Weekend Coffee Share: Happy Father’s Day

Good afternoon.

Nice to see you guys. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting company, being that it’s Father’s Day and all. But I’m glad you’re here. Help yourself to some coffee pods and some almond creamer. It’s very good. 

Settled in? Okay…

Like I said, I wasn’t expecting a lot of company for Father’s Day. And to be honest, it’s kind of hard. And what’s strange is that I am a dad. I have two wonderful children, and I am so proud of them. I love seeing their eyes light up whenever I come home from work. And just yesterday, I shared some bonding time with my daughter at her karate school. It was fun. Exhausting, but fun. I wished I didn’t have to work right after. Oh well. 

So, back to my point…

The reason why Father’s Day is still hard for me is because of my dad. Before visiting him in 2012, I hadn’t seen or heard from my dad in a long time. Days like these, I cried because I saw friends with their dads. I felt alone. I felt unloved. I felt like someone drove a dagger in my heart so deep, I couldn’t recover. It was worse whenever I attended church services. When pastors talked about God as a father. That only fueled my anger and reopened the wound. I was mad at God, but even more at my dad because I felt like he didn’t want us anymore; didn’t want me anymore.

There were so many things I missed out on because my dad wasn’t there. And as much as my mom—bless her heart—tried to teach me and my brother, there were some things I believed dads could better explain. Like changing flat tires, shaving, tying neckties, dating. Things that I believed dads passed on to their sons. I missed out on those times. And I hated him because of it. 

I tried for many years to reconnect with him. Before the 2012 visit, I tried various ways to connect with him. Calls and letters mostly. He didn’t have a computer (and probably still doesn’t.) I sent pictures to my grandmother’s house, knowing that my dad frequently came by to check up on his family. He called at least once a month. Twice, if I was lucky. Then, the calls stopped. I remember getting a letter from him. I don’t remember what he said, but I felt it wasn’t enough to erase over twenty years of frustration and animosity. Then, September 2012, I made a stop in East Saint Louis to visit some of my relatives, including my dad. I wanted them to meet my wife and daughter in person. There were opportunities to confront my dad about feeling abandoned, but I chickened out. I didn’t want my visit to be spoiled by one moment of anger. I regret that decision.

I haven’t heard much from him, if at all. I tried everything I could to find a way to communicate with him. I asked anyone remotely related to him. I kept hitting dead ends. This “obsession” affected my own life, my own family. Until one day, I came to the realization that I couldn’t make this better. I couldn’t form a relationship with someone who didn’t want one; who wasn’t willing to do whatever it took to make a relationship happen. That day, I cried like I had never cried before. The dagger became a double-edged sword, driving through what place in my heart I reserved for my father. It was that moment where I decided that I was going to be the father I wished I had. I was going to treat my children better than my dad treated me.

Being a dad is hard. Maybe not as hard as being a mom, but it’s not to be taken lightly. There are so many children growing up without a strong father figure in their lives. Fathers to teach them what it means to be honest, trustworthy, persevering, respectable, upstanding, empathetic, caring. Basically, everything that is the opposite of media-driven “fatherhood.” Everything that society mocks and deems as “weak.” For a long time, I bought into those lies, and it nearly cost me the people who love me most. Those who say I am a good father.

Father’s Day is not as hard since I have kids of my own and vow to be there for them every day. But the scar is still there. In time, it will heal. In time, I will forgive my dad for all the wrong he’s done. I don’t know how he is or where he is. And perhaps, it’s not my place. But wherever he is, I hope he’s well. 

So if you’re here visiting me, and you have a dad out there, take a moment or two to let him know how much he’s loved and how much you care. If there’s any issues, don’t shy away from them. Make the decision to resolve them.

And to those who are dads, know that your family loves you and believes in you. 

Until next time…

Weekend Coffee Share: Changes in the Air

Good morning. 

Nice to see you guys again. It’s been a couple of weeks. My apologies. It’s been a busy few weeks. I’m quite surprised I was able to get any writing done.

I’ll get to that in a minute. For now, help yourself to some tea and coffee. I’m working on getting back to drinking something other than energy drinks. I haven’t been sleeping well lately. So please excuse my yawning. 

* yawn *

Sorry. Now, let’s chat. 

Like I said, I worked like a madman the past couple of weeks. Not so much on the job front, although that can be taxing. No, it’s been more on the personal front. I’m sure you remember that I got into an accident the Saturday before Memorial Day. (If I didn’t in our previous conversations, now you know.) Anyway, the insurance company marked my car a total loss, given the age, miles, and circumstances of the accident. My family mourned the loss of “Blue Bonnie.” Thankfully, the insurance covered most of the expenses for a rental car. Ironically, I got an updated model of the car I had before. I think it was a way to spend our last moments with her.

But there was no time to really grieve. Since my car was a total loss, I had to figure out what I was going to do to get a new car. The insurance, thankfully, provided a settlement for the loss. It wasn’t what I hoped, but it was better than nothing. In the meantime, my wife and I shopped around dealerships, looking for a new car. And by “new,” I mean more recent used car. I thought I would have more time with the rental so that I could find a replacement. Nope. They shortened the time frame. I had to speed up the searching. I found a car, visiting a dealership in another city close by. I worried, though, that my credit wouldn’t be good enough for a loan. But this dealership has a reputation of getting anyone approved. I did and I didn’t have to make a big down payment. We searched the lot and found two potential suitors. A 2010 Scion xB and a 2013 Nissan Cube. Both had at least 50k miles. Both were roomier than “Blue Bonnie.” I took both on a test drive. They rode smooth. After the drives, I put the Scion on hold. (The Nissan had a hold on it before we arrived.) But, as much would have it, when I called my salesman to ask if we could be put on a waiting list for the Cube, the spot became free, so I jumped at the opportunity.

So while I was shopping around, I had to get paperwork in order and sent off so that they could pay off the remainder I owed. I had to hound them on the process because they were taking their sweet time and time was not on my side. They couldn’t extend the time frame on the rental, so I needed that settlement. I did something that rarely happens with me. I became belligerent with the insurance company, almost hostile. I called them three days straight, demanding they speed up the process. I was focused, determined, ornery. And it worked. They told me I would receive the settlement within two days. I felt a weight lifted off my shoulders. 


So, enter today. And as you can see, I got my new car. Christened “Silver Bonnie” by my daughter. (The funny thing is that she names every car in my family “Bonnie.” I think it’s cute.) There’s still some matters to take care of with the insurance and tags. I’m hoping this won’t take too long, though.

So, while I was mourning “Blue Bonnie,” our landlord sent us an email. He said that he was putting his house on the market. We have to move out by July 31st. To be fair, he gave us first crack at buying the house. Unfortunately, my credit sucks, so we weren’t even considered. So, Plan B. I went by our old apartment complex to get an application. And my wife looked at another house in our subdivision for rent. She likes the backyard. So hopefully things will work out that we are able to rent the house. 

As you can tell, everything came down on us last week. We’re scrambling to get things in order. So please excuse the mess. We have a lot to do and not a lot of time to do it in. With all that’s going on, it’s a surprise I was able to get any writing done. Somehow I made it work. Not only did I write a post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, but I posted a flash fiction piece I worked on last week. (Thank goodness for Google Docs for smartphones.) I hope you take the time after we’re done to read both. 

Well, that’s all for today. Have to get to work now. But feel free to let me know in the comments what happened with you this week. 

Until next time, take care…

Weekend Coffee Share: Recovery Mode

Good afternoon,

I’m happy to see you. It’s a little dreary outside, but I’m glad you’re here. Help yourself to some lemonade as well as some K-cups. Once you’re done, have a seat. 

First of all, I apologize for my absence yesterday. I had a full, “exciting,” day. It all started yesterday morning, after I dropped off Colleen, the kids, and my sister-in-law at the gym. I drove to Duluth to get my haircut before going to a cookout at my mom’s house. After making a quick deposit, I got hit by a driver running a red light. I was lucky no one else was in my car and that the other driver was okay. As it stands now, I’m using my mom’s SUV until I get a rental. 

After that craziness, I picked up my family and went back to Duluth for the cookout, which doubled as a graduation party. The invite said it started at 1, but no one really showed up until around 3. We had a plan of staying for a few hours, then head home. We stayed the whole evening. We had a great time with family and a few friends of the family. So, we’re still a little beat from the party. We’re in our pajamas still. 

As far as writing goes, I’m recovery from a “period” of questioning my worth. I started writing in my journaling app on my phone, but not about my writing. I wrote about some of the personal stuff going on in my life. Mostly about my jobs and family. By the end of the week, I made a difficult decision. I decided to abandon my plans for writing my barbershop series. 

Just a quick recap, I wrote a post declaring my intentions to write a short story series on my blog. I wrote one story and shared it with a couple of writing friends. Because they enjoyed it, I thought it would be interesting enough to write a series of stories. For over a month, I outlined possible plots, brainstormed different “customers,” and so on. But nothing was clicking. And the more I thought about it, the more I came to realize that the series wasn’t going to work. The biggest issue is the stories themselves. They’re more like vignettes than stories with conflict. It just won’t work.

So for those expecting the series to get off the ground, I’m sorry to disappoint you. I wanted the series to go well, too. I went in with the intention that this would be my opportunity to really showcase my writing prowess; something I’ve wanted to do since I started this blog. But after this latest debacle, I’m thinking serials aren’t the way to go for me. Lesson learned. 

Anyway, that’s all for this week.

Let me know how you’re week has gone in the comments. I don’t want the conversation to be one-sided. 

Until next time, take care…

Weekend Coffee Share: Questioning My Writing

Good afternoon,

Welcome to the house. Glad you can make it. I have plenty of San Francisco Bay K-cups. So help yourself. My wife likes this brand a lot. I also have almond coffee creamer. Kind of a nice alternative. So let me know what you want. I’ll wait. 

… …

Okay. Let’s talk. 

I don’t have too much to share about this week. We’ve been counting down the days until Zoe finishes kindergarten. We’re so proud of her. In the meantime, we’re making plans on what to do over the summer.

I wanted to talk about my writing. Rather, my writing woes. I’m in a slump. I’m not writing as much as I had in the past few months. I haven’t written in my journal as much. I don’t have any ideas for my next story. And I lost interest in finding a contest/magazine to submit my barbershop story. It’s just been a flat month thus far. I can count it up to being burnt out. But that’s not much of an excuse, even though it happens. I’m not “inspired” to write these days.

But the more frustrating thing about writing is that I wonder if social media is right for me. The writers and hashtag games I follow on Twitter. The Facebook groups I joined. The multitude of writing prompts I collect on the Internet. I feel like they focus on writing novels in the sci-fi/fantasy genre for young adults. Don’t misunderstand. They’re wonderful genres. And that’s the trend these days. I’m just wondering if there’s room for the kind of fiction I write: short stories in Mainstream Fiction. 

I expressed my grievances on Twitter and Facebook. About me not writing as much and about the lack of support for my genre and format. I even tweeted a call to find short story writers. I received random statements of encouragement from both platforms. Someone asked on Twitter why I put the call out for short story writers. I just know they’re out there. And I understand that short stories are a hard sell. Even the anthologies, as good as they are, don’t translate to best sellers. I feel chided and shunned, but I can’t be the only one that feels that way.

But regardless, this is the path I’ve chosen. This is what I believe my calling is. And I love the short story format. So make fun of me all you want. I don’t care. 

Sorry for the ranting. That’s what I’ve thought about this week. Maybe next week, I’ll have more to talk about.

What about you? How was your week? Anything exciting planned? Let me know in the comments. 

Until next time, take care.

Weekend Coffee Share: Celebrating Mother’s Day

Good afternoon,

Welcome to my home once again. You’re in luck because my mother is here with us. She says “hi.” We just finished lunch. We made street tacos. They were small, but fulfilling nonetheless. Unfortunately, you missed the tea party with Zoe, but we have K-cups with tea. Help yourself. 

So, this week hasn’t really been eventful. But I’ve been looking forward to spending time with my mom. It’s rare that I get time with just her. Most of the time, when we come over to her house, she’s got company. There’s my grandmother, who lives with her. That’s fine. But sometimes, she has other people over and that time goes out the window. Which is why today is so special. I won’t be able to spend Mother’s Day with her or Colleen because I’m working. (Presents are already taken care of.)

So, next to Colleen’s birthday and our anniversary, Mother’s Day means a lot to me. Reason one, which is obvious, is my wife Colleen. She does a lot for Jaxon and Zoe. She runs the household like a well-oiled machine. She’s very organized and detail-oriented. She makes sure everyone has everything needed for the day. And she’s a go-getter, never settling on anything less. She’s not afraid to speak her mind; to expose the “pink elephant in the room.” And she helped me to come out of my shell and speak up more. Colleen is the best mother around, and for that, I am grateful. 

The second reason Mother’s Day means a lot is my mom. She raised my brother and I on her own. For a long time, it was the three of us. My mom sacrificed a lot—time, finances, social life—to take care of us; to make sure we had everything we needed, and some things we asked for. She was Mom and Dad. She was hard on us when she had to be. And at the same time, she was nurturing. My mom did everything and then some. And there were days where I was ungrateful. Now, being a parent myself of two wonderful kids, I understand what my mom did for us.

Those two women, I am grateful they are a part of my life. I don’t think I would be the husband and father I am now if not for their encouragement and support. And I think the same can be said for all the mothers out there. On my behalf, thank you for being “Mom.”

What say you? How has your mother shaped your life? Let me know in the comments. 

Until then, take care and Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers in the world. 

Weekend Coffee Share: Pushing Through the Doldrums

Good morning,

Nice to see you again. Please forgive my yawning. I woke up early to take my sister-in-law to work. Pick out your K-cup of choice, and I’ll get it ready for you.

……

Now that we’re settled, let’s get to it. 

I’ll be honest, I really don’t have a lot going on. But I did want to share something. Since joining the gym three months ago, I lost over forty pounds since last year. The best part is that I can fit into clothes that before, looked so bad on me. I can fit into size 38 pants again. It’s been two years since I wore anything size 38. But I’m still working to lose more weight. But I slacked off with going to gym every day. I need to get that energy back. I’m working on sculpting my chest. Maybe not to Mr. Olympia-like standard, but to where I don’t feel like they’re drooping.

The school year is down to the last few weeks. (I know the teachers are excited.) I can’t believe how fast it’s gone. Zoe will be in first grade three months from now. Colleen put in a request for teachers. One of them was Zoe’s kindergarten teacher, who is moving up to first grade next year. So for the next three months, we have to come up with some activities. I’m trying to find some time in between where I can get a week off to enjoy the summer, but it’s not looking rather glum. I’ll have to be creative.

As far as my writing goes, I’m at a lull. I haven’t touched my story since last week. I’m still trying to find a writing contest or magazine accepting submissions. My writing friends gave me some suggestions, but they haven’t panned out. I haven’t done much writing in my journal and I haven’t done much in terms of planning future stories. I’m sure most writers go through these periods. At the same time, I don’t want to get too complacent. So I’m going to work on pushing through the same way I’m going to work up the energy to get back into my workout routine. Especially with summer fast approaching. I usually don’t do a lot of writing in that time. There’s usually too much going on.

While I’m on the subject of stories, I searched YouTube and Pinterest on writing good short stories. I watched videos and read posts from pins the past week. Most of the advice I know already, but it’s amazing how much I haven’t utilized. I felt like as much as my writing and non-writing complemented me on my stories, I felt like there’s something missing. I believe I can write better. I can be more creative. I need to take a day to sit and brainstorm. Maybe by the end of the session, I will have the building blocks for my next barbershop story.

If I may, I want to take you back to a few weeks ago. (There’s a reason for this.) When I was at work, I helped a customer with loading bookshelves into a rental truck. Casually, I asked the purpose for the shelves. She said it was for her office where she writes. That piqued my interest. We chatted about what we wrote and how we go about writing. I was happy to meet a fellow writer.

Fast forward to this week. One of the assistant managers at my store told me she writes. She had some poems published in magazines. It surprised me. But it goes to show that you never know who you’ll meet unless you get to know someone. I made a deal with her to exchange our works in the near future. I knew I liked this manager; now I know why. 

Well, that’s all for this week. I’m sorry I don’t have more to report. Maybe next week. In the meantime, I want to hear from you. What happened to you this week? Let me know in the comments. 

Until next time…

Weekend Coffee Share: New View on Life

Good afternoon,

Thanks for taking the time to come by and visit. My wife’s birthday is today, so give a shout out before you leave. We have a lot of coffee choices today along with some teas, so dig in and I’ll brew them with the Keurig. 

A month back, I went to the optometrist for my latest checkup. Not surprising, he says my eyesight is getting worse and that I need a stronger pair of glasses. But we decided to go a different route. We decided I would try contacts. Understand this. I wore glasses since I was four. Going from that to having something deliberately in my eyes is a huge step. So we put in an order for a trial set. I got them this past Monday and started trying them out this weekend. (I’m taking a break from them today.)

In the three days I’ve been wearing contacts, I noticed three things. One, like any other change, it takes some time to adjust. Like I said, I wore glasses for most of my life. It’s taking time to get adjusted to the strength of the contacts, too. But it’s why the eye doctor insists on making a follow-up appointment.

Two, there’s a mental game that ensues. Putting something in my eyes terrifies me. But it’s why the doctor says to practice putting your fingers in your eyes for just a few seconds, so you can used to the feeling. But even then, it’s not the same as the real thing. It took a good amount of time to get my contacts in the first time. I psyched myself out more times than I can count. But as Colleen says, I just have to get them in there. Don’t think about it too much.

And three, having contacts is not enough for everyday life. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the past couple of days wearing my contacts. Received some flattering comments from co-workers and friends. Colleen wants to go shopping for sunglasses with me. But when it comes to reading anything with contacts, it’s not so easy, especially in low light. But the doctor told me reading will be an issue. He suggested buying reading glasses from the pharmacy. So I’m looking for a pair with the right strength I need.

So with the adjustment to a new form of corrective vision, writing has been hard, but somehow I made it work. I finished what I now dub “Story 1” of my barbershop series. I sent emails to writing friends. Overall, they enjoyed the short and feel it’s ready to be posted on my blog. One of my critique partners suggested, however, that I try submitting the story to a writing contest. That is one goal I want to accomplish this year. She gave me some links to websites that are accepting submissions. So now I’m torn. Do I take a chance in submitting this story? Do I go ahead and publish it on my blog? Decisions, decisions. Definitely need to mull it over. 

Well, that is all for today. Don’t forget to wish Colleen a happy birthday. 

Until next time…