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Showing posts from 2016

One of the hardest stories I ever wrote...

I mentioned this in my last submission: blank screens for three days, trying like hell to write just 500 words. We were asked to read a couple of poems from "WEE-satch" and form a story around them. It fought me like a pissed off cat, but here's the result:



“You need to let yourself get hit a few times so you can see it’s not so bad or so you can see how bad it really is.”
Those words somehow seemed to make perfect sense as Jesse stood there holding his ratty old football on the edge of the practice field. After all, his big brother Jake had said them, and he knew what he was talking about. He was the starting quarterback on the varsity team, and Jesse was certain his big brother knew everything there was to know about football.
Jake had been star athlete for as long as Jesse could remember. No matter what sport he played, he always rose to the top — baseball, basketball, soccer, wrestling — but where he truly shined was on the football field. Jake’s room was littered with…

Learning to ride again...

It has been a while, I know. But I've never been far away from the written word. Not at all in fact. I was asked for my fiction writing class final to write a personal narrative on my experience through the class. It's a bit long for this format, I know, but I thought it worth the share:


Call me arrogant, ignorant or perhaps even foolish — I’ve been called worse, today in fact — but I truly thought this whole writing journey would be a cinch. I’d turn in a few words and everyone would be so unimaginably impressed, publishers would beat a path to my door. The college would quilt me with degrees. I’d be the new voice of my generation, the Redneck Laureate. Everybody would want to say they once knew me…
I’d earned my chops, I thought. I’d been writing professionally longer than most of my fellow classmates had been alive. Considering I can date that back to the late 1980s, it was hardly unimaginable, at least that’s how I pictured all those phantom writers in my online classes, any…

I blame Hatter Potter...

Let me climb up on my soapbox here. Hang on, almost there. What the hell was that popping noise? A hip is not supposed to make that sound...

OK. Now, let me catch my breath...

So I've been reading lots of stories-in-progress in my creative writing class at grad school. Some are better than others; some I can't wait to see published. That's really not the point. We read our peer submitted works and then offer some commentaries on things we like, things we don't, things that need work, etc. Kind of interesting, actually, to me at least.

Now I'll be the first to admit, I don't fit the mold of your typical college student. I've been out in the working world for a while. I could probably have fathered half the people in my class. But we're all English majors here, we all use words regularly. I would argue that these youngsters are probably a lot fresher on their grammar skills. The last real grammar schooling I got came before most of these cats were born.

B…

I bet we've all had days like these...

So part of this copyright law class I'm taking in grad school sends me surfing the web regularly in search of answers to various finer points of the law. What better place to find what you're looking for than seeking it out from the source, right?

So I've already been a time or twelve to the U.S. Copyright Office's official website (www.copyright.gov) as part my coursework. Before you web surfing yourself, I warn it's pretty dull, about what you would expect for some government hack trying to put together an overview of his or her respective duties and provide the necessary documentation one might need regarding the subject.

I will say this: I'm basically in Week 5 of my studies in this class and know only one sure fact, so far. Despite having written for most of my life in newspapers and such, I don't know Jack Shit (or his cousin George, for the that matter) about copyrights. It's a damn complicated subject. Plus, it keeps changing. We've already …

Would you be MY valentine?

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So yeah, I followed his advice buying flowers. Sue me. But I can't help but relish his words on the importance of these calendar-bred days, nor his revelation of "sorry chump" the rest of the year, even today as it may have proven. Anyone else ready for a redo?

Where did the maid go?

I intend to write a strongly worded letter to my housekeeper.

You know, that little bitch left literally piles of dirty dishes in my sink. I'm talking about shit from Monday at this point. Stuff is starting to grow on this enormous pile. The corpses of dead mosquito hawks are staring blankly from their foul, watery graves.

It really came to light this morning as I tried to fill the coffee pot with fresh water and couldn't fit the decanter under the faucet.

Not enough clearance.

I mean this is disgusting. Downright intolerable...

Here goes:

Dear Diary...

Yeah, yeah... It seems I foolishly volunteered for this crap when I found myself spending a lot more time around the house than I am accustomed. Unemployment will do that, you know. But between writing papers for grad school, making my rounds job hunting and otherwise finding other things to fill my days, that dish pile got away from me.

Well, no more. Problem solved. After merely an hour and a half of scrubbing, they are now …

So this is grad school. Part 2....

This is beautiful, trust me...PROF'S REPONSE AFTER READING:

Haha! I had quite a few laughs reading your post.
But to elaborate on the title of the journal since I was a part of that discussion, it's called Huizache (the Spanish version of huisache) because it's considered a weed tree. People are always trying to get rid of them, yet they insist on taking root. It's a metaphor for the voices in our journal, primarily Mexican American voices that often get rejected elsewhere. Or, think of it like this, most journals will carry 1 or 2 brown voices, quota filled. I once got rejected from a journal because two Lopezes happened to submit at the same time and they liked the other Lopez story better. I am not kidding. So we decided to reverse the ratio in our magazine, to give a field for the huizaches of the writing world to take root.
So here's to the WEE satch of the writing world! Live long and prosper my friends...

So this is grad school. Part 1...

Let me preface this by say I scored a one hundred - perfect - on this particular entry. I didn't know what that hell to do or say, so I had a little fun with it:
Assignment: Read “Suzi Writes a Poem” by Jessica Helen Lopez starting on Page 20 of Huizache. If this poem were an essay, what would its thesis be? Explain, using textual evidence from the poem. This is due on February 6. 
What I heard in my head: Bobby write a thesis; write a thesis Bobby.
OK. I haven’t set foot in a classroom in more than 20 years. It has been a while since anyone tossed around such collegiate terms in defining what I should write. I’m used to ledes, pull quotes and inch counts (and yes, that first word is spelled correctly for a newspaper man; bonus points if anyone cares to tell me why). Perhaps I might benefit by refreshing the old memory on what, exactly, this term actually means. Hello, Google…

“A thesis is a statement or theory that is put forward as a premise to be maintained or proved.”
OK. That’s a …

Super Bowl, Take 50...

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Here we are again, sports fans! The biggest day of the year for the NFL. Who will walk away the ultimate champions of the world?



That's today? You mean I missed football season again this year? Well, crap...



No, I'm not a big fan. Never have been. In fact, most days I've tried to watch the big game with friends typically found me soundly sleeping long before a victor ever emerged. Blame it on a solid meal or over refreshment on the adult beverages typically found in surplus at such showings, but naptime almost always proves a better use of my time when it comes to football.



I take that back: I had to work a couple years back on the hallowed Super Bowl Sunday. Wound up stuck like Chuck at a machine shop from 7 a.m. to nearly 11 p.m. I wound up earning a bonus because I missed the big game that day; the boss even sprang for pizza for our weary group, who had missed meals that day as well as whoever was playing that particular year. That was hellova better alternative to slee…

The great conversation

I spent the morning engaged in a long lost art: letter writing, to an old friend. Life may have long ago parted our paths, but we stay in touch nonetheless. She's one of those who pushed me to start writing again, even when I was certain I had packed away my pen for good.

She reminded me recently of an old friend we both shared named Harlan Hobbs. Now I only met Harlan a couple of times in my life, albeit, but we spoke like long lost friends when we did. An old writer himself, we shared a passion and common interest. And he had a talent for making even weirdos like us feel right at home, important, understood and appreciated.

He would often speak of this "great conversation" in which we should all take part, we writers especially.

At the risk of sounding grandiose, think Shakespeare: "All the world's a stage, And all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances, And one man in his time plays many parts." Think Whitman: &qu…

Feeling worn...

So today I turned in my first creative writing submission at grad school. Twenty-five pages. Two full days of editing and revising, my red pen playing harbinger of dead words. I started banging out copy not long after the new year. I wrote probably the first 8-10 pages over the course of two weeks, finding myself hammering out details, characters, plot lines and all that other crap.

I actually kept coming back and editing everything I wrote in an attempt to act like I was still being productive. Sad truth, the damn thing got shorter and shorter. I walked away for a while. Did some crazy shit, like go see some relatives, piddle around with other crap, deal with unemployment bullshit. Hell, I even went to church. (It's still standing; neither of us burst into flames, yet.)

Whatever the cause, I sat down one Sunday and started typing. It turned into an all-nighter. Before I knew it, the craft part was done.

I moved my story into the desired format and typesetting, and I'll be d…

Monkey business...

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OK. I'm fucking 43. When I bought this ticket, I wasn't even asked for ID. The twerp behind the window in his bulletproof sales counter didn't even ask my age. He just doled it out like it was the least he could do to help an old bastard enjoy his movie experience.
Oddly, just a few weeks later, I find myself enjoying student discounts at the same establishment for the very fact I enrolled in a graduate program at the local university.
I'm still the same age, a few days older in fact. But I now qualify for the same discount as the daughter I raised, who should be a sophomore in her college studies at North Texas State, if my math is correct.

Of course, leave it to the boob tube to make me feel my age anew. A historical burb I caught today detailed the life history of the first chimp in space, long before Alan Shepard made his historic flight. The monkey survived his trip no worse for the wear, it would seem, and lived out his years to the ripe old age of 26. He died i…

A personal take on the world at large...

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Ever watched CBS Sunday Morning? One of my favorites...

So I saw this today, all cleared from the western front of my state. I live in Victoria, a mere 30 miles from the coast. Plenty of days left to pursue my dream of catching the monster Red in my daily haul at the bay, yet far enough away to realize my South Texas fishing holes may leave some desires when it comes to conquering Old Man and the Sea.

It targets West Texas, but I would argue they were among the last to know about the clusterfuck called oilfield declines in my home state. Hell, I live in the Eagle Ford Shale region. We've been all about boom times over the last few years.

Still, I can't help but sharing how my dumb old ass found himself on unemployment. I worked at a local machine shop for 5 years. I paid my dues, respectively speaking. I caught plenty a bitch days behind a grinder during my days on the job.

On Jan. 18, I was told my job was no more, victim to the latest round of lay offs at my company. We had…

On politics and more...

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I worked politics at one point in my career. I truly wish this parody wasn't reality. I can't do that.

I even wrote prize-winning editorials in Texas, telling readers exactly what their 60 percent voter turnout meant in the Lone Star State, an all-time high as I recall in  my lifetime, the day is was published.

While even the newest, most poorly executed versions of Democracy the world over typically boasted minimal figures of 90 percent or better voter turnout, we get mighty proud when we get over half the populace to show up in our country. Such turnouts were common in the post-911 days of apocalypse some of you may remember. I can't say I've seen it since.

While impressive for any election I could ever recall in my years, it betrayed another set of numbers none of us wanted to see:  Although 60 percent of any given population may seem like a lot, a full 40 percent - often tens or hundreds of thousands of people - did not vote. As I was proud to point out in my news…

Why the hell am I doing this?

Blame it on old writer friend, who not so long ago admonished me for not putting pen to paper in far too long. Blame it on too many a memory, stacked tight over a fleeting lifetime of mistakes and missteps. Blame it on turning 43 and finding little reason to still consider myself worthy of claiming any right to being a crafter of words.

I could blame life, which tossed me one too many breaking balls in the ninth to drive my runner home; a job that robbed me of energy and inspiration as days became weeks; a family that simply walked away, no kiss my ass, auf weidersehn  or goodnight.

Truth is, I got lazy. Angry. Pathetic.

I became a sad sack. A Glory Day-ser. An asshole.

I rode my meager success to mediocre, proud and pompous.

But I've always wanted more. I embark on that journey, once again. Thank you, Richard, and the many who came before you.

So what's with the title of this endeavor? Boots: I have a pair for every day of the week. I are a Redneck, just a bit overeducated fo…