Monday, December 5, 2011

The Halls of Change

I leaned against the wall with my weight on one foot, the other cocked behind me and pressed against the wall. I looked down the hall through the cold light reflecting off the unevenly polished tile floor. Doors and curtains lined the hall which appeared to go on forever. Actually, I could see the end about thirty yards away but I knew there was more to distance than the physical. In groups of three, scattered along the length of the hall sat a number of brown vinyl chairs, faux leather, side by side. I looked the other direction and saw more of the same. I closed my eyes and took in the odor of the hospital, and underlying scent of slow death and urine. They could spray, disinfect, clean, and decorate with scented vials of lilac but you can’t cover the smell of dying. It’s an attitude of resignation and sadness that’s exhaled by the patients captive in this place. It sticks like greasy smoke. Across from me sat my wife and ten year old son in two of the chairs. I could read the worry on their face.
I heard footsteps coming from the other way. I turned and saw the doctor in a fresh white coat. He wore the answer to the question on his face. I looked over at my wife. Her look told me she was in denial of what appeared so obvious to me. My son looked at his mom hoping her denial was stronger than what even at his age was apparent coming from the doctor’s demeanor.
My wife and son stood and entered the room across from me. She knew my attitude about the whole hospital thing so I turned and walked down the hall. Hospitals. It’s the place where nobody ever leaves the same as they go in, patient, loved one, nurses, and doctors alike. I took a seat next to two older women. They spoke in hushed whispers. I listened in.
“What should I do?” asked the one nearest me.
“Wait to see what the doctor says,” replied the other.
“I know what he is going to say.”
“No you don’t. Everything’s going to be alright.”
“What if it’s not?”
“Look, why worry now. Wait for the doctor.”
“I can’t. I can’t. I can feel it. I have felt it for months.”
Months? Certainly no matter what the doctor told her, her life has changed just through the worry alone.
“Now, now. Let’s wait for the doctor.”
The woman nearest me began to cry. I could see her hands shaking. Her friend put an arm around her shoulder and began to cry with her.
I stood again and moved toward the end of the hall. I rubbed my eyes against the glaring light. A gurney banged through the door. On the wobbly thing lay a young man, teenager no doubt. He was in a football uniform. His forehead and chin were taped to two orange cushions that kept his head from moving. Two men in white coats pushed the gurney by me. I saw the boy’s eyes. One wide and unseeing, the other half closed and looking off to the side. He was strapped down tight. It didn’t take Doctor Sanjay Gupta to know the boy had a serious injury. Behind them walking quickly was an ashen woman, tears streaking down her face. I watched them pass, then saw the gurney take a hard left leaving the woman standing alone in the hall. She was lost. She looked at the chairs then back at the closed doors that shut her off from her son. She looked up and down the hall, perhaps hoping her husband would show or a doctor or someone to give her some news, any news. She moved her purse to her other hand then back. She turned and went to a chair. She sat, then stood, then sat.
I looked back at the closed door where my wife and son had gone only moments ago. I continued away from that door and moved further down the hall. I stopped beside a room with the door half open. Inside sat a man and his wife or girlfriend or sister. I saw a ring flash. Wife. I listened in.
“If this doesn’t work should we adopt?”
“Maybe we weren’t meant to have a child.”
“I don’t think that. Meant to or not is BS. We either do or don’t. It’s a choice.”
“Apparently not.”
“I mean adopt if we have to. That’s all. Having our own…well we just have to try till there’s no option.”
The doctor brushed by me and entered the room. He took a seat facing the couple and ended the debate.
“You’re pregnant.”
The two hugged, the woman cried.
“Twins,” said the smiling doctor.
I left them in their state of joy and wandered down to a curtained room. Inside sat a middle aged man. On a bed under covers, lay his wife. He held her hand uncomfortably, arm suspended in the air. Taped to her arm was a needle, an IV. False bravado beamed from her face as the man simply chewed his lip.
“I’ll be fine,” she said.
The man looked up, smiled a half smile and then looked back at her hand as if he were memorizing it. I tried to put myself in his place. What would I be like in a similar situation? I would hate being there helpless, unable to slay whatever had infected her. I would hate having to breathe the air in this place, looking at the plastic furniture, and listening to the quiet swish of machinery and white uniforms passing by, like death in his robes. My wife. I would fear that something may go wrong, they may find something worse. I watched the man reach out and trace the lines in her face, softly, slowly. I understood. I would do the same, memorize every line, every curve. No guarantees under the knife. The doctor walked in.
“Hi Mrs. Johnson, Mr. Johnson,” he said as he reached for the chart.
I watched hope spring into the man’s eyes.
“It should be a simple surgery. In and out in about 45 minutes,” the doctor continued.
I could see a question form on the woman’s face and then watched as she swallowed it. I had to leave. Fear filled the room like a cold fog and I didn’t feel well.
I decided I couldn’t avoid the inevitable any more. I walked back to the room where my wife and son sat. Although it felt like it had been hours since the doctor escorted them inside, it had only been minutes. I slipped inside. The doctor sat across from them, still wearing the solemn look. My wife kept her head high but tears streaked down her face. My son looked back and forth between his mother and the doctor. Did he even understand what was being said? As I stood there, I knew once more the hospital had irrevocably changed 3 lives.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Chapter 5 Lost Soul, Hard Road

When I opened my eyes, I knew something was different. I blinked them to clear the fog. It didn’t work. Whatever mist surrounded me was complete and thick; gray. I felt weightless, floating free. I tried swimming my arms and kicking my legs. I couldn’t feel them or see them. I tried to touch myself but couldn’t. Death. Cold and emotionless. Then I thought of her. I could see her eyes, her smile, her long brown hair. I felt that. The sadness I had run from returned. Without any physical ability I was unable to pound my fist or pace around the room. I had nothing to throw, no mouth to shout. It was worse than before. No way to vent my feelings. They swelled in my head. Her touch, her taste. I wanted to cry but no tears would come.
“So how did it work for you?”
The raging thoughts vanished when the voice came.
“Who are you?” I said or thought.
“So how did it work for you?” the voice asked.
“What? Did what work?”
I knew the owner of the voice. Not so much who as what. The voice spoke with all the authority of the owner of all. Not only did I hear it, I felt it, I saw images that defined the words.
“Why do I still feel? I hate the hurt. That’s why I did it. I couldn’t get the hurt to stop. Why won’t it stop?”
“Did you love her with your feet? Too bad, because your feet didn’t make the trip. Did you love her with your eyes? Too bad, they didn’t make the trip either. How did you love her?”
“With my heart,” I said.
“That’s not true. Your heart didn’t make the journey either.”
“I loved her with my soul,” I said. The power of the depression that washed over me was almost too much to bear. “I loved her with my soul.”
“And you are your soul. You can run from it as much as you can run from your shadow on a sunny day. You can mold it, you can polish it, it is you. You can damage it, shape it, ignore it, love it, but you can never get rid of it. It transcends time and space. It is now and forever yours and you are it.”
“I can’t. I can’t live like this. I can’t carry around the loss. I loved her more that I could stand.”
“You made the choice.”
“I didn’t know.”
“You did. You said as much.”
“Please! Please, help me,” I wailed.
“And you know what else?”
Then she appeared before me out of the mist. I hovered above looking down at her. She sat at a desk. I didn’t recognize it. Maybe in her new place? I couldn’t see her face. It was buried in her arms, crossed on the desk. By her movements I could tell she was crying, not little hitching sniffles but sobbing. My soul ripped.
“Is she crying because I’m dead?”
“No. She doesn’t know. Read.”
I saw a book open on the desk. It came toward me like a camera zooming in. The first page was filled.
Did I do the right thing? it started. I read on.
I love him so much. I would jump off a cliff if he asked. That’s not right. I shouldn’t feel that way. Am I crazy? Nobody should affect me like that. It’s not normal. Am I no longer myself?
I have to break it off. I have to be sure I still am me. Four days. I need four days to clear my mind.
Day 1. I promise to do this. Four days is nothing. I can do it. But it’s difficult. I want to hear his voice. I’d know it even if he tried to disguise it, if he used helium. The sound of his voice, soothing, removing all fear and doubt. Joking, making me laugh when all else seemed futile. I want to call to hear his voice even on his machine but I can’t.
Day 2. God, this is so hard. Not only his voice but his touch. When I feel his hands, I feel every line, every whorl of his finger prints. Every muscle in his arms, I’ve memorized this and how the engulf me. I know exactly where they touch, I can feel them now. If he tried to sneak up behind me, I’d feel him from 3 feet away. His lips, they fit so perfectly on mine and on my neck and on the crook of my knee.  I’m crying every hour but I have to be sure, I have to hold on. I am sorry for putting him through this pain but I must be sure.
Day 3. Please, please make time move. I thought being away would clear my mind to see but it’s clouded my thoughts. Maybe it is just meant to be but none of my friends describe a love like this. He’s an obsession I must sate.

“I didn’t know,” I said.
“When she finds out, you know what she’ll do.”
“What?” I ask but I knew.
“She’ll follow you.”
“Will we be together?”
“Why not?”
“Suicide is a lonely business. The result is a lonely end.”
“So I’ve killed her.”
“Killed her and sentenced her to forever alone wanting me.
“Is there nothing that can be done? Can’t you stop it!? Can’t you dull her pain?”
“Can you?”
“I would if I could! You know that.”
“What are you willing to do?”
“Are you sure? Anything is a big promise.”
I stopped for a moment to feel the magnitude of what I proposed. Anything, who could predict? But then I looked at her heaving back and listened to her sobs and I felt low, very low.
“anything,” I whispered.
“Help her past her misery. Let her find another, live a long life.”
“Can she love another?”
“You said so yourself. Time, time, the great healer, the doctor you refused to see.”
“What about me?”
I knew what the voice meant and I realized the price of anything.
“Okay,” I said. Such sadness filled me, more than I had ever known, more than I believed myself of being able to carry.
“Stick your finger down your throat,” the voice said.
I imagined it digging deep where it hit the gag reflex.
I woke up in a puddle of puke and dissolving pills. I pushed myself off the floor and looked around the house. I didn’t want to think about what just happened. I staggered to the shower and stood under the spray denying and replaying the whole thing over and over.
I sat back down in front of the computer and read what was there. Then without touching the keys, words appeared.
Past time, beyond space, a soul cries out.
If I only knew.
But I did.
I sit in front of a new computer now, years later, many. Sometimes I’ll bring up her pictures on Facebook. I’ll see her with a tear in my eye. I’ll brush my fingers across her face feeling the smooth glass of the screen. I’ll decipher her expression as she sits with her two children and her husband. I’ll see the look of love that passes between them and try to gauge its depth.
Promises kept, promises kept. I wonder what would have been had I hung on instead of trying the easy way out. Would it have been the greatest love story of all time or faded as the clock spun its dial, fade like her love for me? I had called and told her I had taken a job far away. She told me she had made a mistake and loved me beyond hope. With all I had, I told her we would make it work somehow. My first lie to her but not my last. I moved as far away as I could and began the slow and painful task of building the wall of distance, letting her down slowly, softly, all the while hugging myself to keep from exploding. The price was too steep to fail.  Promises kept, promises kept.
A tear dropped on the keyboard, wetting the control/z key. I wiped it up. The screen cycled.
I wonder if she still thought of me? I wonder if she shared the same love with her husband she had shared with me. I looked up at the clock. The minute hand shifted one to the right. Help me to midnight. I looked back at the blank screen. It was no longer blank.

Past time, beyond space, a soul at rest.
I don’t know how.
But I did.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Chapter 4 Lost Soul, Hard Road

Somehow, sometime, I fell asleep. I awoke, dizzy and in pain from sleeping in the chair in front of my computer. After some aspirin and a cup of coffee, I reviewed all I wrote and I found page after page of sadness in the form of bad poetry. I deleted the bunch of them. I had read really good sad poetry from real poets and I wasn’t but it was the medicine. It gave a path for the pain to flow although it seemed to find its way back in because I felt no better today than yesterday. Well, maybe there was a microsecond where I didn’t feel like I was carrying a soaking wet mattress on my back. One dug up from the landfill. I needed a distraction so I went back to the grocery store though I felt about food like I felt about air. Had to have them, didn’t take pleasure in either. I went up and down all the aisles looking side to side or down at my feet. Everything I saw had the appeal of cardboard. I didn’t like any of it. Everything came to a halt when my cart hit another. For the first time in days, I wasn’t thinking about her or about losing her. Cans had hit the floor, bottles rattled. The recipient of my inattention had let out a squeal.
“Sorry, sorry,” I said. I bent down and picked up the cans. I set them back on the shelf. I stood up and apologized.
“That’s okay,” a woman about 70 said.
I could tell I had frightened her. I reversed and went around her. I committed to paying attention from now on but only enough to miss other shoppers. I didn’t want to look at anyone. I got home without any further incidents although I had found nothing appetizing. I had returned to the same old dull house with its reminders. The blue wall, her color. The framed picture of an old house, her picture. The flower vase on the mantle, dishes on the table, table cloth beneath them.
I went and sat in the recliner in front of the TV. I needed to see if a movie could steal my attention from myself. Every woman on the screen reminded me of her is some way, looks, attitude, situation. I even tried ESPN but they have hired women. I was out of luck. I couldn’t go to bed, that was the worse. I was going mad. I turned in circles looking for anything, one thing that she had not touched. I went back to the computer. She was in the words that issued from my keyboard.
Life wasted is wasted
Move on, move on
Heaven’s promise
Erase life gone wrong.

Before I could change my mind, I raced to the master bathroom. I searched the prescription bottles and found two. I swallowed both of them without counting the number of pills. A mouthful. Back in the kitchen, I chased them with Vodka. My head felt ready to burst claustrophobia tore at me. I wanted out. I had to get out. I sat back in front of my computer.
I follow a path you won’t take
The love past I won’t forsake
The memories I just can’t take
For the leaves I have a rake
I smiled and noticed my fingers slowing
I have a dog his name is jake
My ass is bitten by a snake
Alike a lake
Sleep began to win over.
Amne amd make

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Chapter 3 Lost Soul, Hard Road

I walked into the kitchen. No flour, no bowl, no baking rolls. I tossed the coffee on the counter. As I walked out of the kitchen, I slid my fingers along the counter top. In the sink sat a single coffee cup. Back in front of my computer, I shook the mouse to clear the screen saver and read the last lines typed there.
A frozen soul, rusted shut by tears.
Heart stumbling along the broken path.
My shadow stretches out behind me as happiness sets on the horizon.
New love glitters ahead. Just a mirage I thirst after.
I tried to type but the screen got blurry. I laid my head on my folded arms and let the tears flow. Why? Why? Was it me? Did I do something wrong? I couldn’t find the answer. Then my thoughts turned to an unfocused God. What did I do to deserve this? Why can’t I be happy? I pounded the desk top with my fist. Slowly the tears ebbed and I sat back up. Using the back of my hand, I wiped my eyes. My faced my future. It appeared as an endless black wall. I could only see the ‘right now’. I looked at the clock on the wall. The minute hand shifted one position to the right. Help me to midnight, I asked nobody. I turned back to the computer screen. The images displayed were pictures I had taken. They consisted mostly of vistas I had captured while hiking. They might as well be black and white, out of focus. Once more I moved the mouse, stopping the slide show before her image appeared, though she was everywhere. My home was decorated with her memories.
I stood and walked through the living room. I sat on the couch where I could feel her feet in my hands. I rubbed them with lotion, the heel, the arch, each toe, one by one, kissing each as I finished. I left the couch and returned to the kitchen where I washed the cup, slowly under warm soapy water feeling her hands under mine. Her thin fingers intertwining with mine as I kissed her neck. From the kitchen, I wandered to the porch where I could see the ghost of her presence bent over the plants, working the soil, a strand of hair falling in her face. She used the back of her dirty gloves to swipe it away. Each plant, each flower, each rock glowed from her touch. I turned from the dull fall outside but when I did, I faced the closed door to the bedroom. I hadn’t slept there since she left. Unable to stop myself I walked slowly over.
I placed my palm and forehead against the door. Inside, I knew there was a whirl of memories, vibrant, alive. A hot tear ran down my nose. I had to turn away.
I let go a silent yell. STOP IT! I cried.   
Back at my computer desk, holding my head in my hands, I took inventory of myself. My heart beat once per hour, slowly and sadly, using only the effort it needed to be successful. Had I inhaled at all? Tears wrung from my eyes, left me dry, empty. My soul drifted, looking for a place to settle but like a child lost in the woods, it found no friendly place to rest. The mouse felt like a hundred pounds. The words on the screen faded in and out. I didn’t even want to think. I looked back at the clock. One more tick. This was a never ending day.
I began to understand why some chose a permanent relief or maybe heartache followed and remained forever. I shuddered. Many fled to parts unknown where email did not exist and the waiting game didn’t apply. I looked over at the phone, the red zero on the answering machine taunted me. What could I do? Where could I go? I felt like a junkie needing a fix but having no cash. I was desperate to rid myself of these feelings. Where could I go where she wasn’t? She had woven herself through every fabric of my life. I screamed to the ceiling, at the walls, down at the floor until my throat felt raw and hoarse. I ripped the recorder and phone off the end table and watched them smash off the wall. I grabbed my computer and lifted it over my head but I paused.
I set it back down. I typed.
I love you still but not always
Time, the irresistible force, fades
Upon the mantle of my memory
You take your place

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Chapter 2 - Lost Soul Hard Road

I had been in love. Not the love I had now but the best I had ever had up till then. She walked away from it. Does it matter why? Not really. I learned one thing in life; unlike a caged lion, a leashed dog, or a four-year-old, the heart cannot be controlled. Actually, it is like a four-year-old, a really, really, really spoiled four-year-old. It demands and will not heed any amount of pleading or bribery. Oh, the times in the past I wished to spank my heart. But I digress. She left because her heart told her to and my heart insisted otherwise. Now back to the four-year-old. When my heart doesn’t get what it wants, it pouts. Ah! The drive was working.
“When you leave there is no doubt. My eyes, they cry, my heart, it pouts.”
  I laughed at that, then made my way to the store. On my way home, I continued to ponder the feelings lost love brought. I remember dragging my feet, walking like I was 20 hours short on sleep. The depression would drive my smile away. Even comedy would only generate a short laugh followed by deeper depression. Yeah, it all came back.
Broken heart mended by the woman in the kitchen. I let my thoughts go to her now and the difference between the last and now, true love found. She is my best friend. For every comment I make, she has a rebuttal, sometimes brutal but never with malice and always a smile. It’s the smile that swells my heart to the point of bursting. Sharp wit and self-assurance keep laughter echoing in the house.
It’s not how we make love, close and complete. It’s the way she makes me feel like the best lover ever. It’s not the way we sit quietly on the couch watching TV. It’s our secrets we share comfortably.  I’m always welcomed but never pampered. She gives me no quarter when I become self-absorbed or neglectful. And of course she sparkles at every gift I bring no matter how small. Most of all we have shared what makes us happy, what keeps us in love, because if we didn’t know, we may miss what’s important. We don’t leave our love to chance of guessing, it’s too important.
When we first met, it wasn’t her body, her hair, or her face, that attracted me. It was the smile. The smile reveals everything. Watch people smile. Like snowflakes, no two are alike. The personality explodes from a person when they smile. I think hard to describe her smile, not when she saw me but before as I watched her. Open, energetic, without guile, her smile opened the door to her soul without fear. Let them in, it said, I am what I am. Then she looked at me. I smiled. She smiled. Mischievous, playful, funny, bold, and honest were all the things I saw. And they were all the things I got. I asked her once what she saw in my smile. Dolt, was her reply. I laughed till tears ran down my cheeks. Me, confirmed.
Since out first kiss we have not been within reach of each other without touching; a brush of fingertips, hand around the waist, a squeeze. It’s something not forced but natural. It drives our friends crazy. They roll their eyes, tell us to get a room, sometimes we do. They recognize love and are happy for us. Some may recognize what’s missing in their own.
If she comes home from work down and out, I need to hear what happened. When she comes home to a pile of crumpled papers or sees the rejection slip, she too comes right to me. A hug, a whisper. Tell me about it. Invariably, we tell each other, tomorrow is another day and success and defeat are always fading into the past as we take on another challenge. Sometimes we make angry love, a physical exercise that releases the frustration of life and in the end we laugh at our antics.
I wonder about fights and disagreements. Do we have them? Sure. So how do we get around them? Time and space? Head on? We have a trick. The first funny face wins the argument. I’m a prideful butthead at times but I love making her laugh so much, I win more than I lose. And like bad days, these too fade quickly. ‘We’ are more important than ‘I’ because after this, I have no desire to live as an ‘I’. Any unresolved issue gets put in the ‘My Way’ jar and taken out on Wednesday where we read the issue together. Funny how the importance of the toothpaste cap fades.
Sitting in the car as it idles outside the garage, I felt overwhelmed by my fortune in having found such love. I committed right there to going in the house, give her my softest kiss, and make love on the flour covered floor of the kitchen.
I pulled into the garage, grabbed the bag of coffee beans and went inside. I expected to smell the mouthwatering aroma of baking.
“Honey, I’m home,” I called, silly smile plastered on my face. “I’ve been thinking about you.”

Friday, November 4, 2011

Lost Soul, Hard Road

A frozen soul, rusted shut by tears.
Heart stumbling along the broken path.
My shadow stretches out behind me as happiness sets on the horizon.
New love glitters ahead. Just a mirage I thirst after.
I threw down my pen. This wasn’t good enough for bargain basement Hallmark cards.
“Honey! Do you remember what it’s like to break up with someone?”
“You, know, have someone you love, leave?”
“You don’t quit bothering me, you’ll find out first hand,” she said.
“I said someone you love, leave, that’d be me,” I hollered back.
“You think?”
I could imagine the smile on her face.
I got up from the desk and wandered out to the kitchen that smelled like dough and cinnamon. My wife was elbow deep in a pan wrestling with a white pillow looking lump I assumed to be the rolls she was making. She had white flour everywhere including her face and dusted over her dark brown hair.
“Frost?” I asked as I brushed the powder from her.
“Don’t you have work to do?” she asked.
I did. I was supposed to be writing so we could make payments on the house and buy the flour for the bread. But I had found a wall. I hadn’t been heartbroken in a long, long time.
“I’m stuck,” I said. “I need to describe heartbreak and I can’t.”
“Check with one of your Facebook dollies. Didn’t you say they were always breaking up?” she said.
“That’s it! I’ll check with Tina and Janet. They’re always breaking up. I’m a geen..yus,” I said.
 “Great. Now leave me alone if you want homemade coffee rolls in the morning,” she said. She planted a white doughy handprint on the back of my jeans as she swatted me out of the room.
I sat down in front of the computer and logged into Facebook. I scrolled through the names on line. There was Janet, the daughter of a close friend of mine. She was always in love or out of love. She’d know.
“Janet, How do you feel?” I typed.
“Great,” she replied.
“I thought you just broke up?” I asked.
“Silly Uncle Dan,” she replied. I wasn’t her real uncle but we were close enough I guess.
“I’m a senior in high school. I look pretty good, and I’m a girl. I don’t stay single long.”
Well, that shut the door on that. In fact, I realized, girls don’t suffer heartbreak like men do. In fact, most women have their next victim, I mean next man picked out before they leave the current one and if they don’t, it doesn’t seem hard for women to find men. At least that’s how I think. I knew I wasn’t going to find any male friends on Facebook announcing a break up. Most of my friends won’t get within 6 feet of the relationship status unless their significant other raises one eyebrow.  I’d have to go elsewhere.
“Honey, I’m going out for a ride. I got to think.”
“Think about getting some coffee, good coffee for the rolls,” she said.
“Glad to hear you’ll miss me,” I said as I walked by the kitchen toward the garage.
“Miss who?” she asked between grunts as she wrestled the fat white creature in the bowl.
I smiled as I got in the car. If I wanted to write about love fulfilled, it would be easy. My banter partner inside was the love I never thought I’d find. Yes, it’s true. It took me forever to find her and plenty of lost love before that. Worth the wait.
I drove the long way to the store along a country road framed by trees, colored by the fall leaves, brown, orange, red, yellow.  I let my mind wander back, ten years back. Oh yeah, heartache.
To be continued

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Who is Monica Brinkman? Read about this interesting multi-talented woman.

A supporter of the EBMRF Foundation, you will find many articles written by Ms. Brinkman that focus on opening people’s eyes and hearts to the E.B. Children.
In fact, Monica M. Brinkman’s first authored stage play, ‘How Lucky Can You Get’ performed in San Jose, CA some twenty-five years ago donated all proceeds to the Muscular Dystrophy Foundation.  With a background in the theatre, Monica has portrayed Lucy (You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown), Dorothy (The Wizard of Oz) and numerous other characters prior to dedicating herself to full-time writing.
As a Singing Telegram performer, she learned to stare fear in its face, never knowing what odd circumstances would occur each performance and believe us, they did occur frequently.  How about, dressed as Mae West, knocking on a hotel door, only to find a completely nude homosexual couple staring you in the face.  Needless to say, her eyes never left theirs.
Her great love of animals shows as the ‘mom’ of five cats and two dogs, all her babies. She now lives in Missouri with her husband of 28 years, Richard.
Monica’s novel, The Turn of the Karmic Wheel, has pleasantly surprised many a reviewer with its twists and turns of horror, the paranormal, spirituality and suspense. Indeed, not quite the story they anticipated. A story that she confesses just had to be written to give people hope, purpose and accountability for their actions in life. Ah yes, the magic of karma.
You’ll find Monica and co-host Oana interviewing guests who bring knowledge, enjoyment, controversy and excitement to the listeners every Thursday at 8PM EST on their Two Unsynchronized Souls blogtalk radio show.
Radio Show:

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Just who is Salvatore Buttaci anyway? Check out this writing machine and his humor.

A retired teacher since 2007, I spend much of my leisure time writing and submitting my poems and stories for publication. It’s not something new to me. I’ve been writing and promoting my work since my first publication in 1957 at age 16. It was an essay entitled “Presidential Timber” which was published in the Sunday New York News.

Writing has always been my favorite pastime. I enjoy the excitement of writing down the first draft. I even like the work required, delivering that first draft to a final one after revising and editing. With every completed poem or story, article or novel, I feel a grand satisfaction. Ironically, though I love words, I cannot adequately express the joy that writing brings me. That unexpressed joy seems to be the driving force that keeps me writing. A strong believer in a God Who gives us all certain talents to use and develop, I thank Him for His gift by writing everyday.

I had spent a good number of happy years teaching writing skills to middle-school and college students. To become writers, I explained to them, they needed to learn the skills of language, make use of the imagination, practice writing daily, build their own self-confidence, and submit their work for publication. Many of those students are still writing today. I meet them on Facebook all the time.

Of course, I follow my own good advice. I know that the writing craft, like any craft, requires knowledge, practice, and action. I keep myself involved in writing projects so that I am always learning, practicing, and promoting my work to those I feel confident would enjoy reading my poems or stories in journals and on the Internet, as well as those book buyers who are looking for their brand of reading pleasure.

In addition to writing, I am an avid reader of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. I believe reading and writing go hand in hand. After all, I never met an author who seriously claimed he or she never spends any time reading a book. As for readers, I have heard many speak of the book inside them they hope one day to write.

Some of my other interests include studying languages and history, doing volunteer work at church, and spending as much time as I can with my wife Sharon, my life’s greatest inspiration. Since my retirement, the two of us live in “Almost-heaven” West Virginia and are loving it.

What do I most love to write? Inspired by the comic books of my 1950s youth, I have been writing flash fiction for more than half a century. Short-short stories under 1,000 words appeal to me, just as they appeal to so many readers out there who search the Net or for flash collections and anthologies. Flash fiction reflects our modern times in the sense that society moves at a faster pace and readers looking for a complete story can find it in as little as three pages of a book. It is the quick read, the fast tale, one of many desserts in a literary buffet. And because the stories are short-short, a reader can return to them and re-read them again and again.

In 2010, All Things That Matter Press published my first collection of short-short stories Flashing My Shorts. The book, as well as Kindle edition, contains 164 flash-fiction stories that run the gamut from A to Z,  adventure stories to zany stories and all other genres in between.

In 2011, ATTMP also published my second flash collection 200 Shorts.

I know there are many flash collections out there. I also know how difficult it is for book buyers to decide which of those collections to purchase. As the author, I suppose it would be politically incorrect for me to climb up on a soapbox and try to persuade you to buy my two books. However, judging from customer comments and reviews at and elsewhere, I would say you would not be disappointed. The stories will stay with you long after you have read them. I wrote them all with that intention in mind.

200 Shorts Kindle Edition Print Edition: 
Barnes and Noble Nook Book: 

Flashing My Shorts
Amazon. com Print Edition: Kindle Edition:   

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Who is Tom Averna? Another ATTMP Author for those of you like Wizards

Tom Averna, author of The Once and Future Wizard: The Awakening from All Things That Matter Press, is used to the weird and unusual in his life. At seven, he was saved from death by a Jacob’s Ladder type dream. By nine, he was being sought out by his mother’s friends for life advice. At 11, he had chosen to sleep outside in a nearby woods in a sleeping bag and woke up the next morning with a family of skunks resting comfortably near him. At 12, he was approached by one person who claimed to be a psychic and told that he was not from this planet. Shortly after that, another psychic told him he had been a great king in Ancient Greece discovering many secrets and also that he came back in this life for a special purpose. At 17 he was attacked by a possessed friend wielding a sword and saved himself and delivered his friend by semi-consciously speaking in a language unknown to him. Three times he was on the verge of drowning until he followed inner guidance to find his way to the surface and then safely to shore.

Averna’s life has also been filled with reading biographies, histories, classics but most of all sci fi and fantasies. Early on, he cut his reading teeth on Greek and Roman mythologies and then the entire Edgar Rice Burroughs series of Tarzan, John Carter of Mars, Pellucidar and the rest of the Martian sagas. He moved from these to sci fi devouring the classics from H.G. Wells and Jules Verne to the modern Asimov, Bradbury, Heinlein and Herbert. Two books and one series of books, though, truly changed his life in high school. Stranger in a Strange Land by Heinlein and Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda both awakened in Tom a desire to explore new ideas and spiritual philosophies. He became a seeker and a student of life. These avocations have remained a part of his life still four decades later. The series of books were written by J.R.R. Tolkein. This awakened in Tom a love of wizards, dragons, elves and anything Middle Earthish.  His spiritual quest would involve books about the weird and unusual like Van Daniken, Sitchin, Ralph Ellis and others.

But there was a third component to Averna’s life that dates back to the powerful dream he had at age 7. His life was filled with vivid and amazing dreams. Some prophetic, but most action and adventure dreams that almost felt like a double life for him. Some he wrote down as stories that would later be woven together as part of his first novel. Others were just a fascination. One in particular was an invention that might have made him rich had he chosen to follow through with it. Shortly after his 30th birthday in 1982 he had a particularly vivid dream set in the future, but it was an old west kind of town. In a saloon, some people were playing a card game and as an observer Tom realized that this was a way used in these times to settle differences. The winner of the game won the judgment of whatever was being contested. Upon a closer look at the cards on the table, it became apparent that this was no ordinary card deck. These cards contained images of fantasy characters and the players would role play with them using dice to allow an element of chance. Upon awakening Tom immediately began writing about the game and set up the rules and thought he should try to market the game. But instead, as many other dream opportunities presented to him, he kept them filed away. About eleven years later, he began to hear stories of a new role playing card game called Magic: The Gathering and it was very similar to what he had envisioned. He still has those scribbled sheets of the game as a reminder to believe in his dreams and be willing to take a chance.

The writing of The Once and Future Wizard series began, as mentioned, as a group of dreams, but really took form after reading Oedipus at Colonnus by Sophocles. In this account, Oedipus meets King Theseus in a cave just before death and there is some mystery surrounding it. This combined with dreams that Theseus and Merlin were one started him wondering if Oedipus had been the link to that transition. From there over several years, he began to craft the story. The veil between fiction and reality became blurred for Averna in the writing of it as at times it felt like recording a dream and at times it felt like taking dictation. So this novel became an accurate reflection of his life containing the three main parts of it. It is weird and unusual, it includes his dreams and it combines elements of his favorite books.

The Once and Future Wizard: The Awakening is the first of three books to come and it feels a bit like a roller coaster. The first book sets the stage and is like the climb up the tracks knowing the fall is coming. The second book will be like the first drop and the third will be a combination of the two. Join Tom on this journey and discover for yourself the truth and magic of who you are and the powerful being you were meant to be. Along the way you’ll also discover the truth about the ancient gods, the creation of the universe, what happened to the elves and the truth behind many other  mythologies.

The Once and Future Wizard: The Awakening from All Things That Matter Press is available in print at Amazon