Whether a short story, random thought, song lyric, script, or the start of a book, I’ll occasionally post my writings or writing project links here. Feel free to comment or Contact Me to find out more, or to engage my writing services for your project!
Darci the Drummer
Back in 2018, I released a self-published children’s book about music and drumming called “Darci the Drummer: Takes Drum Lessons”:
It’s about a girl named Darci who passionately wants to be a great drummer, and she makes a LOT of noise banging around on pots and pans and everything in between (much to the chagrin of her brother Danny), but she isn’t sure how to get started on that path to actually knowing how to play the drums. So, her parents surprise her with drum lessons!
It was available on Amazon for a good long while, but I’ve since taken the book off the market due to costs. However, if you’re in the Portland, OR area, stop by Music Millennium at 3158 E. Burnside and you might be able to grab your very own copy! And of course, I also have a limited number of copies here in Bakersfield, CA available for sale for $10.00 each.
Who knows? If there’s enough interest again down the road, perhaps I’ll give the book another go on Amazon! Check back here periodically for any updated news on that front. And in the meantime, I’m also working on other children’s stories that may one day catch the eye of a publisher or three… I’ll certainly update this page if anything like that happens, have no fear!
Short Story: “A Story of the Night”
The sidewalk glistened after the rain. The smell of tread asphalt, dusty graffitied glass, weathered steel, stale exhaust, incinerated weed, all assumed an almost fresh quality. A chilly, joyful breeze traversed each alleyway and street corner, bringing glad aromatic tidings of the recent rainwater that had fallen from the generous expanse above. Joyful breeze though it was, it remained woefully ignorant that much of the rain was lost for usefulness by falling on the porous fields of asphalt and the tar-thatched roofs of dirty strip mall buildings.
An oblong shape spanned half the width of the sidewalk in front of a shuttered performance theater, covered end-to-end by a damp quilted comforter, white in color in its better days. A passer-by had only to guess that some unfortunate soul was making a hearty attempt at slumber. Stepping to the side and continuing their way, perhaps passer-by would give a half-hearted thought to checking the shape for signs of life or, worse, expired life. But thought quickly returned to the mundane, the comfortable things of life, and no more considered the curious shape.
The shape moved slightly against the cold.
Dark clouds outlined dramatically against the twilight sky. The clearing of the air and the sparkling of the streets somehow made the approaching evening seem brighter than normal in the cloudy moonlight. It made the inner romantic desire to sit outside amid the rain-cleansed scenery, next to a loved one, to stay awake all night and see what the world did between the hours of 1:30 and 6:00 in the morning. To chat about beauty, to inhale life’s misty essence before it disappeared with the coming of the evaporating powers of the sun. To observe moving clouds and moving people, dripping tree branches, steamy breath. To feel inexorably connected to all, and yet removed from the nitty gritty of all. Lifted high by staying still, low to the earth.
An aspiring rock star hauled pieces of his drum set up the basement stairs of a nearby bar. The gritty stench of cigarette smoke and stale beer following him up after the conclusion of his band’s half-hour gig before a grand audience of nineteen people. He paused at the top of the stairs, stick bag in hand, to take in the fresh night with a deep inhale. If he wasn’t reminded why he loved life at this very moment, perhaps the twenty-five dollars in his pocket would help jog his memory. The night’s take was not as much as at other gigs, but at least he had enough to fill up his gas tank and grab a bite to eat on the way home to his wife and warm bed.
His car now fully packed, the drummer shared a final laugh with his bandmates before bidding them farewell until the next gig. He turned around to take in a final view of the downtown street and the boarded-up theater across from the bar. It was then that he spotted the oblong shape outlined brightly on the damp sidewalk, covered in dirty white. His right hand fingered the twenty- and five-dollar bills in his pocket, and his mind pondered. He frowned and turned his back, cinching his scuffed leather jacket tighter around his skinny frame; the laughing memory of raindrops filled his olfactory senses as he slowly walked back to his car.
The heady feeling of the bills in his pocket inexplicably slowed his feet down even further, as if by bewitchment. He turned back around and, struggling to make a decision, noticed that the shape had moved yet again in the cold just as a couple-in-lust walked by without even a glance. The shape was just another piece of street litter barely registering in the consciousness.
But the shape had a name, and it was called James. And James still felt the chill rain deep in his bones.
A moment to breathe
Just taking a moment today, January 20, 2021, Inauguration Day, to breathe deeply.
Wisdom, peace, understanding, integrity, and love to you, President Joe Biden, and to you, Vice President Kamala Harris.
It’s 2002 again, part 2…
In the ongoing saga of my quitting social media (I know, my life is that interesting to you lovely people), I’ve found that there are not, as of yet, any clearly defined withdrawals that I can describe so much as there is just a slight undertone of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out, for those uninitiated into Club Acronym) lurking beneath the surface.
Absolutely expected, of course.
I told my sister Jessica (you can find her at breakfastatjessicas.wordpress.com) about the move away from the socials, since she has been sans social media for the better part of a year or more at this point. A wonderful in-person conversation ensued as we (my wife Talia, my sister, and my brother-in-law Luke) sat around the breezeway table and enjoyed the beautiful spring-like January day, surrounded by trees and green plants and the sounds of children playing Legos and going across the alley to feed the stray cat. I also had my first sumptuous cup of coffee in almost an entire week (see previous post. I’ve decided it can be a weekend treat now). It’s the little things in life.
There seems to be less holding me down. As if the world is mine to explore again, without the need to stay informed and abreast via social media. No, I don’t have to go see what everyone else is talking about. No, I don’t have to get my daily news from apps that cater my personal newsfeed by recording my every click, every comment, every second watching a video. No, I don’t have to be inundated with every meme on the planet just to find the humor in this weird life.
There’s a concept in eastern philosophy that entails removing attachments and entanglements in one’s life in order to be more free. The more attached we become to a thing, a person, a concept, a belief, the more drama we can create around it. The more expectations we have. And that attachment can create more and more attachments via whatever is orbiting that attachment’s existence. The more drama we have to deal with in our lives, the more inward-looking we become, slaves to our own self-image and self-survival just to make it to the next day.
So, just start removing some of those attachments. And trust me, watch the drama start to fade from your life. Watch how you can start taking the time to just breathe again. Watch how your gaze starts to lift up from the dusty ground to take in (in astonishment!) the deep blue sky and beyond. Hence, the front photo caption on this blog.
Maybe start with something as simple (yes, SIMPLE) as social media. Don’t let social media become this Kraken that you just can’t kill dead. If it is, perhaps use this opportunity to see how much of your own personal identity is tied up in an app or three. Bits and bytes. That all those apps are.
Yeah, it takes practice, and (duh duh DUHHHH!!! dramatic music) self-discipline. It takes guts to stand up to yourself and the social training you’ve received over your many years. But one of the most important things a person can learn for themselves is the power of the word “No”.
No, I won’t feel pressure to do what everyone else is doing. I am my own person.
No, I won’t let huge corporations spoon-feed me what it thinks is relevant to my life.
No, I won’t despair or let FOMO dominate my life. It’s my life, so it is I who controls how much contact I want to maintain with other people.
I’m sure this won’t be the last post on the social media thing. There’s tons I haven’t said yet. But I don’t want to obsess over it either, while having said that I was done with it. Oh, another one of life’s great ironies.
But I can’t wait to see what the universe puts in my path next, so that I, with eyes more widely open and paying attention, can know what to say “Yes” to.
As Ram Dass so wisely said:
“Be Here Now”.
Coffee, or the lack thereof
Owing to a pretty mundane series of events (nothing to write home about anyway), I have not had coffee for four whole days now.
That’s, like, a record.
Now initially, I had a caffeine withdrawal headache for about a day, on my first day without coffee. I just couldn’t find the time to go to my favorite coffee shop, much to the chagrin of my addicted brain, so I’m pretty sure that the tiny engineer in my head was throwing a little temper tantrum, like a toddler deprived of sugar, banging on the side of my head walls and screaming until hoarse.
Or maybe it was just another polluted high-pressure weather system in good ol’ Bakersfield.
In either case, the pounding stopped the next day. And ever since then, I’ve felt…
Not beholden to chemical comfort. A little less antsy too.
Will I keep it up? Perhaps make coffee an occasional treat instead of a daily necessity? Caress the sweet foam of a vanilla latte with gentle kisses from my lips on a rare day of splurge, as opposed to greedily guzzling the gastronomic gasoline on the daily?
I guess it’s too soon to tell. Humans are so wishy-washy.
But I’m honestly liking the results so far.
Short Story: “Of the Earth”
He escaped the sprawl of suburbia, those walled-off faux-resplendent stuccoed cul-de-sacs with high, noble names such as Stonybrook and Glenmarsh and Something-Oak and Laurel-Whatever, nature words designed to trick the mind into accepting the abundance of fake brick and stone and wood. He escaped with his family to trade speedy six-lane roads and barren sidewalks and strip-mall monuments for…what, exactly?
Crumbling bricks and drafty floorboards? Check.
Stolen bikes and wary glances from unwashed drifters? Check.
Mature plants giving much-needed shade and beauty in exchange for rich, sandy soil in this marshland-turned-metro? Well-used sidewalks with ancient memories of walkers and bike riders and barely holding down large tree roots? A diversity of peoples and incomes and housing, with no property the same and each chronicling a long history in its dusty bones?
Life? Creativity? Possibility? Togetherness? Appreciation for all things old and genuine and unique and natural? Moving to the city center, he found that he could tentatively check these all off, and that he could scarce be convinced to move anywhere else in town from that time onward.
After parking his car and retrieving his laptop from the trunk on a certain mid-April morning, he noticed that a cool breeze, fresh after a mild rain, played with the cigarette smoke curling into the air from the smoker’s patio attached to the corner coffee shop. The rancid aroma of incinerated tobacco danced intimately with the savoriness of freshly-ground coffee beans, and it flirted with the slight olfactory evidence of someone smoking a hidden joint of weed around the corner. Rainwater, now resting on the ground, had cleared the air of the ever-present smog in this typically dry valley town; it made temporary room for the sweet scent of the blooming trees nearby, and of grass, and of a reminder to look up and revere the oft-hidden mountains surrounding the city in the distance. The sun played peek-a-boo between clear blue sky and gray clouds that were ringed in silver-white. This orgy of the senses produced an offspring of organic thought in him: This is earth, and we are of the earth, and we ingest the earth, and we create the earth.
The coffee shop served as an eclectic collective of people and roles. Business was conducted. Old friends were caught up. New friends were made. Religious devotees hoped that their prayers and studies of their sacred texts, conducted in the open public, would bear good witness to all the unconverted heathens. Musicians hoped that their connections would lead to the next big thing. Artists hoped for their next commission, their next full tank of gas, as they stared intently at the incomplete shading of their paper creation – perhaps they should use a darker pencil for this part of the calf muscle…maybe a 7B?
Coffee baristas concentrated on uplifting the plain existence of hot water poured through the tortured remains of small tropical berries or plant leaves, like priests and priestesses performing a holy rite with the barest of earthly ingredients. They concentrated, yes, but they were not concerned with the art. No, they were concerned with their next car payment or with their son’s toothache or with their mother’s recent health scare. They were concerned about the belligerent druggie who would always come in for free water and leave a mess in the bathroom. They were concerned about the stabbing that happened last night up the street. They were concerned about what they were going to fix for dinner with the few staples in their kitchen. They were concerned about how many reactions their latest social media post received, and about trying to stave off the anxiety and depression that hounded so many of their fellow humans in the modern digital realities of hyper-connectivity and high-speed insecurity.
He entered the coffee shop and breathed in the familiarity. His second office, his second home. There, behind the counter, toiled his friends. All around, his family consumed and lived and created. And he joined the ritual, trading credits for caffeine, to sit alone yet not alone at a wobbly table in order to conduct his own business and keep the economic machinery lubed and running.
After a few hours, he had to pack his things away and put his mind toward the client that needed help on-location. He drove away from the city center, the center of his life, and proceeded over the bridge spanning the always-dry riverbed. Out of habit, he glanced to the right to take in the sight of the bare riverbed leading up to the eastern foothills and the now-clear mountains beyond. But today, he was witness to the very rare sight of water cutting a shallow path. He turned his head to the left and confirmed the happy circumstance. He smiled inside himself, and he thought: There is water in the river, and today is a good day.
It’s, like, 2002 all over again
It’s the third day after deleting my Instagram accounts and deactivating my Facebook, and I can tell the withdrawals are gonna come slowly. That’s OK, I was expecting it.
Morning alarm goes off on my phone, I turn it off, and… well, that’s about it. Maybe check the news and stocks. Delete a few emails.
No more lurking around FB and IG first thing for *this* guy (visualize me pointing both thumbs at my chest). Or second thing. Or last thing.
So, I’ve decided to do away with social media…and then start a blog. Because I’ve lost my mind, right? I’ve had a mental breakdown and reverted to a pre-MySpace, blogging-era utopia, right? Just absolutely pining for 2002 all over again, right? (see title above)
Sorta. I’m an IT guy, right? I even operate my very own IT Services business (www.myintegritech.com, by way of introduction). So my slender fingers are involved in tech All. Day. Long. It starts to get to you, ya know? Not to mention having, like, over a hundred different accounts to over a hundred different websites for ALL the things, both personal and business. Not to mention how tired I’m getting of being notified that my accounts may have been hacked because the service I was using was too big a target, or their security sucked. So I started eliminating things.
Not long ago, I read Edward Snowden’s book “Permanent Record”. It really opened my bleary eyes to how *available* our personal data has become to gigantic, too-big-to-hold-accountable corporations or government entities that want to make financial or nefarious use of it.
*Then* I watched the Netflix documentary “The Social Dilemma”. Holy moly, if that doesn’t give you pause, I don’t know what will.
Lastly, I read testimonies of those who took the reverse-plunge out of social media, and the vast majority reported their increased happiness, mental well-being, and freedom to chase after other life goals.
So this is me right now. I stepped out of the social media kiddie pool, shook off my feet, and started walking around the sunlit grassy yard. I deleted my private and public Instagram accounts, and deactivated my Facebook account.
Truth be told, it’s not like I was obsessive of social media. I had slowly decreased by social media activity over the years. I rarely posted anything on IG or FB anymore: mostly happy birthday posts, a comment here or there on a friend’s post, or the occasional promotion of something I was doing creatively.
But it was time.
Time to stop giving Facebook the means with which to sell my digital soul to the highest bidder. It’s become a lot less about connecting people these days, and a lot more about connecting people to advertisers and content that is algorithmically catered to our basest desires. Social media companies have gotten so *good* at emotional manipulation (such manipulation is at the heart of marketing, after all), it’s scary. Hence, the astronomically-heightened phenomenon of bad information proliferating throughout the connected world. And I don’t want to be another “node” in that self-destructing network.
So here I am. Starting a blog. Honestly, it’s probably just the very thing that’s been needed to give me a swift kick in the arse to *write write write* more. And that is not a bad thing at all.
People change. And that’s a damn good thing.