Olio

“Wow, that is great! What are you doing with your degree in Creative Writing?”

“What a lot of Creative Writing majors do: I’m delivering pizzas.”

This Saturday, something I’ve been waiting for is finally coming to fruition: I’ll graduate with my bachelor’s degree! It is so weird and unbelievable, to me. In fact, I am so unconvinced it is actually happening, I forgot to ask for the day off from work so I can watch the ceremony (gonna have to watch the stream since we can’t make it to NH). While this isn’t a Hat Rack post, I’m thrilled to soon add another hat–rather, a cap–to the rack, and I hope to feature my next Rack post with a pic of my mortarboard.

I’ve been reminded a lot, lately, of the many hats I have worn (sounds a little Gumpish…sorry). One of the guys I work with mentioned the other day how I had quite a bit of experience in a variety of positions and it reminded me why I began my Musings from the Rack posts, originally. My biggest thing now is trying to come across more knowledgeable and less know-it-all.

I have a few writing projects in the planning stages, right now. I signed-up for James Patterson’s Master Class and I’m looking forward to starting and completing it before May 23rd (that’s when I start grad school). I am truly hoping to get some great advice, inspiration, and momentum back into my writing with this class!

I’ve taken a break from any writing competitions, for a while. I am, though, going to compose an essay and pitch it to Stir. I have a topic which is popular and borders on controversial, so I hope I can pull it off. At this point, I’m really just wanting something good enough to be published; the money from the project would just be a nice bonus.

Otherwise, I’m ready to start working on my business, again. Totally Wassom has taken a big hit during this time while I finish my bachelor’s degree, move into my master’s degree, and pick up work in the nourishment distribution industry. Next week I’m back to learning to master Gimp so I can prep a nice portfolio for anyone interested in what I have to offer. Wish me luck!

Okay, that’s enough hodgepodge for this post. I mostly just wanted to write and clear some of the cobwebs, so…goal reached! I have ideas for two other blogs, and with some help from another venue (forgot to mention it earlier, but I’m also working on a different direction with my blog writing…fingers crossed), you may see one or both of them, soon. For now, I’ll sign-off and finish my Riesling. Have a great night…and, Happy Mother’s Day!

T.

 

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Ever notice how similar frustrating and castrating are?

Guess who?

Alright, I know I haven’t posted a blog entry in months. I would love to get back to my weekly The Rack posts as well as other life/writing posts, and I plan to get back into more regular blogging, soon. The problem is…it’s frustrating knowing only five people are reading my posts.

It doesn’t stop with the posts, though. No…it’s much worse than that. I am smack-dab in the middle of planning-out three different books, each as far from the other as east is from west. When I can’t even get my shorts published in low quality lit journals, though, I move past frustrated and feel more castrated.

This emasculation extends even further, though. Now, I’m being rejected by online writing services! One told me I was unable to follow guidelines and didn’t describe what was laid-out in the application writing exercises. This floors me! I am coming straight out of my last term in my BA, finishing with honors (ceremonial, only, due to not nine credits too few for Latin honors…but still summa cum laude), and being acutely aware of what it takes to follow a prompt guideline.

Did I choose the wrong path?

M sent me an inspiring email which had a link to a much needed web page. It was encouraging and it reminded me of the struggles and rejections some of the greatest writers have gone through. I’m reminded of Brad Meltzer who was rejected 24 times from 22 publishers (yes, two of them rejected him twice). I know persistence in the key in my chosen vocation; it’s just discouraging.

Alright…tantrum over.

 

It’s a blog…it’s a story…no, it’s SuperEgo!

I’m going to do something a little out of the ordinary, for me, where my blog is concerned. I’m going to post a story of mine.

Okay, first let me apologize to my numerous (all 8 of you) followers for not blogging the last couple of weeks. I’m sure everyone is tired of hearing about the holidays taking all free time away, so I’ll simply state an overwhelming sense of laziness is to blame for me not making a post (during the holidays ☺). 

In mid-November, my boy had surgery and during that week, all of my momentum seemed to slowly creep to the static state it is, today. Now, like the rest of the world, I’m feeling an abundant need to make 2016 more productive, and I need to get off my butt and make it happen. Sorry…I digress.  It was during the time of his surgery (actually, a few days prior) I submitted the following story to Writer’s Digest for their Short-Short story competition. I don’t really think I expected to win/place/show or even get mentioned; however, the story was a bit taxing as the fiction I wrote has basis in reality. 

Below, you will read my interpretation of what a patient person who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease feels during the latter stages of the process. I have read stories from survivors (I have heard and experienced them, too, firsthand). I have read stories from those afflicted as they try to tell what is happening in the early stages of this awful disease. I hadn’t, though, heard the story from the afflicted, as it happened, in real time. 

Writing in the first person/present tense is brutal. Still, I hope I did justice to what Lydia was feeling in her last days, as well as offering a some possible insight to anyone watching their personal Lydia go through it now. 

I would normally say enjoy the story…but, that somehow feels a little weird. 

Purple

By Tony Wassom

 

“Are you finished?”

“Mrs. Wilson, are you finished with your plate?”

“I’m so sorry, dear, I didn’t see you there.”

“That’s okay. Can I take your plate?”

“Aren’t you eager? Yes, you may take my plate, but not until I’ve had my meal.”

“Mrs. Wilson, you just finished.”

“Oh, dear me, I am sorry. My mind must be somewhere else. Yes, by all means take my plate, and I think I’ll walk back to my room, now.”

“Yes ma’am. You have a nice day.”

That was certainly embarrassing. I wonder how long I was sitting there.

Oh, look; someone left the crossword on the end-table. I used to love crossword puzzles, so much. And, there’s a pencil.

Hmm…this couch feels funny. I bet Jack bought it and didn’t think I’d notice. Let’s see…One Across: “____upon a time…” Must be the Monday puzzle; should be a pretty easy one.

O N E C.  

One Down, three letters: Outdated. I should have brought a pen for this one.

O R P.

Two Down: Recent: pref….

“Lydia.”

“Yes?”

“How was your breakfast?”

“Oh, it was fine. Thank you.”

“Good. I was hoping you would like it.”

“I’m sorry, dear, do I know you?”

“Oh, Ms. Lydia, you have such a lovely smile. Yes, we spoke just before breakfast, but it was very noisy with all the people that were in the dining room.”

“All the people who, dear. Not thatwho.”

“Yes, of course you are right. My apologies.”

“No need to apologize. You are in school to learn; I am here to teach.”

“Yes, ma’am. By the way, John will be here, soon. You want me to help you clean-up?”

“Oh, I haven’t seen him in so long! Yes, would you mind? Oh, I can’t wait to see my Johnny.”

“I think he is bringing other visitors, too. He said James and Joan are in town and coming to see you!”

“Who’s that, dear?”

“James and Joan, your other chil…hmm. I bet you’ll know them when you see them.”

***

I cannot believe there is nothing on this blessed television about the war.

“Jack, did we get a paper, today?”

I bet that little shit next door took it, again.

“Jack! Can’t you hear me yelling at you?”

Probably out with his whore making plans to get rid of me. I guess I’ll go look, myself. It’s not enough I make his breakfast, lunch, and supper, I have to…who the hell is that, and at this hour?

“Jack, get the phone!”

“Jack, get the damn phone!”

“Never mind, I’ll get it myself. How about I make up your excuse, too? Sorry, Liddy, I couldn’t hear it…Sorry, Liddy, I was in the garden…Sorry, Liddy, I was with my whore…take your pick!”

That man is driving me crazy.

“Hello?”

“Mrs. Wilson, this is Kate at the front desk. Your son, John, is here to see you. May I send him to your room?”

“Oh, my, what a wonderful surprise! Yes, yes, please send him!”

Hmph…there’s today’s paper. I wonder if there’s anything about the war. Police Action is the stupidest term I’ve ever heard. Boys killing boys, it’s all war. Oh, I hope Johnny is okay, over there. The paper hasn’t had a thing about what’s going on. Maybe there’s something on the TV.

***

I wonder who that is.

“Yes, who is it?”

“Hi, Mother, it’s John.”

“John? Johnny? Oh my God, Johnny!”

“Yes, Mother, is it okay if we come in?”

“Oh, Johnny, yes! Come in. Come in! Oh, I thought I’d never see you again!”

I’m sure I’m embarrassing him in front of his friends, but I don’t care. My Johnny is home! Alright, Lydia, control yourself. You’re getting his shirt messy. Pull yourself together.

“Oh, it is so good to see you, Johnny. Are these your friends? Hello, I’m Mrs. Wilson, Johnny’s…I mean John’s mother. And, you are?”

“Mother, this is James and Joan. Don’t you recognize them?”

“I’m sorry, let me clear my eyes. Looks like you’ve been crying too, dear. What was your name, again?”

“Joan…my name is Joan.”

“Yes, well I shall not forget it. Any friends of Johnny’s are always welcome in our house. Jack, Dear! Johnny is here!”

“Hello, Mother.”

“I’m sorry, young man, but I think you’ve confused me with someone else. What was your name, again?”

“Mother, it’s…it’s James.”

“Yes, right, James. I’m sorry, did you say you were looking for your mother?”

Poor man. How could he possibly think that I could be his mother? He has to be in his 40’s or 50’s. Do I look that old?

Johnny, did I say something to upset your friend? Why is he crying?

No, Mother, he’s just sad. Is it okay if we all sit and talk?”

I reckon, but I would appreciate it if your friends would leave their emotions at the curb, next time.”

***

Ah…Bob Barker, must be 11:00. Wait, that’s not Bob. Well, I’m sure this other young man will do just fine. I wonder if the paper is here…

“Shit!”

“Mother, are you okay?”

“Oh, Johnny, you scared the life out of me! When did you get here?”

“Just a few minutes ago, Mother. Don’t you remember?”

“Oh, Johnny, I was probably involved with my puzzle. Where is that puzzle? Oh, well. These your friends? Hello, I’m Mrs. Wilson.”

***

I’m not sure who made this meatloaf, but they could use some cooking lessons.

“James, would you please pass me the salt?”

“You remembered my name! Yes, ma’am. Here you go!”

“Of course I remembered your name…I named you. What kind of fool thing is that to say?”

What kind of son brings a woman to dinner and doesn’t introduce her. When I see Jack, I’m going to give him a piece of my mind. James probably learned all about whoring from his no-good father, anyway.

“Mother, Jimmy and Joanie are staying with me for a few days. You want us to come back and visit, tomorrow?”

“Oh, Johnny, I’d love to see you every day! If it’s okay with you, just leave your friends at home, next time. Okay? It was very nice meeting both of you.”

***

I can’t remember a time the house was so dark and cold.

“Jack, I can’t see well enough to turn on the switch. Jack?”

Ow!

Why the hell is this rock on the floor?

Oh, good, there’s some light coming from the other room…that almost looks like headlights. Why is there a car…?

…how did I get outside?

Oh, this is wrong. What is happening, to me? Why don’t I remember going outside?

Oh, this is not right. This is not right!

Where are my shoes? Oh my God! Where are my clothes? Someone is trying to hurt me! I must have been attacked!

“Help!”

Who the hell is this woman running toward me?

“Someone, help me!”

“Mrs. Wilson, it’s okay! I’m here to help you back to your room.”

“Who the hell are you? Get away from me! Help!”

Oh, thank God, that policeman is coming over.

“Officer, please help me. I do not know this woman and she is trying to take me away.”

“Ma’am, just calm down and try to speak a little slower.”

“I will not calm down! This woman has taken my clothes and she’s trying to hurt me!”

“Mrs. Wilson, John is almost here. He’ll help, but we need you to try and think about your words. The officer and I cannot understand you.”

“What do you mean you can’t understand me? Officer, tell this bitch to leave me alone!”

“Ma’am, if you don’t calm down, I’ll have to restrain you.”

“Restrain me? I’m the victim! What is wrong with you?”

“Mrs. Wilson, your son is here. Everything will be okay. We just need to get you back to your room.”

“My son is in Viet Nam, you bitch! Stop lying to me!”

“Mother… Mother, Calm down. Let’s all go back to your room and I’ll sit with you while you go to sleep, okay?”

“Officer, I have no idea who this man is. Please help me…I’m begging you!”

“Mother, we can’t understand what you’re saying. Try to concentrate on your words.”

“Has the whole world gone crazy? I’m speaking as clearly as you are!”

“Mother, please…”

“Why the hell are you crying? Officer, half bean bleed!”

That didn’t sound right. Oh my God, what is wrong with me?

“I love you, Mother.”

Why is this man crying?

What is this on my wrist? Am I under arrest?

What is going on?

“Keep that needle away from me! Help!”

“Mother, please…please stop fighting.”

This is all wrong.

I don’t understand.

“Stop laughing at me!”

“Mother, I love you!”

I feel so sleepy.

 

Musings from The Rack

Last week, I mused how I’m not alone with my rather large hat collection. So many adults have a rack full of hats they have been collecting for years. Perhaps when our hat rack becomes busy with several necessary hats, we move from child status.

I miss child status.

This week, I don’t want to pontificate about my life. Rather, I want to put out a request to hear about your life, about your hats. I would love to have you consider doing a guest appearance on my blog, complete with a picture of your literal or figurative hat and/or hat rack (I nearly said a picture of your rack, but I thought I may get in trouble for that ☺).

If you’d like to be a guest blogger on my site, please send me an email with your blog entry to Tony@tonywassom.com. If I receive some interest, I’ll certainly be in touch with you and will let you know when your post will be on TonyWassom.com.

BTDub, if you’d like me to be guest blogger for you, let me know. I’m looking for some exposure, and I could use all the help you can offer.

I leave you with a picture of our tree, all decorated and lit. If you look carefully, you’ll see a pic of my boy when he was about seven months old, getting ready for his first visit from the North Pole!

Until next week,

T

IMG_3498

 

Musings from The Rack

BIBOMOI had a little issue, this week, that I did not like…not even a little. It involves a few hats, actually. What they are isn’t really necessary to the story. What is necessary is I tried to wear all of them at once…and I was defeated.

There’s something interesting about this paragraph. It once had details about everything that happened, Thursday. And, while it was therapeutic to type it all out, I really don’t want to share that part of my life on my blog. Sorry.

We all wear so many hats, all the time, and it’s a wonder how our necks do not snap from the weight on our pate. It is incredibly interesting, to me, that my little break happened during the first week of my IDS 402 class which is all about Wellness. Seems there were some areas of of my personal life lacking and throwing a big freakin’ wrench into the works. I decided to fix that issue…I didn’t like losing that round.

Budai

Budai

 

I saw a meme, recently, attributed as a hippy flowchart to problem solving:

Is there anything you can do to fix the problem? If yes: do it and move on. If no: accept it and move on. 

The little graphic at the top of this post is an acronym of essentially the same philosophy, coined by one of the greatest modern-day philosophers, Jimmy Buffett:

Breathe In, Breathe Out, Move on.

Are you sensing a pattern? Life is way too short, man. It took me until my 40’s to get it, but you really do need to stop and take a whiff, every now and then (do it a little more often rather than a little less). I’m not advocating that we should be irresponsible, throw cares to the wind and hope for the best, and abandon all of our grown-up responsibilities. I am suggesting, though, we find a way to become and stay at peace so we can enjoy every millisecond. Stop taking pictures; enjoy the view! The memory will last longer if it’s felt and not just seen.

I’m looking at my boy, who fell asleep in the chair next to me, and I swear he has grown since I started this post. I hope I can start showing him the laid-back dad not the wound-tight dad. I hope I can get him to, when he’s frustrated, take a breath and feel it soothing his soul, his mind, his spirit. I hope I can rub Budai’s belly and remember the immortal words of Bob Marley, shown below. And, I hope I have in someway helped you.

Tomorrow is a new day. I can’t wait!

T

3 little birds

 

Musings from The Rack

The more I work on this blog, the more I realize how many hats I actually wear…well, metaphorical hats I figuratively wear. I also realize, more and more, I’m not the only one who has so many hats to wear. Sure, I may have worn one too many hats in my former job; however, donning the hats needed for everyday tasks is itself a task that most adults have to endure.

As I write this, I’m preparing to go to bed after spending the last few hours struggling with a plumbing issue. No, I’m not in need of a urologist…I mean actual drains and pipes. I have been wearing the homeowner’s hat. This particular hat is not the focus of this week’s post, though. It has only been a distraction from the hat that I have on my mind (see what I did there?). Today’s hat is the one you never see, again.

Wednesday morning, the day before Thanksgiving, I received the news of a death in my extended family. Not someone I’m related to, but the father of family by marriage. You’ve seen me gripe about my former position and I have, perhaps, eluded to how that position took away from me more than I want to admit. One of the things I was unable to do (while in that position) was attend certain family obligations. This time was different. Having absolutely nowhere to be than with my family, I made the ninety minute drive to spend a scant half hour with family and give my heartfelt condolences for the loss.

There’s a hat we all wear when someone dies. It’s a dressy hat, one worn with dignity and respect for the grieving family in the time of their loss. How often have I not thought, though, about the hats of the deceased. Where do they go? Does someone else pick them up and give them a home, allow their purpose to remain?

I looked at the John Deere ball-cap in the casket perched next to the pillow and realized that I would never see that hat, again. In a very literal sense, since the hat was being buried with the decedent, no one would see that hat, again. But, he wore so many hats: Husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, farmer, worker, veteran, friend, in-law…just to name what I know to be true. The hats unknown to me may number in the hundreds, for all I know.

And now…they are just hats.

His daughter told me his death felt like someone reached inside her and ripped a part of her away. I tried to say the right thing. I tried to be empathetic and sympathetic at the same time. I tried to let her, her brothers and sisters, her whole family know that I wished there were something I could do. In the end, all I could offer was the half hour.

The trip home was a reflective one. How we react to death is mirrored by what we believe about  life. I thought about the John Deere hat and wondered what the rack would look like withoutScreenshot from 2015-11-28 01:07:46 it. By the time I got home, though, I could only think of one of my favorite quotes. While I don’t think it would have helped at the viewing; while it may have sounded like the same kind of know-it-all advice from well-wishers; while it may be simple, it is also powerful, and I hope my pain-stricken family can find peace in it’s simplicity.

Farewell, HR. I am better for having met you.

T

Musings from The Rack

profile yikes pic (2)

Ugh!

Yep, this is what the Dad Hat looks like.

Okay, in all fairness, it doesn’t always look like this. In fact, I’d say it rarely looks like this; however, we remember the stress more easily than we remember the routine. This week, the routine was disrupted, and this week’s picture is rather fitting (and also why I didn’t post on Sunday night, as per uzh).

Last Wednesday, my boy had surgery. It wasn’t anything overly concerning–outside the fact that any time someone is under general anesthesia it’s a concern–but, the nights that followed the procedure took their toll on me. He slept in the living room so that we could ensure his head was propped, and I slept in my recliner where I could see him at all times. He did great! I slept like crap four nights in a row. So, after several nights of worry, along with our large family Thanksgiving gathering (yesterday), and the literal pain in the back that rounded out the trifecta, my wife insisted I relax and get a good night’s sleep. After a few Guiness Draughts, I was out! That being said, I apologize for the tardiness of The Rack, this week (last week, if you prefer).

No intention of making this a long post. The most important point to be made is how proud I am to wear this hat and I’ll proudly wear it, the rest of my life…even when it looks like it did, last night.

I love you, little t!

T