When I was back on the east coast, Patrick and I used to read stories to each other. They were never stories written by other people. They were our own tales set in lands we controlled with characters we fashioned and honed. I can recall evenings where we would sit on his back porch, absorb the starlight, and talk about our characters/worlds and discuss possibilities.
I remember Patrick talking fondly about this man whose life was fraught with challenges. His name is one that very few have heard as of this minute, but hopefully that will change.
When Patrick posted this to Facebook, I wanted to share it with everyone I possibly could. Please… Spread this like wildfire. We, after all, are the media.
“It takes a special kind of courage to be an artist.
A courage that sees you working in the dark, separated from the world by an invisible barrier that is at once as ephemeral as shadow and deep as the chasm between worlds.
I know what you may think of me, and people like me. I know what you may think of the under-fed over-bearded guy standing on the sidewalk strumming his six-string for pocket change. I expect you wonder when he’ll get a real job. I expect you wonder when I will.
Working a real job, particularly a job you really don’t like isn’t something one ought necessarily be proud of, says this guy. Doesn’t take much courage to surrender to idolatry of consumerism – two weeks of vacations a year, two car garages, black Friday shopping extravaganzas, and quadruple bypasses.
What takes courage is holding that small and proud dream, a tiny seed of hope you pray may one day flower, in your hand for years, willing it to grow while you try to manage the daily affairs of the rest of your life with your one unencumbered hand.
I’ll tell you something – I don’t want to be the one of the millions punching the clock and keeping his head down, never asking questions, never looking up, never realizing there’s an Universe full of the kind of stupefying wonder that can cement the most weakened of resolves, glue together the most broken of hearts. And to paraphrase John Lennon, I’ve got a feeling that I’m not the only one.
Perhaps you’ve dared to look in the deep mysteries of the world and wondered. Perhaps you’ve dared to look in black and unrealized reaches of the human psyche. Perhaps you’ve felt the invisible teeth of a nameless fear in the bloom night, and perhaps you feel that an answer awaits you somewhere down a road you could never quite find.
Well, I don’t pretend to have answers for you, dear compatriot. I’m a writer. It’s not my job to answer questions but to ask them.
But I know a guy that’s walked a bit down that road. His name is Elias Duana. I found him on his knees, half dead and half crazed, outside a ruined house in Tennessee. He looked more spectre than man. Still, I followed this ghost, and I’ve told his story.
I know what you may think of me, but perhaps it’s time that you see what I’m made of. You judge where I belong on a bookshelf, or if I belong in the trash bucket. I won’t take offense either way, for if you choose the latter you will be in good company. Fifty rejection letters might agree with you, so my skin has thickened enough to risk it. I’m ready for the Pepsi challenge because I’m pretty damn well sure that I can best 50 Shades of Grey and Twilight on an even field of battle.
I keep those fifty rejection letters in my bedside nightstand and I look at them every night before I go to bed. I feel the weight of them press into my hand. Sometimes I roll them into a scroll, or shuffle them, or worry them with my hands. But I never fold them or dare to endeavor to tear them even little. I want them to keep well, you see. When I’ve crested the proverbial hill I want to remember all of the times I fell on my journey, dusted myself off, and got back up.
As I perform my nightly ritual with all the gravity of a religious ceremony I often think of one my favorite poems in which E. E. Cummings asks, what happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun…or, does it explode?
You tell me. It’ll only cost you a measly three bucks to find out. Book two will cost you four. What can I say, I’m optimistic.
Find The Empyrean Chronicle on Amazon Kindle and Barnes and Noble Nook
Book I – Reckoning Buy now on Kindle! Buy now on Nook! (link pending)
Book II – Empyrean Chronicle Buy now on Kindle! Buy now on Nook! (link pending)
One of the things that no one is going to tell you, because it all sounds really bleak, is that life is going to continuously kick you. Feeling down? Have another boot to the psyche! Feeling stressed? Surprise! You totally forgot about that annual bill and it just over drafted your account! Hope you like ramen, bitch!
While the whole prospect of it is incredibly daunting, people still go through massive amounts of sad. Sometimes when everything feels like it’s never going to get better, people often wonder why they even bother.
But you know what? Things improve and give you a moments respite from the dark walls of depression. Maybe it’s a hug from a friend, maybe it’s a baby using you as a jungle gym and then a place for vomit. Maybe it’s dressing like a pirate and blockading a Krispy Kreme to get some free doughnuts.
Sadness is real. It is the yang to the yin that is happiness. What is so hard to remember when it feels like you’re drowning is that there will eventually be a breath of fresh air.
The difference between those that give up and those that soldier through it is hope. Or stubbornness. Either way, there is a phenomenal sense of accomplishment when you make it through. While my initial mindset is to be pessimistic, there is optimism somewhere inside me telling me that there is so much more I need to experience while I can. So yeah. Hope. That’s awesome.
Today, I wrote for the first time in a year. A YEAR. I’m not talking about blog posts as you get those every now and again like lovely little reminders that I’m not dead yet. I mean that I started writing something for a story I wanted to start writing. Confused? GREAT!
I got the biggest complement when a coworker offered to read it. I sent her something completely fictional and her reply was “I’m confused. The email you sent me sounds like it’s a news article.” That is EXACTLY how I wanted it to read and it gave me such a sense of accomplishment. I had forgotten how much I love writing.
I think I stopped due to the fact that I have been doing all of the things during the beautiful season in Oregon. I’ve also succumbed to the wanderlust and am murdering my summer with travel.
In two weeks I will be headed to California to see a bunch of friends and have every intention of murdering live band karaoke. Any requests?
Sorry for the strange update. That’s all I have for the moment.
Have you ever played the game “Telephone”?
A phrase is uttered, and then it is passed through a circle of people until it is returned to you. What typically returns is warped, twisted, and not at all close to what it originally was. It is a lesson in finding out if people are actually hearing when you speak. It is often translated by their own thought process and is altered to make sense to them. Sometimes it is just tweaked because someone has their own agenda. Maybe they don’t like the person that started the round or they think it’s boring and want to spice it up. There are so many variables that result in the alteration of the phrase. As a game, it is a lot of fun.
Through listening, I have learned that a lot of my life has been passed around my friends like a game of telephone. While some of it is amazing to hear (ie. The story of Elfie and I running from a bear morphing into me cage fighting a black bear, or the time I stabbed myself turning into me removing my whole hand), there are things that have recently happened in my life that I really didn’t want to talk about. Things that really friggin hurt. Things that I needed to contemplate. Those that I needed while it was happening were most definitely spoken to. But they know that I’m not about to start a game of telephone that would affect someone else.
The best part about my friends is that when the “telephone phrase” reaches them, they genuinely want to know what was originally said/done/thought. I have so many amazing people in my life. The fact that they all feel comfortable coming to me for clarification, even when they may not even be a part of something, is a good thing. I’d much rather clear up any confusion than let something continue to escalate into something that it isn’t.
So, if you happen to read this and have any questions about something going on in my life, ask me. Taking the word of someone not vacationing in my head will result in misinformation.
I don’t broadcast everything that I do because
1. I lead a very busy (albeit interesting) life
2. Often my thoughts/feelings are fleeting
3. I am not the only person involved.
I don’t just walk up to friends and unload everything onto them. I am a relatively guarded person (regardless of what you see on the internet. That is me being reserved.) Those that I go to during tough times are people that have at one point or another asked me about a situation prior to coming to a conclusion about my character.
As I am gearing towards a visit to CT, I realized that I have been ridiculously neglectful to my bestest of the bestiebots. We used to chat all the time for Whiskey on Sunday, but that hasn’t happened in a very long time. I think we both forgot that we COULD keep talking even though our schedules weren’t lining up to talk. I have a tendency of just assuming that people don’t want to hear from me. Seeing a bunch of people making time for me when I’m visiting my hometown makes me realize that I HAVE been missed. I feel really stupid for not making efforts. General facebook updates AREN’T being a good friend.
Anyways, here’s an email thread between the two of us that made me laugh. Hopefully it makes you laugh too.
Ali: I am really happy that I get to see a bunch of people at a time. It sucks that I can’t get one on one time with anyone really for such a short trip, but hopefully it staggers enough to be okay.
Seth: Next trip, don’t tell anyone you are coming. We’ll pick you up and you can stay in our new house. Just tweet fake updates from Chicago or someplace.
Ali: I’m not complaining as it allows me to see people I miss, but I’m going to hug you hardest.
Seth: It makes sense. I’m the squishiest.
Ali: No you’re not. The baby is. Especially that soft spot on the noggin I’ve been eyeing.
Seth: No head-hugging the baby!
Ali: Already with the rules!
Seth: Always gotta have rules.
Ali: Yeah… I’m fully aware of that. Guidelines are good.
Seth: Also, no eyeball licking.
Ali: ARE THERE GOING TO BE NO SURPRISES WHEN I MEET YOUR MINI-HUMAN?!?!?
While this seems like a very belated post, there were reasons why I didn’t post for awhile. I have been writing and will periodically be posting about my experiences the last two months. It seems only fitting that I post the first writeup on the day of my very first show as a fire performer.
DO NOT ATTEMPT ANYTHING I DISCUSS IN THESE BLOGS! I DO NOT ADVISE IT NOR DO I ENCOURAGE IT. IF YOU ARE INTERESTED, FIND A MENTOR WITH 7+ YEARS OF EXPERIENCE AND LEARN!
Photo By Dennis Glisson of Glisson Imaging – PDX Click on the picture to get to his facebook page!
Sunday, April 28, 2013 – Baptism By Fire
There was an emergency meeting of the fire troupe because one of the members had to drop out of an upcoming show. The show, booked for late June, was already a little light. Five performers tasked to do a 45 minute show. While it sounds like it’s doable, you have to realize that fire props have different burn times and the energy required to pay attention to where the flame is can affect the ability to perform. Also? Fire props are heavy, yo. You are holding tools that you don’t use in every day life and you are also adding the danger of white gas into the mix.
So when the fifth dropped out, it left four performers to cover 45 minutes worth of entertaining. While doable, it would run them ragged. So we gathered at Rigg’s house to discuss possibilities.
When the meeting started, we just started throwing out names of people that were ready to see if they would be able to make it. Unfortunately each name came with a sigh. Ffin had another event he had committed to. Bevin would still be in Boston, Massachussetts. Dan couldn’t afford the insurance for the performance and he wasn’t able to get the time off of work.
The list got shorter and shorter until everyone looked to Puppy and she laughed. “You know that when you look at the head safety and say ‘well… what do you have’ that we’re boned.” Luckily, that was a bit of an ice breaker and we laughed.
Boulron pulled up the set list and we got a text confirming that Fezzik would be willing to do a couple of sets. Before setting to carving out the set list and building into it, we talked about the possible safeties we would have at the event. After it was listed that we would have at least four, there was a general consensus that three would suffice and Puppy was added to follow the opening act with a poi set. I could see her nervousness in the slight twitching of her hand, but she solemnly nodded as her name was merged into the roster.
Then Boulron said that he would be comfortable with me doing my rings set in the beginning as it wouldn’t be the most spectacular thing at the moment. It didn’t bother me as… well… He’s right. I’m very new to the entire process and because I wouldn’t have to wow the crowd, it would eat up a little bit of time and my prop is a novelty.
Not many people have seen fire rings. They are essentially two rings that are 12 inches in diameter with three prongs of wicking gathered close. On the opposite section of the ring are the handles that allow you to both grip and spin with accuracy (after spending a LOT of time practicing it). It is a very fluid prop and even if I just windmilled my arms around it would still be considered impressive.
I nodded as my name was added to the list. Immediately a thousand song choices ran through my head. What did I want to convey with the rings for that set? I continued to sit and quietly ponder the situation when the intermission was brought up.
The intermission is a mixture of both fire eating and fleshing. The act of fleshing is drawing a trail of white gas along your skin, igniting it, and then blowing it out. Fire eating, I hope, is self explanatory. You put fire in your mouth and remove the extinguished torch.
They determined that only Gage and Fred would be there for the intermission. Somehow I mutely observed as Boulron looked over to me and said “yeah, you can learn that fast” and added my name to the list. It is very possible that I had stepped out of my own body for a second and saw me nodding an affirmative.
Uh… I had never really expressed a lot of interest in fire eating and breathing. I don’t mind fleshing. I had experienced it with a different fuel before, so it would be something I would have to get used to. I’d have to get used to it fast.
After this revelation, everyone pretty much started sounding like adults in a Peanuts cartoon. I didn’t really care what was being said because I knew that I needed to work on my rings and… apparently… learn fire eating and fleshing in less than 60 days. There was a humming in my head before I realized that it was the hum in the room of people breaking off and having separate conversations.
Finally, Boulron cleared his throat and started to read off the setlist. He said my name with rings and included me in the listing for intermission and then caught my attention when he said that he had added me towards the end with a palm torch act. Wait… what? I didn’t remember that being decided on.
He told me that he’s seen me move and the palm torches would be an easier set but I’d be stronger with my dance background to keep the audience amped. It was a bit of an ego boost, but also quite daunting. Could I keep the audience rapt with attention towards the end of the performance? With the way my sets were scheduled, would I be able to act as a safety at any point?
Fred then suggested that the two weeks before the show be “hell weeks”. For those reading that don’t know, a hell week is when you run through the full performance as if you are performing for an audience. Boulron, Riggs, Puppy, Gage and I agreed – even though I knew my hell weeks would start immediately.
The meeting ended, but we didn’t leave right away. We went outside so that Puppy could work with the poi that Riggs had. Poi vary in shape, size, and length, but it is essentially wicking attached to chain. There are loops on the opposite side of the wicking to allow a safe enough grip to prevent them from flying out at a member of the audience. We spent a little bit of time playing music to see what type of speed Puppy was looking for to compliment her performance. During that time I stretched and extended my arms before digging back into my brain to access my dance training.
When I say I had dance training, I mean that I danced from three years old to eleven. In highschool, the dance that I ended up doing was during the summer at showchoir camp. While it helped to inform me as to how to move and follow choreography, it was never about free form dancing. With fire performance, the majority of each set is improvised by most of the troupe. Yes, there are things that people make note of, like “okay this build would be amazing to let out a short blast of fire from my mouth” or “I’m going to toss this flaming baton into the air at this segment of the song”.
The idea of free forming the entire set terrified me. I mean, I didn’t have a problem with a little bit of improvisation, but I knew that I was going to have to pick a song very quickly so I could practice over and over with my unlit props.
Instead, I just kept moving and following the music when Fred said “Are you seriously gonna be another Bevin?” I looked over at him quizzically. “You already have the skill, we’re just adding fire. Seriously. Whenever I look over at you, you’re doing something I’ve never seen you do before. Is there anything you can’t do?”
I grinned and replied “fly” before continuing to move. It was an extremely sweet and lovely compliment and I never know how to take a compliment with a genuine thanks. I AM thankful, it’s just not something that I anticipate from others.
I left the meeting that night, dropped off Fred, and then drove home shaking.
While I had already been accepted as an apprentice, there was not a sense of urgency for training. There wasn’t a deadline. Now there was.
Hell, I learned Lady Capulet’s lines in 24 hours. At least I was given eight weeks to train for fire performance. I knew I could do it, but I couldn’t stop shaking.
So hi, future Ali. I guess at this point you’re present Ali and I’m past Ali but regardless… We’re the same person.
I just wanted to let you know that you may not be exactly where you want to be at some points in your life. No, you’re not a famous singer. No, you aren’t a famous author. No, you still can’t afford to splurge on one of those ridiculously expensive and awesome cameras with all of the attachments. No, you’re not in a relationship (wait… are you?).
Life tends to throw a bunch of detours when it comes to planning.
I just wanted to remind you (well me…) that you have come SO FAR from who you once were.
It’s not just a distance thing. Yes, you did move 3,000 miles from home and you (at this point) are flourishing. You’re making new friends. You’re experiencing new things. You’re being creative and using your imagination.
You also have started tearing down those walls you built around yourself. People are seeing more of you than most ever have.
Also you play with fire. That’s pretty cool too.
Photo by Photography.Naturally. Click on the picture and like their facebook page!
What I hope most for.. for us… is that you continue to do things that both interest and scare you. Life is what you make of it, and at the moment I’m writing this, you have just modeled for your first photoshoot. You have gone to a bunch of comedy shows (and have been recognized by the comedians… still strange, BTW.)
I know that there are people in your life that will not only defend your honor, but if they had to they would probably help you bury a body. Several WILL avenge your death, so don’t die a stupid one, okay? No falling off of the bed and rotting, only to be eaten by the ghost cats in your apartment.
Whenever you feel the urge to hide, shine. Yes, the safety blankets will be there, just resist the urge to go all hermit and grow a beard. Nevermind… grow a beard. I think you’d look absolutely smashing.
No, you’re not a famous singer. But you do have people that watch you on youtube when you play the ukulele and you love karaoke with friends. You even sing jazz with a live band every now and again. You should do that more.
No, you’re not a famous author. But you do write, have ideas, tell stories, and generally entertain people.
No, you can’t buy a camera. But you do have your own apartment, food, and so many coffee places you probably need to stop going to them. You also will get there in time. See how many people would be willing to chip in. Start a gofundme or something.
No, you’re not in a relationship (or you are… I have no idea). But… I’m gonna get cryptic here. B-o-D, fondue, borrowed voice, UBG… There are people. Relationships are scary and as I’m writing this I know I’m not in one for a reason.
You waited so long to start really living.
Happy Birthday, asshole. You get to see your parents in a few days!
Also get more tattoos. You like that.
In the aftermath of the tragedy that befell Boston, I have spent the last 24 hours reflecting on the things I had done there in the past.
I would regularly visit friends in JP during my childhood, my 21st birthday was a drunken weekend there, I met a bunch of Betties, I made regular trips to the aquarium, I met a bunch of nerds through Chris Hardwick, so many trips to Quincy, my friend started her business there… Laughs, love, memories of blisters from really inappropriate shoes, getting hit on by homeless dudes, bar hopping on St Paddys, waking up and wondering where my pants were, ridiculous trips to Framingham to get $2.99 wine at Trader Joes, conventions, mischief.
Boston was always my “go to” destination over NYC. It wasn’t because I hated New York. It was because it felt like home.
A part of me considered moving there before finding and falling in love with Portland.
Last night I was so angry at the Internet that I turned off everything and went to bed very early. Some people took to devaluing the situation, saying that this stuff happens all the time. It shouldn’t be a priority over everything else.
Instead of telling them to go fuck themselves, I went to every Facebook page of a friend that either lives in Boston or works close and made sure they were all right.
I am one of the lucky ones. So many people in Boston are hurt and scared right now. Telling them that their feelings don’t matter is more horrific than letting them take a breath to grieve.
Human tragedy isn’t a contest. Oftentimes, things are prioritized. For as much time is needed, they should be able to reflect on the events that transpired. It doesn’t mean that they have forgotten the rest of the world. It means that they are watching their sons and daughters and husbands and wives have to deal with the fact that they have lost their limbs.
I am not afraid of Boston, or ever going back home. Mainly because what I saw when seeing some of the people running was many of them running to the site to help. Runners continuing to the hospital to give blood. Off duty Emergency response personnel rushing to do what was necessary to ensure that the death count didn’t rise. Military finishing a race in full gear and then banding together to find every person that needed help.
I flashed back to 2001 yesterday, when I couldn’t get ahold of my friends in NYC. I spent ten hours in and out of panic attacks. To tell me to “wake up” and that it happens all the time is fucked up. There is no limit to the expanse of empathy.
That being said? I love you Boston. I’ll be around to hug you soon enough.
Now is not the time to be asking “who”. Now is the time to ask “what can I do to help?”
1. Give blood if you’re in the Boston area.
2. Don’t call people, just text. The phone lines are saturated.
3. Pay attention to the news, but don’t assume they are 100% correct. They would rather be first to report and have to retract than to actually research the lead.
4. Live. Laugh. Love.
My heart hurts for those that have lost, and those injured.
Yes, that’s right folks… it’s another new episode! And it’s not an “Ali screwed up and edited something she already posted” episode because it was recorded today!!!
On this episode, Seth reviews some Whiskey, Ali rants about the blight in the alcohol community known as “Old Granddad”… uh… I wrote “Rawr” in my notes and don’t know why… Nevermind. We also talk sexy parties, late night cravings, dating (…?), weird standards, cheating, shopping, plans to hang out and record face to face in September, and how five year olds are magic monsters.
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On this episode of Whiskey on Sunday, Seth watches Ali commit a coffee faux pas and they talk about the morning news, Gamestorm, Fire, Ali forgets the name of a very famous actor, Australian dramas, stolen credit card numbers, comic book ads, money, baby, work, the nerdiest towns in the US, and the theme song.
ALSO! The return of FIRING RANGE!
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