I have been doing most of these Saturday art posts from my WordPress library of images. I generally try to organize around a theme. Having exhausted myself at Vivian Field Middle School yesterday, school-ish pictures are my theme for the day.
I have a tendency to think in pictures, and these are all school thoughts of one kind or another.
Some of my favorite students over the many years in the classroom were major nerds.
I liked them mostly because they were the same exact species as I was when I was a monkey-house-aged student.
Monkey-house is a synonym for Middle School.
Wally shared my obsession with Japanese anime and could draw them better than I could. He was a major nerd. And a totally enthusiastic learner whom other students treated like he was radioactive. I always had time for him when he needed to talk to someone. He was a teacher’s kid at a time when my own son was still little.
The link above is still capable of giving you a free copy of this e-book until midnight on Tuesday, November 12th, 2019. By all means, click on it and get yourself the free Kindle e-book.
I write this plea as my third free e-book promotion is half-way done. It is, as expected, failing miserably. As of this writing, the promotion using Facebook and Twitter has managed to give away six free books. And one of those is me grabbing a free e-book for my own free Kindle reader on my laptop. So, basically, I can’t give away copies of my own book for free.
But writing this book was not a matter of making myself famous or wealthy or even acknowledged as a good writer. Those are not the things I need. I wrote this story because I myself have been badly damaged by life. I was sexually assaulted by an older boy when I was ten. I had teenage bouts of depression that nearly made me end myself. My sex-life did not develop normally and led to chronic prostatitis and the precursor to “Priests’ disease”, a prostate gland the size of a grapefruit. Yes, it may ultimately end in prostate cancer. And then when I finally made a family for myself in my late middle years, I was besieged by depression again, this time not my own, but others in my family. So, in many ways, I have lived a sad life.
The novel itself is a means to self-healing and recording how I rebuilt myself using love, laughter, and artistry. The singing orphan boy wearing clown paint and singing only sad songs is a metaphor for me and my struggle. The clowns that haunt the main characters’ dreams are also a metaphor. I was always known as the laughing teacher, the one who joked around in class, and let laughing grow into a means of instruction in the English classroom. I used humor to make learning painless. I used it to take away many other kinds of pain as well. The book is about how a family can be healed by someone who has nothing, yet selflessly gives everything to make that family come together and be whole. It is a story, just as the introduction claims, about what love really means.
But the world is stacked against lying truth-tellers like me who make up stories only to heal themselves. Facebook stopped me from messaging everybody who is a Facebook friend whom I wanted to send the book link from Amazon. They called it spamming, which really means, “advertising something on Facebook without paying Facebook lots of money.” I discovered on Twitter that sending the link in DMs makes more of my followers stop following me than it makes followers click on the link to obtain a free book. Ah, disappointment again. At least I gave away three more books than I did on the last promotion.
So, this is like a blacklight, shining on my promotional inspiration. It only shows in ultraviolet the opposite of what I thought I would see. And it resigns me once again to be only ignored as a writer of novels. I suppose it is my proper place in life.
Sometimes we need to get lost in the music of our lives and simply drift away.
My favorite baseball team won their division this year. And in the first round of the playoffs, well, they won the first game and lost the next two. They are not dead yet, but close… Will it be a matter of life and death for me? No. I have seen the Cardinals win the World Series four times in my life. I saw the Blues win their first Stanley Cup this year. I have even seen the hapless football Cardinals play in the Superbowl against the Steelers, and almost win, but lose in the final minute. Wow! I am fully satisfied. And my love has been requited. I can get lost in the song… and drift away.
Truthfully, I never thought that I would be able to teach again when I retired from the job I loved. Yet, the need for supplemental income was forcing me to work again. And as an Uber driver, I was risking my sanity and my life to make… well, not enough money. But now, I am going back to schools as a substitute teacher. The orientation for the CFBISD schools will be this coming Wednesday. And after I attend that, I can go back to classrooms and earn money by teaching, when I can. I don’t have to go in and work every day. I can pick and choose. So, times of illness are not a big whoop. Money worries are now dissolving a bit… and I can drift away.
In my writing quest, I have published all the books I identified as the ones I most needed to publish. I will soon be making the Kindle version of Sing Sad Songs free to click on and own via Amazon. I definitely have more stories to tell and more books in me, but if I died today, putting my stories out there in the world… I am satisfied with what I have already done. I am ready to let go, and get caught up in the never-ending song… and drift away.
So, what is this post actually saying? I love the song. And like the song says, the world out there is hard to live with. But if you give me the beat to free my soul… I can drift away. I am at peace. Life has been good.
Let me begin by reminding you that the only head I have to explore as an example of what I am talking about in this essay is my own stupid head.
So, this is not an insult post. This is self-deprecating humor. And therefore, the contents of your own stupid head are completely safe.
Now, there is considerable evidence in the books already that Mickey is not, and has not been, particularly stupid for a large portion of his time on earth. He got college scholarships based on his ACT and SAT scores to get his undergraduate degree for free (in the 1970’s when it was significantly cheaper than now). And he has been both a teacher in a gifted program and the middle-school coordinator of that same gifted program. So, Mickey has effectively fooled everybody into thinking he is not stupid. But consider for a moment where the laughs come from when watching Stephen Urkel on TV, or the four nerds from Big Bang Theory. Smart people do stupid things and are very awkward at times, proving that, no matter how smart they are, smart people are capable of being quite stupid.
What, then, is the stupid thinking in Mickey’s stupid head?
Well, there are a number of things. Mickey is, as you may know if you read any of his nudity blogs, obsessed with nakedness. He was assaulted as a child in a way that caused him to be afraid of nudity and slow-developing in sexuality. As he grew older, he had to compensate for this lack of natural development. So, he has reached an age where his brain stupidly rejects guard-rails when talking about nudity and sex. He has convinced himself that he wants to be a nudist, and writes about nudity constantly, as evidenced by this very paragraph. When Mark Twain was in his seventies, he did leave the house without remembering to wear clothes more than once. The neighbors did not compliment him for doing that. That and worse is probably in Mickey’s near future.
And sex, as a subject sloshing around in a brain awash with hormones and other nightmare chemical imbalances, leads to a rash of stupid decisions. Of course, Mickey is old and has had chronic prostatitis long enough to eliminate the possibility of making a stupid decision about infidelity since those body parts don’t actually work anymore, but it leads to buying numerous things sold by marketers using sex as a way to sell things. Cabinets full of hair gel and cologne and Herbalife products that can never be used up is the result. And the wife is frustrated with the foods Mickey is constantly addicted to. “Why so much chips and salsa, Mickey?” Chips and salsa? Hubba hubba!
And Mickey’s old brain, full of a vast quantity of useless trivia-type knowledge, random wisdom floating around in a disconnected fashion, and prejudices formed by a bizarre obsession with things like nudism, Disney movies, comic books, model trains, and doll-collecting, becomes strangely creative. He begins to believe weird things.
For example, he thinks rabbits, if they were suddenly transformed into people, would make better people than people ever do. They are mostly quiet most of the time. They eat an all-vegetable, healthy diet. And they don’t vote Republican.
He obsessively also thinks about how his mind is working and how thinking about thinking is likely to improve thinking. He even realizes that the map of his head, provided above, doesn’t accurately reflect the many branching corridors and dead-end hallways of his actually-complicated-yet-stupid mind. He thinks that thinking too much about thinking makes you stupid.
And finally, Mickey is left with a sense of wonder about how it is entirely possible that everybody is stupid at least part of the time. And he wonders what possible things that you, dear reader, are thinking about that you consider at least somewhat stupid? You are welcome to tell him in the comments. But remember, this post is about stupid thoughts in Mickey’s head. You are perfectly free not to worry about your own stupidity.
As my life continues, long past the time I figured I would be allowed to live by my six incurable diseases, I find myself living more and more inside my own head. Truly, my failing physical health has isolated me more and more from the people I know and have relationships with. Instead of spending hours upon hours at work every week, I find myself confined to my bedroom where I maintain breathable air, doing little beyond reading and writing, watching movies and shows on Netflix, dreaming, remembering, and imagining. My “real-world” life has been ever the less active and ever more confined to a small space. But in my head, the opposite is true. I have lived in memory; revisiting places that have been changed or torn down since, and spending time with people whom I still see as children even though they are now grown in real life with children of their own, and spending time talking to people who live no more, anywhere but in my memory.
Some of those to whom I am talking are actually me, fictionalized versions of me, imagined as if something different had happened to me, or I had chosen different roads less traveled than the ones I actually walked upon.
Some are, naturally, people whom I have loved, seen through different colored lenses than I saw them when I saw them with my physical eyes.
And it is most definitely possible to see and re-interpret the things that happened to us in a very different light than the ones I saw it all in during the 1960’s and 1970’s. It helps to be able to put on the old time-traveler’s glasses to look again, not at how it really was, but how it really ought to be.
Everything I have just rambled on about in run-on sentences of purple paisley prose, is writer-thinking. It is the very thing that most probably goes on in your head too, since you are likely only reading this blog post because you are a writer too, and you find value in the ramblings of an old man who used to be a writing teacher and is now, very definitely, one of the goofier varieties of writer whom you can learn significant lessons from (even if only what not to do, because you are not as stupid as I am when it comes to writing).
I often live, as well, in the part of my head that is entirely made-up from galvanized, sauteed, or even moldy pieces of imagination. I live in places like the Mothership of the Telleron Explorers now in orbit around the planet Galtorr Prime. Or Animal Town in the middle of the country of Fantastica where I met my wife, seen here as Mandy Panda from the Pandalore Islands.
Or even in the Willow-Tree Fortress known as Cair Tellos, the Capital of the Fairy Kingdom of Tellosia in Wright County, Iowa.
Living in the world when your body betrays you constantly can be horrible and hard. But living inside your head is easy. And I actually plan to do more of it before the final page is turned in the Book of my Life.
Well, the plumbing leaks a little bit, but it hasn’t exploded and gushed water all over the bathroom in over a week.
The Cardinals are leading their division by three games in the final weeks of the season. True, the Cubs and the Milwaukee Brewers are both close on their heels and both having winning streaks that prove they are capable of overtaking the Cards. The division is within reach, but not yet won.
I have been invited to substitute teacher orientation next month, so the possibility of returning to classrooms is also within reach for me. That will solve some money troubles and give me a chance to do something I love once again.
Nothing is ever guaranteed in life. Not working plumbing. Not having a winning team to root for. Not being well enough to earn money for the thing I was born to do.
But bad things are not the only things that happen in life. Sometimes you get a chance to cheer. A chance to celebrate. Sometimes life is good. So, we keep living and hoping, and enjoying what we can when we can… sometimes with a can of Gatorade.