Day One

WritingI started reading a book. See? Already working on that resolution list. Should have put take more naps on that list because I immediately fell asleep. Not because of the book, mind you. It’s just a lazy Sunday afternoon, and I’ve been needing to catch up on my sleep. Can’t wait for bedtime!

I’m slowly filling up the bookshelves I built. I keep buying more books, and unpacking the boxes that have been stored away for years. I think I need to build another set of shelves. I have the materials. I’ll just have to draw up the plans and start cutting! Then I’ll have to buy more books. It’s a vicious cycle.

Back to the book I’m reading, I finally started to read Identity by Christa Yelich-Koth, and the subject of my next book review. I’m only a few months late. If you know me, you know how hectic it’s been the past few months. But now everything is beginning to settle down, life is getting back to normal, and work is returning to its usual routine. I’ll have to time to read, time to write, time to live a normal life.

I also have a ton of books that need reading. I seem to buy books, but I haven’t read most of them. I bought two more, ordered a third from Amazon, and I have a gift card to Barnes & Noble that is begging to be spent. I think I’ll use that to buy myself that new copy of The Lord of the Rings. I wore out my old copy.

I have a lot to do this year, and I’m looking forward to it. Have a happy 2017, and I hope you keep reading.

 

What I’m up to

I think I’ve spent more time writing my short stories than I have anything else lately. I haven’t even been reading much this year, considering I’ve ended doing book reviews. I feel as though I did a poor job with my reviews, but the time it took to read and consider how to write what I thought of the book wasn’t worth what I got out of it.

I’ve picked up a story again, but I can’t help but wonder what’s the use? As much as I’ve said I want to publish, will I ever do it? Will I get to the point where my stories are good enough? Will I get to the point where I feel as though I’m brave enough to put it all out there?

I don’t know, but considering I’ve been at it since 2011, and saying that I’m going to publish my story this year, every year since 2012, I have to say that I’ve made myself into a liar. What’s stopping me?  My ability to finish whatever book I’m writing satisfactorily. Then there’s the cost of finding an editor/proofreader, a cover designer, and if need be, someone to help format the damned thing.

Maybe I should have picked an easier hobby, one that I’m capable of actually doing, or maybe I should buckle down and see it through. I’ll never be happy unless I follow through. I need a mentor, I think. Now where to find one.

Short Story: Lina

I had had several opportunities to back out before now, I thought as I stepped into the elevator of a hotel near the airport. There had been plenty of time to call the whole thing off before it got to this point, and I had yet to reach that point of no return, but I continued on, pressed the 7 button, and waited for the elevator to take me to her floor, and eventually to Lina’s door.

I had never met Lina, but with her I was in the best relationship I had been in ages. I don’t think I would be wrong to say ever. There was something between us that seemed to slip into place, even across the expanse of the internet. We messaged each other constantly when we were online, text back and forth all day, and even talked several times on the phone. We exchanged pictures back and forth. There wasn’t anything that I had kept from her.

We met on a dating site my friend had suggested I check out. At the time, I had come off a pretty brutal divorce, and then a girl that I was interested in asked me out for drinks after work. We hit it off. She told me she liked me, we kissed goodnight, and then she flaked out, leaving me hurt and confused. She wasn’t ready to date, she told me. Then I found out she had started dating another coworker and didn’t want me to know. Probably hoped to keep me in reserve if that one didn’t work out. Fuck her, I thought and moved on.

I started playing around online, signing up on various dating sites, but my heart wasn’t in it. I was still nursing a broken heart and a bruised ego from being shunted aside by that bitch. I functioned, at least superficially. I made it through the day, but the moment I walked through my front door, I broke down. What’s more pathetic than the image of a grown man bawling his eyes out?

My friend, however, was adamant I check this site out, so in exasperation, I told him I would. When I found it, I discovered, to my horror, that it was a tranny dating site. I found the idea repulsive and quickly left the site, but my interest was piqued and I had to check it out for myself. Didn’t take me long to be told that all the terms my friend used, tranny, shemale, and a lot more vulgar terms, were insulting. Some of these women, as they wanted to be called, were transgendered in various degrees of transition, and some were simply crossdressers looking for a guy willing to make them feel like a woman, even if only for a night.

I was flabbergasted every time I looked up a profile. Some girls looked beautiful, putting my ex-wife to shame, and others were obviously a dude in a bad wig, horrible makeup, and ill-fitting clothes. I laughed to myself, wondering what kind of perv would be so desperate as to hook up with one of those freaks.

The thing was, I kept coming back. I soon stopped laughing as I was drawn in by some of the girls. I started talking to a few, not looking for anything, neither shallow nor serious. Some girls only wanted their identities validated and were content to remain anonymous, but a few were openly hunting for anyone interested in a good time, sexually. I learned to avoid them.

It wasn’t until a few weeks later that Lina showed up. She, like me, had come off a bad marriage. Like me, she had also suffered from a cruel game from woman he knew and was interested in, and had left the dating scene as a result. Unlike me, she had to accept the harsh truth about her gender identity. She started coming to terms with her femininity, accepting that her boyhood desire to put on her mother’s dress wasn’t a sick sexual fantasy, but her soul’s desire to be the woman she longed to be.

I found her story fascinating. Soon, like I said, we were talking constantly. It became intimate fairly quickly, but not in a crude, sexual sense. We shared all our secrets over the course of a year. We became friends, and somehow more. Even though we hadn’t met, we decided that we wanted to be a couple. Lina, a man who inside knew herself to be a woman, became my girlfriend.

Still, we hadn’t met. We didn’t need to. Our connection was real, more real than any I had ever felt. I memorized her face, gazing at every photo she sent me, knowing in my heart that I had found my soulmate. Finally, after almost a year and a half, we decided to meet. Lina would be in town on a business trip, or at least her male side would, and we agreed that it would be a perfect chance to see each other , face to face.

Then the day arrived, and I started getting cold feet. I wasn’t gay. I never felt the least bit attracted to other men. The thought of doing anything sexual with a guy was repellant. A gay friend confessed he felt the same way about sex with a woman. Even the thought felt unnatural, we confided to each other. What I couldn’t shake was my feelings for her. It wasn’t a sexual attraction, or simply a physical connection, once and done, but a mental connection, a spiritual unity of our souls. This was real in a way that none of my other relationships had ever been.

I tried to reason my way out of the meeting. Wasn’t our relationship built on a lie? Lina wasn’t a real woman, and I didn’t believe pretending to be one made it any more real. I listened to all the arguments made against the transgender community, but I instinctively argued against each one, knowing that it wasn’t only what we had between our legs that identified us as man or woman.

I countered every fact and logical reasoning with experience. Lina treated me better than any real woman ever had. I treated her better as well. I did worry that what made it so great was that we were never actually close, that there was no immediacy between us, but that last hurdle was set to be jumped in a matter of minutes.

I screwed up my courage as I stepped off the elevator on the seventh floor. I walked to her door, room number 726, and I knocked. I heard her unnaturally pitched voice, muffled by the door, telling me that she was coming. This was my last chance , to escape from the sham, but I couldn’t. I loved her, and she had confessed that she loved me.

It had come to this, a moment of truth, a moment of fear and exhilaration, and a rush of adrenaline washed over me. I heard her slip off the door chain, heard the deadbolt being opened, and then before I was ready she opened the door, looking every bit as apprehensive as I felt.

“Lina?” I said, unable to believe we were actually meeting.

“Yes,” she replied guardedly, not knowing how I would react.

“It’s good to finally meet you,” I smiled, my heart brimming with affection for this woman I just now got to see with my own eyes.

“You too,” she relaxed, extending a hand for me to shake.

“I don’t think so,” I laughed. I took her in my arms, noticing that though she was almost as tall as me, she still felt feminine in my arms. I looked her in the eyes, then stepped back to admire her. “You’re more beautiful in person, Lina,” I said, once my eyes had taken her in. “Absolutely stunning.”

She flushed, but otherwise looked pleased. She let me into her hotel room, wrapped her arms around me, and we kissed for the first time. “Damn,” I said, once we broke our embrace. “Never got kissed like that before.”

“Good,” she winked, and took me by the hand towards the bed.

“I thought we were going out for dinner,” I protested, both excitement and panic setting in.

“We will,” she hinted with a flirtatious smile, “but first let’s get to know each other. I’ve been saving myself for you, and I waited a long time for this. Make love to me, please. Afterwards, we can grab a bite to eat, and then?” She asked rhetorically, opening herself to the great unknown, and inviting me along to join her for the next grand adventure.


Short Stories

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I write…

WritingI write. I write because no one cares to listen to what say. I write to purge the angst from my soul, to liberate myself from the weight that threatens to burden me beyond endurance. I write because I have something to say, a piece of me that I want to share. I write because I must.

I wish I could say that I don’t care if anyone reads what I write, but that would be a lie. I want to be read, I want for people to glimpse into that part of me, the part that I keep hidden, protected from a cold, uncaring world. I have this light that I want shone across the great expanse, but people shun it, closing their own windows, leaving me wondering what the point of this futility is.

I write, but I don’t know why I bother. To share with everyone only to be ignored is the worst rejection from a lifetime of rejection. I suppose it’s my curse to bear, and I try to bear it stoically, but sometimes the pain bursts from me unawares, before I even have a chance to shore up my defenses. Then I feel ashamed of my own weakness, but that’s the price of being human, of needing someone to accept up for who we are.

I’m a writer, and I’m a bag of paradoxes and contradictions. I’m flippant and sarcastic, but also earnest and sincere. I’m hopeful and optimistic, but broken down by experience to the point where only my pessimism is allowed to show. I want to be liked, but I’m afraid of putting myself out there, to be rejected and hated. I want to love, but love comes with the inherent risk of being brokenhearted, and I don’t know if I can survive another heartbreak.

So I hide behind my keyboard, exploring the human condition from which I separate myself. I explore love and hate, hope and despair, life and death, from the safe, ignoble distance of my imagination, but at what cost? Have I lost something of my humanity?

I write, but am I worth reading. I wonder but have no answer, and who is there who has one for me, and would I listen even if there were?

The art of handwriting and penmanship

 

When was the last time you thought about writing? I mean actual writing. Usually when I talk about writing, I’m talking about plopping down in front of my laptop, typing away as fast as my mind and my poor fingers can manage. Rarely do you actually write on paper, with a pen or pencil in our hands, writing our thoughts on a tangible piece of paper.

There’s an art to writing, one that I haven’t given much thought in years. Really, since the advent of the word processor, handwriting has been becoming obsolete. It’s been years since I’ve written a letter, placed it in an envelope, and mailed it to its destination. I remember writing letters to female acquaintances, mailing it, and waiting for weeks to receive a response. Everything now is instantaneous, and perhaps it is our loss.

What prompted this line of thought was a link that someone posted on Facebook, to My Modern Met, GIFs Reveal the Visually Satisfying Process of a Hand-Lettering Expert. I then found a link to a Buzzfeed list, 21 Pieces Of Handwriting So Perfect They’re Borderline EroticWhen I consider my own skill at writing, well I bow my head in shame. I confess that I have no skill whatsoever.

I then started thinking about reports I heard about schools no longer teaching cursive. It’s obsolete in the modern world, they argue, proclaiming that today is the age of electronic communication, of computers, emails and texting, instant messaging and various other options created by the advent of smartphones. Handwriting and penmanship are anachronisms, relics of a bygone age, long forgotten and never to return, or so they would like us to believe.

But us old folks , – and I’ll be damned if I can count myself as part of that group! – can still remember the stupor-inducing repetitive nature of learning how to write. First in regular print, then in cursive. Back then, which I can’t believe is more than thirty years ago, handwriting was considered an important skill to possess. So much of my early education was spent learning who to write, and then how to spell. Lessons were spent teaching vocabulary words, expanding our minds in order to succeed in the grown-up world.

Looking at the poor spelling and grammar I see daily online, the modern communication age hasn’t made us better at expressing our thoughts. In many ways, it has made us lazier and stupider, unable to put into words what we think and feel in a coherent, expressive manner. So much of modern communication has given way to the age of the meme, where someone places pseudo-intellectual mumbo-jumbo superimposed over some photo meant to elicit a certain emotional response.

Is it fair to blame the loss of penmanship and handwriting to our own mental slide? Maybe not, but then again, maybe it is. There’s a magic in expressing longhand what we are trying to convey. Think about the fluidity of a pen dancing over paper, leaving a trail that emanates from some spark in the mind, flows down the arm and finally to the fingers which grasp so delicate an instrument, one that has been responsible for disseminating ideas to a receptive audience. Truly, Edward Bulwer-Lytton penned no greater phrase when he wrote the phrase, “The pen is mightier than the sword,” when he wrote the play “Richelieu”, in 1839.

Perhaps I’m waxing lyrical over an archaic art doomed to be lost to the ages, by I pray not. I hope some form of handwriting will exist for future generations, not only for the sense of art, but for the message actual handwriting conveys. Reddit has a subreddit devoted solely to it in Penmanship Porn.

Finally, Gatorade produced a commercial not for its product line, but to thank Peyton Manning. On focus is not his contribution to football, but his own practice of writing handwritten letters to various people, friends, colleagues, and fans alike. If you still don’t believe in the magic of the handwritten note after seeing this, then maybe I’m wasting my time typing this out, but again, I pray not.