To Share A Soul (Part One) – Do Soul Mates Exist?

Standard

The word soulmate is thrown around a lot these days.  First of all, it’s not a word.  It is, in fact, two words: soul mate, defined as:

noun – a person with whom one has a strong affinity, shared values and tastes, and often a romantic bond.

Now that we’ve knocked out the grammar of the topic, to the meat of the issue: Do we all have soul mates, or just a select few?  What happens when you find your soul mate?  What happens when they are torn away from you prematurely?

To anyone I’ve met in the past fifteen years, they would not hesitate to tell you that I was an agnostic-bordering-atheist, who stood firmly rooted in the comforting embrace of cold logic and hard facts.  It may seem odd to derive comfort from things which are customarily described as “cold” and “hard”, however, in this respect, I am hardly in the minority.  As a society, we are conditioned to expect regularity, to crave constancy, and to chase repetitiveness.  But the point of this post is not to posit the norm.  In fact, its purpose is to do the complete opposite.

Do we all have soul mates, or just a select few?

The landscape of mythology is covered in trees – most of whom were once human, and were transformed into their current arboreal manifestation by a sympathetic deity, usually after the loss of a “soul mate”, “true love” or other such personage.  Whether it’s the reeds which whisper Echo’s name, or the laurel tree that was once a young maiden named Daphne, the ancient world was constantly seeing some unlucky lover twist and branch until he/she became a flower/plant/shrubbery/tree that we would recognize today.  Or, in Daphne’s case, use her leaves (hair?) to decorate the heads of Olympians.

Not all of mythology is like that, however.  There are plenty of people who meet, marry, have children, build kingdoms, and only once or twice find themselves in a situation that requires divine intervention.  (The House of Atraeus is exempt from this generalization; they were pretty much screwed from the word “procreate”.)

By using the literature of the ancient world as our “litmus test”, we can safely assume that:

  1. Soul mates do exist, and
  2. Not everyone has them.

That’s fine for the ancient world, but what about today?  I mean, there hasn’t been a single human-to-tree transformation in at least… well, it’s been a while.

If one was to review all the communications available – social media, text messaging, telephone, telegraph, radio, movies, television, film, etc., etc., etc. – one would rapidly come to the conclusion that not only do soul mates exist, but everyone has one.  Most people two or three?

How the HELL did that happen?

I for one, do not think it did.  Not at all.  I had been on this Earth for almost four decades before my soul mate (and yes, I believe, without a doubt, that we are soul mates, both in the classical definition and the modern) blew through my front door like a tornado, caught me up in a whirlwind, and we’ve been pleasantly riding the shocks, surprises and sentiments of life together ever since.  In fact, I would even go so far as to amend the definition of “soul mate” above as follows:

a person with whom one has a strong affinity, shared values and tastes, and often a romantic bond, and who is not only capable of bringing change to the other person’s life, but also does so, usually to a massive degree.

How do you know?  Easy.  Here’s how:

First, let the seratonin and dopamine wear off.  This may take a few weeks, or a few years.  But trust me – it’s going to wear off.

Second, look at the person.  Look at their appearance, but also look beyond their appearance.   See the stuff they don’t want you to see.  See what shames them, and see what shames yourself.

Third, and lastly, ask yourself this simple question:  Does this person, flaws and all, still challenge, provoke, incite, excite and motivate me to step outside my comfort zone, even if the only semi-decent reason is that they will be standing there with me?

If the answer is yes, than what you’ve known all along is true.  And if it’s not?  Well, don’t worry.  No ones been turned into a tree since… well… ah, forget it.

The Ugly Duckling… a little prettier

Standard

In the process of reviewing the text of Observations from a Third-Story Window and Other Stories, I felt that some of the stories were not quite the best that they could be.  I guess this is all part of being a writer, with a slightly obsessive compulsion to make everything perfect.  (Personally, I credit this to Mommie Dearest – she always held us to a much higher standard than to which we would have aspired on our own.)

While some of them were (fortunately) good enough (IMHO) to stand on their own, I felt that the My Life as a Fairy Tale set could use a bit more polish.  Up first?  The Ugly Duckling.  Getting a(nother) makeover.

I was nineteen years old, and I was freezing my ass off in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea.

Mind you, I was not adrift in an inflatable raft as a result of some catastrophe, nor was I attempting to swim some record-setting distance. Instead, I was topside on a guided missile cruiser as she made her way north towards the Italian port town of Trieste, at the topmost reach of the Adriatic Sea. It was January, and while magazines and travel guides always picture the Mediterranean as a tropical and exotic paradise, the photographers clearly had not been to this stretch of water during this time of the year. There are winds which come screaming off the Alps at about forty to fifty miles per hour, and they efficiently carry that chill straight out onto the water. It was that chill which cut through my pea coat, my uniform, my skin, and seemed to be freezing my bones themselves.

God I wish I had never started smoking. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be out here freezing. Instead, I would be back inside the ship, watching one of my shipmates play Doom for hours on end.

When I had enlisted with the United States Navy, it had been meant as a way to reboot my life. Much like the computers that were, sometimes, my only friends during my youth, it becomes necessary from time to time to just clear the cache, stop the processor, and begin to move in a different direction.

In my sophomore year in a small, state school just west of Atlanta, I found that my coursework was not up to “usual” standards, also known as “what my parents expected in return for their investment.” It was not the difficulty of the work that was at issue; in fact, it was quite easy compared to what had been assigned to me during my tenure at Wormwood. I simply lacked not only the drive to excel, but in some cases, the drive to simply attend class.

I would later learn exactly how much my parents sacrificed in order to ensure that I would never have to spend another week in the Tower as I had at Sweet Stream. They gave up their money, their home, and their plans for a quiet spot in the country to move to the slowly gentrifying neighborhood in south Atlanta where the school was located. In return, I was expected to study and do my best. While every year found me with a renewed dedication to the goal, each year my resolve was weaker and weaker.

By the time I moved out and went to college, it had all but completely disappeared. It seemed that each “fresh start” I would make began further and further away from the ultimate goal, making the road that much longer, the journey that much more difficult, and the whole endeavor that much more destined to fail.

The siren which called to me, which led me astray was neither drugs nor alcohol. Nor was it the allure of the opposite sex. By the time I graduated from Wormwood, I had all but surrendered to the fact that my romantic inclinations would always have a more masculine slant.

The proverbial chink in my armor was one that all youths struggle with at some time during their growth: they simply wished to belong.

Counselors, teachers (both education and Sunday School), and friends often made reference to the tale of the Ugly Duckling when I was growing up. While I know that their intentions were nothing but noble, I often wonder if they realized exactly how useless that comparison was for me.

To advise a child that their flaws, whether physical or social, will magically melt away upon maturity is too incredulous to all but the most dense of children. Most children can easily extrapolate the intended result: the child will, without effort or sacrifice on his part, become more beautiful than his counterparts, and those who excluded him will have no other option than to shamefully admit his superiority.

Why is the solution to a lack of social integration to promise the outcast that he will, one day, reign over his peers?

The ship rocks back and forth through the water, startling me out of my reverie while simultaneously lulling most of the ship’s complement to sleep in the decks beneath my feet. I was currently assigned the midnight shift, and in all honesty, I found I preferred the night. At night, it is hard to see that there is no one else there.

Ever since my days at Wormwood, I had always operated around the lower rungs of the social hierarchy. I may have aspired to be the best and the brightest, but whether due to some physical imperfection, or the fact that I just never understood the mechanics of how to properly integrate myself socially, I never quite seemed to. In fifth grade, I stayed up late the night before the first out-of-uniform day that I was to enjoy. While at nine years old I could not even define “fashion sense,” nor discern that I did not possess any of the same, I still chose with care my first non-uniform outfit for my new school. The next morning, I donned brown denim pants, a beige-and-brown plaid shirt (complete with mother-of-pearl snaps), and a brown denim vest which matched the jeans perfectly. My cowboy boots were less comfortable than the black loafers that I normally wore, but I guess that was the price I had to pay for fashion.

Apparently, I had not paid enough. Within half an hour after arriving at school, I had endured so many jeers and insults I spent my time between classes trying to figure out whether or not I could actually fit myself in my locker, whether or not I could permanently lock myself inside, and whether or not this would, in the long run, be a bad thing.

Over the course of the next eight years, I remained a target. On a middle school science club trip, I found myself sharing a bowling lane with my exotically attractive computer teacher, my science teacher and his fanatical dedication to the Georgia Institute of Technology, and his five-year-old son, while my counterparts enjoyed competing together. During a high school band trip to England, I wound up touring and dining with the chaperones rather than the other students.

I was the outcast who could not even find camaraderie with the other outcasts.

College was much of the same, except without my parents in the next room to force me to return, I soon withdrew completely into my dormitory. I chased off my roommate in the span of three months, and soon enjoyed a space to myself. My grades fell, my direction began to blur, and before I knew it, I was out of school, crashing with one of the instructors in hastily made plans to avoid returning home.

As fortune would have it, my father’s office was the halfway point between my makeshift home and my parents’ house, and I would occasionally meet him for lunch. During one of these stilted, awkward conversations, I let slip that I had entertained thoughts of leaving school so I could go work for Carnival Cruise Lines, further misspending spend my youth floating around the Caribbean. He suggested that if I really wanted to be on a ship, I should give the Navy a try.

It should not have surprised me that I would go to work the next evening only to find a Naval recruiter sitting at my bar. I will never forget the look in my mother’s eyes when I appeared, uninvited, for dinner one night, having spent all day at the Richard B. Russell Federal Building downtown. Her first question (“Did you sign anything?”) was quickly followed by her second (“Where did you get a crazy idea like this one?”).

I learned later that my father slept on the couch for a full month after that revelation.

Staring out at the black veil which surrounded the ship, I shuddered into my wool pea coat, and headed back down the port side towards the hatch, once more to the cocoon of warmth found inside the skin of the ship. I found my way to the lower decks, and crawled into my rack, pulling the curtain to keep out the light. Sleep soon overtook me, but my dreams were unsettled. I could hear the guy across from me coming and going, his eyes slipping into the space where I slept, watching me.

I did not know it at the time, but in a month I would need to reinvent myself again. I would be unceremoniously shipped back to the United States, condemned for something that is no longer a crime. I would be stripped of my rank, my privilege, my identity, my security.

Cowboy… Student… Musician… Actor…

I would rekindle a friendship I had held onto since high school, and be whisked to the mountains of east Tennessee. I would be taken to meet people who saw past the feathers, and looked instead at the duck. One of these friendships would last two months, one would still be going strong after two decades.

Student… Sailor… Victim…

I would garner the courage to not merely come out of my proverbial closet, but to also realize that “gay”, “smart”, “funny”, “reliable”, and even “ugly” are each only single feathers in the whole coat.

Son… Uncle… Friend… Confidant…

In the end, it is finding comfort in your own feathers that gives you the elegance of a swan.

Excerpt From Resurrection Point

Standard

This is part of my new effort, Resurrection Point (working title only – I’ll probably change it a kajillion times).  That said, please note that this is much darker than what I have ever published, but this is, like all my other works, are fiction, and should be regarded as such.  This is just the beginning of what may very well be a nice, long novel, so read, enjoy, let me know your thoughts, but under no circumstances show up at my house with a banner that says “Intervention”.

PROLOGUE
My steps through the house are sluggish, the handful of sedatives already beginning to dull the sharp edges of my life into a pleasant, hazy, smoky blur. I take another sip of vodka from the short, fat, heavy glass in my hand, and suddenly realize that I will not have a hangover tomorrow.

I will not have a tomorrow.

The decision to voluntarily slip off this mortal coil did not suddenly appear before me in a moment of clarity, rather, it coalesced from the tattered scenes of my memory – a remark by my co-worker here, my ex-wife’s latest barrage of court-sanctioned requests of my time and resources, a sympathetic glance from the waiter as I dined alone, not even bothering with the pretense of a laptop. Ironically, it was while I was standing in line at the Internal Revenue Service’s Atlanta office that I realized what the most prudent course of action would be. I was at the IRS for the fourth, no, fifth time, vainly attempting to negotiate a settlement on my back taxes. I had just stepped to the window, and provided the clerk with my driver’s license, although I would have thought we would be on a first-name basis by now.

“You know, this is the best driver’s license photo I think I’ve seen. I honestly think it makes you look better.”

While I’m sure his misguided compliment was not intended with malice, the way I snatched back the small piece of plastic was malicious to its core. I stormed out of the building, not realizing that I had folded the card in half until I heard it crack.

Great. Now, on top of everything else, I have to go to the DMV.

Anyone who lives in Atlanta knows that if you want to go to the DMV, you drive 30 or 40 miles out of town to one of the small, country substations where there are no lines, people are usually friendly, and you get an excuse to hit the outlet malls. I, however, could not afford this luxury. I was not sure if my car was going to make it the three miles to my apartment, much less the 30 to Locust Grove.

My car did make it home, but not before stopping at the liquor store to grab the cheapest bottle of 100-proof vodka I could find. I didn’t even bother with the lights when I got home – the last shafts of sunlight still streamed through the gauzy curtains, and the light over the stove helped me navigate the filthy kitchen in search for a glass.

I could not find a glass.

I dropped the bottle on the counter, subconsciously dissatisfied that it did not shatter. I surveyed my home, my kingdom. I was 39 years old, and I lived in a 2 bedroom apartment that belonged to someone else. My furniture was a grab bag of thrift store specials and the occasional new piece from Ikea. The carpet was a shade of green that had not been manufactured since 1986, and my television was at least two years older. Books and papers were strewn everywhere, with only a path between the sofa and the bedroom clear – not by design or through effort, merely as a side effect of my nightly drunken stumble to horizontal.

I step into the tiny bathroom, the cracked mirror reflecting my anguished visage. I fish the halves of my license from my front pocket, and hold up the half with the picture next to the mirror. When compared side-by-side, the truth was inescapable.

The asshole at the IRS was right. I did look worse than my driver’s license.

From there, the descent into my current state – drunk, drugged and definitely dying – was actually quite quick, although not without the quirks that made me who I am. I washed and dried a martini glass for the sole purpose of combining the remnants of several prescription bottles. I washed and dried a highball glass for the few sips that I would drink of the liter of vodka that I had bought. I even picked up in front of the couch, if only to fish out the black case with my nine millimeter Beretta, left over from my Naval service, tucked safely inside.

As I was loading the clip, my cat Katherine (named for my sociopath ex-wife) slipped into the living room from wherever she had been hiding. She looked at me with wide, but seemingly understanding eyes and I slammed the clip into the handle of the gun, pulling back on the barrel to shift one of the bullets into the chamber. Without a sound, Katherine slipped back into the bedroom, presumably to sleep on the bed, as if what she had witnessed had not been an out of the ordinary occurrence. Unlike her namesake, Katherine was nearly impossible to shock.

In fact, when the sound of the shot exploded through the silence of the apartment, she merely lifted her head, looked around, and returned to her nap.

When the Universe hijacks your iPod

Standard

So I’m going to be somewhat more open than I usually am – take it for what it’s worth.

Over the past several months, my life has been seemingly plagued by one struggle after another.  Individually, most of them seem insignificant; however, when taken together, they gain a critical mass which, constantly, threatens to overwhelm me.

Sometimes, being happy is a conscious choice.

The day after Christmas, my Mother-In-Law came to visit Prince Charming and myself, armed with gifts that were entirely too much, but welcome all the same.  (I honestly never knew I would get excited over a kitchen appliance.  Oh, how the mighty have fallen.)  While getting ready for her visit (which, despite my overwhelming love for her, I was slightly dreading – I had only one small item to give her in the face of what I knew would be an onslaught), I plugged my music player into a set of speakers and set it to shuffle.  After all, that’s one less decision that I have to make.

The first song out of the gate was Appalachian Spring by Copeland, specifically the part with the Shaker melody.

‘Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis a gift to be free.  ‘Tis a gift to come down where you want to be…

I let this play for a while, but when I realized that I was singing along (poorly), I chose to move on.

SKIP.

Up next was P!nk’s “Don’t Let Me Get Me”.  One of my all time faves.  Favorite or not, this was starting to get… weird.

SKIP.

Rufus Wainwright.  “Hallelujah”.

SKIP.

Bon Jovi.  “Who Says You Can’t Go Home.”

At that point, I just shut the damn thing off.

Shortly thereafter, I was in the bedroom getting dressed, and I could hear Prince Charming and his mother talking in accelerated, quick tones – both of them trying to pour as much information and emotion into their words as possible.  Visits are somewhat frequent, actually, but Prince Charming and his mother always try to force a month’s worth of face-time into a single day.  As I was pulling on clothes, I got to thinking about my iPod, and what had happened to it.  Then it hit me:

The Universe had hijacked my iPod.

(Feel free to substitute “God”, “Jehovah”, “Krishna”, “Allah”, “Athena”, or your deity of choice for “the Universe”.  I’m not trying to convert ANYONE.)

Douglas Adams, one of my all-time favorite writers, posits in The Restaurant at the End of the Universe that the protagonist, Arthur, can reveal one of the great secrets of the universe by performing a random task (in this case, pulling Scrabble tiles from a bag) and allowing the Universe to gently and subtly influence the outcome in order to communicate a broader message.

Was this what had happened to me?  Did I really just get a “buck up, sissypants” from the Universe?

If you had asked me right then and there, I would have said “as if.”  But as the day wound on, I began to think there was a bigger picture and I was missing it.

In a crowded, over-endorsed burger joint in Decatur, I sat next to my 80-something grandmother, and across from Prince Charming and my mother-in-law.  One of my dearest freinds, Hestia, rounded out the group, and despite the lackluster food and difficult parking, I found myself having… fun.  My grandmother went home, but the rest of us spent the afternoon at a favorite bookstore and then the farmer’s market, and were back home by six that evening.  Movies and TV shows ensued, and all in all…

…it was a very GOOD day.

In Genesis, the Judeo-Christian Bible speaks of the creation of the world, and nearly all acts of creation are followed by “and it was good.”  Not awesome.  Not fabulous.  Not amazing.

Just… good.

Sometimes in life, we find ourselves aiming for the stars – and there is nothing wrong with that goal.  You should always keep your aim elevated, otherwise you risk shooting yourself in the foot.  But everyone, repeat, everyone needs to, from time to time, take a breath, take a step back, and realize that while everything might not be amazing, it is still good.

‘Tis a gift to be simple, ’tis a gift to be free.  ‘Tis a gift to come down where you ought to be…

It turns out that Bon Jovi was right – no one said you can’t go home.

ZAC

The Last Year of My Life (Day 364) My Granddaddy and the Skillet

Standard

′’So yesterday, I turned 39 years old.

When I turned 29, I became severely depressed.  I was nowhere close to where I wanted to be in life – I did not own a house, I did not have a “real job” according to my parents, and while my living situation was quite nice (sharing a beautiful home with one of my best friends in a very trendy Atlanta neighborhood), I still was being held back by some of my choices.

However, the closer I got to 30, the better things began to look:  I was making (what I thought were) real friends, I had begun to mature a wee bit, and I was happier than I had been for a while.  When I was younger, Mommie Dearest always told me that she couldn’t wait until I was 30 – she made it seem like a pearl of wisdom was granted at that age that suddenly transformed a person from wayward youth to responsible adult.

I was starting to think she was right.

I had asked a few friends of mine to join me to celebrate the milestone – made all the plans, bought the food.  Then, four days before my 30th birthday, my grandfather, whose health had been poor for quite some time, passed away.

It turns out pearls come in all shapes and sizes.

The day before I turned 30, I attended my first ever funeral.  It was an emotionally draining affair, and while I will always love my grandfather (he was the first one who taught me how to cook, after all), I pulled into my 3rd decade on this planet completely exhausted.

And here we are Ten Years Later – and while I may have more to show for it, I don’t have a lot.  We have a home, but that is in danger of being taken away.  We have freedom, but even those are being chipped away by this group and that group.  I have a career – a good one even – and in this market in I know that is a blessing.

But when you are faced with total uncertainty, how do you stay strong?  How do you stand against the gale force wind which shakes your very foundations?

Surprisingly, the answer is quite simple.  You remember your grandfather.

  • You remember when you were a Cub Scout, and you needed to identify 15 different types of trees for a merit badge.  While your father might have dragged out the encyclopedia, your grandfather grabbed a ball cap, grabbed you, and a 20 minute walk through the woods later, you had all the names, not to mention samples of all the leaves.
  • You remember when all your plans fell apart in your early twenties, and you were forced to return home, and there he was, waiting at the bus station in Decatur, ready to take you home and make you part of his daily life.
  • You remember when you became overcome by insolent youthful stupidity, and he would shake his head, but sit up waiting on you while you were out making bad decisions.
  • You remember when you struck out on your own again, and he armed you with leftover tools and supplies for the home you were about to go make.
  • You remember when he slipped off this mortal coil, and left behind a cast iron skillet, perfectly seasoned since 1949 – the very same skillet he taught you how to fry chicken in 10 years earlier.

The skillet remains one of my most prized possessions, and after over 50 years of use, it’s got signs of age – but these do not make it ugly.  Nay, its beauty is enhanced by the nick on the lip of the pan, by the deep reddish-black coloring that permeates the iron.  The iron is strong – it has lasted over half a century, and, nearly, so have I.

I’ve gathered many a scar and a mark in my first four decades, and I will pick up many, many more.  Not all marks are pretty, but they are permanent, and there’s not a damn thing you can do about them.  The only thing you can do is face your problems head on – and deal with them in the best way possible.

If that doesn’t work – hit them in the head with a cast iron skillet.

ZAC

“The Last Year of My Life” – a collection of musings and thoughts as the author approaches the age of forty years old – is everything that Zachary Calais is about – an over-the-top title selected on the fly, random ramblings about disjointed topics, and most importantly, that touch of emotional honesty that he weaves into everything he writes.

Thanks(giving) – Modern American Style

Standard

In the U.S., at the end of November, we come together to worship at the altar of the Almighty Dollar.  While we have no temples that directly serve The Dollar, we do have temples to things such as Technology, Fashion, Vanity and Construction, amongst others.  They’re cleverly disguised with names such as “Best Buy”, “Nieman Marcus”, “Ulta” and “Home Depot”.  We even have some multipurpose temples, called “Wal-Mart” and “Target”, where supplicants can worship multiple Aspects of the Divine Dollar in the same visit.  While the operators of the multipurpose temples tend to be of a lower character, in general, than those of the single-focus temples, all the supplications feed into the same concept – The Dollar.

On Thanksgiving this year, hundreds – nay, thousands – of our Young were sent to stand in the c0ld outside the temples because The Dollar rewards not those who deserve it, but merely those who get there first.  There are reports all over the country of acolytes being injured and even killed as the supplicants swarmed inside the temples, desperate to be the first in line, to receive the Holy Rebates that The Dollar had promised.  One beings to wonder if the locusts descending on Egypt of old looked anything like the crows of people surging through the aisles of the temples, gathering their Gifts, then moving to the front of the temple where, after providing The Dollar with their supplication, they were released back into the world, armed with their Fashion, their Technology, their Vanity – in the hopes that they use the powers of these gifts to make other people love them.

Amazingly, Thanksgiving did not begin this way.  In the earliest days of our colonization of these lands, we sat and broke bread with the Native Americans in a spirit of fellowship and good faith.  In fact, the holiday was established in remembrance of that event, in addition to allowing the populace of the U.S. to spend a day being grateful for what they already had.

This shift from inward reflection to outward insanity has occurred within my own lifetime.  I remember as a boy that as Mommie Dearest prepared the feast, Dear Old Dad had to make sure that she had everything before the big day – for there was not a single store that was open on Thanksgiving.  Streets were not only deserted, they looked like something out of the opening episode of The Walking Dead.  Relations arrived early and stayed late, and the only thing on television was a parade, football games, and every holiday movie you ever wanted to see.

And The Wizard of Oz.  (Because let’s face it – let’s overstimulate your children, give them multiple desserts and then send them to bed right after watching a green-skinned woman scream as she melts away.  Genius.)

My, how times have changed.

I have never taken part in the annual supplication, nor will I ever.  And most days, I honestly don’t feel that I have anything for which to be thankful.  This year especially, as we pulled into the “home stretch” of the holiday season, I have to spend all my energy fighting off the waves of depression that seem to buffet me from every side – work, home, invisible, family, visible, feline, canine.  And this year, I just gave up.  For Thanksgiving, Prince Charming and I did… nothing.

No family.  No turkey.  And no stress.  We caught up on movies.  We made one of our favorite meals, together.  We ate within our budget.  We talked of superheros and costumes and super powers – not only which ones we wish we had, but what we would do with them, and who could expect to be dropped off the Chrysler Building should we ever acquire them.  We laughed.  We cried.  We were not moved – and that was the point.

We’re still here, and for that I’m eternally thankful.

Despite all the commercialism that has invaded this most well-intentioned of holidays, and despite the fact that on the other 364 days life is a total shit-storm, we discovered what it meant to be thankful.

We have a home, where we feel safe and secure.  We have a family who loves us enough to allow us to do what we need to do, rather than what they want us to do.  We have cable, which allows us to escape to an alternate reality, even if it’s only two hours at a go.

We have an income, where others do not.  I have a job that allows me to work from home, which in turn allows me to provide Prince Charming with the support that he needs.  I have a Mommie Dearest, who, without argument, drove a leftover portion of what seems to be everything on the table at her house to ours so I can have some of her cornbread dressing.  (Because seriously, it’s that good.  Grown men weep.  Lions lay down with lambs.)  We have my Mother-In-Law, who knows how to hug someone who is not big on tactile expressions of affection, and how to make Prince Charming see just how special and loved he is.

We don’t need to supplicate ourselves at the temples of The Dollar – we already have everything we need.

Perhaps it was our violation of the trust placed in us by the Native Americans that we would not run rampant across these lands like a virus unchecked that doomed Thanksgiving to be consumed by The Dollar.  Or, perhaps it is inevitable that The Dollar, while necessary for life in this world, will soon take over every major holiday – and let’s face it, it’s already well on its way (Valentine’s Day, Christmas, etc.).

Perhaps Prince Charming and I won’t have to invent new holidays for us to celebrate because we can’t stand what has become of the old ones.  Perhaps its just as simple as shutting your door, pretending that the stores are not open, and doing what makes us happy.

ZAC

Big Red’s Big Day

Standard

When Observations from a Third-Story Window was published, one of the early favorites was “The Ballad of Big Red”.  Starting in 2014, we will be releasing a series of 20 more stories featuring everyone’s favorite un-beauty queen with the colossal cinnamon coiffure, culminating in the paperback edition of Something Redneck This Way Comes.

Several of the stories are already in the capable hands of the editors, and soon, you can look forward to…

Big Red and the Wetsawannakah County PTA

Big Red and the Night of a Thousand Comps

Big Red Sails the Seven Seas

Big Red Behind the Bar

Big Red’s Big Mistake

These are stories that I truly enjoy writing – it’s like recess for the author.  In anticipation of the release of the new stories, if you haven’t already read The Ballad of Big Red, you can do so for just 99 cents at the following online retailers…