Cartoon

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Last time: http://lancemyblogcanbeatupyourblog.wordpress.com/2014/09/16/heaven-knows/

I needed something to stop the tears after leaving my daughter at college and the rock song of her generation blaring from a nearby dorm made me feel even older, so stopped at the red light and tapped my iPhone music library. The opening lyric, “now everybody’s looking after me,
If I’m dragging by some coat tail“, in front of twangy late 1980s college rock guitar brought on a 26-year-old memory I didn’t realize was there.

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Dude, like really, could you give us a minute! She’s upset!”

I surveyed the uncomfortable situation and didn’t know what to do. With two minutes before my 10th ever freshman DJ shift at the student radio station, I was being ordered out of the studio so some guy I didn’t know could console a crying girl I did know. The room was small, dark, and suffocating with more than two people inside. I tried to please two masters, my radio gig duty and their wishes to be rid of me. I decided to cue up my first record on the turntable next to the girl so I leaned into the thin, pale sophomore named Jule. I suspected her name it was Julie or maybe Julianne and she was reinventing herself like the rest of us social rejects at college. Those were the types that inhabited the University of Alabama student radio station, WVUA, in the fall of 1988.

“Why do you keep doing this to us? Leave us alone for five f**king minutes, a**hole!”

I thought I was a melodramatic bad actor but this guy blew me off the stage. The  vinyl record was ready with needle on groove, all that had to be done was push a button and the world would hear staion approved college rock for the top of the hour of 1am.

Before I walked out, I turned to Jule and placed my hand on her shoulder. We’d hung out for a few minutes at a time during station meetings. She was from suburban Atlanta, Georgia like me, but a town about an hour away. I muttered over my shoulder as I reached the door.

“Hang in there, I hope you’re okay.”

The guy started to scream at me again.

“Get the fu…..”

Jule placed one hand over his mouth and pointed to the door with the other. When he pushed away from her and stayed in his chair, she growled, low and intentional.

“The music comes first, here. It’s his shift, you leave and don’t call me, again.”

He got up, threw the rickety black office chair back into the radio console with his butt, then glared at me. He elbowed my chest like a rebounding basketball power forward and cursed into the hallway. I looked at the clock in the studio then at Jule. She wiped her eyes, rubbed her hands on her dirty jeans, then asked.

“What are you starting your show with?”

Her lips trembled. I wanted to ask her what happened. Instead, I just answered.

“Soul Asylum, Cartoon, it’s my favorite song right now, well, you know, until tomorrow.”

She laughed and leaned back in her chair as I pushed the button.

Like my teenager, I had a different life one month into my college career. I owe her a huge thanks for instant recall.

Heaven Knows

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Walking the streets of downtown Atlanta on a weekend afternoon is an assault on the senses as the sights, sounds, and smells of the previous night’s sins are prominent with a college campus the featured resident. I strolled out of the parking garage and began texting my Georgia State freshman daughter because I knew she wouldn’t answer a call since it’s 2014 and she has twitter. Before I could finish the message, I’d reached the courtyard of her dorm and looked up to see a little blond thing in a sweatshirt, shorts, and long golden hair greet her dumb dad.

“Hey, you. T (her roommate) saw you get out of your car so I just came on down. Let’s walk to my favorite Chinese food place.”

I held back a tear, as I hadn’t seen her in two weeks, traveling for work, missing her return home a few days, before. She let me lean on her shoulder at a cross section while we waited for a truck to turn right. I whispered.

“I missed you.”

I knew not to say it too loud as four boys she was familiar with approached us and everyone exchanged hellos.  She knew them from class, I assured myself.

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The Chinese food place was closed so we opted for plan B, wings and French Fries at a sports bar type joint, two storefronts down. She turned and smiled.

“I knew you’d pick wings.”

I started with a list of questions I’d mentally written down on the drive. We delved into her favorite class at the moment, philosophy, which was mine, too, when I was a college freshman, 126, I mean 26 years earlier, at the University of Alabama.

A few minutes after the food arrived, she started opening up about her life, slightly less than a month old. She’d changed a set of friends, found a church she liked, gotten off to a great start with her roommate, and figured out how to get to class without being too terribly late. I couldn’t stop looking at her face. Her smile was intentional and infectious. The dour, mean high school girl had changed. She was something totally different. She even slipped and said she missed me. It must have been the Mountain Dew talking.

I almost didn’t go back to her dorm. I was afraid of evidence like dirty clothes, old pizza boxes, maybe a beer can that didn’t belong or something that would make a worried, fussy father even worse. As rock music played from one dorm room we walked by, I braced for something nerve-wracking, instead, the discovery I made was much more profound.

Her roommate had the same face, smiley and anxious. The room was clean. They looked like young women not girls. After a while, I realized I didn’t belong and my stomach was already hurting. My welcome was worn out between the greasy food and cursory laughs at my bad jokes when I walked into their new home. She had homework piled up on her desk and a meet up with church friends in less than 2 hours. She sighed.

“I have an essay to write.”

I’m increasingly impatient with the attitudes of people my age towards those of my daughter’s. Maybe at other guys’ girls’ dorms at other colleges there were signs of immaturity and laziness, but at least for this day, my kid and her roomie had put on an excellent show. She had a new life, and it was going well. She didn’t ask for money and the hug and kiss she returned were sincere.

I waited till I got back to my car in the five dollar garage before I broke down. That, my daughter had earned. Heaven knows whether or not she’s making wise choices and taking advantage of her college opportunity. The mutual respect and shared trust taught me a lot. I haven’t screwed this up, so far.

Here’s The Pretty Reckless

What I Like About You

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In two weeks I turn 44-years-old and what scares me the most is I still have little to no self-esteem. You would think after more than half my life gone I’d have accumulated some cockiness about my resume. Nope.

A couple of months ago, I visited a new psychiatrist. She was a very nice Indian-American lady who exuded warmth, kindness and positivity. Either she was a fantastic actress or the perfect person for her chosen profession. She made me feel safe, welcome, and relatively okay, for a crazy person.

One of the things she told me was I was too hard on myself and didn’t give myself enough credit for the good stuff I’d done and my positive attributes. She gave me homework that of course I didn’t do, until today.

“Go home and write 5 things you like about yourself and say them aloud to the mirror.”

My first thought was, lady, you’re lovely, but I’m a writer, isn’t that enough narcissism for one person. Then I realized I was paying her for the hour, so eventually I obliged.

It was difficult. Five things about me? Really? I’m a mess. Okay, but note, I wrote out like seven, then realized that two of them were sarcastic lies so the five you’ll read are absolutely it. I don’t recommend any of you do this, because I know most of you will whine about paring your list from 37 to a top five and then I’ll have to hate you.

5) My taste and knowledge of music is pretty stellar. I can’t remember my kids’ names but I can recite Lou Reed lyrics from the Transformer album. I always forget at least two things on my wife’s grocery list but I know more about 1970s punk and glam rock and 1990s grunge and alternative music than the average dude or dudette. People ask me for playlists all the time, tag me in their Facebook posts about music stuff, and if one more person argues with me about the merits of Diamond David Lee Roth Van Halen versus Sammy Hagar Van Halen I’m going to curse them to choke on brown M&Ms. If you don’t get that reference, we can’t be friends.

4) I don’t drink coffee or play the lottery. This means I’m the perfect person to be in line with at a convenience store. You don’t have to worry about me bickering over the quality of the cappuccino mix or taking 14 extra minutes selecting scratch off tickets.

3) I’m reliable. I hated this about me until about five years ago. I’ve moved over 30 people by either owning or tracking down a truck, dollies, and boxes. I’ve bailed over 10 people out of jail. I’ve never failed to pick someone up from the airport, school, or work when they needed a ride. You ask me to be somewhere, I’m 97.3 percent of the time punctual and proud to do it, publically. Privately, I’m probably making fun of you and making snide remarks. Seriously, I’m that dude you’re supposed to call because it’s the right thing to do.

2) I can write. I’m not saying I’m Hemingway or Palahniuk or even Franzen but I think I know what I’m doing. Time and deadlines are hard to meet sometimes because of real life but I know my way around sentence structure and storytelling. My editing sucks, but I have people for that. I think I know what I’m doing as a writer compared to most.

1) I’m a good parent. I didn’t say I was a great one because that’s crazy talk. I know my 3 daughters love me, mostly behind my back, but with one in college and two others at the tops of their classes, I haven’t screwed them up or nullified the fantastic work of their mother. There’s a lot of love in our house and all 3 of my girls are smart, beautiful, and can tell a good joke.

What are your good attributes? Please, limit them to five. I’m very fragile, emotionally. You start showing off with more than that, and the next 47 posts will be dark dystopian tales of woe that will make you want to punch yourself in the face, too.

Here’s The Romantics.

http://youtu.be/Rqnw5IfbZOU

I wrote two books. They got good reviews. The third one, a sequel to the first, Woman Of Troy, is on the way, very soon.

The Ballad of Helene Troy, an underdog story about a female musician in New York City, and Soul To Body, about an ex-1990s guitar player trying to raise his teenage daughter after the death of his wife, her mother, are available, digitally, on Amazon.com for your kindles, and in paperback from Lulu.com

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Always On The Run

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Chewing my breakfast in the car, I ignored apple Danish smudge my thumb left on the phone screen. I typed good luck with first day of college classes to my oldest daughter while my middle one waved goodbye and walked into school.

 

http://yeahwrite.me/gargleblaster-176/

The ultimate question

Lace up those sneakers – this week’s ultimate question is designed to get you moving.

What are we running for?

Basket Case

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Walking the ten steps upstairs to pick up clothes for the laundry basket, check the cat’s food bowl, and shudder at the mess of my 3 daughters’ bedrooms is a routine that has suddenly changed because one of them is gone.

Since my 18-year-old daughter graduated high school in the spring and prepared to leave for college, there have been a lot of tears. Yet, with her moved in to the college dormitory at Georgia State University yesterday, I realized that those bouts of crying were in anticipation of a harsh reality that she’s no longer living in my house. Now, I’m just numb.

College move in day was pretty standard stuff. I bought and hooked up a mini-fridge, maneuvered around several twenty minute parking zones in downtown Atlanta, and owned my dad moment when I handed over pink pepper spray mace and lectured her on being smart and safe as a pretty, naïve, young woman on a large Metropolitan campus.

It was a long hard day without a defining moment. My wife and I were just like the other moms and dads stumbling around looking for carts to roll boxes into rooms and kicking ourselves for forgetting obvious stuff like silverware and toilet paper. We were too busy to stop, drop and roll through our emotions and pinpoint the mind-blowing instant our lives were splitting the atom and changing forever.

Until I went upstairs this morning, and saw her room, almost empty, and without her.

For the emotionally draining months to come to a mildly anti-climatic end seemed appropriate. This is real life. I have two other daughters currently filibustering for their sister’s room, to take care of and stress over growing into the same kind of young woman my oldest did.

Now, I follow my college enrolled daughter’s day through her social media accounts wondering if there’s a boy just out of screenshot or she’s eating something more than Doritos and cheese dip.

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Our relationship has been unique because I didn’t meet her until she was twelve, we were friends while I dated her mom, then became dad after we married. It’s a 37 minute drive from our driveway to her dorm. I know at some point I’ll embarrass her and show up for a lunch or a freak out night trip after she doesn’t return a phone call because she left her phone at a fraternity party.

Friends who have gone through this have told me it gets better. “You’ve done all the hard work and it’s all up to her, now”. I don’t think I buy into that, just yet. The next four or five years of her life in college will matter a lot more than the ones before it because of the choices she makes off the lessons her mom and I have tried to teach. As hard as yesterday was, It had to happen.

Now, I just hope she let’s me fine tune some of those lessons and realizes I wasn’t just some annoying basket case after all.

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100 Word Song – Cup Of Coffee

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I’m living in an alternate dimension right now, teetering on mental breakdown because of real world wildness of my oldest daughter moving into college tomorrow and my real job, outside of the blog, book writing and Lefty Pop (www.leftypop.com), becoming overwhelming. I apologize for the lateness of this week’s 100 word song.

My writing friend, Valerie The Word Pirate of http://thewordpirate.wordpress.com/ selected this week’s tune, Cup Of Coffee by Garbage. My 100 will be connected to Velvet Verbosity’s 100 word prompt, Wharf, as well http://www.velvetverbosity.com/.

Back to Silas in the garage, now unarmed and vulnerable.

Last time: http://lancemyblogcanbeatupyourblog.wordpress.com/2014/08/12/100-word-song-worrisome-heart/

“Silas, pick up the money and the gun. They’re yours.”
Archie held back Roscoe and Kenny, who stared in amazement.
Silas kept his eyes on all 3 men, scooped up the cash and gun, holding it down to the garage floor. He spoke.
“I know how to end this.”
Roscoe yelled.
“Yeah, we kick the shi…!”
Archie pushed him then motioned for Silas to continue.
“I have Bart’s stash, all of it.”
Archie shook his head at Roscoe, who growled.
“Meet at Tampa wharf in 2 hours. I’ll give you 3 grand, then you put a million miles between us.”

My Blog Can Beat Up Your Blog

You have six days from NOW, to write 100 words inspired by Valerie’s pick of Garbage’s Cup Of Coffee. Use the media that are social to advertise you magic, then link up with the green mr.linky button at the bottom.

Freeze Frame

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I don’t usually hitchhike on bandwagons, but this one rides smooth, gets good gas mileage, and possibly ends at an amazing destination.

A friend asked me to take part in the internet phenomenon, The Ice Bucket Challenge, to raise awareness and money for the horrible illness Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), more commonly known as to as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease“.

It took the life of a family member and has stricken the lives of people I know. So, I loaded up a kitchen pot full of ice water, fetched my teenaged daughter as an assistant and gave my wife my iPhone to shoot the results.

This is connected to the writing prompt, “phenomenon”, at http://www.velvetverbosity.com.

Today’s song is from the J. Geils band. I couldn’t pull the trigger on Foreigner, Madonna, Vanilla Ice, Slayer or Metallica. This is too good of a cause.

If you would like to donate to ALS, go here: http://t.co/PFA50C9Pxa – MJsArmy.org