Last Meal

For my last meal, I went all out. Prime rib with horseradish sauce, roasted new potatoes, roasted asparagus with a small spring salad. A blackberry cobbler with real vanilla ice cream. A nice pinot noir to drink with the meal was requested for the meal, with a Praeger tawny port to drink while smoking cigars after my meal. Although I’ve made friends and re-established three friendships with others who died and are here, I’m dining alone. I like being alone. The Caretakers weren’t surprised. About half the people request solitude for their last meal. The other half like being part of a big party.

As I understand it, and they made it clear in orientation, I’ve already died, killed in a car crash in my new Ferrari. I can’t believe my timing. I was just making it big. Now I’m dead.

At least I don’t need to worry about my heart and cancer any longer. Or my hair. I can’t gain weight or do anything to this body. I won’t have it tomorrow morning. I’ll die and be reborn, starting over.

Doing the stroll, I say good-byes to the world. Bright orange poppies proliferate in a sandy field. Birds wheel, collect and land. A comforting sea breeze chops up the ocean. Waves splash with sunshine. This place, Aition, is temporary. It reminds me of the central California coast, just south of Half Moon Bay, where I lived my life. Born and raised, a California native. I stayed there, except for Vietnam, marrying twice and divorcing the same, with five children resulting from these unions. Richard, one of my boys, had preceded me in death. He was the oldest and the brightest. I tried finding him here but he’d already left, they said. I would have like to see him again. His death in a plane crash gutted me.

These thoughts carry me to the Solarium. I sought a final glimpse of my new sun and planet. Looking at them, I still can’t accept the truth of what I’m being told. The sun is the size of an orange. My planet is like a blue, green and white pea.It’s already populated with eight billion humans. I’ll join them tomorrow.

I kept asking, “Is this a model?”

No; that’s the planet. Those are all planets and suns.

“How many?” I wonder aloud.

“Billions and billions,” they reply.

Expanding my scope of seeing, I look up, down and across from the overhang where I stand. It looks like billions and billions.

I’ve compared my new Earth to the Earth that I left. It’s several suns over. They look pretty much the same.

We never cease, they told me. We just leave one place and go to another. This stop is a sop to us because we’re always wondering what happens when we die. It’s not a good sop. It opens up as many questions as it answers, and then, I’ll die here, be reborn elsewhere, and have most of my knowledge gone.

“How do I get a job here?” I asked a couple of the Caretakers. They’re all beautiful, perfect people and seem serene and happy. Why not? They’re living the perfect life. “Who do I see?”

“You can’t do anything to get here,” they all answer. “You’re born to here,” Juarez said. “Just like you’re born to other worlds.”

It seems capricious, arbitrary and unfair, just like the world I just left.

Time to eat. See you all later.

I suppose.

Hey, Writers – Ten Ways of Getting the Writing Groove Back

Find yourself not able to write or otherwise blocked, de-motivated or listless? Here are five healthy tips for getting the creative juices going.

  1. Have sex. Sex is one of the few matters humans tend to focus on while they’re doing it. If you’re thinking about sex because you’re doing it, you’ll free your mind from thinking about how you’re not writing because you’re not doing it.
  2. Eat some chocolate. I hear chocolate is good for everything. I like dark chocolate, myself, about seventy-two percent.
  3. Likewise, light up a doobie. If you’re fortunate, you live in a state where recreational marijuana is available. The fabulous state of Oregon where I reside is one of them.  If you don’t want to light up, have an edible or a tea.
  4. Drink wine, beer, coffee. These work for me.

More seriously, trying to write when you feel blocked is exasperating and frustrating, a feeling like popcorn caught between your teeth or your toe stuck in a hole that’s developed since you put the sock on – and you just bought the damn things. Really, the quality of goods sound these days…grumble, grumble.

I’m usually over-thinking it, over-analyzing where I’ve been and where I want to go. Fortunately, I’ve evolved my writing practices. I’m rarely afflicted to the point I can’t write these days. Hope to hell I didn’t just jinx myself.

Part of that is that I don’t write linearly. I let spray the words and write like crazy. I don’t worry about anything of punctuation, grammar, spelling or story details. All that can and will be cleaned up. Just write like crazy, damn it.

The second part is that I learned it was my inner reader daunting me, mocking my efforts by comparing me to Pulitzer Prize, Nobel Prize and other winners in literature. I learned how to tell that damn piker to take a hike. They’ll have their time later, after the first draft is finished.

Finally, I learned that I’m writing to entertain myself. That really freed my thinking. I’m a simple fellow with low standards; surely I can write something silly to make myself smile, a horror scene to make myself shudder, or describe a person with such loathing that I grimace with disgust.

But back when I struggled, I had several work-arounds that stimulated my flow. (Now it sounds like I might be lactating.)

  1. Type a favorite passage from someone else’s novel or short story.
  2. Go for a walk or do tedious chores like yardwork or the dishes. These activities don’t require much thinking, freeing the mind up to wander. Hopefully it’ll wander in a writing direction. Besides chores and walking, consider activities like fishing or bowling. They seem pretty mindless, too.
  3. Edit and revise what you’ve already written of the piece you’re working on. That always stimulates my writing energies.
  4. Brainstorm about what you’re writing and where you’re stuck. What does Penelope do now? Brainstorm it. What else is happening in the story? Brainstorm it. How did the murder weapon come to hand? Brainstorm it. Remember, brainstorming is about generating ideas. Don’t self-censor; put it all down.
  5. Draw about the story or character. Instead of working in words, visualize on paper where you’re going or even where you’ve been. Let the details flow. If the murder takes place in town, walk around. If you’re in a starship, look around and see that starship. Describe it to yourself. Make it real. Look at the battle scene; hear it; smell it; see it.

If you’re read this far, you probably realize this is’t a list of ten. Sorry; I just put that in the title because I read somewhere that numbered blog posts are more often read. Actually, I believe I made that up just now.

It’s just part of writing.

 

Today’s Theme Music

We listened to a lot of music while I was stationed on Okinawa in the early 1980s. Drank a lot of beer, too. Smoked a lot of cigars, played a lot of Risk and worked a lot. We also went to college.

Anyway, back to the music thing. The Internet wasn’t around. CD players and Compact Discs were just emerging. For reference, the hot new computer was the TRS 80.

So we played a lot of vinyl, recording it onto more portable, user friendly formats. One album that came out then was Foreigner 4, by Foreigner. Several hits were on that album, including this song, ‘Juke Box Hero’. Later generations and listeners might be familiar with the song through its commercial use.

Stream it in your head as you’re walking around dreaming of heroes and villians.

Catological

Catological (adjective) Being like a cat in every possible way.

In use: In complete catological behavior, Barb will get on her hands and knees and pretend to wash her face with her hand (as though it was a paw), purr and meow to generate reactions from her cats.

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