Archive for June, 2013


Congratulations!  You are now the proud owner of a writer!  Your writer will perform amazing tricks for you, such as spending hours and hours by themselves working on something that they may never finish. Or, accumulating a small collection of editors who thank them for their work but it’s just not right for this publication.

You may be wondering how to feed and care for this moody and reclusive creature, who is “writing a novel” but won’t tell you what it’s about.  Writers need specialized care, so here are 10 easy Do’s and Don’ts to take care of this special breed.

  1. Do give them a minimum of 1 hour of writing time per day.  For many writers it may be more, but this is the minimum for a writer to stay healthy.  Also do not make your writer feel guilty about this.  It is really hard for them…

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I miss doing open mics. I haven’t done one in nearly a year and it was a blast going up on stage in front of a crowd mixed with equal parts drunk, indifferent, and appreciative. I’ve found that most people in that environment know what it’s like to either be in that position on stage or appreciate what it takes to get up in front of everybody.

I’ve played a few different open mics over the years but the best one by far was held at in what used to be the Liquid Lounge in Seattle’s EMP. It was the best for several reasons: good musicians, lots of regulars, a full band setup, great sound, and a good stage. Along with a handful of others, I was there nearly every Sunday night, enjoying everyone’s unique sound and playing my own creations. I didn’t realize it until much later but I was known as the “Emo Kid” since nearly everyone of my own songs I played were heart-wrechingly depressing. I even had one girl say listening to my songs made her want to slit her wrists…in a good way. Once I heard that, I knew I had to lighten up on my lyrics.

My first time going I was so scared, I didn’t even sign up. I just sat at the end of the bar and became nervous for each performer that went on that night, imagining myself in their shoes and feeling the eyes of everyone in the room focusing on me. I needed a little push and the next week, had my friends go with me in order to give me that encouragement, or kick in the ass, friends are prone to do. And I did it. Nervous as all get out, I played a couple of my songs, my fingers crackling with so much adrenaline I had a very difficult time reigning them to their proper places on my guitar neck. Somehow I got through them and after a polite applause from the crowd, I took my seat, knowing that I MUST experience that again.

Maybe it was because most of us regulars had our own schtick that it felt like a family. A very strange and eclectic family but a family nonetheless. We had the “Emo Kid”, the classic rocker, the jaded but talented MC, the nu metal rock duo, the rap duo, the beat-boxer, the Christian singer/songwriter, the female bassist that would jam with anyone, and the classical/blues guitarist/comedian that I would remain friends with.

I tried another open mic at the local mall but it wasn’t the same. That spirit we had at the EMP just didn’t exist there. Maybe it was the lack of alcohol and PG-13 censorship of the place but it couldn’t match such a diverse and all-inclusive setup.

Maybe that kind of thing exists somewhere else in a different form. Maybe I found the place at a time in my life when I was broken-hearted and needed a place to belong. Maybe because it was my first and that is always a special thing.



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My girlfriend’s dogs are wonderful creatures. I was never a dog person growing up, even though my family always had at least one since I was little. As fun as it was to throw rocks and tennis balls into the woods or lake and watch them run full bore after, I never really connected to them in any real way. Maybe it was having a chunk taken out of my face when I was one year old by my Aunt and Uncle’s dog, leaving a scar I still have to this day. Or visiting some family friends and having a neighborhood dog circle the group of five kids I was with in order to take a bite of my leg. That could have something to do with it.

It was plain to see that I made the early connection that dogs equaled pain and quite possibly, the need for facial reconstruction. I’ve since made my peace with dogs, keeping a one-sided agreement to not engage in anyway. I would treat them as any piece of living scenery and they would not sharpen their teeth on my face. Much the same as humans…without all the face biting.

Not that I was ever mortally afraid of people. Accept in a few scattered instances exploring the Seattle nightlife, physical fear wasn’t a real part of my life. Emotionally afraid is a different story.

In the summer between my third and fourth grade years, my family moved to a neighboring town, one in which I didn’t know a single person. In third grade, I had lots of friends and felt generally well liked by everyone. In fourth grade, attempts to fit in and make new friends met with mixed results. I showed a classmate who appeared to be popular a picture I drew that was met with a look of questioning indifference. I showed another kid on my bus a similar picture and we bonded over it immediately, remaining friends to this day. These occurrences seemed few and far between as I was still looking to be in the popular crowd I was in at my old school.

I should also mention that over the summer that we moved, my eyesight had degraded to the point where in order to watch my cartoons, I sat a few feet from the television. My parents decided that eyeglasses were required. I had also needed braces during this time so, lucky me, I was starting a new school with two of the most widely identified articles of geekdom there were. These things are far from being disastrous but I didn’t have the social skills to overcome them.

No time did it seem the most prevalent then when I saw a classmate at the neighborhood market. This may have been the first time seeing a peer outside of the context of school and I thought it was the coolest thing ever. We had so much in common right then…we went to the same store, we…well, that was about it but it was something. So I naturally did what you do when you’re excited to see someone – I went up to him and said ‘hi’. Now, my most hopeful expectation was a return of the same excitement and an invitation to go to his place and watch movies, maybe even a ‘Hey. That assignment was a bunch of bullshit wasn’t it?’. But it was neither. There weren’t even any words exchanged. Only a flash of recognition before turning away.

Growing up, whenever anyone asked me why I didn’t connect with dogs, I could point to my scar and say, “This is why”. I didn’t know what to point to when people asked why I didn’t connect with people.

Now, even with my wariness about dogs, it’s difficult to not adore my girlfriend’s. True, they’re smaller and their playful bites don’t even break the skin but for the first time, their little personalities and cuteness have made me reconsider my position on dogs. Maybe there’s still hope for the humans.



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