Two Years, About One Quarter of the Time (Now with footnotes!)

Dear Readers,

I recently got a notification from WordPress that is was my second anniversary of having a blog. That’s just it, I have a blog. I don’t own one, I don’t run one, and I sure as shit don’t maintain one. Of the 730 days involved I’ve managed to publish not quite 170 posts, of them I could easily discount ten to fifteen percent of what I’ve written as utter nonsense posted just because… well that’s what you do1. For what it’s worth I am here and still trying, I guess that’s a good thing.

The oppression of dates

I suppose the date of Oct 18th should seem meaningful. It is nestled quite nicely somewhere between my actual birthday later this month and the date that I had my last drink towards the end of September, some years ago. I think more about the passing of the latter than I do the former. Due to the personal philosophy that keeps me sober though I don’t really hold much truck with the pitiful insignificance of specific dates of my life because right now, today is the only thing that you can hold onto with any certainty. This is probably a reflection of my father’s lack of concern or respect for outward displays of ceremony2.

Why am I here?

I started this blog with the intention of getting back to writing, specifically fiction. I’ve done a fair bit of that. Thirty-two of my posts have been a work of fiction. That’s about a 27% success rate on that front. It took me a couple of weeks of dicking around to work up the courage to post DIG! which, as it goes I rather like. By far the bulk of the material I have worked on I like to use the cute little label of “Creative Nonfiction”3. We’ll just chalk those up to journal entries, memoirs, coping with my sobriety and, attempts at making somewhat intelligent commentary on the world around me. One of the things I’ve been rather proud of is starting a serialized fiction piece.

The Untitled Thing has often shown a lot of promise but the last few entries have gone of track a bit so I feel I need to take a long hard look at that before I go any further. I doubt I’ll go as far as a full rewrite but I am keeping the nuclear option open for now.

And I was of course extremely flattered that I got Freshly Pressed for writing Rarity of Quiet sometime ago

Absences, breaks, and hiatuses

Life gets in the way. A lot. I learned not to apologize for that a early on4. I do however feel like talking about it right now.

I have these bouts of insomnia, like not sleeping for more than two hours at a time for more than a month kind of bouts5. On the upswing of these I feel great and get super productive for a while and everything is kinda awesome. Then the exhaustion erodes everything away until all I have I anxiety wrapped in a nice warm sweater of depression and self loathing. That’s when I generally stop writing because everything I do upsets me in some way and most of my energy is spent on keeping myself upright and making it through work, often to come home and stare longingly at my blog’s dashboard for about an hour or so before pretending to sleep.

But then eventually I feel better and when I get over it all I always come back here so there’s that.

Also I don’t like publishing when I am angry at a specific person in my personal life because it always winds up being about them and quite frankly that’s not fair to myself, them, or my readers.

Sometimes I have too much other shit to do.

And, sometimes I just don’t feel like it… which is completely valid.

In all serious gratitude

There are a handful of people that I know for sure have been following and reading my works for these past two years. I cannot express properly how much that kind of support means to me. If it was not for them I would have given up long ago.

I also am more than grateful for the browse by readers, new followers, random likers, and odd commenters that pass through here from time to time. I am firm believer that writing without some kind of audience to share it with is a rather sad and pointless endeavor, well it is for me any way.

Thank You,
Doug Hippensteel
Corned Beef Hashtag


  1. I’m looking at you, pretty much all of November of 2013 and also the bulk of this post most likely 
  2. Let’s not dwell too much on my father unless you’re gonna wheel in a chaise lounge6 and start smoking a cigar. 
  3. Which is about as close to an oxymoron as you can get without needing special gloves to handle it. 
  4. Seriously if there is one piece of advice I got about blogging that I feel needs to be passed it’s: Never waste time apologizing for not posting something; it’s a waste of your talent and your readers attention. 
  5. As opposed to the, “I didn’t get any sleep because I spent all night binge watching Netflix and getting wasted.” kind seems to be an epidemic, and pisses me off greatly when someone refers to it as insomnia. Just sayin’ 
  6. Sometimes a couch is only a couch. 

Acciddents Happen

And so, due to a episode of spastic incompetence on my part,  I managed to push the wrong  friggin button and accidentally post the piece of fiction that I planned on publishing this day two days ago. I thought I was just saving it as a draft. Instead it went out unfinished, and unedited, and unnoticed by me until morning. A simple mistake, one that I could easily prevent in the future, I probably won’t though.

Anyway even though it annoyed me to no end I decided to just leave it and just let it ride. Unfortunately it is part of a serial(ish) and I had to double check some continuity issues, and while I had it up on the blocks I went back and did some work on it and I’m a little happier about the situation. That particular scene, Coffee Talk can be found here.

If you’ve already read that part the index for the rest of the serial is here.

If you’re already caught up, or don’t give a crap, and still want want some thing else to read there’s always the library.

Or you can check out Catastrophe Jones’ latest serial DeathWatch over at her site. I Finally caught up with it and highly recommend it.

In the meantime I’m just going to go binge watch Daredevil. I’ll see you on Monday.

The Untitled Thing

Dear Readers,

So I have this policy concerning writing about specific things. Once is a lark, twice is coincidence, three times and it’s a pattern. When I write about the same thing four times, it tends to become a Thing.

Those of you who have been following me for the past couple of months may have noticed a slowly growing collection of fictional shorts involving two characters, Jerry and Mr. Davis. I have now written about them five times so they are with out a doubt a Thing.

So far these scenes have all been written in response to a writing prompt or challenge. Reading them it seems that there is a larger story taking shape, one that I do have a few details worked out in my head, and have started doing some research for it. Still, I am not sure if I want to commit to a project that big.

We’ll just play along for now and see what happens, and if nothing else the two of them make for nice and interesting constructs for working on my writing skills in the mean time.

For those of you who are new to my blog, or may have missed a story here are links to those pages in the order in which they were written. I’m not sure they are all in the order they happen in, but it’ll do for now.

One day when I’m not being so lazy, or feeling quite so sick, or there are more of them I may make them their own page to feature them. I hope you find them entertaining.

The Untitled Thing.

  • Street Credit - “Reputation, it’s all about reputation,” Mr. Davis began, “And that, my friend, is just a matter of perception. You can spend years and years trying to build a reputation but if no one buys into it you are screwed. That’s where we come in.” He took a long pull of his bourbon, draining. The ice…Read more Street Credit
  • Smell the Witch - PREVIOUS He woke slowly, letting the pain going on inside his skull take its own sweet time to register. The aromas of cigarette smoke and scotch hung in the air, while the smell of sweat clung to the sheets of the empty bed.  I can still smell the witch, Jerry thought grimly as the perfumes of last night…Read more Smell the Witch
  • Getting to Know Him - PREVIOUS Photos and scraps of paper peeked out from folders scattered across every surface of the small, dimly lit office. Jerry paced the room flipping through the file he was handed shortly after he arrived. “What am I supposed to do with this?” He asked the heavy-set man. “Peter Maslow, that’s our guy’s name. That’s…Read more Getting to Know Him
  • Conversational Russian - PREVIOUS The door opened and Mr. Davis stepped into the apartment. In one hand was a plastic bag from the deli on the corner,  over his shoulder was the shabby, brown, leather briefcase he always carried when he left his office. He strode towards the kitchen and set the to go bag on the counter. After…Read more Conversational Russian
  • The Toolkit - PREVIOUS The alarm clock went off and Davis snorted awake in his chair. A few moments of fumbling around managed to resolve the noise and he slid his feet off the crowded desk, taking a pile of papers with them. He stood and reached his arms out and upwards and then rotated them in a…Read more The Toolkit
  • The Diner Scene - PREVIOUS Walking in the front door of Lily’s his eyes were assaulted by stainless steel, and boomerang patterned formica basking in the glare of fluorescent lights. Jerry squinted through his headache and fatigue to find his partner standing and waving at him from the far booth of crowded the diner.  He hurriedly walked toward him past…Read more The Diner Scene
  • Eyes and the Mirror - PREVIOUS He stared through the smoke and noise at the blurred reflection in the mirror on the wall, the short distance between where he sat and where he looked seemed to shrink and grow as he thought, as he tried to remember. There was something in that gap, there had to be something. *** He was…Read more Eyes and the Mirror
  • Interdepartmental Meeting - PREVIOUS Zoos, thought Janice, are testament to the fortitude of  human will. It is no small feat of courage to spend the day watching these magnificent beasts mope around the far corners of their little enclosures, trying to ignore all the noisy assholes with cameras, and not finish the afternoon by going home and hanging yourself. The…Read more Interdepartmental Meeting
  • Memory Lapse - This is ninth in a collection of scenes that I lazily refer to as “The Untitled Thing”. If this is your first time reading the exchanges between Jerry and Mr. Davis, it would probably be best if you started at the beginning. If you think you might have missed an installment, the complete collection can be found here.…Read more Memory Lapse
  • The Watchman - This is the tenth scene in the serial“The Untitled Thing.” The previous installment is here.  You can get up to date on the rest by checking out its index page. The door of the hotel room was open by muscular,  grey-faced man wearing  a black wife beater and an annoyed look. He stared for a hard moment at…Read more The Watchman
  • Making Connections - The rain was coming down hard as he ran from the cab to the awning over the bar, he tried shielding himself with a folded newspaper. It always seemed so much more effective when he saw it done in the movies. In real life not only did you still ended up with wet hair, only…Read more Making Connections
  • Status Update - Ellis Durant entered the suite and walked along the only path not cluttered by the entropy that had taken over in the two weeks since he had last visited. He looked around at the empty take-out boxes, stacks of photographs and reports that he had sent over, the random placement of magazines most of them laying…Read more Status Update
  • Day Planner - He sat slumped on the office couch, staring out at space, slightly trembling hands shaking lightly clasping at a half-drank Redbull. “Jerry? Jesus Jerry, you still with us?” “What?” He shook himself back to the world, “Yeah sorry Pete must’ve just drifted off for a minute.” “You look like shit man. You feeling ok? You…Read more Day Planner
  • Coffee Talk - The cafe was situated on a quiet side street, away from the noise and smoke of heavy traffic. Its outdoor seating area was a large plaza surrounded by small little boutiques filled with mid-scale clothing and jewelry. There was of course a head shop operating under the label of a tobacconist. They weren’t fooling anyone, no…Read more Coffee Talk
  • The Pick-up - Jerry sat in the car parked outside the warehouse, engine idling, struggling to keep his eyes open. He was sure he fell asleep at some point each night but, he could barely tell. He would be laying in bed  each evening in, his alarm  sounded and it was morning again. The time between just gone,…Read more The Pick-up
  • Sentinal - Ellis Durant was crouched on the ledge, looking down at the dark blue sedan parked in front of the warehouse.. It was a slightly older model Taurus, kept clean. It was in good repair. He could barely tell the engine was running. He knew Jerry was behind the wheel, waiting. A few floors below him,…Read more Sentinal

Thanks for your time and interest,

Doug

A Brief Letter of Apology for My Slackness

To those of you who have been following this blog,

I would like apologize for the erratic nature of my posting schedule; or lack of apparent schedule altogether as the case may be. Life and work (there is a difference) have gotten the better of me and I haven’t been able to devote as much time as I would like to writing. I do suppose I should be apologizing to myself mostly as I’m the daft fool who decided they needed to start a blog in the first place.

Here's a picture of my dog looking a bit forlorn

My dog Sammy feels bad about it too.

A part of me thinks I should close up shop for a bit, regroup and start anew once I get a few drafts backed up. This would seem a wise course of action. Sadly however, this isn’t really part of my nature so instead I am going to press on at a limping pace until I get caught up on projects and otherwise get my crap together.

Things are looking up however, if any of you have been following the conversations between Jerry and Mr. Davis that I have been writing in response to various challenges and have enjoyed them; it looks like that story is starting to take a shape of its own and might become a thing soon. No promises but I like where my head is with that. I should be publishing a new part to this soon and also plan to organize the scenes onto their own page and see what happens there.

I have seen a few new people interacting with this site through follows, likes, comments, and emails and I have been remiss in some of my follow-ups, I promise I will be responding to you and visiting your blogs soon.

 I guess if there is any specific content that I’ve written that you really like, now would be the time to let me know what it is and request more of it.

Anyway, thanks to all of you who have been patiently putting up with my nonsense. I hope you find some sort of pay off for it in the coming weeks.

Doug
 

P.S.: I plan to do some redesign on this site soon also, just because I can’t leave well enough alone.

P.P.S: Since you’ve been such good sports about this here’s a picture of me looking like a total idiot.

wpid-IMG_20130113_102145.jpg

There are somethings I just can’t explain.

And now I’ll just spend the next 500 or so words saying nice things about other peoples blogs

I am not in the habit of writing round-up style posts, and I really don’t intend to get into one. I have however, recently been asked make a collection of a few posts others have written that I’ve enjoyed , so I thought I would share it with everyone, despite how oddly self-conscious it makes me feel.

I realize that lately I have not made much mention of my sobriety, which is still and always will be a thing. Quite frankly I find that aspect of my life somewhat dull outside the capacity of my experiences have of helping other people who might need to know that they are not alone. I am currently trying to step away from the “Dear Diary” type of entries I have  used to speak about this subject and focus more on storytelling, but I am sure I will touch on this subject again and again as I live and write. If you are in need of a direct perspective about pursuing sobriety I recommend checking out Sober Courage, perhaps starting with her recent post “Can You Take it or Leave It” which offers a sort of litmus test about alcoholism.

In the same vein, many people have read my posts about cycling, and I will continue those on occasion, provided they offer some sort of tale, whether it be amusing or cautionary. For those of you with an interest in cycling and would like to read a journal from someone who really loves it I present The Human Cyclist who published “More Cycle Paths or Fewer Psychopaths?” which explores driver/ cyclist relations.

Where I am really trying to go with my writing is to explore and develop my storytelling skills, fictional or otherwise, and who doesn’t love a good story. There are several blogs of this type that I like, and not to slight anyone I am only going to mention a couple.

The first I’d like to tell you about is The Convoluted Menagerie the author there often relates tales from his past one of which is “Blowing the Dream”. That particular story amused me to no end as I to have an urge to use a particular device as well. You’ll have to read it to find out what I am talking about.

I have been a long time fan of Catastrophe Jones, author of flash fiction and… other works. Her writing voice is well-defined, beautiful, and at times slightly unsettling. I would be hard pressed to pick a favorite entry of hers so I will just recommend her recent post, “The Price”, once you’re there I am sure you find a reason to lurk around a bit.

Lastly I would like to mention The Yard Men’s Station. This blog explores a well thought out steam punk world and the characters that dwell with in it. It is the product of an imaginative author, who is invested in her work and is intent on publishing it as novels; and is worth checking into. “The Yard Men’s Case Files: Uprising” is where I jumped into this setting, so that is where I’ll point you.

I’m sorry if I have neglected to mention anyone, but this is just a sampling of who I’ve been keeping my eye on lately.

Post From a Remote Location

A late start, a sick child and a number of errands forced me to forego my morning writing today so now I’m stealing a few moments here and there from my job to tap this out on my phone.

As promised my helmet arrived yesterday while I was at work and as also promised here is a picture of me looking all bicycley.
image

It’s hot as all hell wearing the damned thing (despite the advertised numerous vents) and I feel like a bit of a twit wearing it, though considering some of the things I’ve worn in public over the past few decades I think I can live with it. I suppose it is better than cracking my skull open.on the pavement. It also has the added value of setting a good example for my daughter.

I managed to try it on for size by sneaking in a ten mile ride before work. When I stopped for an overpriced lunch of a grilled cheese and an iced coffee I ran into a friend that I hadn’t seen in a while; he told me that a couple of old acquaintances of ours had, like me, decided to start living sober.

I started to think about how, when I was still drinking, I would look at other people’s lives and decide that they had a problem with alcohol or drugs. It is definitely easier to judge others than to pull up your pants and acknowledge your own problems.

I was glad to hear they are doing well, and it was good to see my other friend. I’ve been a hermit for to long and it’s high time I let some people that i’ve been missing back into my life.

10 Answers to Questions That Probably Say More Than I Realize About Me

  1. What is your favorite word? Onomatopoeia, it has a nice ring to it.
  2. What is your least favorite word? Sorry, just because people use it far to often when they either don’t mean it, or when it isn’t necessary in the first place.
  3. What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally? Surprisingly, cooking still does that even after so many years working in the same kitchen making the same things.
  4. What turns you off? Stupidity, blatant, unadulterated stupidity.
  5. What is your favorite curse word? There’s so many good ones, but I’m going to have to go with Bugger. It’s not particularly dirty but it’s just fun to say.
  6. What sound or noise do you love? My daughter laughing, it’s pretty awesome.
  7. What sound or noise do you hate? That damned ticket printer at work. Freaking thing sounds like a chainsaw in heat.
  8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? Philanthropist, that counts right?
  9. What profession would you not like to do? I don’t believe I would enjoy being a textile worker in a third world nation.
  10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say  when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?  That is a rather large supposition, given my position on such things, but here goes, “Ah, good. Take the keys, and the big book and do try to keep the place tidy. I’ll be back at half past Armageddon.”
This post was inspired by a Daily Prompt.

Got Bent

My determination at not letting my cold get the better of me and riding anyway have come to naught. Yesterday I went out to get the bike packed for my commute, and discovered that the rim is bent to all hell. I’m not sure what I did to cause this to happen but my best assumption is that it was slightly off kilter for some time and a few unseen potholes in the night on my ride home from work did the rest of the damage.

Being the stubborn SOB that I am, I have insisted on fixing this myself. This is despite the fact that I have never trued a wheel before and only know how it works in theory. another stumbling block that have encountered is that the spoke wrenches in my possession are part of a cheap emergency roadside multi-tool and therefore not particularly effective.

Now I sit, and wait for one of the seemingly endless bike shops to open (apparently bikes don’t need to be repaired before noon on a Sunday) so I can buy a proper wrench. The clock keeps ticking and it seems more and more likely that I will have to complete this time consuming repair tomorrow. It would seem this will be, yet another Truck Day.

Bugger!

Still Coping

I left work the other night really wanting a drink. I had a bit of a tiff with one of my coworkers. The details are irrelevant as it would degenerate quickly into he said/ he said bullshit and besides that, this isn’t about him. It would be convenient if it were. It would all be nice and neat if I could just blame my want for a beer and a shot of bourbon on the actions of some one else. But that’s just a load of crap.

What it is about is coping mechanisms. For years I used drinking as mine. Well that and cigarettes, but I quit smoking as well, and that is another matter. It was very unsettling for me, as it seems like it really has been a while since I had struggle with it. That overwhelming, nerve jangling urge to go down the road to the liquor store and come out with a four pack and a pint of whiskey. Admittedly, I have the thought from time to time but, for the last few months it has been very easy to shake off. This time it hung around. I would normally have just biked it off but one thing and another led me to drive the truck to work. What I did instead was drive anxiously home, past the package store, the gas stations, and the all night pharmacies and, spent some time with my wife.

She happened to be still up, though I am not sure why. She sat and listened to me complain about work and the situation and then started steering the conversation elsewhere. It was nice, with me working nights and us having so much to do during the day, with moving and our daughters it felt like months since her and I were in the same room and awake enough to enjoy each others company. We have been making some time to go bike riding together but it hasn’t been as often as we like and when we do there is always real life that has to be jumped right back into. It was good to simply be together and talking and laughing for just a little while. Afterwards, when I had been thoroughly distracted from my problems, my wife went to bed and I typed out a few words for the blog, which pushed the problem further from my mind.

The next day there was still an issue to be dealt with at work, that wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon, as well as the hum drum day to day stresses that being a father, a husband, and a professional cook bring. That was okay because I had taken some time and gotten things back in to perspective, quite frankly it wasn’t that big of a deal.

It is important to all of us that we have healthy ways of managing our stress. Exercise, socialization, reading, blogging, or spending the evening talking intimately with the love of your life. What ever it is that works for you do more of it. Just don’t let ourselves fall into the traps of our old harmful habits.

As a final point I would like to mention that, if you have a drink or two to help manage your stress, this doesn’t make you an alcoholic, it is a lot more complicated than that.

If, however, you smoke… yeah don’t do that, quit, it’s stupid, it makes you look like an idiot. You’re not an idiot are you? So just stop already. M’kay thanks.

Truck Day

It seems I am having a couple of days where I am going to have to use the truck instead of my bike for my regular commuting. yesterday this was due to the fact that I had to leave work in the middle of my shift to help some family out with their own transportation issues. I managed to get a few miles in anyway by taking a supplemental ride which felt pretty good as I was able to take routes that didn’t involve any heavy traffic.

That being said I would like to take a moment to piss and moan about how aggravating driving to work, finding someone to come in and work for the two busiest hours of a dinner shift, fighting the tail end of rush hour traffic back to the house, switching vehicles loading up passengers, driving out to my niece’s sports practice, wind up waiting there for almost an hour because the time tables got confused, loading everyone up again, driving to my nieces’  house (yes there are two of them in the car at this point) to drop them off, driving back to my house to unload my wife and daughter, getting back in the truck, driving back to work, getting there just in the nick of time to relieve the coworker who was gracious enough to help me out in a tight spot right when you said he’d be able to go home, finishing the shift, closing the kitchen, getting back in the truck, stopping off to get milk when it could have been done hours ago before I even left for work when I went for my bike ride in the first place (I mean come on I’ve got the panniers on the damned thing for a reason),  then getting home exhausted and agitated to the point that I couldn’t really focus enough to write anything, actually is.

Happy enough to help out my sister-in-law and her daughters though, and now that I know this is my Wednesday routine I have scheduled myself appropriately for next week.

The problem with Truck Days is that they always seem to come in twos and threes. This morning my long ride I was planning with my wife, which would have been a good fourteen miles or so, was canceled last minute. The weather was looking a little iffy and we realized neither of us had really put together a proper repair kit, which could be bad as we would have been biking through the middle of BFE. I went back to bed for a bit and forgot to set my alarm, and woke up two hours later than I wanted, with a cold. Some coffee and a bit of Hot and Sour soup, with a couple of steamed dumplings on the side, it is time to go pick up the daughter at school. Today being an errand day as well this puts me back at the house exactly just too late to use the bike to get back to work.

Looking forward to dragging my butt out of bed early tomorrow and getting back up on that horse though. That and tomorrow I evaluate my riding experience so far this month.