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(pronounced Ko-Hane)
Dan is the Bram Stoker-nominated author of Plague of Darkness, Solomon’s Grave, and the critically-acclaimed Margaret's Ark. Writing as G. Daniel Gunn, he released Destroyer of Worlds and the novella (written with L.L.Soares) Nightmare in Greasepaint (Samhain Publishing),. His short stories have appeared in Cemetery Dance, Shroud Magazine, Apex Digest and many more. He and his family live in New England.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Christmas Special Villians


Pop on over to Cinema Knife Fight, where we talk about the best, and worst, Christmas Special Villians


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Reading and Signing Saturday Nov 30th!

Along with many others from the Worcester Writers Collaborative, I'll be participating in a reading & signing at Annie's Book Stop, 65 James Street, Worcester MA on Saturday, November 30th. The event goes from noon - 7:00 PM. My time slot is 2:00 - 3:00. I'll be reading from Margaret's Ark at 2:00, and will be joined by two other authors. We'll be signing until 3:00, then the next group of authors will take the 'stage'. I was there yesterday, and it's a cool store - small! so will be interesting how people will fit but they're expert at this kind of event, having done many group signings in the past. It'll be nice to get out into the world with my writing again.


My Review of EUROPA REPORT Is Now Showing



My review of the science fiction film EUROPA REPORT (2013) is now showing at Cinema Knife Fight!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

A Consolidation of My Movie Reviews


So I've been writing movie reviews for Cinema KnifeFight for a few years, now, and with CKF's recent conversion to a new server and the concern that over time some of the older entries might start to wander away into that foggy world of lost pages, I've create a Page with All Past Reviews Here. I won't post new reviews on this new page right away, but wait a week to allow traffic to flow to Cinema Knife Fight first. But this new page (linked also from the menu up there on the sidebar) will be a good one-stop place for finding all past reviews.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Day After Christmas

It’s funny, how things sneak up on you. Feelings, emotions are sometimes tucked in the corner of a room and we think nothing of them, until the day we go into the corner and pick them up and look at them again. Sometimes we know what these are, how we’ll feel, but sometimes we can be surprised.

Recently we painted my youngest daughter’s room, covered the pink paint that covered the walls since 1997 with a deeper, more mature color (two shades of purple with a cool angular design). Looks good, and the new carpet is soft and warm under our feet. Of course, to do all this, you have to pull everything out of the room and tuck it somewhere else while you work. That place was my son’s old room – the next project on our list. Flash forward to yesterday. Andrew’s old carpet needs to be pulled up and tossed, not so much for a style change but because the dogs had chosen that room when they were puppies as their personal pee-spot. Try as we might to shampoo the smell out, it lingers, much to Andrew’s chagrin during his last few months here before moving to the Big Apple to begin the next phase of his life as a young executive. So, with the room vacant, the carpet’s finally going to go, and while we’re at it we’ll paint the walls and breathe a new look into the now-spare room. Plans and schemes, paving the road for the next path life will take us on.

Everything has to come out of this room now, bookshelves, the bed and desk, to get at the carpet. Like the Audrey-project, every memory tucked in the corner or on a shelf passes from my hand into a bin or a temporary stack in the hallway.

And memories come flooding back. And I become sad. And I wonder why.

The memories themselves are not sad, in fact they are some of the best memories of my life, and I wonder why the word ‘sad’ comes to me. Sword-fighting with my boy outside with plastic or foam-covered swords (there was a short time where he used a wooden sword but my friend Al, on seeing the blood stains from my knuckles smeared across the wood, took the sword one day when visiting and hid it on top of the kitchen cabinets). Sitting in the girls’ bedroom (when both daughters shared the then-pink room) while all three kids acted out one play or another (usually directed by Amanda and written on the fly). Piles of action figures in the middle of the floor, fodder for battles between Luke Skywalker and Spiderman and a Tyrannosaurus Rex, taking pictures on the steps in the front hall of my son and daughters in their Halloween costumes, sitting at the kitchen table helping with homework (and half the time knowing less than they did on some subjects), every bedtime reading the latest Harry Potter novel or Calvin & Hobbes comics or Animorphs book, every night, sometimes falling asleep beside them on the bed.

The memories are joyous. Too often we dwell on the space around these moments, the crazy schedules, the stress of adult life, the good and bad times in the air that surrounded those oasis of fun and smiles. Children look at their young lives in snapshots, moments and memories, I know I still do of my own childhood, but as adults there’s always a big picture and in that are the individual memories, which slowly, inexorably, get tucked away. Replaced by others, some just as good and memorable, even if different: visiting New York City with Andrew looking for apartments replaces visiting Storyland, checking out colleges with Amanda instead of browsing through a candy store letting her pick out her ‘one thing,’ consoling Audrey during her first real breakup instead of kissing the booboo on her knee before the Band-Aid goes on.

As I clean out the kids’ rooms, even if only temporarily, the items that trigger these memories pass through my hands and I ache for their loss. I’m sure every parent goes through these times in their life, these ‘empty nest’ moments as we begin Phase 3 and watch the kids move into their own Phase 2’s of life. I was sad – ‘melancholy’ was the word I gave to my wife, and confused as to why this was so, because these moments were wonderful.

Then, driving to church last night, the answer came. Each and every moment, and there were many, spent with my children were like Christmas presents. Each and every moment unwrapped was a surprise and exciting and new and though the physical things which may remind me of them will wear out, or go in a box in the attic for safe-keeping, the memories of each is still as warm.

But there’s always the day after Christmas. When the presents have been opened and the needles are falling off the tree and the radio stations finally stop playing Christmas jingles and the world is no longer covered in bright red and green wrapping paper. ‘The crash’ as I used to call it. The yearning for the next Christmas three hundred and sixty-something days away.

Going through their rooms, seeing those presents of the past opened in the reading of a book, or watching a karate class or soccer game or dance recital are still there, in my hands or in my heart, and we can linger on them and wish for those moments back, but looking back we miss the road ahead. Life is relationships, as my pastor said this weekend. Relationships – with our children, our parents, spouses, siblings, friends, and the stranger we meet at the gas station, are countless presents coming our way every day. Christmas Comes But Once A Year is a lie. Every moment I spend with my kids today, even if for the older ones it might not come as often, is a gift that I open with joy every time I see them. When I kiss my wife, hug a friend, visit my parents, meet someone new, it’s another gift, and another, and another.

There is an innocence in children that buoys us and allows us to relive our own childhood memories or desires. But there’s an innocence and excitement in sharing ourselves and our love with everyone we meet. It lifts us up and allows us to be real, in the here and now with as much joy, if not more, as anything else. Every moment of our lives we can open a new gift given to us from someone else, or ourselves, or God, and when we let that happen the day after Christmas need never come again.




Wednesday, October 16, 2013

3 New Reviews: UPSIDE DOWN, BLOOD & CHROME, ANOTHER EARTH

Hi, all. Though I promise I'm writing fiction too, you just haven't seen any of it lately (finished a new short story after ages without writing anything, it's pretty good and is circulating (under my G Daniel Gunn moniker), and I've focused on finishing Plague of Darkness and putting this puppy to bed before continuing with any new novel... more on all that later, though). I have had some new reviews out recently (this post was oroginally 3 seperate but am condensing them into one now). Most recently: the romantic science fiction film UPSIDE DOWN (2012) now showing at Cinema Knife Fight. Check it out!

My mini-review of BATTLESTAR GALACTICA: BLOOD & CHROME is also at Cinema Knife Fight. Not my best review, writing-wise - how many commas and propositions can one man possibly stick into 1000 words - but it should give you an idea whether you want to see the movie. :)



Finally my review of the 2011 film ANOTHER EARTH can be found here (again at Cinema Knife Fight). Check it out. I really enjoyed this movie, both watching and reviewing it.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Midnight Diner is Back!

Midnight Diner is back, and going to be a paying market. They've been doing a fund-raiser which is ending in a few days. They're doing it the way pre-product fund-raisers should be... you can subscribe to the magazine ahead of time, initially just electronic but a possible print edition later. I've read the previous issues front to back (even appeared in one) and I have to say the writing - a mix of essay, prose and poetry - blew me away. Well worth checking out.

Monday, August 12, 2013

2013 Wheels and Heels Against MS

Its time again for my family's Multiple Sclerosis fundraiser, Wheels and Heels Against MS. You've all been so generous in the past so I'll let brother Paul explain:

Hi, everyone -

Looks like I’ve gotten off to an even later fundraising start this year.  But know that Anne and I continue on with our mission to help stomp out Multiple Sclerosis.

On September 6 - 8, we will return to the roads and bike paths of Cape Cod for our 50-mile, 3-day journey.  We remain determined to celebrate that day when MS is nothing but a memory.

I am picking up the pace with my training to make sure the aging muscles and tendons can continue to withstand the rigors of the event.  Am keeping my fingers (and soon-to-be-sore toes) crossed that the weather cooperates as well and we see some more of the beautiful days we’ve had of late. 

You have all been so great in your support over the years and we hope that you can continue to fight alongside us.  No donation is too small.

Multiple Sclerosis is a frightening disease that affects the central nervous system.  The symptoms may be mild (such as numbness in the limbs) or severe enough to cause blindness or paralysis. The severity and specifics of the symptoms of MS can’t yet be predicted, but advances in research and treatment are giving hope to those affected by the disease.

Your donations to the National MS Society not only help fund vital research, but also go towards helping those who battle this disease every day.  
   
As in the past, there are two ways you can donate.  

  • The fastest and most convenient way would be to visit our web site at:

and then click on mine or Anne’s name.

  • You can also mail a check to me or Anne, making it out to The National MS Society
Our addresses are:        Paul Keohane                                     Anne Murphy             
2 Jillian Rose Dr                                  13 Apache Way
Oxford, MA 01540                             Tewksbury, MA 01876

Thank you all so very much for your continued support!!
Paul

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Seven Days a Week

So, I'm trying to get myself back on a schedule of writing where I actually produce something, rather than sit around in angst and curse that I've not written anything. I'm trying to just write anything, even if it's crap, because crap written still is better than genius never. To do this, I set up a daily schedule of writing, which is my mandatory writing I will do every day, with minimum of 1,000 words. Anything else is gravy. Now this is a new process-slash-experiment and I have not been very good at sticking to it, but when it comes to doing it, I must write the required topic first. I can do the thousand in an hour, if I focus. On the days I have written I haven't always hit it the word target, but have been hitting the mark 90% of the time. Only meeting my daily sit-ass-in-chair requirement 50% but that's better than zero, so it's a start, but I need to improve. Trying to re-learn the discipline I've lost over the past few years. My life just seems so much less structured than before. I'm writing this on a Wednesday because I've designated Wednesdays as "web" writing day. Usually, that means a blog entry, but could be anything web related.

So here's the schedule at the moment, as a way to get back into the swing of things and to experiment with the varied types, modes of the written word:

Monday: Movie reviews. I haven't written a solo film review for Cinema Knife Fight for over a year, until last week, when I wrote one for AFTER EARTH (2013), published yesterday (see previous blog entry). It felt great to be able to send Lauran something after so long. I enjoy doing these, and many folks have been asking when a new one will come out.

Tuesday: True stuff, aka non fiction. I've been toying, doing some light research, on Israel between the end of the Old Testament and the beginning of the New. The worlds just seem so different. Of course, 300 years or so passed between them so there would be changes in governments, etc. But it was quite a change, and more research I did the more fascinating I found what happened in this time. Now, when I came up with a title, BETWEEN THE TESTAMENTS, I realized a few books of this kind were written over the past few decades, but I could find some way of doing this differently, though might want a new title. Too bad, this one kicks butt. Linda suggested maybe writing an historical fiction piece. Maybe. Another non-fiction idea I'd had was to take an obscure book of the Old Testament, like Leviticus, and go chapter by chapter giving my completely amateur (we like to say layperson's in the churchy world) opinion of each one. I could also do a non-spiritual concept, maybe write articles, etc. How-to's, whatever. Non-fiction articles pay pretty well.

Wednesday: that's today (as I write this). Web stuff, primarily blog entries. I'm a lousy promoter, but the more people visit your site, the more see you have a book out. But you need to talk about stuff, be honest, and real. It's cathartic, as well. This blog has become an autobiography - granted, sometimes in a very cryptic way. But, still....

Thursday: Thrillers. I figure it's a big market and to be honest, this one is the fun one. Don't care how sellable it might be, what I want to do is write short, digest-sized novels... think Perry Rhodan in the old space opera vein, or other mini book series. Thought of this at a used bookstore in Worcester when I saw a whole slew of compact thriller novels - you know, Harlequin Romance-sized minus th eopen-shirted male models. Who knows, maybe there is a market for these still. If not, nothing says I can't put them out myself through Other Road. So far I've written a couple thousand words of the opening chapters then a thousand words to so of a free-form outline, what happens next etc.

Friday: Free form... or full-length if I want to work on a novel, but in truth free-form is what it is, write whatever the frak I want. However, there really is no novel day (since no N days of the week). In here I've been free-writing character and plot sketches for a potential new novel. I had started writing a novel a few months back called Ezra and lost steam, found the main character was just not that interesting to me. But the other characters I'd introduced were very three-dimensional, especially a woman named Robin. Her and her mother. So I'm starting over, talking about Robin, the town of Ezra, her Mom, and maybe a Carney named... actually I was working on his name last time. But there's a glimmer of a cool story slowly working itself out. Want to do it this way, craft together an outline of sorts of a story I'm actually excited about - maybe it'll get me to write it.

Saturday: Now weekends are tough. No excuse, though. My kids aren't little anymore, in fact my oldest is moving to NYC in a few days, daughter #1 is off to college in the Fall and as I type this my youngest is driving us to Grammy & Grampa's house to pick up some stuff for NYC-son. Not like I have soccer practices and girl scout field trips to attend on weekend, at least not as much. Get up early and the day is yours, too. I seem to have lost the ability to sleep past 6am lately anyway.... where was I? Ah, Saturdays... (and sorry for those who came in here yesterday, for some reason some sentences were moved around...)  Screenplays and/or Songs. "Songs" is new because I realized it's something I've always considered doing. I can't write music, but lyrics... why not? I know and enjoy music of all genres, why not give some a go myself. Can't complain about so many Refrain Songs out there if I'm not willing to put my own neck out. Whether there's anyway of actually marketing this is another story, but that's not the point. A lot of what I'd written in the past was never sold... I just need to write. I found a great quote today...
"There's no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you." (Maya Angelou)
"Screenplays" because after a few fun stint's with Ned Utzig's Mad Ned productions during the 48 Hour Film Competitions, I learned enough to be interested to explore more. I think it's something I could do and enjoy.

Sunday: short stories. I have an unfinished piece I'd written the first draft of called "An Gorta Mor" for the second volume of the NEHW anthology. Never finished it. It has promise, but needs a lot of work. Plus I have a Palm Pilot full of ideas... what? Yes, I have a Palm Pilot. No, I don't own a smart phone yet... and yes, I'm typing this on a used Google Android Tablet that I got on Craigslist and don't think is even made anymore. Consider me a purveyor of antiques... anyway, I have a lot of thoughts on stories, and come up with a lot more. Hell, most writers can whip up a story just by randomly opening a dictionary and pointing. Short fiction is fun to write because you can finish it much sooner than a novel, and it's a way to get your name out there at least to other folks in the genre.


So, that's it. Now today is Wednesday and I've been feeling like a shit all day about not having written, but as I finish this, cruising along 495 I feel much better. My wrists hurt because the angle I'm typing is not the best, ergonomically. But mentally, it's like walking out to a fresh cut grass summer day after being stuck in the house with fifteen cats. I did not do any writing for past few days, but to dwell on that and not focus on the days ahead is the true sin. So now it's out there. I'll try to keep you all abreast of how it's going....

PS: as I clean this up back at the house worth mentioning I did work on a screenplay, just to dabble. But I worked on it, and that's all that matters right now.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

My Review of AFTER EARTH Now Showing





My movie review of AFTER EARTH (2013) starring Will and Jaden Smith and directed my M. Night Shyamalan is now up at Cinema Knife Fight. Check it out... the review, at least. :-)

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Moments of a New Generation

In a couple of days my niece, and godchild, Taryn Keohane is going to be marrying Kevin Terwilliger. Cool name, easier to spell than "Keohane". Not by much, though. :-)  The Keohane clan is converging in New Hampshire for the soiree. This will be the second wedding of the next generation of Keohanes (nephew Joey was in 2010). So after a 20+ year hiatus with very few weddings - before that it seemed we had a wedding of friends and relatives every week in our 20's - the cycle is beginning again. Taryn and Kevin are starting the next Phase of life together, and I can imagine, from memory, the excited, frenzied days that have led up to this weekend. Once the organ starts playing in the church, then it's time to relax and enjoy the day. That day and every day after, be real with each other, treat each other with respect and dignity, love each other unconditionally and never assume anything, always talk, always ask. Hide nothing. The rest is gravy.

A week later my son Andrew is moving away officially to New York City, starting his new job in Manhattan. I told him when he got there he needs to stand on a street corner and take off his hat, toss it into the air. But he didn't get it. He never saw this indelible (in my mind) image:


(I've always gotten a kick out of that sour-faced woman standing behind her - so disapproving)

We've made two trips to New York, he and I, so far, to search for apartments. As I write this, we're just waiting to hear about the applications we put in for one of two good candidates. I should ask him later what it's like, knowing that in a week and a half he'll be officially "leaving home." I remember when I moved to Worcester to begin work back in 1985, I was psyched. So happy to be out on my own, excited about cooking my own meals (yea, right, that didn't happen until 2010! unless you count boxed macaroni and cheese). The world was my stage, and anything was possible because I was also the playwright! I was ready, I was set, I was.. writing my way into a metaphor hole.

He's excited about his future life in Metropolis. And so am I. Do the right thing, Andrew, even if it's hard, and be nice to people. Say 'please' and 'thanks' as often as possible, smile, and remember you're never alone. Keep God close (he is anyways, so maybe I should say Acknowledge Him in everything).

Ooh, Baby baby it's a wild world. Doo doo doo da da da da dum. And it's hard to get by just upon a smile.

But a smile helps.

Smile at people. Just not on the Metro.



Wednesday, June 05, 2013

The Week of Moving On

So, it's been a quiet week. Needed this, considering the week before this one was non-stop Big Events with enough drama to choke a horse. The week leading up to Memorial Day weekend was the same one leading to my son Andrew's college graduation. Temperatures dropped to the 30's in Albany, there was even snow only 30 miles west of us, according to the weather reports, and we had to split our ranks. Andrew's mom and I managed seats in the new venue, the indoor stadium where the graduation-proper was held because of the rain and cold, while my wife and daughters watched from a video monitor in the next building.

Plenty of drama of the happy kind in the morning, watching my 21 year old son stepping with cap and gown into the next phase of life. I was proud and somehow lonely. For various reasons, but 'lonely' works. The not-as-happy drama kicked into gear later as we got Andrew's college apartment packed up into the car and we headed home, Linda and I. Andrew and his mom and sisters followed tradition and stopped at Cracker Barrel one last time. Now he's an alumnus, and will have to learn to deal with his Alma mater always sending hapless work study undergrads to ask him for money.

We're off the New York City tomorrow so he can attend a meeting at his new employer, and we're going to try and look at some apartments. Need to find a place before July 1st, either a lease or a sublet.

The long weekend passed and we turned our attention to my daughter Amanda's high school graduation. There is drama in my world, hurt and pain, and this only intensified as the week went on. Not going to get into it. Tired of talking about it, but the graduation came and Janet, me and daughter Audrey attended (Andrew was sick). Crowded time, but very nice graduation ceremony. The night was late, the the other daughter had homework, it was after nine, so we said congrats, gave some battle-weary hugs, for the week had worn on us (and it wasn't over) then I left Amanda to head out and celebrate with her friends. I went home, relieved that the ceremony went nicely and Amanda seemed happy. I felt lonely, too. Parents must feel this as these kinds of things happen. Maybe there were other reasons but this felt like a right of passage kind. I will diminish, and all that.

Drama, drama, angst and pain, then we come to Saturday, and Amanda's final dance recital with Chickee's Dance World, where she's been dancing since the age of 4, fourteen years ago. I have another blog entry about Amanda and her dancing, and at least I can hold on to that. She was perfect, beautiful up there tall and graceful doing her final dances, including 3 extras she did with another girl who's regular partner sprained her ankle so Amanda filled in for her. Godparents, aunts, cousins, friends were in attendance, and she did well. Though she didn't acknowledge her mom during the recital, she had a nice thing to say about her on Facebook later, which is good, since she'd been by her side in all things dance... insisting on being the one who was by her side for all of it, in fact. I still got to enjoy the competitions and recitals and got to see my daughter growing up every day, and year to year during the first weekend in June, so I have no complaints. It worked out over the years as it should have. This time around, this last recital I felt more like a shadow on the wall, still grateful to have seen the show and not missing any of the dances, if maybe a little more insignificant than usual. The hugs at the end were more tired and weary, eyes downcast, but it was another milestone. One significant moment after another, and in between mortar, of which kind I won't get into, except that it was inevitable, and was going to happen one way or another.

Life moves on, little children become teens become adults moving into their own worlds. Eventually they come to the understanding that their parents don't stop moving the moment their children leave the house, don't sit ion the couch in stand-by mode. Eventually discover their parents are human, and have lives outside of theirs. The parents want to share it still, these lives, every day and every way as some vague song lyric in the back of my head says. But that can't happen. We'll settle for now and then. As often as possible. Hopefully staving off the cats and the cradle syndrome. And still be a part of their life. We want that but to do that, at some point, it can only be done in the right context. They've grown up, they're adults, and as such our answers, our reactions, our responses to our kids needs to be no different than to another adult - a fellow passenger in this world we live and from which we've done everything we could to shelter them. 

Because they are adults, and the last, best thing we can do for them is to accept this fact and treat them as such. In love, and correction.

Most times, the two are the same thing anyway.
June 2013


Thursday, May 23, 2013

Alabama Getaway: The Long Awaited Recap of our Mission Week

So it’s been almost a month since we got back from Alabama and I still haven’t posted my promised update on our mission trip. I’m sorry. Seems actual writing and me haven’t gotten along very well lately. Trying… but not very well.

The short version: the trip was amazing. For those not in the know, we traveled to Alabama during April vacation to help the region recover from the massive damage across the entire state cause by a rash of tornadoes that hit the area two years ago, including a 2-mile wide F5. See www.dankeohane.com/alabama for an intro).

To spend a week with 30 people who began mostly as strangers and ended like family, focusing only on what we can do next to help people we never knew and would likely never see again. Just wonderful. And since it was a church trip, the closeness everyone felt with God and His #1 mission in the world – help people and show love for no other reason than to show love, was just, well, wicked cool. Sounds like I’m tooting my horn. Don’t mean to. Anyone can do it, and many other people who did not come this time were just as much a part of it - thnaks to everyone who donated so much money to send the three of us along on this trip. See the link above for the list of our caregivers. And so many other people do only this their whole lives. To be able to experience even a part of this kind of life is a blessing. We went with talents ranging from experts in home construction to having never held a hammer before. Didn’t matter. Everyone just did whatever they needed to, regardless of experience, age, what have you.

One rule going in: have no expectations. You could be assigned to do anything, from cleaning up debris to knocking down walls to building decks to laying carpet. The job was to be there, humbly love the people you serve and be ready for anything. The only planning was for stuff: blankets, pillows, clothes, tools. But what would happen would happen. If you expect nothing, then everything is gravy.

I spent the entire week working at one site, along with a dozen or so other folks, working on an older couple’s house – painting, tearing out old boards and shoring up the walls outside. Inside, I and a few others (by the end of the week we were down to two, me and spunky young Cameron who had so much enthusiasm (and thankfully construction experience) that it was contagious). Our job was to replace a damaged living room ceiling. We tore down the old ceiling and laid plaster board over the exposed beams (we had a cool lifter tool for this so no backaches), taping, seaming and painting. We JUST finished the work on the last half day before leaving on our 3 hour drive back to Atlanta and the airport.

Funny thing is, God provides. The first day we got there, I discovered the family had 15 cats – yep, fifteen – and those who know me know how allergic I am to cats of any breed. But a girl in our group, Erin, had a box of these Alka Selter allergy gel caps, and I took those each morning. Not one sniffle, no sleepiness, nothing. It was as if my allergy was gone! I thought it was, until the last day when we came back to clean up and finish the work inside, and there were no more pills! No problem, I thought. I started working inside and within 10 minutes was stumbling outside, unable to breathe. People thought I was sick – but the allergies were so bad I had to work outside the rest of the morning. Still, we had finished the living room and the couple were extremely nice and very grateful.

Amanda started work on one of the other major sites: tearing down a barn which had been damaged in the storms but still staning. Over the course of the week the group tore down one wall, then another (at one point the ceiling collapsed on top of Dena, our fearless leader, who narrowly avoided getting seriously hurt). Amanda next day joined my group at the house and spent a week in the sun painting the outside trim and shutters relentlessly (I got a lot of comments on my daughter’s dedication to her job). Funny: there were bees everywhere (big ones) flying out of the eves all week. On Day One people were running away, swatting at the air in general bee-panic. By mid-week, you’d watch fascinated while Amanda and everyone else stood on ladders and painted, surrounded by bees flying around them non-stop, and not even flinching. A lot of phobias were conquered at our site.

Linda replaced Amanda at the barn site, helping to pull down the last of the walls and then lugging ALL of the scrap wood (it was a BIG barn) across the property for burning. She also went to another site where work was finished a previous week and spent a day using these magnet thingies picking up stray nails (not just from construction, the area was still littered with nails from destroyed homes). On her first day, she spent the entire time on top of a trailer home in the sun painting sealant along the roof.

We also had a group later in the week building a new porch for a family, and doing repairs on their roof.
It was joyous, fun, rewarding work, from the moment we started to the moment we drove off in our 5 rented vans for Atlanta.

We worked in and around the town of Rainsville, Alabama, and stayed at this massive Baptist church in town. The congregation gave us the run of the entire place for the week. We expected a small, crowded place but found that we could have fit 200 people comfortably if we needed to.

Every morning someone would give a devotional (a sort of mini church service where we play a song or two, read from scripture and give a little talk about how the scripture or song applied to what we were doing, etc, lasted about 20 minutes or so), then broke into small groups and talked about the day to come. A woman, Dawn, was in charge of food, and spent all morning from around 4:30 AM making breakfast and packing pre-made lunches for everyone along with her team of volunteers. Every day at the site I had a brown paper bag lunch with peanut butter and jelly (my choice!!) and a small salad, snacks, and lots of water.

When we got back, the relief organization had provided us with mobile shower units outside in the parking lot (not to worry, plenty of privacy, each shower was self-contained), where EVERYONE took turns showering and washing off the grime from the day, and there was plenty. I actually shaved off my beard that first night because it was getting full of dust and dirt and it was just too hot to wear (it’s back now). We then met in small groups again, talked about the day, and had dinner. Every day, every meal and gathering was begun with someone giving thanks in prayer…

It was awesome!!

One night we all went out to dinner at a rib/meat place. One night we went bowling – a mad jumble of chaos and … well, mostly chaos, but it was fun. We had a scavenger hunt inside the church, talked about the one room in the church FILLED with puppets (about a hundred of them). It was creepy and cool (there’s a very big youth program in this church we were staying at).

Highlights for me? Well, there was the laughing, and joking, all day long. My group every day had people like Artie and Chris and actually everyone just had an amazing sense of humor. At one point I was taping the ceiling and the gentleman who lived there came out with a smile and said, “You have a really happy group.” Because everyone outside was laughing hysterically over something. It was so constant I had stopped hearing it. And they were filthy with paint and dust and scraped all over from cutting and tearing boards. Having a great time.

I did the devotional Thursday morning after breakfast. Talked about how we’d be going home Saturday to our previous lives, and the latest developments on the Boston Marathon bombing, and to try and bring what we have gained from the trip, the sense of Sprit, the closeness to each other and God, and of course a new perspective on the world. Something like that. I don’t think I sucked too badly. But it was cool to be able to stand there and, well, not really “preach” but it was kind of. And to do so with my daughter there. My wife Linda also did an amazing job on Tuesday when she did the devotional, and it was very cool watching and listening to her. She’s so there and real.

That was a major highlight – every morning listening to one of our friends stand up and talk about their faith, about their relationship with Jesus and how it helps them or challenges them. Not something many people do to start the morning. I miss it.

The biggest thing I hope everyone who went or heard about our trip later might take away from all this. Many people who do not consider themselves a Christian, or even religious, have given their time and talents over and over, when people are in need. But as a Christian, moments like this are a stark reminder that this is what it's about. Having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and letting the love and forgiveness He offers everyone to spill out to every person we meet. It's about loving the people around you. Unlike the... misguided individuals who think it means judging others, filing humanity into the Right and Wrong of the world. Our role while we're here is just the opposite. We are no better than anyone else, be they a poor couple in a small Alabama town, a middle class family who got screwed by their insurance company, someone who just needs a ride to Walmart (there's a long story behind that), a priest or a homeless person, black or white, straight or gay, man or woman, God loves them 100% just as much as every other person on this planet, past, present or future. All you have to do is accept it, and some pretty amazing things happen in your life. For those of us who, often reluctantly, acknowledge that love as real, our only job is to be open with our lives and share the abundance we've gotten with others. No strings. No rules. Show God as He is, really is, and show his love in the only way we can. With a "Good Morning," a comforting word or hug, a smile, or a nail and hammer if required. He does the rest.

So, there’s probably more, but I’ve gone on long enough I think. Like I said, it was an amazing time, and we’re all looking forward to the next one.

Dan




Friday, March 22, 2013

An Oasis of Pleasant Humor and Cigar Smoke

One of the first people I met at my very first Necon (a horror artist/writers conference in RI) back in 2000 was this shag-haired bearded man named Rick Hautala. A fantastic writer - and I'm sure there are plenty of other posts and honorariums discussing his work elsewhere - he was also a fantastic man. Laid back, to the point a few years back when I swear he stayed in one spot the entire weekend casually drinking scotch and smoking cigars. For him, and the rest of us, Necon was vacation. A time to hang out with like-minded souls and talk about nothing but writing. I would search him out every summer and try to spend some time hanging out and talking with him about everything. It was funny, everyone else did the same thing, whether he was alone or sitting with his uber-cool wife, writer Holly Newstein (they met at Necon), people would search for him and do what I did. Just spend time with him. He was kind to everyone he met, never judged, never put himself over or under anyone else. Welcoming, and funny. Rick loved to laugh, and loved it when the people he was with laughed along. Aside from a few, very enjoyable events outside of the con when I hung out with Rick and others, Necon was the place he'd be. And if with such limited contact I'm sitting here mourning him and writing this less than a day after his sudden death at the too young age of 64, I can only imagine with a very heavy heart how hard his absence will be to those who were privelaged to be called his closest friends. I'm going to miss you Rick. Be well.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Wicked Pitch

Amanda & I visited the open house at UMass today a couple of weeks ago. Most of it was a bit dry (tough to be very specific, I suppose, when a couple thousand people are there to learn about a couple dozen different studies). The very end was great, talking 1-1 with one of the heads of the school Amanda's looking at. And the very beginning, as we shuffled into the monstrous hall for the beginning of the above-mentioned dry speeches and got to hear an amazing acapella group, Wicked Pitch

http://www.facebook.com/wickedpitch

That's about as far as I got with my post from two weeks ago, then I stopped... Brother Paul said, days later, "Hey, what happened to your Post Every Day committment?" (literally, my brother, Paul, not a traveling monk who came by Nathan-like to scold me for my sins...)

Yea, I know. I simply lost steam, decided what the heck was I writing, where was I going? Maybe I'd said everything. Dunno. Something stopped me.

I'm back now. I won't promise I'll have something to say every day. But hopefully I'll start moving forward with somehting, one Talent at a time. But that statement's for another time....

Saturday, March 02, 2013

Whew..... still more to come but time to sleep, perchance etc

Yea, going to have a really brief one tonight, but I said I'd post every day for the rest of Lent so here I am, 10:43 at night, exhausted. The Mission Market at New England Chapel was fun - the crowds (I guess, according to others, since this was my first) were much lower than usual (I guess because there was no live music this time around), so the sales were low, but overall I think we earned a little over $200 towards our trip. Overall we're not quite but almost halfway to our fundraising goal to send me, my wife Linda and daughter Amanda to Alabama in April on a missions trip. See our Alabama page for more info.

Linda couldn't make the market tonight because she the other leaders were up in NH at the Berea youth retreat, and I couldn't be more proud. Amanda's creative journals sold very well and made quite a splash. She sold half of them and our uber cool organizer Dena is going to try and sell more in the morning.

Special Shout-out to Dave and Diane Wassenar for working with us at our table all night. Thanks so much!! And to Mark O'Brien whom I just met tonight who came in early and helped me set up. And to everyone else who came by including my sister and helped out in so many ways. NEC is an amazing bunch of folk.

That's it, though. Tired and have to get up early. Going to let the dogs sleep on the bed with me tonight, since the poor things haven't seen me all night. :-)



Friday, March 01, 2013

The Power of Parsley

OK, just came back from the store where I bought (among other things) an all-purpose cleaner called "Parsley Plus"... I kid you not, this thing apparently cleans with the "Power of Parsley."

Now, I suppose if you don't cook you can't appreciate how hard it is to clean up all the little pieces of the small-leafed plants like parsley or cilantro, when they get wet, and smear and stick to YOUR FINGERS AND DRIVE ME..... but, it's not happening now, is it? Still, one never would consider parsley to be a cleaning agent. I think The Company (the big conglomerate that actually owns all the products we buy... you know, because we're living in a bubble on the moon?..)... I think The Company must be running out of new marketing ideas. Lemons, then oranges. I can see the three chain-smoking ad agents in the conference room, holding up a label-less spray bottle as they try to come up with something new, something hip, something Mr and Ms USA will just grab up. One guy, after a long silence, says, "Parsley?"

The other two shrug and mutter, "Sure," and "Whatever" because it's Friday and they want to go home.

Lesser things than this were born this way, I suppose.

But I had to buy it. Seriously, Parsley Plus Cleaner. How could I not?

Thursday, February 28, 2013

With The Wind Blowing Through My Hair

I'm posting every day for the rest of lent as a way of breaking down walls I've built over the years - I think... to be honest, I'm not exactly sure why except that I feel I should... it's all badly explained here...)

It's funny how, when you work from home too long you begin to lose your perspective on so many things. You get stir crazy, lazy sometimes (if it goes on too long) - for me, I get bitter, too, especially on top of everything else I'm not writing. Not sure why. Change can do that, but No Change can do worse, and there's something about going into the office and working with your peers face-to-face that makes you actually enjoy the day. You feel needed again. I just finished work in the office today, and am sitting at my desk writing this before hitting the road. Honestly, I'd come in more often if it wasn't an hour drive each way. I was directionless, but now it's better, back on track. Sometimes we can wander off the path but that's why we have guides, in this particular case the guy I work with. Sharp cookie, that one.

I mentioned earlier how someone once said depression is an extreme case if self-absorption, or something like that. Working from home - be it in the field computers or full-time writing - alone for too long you become your own company, for better or worse. You, and your dogs. You wonder why mountain men or hermits are represented in movies or TV as wild haired crazy people. Check out my hair in my updated profile pic on the side bar in this blog - and if you've been reading you know I'm halfway to crazy already. Need to get out of the house more often, and not just to the same old place. Everybody needs to be among other people. That's one thing about my wife: when we go out, we meet people and talk. People just gravitate toward Linda and talk to her.

So if someday I find myself fortunate enough to write full time (because my writing can support it) then I'll need to make it a point to get out among other people. But until then, I need to go into work more often to remind me that most of my work related angst is in my head (which so easily gets dusty and needs to air out with a long drive).
That's it for today, need to head home, get some groceries and cook supper. Let the dogs out. That sort of thing. Haven't seen them all day. :-)

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

I Have This Friend, You Know?

I'm posting every day for the rest of lent as a way of breaking down walls I've built over the years - I think... to be honest, I'm not exactly sure why except that I feel I should... it's all badly explained here...)

Ok, so yesterday's post got a leeeetle long-winded. Sorry about that. :-) I'll try to be less verbose and bombastic, not to mention redundant. But I'm serious, I will use every one of those Word Wealth vocabulary words I had to memorize in school before I drop off this planet.

I'll be brief.

I have a friend who knows he needs to do something about his job when he actually gets to the point in his prayer life where he asks to get laid off. Pretty bad. His employment, after a great run and challenging projects and some amazing coworkers, had begun - on and off over the past few years to feel like standing in a warehouse during the Apocalypse, after the hordes of survivors had already come through and picked it clean. A fluttering of paper, a can of beans maybe, to the point where why bother even eating the beans, you know? (Think opening scene of Walking Dead, season 3, and the dog food can.) Plus, to keep with the simile (Word Wealth, grade 9), no one even knows he's there sometimes. Part of that's his doing - withdrawing into the shadows, but never for lack of asking. It's funny - the older we all get in this business, the more they either think we're busier than we are, or the less they want to give you, even though productivity-wise he can write code three times as fast as the foreign outsourcing folks they bring in to replace those who let go in past years (no offense to the contractors he works with, he just has a very high opinion of his coding skills). 

Still - he's my age, and I know how he feels. I've been doing this thing for 28 years. Me, I'd be happy if they just had me code a bunch of programs not have to do any analytical work. Or research. Or other icky stuff I never liked doing even in college. I'm too much a techie. But I need to be busy, so like my friend who is a completely other person working at some completely different company, if I'm not extremely busy at work, my productivity goes down. It's like when this happens to me I horde what little work I can get - though at least recently, over the past year I've been busy enough and in those times I found my job satisfying. I find it that way when I get paid, regardless - but though I can't speak for my friend, but for me - it feels like I've overstayed my welcome. And it's felt that way for a while now.

This is another of my little "change" vignettes I guess. Like the blind man in this Mumford & Sons video, there's a time to let go of my own self- and expectation-imposed limitations and trust in God's plan, begin running with more trust into the light. He's got my back.

So if thats the case, why don't we do it more often?

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

I Must Diminish

I'm posting every day for the rest of lent as a way of breaking down walls I've built over the years - I think... to be honest, I'm not exactly sure why except that I feel I should... it's all badly explained here...)

On a side note, just got a call from my credit card on some suspicious charges - and yep, sure enough someone stole my card # and was charging a bunch of stuff to video game software and having it shipped to California... they killed the card, are issuing me new ones, but you know - someone robbed me. The new, modern way. Wow. This happened one other time, but a long time ago. I have to slowly figure out all the places I have this card for auto-charging (like Netflix etc) now, so there's some inconvenience... 

But back to the real world as it is...

Been feeling pretty melancholy the past couple of days - with interruptions for fun, like the Oscar party, but yesterday I was in the doldrums... and yes, I know, I was exhausted. That happens when I'm tired. I can't imagine how I could have ever made it through some of the nastier years in the latter part of the previous decade without my faith, because I was tired a lot, lack of sleep & stress. Funny how so much of stress we feel is self-inflicted. Even if we're not always the inflicter, we choose to accept it. But we do inflict a lot on ourselves, though, don't we? Worrying about things, doing stupid things them worrying about that... but melancholy is, in my own definition, like swimming in past sadness, a pond that you know exists in the woods which you can choose to never go to again but sometimes in your broken tiredness find yourself at the edge of. In these moments, you can do one of three things: 1) saunter into the warm but dark water of the pond and swim through the sad misery again, revisit and remember the pain, let it permeate your being again; or 2) turn and run from it - maybe stand there, acknowledge it, then run away... and that's probably how the majority of people deal with it. But I think when you do that, you will be tired again and somehow find yourself at the water's edge one day in the future. And again another time. Ad infinitum.

The third way is change. Begin dismantling the sets of your life - always knowing it's the same life, and the past is the past and you cannot ignore it - and know that if being tired leads you down the path to the pond, rearrange your life so the path is gone - not blocked, gone.

Yes, yes, wax poetic and you can make anything sound simple.

Maybe this is simple. Simply reconfigure the world around you. Sure. Piece of cake.

After a contemplative pause. How do you do that? Well one of two ways: 1)... yes, this seems to be a list day... 1) go mad. Did that once in the summer between middle school and high school. Long story. Some day I'll tell you. One reason it won't work (among many): the world around you does not change outside the walls of your temporary hiding place; or 2) Change your world. Or reconfigure it. Though reconfiguration is change, so.. change your world. One wall and one aspect at a time.

Changing your world seems to be the lenten theme of the blog entries. I like that. Changing your world, and trying to deal with the forces (people, jobs, traditions) around you trying to keep the world as it is.

Why the title of this entry? In writing, an author creates the world formed inside the pages, the characters are given personalties, life, hopes and dreams, the living room in one scene has dust on the mantel and a heirloom threaded doily on the table with one elaborate and ancient edge browned and curled.... the author puts words together to make images in the reader's mind. If it is done right - in a scene that is the epitome of scenes, the author and the reader dimish to the point where only the characters and that doily on the table exist.

I must diminish as the author so the characters can live. John baptizing people and being the most famous, if not eccentric, figure in the public eye of his time told his diciples he had to diminish, step from the spotlight, when Jesus began his ministry. John's role, his purpose, everything he'd done to that point was to prepare everyone around him in how they think and act and see their pasts and futures, metaphorically till the soil, so that the Messiah when he came could plant the seeds and reap a harvest of souls....

Yea, sentences like the above are good examples of how an author does NOT diminish. :-) Still, point made, if not a little dramatic.

But I must dimish in other ways. My world is not the center of my world any more, if that makes any sense. It was - and I read recently that depression is the supreme manifestation of self-centeredness. You get so wrapped up in your world that all faults and cracks in the walls become the most important thing in the world. Paying attention to the pond mentioned above will invariably give it life and draw you back. Looking outside your protective walls gives you new perspective and takes your mind off the crap on the bottom of your shoes.

My brother mentioned a shooting that happened recently - some psychotic cop killed other officers' families, and I had no idea what we was talking about. He looked at me like I was daft. Maybe I was.

I stopped reading the news a while back because it had bummed me out too much. But I can't live in the world and ignore it at the same time. I can't write about the world and ignore it at the same time. Been thinking I should buy a newspaper soon. Last time I did, I learned quite a lot, and it's food for thought, grist for the mill. And required of anyone who actually claims to be in the world (but not of it, to use a popular but apt line from the bible).

The my earlier point (sorry, got off track), diminishing oneself helps other people who might gain from your existence. How? If you take the focus from yourself, you tend to stop talking about yourself. If you take the focus off of yourself and put it on other people, one very, very important thing begins to happen: you start listening. Then they will talk, and you will learn from them. Then they will learn because a conversation will begin.

So, to this jump-aroundy essay's point, we must become large enough to embrace the world without fear, and as we do so diminish ourselves only to the point where we are no longer the center of our world, but have become part of it that we might truly be with the people in it.

There's so much more to say, but that last line sounded cool enough we should stop there.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Bobble Heads and Silhouettes

So the Oscar party last night was a success. Friends from town, Linda's and mine and also the girls', came by, made their picks on ballots, and we laughed and enjoyed the show and each others' company. In the end we had a second place prize and a grand prize. Congrats to Ned Utzig who sprinted to the finish line with the final few categories and took second place, winning a set of movie passes! And congrats to yours truly, who took the grand prize by a margin of only one answer. My prized trophy (pictured, a Bilbo Baggins bobble head) is being proudly displayed on our shelf. We had a couple of issues with parking because we hadn't gotten plowed out so one car was stuck - special shout out to my neighbor Ernie for helping to push it free and letting us use his driveway for a spell. Neighbors are cool that way, and we have some good ones.

I'm tired still. The show ended at midnight (kudos to host MacFarlane, he did a great job) and by the time we settled in and slept it was after 1:00... And today, I have to drive an hour to church tonight for the men's group. This session we're doing another Andy Stanley program called Defining Moments. I've enjoyed these programs, meeting in a large group, then breaking out into smaller discussions afterwards. This time around, I'm one of the small group leaders. Figured it was worth a try. I didn't do too well as a facilitator the first week. I might be just down on myself, but I felt I was stumbling for words  - this time, hopefully I'll remember to simply stop trying so hard and be myself. Not like this is a management position (which I do not like doing), simply a person in a small group who helps keep the conversation going, etc. When we're put into any kind of attention-getting position (i.e. people looking to you for whatever) we sometimes forget to relax and simply be real. Just do what you'd do if you were anyone else. I guess. We'll see.

Another thing I did yesterday was try to make the painting I'm hoping to auction off Saturday at the mission market (see the end of yesterday's post below). It didn't come out the way I'd hoped, so I tried to fix it, gave up (though the result looks interesting enough I might continue it later in another direction). On another canvas Linda managed to recreate the one aspect I had trouble with (the silhouette of a man praying) - so now I'm going to take that and work a background in behind it, the opposite order one normally does but her silhouette is really good so I want to retain it if I can.

Not sure how much I'll get for the painting, or the signed books I'm auctioning, but hopefully something. Amanda is making her journals to sell. I'm going to try and sell on-the-fly poems (gotta think and pray on this some more), and we're going to sell food... chili, or something else (might have to change since someone else is selling chili, too). We're still way behind on our fund-raising goal (ony 33% of the required money for the trip), and this market could help greatly.

You know, I'm feeling too tired today to be anything more than a mild distraction today. Sorry. Talk to you tomorrow....

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Oscars and The Same and Opening Up And Letting Go

So tonight is Academy Awards Night - when we at the Keohane house sit down with our own printed ballots and make our best guesses as to which movie, actor, actress, editor will take home the coveted Oscar statuette. Though this is something I always  wanted to watch through to the end, we didn't begin doing it until the last few years. The tradition has recently been to get Chinese food with the kids and watch the show, but no one seems to want Chinese lately because of better-eating goals (myself included), so unless we want to watch Audrey eat all the Teriyaki Beef, we'll eat healthier.

I digress. Tonight, we're have a few friends from town over to watch with us as well. Another way of reaching out to the world around us and inviting them into our world rather than keeping the world at an arm's distance. Daughter Amanda is also inviting a few of her friends, too. Why keep the world at bay, when people are so much more interesting than walls? It's a "comfort zone" thing, of course, especially with kids, until you point out to them that their friends are always invited at any time, so why can't ours be? Teenagers sometimes have a hard time remembering that their parents, step- or otherwise, are actually people, too. But it's also where in the past the home was more closed off, treated as a sanctum sancotrium... I was just as guilty as anyone of this, and a lot of times it was treated this way for no other reason than I/we knew no other approach.

So, should be fun tonight. Hopefully the plow guy comes by before people arrive so we have parking (it's snowing here today). We've got munchies and drinks and ballots and two prizes for the top 2 winners.

Unfortunately because of the snow we weren't able to get to church today. New England Chapel is having services but it's only raining there, snowing here. We tried to drive, but the roads were too treacherous. Sometimes having your church be an hour drive away has its disadvantages. How many times the kids have looked at us and asked why we don't just go to the church in town like I always have done? Like them, I was born and raised Catholic, but for me, since college I've wanted more, wanted that closeness with God, an actual relationship with Him that I would see from people who were part of other, more biblically-centered denominations. The Catholic Church is also Christian (a fact which some Catholics are surprised to hear, since the word "Christian" is used infrequently, as least compared to "Catholic"). But for many, it's the right one for them. For many, the rituals, the special days and rote prayers are what they want and need - whatever brings you closer to God is good. It was special to me, but I had a yearning for something different and I finally feel the time has been right to do so, and I have not regretted it. My right-brain-ness probably just needs more than the same thing week to week. I like things less ritualistic, more relational. God will use everything around us to bring us closer to him. For me, it was the Catholic church growing up, but there have also been other people from other bents religion-wise who have expanded my view of faith in one way or another, New England Chapel lately, and there will be more people and more places to come. Why not? It's His world. He can play with whatever toys he wants to.

So don't say - Dan should go back to where he'd been going. Dan shouldn't. Dan will go where the Spirit leads him and he'll do it prayerfully and openly and will make mistakes but so what? We have the experience and years to make educated decisions. However, and this is important: offered advice from those around us is welcome. Without objective viewpoints from other people I will likely make more mistakes than I already have. Offer advice, know I hear, and know I will appreciate it, whether or not I actually follow it. Same the other way, viceversary. I may offer advice, but like anything given, I try (key word, there) to give it freely, letting it go and not worrying if it will be taken. Two way street, that philosophy.

So I never mentioned the fund raiser this coming Saturday. Click Here For More Info, and I'll promote it more here next time. Speaking of giving away, I'm going to be running a poetry booth at the market, for any donation I'll whip up a custom poem on a notebook page, sign it and tear it off and give it to the donor. Out of my head, into their hands and gone. Something I'd read about in Natalie Goldberg's Writing Down The Bones back in the 80's. Amanda is going to sell these cool, hand-made journals, and were going to be selling meatless chili (it's AMAZING, trust me).

So, good luck to the nominee's tonight. I wish the Oscars were on Saturday night instead of Sunday, seriously. People have work/school to get to in the morning. But its Hollywood, they don't live like normal people.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

wordslentlettinggo

So I was struck by this blog written by someone attending a church Linda & I visited last week, referenced by the pastor in a weekly email on how some people are celebrating Lent. The woman in question is blogging about something that she feels makes her vulnerable every day for the period.  

http://myvulnerabilityproject.wordpress.com/

It's a brilliant idea. Become vulnerable in front of other people and they will come closer, and maybe open up. Made me look at how, in my almost 50 years how I spend these days and see it's usually no more special than playing the soundtrack to Jesus Christ Superstar in the car and seeing how many of the lyrics I could remember (pretty much all of them). There was the time in college when I quit smoking for Lent (yea, I had held off smoking until college then chain smoked - cigarettes - my way with Al & Christen through the halls of Bentley). Other years we give up chocolates, or sugar. Not bad things. Daughter Audrey's given up chips of all kinds which for her is a good one. I'll talk later about how Linda & I did a Daniel Fast to start the year, and the amazing revelations (health-wise) that came of it. In fact, Linda is doing the fast again for Lent (it's a partial fast, basically Vegan with an attitude, but also with more time devoted to prayer and drawing closer in your relationship with Christ - it is a fast, after all, not a "diet").

Me? Not much more than listening to Jesus Christ Superstar again. Trying to write, working on Plague of Darkness, and a short story for the NEHW anthology, thinking about my other two projects, Ezra and a nonfiction book on the 400 years between the biblical testaments. And lately, failing miserably at all of it. Granted there's been a lot of drama at home, and a lot of upcoming events (big fundraiser next Saturday I'll tell you about tomorrow if I remember, to try raise more funds for our Alabama mission trip in April).

But my life has been contained in a shell for so long, reading Kaylee's Vulnerability blog above, I realize that if I'm going to break out of this rut, become productive, not stare at my writing, or  my "normal" day-job work, or my faith and produce more than only sighs as results - I need to stop... all of this. This holding in, not taking chances, for peace in my home I need to stand up and say enough, to anything and anyone which/who (ok, grammarians, if I precede a clause with "anything or anyone" what do I do with the "which/who" wording... who, since "anyone" was the last word?).... sorry, I think these interruptions are defense mechanisms... anything or anyone who tells me that things must be this way or that. This is how it used to be done and this is how it must be done.

No. We all know in our spirits (aka minds/brains) and souls (that connection or bridge to God which I imagine being a picturesque green hillside looking over a valley) what is right. What is wrong. But taking steps forward with confidence (big word, working on it, starting with these blog entries) and if we are doing that then no one can stop us.

No, not sure what that last sentence means, not entirely. That's what we'll figure out here. I'm going to try to do what Kaylee is doing in her blog for this Lenten period, but whether my direction is being vulnerable, or honest, time will tell.

On news front, my short story "Box" is going to be free for the kindle for another couple of days if you want to grab it (http://www.amazon.com/Box-A-Short-Story-ebook/dp/B00BGW88FK/ref=sr_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1361137499&sr=1-4&keywords=daniel+g.+keohane)