La Dolce Far Niente

My brain is semi-fried.  I spent just too much time over this morning and afternoon working on the concrete realities of trying to build a real-world business to be anything else.  I had a post in mind when my morning started, by the way.  I had it in mind, but it drowned quietly under the flooding waters of marketing plans and partnership agreements and renovation priorities…

*sigh*

Remember that rule of mine?  The one about writing it, right freaking then?  Yeah, I forgot too…

Still, there is enough shit bugging me to get out of the mental cage in which I keep my blog ideas to completely ignore my keyboard today.

1)  Thanks for the, umm, shitty service — Look, I’m a taproom guy.  Can I brew beer?  Yeah, sure I can.  But that isn’t where I shine.  No, where I am an expert is in the taproom itself…and in how we service and please our customers.  Very little, to be honest, pisses me off quite so much as fundamental errors in that service.  So I’m sitting at lunch today — plugging away at those renovation needs I mentioned — with a mostly-full beer and half-eaten poke bowl at my elbow, when my waitress stopped by to ask if I was ready for my check…

Are you kidding me?!  

There are few bar/restaurant sins worse to me than that particular one.  Your job is to get me to spend more money, not push me out the door!  This wasn’t fucking Appleby’s, mind you, it was a one of the better and more popular places in my new town.  It was a place that built its reputation as a good place to hang out, not as a place to offer cheap meals at the price of turning over tables as fast as possible.

She was young, however — and cute *cough, cough* — so rather than just give her a bad tip, I told her just how bad that check question truly was…and how it made me want to leave, rather than buy the additional beer or two I normally would.  I doubt if the words penetrated, but it was worth a try.  The title of this little subsection isn’t ironic, by the way: Had she not pissed me off, I don’t think I would have started thinking about writing a post today…

I still gave her a good tip.

2)  I’m A European Trapped in an American Body — okay, so the subsection above got me to thinking a bit.  It got me to thinking about the things that we Americans do very, very wrong.  Restaurants and bars are pretty near the head of that damned list, by the way.  Oh, I know we Americans are always in a hurry; we Americans always want to eat and run; we always want everything to be efficient and fast…

Fuck that.

I want slow.  I want inefficient.  I want to own that damned table until I decide it is time to leave.  Whether it is a single demitasse of espresso or 57 pints of beer, just bring me what I want and don’t get that damned check anywhere near me until I make that stupid little scribbling motion in the air that all tourists do when they don’t speak the local language!

The French and Italians know their shit when it comes to eating and drinking out, by the way, while the Germans and Czechs* ain’t far behind.  Even the freaking Brits outshine us in this area!  C’mon, America, get your shit together!

*I learned the reality of an old-school, locals-only beer hall in Czechia the hard way, by the way.  Yeah, remember to flip that damned coaster over to the back side when you’re done drinking for the night!  Ahem.

Look, let’s boil it down to brass tacks — if you want a great meal, you don’t go to an American restaurant.  If I had one meal left on this Earth, I would go French.  And, no, I am not talking about some fancy Parisian place with white tablecloths and sauces coming out the ass.  I want a good, village place.  I want a place where the food is grown within sight of the restaurant.  A place where grandpa and grandma cook recipes from their grandparents.  A place where you sit in the sun and drink wine and spend 3 or 4 hours eating a real five-course meal, shared with the folks who prepared it, and who grew it, and who love every second of the life they live.

It is only by the barest hair’s width I say the French won, by the way.  Put me at a table on the Amalfi coast, or in Sicily, or Tuscany and I am just as happy. Hell, I might be a bit happier because I don’t there is anything on this Earth than can compare with a meal within the bosom of a real Italian family…

La dolce far niente* is not just the coolest saying in the world, it is the coolest philosophy in human history!

*”The sweetness of doing nothing.”  I told you it was fucking cool!

{Edit Notes — Holy shit, did I need to proofread this damned thing before I posted it! Ahem…}

{Musical Note — oh, hell yeah…}

Flashfiction (sorta): “I Waited For You”

This is weird for me.  This is my normal flashfiction…and it ain’t. This is a spur-of-moment creation based on a line from a song…and it ain’t.  This is a story about Oz and Connor…and it ain’t.

Oh, I tried to do this like any other flashfiction piece, but I failed.  I failed even before I started.  I mean, c’mon, this if freaking Oz!  This is, in the millions of words and dozens of stories I’ve written, my favorite character…

As it turns out, I took the exact opposite approach for this than I do for my other flashfiction pieces.  I took a thought and an inspiration and I…thought about it.  I had to think about it, by the way, because it is a scene that matters to me.  It matters to me a lot.

In the end, it took me better than a freaking week to write this “flashfiction” piece, rather than the usual hour.  I would love to say the extra time was invested in editing and perfecting the words, but that would be complete bullshit.  The extra time was invested in…working up my courage to write the fucking thing.

This was harder to write than you might think, by the way.  There aren’t many scenes — topics, thoughts, concepts — that I shy away from writing, but there are some.  This particular piece scared the living shit out of me.  It still does, even now, after I’ve written it.

Although this scene has no “official” existence in Somewhere Peaceful to Die, it nonetheless exists in the space between Oz’s request — his cry, really — to meet with Connor when everything was going to shit, and his eventual betrayal of the only person he loved.

This little bit of writing hit me at least as hard as did the process of writing Oz’s death, to be honest.  There are three scenes (well, three now) that are inextricably linked in the story.  They are linked not just in the characters involved, or in the story, but also in the amount of me involved in each.  Of the three, Oz’s death was actually the “easiest” to write.  His suicide note, on the other hand…

As someone who has lost three close friends to suicide — two of them Oz’s age — writing Oz’s suicide note quite literally broke me for several days.  And, yes, that does indeed mean I drank myself down to the bottom of the bottle after I wrote that bit…then took those several days to come back up.  This scene was…

Well…

This seen was almost as hard.  A big part of that, by the way, is that I did not have my “normal” safe, comfortable space in which I could write without others staring at me.  When I wrote in Grimm Brothers’ taproom, no one bothered me.  Everyone knew the guy writing in the corner was good-people.  Everyone forgave the tears in my eyes as I wrote because they knew me…they also knew my characters and my stories.  But today?  Today, I write in strange places, with people who have no idea just what the hell I’m doing.  Today people just think I’m a freaking lunatic…*

*Err…I’m a writer.  “Writer” is, of course, just pretentious-speak for “lunatic.”

I Waited for You

“Please, Spog…” Oz stuttered as the hammering of his heart threatened to tear his body apart.

He could fix it…Oz knew he could.  He could fix it, if only he could talk — really talk — to Connor.  Not over a screen, and not with others around.  No, face-to-face.  They needed to talk face-to-face.

The shake of Connor’s head on the tiny screen once would have told Oz everything he needed to know.  Once, before…

Before he had given up everything.  Before his world had shrunk to a brother he wanted to be so much more.  Before he fell in love with his best friend.

He knew the words that would come from Connor next.  He knew Connor better than Connor knew himself, in fact, and if the words were inevitable, Oz still had to hear them.  They wouldn’t be real until he heard them.  His universe would still be whole until he heard them.

“I’m sorry, Oz, but I can’t.  Later, when things settle down, but not now.  I have to concentrate on getting Nat out of here.  I got her into this, and I gotta get her out.”

More words, then, with his friend.  Words to bring that horrific call to an end.  Banal words.  Meaningless words.  Words of presence and acting, to cover the shaking that threatened to tear Oz apart.

Oz didn’t know where to go, didn’t know what to do.  While there was a small, vicious part deep inside that wanted its revenge, the rest of him knew…the rest of him knew that Connor would need help.  Would need a friend.  Would need a brother.

He would wait, he decided, for Connor to come.  He would be there to offer what help he could when his friend — his beloved — needed it.  There was, of course, only one place Connor would come to seek help.  Only one place that truly was safe for them.  Only one place that was home.

“Wanna try something new?” Marie asked as Oz settled into his usual seat at the bar.  “Just got it from a new in-system brewery on Redux.”

Oz could act.  Oz had, of brutal necessity, built his life around being exactly what others needed him to be.  He fully expected, then, the smile he offered to Marie to put her at her ease.  To forestall any questions, and to allow him to wait for Connor in peace.

“What’s wrong, Oz?” she asked, her soft eyes penetrating easily whatever veil it was Oz used to be able to draw over himself.

“Nothing’s wrong.  I just need to wait for Connor for a bit.  He’ll be here soon.”

Of words there were none, but when Marie placed an opened bottle in front of Oz, her sad eyes told just how deeply she understood.

Oz stared at the bottle to give himself to do.  A glowing moon dominated the label, gave rise to all of the emotions humans had evolved within themselves to greet the rising of a full moon.  But just as strongly as the moon, it was a shadow that drew Oz’s eyes.  A tiny form, perched on a rock.  A wolf howling his loneliness into the night.

The first night his body had been taken, Oz hadn’t cried.  When his mother had died, Oz hadn’t cried.  Staring at that moon — something Oz had never seen, except on a screen — and at that wolf, calling out into the night?  Oz finally felt tears threaten.  He gulped that bottle down, then, as much to have Marie take away the label that both drew and repelled him, as to get the alcohol into his system.

He would wait.  As many bottles as it took, Oz would wait.  He would wait for Connor.

There were tears in Marie’s eyes when she replaced yet another empty bottle with a new one.

“He’ll come…he has to.  I’ll wait,” was all Oz could say to her.  To anyone.

 “I have to get home to Vin,” she answered, the tears in her voice now, “but you stay as long as you need.”

Another bottle in front of him, the last Marie had placed, and Oz continued to stare at that label.

Oz always had wanted to see the moon.

But the moon…the moon was never to be, not for him.  At seven he had lived in terror and dread.  At eleven he had discovered meaning and worth in the form of his tall, confused blond friend.  At seventeen he had…nothing left.  Not Connor.  Not the moon.  Not a thing.

Most of him wanted to go to the Fort, to that fate he had always known was waiting for him.  Most, but not all.  A bit of him — the bit that remembered all too clearly those years of pain and loneliness before he met Connor — wanted nothing more than to lash out; to hurt someone as badly as he had been hurt.

It was just a small bit, but as the rest of him wallowed in the paralysis of loss, and in the devastation of his heart, that small bit finally took control.

A touch to his screen, then, and a face appeared.  A face of strength and cunning hidden under layers of fat.  “You win, you bastard,” Oz said, “I’ll give you what you want.”

A few moments to make arrangements, that was all it took.  While the rest of him cried helplessly, that small bit sold the tiny scrap of soul that was all he had left.  He terminated the call with the swipe of a finger, then stared at the bottle in front of him, surprised to find it empty.

He stared at the moon on that bottle, and at the howling, lonely wolf.

“I waited for you, Connor.  I waited as long as I could,” Oz whispered to no one.

{Musical Note — What, you’re curious about today’s song?  Fine, here’s the explanation: Each of my characters has a couple of “theme songs” I keep in  mind when I think and write about them.  Oz’s primary theme is a tune called Benediction, but his secondary one…  Yeah, look, there IS a reason why Oz’s songs focus on someone else…and that’s all I’m gonna say.  If you want to understand — both the character, and the writer — just listen to the damned song(s)!}

2-for-1 Snippets! “Ghosts”

A snippet, then, because…why the hell not?

Ghosts

“Jesus Christ, Connor,” Sonthi said with a lopsided grin, “close your goddamned mouth.  You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”

What the hell did you say to that?

“You are a fuckin’ ghost.  What the fuck are you doing here?” Connor spluttered, fought to focus his mind.  Off-balance was vulnerable, and he did not want to be vulnerable in front of the curacek behind that desk.

Try as he might, however, he could not wrap his mind around what he saw.  The last time he had seen Sonthi had been to hand over the datastick that had touched off all the insanity tearing apart both Dockside and the Station.  The time when Sonthi had told him about Oz.

Shit.

A smile from the shorter man, then, an effort to put Connor at ease.  Connor was used to the ex-cop in a police uniform; the tight-fitting, dark suit that seemed de rigeur for those working in that ridiculous office tower looked decidedly odd on the older man.  Expensive or not, those clothes did nothing to help his look.  Several inches shorter than Connor, Sonthi’s hair had turned from salt-and-pepper to completely gray over the past year, and his paunch had grown more pronounced than when he had been a sergeant in Dockside’s corrupt police force.

The ghost of a wink, then, from the shorter man as he turned to face the desk.  “Sir, I’ve sent you my update on the kid’s file.  I’d suggest a minute or two to read it while I get Connor clued in a bit as to what he’s doing here.”

A nod from the svine behind the desk even as he began to read from his screen.  Sonthi grabbed Connor’s arm in a grip that was almost painfully tight as he guided him to the large, comfortable chairs arranged to maximize the view out over the dark towers of the city.  Heavy clouds had rolled in, brought with them the winds and rain that were beginning to lash the glass.

“Do not fuck around with this aho, you stupid motherfuckin’ ikiryo,” Sonthi hissed as they sat, his voice for Connor’s ears alone.  “I worked too fuckin’ hard to get your ass out of that shithole prison to watch you fuck it up now.  You smile and nod and say yessir to whatever the hell Chapman wants.  Don’t try to scam him, not yet.  You don’t know the rules, chiima.  Until you do, you’ll just screw yourself right back into that hole you just crawled out of.”

Connor thought about that.  He thought about it very, very hard.  Those thoughts, much to his surprise, were interrupted by a half-full tumbler held out for him.  Chapman had brought him another drink?  Just when was he going to understand what was happening?

“In case you missed it, Connor, Mr. Chapman is the CEO of LRC Exploration,” Sonthi explained with a nod for his boss.  “He hired me to head up his security department about nine months ago.  He and I have been discussing some, ahh, options for the business that call for a skill set very different from your average college graduate.”

Every bit of his voice was different from what Connor remembered.  Very little of Dockside clung to Sonthi’s tongue as he talked.  Very little accent, and even less vocabulary.  Instead, the ex-cop was more formal and more precise…and far more irritating.

Connor’s stare was direct.  He would dance and play with Chapman, at least for a while.  Fine, Sonthi was right about the need for that.  But with Sonthi himself?  Connor was a thief and a liar, but Sonthi was just as bad in his own way.  There was no way Connor was going to let some crooked cop patronize him.  Even if he did owe the man.

Saishei tanmei, mappo, but no one loves me.  We were chara the second I handed you that stick.”  Connor’s voice was not friendly.  The hostility was a reminder for Sonthi; a reminder of just where Connor came from, and of how little he had to lose.

“I don’t have time for this,” Chapman barked, a hand raised to forestall any reply from his security director.

That hand was not needed, however.  At least not so far as Connor could see.  Sonthi’s face may have been unreadable to his boss — just what the hell did a CEO do, anyway? — but to Connor it was an open book.  A book of guilt, and a hint of shame.

Dockside rules still applied to the pair of them, even in that office, and those rules said Connor had made his point.  He gave a tiny, sharp nod to the ex-cop then turned to fully face Chapman.  He needed to focus, and to read everything he could from the man’s face and body language as they talked.  His life might very well depend on that reading.

“I have all the information in the world, Mr. Spogelse,” Chapman explained.  Lectured, actually.  “What I lack are viable means to act on that information.  Oh, I can use what my agents dig up to carry out certain negotiations and decisions, but I cannot act proactively with it.

“The five companies that founded this colony hold all of the cards, not to mention most of the power, and I’m tired of having to toe their line.  I need operatives who can act on my information, when and how I tell them.  Do you understand what I’m saying?”

The boredom that had begun to displace Connor’s anger disappeared, replaced by a certain amount of interest.  The idea had possibilities.  Almost as many possibilities as it had problems.  He could get ahead with this…if he was careful.  If he was very, very careful.

“None of your spies are willing to risk their ass for you,” he answered, meeting Chapman’s stare with one of his own.  “You need someone willing to get his hands dirty.  Someone with nothing to lose.  But that ain’t the real problem, boss.  There’re a couple million people over in the Haze and the Camp who’d stab their own mothers for a few grand.  If even I know that, you better fuckin’ well be aware.  Let’s not worry about the job itself, not just yet.  You’re looking for something pretty specific in all this, so the first question is why me?”

Sonthi answered for his boss, “You’re a ghost, Connor.  What little trace remains of Connor Spogelse is so buried and lost in the system, no one will ever find it again.  You can be whoever, or whatever, the situation calls for.”

Connor arched an eyebrow at that, but didn’t say a word.  Let the kamo talk themselves into the scam.  His entire day up to that point might have been a major fuck-up that had his head spinning, but this?  This was a scam.  This was what he did best.

A moment of hesitation while Sonthi glanced at his boss.  A wave from Chapman and the ex-cop continued, “That could never be true of someone from Redux, Connor.  Everyone here is implanted as a child, for one thing.  Even more, however, everyone has a detailed ident entered in the databases from the get-go.  Even in the Haze and the Camp…especially in the Haze and the Camp.”

Chapman cleared his throat to interrupt.  Both Connor and Sonthi turned to stare, but the executive remained quiet, let the silence build for several moments.

Overdramatic aho, Oz laughed.

A moment more of silence, then Chapman spoke, “Mr. Sonthi assures me you are the best he has ever seen at cracking networks and security.  I need that skill, Mr. Spogelse.  Almost as much as I need somebody who can disappear at will.  Rest assured, you are physically quite safe.  You are not in this office because I want you to be my…what is it you people call them?  Oh yes, my baita.  You — very specifically you — are in this office because I need an operative that I, and Mr. Sonthi, can trust and control.”

Connor’s irritation was back.  Very, very back.  Just how the hell did this idiot think he would control Connor?  He had no doubt Sonthi had primed the man with that crack about being a baita, and that made him even angrier.

His voice was cold when he replied, “You need an awful lot, Mr. CEO.  What’s in it for me?”

“Money, for one thing.  You will be well compensated for your efforts, I assure you.  Your freedom, for another.  You were not released from prison, Mr. Spogelse.  You are currently being, ahh, transferred back to Port Oblivion.  Whether that transfer remains lost in the bureaucratic shuffle, or the authorities become aware of your escape from prison, is entirely up to you.”

{Musical Note — although this song isn’t the soundtrack I had in my head when I wrote the scene, it nonetheless fits. It fits the mood, the characters, and where things are going. And, yes, there is allegory and subtext involved…}

Edit — I am adding a “scene” blow. Although I wrote the scene above, and this one I am adding, at very different times and in very different places, they are in fact a single scene. Here’s a challenge for you: see if you can spot the difference in tone and thematic elements that came with the weeks between creating the two…

Ghosts” (continued)

“I will let Mr. Sonthi give you the details,” Chapman continued after a moment for the threat to sink home, “but it is important that I know you understand what it is I want of you.  You will be a weapon, Mr. Spogelse.  A weapon aimed at my adversaries.  Whether you are a sledgehammer or a scalpel is something we will have to see.”

Did the man never shut up?  Connor had met, and scammed, any number of arrogant aho in his life, but never had he met someone so in love with the sound of his own voice.  He’d never liked or trusted any takie — a sudden memory of Nat’s face, and a rush of loss, both quickly repressed — but Chapman was quickly moving to the top of his list of those he most despised.

Nothing said Connor had to like the man, however.  He just had to take his money.

“We will, of course, have to start slowly,” Chapman was still talking, and Connor still taking note of anything he could use to his advantage.  “Mr. Sonthi has already made certain arrangements for you, and he will be your primary point of contact.  My instructions will come through him, and you will do whatever he says.  Whatever he says, Mr. Spogelse, and in the manner and time he directs.  Those instructions will have come from me, and you will treat his words as if they were my own.”

Connor shifted his glance between the two men before he answered with a sharp nod.  The arrogance and conceit in Chapman’s voice should have had Connor’s anger and resentment on the rise, just as the threat of prison should have had him worried and stressed.  But neither of those things was happening.  Why not?

You’ve got nothing to lose, Spog, that’s why, Oz observed.  Just remember to feed these baka what they expect.

Chapman would expect him to be angry and resentful, so Connor made sure those emotions were evident on his face, and in his reply.  “No one owns me, Mr. CEO.  No one.  You got my ass out of that shithole prison, and I’m grateful, but gratitude ain’t gonna buy you shit.  Better men than you have tried to fuck me over.  The worst of all you pretentious aho is currently fighting like hell to keep his own ass out of prison because of me.  No, you better fuckin’ well paint a picture that’s a hell of a lot prettier than just using me as your own personal bataya.”

Connor leaned back after that little tirade, as insolently as he could, and took a long gulp of his drink.  How Chapman reacted would tell him a very great deal.

That same flare of irritation, that same self-satisfied smirk.  Oh yes, Chapman took confidence to a whole new level.  Connor could almost admire his self-possession.  Almost.

“Connor…” Sonthi warned, his voice quiet but insistent.

Chapman stopped the interjection with a sharp motion.  His voice was cold and emphatic, his words rapid-fire, “It really is very simple, Mr. Spogelse.  You will be whatever I tell you to be.  Escape from prison means an extra fifteen years on your sentence.  To date, the criminals from what you and your ilk call the Families have been kept away from Redux’s prisons.  That can change very, very quickly.  Never forget the name on the front of that prison you so conveniently just left.”

Chapman Penitentiary.

Well…fuck me, Oz whispered.

Connor agreed.

The anger wasn’t feigned this time, at least not completely.  “You piece of shit kuroko.  What the fuck don’t you own?”  Connor’s knuckles were white on the expensive crystal tumbler as he downed the rest of the liquor.

“Not much, Mr. Spogelse.  Not much,” Chapman answered, a sneering laugh under his words.

Fifteen more years in prison?  Did it really matter?  Connor would be free or he wouldn’t.  He would live to see the sun rise again or he wouldn’t.  The fundamental truth was that he’d always known he would die young.  Just like the ikiryo he truly was.  Who the hell really cared, anyway?

I do.

Connor squelched that voice.  It was too good to hear; too comfortable…and far, far too disturbing.  He couldn’t afford to listen to Oz.  Not yet.

No, it was no time to let free that particular demon.  He had work to do.  Chapman’s threats might have been pointless to Connor, but the job he offered had definite possibilities.  If Connor couldn’t turn the situation to his own advantage, he would deserve to end up back in that prison.

The silence hung in the air for several seconds, but Chapman seemed content to wait quietly while Connor worked through his thoughts.  Worked through his fears, Chapman would assume.  Connor could all-but read the executive’s thoughts; could almost hear the self-satisfied laugh undoubtedly echoing in the man’s head.

He leaned forward and stared hard at Chapman, intensity and bitterness portrayed with every bit of the skill a life on the streets, and Oz’s coaching, had given him.  “So it’s die in prison, or work for you?  That’s a hell of a choice.  Ask Sonthi what happened to the last hum noi who tried to force me to work for him.”

“I’m well aware of your recent history.  And of what happened to your last, ahh, employer.  I think you’ll find I’m no Kazuo.  Just as I am not William Hendricks.  Relax, Mr. Spogelse, all is not bad.  As I said before, working for me will prove lucrative for you.  Very lucrative, if you’re anywhere near as good as Mr. Sonthi insists.  I may not be an easy man to work for, but I am a generous one.”

Sonthi reached out, touched Connor’s knee hesitantly.  “C’mon, Connor.  It’s a good deal, and you know it.  Hell, it’s the only deal you’re going to get after all the shit that’s gone down.  Trust me on that.”

Trust?  No, never that.  Not again.  Trust had died a year ago, in a pool of blood.  Just like love.  Just like family.

Trust he would not, but use he would.  He would always use.  The rules never changed, no matter where in the universe you were.  And when the price came due, as it always did?  Shou ga nai.

Connor blew out a breath, then, and leaned back in his chair.  The picture of defeat, and of resignation.  But still the anger and resentment.  Oh yes, still those.  Chapman — and Sonthi — would expect them, and Connor hated to disappoint his kamo.

A moment to look between the two, then he focused again on Chapman.  “You win, boss.  Just like you knew you would.  You’ve got me nailed to the wall, and you’ll get your operative.  We both know I’m never goin’ back inside, not if I have any choice in the matter, so you’ll get my best effort, too.  That you can be sure of.”

{Musical Note — why the hell not? It’s all 2-for-1 today!! And with Oz gaining in presence and importance (yay!), its time for a song that characterized the boys in the “good ol’ days”}

Crap, Diapers Are EXPENSIVE!

Okay, so I’ve started to slack on the posts a bit (again).

*Sigh*

I do have a good excuse this time, however.  I’ve been spending as much of my time as I can planning and preparing for a new venture that I’ve hinted at in previous posts.  Now, before I describe that venture, let me offer a bit background info…

Those of you who have read this blog for a bit now are aware that I simply cannot write at home.  For those who are new(ish) here, let me say this by way of explanation: When I put myself in a quiet, solo environment, I can do a lot of things.  Some of those things are even mentionable in polite company.    They do not, however, include fiction writing.  Whenever I try to write at home, that quiet, private space is very much reflected in the mood and tone of what I produce.  When I write at home, I end up with material that is introspective, reflective, and generally far more influenced by my personal black dog than is good for me (or anyone else).

I know, I know…a lot of folks find it surprising that a writer can’t write when it is quiet and private.  I mean, just how counter-intuitive can you get?  Okay, so maybe that environment is conducive to writing, but that would be for a completely different person, and different kind of writer, than me.  For me…

For me, I need life and activity.  When you get right down to it, I need people around me — I need to feel in contact with the real world — if I want my characters and scenes to be anything close to what I originally envisioned when I planned them.

Now, like most writers, I do a fair bit of work in coffee shops.  That work, however, is usually the planning and editing of my pieces; the actual writing part of writing, I do in taprooms.  That’s it, that’s my personal rule.  Put me in the corner, surrounded by my fellow drinkers, with a beer at my elbow and my earbuds blaring directly into my skull, and I’m the happiest writer in the world*.  I am also, more importantly, at my most creative and productive.

*Err…even if I have tears in my eyes from what I’m writing, I’m happy…I’m just happy on the inside!

Err…writing, in a taproom?  Isn’t that loud and obnoxious?  Isn’t that kinda, well, distracting?

Yes.  Yes it is.  And that’s the point.

Hey, remember that dissonance thing I’ve talked a couple of times?  The heart of my stories — just like the heart of who I am as a person and a writer — lies completely inside that dissonance.  Intellectual dissonance; emotional dissonance; cognitive dissonance, it’s all there, and it’s all important.  Hell, there’s even quite a bit of social freaking dissonance; I mean, c’mon, how else do you find a semi-recluse misanthrope who has to be around people to be creative and productive?!

Of course, it doesn’t hurt that a good taproom — like a good pub — is one of my absolute favorite places in the entire world.

Well, that love of taprooms went and got drunk.  It got drunk, then it got all funky and passionate with my compulsion to do the most random and unexpected things.  A few months later, the inevitable happened…

It wasn’t the easiest birth in the world, but that baby is finally in my arms, shitting and puking all over the place.  I am, in other words, the proud proprietor of an infant taproom of my very own.

Oh, it ain’t ready for the world, not yet, so don’t get yourself all geeked up.  In a year or so, however, when it is solidly into toddlerdom — and has been toilet-trained — then I’ll officially introduce it to y’all.  Just watch out for your shoes; those baby taprooms can be pretty messy, you know!

For now, if you’re anywhere near Michigan’s thumb coast, maybe I’ll let you play with the little tyke a bit…

Forgive the crappy picture — its my cellphone, and I was in a hurry!

{Musical Note — I just like the song…and it kinda fits the mood}