Month: September 2012

My New Story at Literary Orphans and Ocean Beach, Sand Diego

My new story, “A Crash in Boston,” went live today at Literary Orphans.  I blogged a couple of weeks ago about the publication in a post called, “Published Three Years Later…”  So, just to keep you up to date, I tried for three years to publish “A Crash in Boston.”   In 2010, it won a contest at my graduate school, and all the rejections I received afterwards really humbled me in a lot of ways.  Being a writer, well, it’s a tough battle, and the biggest confrontation is with the self, especially when you receive so many rejections.  I just kept on fighting.  I hope you’ll give it a read. Here’s the story: A Crash in Boston.

Reading at Florida International University

The story is about James Tully.  He’s back in his hometown from college for his grandfather’s memorial.  And the only thing he wants is to get the hell out of his town.  Home, to James, feels like a prison, and he needs, more than anything, to avoid the reality of his mother’s worsening mental condition.  He just needs to get away.  Well, what he finds out on the snow covered highways that head into Boston is that sometimes, no matter how hard James tries, certain paths and outcomes are out of his control. But the story is based on my life.  I used to know a man — someone who I admired very much — who drive me to the airport.  My mother would never drive me to the airport.  The roads into Boston freaked her out.  It was a complicated journey for her.  And while Mr. Kaminski, the driver in the story, is based on the man I knew; there are many fictional liberties.  He was a great man. It’s been a long time coming for this story.  And I’m very excited to have it published.  It’s good to take a moment, really only a second, and appreciate my journey.  There’s also a great interview with Joe Clifford on the site — a FIU MFA alum. I found myself taking a moment this weekend to reflect.  Heron was out of town, so I went and saw her sister and her sister’s boyfriend in San Diego — a whale’s vagina.  They live in Ocean Beach, and we went to Pacific Beach one night.  That area is so interesting.  Everyone seems like they’re clawing at life, demanding the world give them every inch of life and pleasure and adventure possible.  It’s like a bunch of people with the same mentality from all over the country moved to one place, because they woke up one day and realized there was something better out there.
And San Diego is incredible.  The ocean, the islands — it’s still so new to me — the weather.  I swear, I could make a million dollars if I figured out how to bottle the air in San Diego. I would send the bottles back to New England in January and make a killing.  People would be sitting there and opening up bottles, sniffing the San Diego air. What a trip. We all went out one night, and at one point, I snuck off from the group.  We were at some bar that reminded me of a place I went to in college.  So I went down to the ocean, and I watched the water, the waves, crawling along the beach.  It just kept coming.

Ocean Beach, San Diego.

I just stared at the water for a few minutes.  I thought about how far away I was from my hometown — Clinton, Mass.  And I thought about what a different person I was, and how I will never be the same person again. But when I reread my story, “A Crash in Boston,” it’s almost like looking at myself from a parallel universe.  While it’s fiction, that character, James Tully, is me.  It’s like staring into a mirror through a kaleidoscope.  And it’s just nice to look back sometimes.  Even if it hurts.

John Coltrane

Working on a piece on John Coltrane.  Then Heron is taking off for a trip.  Going to make some dinner.  It’s been a pretty standard day of work.  Nothing new to report.

But on Sunday, I’m pumped that my new story will be in the new issue of Literary Orphans.  And soon, my piece on Joseph Mattson will be out at the LA Weekly.  Some exciting publications coming soon.  Be on the look out.

I’ve got to get away — hiking, San Pedro, a desolate place

The last couple days, I’ve been in kind of a funk.  My batteries were low.  I needed to find some energy.  I’ve been working at this freelancing gig pretty hard the last couple weeks, and I couldn’t remember the last time that I just got away from the desk and, yes, “got off the grid.”

So I thought about going to Laguna to El Moro Canyon.  But that was too far.  I thought about going to Hollywood to hike the trails around Griffith Park.  Nope, too far also. I even thought about Joshua Tree, but who has that type of time?  That’s when I remembered a trail Heron and I went to in San Pedro.  We found it on Yelp, and it was incredible.  It’s right near the Donald Trump Golf Course, and you can bring dogs.  You can park on the street. The address is 2300 Warmouth Street, San Pedro, Ca.  I recommend it.

It was a pretty incredible moment.  The photo to the right is the entrance.  Behind that gate is a California I only dreamed about.  Click more to see the rest of the photographs.  I ended up bringing my dog, and it was quite an adventure.

On the trail, Hendrix and I climbed down this zig-zag path that lead to this rocky beach.  We were the only ones there.  We had the entire place to ourselves.  I can’t ever remember being in California and having an entire beach.  I sat on a rock, and I started to talk.  I had a lot on my mind.  I’m not sure if I was praying or just mumbling to the universe, but there was no one within an ear shot of me, so I just talked louder and louder to the point where I was yelling.  That was a good feeling.

Hendrix loved the water.  He would just sit down in it and relax from the heat.  I was worried that the waves were going to crash into him, and he would break his legs on the rocks.  But he handled himself fine.

On the way out, I watched a surfer, sitting on his board.  He was the only other surfer around, and he had the entire beach to himself.  That was a pretty remarkable feeling.  I just needed to get away today.  I have a deadline tomorrow at 8:30 a.m.; then I’m going to attend an info session at USC for a journalism program.  Just going to check it out.  Hope you enjoyed the post.

It’s a Late Night — Must Write Post

So it’s been a long day.  I sent out a lot of pitches, and I took care of some blogging for a gig today.  Now it’s 10:14 p.m.  I ended up watching sitcoms on Fox and drinking wine with Heron for last two hours.  Sometimes, it’s hard to know where you’re getting with pitching and writing.  The trick is to stay confident and positive.  Which is what I must do.  Stay positive and confident.

This is going to be a short post.  Today, I experienced a couple remarkable moments.  You know, small flashes of time that made an impression. Here they are:

I was walking Hendrix, and on the way home, I saw a couple of green parrots, resting on a frightening power line and screaming out into the neighborhood.

On that same walk, I watched a woman in Honda Civic blow a stop sign.  I heard a huge screech, and the woman coming from the opposite direction slammed on the brakes.  The accident was avoided.

Fruit flies were flying around the kitchen sink.  So Heron placed Balsamic vinegar in a wine glass, and the flies swarmed to the glass.  Stuck.

Right now, all I can hear are the cars on Redondo Ave — the swish they make as they drive by.  I’m pretending it’s the sound of the ocean.

All of these moments, the tiny lapses of consciousness, these openings of the senses, the recalling of memory, are important.  Once I forget about the small moments, then I forget about what is important.  But it’s also comforting to know that all moments must pass.

Goodnight, dear reader.

On the Importance of Journaling–Paris and Joan Didion

So I’ve been having some trouble writing my memoir the last couple of days. It’s just been going like I’ve been writing with shards off glass on sandpaper.  I hate it.  I’ve been typing a lot recently, and it’s a different process than I’ve used before.  I always started out with a pen and paper and wrote the entire story by hand — then typing up the document at the end.

My journals on the shelf.

Well, I realized earlier today this was my problem.  There is something just too robotic, uncreative, mechanical about typing.  It makes me feel like I’m transcribing from a metal box rather than the unconscious.  So, I’m going to head back to that routine and see how it goes.  But it made me reflect some on the importance of journaling.

When I was in Paris, I wandered around a lot by myself.  I just walked around at night, and I remember I walked down the stairs at Le Petit Pont to sit by the Seine River and write.  It was night, and the Notre Dame was behind me.  I watched someone inside turn the lights off in the famous cathedral.  So I sat on the cobble stones, when a man in a full suit walked up to me.  I was sitting next to a trash can that was overflowing, and it kind of smelled.  The man said to me, “If you keep a journal, then a journal will keep you.”  It was like a dream.  I couldn’t believe it happened.

And after this mysterious person uttered that line, I wrote this in my journal: “That saying is pretty perfect for the way I feel.  I feel that my trips, my life, can somehow be captured in here.  My attempt to breakdown the boundary of the dream and reality (being awake).  Now I listen to reggae music on the crackling cobbled sidewalks running with the Seine.  On the other side, a man wails on the saxophone.  On the river, a boat churns the water where lights dance on the tiny waves.  I don’t know how to describe how I feel underneath the shadows of the Notre Dame…I’m supposed to be here.  However, this isn’t that romantic, because I’m by myself, and I can smell the trash.”

I will never forget what that man said to me.  “A journal keeps you.”  Well, I look on my shelf, and I see all my journals.  I have about 20 or so.  That’s where I am kept.  I exist within those notebooks.  My thoughts, my journey, my dreams, it’s all there.  And it’s only for me.

And it’s also the journey I took to learn how to be a writer.

Every time I take a road trip, I bring my journal.  I make sure to document as much as I can, while still living the experience.  But to me, writing about my life, writing about my thoughts, is my way of understanding my world.  Because the only way I really know how to think, to know something true, is to write about it.

Finally, I will leave you with a quote by Joan Didion from her essay: “On Keeping Notebook“: 

“Keepers of private notebooks are a different breed altogether, lonely and resistant rearranges of things, anxious malcontents, children afflicted apparently at birth with some presentiment of loss.”