you palm-reader types were just like the old-time snake-oil salespeople.”

“Watch and learn Mr. Warner… and be amazed by the magic of Madame Gemini. We will not only communicate with him, but in a few moments he will be here sitting at this table with us and you’ll be able to talk to him about this blogging assignment that you have been asked to complete.”

“Yeah… ummm… okay… whatever” I stammered.  Madame Gemini dimmed the lights and with a match lit five small candles that sat on the points of another pentagram that decorated the center of the table we were sharing.  “Let’s get started now Mr. Warner.  Please grab hold of my hands, if you would.”

“Uhhh… okay.”  I reached across the table, situating my arms between the burning candles and grabbed her hands which felt cold and clammy. Looking at her, I guessed by the gray hair and wrinkled skin, that she must be in her seventies and I could feel the veins pulsing through her frail skin.  “Now close  your eyes and be very quiet while I recite this spell” she said and she began to speak in a light monotone whisper, a voice that conjured up images of witches and boiling cauldrons.

“Ghost of Ernest Hemingway, we wish to hear from you today.  Be it a silent whisper, or the roar of a lion, from the stars of Perseus to the belt of Orion, we ask you to join us now if you are able, please come sit with us here at this table.” Then she paused for a moment. “Now Mr. Warner, clench my hands hard and focus all of your mental energy on channeling Mr. Hemingway… good… good… wonderful.”

With my eyes still closed I heard the muffled sound of the empty chair on the opposite side of the table, moving slightly, as it’s feet scraped the old wooden floor.  “Now, Mr. Warner, slowly open your eyes” I heard from across the table. I expected to see nothing more than the same empty chair that had been sitting there a few moments earlier. But to my stunned amazement, there he sat, Ernest Hemingway, or at least, a ghostly apparition of the great writer, with a graying beard and dressed in what appeared to be his iconic safari style clothing.  “Holy crap… it worked!” I blurted. “Dude… it’s Ernest freakin’ Hemingway.”

“Yes, of course it worked” Madame Gemini offered confidently. “Now, Mr. Hemingway probably has a very busy schedule, so please be brief.”

“Yeah, yeah okay… dude, holy crap… Mr. Hemingway, dude how the hell are you?  You are my freakin’ hero dude… such a great writer, adventurer, drinker… wow… awesome…thanks for joining us here.”

“Yes, yes, of course young man, but I must ask, what is this word ‘dude’ you keep addressing me with?”

“Yeah… ummm… sorry, it’s just one of those words that people started calling each other back in the nineteen eighties and nineties… it’s two thousand eleven now… I didn’t know if you knew that or not… I just really haven’t given it up like a lot of people…. you know… dude.  Anyway, holy shit I can’t believe you are sitting here with us.  Awesome! Fucking awesome!  Well, anyway, I have some questions I’d like to ask you about a post I have to write for my blog.”

“What the hell are you talking about, man? A post for a blog?  I don’t know what any of that means.”

“Well, you see, Mr. Hemingway, a blog is…uhhh… like a personal website where you write stories about stuff… you know, whatever you want to write about, your life, your kids… whatever.”

“Sounds interesting… but a website, what is that? I don’t know that word either?”

Madame Gemini chimed in. “Mr. Warner, remember, Mr. Hemingway died in nineteen sixty one, he doesn’t know about computers and the internet and all of that stuff.”

“Yeah, of course not… you’re right.  Let’s just say it’s a place where people can write, kind of like a journal” I explained.

“Okay, I understand. I always loved writing in my journal.  By the way, I could use a drink. Madame, do you have anything to drink around here? Like a bottle of wine or something? You know, I drank a lot of wine when I lived in Paris….”

“Holy fucking awesomesauce!” I interrupted. “Dude, you’re a wine drinker?  I freakin’ love wine too… though I must admit, I always figured you as a real hard-core drinker… you know, a whiskey and scotch guy.”

“Young man, did you just say awesomesauce?  What the hell is awesomesauce?”

“Yeah, just ignore all of that, I just got a little excited…”

“Well… my friend… may I call you… uhhh, what was that word… dude? I drank it all in my time, but let me tell you, wine is one of the most civilized things in the world and one of the most natural things of the world that has been brought to the greatest perfection, and it offers a greater range for enjoyment and appreciation than, possibly, any other purely sensory thing.”

“Fuck yeah… sometimes these days it even comes in a box!” I offered. “Madame Gemini do you have some wine we can uncork? You can add it to my invoice.”

“Yes, just one moment” and she left through a beaded doorway into a back room.

“Well, in any case Mr. Hemingway” I began, “what I wanted to talk to you about… see, there’s this writer, another blogger… you know… her name is Renee Schuls-Jacobson… she’s a teacher… and she gave me this assignment and I’m not sure how to tackle it and I thought, you know, if I spoke to you I might be able to get some inspiration. Because she’s a teacher… you know… I feel like I can’t just blow it off… you know? Do you know who Renee is? She’s pretty famous in the blog-o-sphere.”

“The what-o-sphere?” he asked.

Madame Gemini entered back into the room. “Remember, Mr. Warner, our guest today has been dead for fifty years” she chimed in again, a touch more impatient this time.  “Here’s a glass of Merlot for both of you.”

“Oh yeah, right… right… anyway, so this assignment I have is to write something that starts with the sentence ‘writing is like…’  Then I need to pass the assignment on to three other writers.  I need some help getting started.”

“Ahhh, my young man… you must know there is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed. All you have to do is write one true sentence.  Write the truest sentence that you know. The rest will come.”

“Wow…ummm… bleed? That’s a little freaky and… you know, kind of morbid… but, yeah, I guess so. It’s not always that easy for me though. What did you do when you were struggling to find inspiration?”

“Well, Mr. Warner… I mean, uhhh… Mr. Dude… see there is no rule on how to write. Sometimes it comes easily and perfectly, sometimes it’s like drilling rock and then blasting it out with charges. I learned never to empty the well of my writing, but always to stop when there was still something there in the deep part of the well, and let it refill at night from the springs that fed it.”

“Wowzers… that’s great stuff… so you always kept some ideas brewing?”

“Why yes, of course… a good writer always has the next idea sitting waiting on the back-burner. But you know… I never had to choose a subject – my subject rather chose me.”

“Far out dude… that’s so freakin’ awesome… so you just wrote about things that happened to you in your life?”

“Why yes, of course. But in order to write about life, first you must live it. All my life I looked at words as though I were seeing them for the first time. Remember, if a writer stops observing he is finished. Experience is communicated by small details intimately observed. Don’t you ever get the feeling that all your life is going by and you’re not taking advantage of it?”

“Yeah dude… totally… yeah… ummm… some of the stuff you say is kind of confusing… but yeah, I totally feel that way… I think? I worry a lot about writing though… you know… the what and why and where of it all… and just finding the time to sit down and write stuff.”

“Mr. Warner, I like to say worry a little bit every day and in a lifetime you will lose a couple of years. If something is wrong, fix it if you can. But train yourself not to worry. Worry never fixes anything.  Now, in regards to finding free time to write, that is a struggle that all writers face, but you can write any time people will leave you alone and not interrupt you. Or rather you can if you will be ruthless enough about it. But the best writing is certainly when you are in love.”

“In love… rock-out dude!  Yeah I have a great wife that I love dearly… she’s the bomb!” I exclaimed.

“She’s a bomb?” he asked alarmingly.

“No, no, she’s THE bomb… yeah, don’t worry about all of that, just another one of those… you know… expressions.  Anyway, that’s like totally awesome advice… like really profound.  You’re right though, no use in worrying about shit all the time.  Anyway, back to this writing project… you have any thoughts on what I might write about?  If someone asked you to start writing with the words ‘writing is like…’ what would you say?”

“Well… Mr. Warner… uhhh… I mean… Mr. Dude… I mean… oh, whatever, let me tell you something about writing… a serious writer is not to be confounded with a solemn writer. A serious writer may be a hawk or a buzzard or even a popinjay, but a solemn writer is always a bloody owl.”

“Whoa there cowboy… what the hell does that mean? I don’t even know what a popinjay is… but, yeah… ummm… what about my question about what to write this assignment on?”

“I will tell you, uhhh… Mr. Dude … writing to me was always like an adventure.  I always tried to write on the principle of the iceberg. There is seven-eighths of it underwater for every part that shows.”

“Ummm… so writing is like an iceberg?”

“Yes, it’s kind of like an iceberg. Look, the most solid advice for a writer is this, I think. Try to learn to breathe deeply, really to taste food when you eat, and when you sleep really to sleep. Try as much as possible to be wholly alive with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell. And when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough.”

“Ummm… so, writing is like eating and sleeping and… ”

“Yes, yes, young man… now you’re getting it!”

“Uhhh… I am?”

“Yes… yes… and most of all… remember… the first draft of anything is shit.”

“Ummmm… yeah, well… uhhh… most of my writing is like shit… but…”

“Mr. Warner Dude… let me make this clear to you. It is only like shit if you rely on another writer to give you the answers to the questions of your creativity. I think you know what writing is like. Why don’t YOU tell ME what the answer to this little writing assignment is?”

“Well… I don’t know… I guess, uhhh… ” I stammered away again. “I guess writing is like… well, it’s like whatever I want it to be on a particular day, you know, depending on the mood I am in. Some days writing is like work, with a beginning and an end, and a dull, laborious process in the middle.  Some days writing is like being a kid again, carefree and jovial like riding a bike with the breeze blowing through my hair and with none of the stress and anxiety of adulthood.  Sometimes writing is like being in love, with an intense, emotional attachment to the words on the page. Some days writing is like sex, raw and powerful and exhilarating, and sometimes it is like mourning a death, terribly dark and destructive. Then some days writing is like therapy, spilling my guts out to the world, and sometimes writing is like a personal diary, secret and cryptic and meant for no one but myself.  I think writing is like all of those things and many more… and it changes every day.”

“Well done young man” he offered. “I think perhaps you have just answered your own question. “In fact, that sounded like something I might have said.  Now, I’d better be going. Besides our bottle of wine is empty.  Good day to you Ms. Gemini… and to you Mr. Warner, time to get your typewriter out and get to work.”

“Yeah… uhhh… we don’t use typewriters anymore… oh never mind.”


*Thank you to the real Ernest Hemingway, who may have been, possibly the coolest DUDE ever, for all of those excellent quotes (in blue)!

So if you still haven’t figured out what this post is all about, well, Renee at Lessons from Teachers and Twits wrote this post a few days ago and passed on the assignment to myself and two other writers to take the phrase “Writing is like . . .” and finish it, post it on your blog and then tag three others to do the same. That’s all!

And now the three bloggers that I will pass this onto: Like Renee, I am going to choose three of my guy blogging friends… and the winners are:

Jared at Lick the Fridge:  Jared writes about his family and his kids, but often writes about… writing! He is very talented, often hand writes posts in a notebook before typing them… and sometimes he is really freakin’ funny!  Plus he is trying to write a post-a-day this month, so here’s one more excuse.  Could there be a better choice? So, Jared, get out your pen and paper and a bottle of Tanqueray and tell us what “writing is like…” to you.

Jason at The Mindslam: Jason writes about all kinds of stuff from his life and his family to sports and music and his newly adopted lake house. Sometimes he takes cool photos and shares them with his readers.  Plus he has a sweet Bull Mastiff named Ledger.  So Jason pour some water on that fire pit, put down the cold beer and get busy!  To you “writing is like…?”

And of course, I couldn’t leave out Harry at Dribbling Pensioner.  Harry is an older fellow and funny and… well, apparently… dribbling! And he likes to dabble in poetry.  So Harry, tell us what “writing is like…” to you.

Later dudes… and dudettes!


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