I DID IT!!!

March 31, 2012

Silently, but surely, I ended up achieving one of the goals I set up for myself.

I shall now direct you to THIS post from about a month ago.

In it I challenged myself to make one post every day throughout the month of March.

:::Starts dancing:::

And guess who freaking did that with no hiccups?

:::Wiggle wiggle:::

THIS GUY!

:::Strikes pose:::

:::Heavy panting:::

I’m so happy. I actually accomplished something on this place… feels good man…

I didn’t even make a big deal about it while I was trying to meet my goal. (like I do with so many things I usually try to do and fail at)

::::cough:::: lamp

And let’s just look at the good that came from this whole decision.

1. I wrote more in terms of meeting my real goal, writing a novel.

That’s saying a lot right there. And since I’m a science guy, and that means I like data, let me give you some quantitative data right now.

4,514

That’s how many words I put into actual stories throughout this entire month. My efforts to stay consistent with posting made me feel comfortable with writing more often. It also made it a habit again. I’m not sure I have posted this much since last summer when I started this thing. There was a newness back then and I was excited to post all the time.

While I’m not all giddy like I was back then I am still excited to post on here. I feel like this has become more of a creative outlet rather than a run-of-the-mill journal/blog. (Not saying all-run-of-the-mill blogs are bad…)

I should also distinguish that these words were not used to directly contribute to a novel. But they have helped me find my voice in writing more and more, as well as challenge me to stay up to speed on putting new stuff out. I was also about to try different perspectives.

2. I made some more friends. Really. I made strides in reaching my goal of putting a marble on each country on the planet. I now communicate regularly with people who are located thousands of miles away from me. It’s just as awesome as it sounds.

And since we’re on the subject of marbles, check out Lebanon’s newest resident.

This is Dakota. She is in Lebanon doing things people in Lebanon do. Like drinking Pepsi that is written in Arabic. She’s also holding part of the letter that I sent her that has a marble taped to it. She has graciously allowed me to post this and I thank her.

BOOOOOOOOOOOM AGAIN!!!!

Marble. It’s real. In a different country.

:::Single Tear:::

I’m so proud of this little guy…

3. Confidence. I am gaining so much confidence in my writing it’s a little silly. I’ve even been taking up writing prompt challenges from friends. All of you feedback has helped me too. I know I’m not read by many people, but the few of you that comment really do help to encourage me to keep it up. I thank you.

So since my goal is reached does that mean I will stop?

I don’t imagine I will. Actually, I have some plans for other stories and I’m pretty excited to see your reactions to those. I might even expand one of my stories and really make a short novella out of it. This could be awesome practice to writing an entire novel eventually. (Hey, it too might even become a novel.) But nothing is concrete.

And like I mentioned earlier, this is a habit again. It’s going to be a tough one to break.

So I say goodbye to the March of writing development. Hello, April of probable continued  writing development.

D.A.

 

Advertisements

Today Feels Like

March 30, 2012

Thursday.

Yesterday felt like Wednesday.

Now that I think about it, so did Wednesday.

Weird schedules at school + coming back from spring break = confusing weekend.

With all my luck you may here me call tomorrow a Tuesday.

…I’m babbling…Sorry.

Brain not working…tomorrow will be better (that’s a Tuesday I think).

D.A.

This fella is affectionately known as “One Eye”. 

And, no. I do not own him. Nobody does. With a hardened stare like that nobody can really “own” him. He owns himself. (But my neighbors behind me seem to provide care for him.)

Also, I’ve heard rumor that he goes by the name “Oreo”. I don’t see the resemblance.

I prefer the name One Eye because it’s tough. And, quite clearly, he only has one eye.

I’m pretty creative, huh?

When I look at this mangy backyard power animal I get the sensation that he’s got a story to tell.

A story that’s riddles with action, love, hate, and hours of licking himself clean of the blood of his enemies.

He was probably just like any other cat. A little girl had wanted a kitty and he was the winner. He had the most adorable squeak of a meow and looked like a popular brand name cookie. (I still don’t see the resemblance.)

Everything looked like it would be a nice long life of belly rubs and furballs. Then it all came crashing down.

The little girl got older and grew tired of the little guy. When he lost the affection of that little girl he turned to the grey tabby down the street. She was no good to him. Her constant infidelity drove him to get hooked on “the nip”. Then the bottom fell out.

He was walking the streets and getting into fights all the time. For a while he was the king of the ally. Then, one fateful night, he ended up picking a fight with the wrong kitty.

He lost his pride, his territory, and his right eye…

Then he wandered off into the woods hoping an eagle or an alligator would take his life from him.

But then he stumbled upon my backyard and set up shop.

Okay, I guess I can’t really believe that whole tough guy routine. Especially when he sleeps in an open lawn sprawled out like this…

Come on… he ain’t no tough guy.

Though he is still missing the eye…

There’s a little something I’ve learned about my experiences on the internet.

  • Email = 1% of the internet
  • Video = 1% of the internet
  • Specialized websites = 1% of the internet
  • Cats = 97% of the internet

Thanks to my work here today, that trend will not be changing anytime soon.

D.A.

Good Boy

March 28, 2012

Good Boy

D.A. Bancroft

He wasn’t much older than a boy when he joined the police force. He had barely made his way through the academy. A simple boy that grew up on a farm outside of Chambers, Nebraska, and really had no place in a city like Los Angeles. He also shouldn’t have been promoted as quickly as he did.

“Alright Ricky. Cut the blue wire. The blue one. Go ahead. Cut it.” said Bomb Tech 1st Sergeant Raymond Butte.

“Woof!” replied the fat yellow lab known as Ricky. He wagged his tail not knowing of the danger that laid between his chubby paws.

That danger was a Class III detonator that was attached to a dozen sticks of dynamite. It was located inside of a Mercedes van parked outside of a few buildings downtown. A crowd had gathered after the L.A.P.D. Bomb Squad arrived with it’s lead investigators. Unfortunately, there had been some serious downsizing in the department. As well as some strikes over pay cuts. There was also the problem of a lack of funding in the first place.

In reality Raymond and Ricky were the entire Bomb Squad. But bomb scares were so uncommon these days that the police department figured they could float by on the two dimwits for a while and hope that things picked back up before things started blowing up.

Raymond wasn’t a smart guy, he knew that, but he recognized how his bad situation could end up. If this bomb went off inside of this plaza it would be more than Raymond’s job. It would cost him his severance pay too. Also, it may result in his immediate death.

“Hey man, are you sure you know what you’re doing?” hollered a concerned bystander nearly 40 yards away behind the police tape surrounding the scene.

“Yes, I’m a trained expert. I’ve dealt with situations like this plenty of times before.” lied Raymond. “Now just back away please, my partner is working on the situation.”

The man didn’t listen. “No man. Your partner is a dog. And for the past twenty minutes he’s been locked inside that car. That’s just stupid.” The man started to walk away. “I’ve seen a lot of crap man, but you take the cake. How’d you flunk your way through life”

Raymond’s stomach grumbled. He liked cake. He tried refocusing his attention on the pressing matters at hand. He had to diffuse this bomb and he was running out of time.

When Raymond and Ricky had arrived on the scene they had both suited up and walked carefully over to the vehicle. They noticed the bomb in the back and decided to diffuse it carefully. Raymond knew he had a time limit. So in order to save time, as well as make sure the bomb was safe from people walking around in the plaza, he told Ricky to stay in the van while he went back to the truck to bring some supplies.

When Raymond returned, somehow Ricky had locked himself inside. The recent memory of this made Raymond think that if Ricky was smart enough to lock himself inside a van, then maybe he would be smart enough to pull out a wire. It was at least worth a shot.

“Okay Ricky. I want you to bite the blue wire. Can you do that boy? Can you?” he tried inflecting his voice the way that would entertain a three-year-old. Ricky replied by flattening his ears and looking back with a blank stare.

Raymond put his face up to the driver’s side window. He could see the timer on the device counting down.

Two minutes left.

He and Ricky had not really accomplished much in their short career together. Their magnum opus up to this point in their careers had been that one time when they split that box of two dozen glazed donuts they got for free after one of their “training sessions”.

But maybe that could change today.

“Ricky,” he began angrily. “You better stop your lollygagging and get to work. You’re a trained professional. Act like one for once. We need to show people that we can be the best we can be.”

Another random citizen replied on behalf of Ricky. “That’s the Navy’s thing man.”

“Shut up.” Raymond spat back. “I’m trying to work here.”

“Could have fooled me.” said the man as he walked away.

Raymond cursed the man under his breath and look back down at the timer.

One minute.

“Please. Ricky. Do this for us.” begged Raymond. He hoped this canine could understand him for once.

The dog sniffed the bomb with interest. His belly was wobbling as his head searched around the edges of the bomb. Ricky even tried repositioning himself to smell with greater detail It was as if he had come across a new dog butt’s scent and he needed to know more.

“That’s right. Now just cut the blue wire. Just rip it out.” Raymond perked up. He felt the weight of his suit pulling him down. The heat building up inside of the heavy gear made his clothes stick to him. His underwear felt very uncomfortable.

Ricky then began to lick the bomb.

Just then Raymond then started to see how hopeless his situation was. He had been on the job for less than six months and everything fell apart. He was the only one left on the job and he only knew one thing. Always cut the blue wire.

That was the extent of his training.

Raymond counted all the things he had accomplished in his short life. He hadn’t even been to Disneyland.

Thirty seconds.

As Ricky was sniffing the bomb something miraculous happened. His collar got hung up on some of he wires to the device. With a good enough tug he might be able to disconnect the wires.

Raymond felt heartened. “Good boy. Now…up!” he commanded. He tried gesturing a lifting motion, but the suit made it look like he were miming dropping a hot plate of food.

The dog sat upright and yanked out the blue wire. Ricky’s tail wagged with delight. Raymond’s heart was about to burst out of pride and appreciation that his partner had finally pulled through.

Raymond stood there motionless. He held his breath. For a few seconds nothing happened. Then relief.

In the few seconds after Ricky had successfully saved the day Raymond began to think to himself. He pondered how he was going to turn his life around. Maybe he would actually read the Diffusing For Dummies textbook when he got back to the station. Maybe he’d take a few more notes. He had never learned about red wires, maybe they had something to do with bombs and stuff.

He even imagined taking Ricky out to buy two dozen glazed doughnuts from that place down the street that he liked so much. And since he was going to be the hero for the day maybe the boss would let him take some time off. Some R and R. Raymond imagined taking the time to visit Disneyland.

Then there was a spectacular explosion.

Not much of them were left afterward. Investigators had only found a chubby paw and some sweaty and charred underwear.

A funeral service was held. The two were buried next to each other. After the ceremony somebody had even left a few doughnut crumbs behind on their graves. They would have enjoyed that.

The strikes and pay cuts were ended and real professionals went back to work. Everybody was grateful the city was safe again.

Oh hey…

March 27, 2012

Just to let you know…

I’ve got another short story in the chute.

When?

Tomorrow at noon.

That’s 12:00 p.m. EST on March 27th, 2012. in case you were wondering.

Name?

I’m calling it Good Boy.

How long is it?

About 1,200 words.

Is it good?

We’ll find out.

D.A.

Weird Day

March 27, 2012

(One thing I’ve learned about writing a good blog post is to give your audience an interesting opening sentence.)

Today I taught a bunch of immature 15 year-olds about penises and vaginas. There was only a little giggling. I was even paid to do this.

(Pretty good, huh?)

Normally this would be a really traumatizing experience for a human being. Think about it. What if I walked up to you and said something like “Hey, you’re going to stand in front of a bunch of teenagers and talk about female and male reproductive anatomy for about an hour and a half. Twice.”

Your likely response would be to scream “You’ll never take me alive!” and kick me in the epididymis as you turn and run to your escape.

But I performed my professional duty without any hitches. No biggie.

This was far different that last experience of doing this last term. Last year I was a nervous wreck. I could hardly collect my thoughts and didn’t know how to approach such a delicate subject. This year I didn’t even bat an eye at the thought.

What was the difference? I think it was probably due to my familiarity with the subject material now. I’m just a little bit more comfortable in my skin. And I have some pretty decent kids in my classes that “get me” and are usually willing to listen (or just not disrupt).

But I also think today was a day where I was in true autopilot.

And that’s a little terrifying.

Today I taught a whole bunch of little humans about how they came into being. Today I ended up grading tons of papers. Today I ended up attending a very early meeting that started at 6:30 a.m. Today i ended up running a practice for a quiz team after school. This is all very involved and thought demanding stuff to do.

Today I did all of that…and I don’t remember using my brain. This lasted about nine hours.

In hindsight I don’t think I was in control of my body today.

Now I know that I’m not the only person to ever experience this before. But this is the first time in my memory that it’s happened to me. And the other thing is, I feel like I did a pretty decent job today. Is this common? I’m hoping not.

I’m starting to think I may be under the control of a small contingent of fratboy aliens that are hovering over our planet with remote controls that will work on human beings. Today I was their play toy. They probably think it’s funny to steal a person’s brain for all those hours of a day and see how he reacts when he regains thought control again.

And on top of all that, today felt like a Wednesday.

Weird day.

D.A.

Back To Work

March 26, 2012

Let’s just recap what’s happened over the past ten days or so.

I experienced the blessed time known as spring break. I stuck to my guns and gave you all a post on each one of those days.

I let you know about my marble conquests.

I shared some nice, deep, and personal thoughts on some problems in the world today.

I gave you insight of how my writing skill are (presumably) improving.

And most of all, I gave you THREE short stories.

THREE.

Actually, those three stories can be found here…

Bottoms Up

The Man in Blue

Happy Birthday

(I’m good at shameless plugs if you didn’t remember).

If you haven’t read these stories yet…then what are you waiting for? Go! Get busy! I did all that work for you!

YOU!

That’s more than I’ve given you in the past…I dunno…like…six months of promising to write stories that I never completed. So enjoy it while it lasts.

So much productivity… I’m proud of myself. I’m proud of you too.

You know why? Because, so far, you have given me some awesome feedback and that makes you kind and lovable people.

So thank you. Really. You’re wonderful.

I did good work during my break but now it is time to return  to my daily grind of seeding the young fertile minds of today to become the large fruit-bearing trees of knowledge that will soon be performing brain surgery on you tomorrow.

No, really.

One of my students is going to perform brain surgery on you. Tomorrow.

It’s actually very unsettling. I hope you have life insurance.

D.A.

P.S. – This also means that I will be writing most of my posts a day early rather than the day of. That’s because I will be so dog tired this week that I would likely forget to make a post for that day. So please excuse my seemingly oddly timed posts. 

Happy Birthday

March 25, 2012

“What is it? What did you get me?” asked the rambunctious little boy named Darren. His mother walked into the room holding a bag that he knew would certainly contain his birthday present.

“Oh sweetie, you’ll just have to wait.” said his mother. Her loving eyes playfully narrowed into a weak scorn. She loved her son and she wanted to make his perfect day one that he would not soon forget. She knew she had picked out the perfect gift she just needed to wrap it and hide it.

“Oh come on Mom! Just a peak! Everybody else always gets me okay presents, but yours are the best.”

“Nope. You’ll just have to wait until Friday for your birthday party.” she replied. She knew he was going to have a hard time containing himself. She looked at her husband reassuringly. “And Harry, could you put this up so Mr. Sticky Fingers won’t end up ‘accidentally’ opening his gift to early.”

“Fine. You guys never let me have any fun anyway. Why would anything else change? It’s only my eighth birthday for cripes sakes.” he said with a pouting bottom lip.

Today was Monday. Darren knew his tiny little brain couldn’t possibly wait that long to open that present. Immediately he decided he was going to scheme his way into peering into that delicious box. He had to see what lie within. Even if it meant getting in a little bit of trouble.

It took him many hours of scouring around the house to find where his present was hidden. He had to hide his scouting missions because if his parents noticed what he was up to the jig would surely be up.

On Wednesday he eventually found it. The top shelf of his parents closet. They had tried covering it with some older sweaters but some of the wrapping paper still shown through.

Target acquired, now it was time to move in for the kill.

Darren waited until the evening when his parents had left to go to a friends house. They sometimes left him alone at home when they wouldn’t be gone for long. This was his only opportunity. He had all the steps laid out ahead of time. All it took was a quick hand and a sensitive ear.

When they said their goodbye and walked out of the door Darren sprang into work.

He raced to the garage and brought the step ladder and a roll of clear tape with him up to his parents bedroom.

He locked eyes on the present and quickly retrieved it the way he had practiced it in his mind.

Success. So far so good.

It was beautiful. Bright blue paper with a golden bow to top it off. He decided that if he just removed the pieces of tape that were holding the wrapping together he should be able to slide out his prize take a peek. Later he would replace them and just follow the folds to make it seem like he never even touched it. He even took a note of how the sweaters rested on the present before his retrieval.

The plan was flawless.

For each sliver of tape that he removed he checked over his shoulder. He perked up, wide eyed like a meerkat, at every sound that the house made. He knew he would surely be punished if he were caught. He kept up his pace like a surgeon trying to save a life. Delicate work that had to be done quickly.

Finally he got to the brown box that was hidden. It revealed nothing. He listened for his parents and continued further into the mystery. Just a peek is all he desired…but his urged yearned for more.

As he pulled back the flaps of the box to reveal his little surprise.

What he saw left him feeling a little perplexed, but excited none the less. It may not be exactly what he wanted, but he knew how to get it.

He gave himself a devilish little smile.

 

***

 

Jessica and Harry pulled into the driveway having only been out of the house for 45 minutes. They had just gotten back from a friends house where they dropped off some Tupperware they had borrowed. As they walked up to their front door they could smell smoke. They feared their son, whom they had left alone for only a few minutes, was in danger.

They threw open the door to see their young boy sitting at the dining room table happily eating a piece of blackened toast. Smoke still hung in the air throughout the house.

“What’s happened here?” they said in unison.

“Sorry to ruin the surprise. But I couldn’t help myself.” said the little red-headed rascal they called their son.

The little boy took hold of a butter knife and applied some more butter to his slice of charred toast. There were several plates with burnt up slices on top of them. Small stacks of ten each dripping with butter scattered around the table.

“A toaster! The best birthday present ever! I love you mommy and daddy!” said the tiny future-arsonist. He slipped out of his chair and gave his parents the nearly eight year old equivalent of a bear hug.

Jessica and Harry looked at each other with curiosity.

Jessica spoke up. “Honey, what toaster are you talking about? We don’t own a toaster.” She tried to hide her growing anger. Her son had nearly burnt the house down.

“Jessica,” started Harry. “The toaster was for you. Happy early birthday.”

Harry tried to compensate. “At least he didn’t find the Transformer we bought him.”

Darren offered them both a heavily buttered slice of carbon and asked, “Well, if the toaster wasn’t for me, can I still get my Transformer?”

His parents agreed. They had burnt toast for dinner and Darren had is Transformer early.

The plan had worked perfectly.

Have you ever been frustrated when you were trying to learn something new? 

I remember trying to ride a bike with no training wheels. It was so hard. Months of effort had to be put into this whole ordeal. I fell. I scrapped my knees. My wrists were in shreds. Even my sweet and new Jammers helmet was all scuffed. (The stickers were starting to fall off! The humanity!)

I wanted to give up but my sense of “I need to ride a two wheel bike before older kids see me” kicked in. My young little ego kept me working toward my goal.

No surprise here, I reached my goal.

But I remember right after I started riding (like a pro) that I felt like I felt the process of riding the bike was become much more smooth. Much more practiced.

Better.

Today I feel like that a little in terms of my writing. I think some things are starting to click. (Mostly my ability to come up with a story in a short amount of time and leave things open ended so I can continue them later or have the reader fill in the blanks.)

I feel like a sponge that has been set under a faucet. The faucet is dripping slowly and the sponge is absorbing those drops. With time though, the sponge will become too full of water and some will leak out. That’s what I feel is happening. Some of the things I’ve been learning are finally leaking out into my work.

I know you can’t see all that. Not yet at least. But it’s coming.

It’s mostly because I have been having some discussions with some friends and working on stories of theirs. They will give me some of the characters and environments and I just blurt out a pretty detailed story sequence. Generally speaking they seem impressed. I can see an entire story in detail in a matter of a few minutes. Even if it’s not my own.

Now, I am still trying to figure out the best way to put these ideas onto paper in a way that’s solid. It’s not easy.

I’m not good at making words pretty. I can’t show the reader an environment how I would expect to be able to. I also can’t keep things too serious. This may work for some silly stories…but what about those deep and meaningful stories we all hope to write that will change the world one day?

For example:

A very good writer would write about a date in a way like this:

Her face was caressed by the setting sun on the horizon. The oranges and pinks mixed in with her chestnut hair and cheerful cheeks. Their eyes met with with a silent recognition. Things were just right.  After getting lost in each other’s gaze they looked out over the lake and took in what they would forever remember as “that perfect day”.

I, on the other hand, would write about a sunset like this:

The sun was red. Very red. It was setting after all. It was so pretty John almost forgot to look back at Rebecca, his blind date for the evening.  As he turned to look at her dazzling eyes he became so distracted by her sheer beauty that he failed to see the banana peel next to the garbage can on the path.

Two slipped discs and a hefty chiropractor bill later, he remembered that he hadn’t gotten her number that night.

“It could have been worse.” he thought to himself. “It could have been a pile of dog crap.”

You see? I always go for the punch line. I don’t know if I can do anything serious. Even when I’m trying to point out how I don’t use pretty language very well I still go for a joke. But I’ll keep trying. Maybe one day it’ll stick.

Until then, I’ll just keep sopping up those drops of good writing I see all around me. Maybe some of the good stuff will leak out from time to time and I’ll share it with you all.

Happy Saturday,

D.A.

Greece!

March 23, 2012

Greece is the newest official addition to my marbles-around-the-world-so-I-can-take-it-over plan. Okay, I sent it some time ago, but now I have a photo to prove it.

Behold. 

Marble that now resides in Greece.

This little marble traveled a very long way to fall into the hands of a very nice Greek named Nemi. They have been fantastic and have also agreed to send me a seashell (possibly with art) in return for my marble.

Fascinating.

Nemi was also kind enough to send me the photo you see above and point out the EXACT marble that I sent. It is a cheap marble among some very old and classic real marbles. It is now much cooler by association.

It even got it’s own little pedestal…how ’bout that?

That is all,

D.A.