Category Archives: feeling sorry for myself

Can We Be Clear?

Mai Ling uses psionic ninja powers to separate the flowers from the weeds, a thing that is not easy to do.

I suppose that if I were to be insightfully honest for a moment, I would have to admit that I am a failed novelist. If you take “success” as meaning “financial success”, the fact that I only make less than five dollars a month for my writing means I am a failure at it. If you specify that success means my books find readers, then evidence would suggest that my books are mostly ignored. A majority of those who have responded favorably to my work are actually members of the nudist community on Twitter. I admit that I have cultivated that a bit with nudist characters in about a fourth of my books. But that is a result of having experienced fascinating people and situations that I felt I had to write about because I happened to meet, totally by chance, interesting nudists in real life.

I have lost a lot of writing-community followers on Twitter because of my interactions with Twitter nudists. My work gets dismissed on occasion because your standard teacher-turned-writer on Twitter, usually female and usually fundamentalist Christian, doesn’t want to be contaminated by sinful nudist associations. Ah, such a life. But I don’t wish to destroy anyone’s faith in a God who will apparently burn them for an eternity in Hell if they are tempted to frolic with no clothes on. I would rather be blocked by them on Twitter than have them give up on whatever paradise they are pursuing.

But I am basically on the Brad Bird side of the argument about whether or not you can choose to be a hero even if others will see you as a monster. My fiction does not cause demonic possession and probably does not cause spontaneous bouts of joyful nudism either. Even my werewolf story, which was too much for one potential reviewer, does not have actual werewolves in it. Although it does describe some things that really happened to me as a child in a fictionalized, sort-of-truthful way.

So, by those criteria, I judge myself to be a failed writer.

But I am definitely not giving up on writing in despair. Those were never the reasons I wrote novels to begin with.

I write because I have something to say to the world and stories to tell. And I mean to have my say, even if the world is too stone-deaf and stupefied to listen.

I have things to say about living and learning.

I have things to say about finding love, and losing love, and finding it again.

I have things to say about how I think the world works, and why I’m pretty sure I’m completely wrong about all of that. And what I intend to do about it.

To that end, I have started writing a book full of essays like the stuff and garbage and lovely wisdom I write in this goofy little blog. And I shall call it Laughing Blue. Because, you know, nobody is going to read it anyway, and I can call it whatever the heck I want to call it.

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Filed under autobiography, blog posting, commentary, feeling sorry for myself, irony, philosophy

Dark Thinking

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On a quiet back street in Toonerville there is a haunted house.  Obviously four meddling kids and their talking dog are looking around inside, but they won’t find anything.  It is my dark place.  I am the only one that can go inside and discover what truly is there, for the dark things inside are all a part of the dark side of Mickey.

But Mickey doesn’t have a dark side, you try and argue.  Micky is all goofy giggles and nerdy Dungeons and Dragons jokes.  Mickey is all cartoons and silly stories and he makes us all guffaw.

But I can assure you, everyone has a dark side.  Without darkness, how can anyone recognize the light?

So, I have to go inside the old Ghost House every now and then and take stock of all the furniture, and make note of everyone… and every thing that has been living there.  I go in there now because I am starting to rewrite a very dark story that I really have to get down on paper in novel form.  It isn’t a true story.  Ghost stories never are.  But it is full of true things… old hurts, old fears, panics, and ghosts of Christmases Past.

There was the night I was stalked by a large black dog when I was nine and walking home from choir practice at the Methodist Church.  We are talking Hound of the Baskervilles sort of big damn dog.  I knew every dog that lived in town in those days, but I didn’t know that one. Maybe it wasn’t actually hunting me, but I ran the last two blocks to my house that night faster than I ever knew I could run before.

There was that cool autumn afternoon when he grabbed me and pushed me down behind a pile of tractor tires in the neighbor’s yard.  He forcibly got my pants down… and what he did to me… It has taken more than forty years to be able to talk about what happened.  I wasn’t able to talk about it until after I learned that he had died.

There were the nights spent in the emergency room.  Severe potassium depletion… chest pains that could’ve been heart trouble but weren’t… The morning when my blood pressure was so high I thought I was going to die in front of my second period seventh grade English class.  And the terrible waits in the emergency room when someone I loved was serious about suicide… that was the most terrible of all.

I am not frightened by the grim reaper in the same way that Shaggy and Scooby are.  I have spent time in his company too many times for that.  I do not fear him.  In some ways he brings welcome relief.  And I do believe I can beat him in chess and at least tie him in checkers.

So, yeah, the dark resources are all still there… still in place at the bottom of a deep, dark well. Bad things do wait in the future… but they are in the present and the past also.  I am not a slave to fear and evil has no power over me.  So, I think I can safely write a horror story.  And I admit I am not Steven King.  But I don’t want to be him.  I want to be Mickey.  And that is certainly scary enough for me.

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Filed under autobiography, battling depression, Depression, feeling sorry for myself, ghost stories, horror writing, humor, novel plans, photo paffoonies

The Quest for Acceptance

We all are on a Quest to find our place in this world. We labor hard at trying to get other people to see us as the people we think we are.

Of course, we always fail.

The problem is, first of all, that we are not even remotely… usually… the person we think we are. Sure, we put that clown paint on our face in the mirror, and we think we look funny. But since sitting in front of the mirror we ate a sandwich and smeared the red around the lips. and we rubbed our left eye with a gloved left hand and didn’t even realize it.

The first wide-eyed child we meet screams and runs away from their parents. To her we looked like some sort of vampire clown who eats children for lunch.

And the parents threaten to call the police because they insist we were leering, not knowing we suffered gas pains at the moment because that damned sandwich had red peppers in it, and we are allergic, now approaching intestinal distress.

So, we run and hide for a while.

What’s that, you say? I’m not talking about you? That never happened to you?

Well, it didn’t really happen to me, either. It was a ding-danged metaphor gone rogue and taking over the post just like you would expect an evil vampire-clown to do.

Harker Dawes, owner of the worst hardware store in Iowa.

The thing is, I have always wanted to be a storyteller. And not just any storyteller, but an extra-funny, goofy-clown of a storyteller. And not a vampire-clown either.

But it’s not easy to be funny every day.

I was the teacher that middle-school kids loved because I had a laughing classroom. I used humor to get the point across. And most of my discipline strategies were to head off bad behavior before it actually happened. Get them to laugh rather than act out.

But even then, there were bad days and sad days sprinkled into every week.

Of course, now that I am retired, I no longer have a captive audience to play to and force to laugh at my jokes with the threat of perpetual after-school detention.

The only audience laughing at my jokes now is the imaginary one in my head. And maybe the three people who read my Twitter tweet-wittiness. And of course the six or seven people who bother to actually read my posts on WordPress.

I have twenty books published, the first of which, displayed above by plastic Batgirl, is Catch a Falling Star. That one is about an alien invasion of a small town in Iowa by totally incompetent aliens. The aliens get blitzen-schmuntzed when they kidnap a child specimen from the town who turns out to be more dangerous to their way of life than any Navy Seal could manage, and accidentally leave one of their own tadpoles on Earth to be adopted by a childless farm couple.

The book won two awards from the publisher, Editor’s Choice and Rising Star Awards, which basically means that they appreciate all the money I spent on editorial services and marketing advisors. The book is not a best-seller. In fact, I have made sixteen little dollars on it since it was published in 2013. And I-Universe Publishing does not send out a check for less than $25, so they are still holding on to my money. And very few people read my books. Fewer still buy them.

Anyway, we keep trying. We are on a Quest. And some day, some way, somebody is bound to accept us. As what is yet to be determined.

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Filed under autobiography, clowns, feeling sorry for myself, humor, irony, novel writing, writing humor

Naked Disappointments

It happens a lot in the course of a long life. And sixty-four and three quarters-years is a long life as far as I’m concerned. But still, disappointments come hard.

They come harder when you’re a child. Two years is forever when you are only six. Four years would seem like your whole life. But even though I know there is a good chance the thing longed for will eventually be possible, it is still hard to wait even longer.

I confess now that I had a perfectly evil plan for last weekend while my wife is off at a religious conference in California. You see, she wants nothing to do with my crazy obsession with being a nudist. So, if I want to go to the nudist park again, I can’t expect her to go along or have anything to do with it.

It has been four years since I went to Bluebonnet Nudist Park for the first time in July of 2017. That trip, which I enjoyed very much, was directly followed by a trip to the hospital for an EKG reading that indicated a possible heart attack and turned out not to be a heart attack after all. After a week’s stay in a hospital room under the care of a cardiologist, and there was a little matter of being sued for an unpaid debt by Bank of America,

that was followed up before 2017 was over with my personal bankruptcy.

So, my wife is now on a sort of vacation without me, and I wanted to go be naked with other naked people for the second time ever last Saturday. It would’ve been a day with more of Bluebonnet’s members present than the day I went before. I was hoping to meet and get to know other people who believe relaxing in a natural setting together with no clothes on is a healthy, healing thing to do.

Number two son got sick, however, with a virus that might’ve been Covid, even though he has been vaccinated. And while we were quarantined, awaiting the test results, I came down with that virus too. Needless to say, I was disappointed in having to cancel my evil plan. Of course, I could’ve simply put it off till this holiday weekend. But I am not completely recovered. I developed skin sores that would not have reacted well to sunscreen or sunburn if I tried it without sunscreen. So, plan cancelled.

Of course, the disappointments in the title are plural. And I did not write about this topic only to show off my ability to draw pen-and-ink nudes. (Although that reason certainly played a role in the decision.)

From the 7th of July to the 16th, my wife was going to take me to Iowa to see my octogenarian mother for the first time in two years, thanks to the pandemic. I was going to get the chance to see my father’s grave site and headstone. I was going to see my sisters. And…

Well…

The notice now on the table waiting for my wife’s return says the county tax assessor wants to hold a hearing on the value of our house and property in Denton, on the 12th.

It seems like I have waited forever. And things are simply not destined to go my way. I guess I just have to keep my britches on and hang on for another time.

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Filed under artwork, autobiography, feeling sorry for myself, humor, nudes, Paffooney

Cartoonity

“My name is Michael Beyer, and I am an amateur cartoonist.”

“Hi, Michael!” says the entire group of CA group-therapy participants.

(CA stands for Cartoonists Anonymous.)

Doofy Fuddbugg

“I have to admit, I am guilty of giving in to the urge to draw cartoons. I know how it can fill lives with slapstick pain and derisive laughter, and I give in to the urge anyway.”

“So, what did you draw that you have to be ashamed of now?” asked one mad-eyed cartoonist with a pencil lodged behind each of his large ears.

“I made a very unfortunate video to post on YouTube that was supposed to be How-to-draw Cartooning. But everything went wrong. You couldn’t see my drawings in the video. It was not adequately lit. I look like a doofus (which probably can’t be cured) in the video. And instead of thinking twice or editing it, I posted it anyway.”

“Wow!” said a rather ugly cartoonist lady, “that is really bad. You have a seriously bad case of cartoonity.”

“Cartoonity?” I responded stupidly.

“The condition of needing love for your cartoons so bad that you will risk anything to make people look at them and like them,” said the wise group therapist (who looked an awful lot like Chuck Jones, though I am fairly sure Chuck Jones is now dead).

“Yes, I suppose that’s about the size of the problem,” I said. “I have been posting pages from my graphic novel, Hidden Kingdom, and I really haven’t seen more than one comment about it. Do people actually read cartoons and comics nowadays? Or is it just me that gets ignored?”

“You have to focus on how much you love drawing and doing it just for that reason, and nothing beyond that,” said the wise therapist. “Cartooning should be done for its own sake, and nothing more than that. Craving attention and approval for it can get seriously infected and become a bad case of cartoonititis. How do you think I dealt with it when I was still alive?”

At that point, my eyes popped out of my head in disbelief and my lower jaw fell all the way to the floor. Could he really be…?

And so I must end today’s blog post since it is hard to keep typing when your eyeballs are rolling around on the floor.

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Filed under artwork, autobiography, cartoons, cartoony Paffooney, feeling sorry for myself, humor, Paffooney

Forever Fumbling Forward

What do I really think the future holds? That’s a question where, if I answer it truthfully, I will be told, “You should not think that, stupid man! What good does it do to be that negative? Lighten up or we’ll burn you at the stake for evil thinking.”

Okay, okay. I get it. The truth makes you afraid. And it should.

As California, Arizona, and Nevada, as well as the aliens working with the military-industrial complex at Area 51, are all burning up with record heat, drought, and wildfires, we are definitely going to need to find a new, cooler place to live.

Maybe a planet in the Tau Ceti system. Tau Ceti is a star system with a solitary G-class Star only 12 light years (3.7 parsecs) away. Do you think the Tau Cetians will mind us colonizing. Or do the Republicans plan on simply invading?

Or there is Mars. But do you really think Elon Musk will be willing to share? And we do have to figure out how to breath mostly carbon dioxide to thrive there. Or do the Republicans plan on just taking a lot of stinky Earth air with them? That’s still a matter of learning to breathe carbon dioxide, along with methane cow farts and whatever chemical crap Dow and Monsanto have been burning and pumping into our atmosphere.

But you know full well the Republicans are not planning to spend any of their vast fortunes earned by all their hard work investing money in stocks and avoiding taxes to take the rest of us along wherever they plan to go. They will leave us behind to enjoy the climate change catastrophe that they have worked so hard to convince us is still not happening.

But all of that doesn’t mean I necessarily believe we are all gonna die a horribly hot death being unable to breathe on the garbage ball that Republican Space Forces will leave us all behind on. Not necessarily… just probably.

But I do have a certain amount of faith in the ability of people who actually have beating hearts in their chests rather than empty spots for installing safes packed with gold bars to use their problem-solving abilities to teach us all about carbon recapture, solar and wind power, carbon sequestration, air scrubbers, vertical farming, and reforestation. Before we get a total grip on weather control, we may have to move into underwater cities and spend some time countering the acidification of the oceans. We will also have to apply conservational farming practices to fish and kelp and shellfish, because if we let the oceans go sterile and lifeless, we’ll all be doomed anyway.

Human beans (of course, I meant to say “beings,” as I would never get that wrong on purpose only for the sake of a bad pun) are better under pressure than you probably believe. We have survived terrible things before. And, I am sorry, T.S. Elliot, but it is more likely to end with a bang rather than a whimper. Beans in the pressure cooker explode rather than deflate or dissolve. We will succeed in becoming successful carbon-dioxide-breathing baked bean-people or go out with an impressive bang while trying.

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Filed under angry rant, commentary, feeling sorry for myself, humor, Paffooney, pessimism

The Curse of the Empath

You will have to forgive me for the nude art in this post, but empathy is something that makes you emotionally naked before the whole world. Especially if you are fool enough to write about it. And I am definitely fool enough.

Part of what makes a teacher good at her or his job is the amount of empathy they are cursed with. I have to admit that some people who work with kids are demanding, strict, harsh, and have absolutely no empathy at all. And some of them are among the best teachers there are, especially if they are sports coaches, foreign language teachers, or math teachers. They put you firmly through the discipline and make you know your stuff. Or they break you down and rebuild you so that you are stronger than before.

And there are those teachers who, on rare occasions, have too much empathy. Those teachers are the ones that cry hard when the principal has to bail them out of jail because they confessed to the crime of burglary at the motel because they happened to learn that Jose actually did it and Jose’s home life is hard because his family is so poor they have a dirt floor in their home and no working plumbing. Jose can’t possibly deserve prison, and they feel it in their hearts. And somehow they believe that, if only given a break, Jose will be an angel. Their hearts tell them things that a working brain could never accept.

But the average to good teachers, the ones who can lay claim to the appellation of “competent,” have to have a very clear idea of what it feels like to be a kid in their classes. They have to know what hurts and what heals and how you have to talk to a kid to make him feel better when he accidentally pooped his pants in class due to medical challenges. Or how to make that shy girl who rarely talks in class feel empowered when she correctly identifies Scout’s motivation when she defies Calpurnia, her nanny, to help out a friend in the book, To Kill a Mockingbird. Average to good teachers always walk into the classroom knowing that every kid in the room is mentally and emotionally naked for most of the school day… no matter how many layers of clothing they may be covering it up with.

And it is not easy being in rooms full of naked kids every day if you have more than the minimum share of empathy. Empathy makes you feel what they are feeling, all the anger, disgust, fear, sadness, anticipation, joy, and sorrow… all the embarrassing feelings brought on by being emotionally naked in front of peers and teachers… and that hot-looking new girl from California. You feel their pain. You feel their awkwardness. And if they are a wicked little pervert, you feel sick to your stomach as you realize you are seeing them as their least-acceptable, naked self.

And the curse doesn’t just end at the close of the school day.

You have to know going in that if you watch that Disney movie on TV you are going to cry at least three times, possibly endure heart-wrenching angst twice, and laugh unattractively like SpongeBob more times than you can count. And those are only fictional people. Curse it, you even cry during telephone commercials. Your daughter tells you about seeing the cyclists in the park almost run over a skunk, and you can practically smell it and feel the nausea in your gut. Your dog whines about the empty food dish and you feel that too. All because of the curse of empathy. If you have it, you are going to feel whatever they feel, whoever they are. Even if you don’t really want to.

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Ah, the Doctor Says…

Today I saw the doctor for a physical, with new insurance and new hope. I have survived the pandemic, so there is reason to think I am not immediately doomed for the next month or two.

Of course, you know that old men my age have to endure doctor fingers in places you would prefer fingers didn’t have to go. And you wonder why you have to turn your head and cough. Does Dr. Fingers find that amusing somehow? But my plumbing is working for now without the total Roto-Rooter job I was promised fifteen years ago.

And as far as the diabetes that is the most likely of my six incurable diseases to kill me goes, I have to wait on the bloodwork to find out. But my feet appeared to Dr. Fingers to not be on the verge of falling off. The diabetic foot care I have been religiously doing with holy diabetic socks, hot foot baths, duly pious daily foot massages, and careful infection-awareness-inspections of foot sores, has actually been working. The circulation in my feet is still good, even without magic crystals or sacrifices to arcane demigods.

Of course, he wants to put me back on drugs again. And after I had thoroughly gotten myself cold-turkey clean. Blood pressure drugs to ratchet up the valves that make my engine run without exploding. Arthritis medicine that might lessen the pain without exploding my heart. And cholesterol medicine that won’t turn my arms and legs and spine into wooden planks. Of course, he will investigate which drugs will net the highest amounts of drug-company kickbacks without actually killing me first. And he promised to consider my state of Chapter 13 bankruptcy too, because he can’t collect fees from homeless bums on the street. So, insulin is probably still not an option.

My doctor, however, is not Groucho Marx, and definitely not Harpo. So we will have to see if he turns out to be Chico, or one of the two Marx brothers that nobody remembers. (Zeppo and Gummo… I bet you thought I didn’t remember either, huh?)

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Filed under autobiography, commentary, feeling sorry for myself, health, humor

Living in the Spider Kingdom

Life seems to be getting harder and harder. And I realize that a big part of that perception is the fact that my health is deteriorating quickly. This is a humor blog, but it has been getting more and more serious and more and more grim as the grim reaper becomes more and more a central character in my own personal story.

My perception of reality, however, is best explained by a passage in a novel that spoke to me in college. It comes from the novel, the Bildungsroman by Thomas Mann called Der Zauberberg, in English, The Magic Mountain. In the scene, Hans Castorp is possibly freezing to death, and he hallucinates a pastoral mountainside scene where children are happily playing in the sunshine. Possibly Heaven? But maybe not. As he goes into a stone building and finds a passage down into the ground, he sees wrinkled, ugly, horrible hags gathered around a child’s corpse, eating it. And this vision explains the duality at the center of the meaning of life.

For every good thing, there is an equal and opposite bad thing that balances it our. There is no understanding what perfection and goodness mean without knowing profanity and evil. Just as you can’t understand hot without cold nor light without darkness. And you don’t get to overturn the way it is. You try your hardest to stay on the heads side of the coin knowing that half the time life falls to tails.

So, what good does it do me to think about and write about things like this? Well, it makes for me a sort of philosophical gyroscope that spins and dances and helps me keep my balance in the stormy sea of daily life. I deal with hard things with humor and a sense of literary irony. I make complex metaphors that help me throw a rope around the things that hurt me.

We are living now in the Spider Kingdom. Hard times are here again. The corrupt and corpulent corporate spiders are spinning the many webs we are trapped in. As metaphorical as it is, we wouldn’t have the government we currently have and be suffering the way we are if that weren’t true.

But no bad thing nor no good thing lasts forever. The wheel goes round and round. The top of the wheel reaches the bottom just as often as the bottom returns to the top. So, it will all pass if we can only hold out long enough.

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The Man with One White Eye

I might be going blind. With a year and a half to go to finish paying off my Chapter 13 bankruptcy, I don’t have the money to pay off the eye specialist the ophthalmologist referred me to in order to get my glaucoma treated.

Odin traded one eye to gain wisdom.

What do you suppose I can get for two?

If you look someone in the eye, you can see revealed the light and the darkness that person carries within. You can tell if someone is thoughtful and intelligent or reckless and stupid by gauging it in their eyes.

Look at these eyes above. What do you see?

One has warm, brown eyes, looking directly at me… evaluating, pondering, imagining me.

The other has chilly blue eyes, looking past me… probably seeing only what’s in his head… not actually me.

If I go blind, I will no longer be able to see that, appreciate that, or even draw that anymore.

Of course, the power of that depends more upon the mind doing the looking then the eyes that take in the light and the details.

I have a chance to be okay on that second score, the mind behind the eyes. I have a good one that has had a lot of practice interpreting the world I see. And I have learned more than a few things that I can still teach and pass on to those I leave behind me.

Thirty-one years as a public school teacher means I have already taught a lot of things to a lot of people.

And I now have 19 books published, with two more I may be able to finish and publish before May of 2021 is through.

Those represent things that I can do to continue to teach the world even after my eyes are no longer working… or even if my light has entirely left the world in the near future. Of course, a lot depends on people reading what I wrote. Still, I feel good about that. I got a five-star review on Amazon from my book The Baby Werewolf just today. And the comments prove the reader actually read the book and liked it for its good qualities.

Wisdom, of course, has little value if it is never passed on. How much have you benefitted from the wisdom of Soren Kierkegaard? Do you even know who he is? Notice too, the students of Chiron in the picture, do not seem to be paying any attention at all to the lecture from the scroll of ancient wisdom. Heracles is practicing with his bow. Theseus is grinning to himself about wrestling. And Jason and Achilles are telling each other jokes about guys that have a horse’s butt instead of a man’s. ( Teaching, of course, is always like that.)

But the man with one white eye, one blinded eye, Odin, has earned his wisdom. And he gives it freely as a gift.

So, just think what wonderful gifts I might be able to provide by next Christmas if I lose both eyes. (Of course, I am not suggesting I am secretly Santa Claus… And if you can prove that I am, well… that puts you on the Naughty List.)

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Filed under commentary, Depression, feeling sorry for myself, humor, Paffooney, philosophy, wisdom