Tag Archives: Attention

Updates, January 23


Sorry. That resolution to blog every day, or even more frequently, didn’t go very far. Where were we? I dunno. So…this is what’s been happening. I wrote stuff, made some music. Here, try some Bowie cover:

intaI have a story in this book, a short entitled “Eddie”, based on a fragment I wrote fifteen years or so ago. Just a little bit of shock and awe. Really cool cover. Ran Cartwright does good work. I have a round robin piece that I’m puzzling over, and have launched into a piece that has more detail about what Brown Jenkin did while he had the Silver Key. Both are for book appearances (hopefully, anyway), as I move along the path from unknown to virtually unknown to little-known.

Little-known is not so bad, and I’m also working on the better-paid part. Because I have bills too. A grand a month, a little writing money and my babysitting money, that’s not so much to live on.

But I don’t want to be entirely mercenary…I’m still planning a series of shorts for shoggoth.net, and I will release some music gratis. But the days of just letting everything out there are probably over.
I’m older, and sick, and tired. I’m trying to work on less pieces and make them count instead of just spinning and spinning and spinning. There’s no reason why I shouldn’t be willing to slug toe-to-toe with anyone else working weird.  The same for guitar, composition, et cetera.

Handsome volumes of Duanestuff and plastic cd cases of modstuff are right around the corner. Before Crazytown will be back on sale at Amazon in February, with a print edition option (yay!) I’m not going to re-up with Amazon exclusive, though. Didn’t deliver as I had hoped. The book will move to Lulu next year, and will stay at Smashwords.

I’m investigating physical cd/download possibilities for a couple of things — the Brown Jenkins blues tune will be one, and discs of literary tributes, cover songs, and vocal versions of previously-released material are not far behind.
Been sitting on that stuff for a while.

And Cub Tracks seems to be going well. We’re undergoing a format change, and there are a few nay-nays, but the articles in general are well-received, with some getting tremendous readership numbers (at least the ones I can collect). I’d be interested to know what the sticky factors are. Maybe I should ask Al Yellon, who runs the site. He might know. He hasn’t said a peep to me about any pieces being substandard or anything like that — I’m allowed, even encouraged, to continue. So that’s a plus.

I enjoy crafting the articles. They’re aggregations of links, but they can be massaged into different media presentation styles, looked at with new eyes. I do quite a few with “themes”, essentially framing devices more or less related to some of the linked content. Mixed reviews, I’m afraid, but that’ll change as things gets more baseball-related. I’m still just drilling down into what works for the audience..heh, to the point that I just up and asked them what they wanted.

It turned out that they didn’t know.

So it goes back to what Al likes. He’s the boss, the editor. If my copy passes his desk, then things are good.

I have some ideas about form that I’ll use tomorrow. Have to cut down on the time it takes to do those articles. The last one took most of the day, since the girl was over. Like eight solid hours of mostly gruntwork, copying and pasting, then cutting and pasting. Structuring the whole document as a baseball game, with a lead-off man segment, ten innings, extras beyond that. Nobody said anything about that, and I’m operating on the principle that no news is good news there. Like when I used to slip my tape into the party music player, and nobody complained, I knew I was good. It was acceptable.

The girl. Ohhh boy. She’s been a problem since her parents called the other day and told her that he’s working again, and that they planned to visit. She has this fantasy built up, you see, where they turn out to be real human beings with competence and financial wherewithal, and take her home to live happily after. That this has been repeatedly proven to be abject nonsense doesn’t dissuade her, and consequently she turns into demon child when she speaks to them because she’s caught on the horns of the dilemma — give up the fantasy, grow up and deal, or be childish and believe in the Easter bunny.

I just want the drama over. There are papers that the parents need to sign for the custody to be permanent, and those need to be signed. And then the child needs to be removed from negative influences as much as possible, and go sit in a corner with her thoughts, and deal with those.

She’s afraid to. I understand. But she’s also eleven, too old to be playing “look at me, aren’t I cute” instead of doing her assigned work, far too old to be snuggling up to such forlorn possibilities. Time to put on the big girl panties, I tell her.

She was such a colossal pain in the ass today that I got a migraine. Defiant, selfish, willfully ignorant. She screwed up her English homework to get attention, took out her calculator and started doing her math homework with it (!) like I wasn’t three feet away. She played the food game. This is where she takes real little bites, and chews slowly, a hundred time each mouthful, and stares wall-eyed at the tv screen.

Fuck that. People have been letting her get away with it for years. It’s a waste of everyone’s time, and it’s over, at least under my roof. 1/2 hour, and the food gets thrown away, and she goes hungry. Her choice. She wasted so much time scewing up her homework that she didn’t get to go across to her house and feed the pets — so the small creatures had to wait until after dinner. Animals like the security of being fed at the same time every day. But she screws that up too, so she can get attention.

She refuses to go after positive attention, even though she claims to like it better — largely because it takes effort to do good things instead of being lazing about wallowing in one’s own ignorance.

Great model, as least character-wise, for Cassilda, who I’ve been writing up recently also.

Yeah, I’m mad at her, and mad at several other someones. It’s a GOOD thing that I don’t have the ability to wish people into cornfields or anything like that. All I can do is to have them die horribly and slowly in stories…

Wait. That gives me an idea.

’til next time.

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We Have a Deal?


usI made the girl a deal today.
I’ve been stressing over the time it takes to watch her, since she can’t be trusted alone and refuses to toe the line enough to be allowed privileges. That means I can’t write or make music or anything else because she wants constant attention, like an oversized infant.
She’s never learned how to work for and achieve positive attention. We’ve tried–the lessons just don’t get absorbed.
And this has been my issue since she was introduced to our household, and I was deputized to take care of her (nobody told me she was coming), without my knowledge or approval. Continue reading

Sometimes…


Sometimes I don’t want to wear the big boy pants. Especially when I’m not feeling so adult, or even competent.
I need to listen more, and to learn not to spread myself so thin. I get caught up in things, enthusiastic, and sometimes will go off without completely understanding what I’m trying to accomplish, or why.

There are times when I miss key details. Because I want to badly to DO GOOD. To be PART OF THINGS.
“Yeah,” you say, “don’t we all?”

Well, yeah. But I’ve been a certified “weird person” all of my life. Couldn’t help it. I’m still a misfit most places. Hell, everywhere. Continue reading

How Those Famous Guitar Players Got Really Good


Yesterday, “Brook” got her birthday present a week early-a 1/2 size hot pink acoustic guitar:Pink GuitarShe has been practicing. She now knows Em, E, D, Dm, and has made inroads toward making G and A ring. This morning I showed her the blues scale and a minor pentatonic scale, and we discussed how improvisation is done and how songs are put together. Once she has the G and A down, I’ll introduce C and F and we’ll start building a repertoire for her.
Purple Haze and Nights in White Satin will be the first ones. We’ll also work on composing our own material, augmented by the dozen or so percussive gizmos I have lying around.

The world’s newest guitarist will have plenty of additional time to practice. She’s grounded again. Can’t spend five minutes outside without forgetting about the simple ground rules. “Stay in earshot” “Don’t go over to the ghetto-ass kids’ house to play” “Stay out of the parking lot”.
I predict that, at this rate, she’ll be famous by the time she’s 11.
The ghetto-ass kids’ dad is next door working on the cabinetry in the recently-abandoned apartment there. I sincerely hope he heard my lecture.
The littlest one, age seven, who goes by the nickname Yaya, is a yeller. She likes to scream and shout to try to get her way. Faith goes outside and she is told “If you play with my sister, you can’t ride my scooter any more.”
Instead of turning around and saying “Li’l bitch, we gave you that scooter, and your sister is more fun anyway,” Faith gets upset and tears around the complex on a borrowed bike, therefore being out of earshot when I call for her.
Ten minutes later, she drags her scooter into the kitchen and bugs right back out again before I can say anything.
I look out, and she’s on the back of Chi-chi’s (the older sister, all of nine) bike, going around the corner of a building about fifty yards away, in the parking lot.
I slap a tank together and go out the other way, to head them off at the pass, but no. They double back and go back in the ghetto-ass apt.
Sitting on the patio, biding my time. I water the plants and look over the gate periodically.
Eventually herself sees me and comes over.
“Get inside,” I say. “We need to talk. And take that scooter gear (kneepads, elbow pads) off–you won’t need it anymore today.”

The ensuing conversation ended, unfortunately, like so many do, with grounding and a turn in the corner, facing the wall, butthurt. During the course of the dialogue, the phrase “I don’t know” was repeatedly used to justfiy actions taken, as was “I just like to play”. The latter is okay. Not so in-depth, but excusable, depending on the behavior it’s used to represent. But the first is one of the two things that are guaranteed to makes things take a bad turn (the other is to lie to my face and have me catch her).

The child knows this. She is apparently incapable of considering the results of her actions, despite repeated preaching, beseeching, reasoning, back-patting, and other conditioning methods used to reinforce a positive behavior pattern.

She doesn’t like thinking. It makes her head hurt.

It makes my head hurt to think of another ten years of this mindless impulse-following. I’m afraid sometimes her head will just collapse in on itself. Either that, or fill up with cats (who abhor a vacuum, you know).

I’m fairly strict. I expect a lot, I’m told. Too much–I expect literacy and some degree of self-awareness and self-knowledge. I want to see some intellectual curiosity and the ability to tell right from wrong and to act accordingly.

Very little of that going on. So I’m looking at music as the way to get that sort of patience and determination going.

Fingers, eyes, legs, toes crossed. Only can only hope.

where it’s at


Oops. Well, I forget to post here for a bit. There was way too much life happening. Some of it had to do with the increasingly wayward child, some of it had to do with deadlines (most of them self-imposed), some of it had to do with other folks. During the last month or so, we’ve had to relocate for two days so that the complex could spray for bugs (seems to have worked), I’ve finalized the cover and contents of my book. somehow finagled renewing most of my web properties despite not having enough  money to do so (I spent the money on eating out during the two days we were in the hotel), and cooked a semi-gourmet meal damn near every night.

Did see the new pulmonologist. He spewed some hope, saying that there had to be some reason why the scarring in my lungs isn’t healing, and they’re not returning to full capacity. The last guy said that to, and tried to put me on the Atkins diet to fix it.

Wrong answer. I distrust fad diets, and, though I’m sure he had his reasons for recommending that (mostly having to do with my weight), I have my own reasons not to do it. We’ll talk about willful disobedience later. though, and in another context.

Continue reading

Speak To Me (Breathe)


An old Pink Floyd title sums it up best.

Lately we’ve had a rash of not-really-well-thought-out remarks, on all sides. It makes things rancorous and the drama expands exponentially. Each tiny verbal molehill carries the potential to evoke a spate of vitriolic invective.

It could be a coincidence that two out of the three of us are sick with a cold or flu. Just maybe.

But my wife feels that I’ve been guilty of it, too, especially regarding the child. She wants me to lighten up some, to not have such an impossible standard.

She may be right. I honestly don’t know. But I’m willing to try things her way.

Couldn’t hurt.

This flu, on the other hand, is a bastard. I’ve been sick since Thursday, and sick SICK like lying down most of the time since Friday. The kid got just a brush of it, or so it seems, but the wife is down for the count-has been sleeping for the last four hours.

It’s one of those that comes complete with fever and chills and is mostly body ache and congestion. Really debilitating sort of symptoms. Just nasty, no fun. I’m hoping to see the end of it soon–I’ve been moving around a little, and my doctor is coming for her monthly visit this afternoon, so I’ll have some professional opinion to bring to bear.

It’d be nice to get shed of it.

Anyway, while I’m able to move around, I’ve been piddling with the book and with the new tracks, just polishing and brainstorming really. Just to keep my hand in, keep my brain going.

Though it would surprise some people, I am taciturn by nature. I don’t require much communication, and my wife and I both have that type of personality whose happiness is expressed as quiet satisfaction.

The rabbits would seem to concur, and the cats also. We are all quiet beings, going through our days with a minimum of noise or movement. Just as much activity as necessary, conserving energy for when it’s needed.

The birds, not so much. They twitter back at the tv when it’s on, making fun of newscasters and other talking heads, and rooting for the teams that wear green or blue uniforms. They get loud sometimes, but I don’t think it would be as prominent in a larger space. Our apartment is tiny.

I’m really hoping I get well soon so that I can transfer my computer and these boxes and my guitars into the master bedroom, even if I have to stack everything like cordwood. This so we can get the child, now variously named Brook, Nicky, and Pita, into her own space, where she can babble happily to the bunnies and her zillions of stuffed animals.

My stars, does that kid blabber. She does it all the time, as soon as she gets happy. She starts just talking, about anything and everything, and singing tunelessly or humming loudly. She calls all the animals “baby” and wants to fee them every ten minutes.

Don’t dare get up! For you will have a tail anxiously inquiring about a s-n-a-c-k or can-we-go-to-the-pool? This last hasn’t been done for a week as it is the prime penalty of disobedience or misbehavior, and I’ve been sick to boot.

I’d like to have a swim myself. My incision has healed, though the navel still swells with fluid from time to time and will likely need some attention. I’d at least get in the water for a few minutes. I dunno how long I could go without oxygen at present:it’s hard to take a shower without the cannula right now because of the coldfluey thing.

But the kid just can’t curb herself, which goes back to the premise of communication, or the lack of it, my main hobbyhose in life. She has no impulse control whatsoever. Not the slightest shred of self-discipline, at least not for more than a few seconds at a time.

She’s never had any rules to speak of, and it’s damnably hard to get to to stick to any. The consequence of ANYTHING is that she gets attention for a bit.

You understand. There’s literally mustard on this kid. She spilled it on herself. She’s more of a hotdog than notorious bad sport Willie Montanez.

Diva.

Her teacher told her to wait ten seconds before she says anything, in order to get her to consider her words.

She doesn’t. She just stops talking. It looks like she just vegetates, counting to ten, and then turns the spout back on again.

When she’s by herself, the stream is nonverbal. It’s kind of disturbing, like we’re raising a feral child.

It’s really like that.

I’m thinking that sign language is an option.

“Brook” knows the sign for “I love you”, though in her hands it often becomes the Dio devil horns. She flashes it and she says it often, which, as said previously, is the greatest thing ever.

But she broke her new scooter trying to adjust the handlebar so she could do wheelies, which would probably break the cheap aluminum piece of junk anyway. That doesn’t matter to her. She has no concept of the value of anything and as so is completely generous. She had four dollars Friday morning.

She came home broke with a Code Red slurpee and told my wife about her three new friends. It wasn’t hard to put together what happened. It probably went something like this:

Brook opens folder, with envelope containing $4.11. The girl sitting next to her sees it.

“Wow, Brook, what’s that?”

“My money. I’m going to Circle K after school and get a slurpee.”

“Lucky you. I don’t have any money.” Chin hangs down dejected.

Gulli-bull “I’ll get you one.”

I’m sure you can fill in the rest.

It’s amazing that she didn’t try to spend more than she had. Maybe there are some math skills, laying in wait, just waiting for a trigger to evoke them.

I hope so.

I can’t wait to get back to work. Since I don’t have much company, and can’t get out as much as I want because of the oxygen and there being nowhere nearby worth going to, my writing has become the bulk of my conversation.

As much as she loves to to babble, I’m hoping to get Brook to learn and love her words. That would be a fine gift, I think. The Mrs. can give her the numbers.

We started Wind in the Willows recently. Today I hope to alternate a chapter or two, depending on how well my throat holds up.

Edison Nuthouse


Sunday dawned bright and early. I know, because I was awake. I fell awake at about 4:30…watched tv for a bit–preseason football. Miami and Jacksonville. The Dolphins won going away, though Jacksonville’s run game looked impressive at times. They could move between the twenties but they couldn’t get the rock into the end zone.

The Bears rebroadcast was scheduled at 7. I set the dvr to record the thing, made a pot of coffee for my wife, took my morning meds and waited for the percocet to knock me out for a bit. Figured I could get a little rest that way.

It would have worked, except that the child woke up and decided to have a chat with the rabbits.

I’m a notoriously light sleeper, and that did the trick. I got up and started the pot running, got myself something to eat (wholegrain toast and a cup of yogurt), and made ready to deal with the teeny drama queen, our eight-year-old grandchild.

She would want to watch cartoons, I knew, and that wasn’t going to happen, because the Bears game supercedes cartoons. Televised sports are the reason why we have a tv. So if the Cubs, Bears, or BlackHawks are on, they are a priority item. The child knows this. But that won’t stop her from wanting cartoons, or netflix.

Because the electronic babysitter is what she knows.

And Triscuits is what she wanted for breakfast. I told her that she should have some yogurt with those, to make it a better meal. She had just the yogurt, not enough food…later she complained that she had a little stomach ache, and was sent up to bed to rest, since she was getting cranky about it.

The smell of frying bacon brought her back down an hour or so later. I made some pancakes to wrap around the bacon strips, and one of those fixed the tummyache. She was just hungry.

Still cranky though. The child has this weird habit of clamming up when asked almost any question. She makes the pouty face, goes all glassy-eyed and just stands there with her face hanging out.

You’d think it autism or something, but it’s deliberate. She controls when she does this. And we’re trying to fix it.

Not easy. I’ve ordered her a special surprise, something to make her trips to and from school easier. She knows she has a surprise coming, but not what it is.

That’s our lever. She’s been told that she has to behave properly, not be a smartass or have a sassy mouth, answer direct questions, do her schoolwork and chores. Nothing extraordinary. She’s eight. You can only expect so much.

Her impulse control is so weak that she’s really in danger of me sending the thing back. Instead we’re going to have a black mark/gold star thing. Every time she is disobedient or otherwise misbehaves, a black mark appears on the whiteboard, and she is sent to the corner for a while. Every time she does her chores or homework without being asked, a gold star appears and she gets positive attention.

Because it’s the attention she wants. She thinks that she should be the center of attention at all times. I mean she really thinks that. For no reason other than simple selfishness and narcissism. She’s said so.

My wife told her that two-year-olds think like that, and that it wasn’t a reasonable expectation.

That’s when the baby-show ban started. No more cartoons for the preschooler. She loves Dora and Max and Ruby.

On the other hand, she also loves those ridiculous Disney tween situation comedies. The problem with that is that the characters are all sophisticated and sassy, and she mimics the smartass comments and sarcastic attitudes.

So we’ve instituted a ban on those too.

Hell, I’d ban tv altogether if I thought it would help. This kid has spent so much time nodding mindlessly at the boob tube that she’s incapable of thinking things out.

She needs to be reading and reading and reading, and she hates reading. It’s too hard, we’re told. Same circus as usual.

It feels like we’re getting closer to cooperation, but there’s still a long way to go.

Unnecessary stress. I have this giant pain in my shoulder that no meds can dent, and my neck muscles are like rocks.

So I’m not stressing over it. The kid gets the message, or doesn’t. She doesn’t, she spends the rest of her life in the corner. There are rules everywhere. Nobody is going to give her 24/7 attention.

That’s it.

I left the writing forum. Left a kinda nasty flounce post, which was taken down within ten minutes of its posting, talking about some of the things detailed in the previous blogpost. I don’t need that kind of stress anymore either. One of my friends there remarked “…most of these people have spent maybe one or two years writing, and they haven’t even finished one story.” And they expect parades for the first paragraph. And they won’t listen to advice. They know everything.

Screw those people. I don’t have anything to say to them. I don’t need them to critique my writing, I don’t want to read theirs, I don’t care what song they’re listening to now or how they prepare to write their one ungrammatical paragraph a day.  I’m too busy writing my own things.

Even this thousand words or so a day of stream-of-conscious semirant is preferable.

I did work for a while on the Letters from Outside stuff. It’s almost done. I’ll unveil the archive in due time. And the new short story is in polishing now. Tomorrow I’ll finish the hospital portion of “abed”, and put it up somewhere on the website so folks can read it. Then I’ll edit the whole thing into readable shape…hopefully by the end of the week, so I can move into a new project as I begin moving my things from this office into the bedroom, clearing the way for the kid to have her own room. Maybe that’ll help. Couldn’t do it before because of the hernia surgery.

Yay.  I get to squeeze all of my stuff into a corner of the bedroom. I think my friend Scott is right–I’ll need to get vertical with it. At least as much as I can. Isn’t really possible to stack guitars.

The Bears lost, though the first string looked okay. Cubs lost but took the series against the Cardinals 3-1. The Disney Three Musketeers wasn’t as bad as I had feared, and I think I even chuckled once or twice. I was going to let the child watch Free Willy 2 after that, but she got mouthy and presumptuous and canceled that bit of goodwill. If her plan was to avoid reading by being an asshole, she succeeded admirably. Louis CK is right, you know.

More tomorrow. Gotta catch up on my correspondence. Related article