My title for today is a bad pun. It is because the phrase “Sick Humor” has two meanings. I tend to get punny when my nose is runny. I have been sick for a week. Not actually flu, but a bad cold that seems pretty close. And, of course, close counts with horseshoes, flu, and hand grenades. I have been stuck at home, able to do little beyond watch the impeachment clown-show. And, of course, by watching, getting punnier and punnier.
You get punny enough and you tend to feel bigger than you are, primarily because you get full of natural gas that comes out of your mouth… and of course, out of somewhere else too. And if you let it all out of the mouth at once… where it pollutes the general atmosphere and makes it hard to breathe… or if you let it out of the other place… where it can be potentially explosive… you will deflate a lot, and get very, very small.
But, really, it is a matter of absurd comparisons (and also Republican impairisons) as words are twisted to make them funny (as in “oddly seeming” and not as in “really ha-ha!”) and criminals are called “honest brokers” and the coppers are tarnished as “deep-state delusionals”.
You are supposed to take medicine when you are sick. And laughter is the best medicine. But don’t laugh at idiots. Idiots with lots of money will hurt you. They will hurt you financially. They will hurt you physically. They can’t necessarily beat you up because it looks bad… and maybe because of bone spurs. But they can hire lots of somebodies to do it for them. And they can take over your government.
The sickness in the White House has no cure. The cancer will not be excised. It will kill us all. Sometimes the humor is sick. And sometimes the jokes are not funny. And the biggest joke will be when the Senate declares the cancer not life-threatening. The joke will be on us.
I am sick. I am trying to laugh it off. But it’s tough. Maybe I will look for funnier clowns to watch.
The greatest tragedy known to man is the finely-tuned instrument that is merely sitting, barely active, when instead it should be soaring to heights never seen before.
It is a real shame that so much of human endeavor is bent towards the accumulation of wealth… And when the lucky few reach the pinnacle of that wealth-acquisition, measured in billions, they choose to hoard it and salt it away for their own exclusive use rather than solve problems like poverty, hunger, ignorance, pollution, violence, and want. The act of creation, being musical, artistic, literary, or profound, is given so little value that the idea of the starving artist is an idea that exists in every head.
I fear that far too many people don’t t truly understand what value means. For life to be worth living, you have to have priorities that justify mankind’s very existence. Surely we were not created… by either God or an indifferent random universe… to merely exist like the blue-green lichen that graces the bark of a rotting stump, or to elect Donald Trump as President just so we can see smarty-pants liberal elitists chopped down by a corrupt plague of racist frogs. The tragedy lies in the knowing… or the not knowing.
Perhaps you recognize Beethoven’s 9th Symphony when you hear the Dah-Dah-Dah-Dummm! of death knocking in that familiar musical phrase. But do you recognize the pastoral beauty of the sunshine-and-rain-filled 5th Symphony? Or have you heard the sorrow and the striving of daily life in the city streets depicted in the 7th Symphony (offered above)? If not, why not? How can you listen to any of it and not hear the many underlined reasons that it is considered among the greatest music ever created? And that by a man who was mildly insane and eventually stone deaf, unable to hear his own music anywhere but in his imagination?
I have reached a point in my life that I cannot do much beyond sit and think such thoughts. I am limited in how I can move and what work I can do by my ever-more-painful arthritis, stinging me in every joint. I am also limited by lack of money in where I can go and what I can afford to do. But I refuse to be that finely-tuned instrument that does not make much in the way of music. Hence, an essay like this one today. It is me, using my words to the best of my ability, to fill the sky with hopelessly beautiful attempts at making the stars twinkle.
It was a lonely day. My family was away. My Thanksgiving dinner was purchased at the drive-thru at Jack in the Box. Just me and the dog, hanging out with Netflix. I watched what I wanted to. The dog complained there were no dogs in the shows. There was a monkey. But that didn’t impress the dog.
I have had time to write. And I have made progress. I reached 35,000 words on my work-in-progress. I watched a really good movie in the theater in Lewisville.
But what am I truly thankful for?
My wife and I are headed towards separation. I am bankrupt and must pay off my bankruptcy in the next two and a half years. I am in terrible health. I am forced to earn extra money in order to keep making all the payments I must make. Working is hard because my diabetes and arthritis both interfere. No one reads my books beyond a few random discoverers of the power of the stories I tell. And it all will probably end sooner rather than later. I may be developing cancer again. Diabetes may be wrecking my heart, or possibly setting me up for a stroke. It will all be over soon… probably.
But my hardships are what I am thankful for.
Pain reminds me that I am still alive, and dealing with pain makes me stronger to live a little longer.
Sadness reminds me that there are people and endeavors that I truly love and care deeply about. My sadness is proof that I have really known love.
Being poor and nearly destitute reminds me to take stock of all I do have, and to make the wisest possible use of all that is left to me.
I am not homeless.
I have a wife and kids. My parents are both still alive. My brother and my two sisters are still thriving. The dog still loves me. Some of my people do too.
I am free to think and feel and be… no matter what the thoughts and feelings and facts of my being are.
It is true that some people are luckier than I, have more than I do. But more people are given a lot less in life. And what I am truly thankful for is the greatest gift I have been given. I have the honor of being me, and I actually know what that means, who that person is.That is a rare and priceless gift.
It’s a good book. It is themed with an interesting idea about hopes and dreams, happiness and sorrow, and life and death. I believe people will like it if they try reading it. In fact, it could become popular if people would allow themselves to fall in love with it and promote it by word of mouth.
The problem is, of course, that even though I am a good writer and storyteller, I suck at marketing.
Seriously, I worked with editors on Catch a Falling Star who had experience with major publishing houses. They told me that my book was competent and better than a lot of very successful novels that were not written with the skill that mine was. The problem that I ran into was how expensive that method was and how little help they actually gave me with the marketing part that was theoretically supposed to make the money back. The professional editing was worth the money. The marketing investment was not.
Amazon and KDP is a free publishing service, but it is almost not worth the price either.
It comes with the stigma of being an Indie writer, so, by definition, a hack who is not very good at writing. There are literally millions of books self-published by people just like me that go a long way towards validating that assumption. So, skill at writing is something to be proven through the actual written product, which is really hard to do if nobody is willing to read your book.
Every review I have gotten on my books so far is a five-star review. Of course, that means little when there are so few reviews. All the reviewers could simply be over-enthusiastic author-likers. And the trolls and the harsh critics haven’t taken their stabs yet.
So, I am stuck trying to brainstorm promotional strategies that I am well enough and financially sound enough to carry out. And all of those my stormy brained has lightning-bolted out so far have been failures. I don’t know how to break through the ice sheet to be noticed. And not even global warming seems to be helping. Ah, well… que sera sera… what will be will be.
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.
You know that old saying, “There are no bad students, only bad teachers?” Yeah, that one that Betsy DeVos keeps pinging off of Trump’s brain?
Well, only idiots and educational administrators actually believe that. And I had three full classrooms of proof of this Tuesday while subbing sixth-grade Science classes.
Yes, they were bad kids. And apparently, the last time they had a sub before me, they killed and ate her, after eating her lunch in front of her. They were not merely bad kids. They were vile and noxious, unrepentant Spawn of Hell.
They were, in fact, laying in wait for me, testing every way a vile and noxious sixth grader knows to get the sub off track, dazed and confused, and turned from teacher into a helpless prey animal.
The very first class in the door immediately chased each other around the room instead of having a seat. Jamika stole a package of pencils off the teacher’s desk, ate one, and threw the plastic package in the trash. Seferino chased her around three of the tables and pinched her on the butt. And Jaden threw three different pieces of a pink eraser in three different directions at once at about three different girls, hitting two, in about three seconds of time. These aren’t their real names. But I know their real names because I had them sign my sin-sheet with first and last names before I even went through roll call. I tell them, “Sign your name so I can report what you did and, hopefully, also leave a note for the teacher that you were much better behaved for the rest of the period.” Two of the three were actually better for a majority of the period. Jaden got the Golden Turkey award at the end of the fifty minutes.
The next class had four names on my list before roll call ended, and they never did completely settle down. In fact, the teacher across the hall came in at the end of the period and jumped all over them about “Unacceptable behavior!” and vent a little heat and hatred on a few of the star players whom she knew by name and had for Math class. It wasn’t just that she thought I was an incompetent sub, but she deeply disliked some of the bad behavior that was a part of both the varnish on the surface of these kids, and the taint in the marrow of their bones. Ah, sixth graders! Thy teachers do not love thee, and yet thou keepest on screwing aroundeth! And I know the teacher I was subbing for. She taught number two son and the Princess both. She is no slouch as a teacher and is not to blame for the condition of the class.
And then the last class sauntered in behind Mr. Evil-in-a-small-package. Yes, the last class of 28 kids was under the complete control of one self-centered, manipulative, emotionally-disturbed little man. The teacher I was subbing for had warned me about him and had arranged for the Special Teacher of Special Edwards to come and take him to his special quiet place because they knew he was so special and the special things he would do if they left me at his mercy. And, of course, something went awry with the arrangement. I was left at his mercy (of which he had none.)
He would not sign his name to the paper. Or sit in his assigned seat. Or stop talking. Or stop saying inappropriately sexual things to the girls. I tried to phone the office, but the number of the assistant principal’s secretary would not ring through. I asked the teacher across the hall, also a sub, to call for me. The science teacher next door came in just in time to see Mr. Evil give me the one-finger salute. He immediately began arguing that he would not be removed from “his” class. He wanted me removed instead. Then an assistant principal showed up. He began hollering and screaming about being touched as the AP shoved him out of the classroom through the lab door. It was a total meltdown. And the fumes and melted wax of it affected the behavior of the rest of the class for the rest of the period. I yelled at them (a pointless thing to do, but it made me feel better). The science teacher next door came back in and yelled at them for making me yell at them. And everybody ended the day feeling terrible. A couple of well-behaved girls apologized to me for the behavior of the class, saying that that kind of thing happened almost every day. A cute little black kid who got in trouble too that period ended the day by almost crying and telling me that he was basically a bad kid. I told him I knew him just well enough to tell him he was not, that he only needed a little more self-discipline and he could be among the best kids in that classroom. (And I don’t believe that was completely a teacher-lie either.)
So, I had a bad day at being a sub. Not merely a bad day, but the kind of bad day that makes a teacher want to give up and never sub again. The sub that got eaten before me probably did that very thing. But, me… I’ve had bad days like that before. Worse ones, in fact. So, I will not give up.
I had an excellent day teaching yesterday at a different school. I can still teach, no matter what lasting scars Mr. Evil gave me. And there really are bad kids in the world. Somebody needs to actually feed them to alligators, not just threaten them with being fed to alligators. Then they will finally know how their substitute-teacher victims feel.