The HollowThe transition from blitzkrieging carpenter to contemplative writer is tripping over your own work boots and falling on your face into a swamp.

At the central core of most carpentry projects is the body fueled by adrenaline and the mind sharpened like an unforgiving fireman’s ax as it cleaves through past mediocrity, realizing the client’s vision of the future one cup of coffee at a time. If you’re having emotions about your building project, get out of the way! With heavy-metal blasting in my ears I feel like a Marvel God descending to earth as I rip out walls with my mighty sledge hammer. I like it, but I don’t love it. I will never stick around milking the job dry. In. Out. Home.

My relationship goes in the crapper when I work as a carpenter because I am an unfeeling juggernaut who coldly engineers solutions and heatedly moves objects by force. Sex is an earthly pastime that helps mitigate the coffee, adrenaline, and alcohol soup in my brain as it desires to be shut up and shut off. Not very romantic.

I embrace those induced walls, though, because without them I would be Auguste Rodin’s the Thinker (in clothes) made not from bronze, but some kind of new age mood gel. I would wonder if today was a good day to use the 16oz hammer on finish nails, or, if my friend was right, the 20oz hammer with the bigger surface area makes it more likely to hit the nail. Are the dents in the trim less deep with the larger head? With my aching shoulders, do I even want to sand that crap? What grit sandpaper should I stop at? Will the homeowner notice or even care? Do I even FEEL like doing this aspect of the job right now? Yes, people would be surprised if the Thinker suddenly exclaimed, “Get ‘er done!” More likely he would hold his head and say, “Make it stop!”

Ah, carpentry!

Writing, on the other hand, calls to me like a siren, waving its naked limbs, luring me in with its neptune kissed lips, singing the melody I’ve wanted to hear for weeks. Down I go, drowning in the depths beneath the ocean’s surface. And yet, I am surprised that the liquid filling my lungs contains so much oxygen I continue to breathe. I am experiencing emotion and becoming acutely aware of the people around me and yet I’m not dead. What’s more, I finally tune into my own emotions–yes, I have them!–but that’s where things get scary…

The day was fine. I was driving through the Hollow until I found a place to stop. I love the Hollow. I think about how a whole neighborhood used to live there, and now it’s too far off the beaten path. The stone foundations of cellar holes languish amongst the trees, stone walls run counterpoint to the road, and the strings that are supposed to connect all things seem to be severed in that place. The busy cantankerous din of civilization is only an echo there.

My coffee haze is gone. I feel days tired. I sense the passing of my own ego needs, and in their place the world is talking to me. I want to weep. I don’t admit that lightly. I can FEEL the mood of the people who built these foundations in the Hollow. Hope. Joy. Appreciation. In the work they found a quiet contentment. They watched the passing of seasons and moose with wonder. This place acts like a vacuum. Nothing pushed at me for its attention; instead everything pulled at me, creating an inner need to respond. Yet, I felt the chains that bound me to the clock, to the dollar, to responsibilities–some I love and some I could discard without regret.

There was so much I felt compelled to say standing there, and I had to wonder if everyone else would feel the same in their own shoes, standing in this spot. Weighted down, over pushed, under listened to or misunderstood, driving forward until they took their foot off the gas and found they were actually on the tram riding along with friends and strangers. In the driver’s seat a non-descript clone is doing his job, unconcerned about your desire for meaning or quest to follow your bliss.

The source of all the words I wanted to say is the scary thing. I found it on my own, in the back corner where nature still holds the upper hand. It’s truth. A reflection of all I feel about the life I’m living held in contrast to an image of the life I want where my emotions are less turbulent. So much less, that I don’t need to block them off.


How long does a person allow themselves to be knocked off-center before they cease to be themselves, having begun to revolve around a new core? I don’t really want to find out. As far as I can tell, that is the road to chronic disease, when your actions become unaligned with your heart. So, having been lucky enough to trip over my own boots into the swamp, I will pick myself up, brush myself off and try to stay walking the right path as long as I can.

Taking Up Space

notinmynameDo you ever have those days when you realize you are just taking up space and sucking up air? Let’s not forget burning money, creating need, and consuming food. And to justify your existence…there is nothing. You have not contributed to the world in any way or made it a better place. Maybe, just maybe, by your own passivity, you have not added to the endless pool of hate mongering and ignorant divisionists in the world. And there it is! You have done your part.

Right now, when I listen to the news, I think “Oh my God, these people will never stop killing each other.” Why can’t they just be cool? Why can’t they accept that they will always feel insecure around strong women and then just suck it up? What’s the aversion to “shit happens” and “let’s forget about it” and “I was wrong, I’m sorry” and sometimes just “I’m okay.”

I think most jihadists need to get laid and have a drink. I think the CIA needs to stop meddling in other countries politics because they obviously suck at it. I’m thinking Bin Laden and the rise of ISIS here, both of which they had a hand in. Dig further back and you find more CIA mistakes, lies, corruption, manipulation of “we the people,” and serving and answering to corporations not our elected officials. “I’m sorry, Mr. President, you don’t have a need to know.” Ah, who’s in charge, then? Apparently, not a person elected by the people.

I know I’m rambling. I haven’t had much sleep–babies, ya know? So unpredictable. But speaking of babies, I watched a video of this kid my son’s age after most of his family was bombed. He seemed level headed, smart, angry and asking the same questions every other person on this planet is asking who doesn’t have their head up their ass or are watching FOX news (maybe the same thing?) and that’s “WHY?”

Whenever I see bombs drop, I hear the money sound in my head–Cha-ching, cha-ching–and I wonder who just paid for a new yacht or political campaign? Making big money is the main factor in our world contrary to common sense. We know statistically that bombs make jihadists, yet we keep dropping them. Hmmm. I love money, but I think it is made out of the same stuff that’s in the sun. If you have some, you get a big warm lot of fun. If you have too much, it collapses in on itself and forms a black hole. And that’s what we have, too many people with black holes where their warm heart of fun should be, sucking all the light from the planet.

This may seem like a tangent, but hey, like I said, I haven’t had much sleep. I listened to this commentator on the Global Climate Summit in France. His voice shook with suppressed rage, stating that he was from the only government there that had a faction determined to undermine anything that came out of the summit–no matter what it was. What is that about? What country would have a powerful faction determined to go against 99% of the world’s scientists and ignore their recommendations for change? Who would be so arrogant as to disregard the conclusions reached by “all the nations of the world?” Who should be tarred and feathered, run out of town on a rail, or…sorry…how about simply going home and getting out of the way? Nothing violent. Nothing angry. Just go home and try to connect to your compassion.

Stop thinking your ideology has all the answers. Stop being a black hole. Stop killing the innocent. Stop being such fanatical fundamentalists–I’m talking about the Republican leadership here. Chill out. Relax. Do some yoga. Be cool, man, be cool.

Frankenfinger (or Oooops!)

On November 11, 2013 I accidentally slid my hand into a jointer. I say they don’t call it a “jointer” for nothing. In a fraction of a second the end of my middle finger on my left hand had been deboned. The bone was reduced to fragments scattered around the workshop, which I have collected and intend to frame in the shop with “Safety First” written across the top.

DSCN6841 DSCN6845

The image above shows a tasteful look at the difference in my hands. I will spare you from seeing under the bandage. My middle finger is now the same height as my index.

At the time, I was prototyping a new line of wooden sword for kids. I was trying to drink less caffeine. Moon was in Pisces. I was being lazy, and instead of setting up my router and doing it right, I was shaping the side of the sword slowly with the jointer using the rail at a 45 degree angle. My eye had strayed to the rail to see if the wood was tight and my hand slid the sword forward an extra inch too far.

The worst part was that my two youngest kids were in the shop with me. I went into a rational state of shock, unplugged the machine, searched for a clean rag, and bled all over the place. Drew later told his mom, “I knew it was serious because dad never freaks out, but this time he said ‘fuck’ like five times.” Gracie said, “is ‘fuck’ spelled F-O-K?”

I told the kids to get into the truck and they didn’t argue, which told me they understood the situation was serious. They still didn’t complain when I peeled out of the driveway before they had their seat belts on and put my foot to the floor. I could see Drew filing away the experience that will no doubt come back to haunt me when he’s a teenager—“Wow, you can go this fast without getting caught by the police or killing yourself?”

I don’t know why I bothered. I got to the hospital, let some very nice person take my kids into the waiting room, and then was ushered to a gurney where I waited. It was at this point, as I tried to get someone I knew on the phone to come and take my kids home, that I realized my hand friggin’ hurt. At least there is a maximum pain level, and thank God. Once you have met that level and can handle it, you’re good. Eventually, they took me down to X-ray where the attendant said she wouldn’t tell me how bad I’d screwed up, which made it clear it was as serious as I thought it was. I’m not sure how long I endured the feeling that someone was taking a blow torch to my finger before I was shot up with a local anesthetic, and morphine. Ah, morphine…

My doctor did a great job and had a fine sense of humor. I like a man who can laugh and talk about good literature as he grinds away at your bone. Needless to say, I kept his email address so I could drill him for information about medical procedures—you know, for my books.

I specifically asked for no Oxycodone and got it anyway. That shit is evil. I went cold turkey after about a week and haven’t been right since. First, my mood plummeted so low I could imagine someone jumping off a bridge feeling like that, except that it would take a certain amount of ambition which oxycodone kills. I know myself well and recognized that these feelings were outside myself, not me, as it were, and didn’t give into them.

I had been scheduled to play congas at the local theatre for a private school’s production of In the Heights. I love latin music, and an opportunity like this in Vermont comes around every decade or so. Monday, detoxing and messed up in the head, I went to listen. I decided even with one hand I could contribute something so proceeded to practice everyday that week to do the show that weekend. The first night after practice I took off my bandage feeling in the heights of my depression and wondered if I was insane. What the hell am I doing? Why can’t I just lay on the couch like a normal person? I had a perfect excuse to be taken care of and I was still dragging wood into the house with stubborn determination and now I’m drumming all night?

The truth is, I am slightly crazy, but maybe not as stupid as I felt after I took the end of my finger off. Music is a healer. The pain that had been shooting up my arm and into my head from cramped muscles went away. My feeling of uselessness gave way to feeling a part of something great; the show came off well and as one of the few members of the band versed in latin music I thought I helped contribute something important. By the time the show was over my detox was over.

…ah…with the exception that I couldn’t sleep. I don’t sleep much anyway, but oxycodone robs you of your ability to sleep easily no matter how tired you are. Frustrating. Did I mention that oxycodone is evil?

Okay, this was supposed to be a short blog, but there’s something else I have to tell you. I’m on week three since the accident and I’ve just started to try typing with it—which was my number one concern the instant it happened. Luckily, the week before it happened I’d been listening to Stephen Hawking’s A Theory of Everything, and in the hospital I decided if Hawking can write without the use of his hands, than I could, too, if necessary. Now, that thought makes me laugh at myself. Losing the end of my finger is a long way from having amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. But, I have to say, “Stephen Hawking, you the man!” You not only completely warped my sense of reality, but gave me hope as well.

I have a weird factoid about losing the end of your finger. Your brain still thinks it’s there and it’s waiting for some message from it. Since that doesn’t happen, the message is that the end of your finger is touching nothing, and whatever your hand is resting on must have a hole in it. I think the Police had a song about that…

The ultimate result is that I’m a little slower on the keyboard, but I appreciate everything so much more—my partner Sarah, especially, who has given me a deeper understanding of how important it is to be loved by someone who’s got your back. I won’t forget it.

Crappy Blogger

Okay, so I’m a crappy blogger and I’m sorry; I like to write books. I’ll have to call myself the seasonal blogger because I only publish one about every three months. I was always told to leave my audience hungry. However, despite my “radio silence,” things have been humming along.

This summer my kids and I created a vending tent made out of saplings. The tent was a pain in the ass to haul around, but when crazy storms blew up I was one of the few that didn’t worry about his tent blowing over. Yeah, I’m practical that way. Originally, I was going to sell books at festivals and my fiancee’s healing CDs, but decided that wasn’t enough. It took a few weeks, but my kids and I churned out a solid inventory of wood crafts: swords, shields, staffs, wands, and hammers for kids and adults. The crafts were all wood burned and mostly one of a kind.

The festivals were a lot of fun and educational. I not only sold books, but made a lot kids happy (including my own) and turned a profit–albeit a small one which I shared with my wee workers. I’m sure you’ll see us out there again now that the experiment has been successfully carried out. My son wants me to create a webpage to display our crafts because he (at seven) has decided we would sell more over the internet for Christmas and birthdays. I want to say “Hey, you’re a jewish pagan or a paganish jew; what are you thinking about Christmas for?” But I guess the answer is obvious, he made more running a drill press than he does taking care of our home’s recycling. I can hear people yammering about child labor, but if you’d ever seen my son idle for five minutes then you would understand: productive, creative outlets are GOOD!

In other news, I wrote a short story, Double Negative, that was accepted for publication in an Anthology that last year had 20K copies downloaded. I’ll report more on that as the release date approaches. Suffice to say, I’m excited to be a part of that, and I hope it leads to some reviews of my work. Since most of my reviews have been positive, I worry it’s because I’m not hitting a big enough audience and somewhere out there is a mountain of negative shit-flinging waiting for me to step into it. Nanman has been shot at a few times, but that’s because it’s flinging shit itself–such responses are expected. Last year, publication of the Anthology (The End: Visions of Apocalypse) raised some money for charity (here are the details). I hope it is even better received this year, and since it’s on the subject of Luck, it probably will.

Check back soon for updates on the The D Generation III cover. It’s finished, I just need to post it…yeah, I know, just finish the editing right; who cares about the cover? Despite the other subjects I wanted to cover, I’m finding more typoes then I can handle and I know I need to go to bed…

Get on your ass!

After a long frustration with the sad state of affairs of my old website I finally have a new one. Why didn’t I deal with it sooner? Well, life is all about timing in my opinion. I was distracted all summer long with projects and writing the third D Generation, then I got a job–oops! After four months of working my butt off for little pay and few results, I said “Hey! If I wanted to work for no pay I would work for myself.” So here I am.

The motto for this year is “No distractions.” If you know me then you know how hard that is. I’m interested in everything, and being a hands-on kinda guy, I have to try everything, too. This year no distractions means no animals and no garden–okay, some garden–and no building projects. Luckily, being a jack-of-all-trades is a great prerequisite for being a writer.

Time is ticking; I know I have this year to sell a significant number of books, get a decent contract, or get a job. In Vermont, most people’s reaction would be “Get a job!” Then I think about this week; I have been home with my boy who has the nasty flu that’s freaking out America and I’m really glad I don’t have a job. I get to make sure my son gets sleep, he’s still getting educated and well fed–not to mention he’s great to play games with. Sometimes I think games do a better job educating kids then school does. I also get time to work while he’s home. Right now he scrolling through the Magic The Gathering database reading cards on-line. This involves some new computer skills for him as well as reading far above his first grade reading level–and he’s happy about it!

All that is to say its time to sell something. I don’t know why I haven’t been using my skills with media and computers to provide you some multi-medium entertainment–maybe because I’ve been spending all my free time writing?–but that’s changing. I’ve been crunching the last month to learn a host of new applications. You may soon see the results. Anyway, enjoy this new website. The easy interface will mean a lot more updates and information from me, more entertainment, and more cool stuff I’ve wanted to put out there for a long time. Now that I’ve finally sat down and gotten on my ass: enjoy!