Save Me San Francisco – BlogHer Part I

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When you spend most of your time in one kind of box wanting to get out, the empty feeling of containment can only be helped by breathing new air. The first thing I noticed getting off the plane in San Francisco was the continual breeze, the Bay Area current that symbolized the different kind of people that live there.

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When my wife. aka The Bobina, and I figured out we could navigate budget and schedule, a week before school starts for two of our three daughters, we signed up for BlogHer 2014, the tenth anniversary of a blogging conference that started in Northern California in 2005. Since I started blogging almost five years ago, I’ve become integrated into several communities and some of those people have attended and talked about BlogHer for years. I’ve been in a deep rut, writing, personally, especially on this space, but the successful launch of my other site, Lefty Pop aka @lefty_pop http://www.leftypop.com I co-own with Linda aka @modmomelleroy, meant I had an opportunity to really figure out what I’m doing and how to do it better.

After landing on Thursday, we rented a car and drove to Pier 39 and Fisherman’s Wharf, becoming serious tourists, taking pictures with Alcatraz in the background.

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Despite locals telling us that it was unseasonably warm, about 80 degrees, I couldn’t stop thinking about the Bay breeze. In my hometown of Atlanta, summer days are characterized by a stifling hot temperature and air that feels like a scalding wet washcloth smacking you in the face when you walk outside.

We spent several hours walking, eating, shopping, and photographing. I’m never calm, but relaxation swept over me. The left coast gets mocked where I’m from but step one of getting out of the box and the rut was complete. I didn’t even care when we hit the fifth souvenir store. This felt more than a working weekend vacation. It was an intervention.

By the time we knew the way to San Jose, I was energized. We checked into the hotel and the conference, then planned our night, meeting more than a dozen amazing people I’d previously only known in 200 x 200 avatar settings on a computer screen. I didn’t even think about the general weirdness of it all. The quote of the weekend belonged to my writing friend Natalie Ricci aka @singingfool1224 of the blog The Cat Lady Sings who answered someone else saying they felt awkward meeting people, “hey, no one here was the prom queen, we’re all pretty awkward.”

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I wasn’t the prom king, either. Being dropped into an island of outcasts was refreshing, like the Bay breeze. I quickly realized that while I did fly west to figure out how to blog better, sell more books, and promote my politics and promote Lefty Pop, with the great double-barreled blast of San Francisco and San Jose, I was also saving myself from the piping hot, stale-aired wet washcloth of self-doubt that had me considering blogging suicide.

The much needed Save Lance intervention was just starting.

Part 2 tomorrow; featuring The Bloggess, book publishing secrets, business card bonanza, freelancing, tribes, and being late to the party.

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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Boys Don’t Cry

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Being a blogger, author, online journalist, and co-owner of the politics and pop culture website Lefty Pop aka http://www.leftypop.com, means I get attention from people who think they know me. Hate mail, or since so many of you tell me I use “love” and “hate” too much, polarizing people, let’s call it Disagreement Mail; is a thing in my life. Between this blog, Lefty Pop, the Twitter, Google + (don’t laugh, there are people on there, sort of) and The Book Of Face, I average about 25 to 35 pieces of Disagreement Mail a day. Recently, I got one from a “Facebook friend”. Let’s call him Stan.

“Your pandering to your female “fans” is getting (freaking) pathetic, don’t you think? We get it, you live with 4 women, they took your balls, and you love gays, and that stupid “war on women bull(crap)”. If you think MSNBC is going to come calling because you’re this put upon (crappy) liberal in the conservative South, then get the (freak) over yourself. You’re just being a (female cat). Be a man! That’s what women want, a man!”

I did some editing because my daughters read this space and we’re all smart enough to see Stan The Man’s world view, or Lance view. This isn’t the first time I’ve gotten this critique. Let’s go hip hop on Stan’s Disagreement Mail and break it down.

1) Pandering to female “fans”. Here’s a factoid about writing online. Females outnumber males 1 gazillion to 1. I suck at math but that’s a fair statistic. I know of maybe 12 guys who blog. Until a year ago, that number was 4, but I started networking. We’re planning a retreat where we’ll meet in an internet café and bang on Starbucks coffee cans and express our feelings. No, not really, that’ll never happen. There many more female bloggers than male. My demographics are identical to other guys’. I never set out to be the dude with a bunch of gals hanging around me, but ’tis my life. This is why I workout and go into an office for my real job away from writing. I get to at least say hello to other XY chromosomes. Also, fighting for equal rights for gay people and women is the decent, correct thing to do. I shouldn’t have to defend that, but I will, forever.

2) My balls. Living with a wife and 3 daughters means I compromise and sacrifice a lot. I find this an endearing quality of mine, because it makes my household run smoothly and my heart, full. My politics proudly lean left. The left is where compromise and sacrifice reside in today’s arena of ideas and political discourse. Whether you and Stan agree with me, so be it. I’m a lefty in a righty culture. Being too punk rock for the room is something I usually enjoy, because it means I’m not lock stepping with the Joneses, whom I can’t even keep up with, anyway.

3) Being a man. If, at the end of the day, my wife and 3 daughters see an example of someone who doesn’t knee-jerk respond to stress with violence, either verbally or physically, then I’m a real man. I ask my wife constantly, “are we okay?” Most of the time she says yes, but when she does say no, it has nothing to do with whether I’m being a rhymes with the watusi, it has to do with me being insensitive, bi-polar, hard to get along with and a cliché “dude” about hating shopping, not wanting to watch the Food Network and soap opera-like shows, and see her and my daughters try on clothes for an hour before we leave the house. Being a real man has more to do with love, care, and hope, not driving a truck with a gun rack and hanging metal nuts.

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There are a lot of Stans out there, perpetuating gender stereotypes out of fear, self-loathing or good old-fashioned, ha.., I mean disagreement. Whether you click on this page, Lefty Pop, or my media that are social, I wish you see someone just trying to figure out how to be a better person, notice I didn’t type “man”, and wanting to do so in a way that sets some sort of example for the next neurotic writer behind me.

I believe in progress. Many years ago, I listened to The Cure, alone, sometimes in tears, afraid of what my “real men” friends or family would think. Now, I can do so with an audience of thousands, mmmm, okay, hundreds, fine, dozens. Screw it, share this and let’s talk, we can make it hundreds, at least. Don’t make me cry.

Here’s The Cure.

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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100 Word Song – Running On Empty

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I’m doing something a little different with this week’s 100 word song. My friend Renee from http://elsetimeandotherwhen.blogspot.com/2014/05/the-morning-after.html made a glorious return from 100 word song hibernation with a fantastic entry. Leeroy asked her to pick this week and she chose the Jackson Browne classic, Running On Empty.

My oldest daughter, Taylor aka on this blog as Tay, aged 18, graduates from high school this week and heads off to college in August. Her mom, sisters, and I are desperately trying to spend as much time with her as possible.

For this week’s 100 word song, I’m going away from my serialized fiction short story, Light of Day, about 2 19-year-old lovers on the run in 1989 Florida, to something that happened last night. This is also linked ot my friend Velvet Verbosity’s 100 word prompt of “collection”. http://www.velvetverbosity.com/

 

Right now, I’m the equivalent of a car in need of gas.

Last night I sprawled on the couch alone, and tried to distract my collection of volatile emotions with an Atlanta Braves baseball game.

The clock showed 9:30pm when her bare legs and bright screened phone appeared.

“Can I see the remote? I have to tape The Bachelorette.”

I swallowed my snobbery and seized the opportunity.

“If you promise to never appear on that show, you can watch it next to me while I make fun of you on the internet.”

She rolled her eyes and shared ninety minutes.

 

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My Blog Can Beat Up Your Blog

As always you have 7 days from NOW, to write 100 inspired words off of Renee’s selection of Jackson Browne’s amazing signature song, Running On Empty. Use the green Mr. Linky button below to link up and then share your magic with the medias that are social.

If You Leave

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The keys are hostile. They know which way they want to go. I want to write about politics, idealism, or something funny I thought about. But the 100 pound gorilla in the room is her, and she’s leaving. It’s all I can deliver.

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****blogger’s note****

It’s graduation week for my oldest daughter. This is my 42 word gargleblaster for yeah write. http://yeahwrite.me/gargleblaster-162/

Here’s OMD.

Crawling

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It’s an equation I solve daily, figuring an answer from constant pressure by measured reaction. I calculate the love, the light, the good in my life and subtract my self-destructiveness by ignoring what’s crawling all over me. It’s maturity, or dumb luck.

This week’s ultimate question comes from the yeah write #42 crowd favorite, Panic at the Starbucks by Jennifer at kvetchmom.

Is something crawling on me?

At first glance this looks like an easy yes-or-no question. It seems to demand that we turn immediately to bugs and other horrible things.

100 Word Song – Crash

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What a fine week for 100 word song, We had new writers, more entries, and some of the best writing in a while. I let Leeroy pick this week because he’s in a late 1980s mood, musically, and my short story, Light Of Day, about two 19-year-old lover on the run in Florida is set in July 1989. He picked The Primitives Crash.

For my 100, we go back to the red Cutlass in Florida with our felonious three, Silas, Olive and Zola.

Last time: http://lancemyblogcanbeatupyourblog.wordpress.com/2014/04/22/100-word-song-deep-as-you-go/

 

Silas had the Cutlass’ front seat to himself during the one-hour drive from Sarasota to Ft. Myers. He wasn’t listening, much, trying to stay under the speed limit, but Olive and Zola’s plan was repeated to him when he stopped for gas.

‘Zola stays behind, blackmails Johns, gets several thousand dollars, meets Silas and Olive in 3 days back at the Beacon Motel in Sarasota, while the couple works in Tampa and finds a place to crash’.

None of it made sense to him. He wanted to drive the car into a swamp or pull into a police station and confess.

My Blog Can Beat Up Your Blog

As always, you have 7 days from NOW, to write 100 words inspired by The Primitives’ Crash. Use the medias that are social to promote your brilliance and link up with the green Mr. Linky button below. Have a great week.

Everything In Its Right Place

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The clocks stop, time stills, and in between the rare moments of calm, my muse slows down long enough for me to touch. It’s only then can I put my thoughts together, make them meaningful, and deliver art, or whatever seems close.

******blogger’s note****

This is my week’s gargleblaster:

This week’s ultimate question was suggested by Erica M, and comes from Alice Munro’s short story A Real Life.

Have all your clocks stopped?

Give us your answer in 42 words.

For yeah write. This is how I write. This is as close to an explanation as I have.

New Values

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Tear gas and dirt created a low lying fog too intense for me to read the text messages she was sending. The ping from my daughter’s phone led me to the city park.

Dozens of college kids ran from the entrance’s grassy embankment. The riot police announced through bullhorns.

“Exit the area now, peacefully, or you will be stunned.”

There was little time and no way to explain why a middle-aged man was walking into the fray. My phone vibrated. I answered.

“She’s at the mural next to the stage! She’s by herself!”

My wife’s exclamation meant she’d talked to our daughter. I kept walking toward her location and answered.

“Go to the car! It’s parked next to the burrito place! I’ll scoop her up and meet you there when we get there!”

A policeman caught my eye line and yelled.

“Get out of here!”

Before I could respond, two kids fell in front of him and began screaming in fear they’d be hurt. I kept walking.

The mural area was about fifty yards away. The smoke and debris made vision beyond a few yards impossible. A young girl, maybe 19, bumped into me and said.

“Sorry, sir! Hey, I know you!”

I realized it was my daughter’s freshman year roommate. Terrible with names, I closed my eyes and settled on three possible answers.

“Keeral…”

“It’s me, Cora! I saw her near the stage, a few feet from the big Oak! This is nuts,  so out of control!”

I mouthed the word, “run”, and kept walking. After a few steps I saw the tree, tall, old, and sturdy. A set of dainty feet nestled into white and silver sandals peered from the base of the trunk. I could recognize them anywhere including the middle of a college demonstration turned riot.

A riot cop barreled into me with his shield, knocking me several feet forward. My face landed into the fescue, two small pebbles indented my forehead. I started crawling, now only a few feet from her.

“Dad.”

Her tinny, scared voice muzzled by the chaos, struck me. I reached for her hand. We pulled on each other until I was with her near the tree and inches from the metal stage. I huddled next to her, grabbed her face and pulled it into mine, kissing her forehead, and then wiping away blood from a small cut next to her left eye. Her dirty blond hair fell from a ponytail and framed her frightened round face.

“I’m so sorry, dad. I was trying to be like you, caring about stuff, and all.”

I didn’t want her to see me cry. Her tears were enough. I pulled her into me, like when she much younger, and we rocked back and forth for several seconds.

“It’s okay, honey.”

Then, I noticed the writing on the back of her neck. It was a tattoo, still red-skinned, fresh from application, running down the back of her neck. It was Shakespeare.

Love all

Trust a few

Do wrong to none

She murmured between sobs.

“I’m so sorry. I was going to tell you about the tattoo.”

I smiled, read it again, then kissed her cheek.

“It’s better I found out this way.”

We held our hugs until the calamity died down. Then I whispered in her ear.

“The rightness eclipsed every mistake made along the way.”

****blogger’s note****

This is my fictional response to The Speakeasy from Yeah Write http://www.yeahwrite.me/speakeasy/fiction-challenge-158-open/ with the prompt – “The rightness eclipsed every mistake made along the way.” from this movie:

Love In The Time Of Cholera. My piece is also Happy Birthday to both William Shakespeare and Iggy Pop.

Man Out Of Time

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Holidays open social media windows with pictures of manufactured perfection. I field some questions from my kids then gunslinger stare down my phone before backing down. I gave up the fight a long time ago. Now, I just amuse myself with apathy.

This week’s gargleblaster week’s ultimate question: “Tell me something, old friend: why are you fighting?”

Here’s Elvis Costello’s best song. I identify with it so well.

You’re No Good – Five For Friday

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Self-awareness is a superpower. I believe this. One of the things I learned in therapy was if you own your crap, then you can get past it and concentrate on what you’re good at and try to be happy. I suck at a lot of things. But for my friend, fellow writer, and neighbor (she lives in the same town as me), Melissa, aka @realgirlmelissa from Quick Stepp http://melstepp01.wordpress.com/ and a fellow columnist at Lefty Pop http://www.leftypop.com just wants me to list five. For her “Five For Friday” blog hop, here are five things of which I’m no good, at all.

5) Relax. I’m 90 mph all the time. I don’t like sleeping in, lying around, hanging out, or chilling like a villain. When I watch a ballgame, I’m on Twitter, writing, helping my kids, running errands, or folding laundry. I fidget, pace, wander, flutter, loiter and babble. My wife and 3 daughters can sleep half the day and do nothing, very well. Not me.

4) Remember. This started a few years ago due to middle-age but I’ve always sucked at names. I’m great at faces or peculiar things regarding a person. But matching a name to someone is nearly impossible for me. My kids are known as “that one”, “what’s her name”, and “you know, her”. This is usually encompassing people I like and love. So if I forget your name, it’s because I dig you and include you in my wacky world. Roll with it.

3) Art, other than writing. I’m a writer so technically I’m an artist. I’m also a solid bad guitar player. But when it comes to any other artistic pursuits, I’m awful. I can’t draw, paint, sculpt, or design. I’ve taken acting classes, done some improv, and been onstage doing standup comedy 3 times and didn’t bomb, so I guess I can gab, but anything else, I’m terrible. We’re doing a photo shoot for my third book, Woman of Troy, this weekend. My wife, 18-year-old daughter, and her BFF are handling everything.

2) Style. T-shirts and blue jeans do me just fine, thank you. I live with 4 women. They dress me. I’m not allowed to leave the house without their permission. They handle my haircuts, clothes, and demand I wear a beard because they like it. My wife says it’s sexy and my 3 girls say it makes me look like a dad. Honestly? I don’t think they trust me to shave, There was a bloody incident in 2009 that we don’t talk about.

1) Handyman. Let’s be clear. I can do the basics. I was raised the son of a used car dealer and both my grandfathers worked on and sold cars. I can change a flat and tinker with preventative maintenance. My yard is cut. The mower runs. I just changed out a door knob with key lock after an hour of thinking I broke it. Point? I have no patience to be handy. I’ve worked with Habitat With Humanity because I’m a killer liberal but other than hitting nails, don’t trust me with power tools. I’m more of a helper than a builder.

There you go, Melissa. Five things I suck at.

Linda Ronstadt joined Nirvana, KISS, Cat Stevens, Hall & Oates and others in the rock hall last night. Here’s her version of You’re No Good. It’s the best one. I rule at music. So, at least I have that going for me.

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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