Going All the Way… to a writing class.

Last night, I spent a couple of hours out at Marian University participating in a writer’s workshop put on by the Writers’ Center of Indiana. The instructor for this 6 week workshop is Dan Wakefield, author, and resident (again) of Indianapolis. We conducted an exercise which ultimately inspired me to churn out the story below. I hope you enjoy it. I’m not sure if it will lead to a larger work, but for now it’s a great standalone teaser. Let me know what you think!

Title: Not the Last

Creak. The bottom-most stair sounded off in protest at the weight of some unknown visitor. Stirring, I slowly parted ways with the shroud of a deep sleep. I did not yet realize what had brought me to consciousness.

Creak. Now, I was sure of it. Someone was ascending the stairs to my room. My eyes drifted sleepily to the end of my bed where Donja, my chow-chow puppy, lay snoozing. She hadn’t noticed I was awake nor the sounds from beyond my bedroom door.

Creak. I rose further from the cloudy sense of a dream mostly forgotten. My eyes adjusted and began to draw in the furniture that encircled the room.  I looked towards the alarm clock and the numbers 3:18 burned furiously at me across the otherwise dark room.

Creak. I started wondering who would be climbing my stairs at 3 o’clock in the morning. What had happened? I hadn’t heard the phone ring. Perhaps my mother was just coming to check on me. That had to be it or so I thought.

Creak. I realized that there was no light creeping in under the door. It seemed odd that my mother would climb my treacherous stairway without a light. My stairs had welcomed my body with pain and suffering on more than one occasion due to an uncomfortably tight right angle halfway up.

Creak. The person on the stairs had reached the angle.


Creak. I began to feel a sense of dread. The last time my mother had climbed the stairs in the middle of the night, it was to inform me of my grandmother’s death. Her arrival would mean bad news. I was sure of it.

Creak. I steeled myself, preparing for the worst. I knew she only had a couple more steps to go.


Creak. I waited breathless for the handle to turn, the door to open, and the news to come. It never came. The door did not open. After a deep breath, I finally rose from my bed, travelled the distance to the door and pulled it open. There was no one standing outside my door and no one on the stairs. That was the first time I met the ghost upon my stairs.

It would not be the last.


This morning my wife and I were talking while carpooling to work. My wife, Laura, needed to stop by Hart Bakery to pick up donuts for work. (As a brief aside, Hart Bakery makes tremendously good donuts. I highly recommend them.) On the way, I remember remarking to Laura, “I really want to lose weight…” and after an ever so brief pause, “…I’m getting a donut anyway.”

I’m not excessively overweight. I can stand to drop 20 pounds but nothing morbid or serious. I desire a body that would evoke pleasure from my wife. Wait a minute. What gave me the idea that my wife needed me to look like a carved Greek god? Just how much power does popular culture have over me? I’m not sure which annoys me more about this, popular culture or donuts.  The truth is, I enjoyed that donut and my wife loves me for me. So to hell with that, I say pass the donuts. Remember when trimming the fat, that fat is flavor.

Medicated Creativity

It’s been a few days since my last post. I have come to realize that pain killers mixed with muscle relaxers (I have lower back pain) result in an unhealthy concoction of right brain impairing reactions. In short, it has been difficult to focus on creativity lately. I have been of course, following Twitter and Facebook with an eye for stealing ideas for the next post.  I decided to make this post a reaction to things that have been happening in the meantime.

Action: A 12 year old girl was forced to give up her Facebook password to school officials in Minnesota.

Reaction: This is sort of the same idea as asking someone to hand over their diary. This is absolutely wrong. This is tantamount to a violation of civil rights. It would be different if the 12 year old were asked to give up their Facebook password to their parents. I believe parents should be involved in what their children do online, especially at age 12. What gives Minnewaska Middle School the crazy idea of entitlement that says they can rummage through a student’s personal online presence? This isn’t digging through their backpack to look for drugs, examining their locker for weapons, or anything reasonable. Minnewaska Middle School has gone on record as saying when the details are released that the school system will have acted within their so-called rights to obtain the password.  This is expanding their influence beyond the school system and on to the internet. I consider the possibility of this being a case of Cyber Bullying or complaining about a school official. I still contend that this is a home issue and that the school system may contact the parent directly about this and have the parent deal with the situation. <Gump> And that’s all I have to say about that… </Gump>

Action: Greg Smith quits Goldman-Sachs and publishes an op-ed piece “Why I am leaving Goldman-Sachs” in the New York Times.

Reaction: When I initially read this piece, I felt compelled to side with this guy. I thought about what amazing morals and strength of character it took to write that letter. I empathized with how he felt. I felt much the same when I finally left Best Buy in February of last year.  Inevitably, I began to question his motives. Why did he stay employed for 12 years, wait until after bonus season, and then quit with an incendiary letter compelling both customers and executives to change their ways. It became clear to me that while I am sure that Goldman-Sachs doesn’t always do what is in the best interest of their clients, they also exist to make money.  Those two objectives do not always allow for joyous harmony.

I’ll use my experience at Best Buy as an example. Best Buy claims to be customer centric. I worked there, the reason they are customer-centric is because it allows their sales people to offer accessories and other items that may or may not fit the customer’s lifestyle. The focus is always and has always been on the number of items per transactions, the amount of margin (markup), service plans, and services. It is not always in the best interest of a customer to buy Geek Squad services or the service plan. However, even if a Best Buy employee listens to you and identifies you as a customer who really doesn’t need services, accessories, etc. They will still try and sell these things to you if they are following their indoctrination. I was a Geek Squad manager for a few years with Best Buy. I admit to training people to take your money even if you didn’t need it. That’s what we were there to do.

Back to Goldman-Sachs, I realized Greg Smith is no great champion. Greg Smith is me. Greg Smith is you. Greg Smith is the same type of person we all are. We work, do what we’re told, and eventually we grow tired of being asked to lie, cheat, and steal to squeeze a few extra dollars onto the bottom line and we eventually opt to do something else. We’ve all worked that job that we didn’t feel quite right in. If you haven’t, consider yourself lucky or maybe just blind. Greg Smith would have been more impressive if he had made great strides in attempting to change the putrid culture that he came to despise. Greg Smith, congratulations to you for leaving the job, finally. However, you have long way to go before becoming a hero. Fin.

Action: Inspiration to Art.

Reaction: While looking at some early design work I did involving magnetic poetry. I have decided to create a few new examples of word-art. I enjoy taking text and graphics and generating a poetic fusion.

Looking forward to posting again soon, hopefully without the influence of chemicals!


For the logical mind day to day tasks quickly become mundane. I find that this is a most peculiar aspect of my personality. It is difficult, in any job I have taken thus far, to maintain a strong enough challenge to counteract the way my mind actively seeks to resolve all problems. This is why I love writing, drawing, pondering, and all other acts of creation.

I learned about the idea of being left-brained and right-brained some time ago. I’m not sure if such theory still exists but I am definitely an exception to the rule. I am both left and right brained. My brain functions primarily on a logical level treating everything as if it were a game of chess. I quickly calculate outcomes and resolve to pursue the most logical choice. In any job, I am actively seeking the “right way” to do a given task. However, I am never satisfied with just finding the “right way” to do something. I immediately follow this with a pursuit of the best way to do something.

The problem is that it doesn’t take very long before I have completely absorbed all learnable facets of the tasks I am doing. This results in the occasional state of boredom. I have discovered that I enjoy interactions with people much more than interactions with task oriented activities. People offer a different kind of challenge, they add a bit of chaos that cannot be accurately predicted or planned for.

People are more difficult to study. The answer to the question of how to handle the situation changes with the weather, mood, and situation. The variables inspire and delight me in a ways that most mundane tasks cannot. It was this obsession with people that took me as far as it did when I worked for Best Buy. I was very customer-centric in my obsession with pursuing a better understanding of our clients. I dug as deep as I could into our customer’s needs and eventually their pocketbooks. I’m not so proud of that last bit, but it is, of course, what they were paying me to do.

The most curious logic problem is myself. I seek to understand myself and fulfill my needs and desires. I find that I am not sure of the answers yet. So I am actively spending my life living as the questions. I know that my life will undoubtedly lead me into a creative endeavor. My heart is too closely tied to writing to ever give it up. I am not sure what it is that writing will lead me to. My wife, Laura, probably hopes it’ll eventually lead to a paycheck.

What questions do I have regarding myself?

  1. How do I plan to leverage writing in my future?
  2. What can I do to make myself better?
  3. How do I plot, test, and enact my theories?
  4. Will I ever finish a novel?
  5. What do I want to be when I grow up?
  6. How will I be a good father?
  7. What can I do to better share what I learn with those who follow behind?

As I live my life, each day, I am discovering more information that will lead to the discovery of those answers. The quote below is from one of my favorite poets. Rainer says in this quote precisely what I have come to expect from my life. I welcome you to come along with me on this journey. It will all be broadcast here, stay tuned, or catch up. 😉

“Live your questions now, and perhaps even without knowing it, you will live along some distant day into your answers.”  ~ Rainer Maria Rilke

Boredom and the Art of Procrastination

Bored? You probably are. You are reading a blog after all. I bet you’re even supposed to be doing something else right now, something that someone is probably paying you to do.  Reading my blog at work? Shame on you! (No, not really, keep reading!)

I was sitting through yet another lecture at IUPUI and it hit me, rather hard, that I was bored. This came as a frightening revelation because I was sitting in a classroom full of my peers in the future of Informatics. If I’m bored by the topics of my degree, does that mean that I’ll be bored later in that chosen career?  I wonder how many of you were bored in the classes pertaining to your chosen degree program. Did you stop to ask yourself if you were doing the right thing?

“The work you do while you procrastinate is probably the work you should be doing for the rest of your life.”  – Jessica Hische

So that brings me to the other half of the title “The Art of Procrastination.” What do you do when you are procrastinating? I bet some, especially those over-worked perfectionists, would say “nothing” because that’s precisely what they see procrastination as. I see procrastination much as Jessica does, a window to what you’d rather be doing. Doctors tell us all the time to listen to our bodies because they know best. For the same reason you feel bloated and ill after spending the night at your local pub plowing down fried bar food, you’ll likewise feel wasted, drained, and otherwise unfulfilled at the job and classes you don’t care for.

I find that when I’m procrastinating, I’m really thinking. I’m thinking about what to write about, thinking about the novel in progress, thinking how that villain is going to interact with my main character and why the object of the novel is willing to die for something that he just acquired.  I think that’s enough about the novel, just buy it when it comes out. You’ll understand later and hopefully thank me for not spoiling it!

So, in a way, procrastination is an art form, an exercise in self-expression that many of us fail to recognize for what it’s worth. I admit that my procrastination isn’t always productive. However, more often than not, it is, even if it is as simple as working out a plan or a solution to a pending problem. When people ask why I procrastinate and wait until the last minute to do an assignment (for class mind you, my work ethics are much better, I swear!)  I often tell them that I “work better under pressure” and it’s true that a certain amount of stress and a deadline will force anyone to crap out an example of work. It’s never your best work and no matter how many A’s my professors kindly give me, we’ll both know that I am capable of better.  The problem isn’t that it needs to be better; the problem is that my mind is telling me what you may have already gathered. My heart belongs to something other than Informatics. My heart belongs to my writing.

What does your procrastination produce? What should you be doing?