For my mom…

For this blog post, I wanted to write something about my mom. Mother’s Day just passed and the anniversary of my mom’s passing is on my mind. This blog post may take some time to write. I am not quite sure what to write. How do I properly tell you all about my caregiver, my hero and my best friend? She was all of those things and so much more….far more than words can ever describe. However, I shall try. I owe her that much. I owe her everything.

My mom loved me. That is something I am sure of. I knew she loved me, not because she helped me or dressed me or fed me. I knew she loved me because I could feel it. “Love is something you feel in your heart,” my mom would say. “‘I love you’ are just words,” she’d say. “Real love is something you feel.” She surely loved me because I felt it. And when she left me, I felt an emptiness like a hole in my heart that can never be filled. I miss her every day. I loved my mom so much it hurts. And even though she isn’t here anymore, my love for her will never go away. I long for the day I will see her again.

My mom was born in 1933. America in the 1930’s was nothing like today. My mom’s parents had split up. My grandmother had to work to support herself and her five children. While she was working, the responsibility to care for the other children at home fell upon my mom. She was the oldest, after all. To help her mother, my mom quit High School so she would be home during the day to watch her brothers and sisters. This is what her mother needed my mom to do, so she did it. My mom always did what she had to do for her family.

Watching over my aunts and uncles surely wasn’t easy, at least that is what I gathered from the stories my mom would tell. She would often recount the time when my Uncle Richie thought he could fly like Superman and tried jumping out of an upstairs window. I’m pretty sure my aunts and uncles had too much fun keeping their oldest sibling busy. But she had to keep order and keep the house clean. Times were very hard back then. Money was scarce. There were many nights, my mom told me, when she would go to bed hungry.  “It was a hard life,” my mom would often say, but she would also be reminded of happy times, too. They were a family and they all loved one another. That was all that truly mattered. My mom would tell me how they spent many Christmases without presents because there just wasn’t enough money. “But it was okay!” my mom would quickly add. She’d say they didn’t need presents. “We were just happy to be together.”

My mother would often say there was only one thing in life she always wanted to be, and that was a mom. That’s all she ever wanted to be. When she married my dad (what a coincidence!) she got her wish. Now, at last, Angelina was a mom.

But times were hard, still…

Adam, my dad, worked a few jobs until finally finding regular employment as a machinist making parts for office machines, like copiers and such. But money was still tight. It is no secret that my parents argued a lot. I suppose that’s common in Italian families, perhaps in all families. My mom, to keep busy and earn extra money, got a job as a lunch lady in a local public school. Shady Lane, I think was the school. My mom did what she had to do to support her family, as always. No matter the task, big or small, my mom did what needed to be done and she always did so with love.

Yes, life for my mom was hard, to be sure. And then in 1968, I came along…

I still have fuzzy memories of days when my mom took me to the school where she worked. She loved having me with her and showing me off to the other lunch ladies. I, of course, liked the attention.

Then something happened. In the fall of 1973, i got sick. I remember being very young and hurting a lot. I remember crying in pain whenever someone grabbed my hand. Then I remember a day when I couldn’t move my hand at all from the pain. My mom and dad knew something was wrong. But what could it be? After all, they were raising two healthy kids. Chronically ill children happened in other families. Surely this wasn’t serious, was it?

I remember my mom and dad walking me into a hospital where I would be staying for a while so the doctors could hopefully figure out what exactly was wrong. I was five at the time. I remember looking out the windows of the hospital entrance and seeing beautiful flowers. I remember asking my mom if we could pass by this way on our way out so we could see the flowers again. I remember her not really answering me. I did not understand that I wouldn’t be leaving the hospital…at least not for some time.

I was in the hospital for a month, between December 1973 and January 1974. I remember begging my parents to leave the Christmas tree up until I got home. I was so afraid. I could tell you some fuzzy memory horror stories about being in the hospital for so long and being so young and being so scared. But maybe I’ll leave for another time…

The doctors had no clue what was wrong with me. This was 1974. The medical diagnostics of today had not even been dreamt up yet. My blood tests were all wrong. They thought I had Leukemia. Finally, they figured it out. They told my parents I had Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis. JRA – a crippling disease for which there is no cure. My parents were beside themselves with grief. How could this be? Arthritis was an old person’s disease, right?

Over time the JRA, my personal monster, would painfully destroy every joint in my body. My dad blamed my mom. My mom blamed herself. Life got even harder for everyone.

My mom decided to quit her job as a lunch lady so she could devote all of her time to care for me. From then on I garnered most of the attention. I’m sure my sister and brother felt jealous. I would not blame them if they did. Yet, somehow the five of us living in a house too small for five people managed to (mostly) get along. Times were hard, but we survived.

My father did not help around the house much. He went to work each day. He made the money. He kept a roof over our heads. He put food on the table. That, he thought, was enough. In those days, that’s how life was. The dad worked. The mom stayed home and did everything else. My mom, the dutiful wife, did as she was told…as she was expected. She cooked the meals…cleaned the house…took care of my sister and brother…and took care of me…tried to manage my pain…called doctors…made appointments… prayed…wept…she did it all.

But how did she do it all? How could she be all things to everyone? She wasn’t physically strong. She was a little Italian lady. How could a small woman manage to carry so many crosses on those little shoulders? Only by the grace of God.

There were happy times, of course. There were graduation parties…cookouts…family trips. There were Thanksgivings and Christmases with big dinners prepared for so many people and nobody ever went home hungry. Later, there were weddings to help plan. My five-foot 110lbs mom found a way to take care of me AND everything else, too. I look back on those bitter-sweet days often. My mom tried so hard to make everyone happy. I remember, too, how hard it all was on her. On the outside she made it all seem easy, but I could see the pain in her heart. The strain it all put on her. Yet, she was so strong! She didn’t let anyone see it her inner pain.

Being so close to her, I saw it. My heart ached for her. After all these years my heart still aches for her.

Because I became ill at such a young age, and I was in so much pain all the time, aside from school, I rarely left the house. I stayed inside. I spent time with my mom – my best friend. The arthritis ravaged my body. I could do so little. The pain in my joints hurt so much. It was okay, though. Mom was there. She washed me. She dressed me. She got me ready for school. She dried my tears when kids teased me. She made me my favorite meals when I wouldn’t eat. She held me when I was in pain. She prayed at the foot of my bed at night. She carried me even when I was too big to carry and far too big to be carried by someone her size. She hugged me. She kissed me. She told me everything would be okay. She would do anything for me. She devoted herself to caring for me. She loved me. My life was hard, but she got me through it.

How do you thank a person so selfless? “Don’t thank me,” she’d say. “I don’t do it for thanks and praise,” she’d say, “Don’t thank me; thank God.” My mom never sought out “thanks” What she did, she did with love.

My mom never made me feel like a burden. If she was going out somewhere, she wanted me there, too. My mom and dad never made me feel like I was too much for them EVER. They were proud of me. I never knew why. I still don’t.

I knew my parents’ hearts ached for me, their sick son. I heard the arguments. Sometimes a sick child will pull marriages together and sometimes it pulls them apart. My parents somehow managed to do both…I know my illness broke them down, but still, they stayed together. They had no one else but each other.

A hard childhood…A hard marriage… and the hardship of a disabled son. My mom’s life was hard. VERY HARD. Somehow she persevered. She always did what had to be done. When things were at their worst and darkness seemed everywhere, my mom always turned to God. She had great faith in the Lord. And He, it seems, had great faith in her.

When my arthritis was so bad and I could no longer walk to school, my mom fought with the school board to get me a bus to take me to school. And when I made it to high school, the district wanted to transfer me from Deptford HS to Gateway HS because Gateway had an elevator. (By this time I was in a wheelchair because walking and carrying my books was impossible.) My mom didn’t want me to have to change schools and make new friends. She believed it was the schools’ job to accommodate me, not the other way around. My mother again did what she had to do for me. She wrote to our congressman and explained the situation to him. She fought and she won a great victory for me. The congressman told Deptford HS that they were required to put in an elevator to accommodate me. Sure enough, they did.

And when I got older and decided to go to college, I needed someone to drive me there and back every day. My dad worked. He couldn’t do it. It’s important to note that my mom didn’t just hate to drive, she was TERRIFIED to drive. Still, with her white-knuckles clasping the steering wheel, she did it. She drove me every day from home to Gloucester County College and then two years later, she drove me every day to Glassboro State (Rowan) College. She was so scared to do it but as afraid as she was, she did it for me.

My mom did what had to be done. It was her way. She had an inner strength that will forever amaze me. I think back all the time and truly wonder how this little Italian lady did EVERYTHING! I wish I had just some of her inner strength. I wish I was more like her. Most of all, I wish she was still here.

She did it all.  She did everything for me.

Then for my mom came a great joy. Grandchildren! My mom found happiness. As I said, all my mom ever wanted to be was a mother. Now she was a grandmother! How happy she was! Alyson, Nicholas, Christian, Alexandra, Kelsi, Sam and Erica. Oh my God, I cannot tell you how happy they made her. To be taking care of children again! It was like a dream come true for my mom. It was a true blessing. How she loved them. Her eyes would sparkle every time they were with her. Her heart leapt with joy.

Days passed. Years passed.

In the early 2000’s my father became very ill. Something called Diffuse Lewy Body disease took his mind. When he became too sick for my mom to care for, we all decided he should be placed in a nursing home. My mom drove every day to the nursing home to be by his side, whether he knew she was there or not. It was her duty as a wife. It is what she believed.

After my father passed away in 2005, I had hoped that my mom would maybe find a way to de-stress. Sadly, my father’s illness, combined with mine and her own health issues, were taking a toll on her. My hopes went for nothing.  Too much of life had caught up with her. Her health began to fail. First it was Osteoporosis. Then, the meds for the Osteoporosis made her sick. My mom was a smoker her whole life. As she got older, stress drove her to smoked more. It all started falling apart in early 2009. Multiple trips to the hospital followed. Pleurisy was the diagnosis. Then the meds she was given attacked her liver. My mom turned yellow. And she grew weaker and weaker. She would sleep for at least 20 hours a day. I would beg her to eat something, but whenever she tried, she’d only throw it up. We all begged her to see a liver specialist, but she refused. I think, in her own way, my mom had just decided she had had enough of life. Finally, we got her to the hospital. We took her to Jefferson. They tried to help her, but by this time she had become too frail. She wouldn’t eat. The doctors gathered me and my brother and sister to tell us to take her home. There was nothing left they could do for her. She was going to die.

We, my siblings and I, promised my mom we would not put her in a nursing home like dad. She would be in her own home. We set up a hospital bed in the living room. Lisa, Anthony and I worked to keep her cared for. She had devoted her life to caring for us, It was our time to care for her. I did what I could, arranging nurses to be there for her around the clock. If a nurse was not available, my sister and brother, God bless them, did what they had to for our mother.

In the early days of her return home, I was optimistic she might get recover. Some days she would seem almost like her old self, sipping coffee (her favorite drink) and talking to me and her best friend Julie. She had become so frail and weak. Toward the end, she looked so small. I would tell the nurses (all of them treated her so well) that this frail woman wasn’t always like this. My mother was a dynamo! She was always doing something. This frail woman was a shadow of what she used to be. On the good days, I had high hopes. But bad days always followed good ones. Then the good ones became fewer and fewer.

Toward her last days, my mom was in so much pain. I could hear her cry out from my bedroom when the nurses would tend to her. My brother and sister left it up to me to decide when to give her morphine. We knew it would take her pain away but we also knew there was no going back after that. When I could no longer bear to see her suffer, I asked the nurse to give her some to ease her pain. I knew she was going to die. I had prepared myself for that nightmare for a long time. Long before she ever went to the hospital, I would hear her in the middle of the night coughing so hard that she couldn’t catch her breath. I would run into her room with my phone in my hand ready to dial 911. But then she would breathe and seem okay and she’d say
“I’m fine, Chris. I’m fine.” I believed her because I needed her to be fine. I wanted her with me. I wanted her with me forever. But I also knew nothing is forever.

On that fateful morning, her last morning, I stupidly slept later than usual. Normally I would be up by 7:00 or 8:00 to make sure the nurse got in okay. On that day, I slept ’til 9:00. A mistake. From the moment I heard her struggling to breathe, I knew. I just knew.

Why didn’t I get up earlier? Why didn’t I call my sister to get home from work? (My brother and sister-in-law were at my nephew Christian’s College graduation and couldn’t leave.) At least I was there. Thank God I was there.

On that fateful morning of May 14, 2009, my mom was not alone. People who loved her were there. Her friend Julie happened to be visiting. Also, there was her nurse, Treasure. And what a “Treasure” she was. She had plans to pray with my mom that day. But when I saw my mom struggling to breathe, I knew this was it. I said, “Treasure, she is struggling.” But Treasure thought she was okay. I should have listened to my gut. Another mistake.

For a few moments I was alone with my mom. I could hear her struggling to breathe. She wasn’t speaking. Every breath was a painful chore. I knew I was going to lose her. I said, “Mom I love you and I am going to miss you.” At that moment her breathing got faster. She could hear me and she was becoming emotional. I tried to calm her. I said “Mom, I’ll be okay. I promise you mom, I’m going to be all right. You don’t need to worry about me. It okay.” I then said an Our Father and a Hail Mary by her head. I wanted to kiss her, but I couldn’t reach her in that hospital bed. I knew she was going to die. It seemed like when I told her not to worry about me, she calmed down. I think that’s what she needed to hear. She was holding on to life for me.  I called the nurse and Julie over to the bed. I told Treasure, she’s not okay. The nurse ran to her bed. She put her hand on the side of my mother’s face. My frail weak mother who I adore looked up at the nurse, she took a breath….a pause….a breath…a longer pause…a breath…and then nothing. She was gone. The woman with the will and strength to move the world for me was gone.

I told my sister to get home, but didn’t tell her mom had passed. I couldn’t. If only I had gotten up sooner. If only I would have persuaded the doctors to try harder. If only I had been better to her…

She’s gone 9 years now. I miss her every day. I never got to kiss her goodbye.

This amazing woman who took care of me, and my sister and brother, and my dad, and her grandkids, was somehow gone from the earth. How could this be? My rock was gone. Our rock was gone.

I carry with me my memories of her. It’s all I have. I shall remember the struggles, the private battles she and I fought together…the fears we fought through that nobody ever knew about. I think about those terrible nights when she struggled to breathe. But I carry with me all the happy memories, too. My mom was truly my best friend in the world. It sounds cliché, I know, but it’s the truth. We watched TV together. We laughed together. We listened to music together. Some days when I would be working at my computer, she would come in to my room and say, “Chris, play my favorite song,” and I would. I would pull up John Lennon’s “Imagine” on my desktop and play it.

“You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. Someday you’ll join us and the world will be as one.”

I would say, “Mom when you pray, what do you pray for the most?” She would say, “Peace, Chris. I pray for peace.” She is at peace now.

My mom was a special woman. One of a kind. Was she perfect? Of course not. She had arguments and held grudges. She would hurt people sometimes, saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. She was a human being with a great weight on her shoulders. She carried a cross,..so many crosses. They would take a toll on her at times, and the darker side of her might come out. But that angry bitter person wasn’t really my mom. My mother exuded love. She loved so much. She loved so many. She loved more than anyone I have ever known. She loved God, too. She is with Him now.

So many nights she would be sitting at the foot of the bed watching TV when I would come in worried about this or that. (I’m too much like my dad. I am always worried about something.) My mom would calm me. Those little eyes would look at me and that soft smile would appear and she would tell me, “Chris, everything is going to be all right. I promise.”

And I believed her. But nowadays nothing seems all right. I find myself missing her more and more and wanting too much to see her again. My only comfort is that someday…someday I will see her again.

I’m sorry if this testimony is inadequate or incomplete. I am not sure it shows her as she truly was.

There was once this vibrant little dark-haired woman who cooked and cleaned almost non-stop. There was this woman who took care of babies and grandbabies. There was this woman who carried me home from elementary school when I was too big to carry. There was this woman who baked amazing Christmas cookies. There was this woman who gave the best hugs. There was this woman who saved up a little of the food budget just to surprise me with a treat from the store. There was this woman who kept only a little for herself so others could have more. She was my mom. She was the most amazing mom.

Her name was Angelina. In Italian, her name means, “Angel.”

I miss you, ma. I love you so very much.

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Miscellaneous Memories

Since nobody visits this blog, I decided to make it a place where I can just vent all my scattered thoughts and frustrations. I mean, who really cares about me? Nobody. It is a fact that I see on the faces of everyone I know, on the faces I love. People think I’m stupid. I’m smarter than they realize. I know they really just don’t care.

To those who wish I’d just go away, It’s very possible they’ll get their wish. My body is failing. My mind is failing, too. My mind is really all I have … and it’s leaving me. My time on Earth is getting shorter. There so much I wanted to do with my life. I wanted to LIVE! It’s okay. Maybe in the next life.

Until then I’ll just come here from time-to-time to rant like the insane person I’m becoming. Just watch as I transform into a monster.

My own anger and frustrations have sent me into exile. I am alone. I will always be alone. Spoiler Alert: we are all alone.  We pretend we’re not. It is a pleasing lie we tell ourselves. The truth is, no one gives a damn about anyone else in this world. We are alone. To escape the crushing pain of loneliness that eats away at me, I either sleep or I watch TV or I read comic books.

People ask me, “You are an adult. What is it with you and comic books?” People with small minds who don’t understand will never understand. Fuck, to be honest, I don’t really understand my fascination with comics, comic collecting, comic book movies – any of it! But after a LOT of thinking on it, I uncovered a memory that’s been buried in the back of my addled mind under a pile of unfulfilled dreams and broken promises. It may hold the answer. It involves me, my dad and comic books…

My dad and I were never all that close. My mom and I were best friends. I mourn her passing every day. But my dad and I just never got on the same page, no pun intended. I know my dad loved me. When I got older, there was just too much between us. We couldn’t be close. But there were times when we connected. This memory is pretty old. It’s a bit fuzzy. More than a bit. However, it may contain a kernel of meaning and a little understanding.

The memory is from when I was very young. I can’t be sure if it took place after I got sick (diagnosed with RA) or before. I was diagnosed at age 5, so I’m fairly sure it was after, but not long after.

It was morning. I remember being in bed. Sick. In Pain. Not understanding why. I remember my dad coming into my room. “Hey, dad,” he said. (My dad called me “dad.” Don’t ask me why.) He said he had something for me. He then explained to me that a friend of his from work gave him some comic books to give to me. I remember not being sure what to make of it. Then I saw my dad kneel down beside my bed so he could read them to me. My dad read comic books to me when I was sick! I can’t be sure, but I think they were “Thor” comics. I remember him reading to me, page after page. He couldn’t read for too long. He had to go to work. For that little while I was whisked away to another place. I loved it! The action! The characters! I remember asking him to tell me all about the different heroes I saw on those tattered pages. My dad didn’t have the answers, but he tried very hard to satisfy my curiosities. My dad kneeling by my bed to read “Thor” comics to me. It is a beautiful memory that I find myself revisiting often.

As I got older, my love of comic books grew. Somewhere along the way, someone handed me an “Incredible Hulk” comic book and I was completely hooked. I loved the drawings. I loved the colors. Most of all, I loved the story. I loved the Hulk, but I bonded with Bruce Banner, the man who became the Hulk. Banner and I were like kindred spirits. You see, Banner saw his alter-ego as a disease. Forever Banner searched for a way to cure himself of the painful burden…a predicament I keenly connected with. After all, I too had a monster inside me. Banner’s handicap was the Hulk. Mine was Arthritis.  I loved seeing the green monster use his muscles to put an end to his foes. Hey, I wanted to be that unimaginably powerful, too! But I felt for Banner. His struggle was my struggle.

When I got a little older, my dad did not try to suppress my love of comics. I remember him driving me to a comic book store in Pitman, I think. A very heavy, scruffy-looking man with tattoos ran the place. I remember being intimidated by him. His tough exterior hid a heart of gold. On one particular visit, I remember him just giving me a big box filled with old comics! He just GAVE them to me! I was overwhelmed by his generosity. I think my dad was, too. Most of the comics were “ROM The Space Knight” books. I read them all! (I wish I still had them!) My dad took me back to that store many times when I was a kid. I remember each visit feeling like a trip to Disney World!

I either sold or gave away all the comics from that time – except for one. It is a very old Hulk from the ’60s. I still have it because I remember when I bought it at that very store. It’s not worth much, but it means everything to me. It links me back to a happier time so so so long ago.

I’m sure my dad expected I’d grow out of my love for comic books. And, in time, other priorities in life did take precedence over comics and collecting. But, even as I became an adult, I still found my way back to comics. Even now, at age 49, getting a new comic book, reading it and putting it into its own little plastic bag still brings me immense joy.

But why? Well, maybe it has something to do with a memory of my dad keeling by my bed reading comic books to me.

Paul McCartney in concert, seeing a legend perform…

At some point I should use this blog to discuss writing, specifically science fiction writing, since that is what the blog is supposed to be about. For now, I am taking another detour…

Seeing Paul McCartney in Concert

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On June 21st I went to see Paul McCartney in concert at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. I am a huge Beatles fan. So, going to see half of the greatest song writing team in popular music history and one of the last two surviving members of the greatest rock band of all time was for me a no-brainer.

However, as the day of the concert approached, I grew ever more anxious. I wanted nothing to keep me from getting to the show. Yet, every possible negative thing that might prevent me from going was all I could think about. On the day of the big event I had a rather intense panic attack so severe that I almost didn’t go. That’s a contradiction, I know. There is no logic to anxiety. Nothing would keep me from going, except, I suppose, myself. By the time my brother and nephew arrived to pick me up (we were all going together) I had somehow regrouped. A plethora of negative mental forces were conspiring to ruin my chance to see one of my favorite musicians.  I was determined to not let them win.

…A side note about panic attacks. If you are someone who has never experienced one, God bless you. You really have no idea how lucky you are. Do you mind doing me a favor? Try to conjure up in your mind your scariest moment, that moment when you truly felt like you were in mortal danger. How did you feel? Were you trembling? Heart racing? Sweating? Imagine feeling that whenever you decided to just leave your house. If you are someone who has panic attacks, you understand what it takes to overcome one. It can feel like a psychical battle.  But one of the worst aspects of panic attacks is the stigma attached. I have encountered people who view anyone who has panic attacks as weak. The expression on someone’s face alone is enough to sense their attitude on the subject. Thankfully I have found a few people who share a similar affliction and can sympathize. You would be surprised how far an encouraging word can go. That dismissive look from someone who does not understand what panic attacks are…that look alone only makes it worse…

So I hope that short walk down terror lane gives you some small hint as to how difficult it was for me to go to see Paul McCartney .

In case you don’t know, Paul McCartney from around 1960 to 1970 was one quarter of the influential rock band The Beatles. Along with John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, he wrote or co-wrote the songs that have become part of our collective DNA. From melancholy ballads  like “Yesterday” and “Eleanor Rigby,” to pop songs like “Love Me Do” and “I Want to Hold your Hand” to rocking songs like “Helter-Skelter: and “Get Back” to so much more. After the Beatles, Paul joined the band Wings where he continued to write and perform amazing songs like “Band on the Run” and “Live and Let Die.”

Now I could recount the concert for you in boring rudimentary detail, but I won’t. I fact I wont even talk about the show itself. Instead I would rather try to explain how it felt for me to be there.

Imagine you are living in Vienna in the 1800s and you are lucky enough to hear the music of a contemporary composer named Beethoven. The man himself is larger than life! Imagine how you would feel to be in the presence of the master as he performs his greatest works for you, the music that moved you from when you were very young and still moves you. For me, seeing Paul McCartney was a bit like that. You may say I’m stretching the metaphor. You may think McCartney is no Beethoven.   I respectfully disagree. McCartney is as influential as any Classical Composer. He is a genius song writer whose music and lyrics have moved millions upon millions of music fans. Songs like “Let It Be” and “Hey Jude” are songs that changed my life. Seeing McCartney play his songs live was emotionally overwhelming. The best word to describe how I felt is Elated.

ELATED adjective
1. very happy or proud; jubilant; in high spirits:

Yep, that is pretty much how I felt.

Throughout the 3-hour show all I kept saying to myself was “I can’t believe this” and “This is unbelievable.” Days after the concert my brother Tony, nephew Sam and I were still blown away by the show. The pyrotechnics and laser effects were incredible. The stage effects were so cool, too! But hearing those songs, and seeing them performed by the man himself – the moment moved me to tears. Yes, I was elated!

Young or old, a fan or not, if you get a chance to see Paul McCartney in concert, you should go. Sir Paul is 73 and probably won’t be performing for that much longer. I will say, he didn’t look, sound or play like any 73-year old I know. There must be some sort of magic elixir in being a Rock legend. Let’s hope there is. I plan to see Paul McCartney play in concert every year until I’m 73!

Thanks for reading.

Geek It Up a Little…

Hello again!

First of all, I want to say hello and thank you to my new followers! I will try to keep my blogs as interesting and entertaining as possible, but…no promises.

Anyway…

I feel like my first blog post was a bit of a downer. So, for this one I will try and keep things light.

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MoviePilot.com

I would like to share my experiences with a site called MoviePilot.com. Perhaps you are aware of it already. If you are a fan of Science Fiction movies and TV or you are just a pop culture fanatic AND you are opinionated, then this site is definitely for you.

MoviePilot.com basically works like a blog site. Contributors write and post articles using the site’s editor. Do you have a problem with Wonder Woman’s new costume? Are you bugged by that one scene in Avengers: Age of Ultron, and you just gotta tell someone? Maybe you discovered the next great Anime and are dying to share it. Well then click on over to MoviePilot.com and become a contributor. Write an opinion post, a movie review or just post a cool video. Okay maybe its a little kitschy, I guess. Kitschy is popular these days. Plus, its a lot of fun. Post an article. Follow other contributors. Get people reading your articles and start a geek discussion.

Quick story, I found the site somehow via Facebook. I didn’t really have an interest in posting anything, but I would leave comments on other people’s posts. My comments were usually directed toward articles about the Incredible Hulk. (More on my deep rooted love for the green guy in a future blog.) After leaving a few comments, one of the site managers emailed me and asked if I would like to contribute. At first I didn’t even reply. I thought I was too old for the MoviePilot crowd. But, upon consideration, I decided it was okay to unleash my geek opinions onto the world. The Internet will never be the same.

Its not like I am a prolific poster. I contribute when the mood strikes me. My first post concerned the use of religious symbolism in science fiction films. That post drew modest interest. A follow up post was it bit more esoteric. It concerned the Incredible Hulk’s origin story in film versus his origin story in the comics. See what I mean? Put on your boots, ‘cos its gonna get pretty deep. But that kinda stuff interests me, and that post drew a ton of comments! Too deep for you? Don’t feel intimidated. The level of geek-e-ness varies from contributor to contributor.

My most recent MoviePilot.com post is called, “I AM Serious, (and Don’t Call Me Shirley): 3 Movies that Started New Genres.” Follow the link if you care to read it.

Many MoviePilot contributors who are well plugged into social media often post breaking news type stuff. My posts are generally opinion pieces. I am very opinionated. It’s a burden.

I’m sure there are many other sites out there like MoviePilot. GeekandSundry.com may work the same way. All the content on MoviePilot is contributor-driven. There are no staff writers, at least as far as I know. Contributors are not paid, but there is no fee to submit content, either. What’s nice, too, is I’m writing. Any kind of writing, even brief geek articles, is beneficial. I appreciate reader comments. Its gratifying to know someone had read what I wrote and felt strongly enough about it to comment.

So, if you are at all like me, I suggest at least giving MoviePilot.com a look. It’s a fun site run by great people. The whole vibe of the site is positive. If you just want to be snarky toward other people, you may not be welcomed. The idea is to develop a kinder gentler geek community. I invite you to check it out for yourself.

Thanks for reading!

My First Blog…

To whom it may concern…Hi! How’s it going? Welcome to my humble blog.

Since this is my first ever post of my first ever blog, I suppose I should take the time to tell you a little about myself. I am not one of those people who particularly enjoys talking about himself. Nor am I one who thinks that everything I do is amazing. If anything, I am more critical of myself than anyone else has ever been or will ever be. I am constantly worried I am not measuring up to some imaginary unobtainable standard. Worry and fear breed inactivity. Depression soon follows. The downward spiral begins…

That is a discussion for future posts…possibly. Let’s see how this one goes…

My good friend and editor (I love telling people I have an editor) informed me that, if I am going to be taken seriously as a writer, I need a blog. She seems to know what she is talking about, so here I am.

In the beginning I wrote purely for the pleasure of it. It was something I did in my spare time. Then someone invented the Internet and I soon found myself chatting away with other Science Fiction enthusiast. For our own amusement a few of us decided to try writing a story or two. I would upload Star Trek my fan-fiction stories to be scrutinized by my fellow Trekkies at TrekFanFiction.com. Once I thought like I kind of knew what I was doing, I started my own Trek fan fiction series called Star Trek: Paradigm Shift. If you Google it, you might even find some of those old stories still floating around. With Paradigm Shift I tried to turn Star Trek on its ear. Instead of a ship of over-achieving bright-eyed over-eager pip-polished officers, my characters were, well, less all that. The stories, a mix of comedy and drama, followed the bumbling crew of the USS Condor and her clueless Captain Phillip Reming. Although those stores may be a little rough around the edges, they were my first attempts at writing original fiction. Creating something from nothing and giving life to unique characters – it helped me prove to myself that maybe…just maybe I CAN do this writing thing.

After that, I attempted writing original fiction. In those days the ideas seemed to flow out from my fingers and into the computer like water. There was almost no effort. Writing was pure joy. Tapping into a well of courage I didn’t know I had, I launched my own website dedicated to original science fiction. DistantWorlds.net featured my short stories as well as the works from many other armature fiction writers. At the site’s modest heights in popularity it hosted fiction from dozens of writers. It was the best way at the time to get free critiques of my writing while also giving others to same opportunity for feedback. In time the site grew less popular. Life happened. I gave it up.

I ran into my fair share of downs and far too few ups. Writing became less of a joy. The more challenging my life became, the less I felt like writing.  However, taunting me from my computer’s hard drive was a short story begging to be something more. It was a kind of twisted take on Adam and Eve titled Of Human Design. The few people that had read it suggested I turn it into a novel. A novel?! The idea seemed insane. Life was handing me lemons. Besides, I did not believe I had a novel in me. Still, over time, when the mood struck, I would pull out this poorly-written overly-dark story and add a bit more. The meandering tale may have stayed hidden on my computer forever if it weren’t for the amazing encouragement I received from the Professor and fellow students of a creative writing class. It was their encouragement that boosted my confidence enough to finish it. I wish I could properly describe what I felt when I typed the words The End. The characters and their story were finally out of my head. I was free. They were free. I felt like flying.

The next logical step is to get it published…right?

With my masterpiece complete, I assumed publishing it would be a breeze! Funny, right? Honestly, if I had known that writing it was the easy part and getting it published was the hard part, I may not have even bothered to write it at all. No one tells you, especially if you are a new writer, that actually getting published is nearly impossible. Once again I metaphorically dug myself yet another pit of despair and jumped right in…

That’s about the time Alexis Rivell, a genius and a fellow student from my creative writing class, offered to help me get my novel off the ground. Let me just say a few words about Ms. Rivell. Have you ever met someone and felt a kind of aura around them that exudes a sense of confidence and wisdom beyond his or her years? That was what I sensed from Alexis the first day I met her. A voice in my head said, “This person is special. Make friends with her. Don’t screw it up.” When she freely offered to take on the herculean task of working with me to get my 500+ page opus published, I was a little skeptical. You see, others had made similar offers but never followed through. I felt it was unwise to get my hopes too high again. I do believe Alexis is sincere. After seeing the effort she has already put in, it is clear she has the insight, brilliance and patience to possibly pull this off!!

The only thing holding me back is me.

By now (if you don’t know me) you may be wondering what challenges am I referring to. Of what “lemons” do I speak? Well, that would require you to know more about me, the human person. We’ll leave that for another time.

Thanks for reading!