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War of the Rosemonts

Not one of my best stories, but I added a video of the song to go with the lyrics.

It's a Blog About Nothing

(Based on a song I wrote in 2011 called Circles)

Four brothers, governing an empire built by six generations of Rosemonts, rule their own corners of the kingdom. The eldest, Edward, is the namesake of the father and the natural heir to the highest seat of the household. Henry, the second eldest, competitively attempts to show his brother that he is equally capable of running the family business should anything, God forbid, ever happen to Edward. George, the forgotten third child, is relegated to the furthest reaches of the empire–a sort of exile, if you will, to keep him out of trouble. Finally, Richard, the youngest and most devoted to his eldest brother, acts as the voice of reason for the family.

Now, wicked George has fomented a rebellion against the family. Tired of being consigned to the nether reaches of the House of Rosemont, George first tries to recruit…

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Let’s Rock!!!

Okay, I need to wake up this morning and get some stuff done.  I need motivational music.

Here are the 5 songs that have gotten me through a tough week of working doubles with a cold–and that includes teaching Middle School Monsters!

I have always liked the Strokes.  Since the now classic Is This It? from 2001, I have been a casual, but engaged fan, of theirs.  However, since I put their albums on my son’s iPod a few months ago, he has instilled a deep enthusiasm for their music in me.

I have explained before that I love to hear him play certain songs on his bass guitar.  One of the great pleasures in my life!  And these songs are all songs that have become personal favorites because of my son’s enthusiasm!

We have spent most of our free time in the past few weeks learning both the guitar and bass parts for these songs (and many others, as well), and I have recently decided that these five songs will be a part of my life forever.

So, here we go!  Enjoy.

Let’s Rock!!!

Hard to Explain

Reptilia

Juicebox

Heart in a Cage

and finally, the song I cannot get enough of…

Machu Picchu

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Great Googly Moogly – My 101th Post!

Hey Guys!  This is my 101th post (pronounced “one hundred and oneth”), which means that earlier today I hit 100 with Grateful Dead.  My stats say that I have posted 108 times, but seven of those were reposts, and so I won’t count those.

I am proud of myself for reaching this milestone.  When I started on December 27th, I expected to post everyday in the hopes of improving my writing.  I think that I am well on my way with that goal.  My intent was to write a bunch of fiction, read a bunch of blogs, learn a bunch of stuff, and that is exactly what I am doing.  My end goal in all of this is to have a completed novel sometime within a year or so, which I will then agonize over eternally with edits and rewrites.

I am ever so grateful for my 153 followers ( not to mention all the Facebook folks), and I hope that I have entertained you all in some way.  I am puzzled over some of my stats, however.  I realize that I write a weird, random selection of topics with no real unified theme, and so I expect that certain posts will do better than others, but my all-time top post puzzles me.

On February 19, I wrote a post about my own personal top-10 Alternative Love Songs.  To this day, I still get 10-12 hits on that post each day.  Why?  I suppose it is because of Google searches, but who needs to know about other people’s own top-10 lists about Alternative Love Songs?  It’s weird.

The internet is weird!

Anyway, I have enjoyed my ride here, and I will continue to write random randomness.  But only if you continue to keep stopping by.  Promise?

It’s a date.

Thanks, Everybody!

–joel

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I Got Stuck…

…and so I skipped around a bit.

I’m talking about my novel, Blue Moon Baby, and my recent progress in writing it.  I started writing it from beginning to end, but then I got stuck on a section, and then waffled about for a while not writing anything.

I have had the entire story mapped out in my head for years now, and I have only recently begun to write it.  The whole purpose of this blog is for me to get practice writing, and so I write about a host of different ideas that swarm in my head throughout the day.  I also have been reading other writers’ work to see their process, and of course, I read tons of writing tips from people who seem to know what they are talking about.

However, after I got stuck, I decided to jump ahead–WAY ahead–in the story, and share a piece of it that I have really wanted to write for some time.  I posted it here on WordPress here, and here, and…<crickets chirping>.

That story is pretty gritty; probably the grittiest part of the novel, and is filled with cussing, graphic drug use, and a bizarre fight scene.  I liked it, but I did not get much reaction from anyone out there in Bloglandia.  I got a decent amount of views, but only a few like, and no comments.

Was it too gritty?  Did it suck?  Does anyone actually READ anything on my blog?

I realize that complaining about the internet means I’m doing it wrong, but I am puzzled over this one.

Anyway, if anyone is still reading this far, I must ask this question:

Have you ever skipped around while writing your novel, or do you stay firmly on your timeline?

As I mentioned before, I have the whole story planned out in my head, and I made a solid outline for the novel, but I just felt that this chapter of the story needed to be written.  Of course, I realize that everything I have written for the novel will have to be re-written later down the road.  Likewise, I wrote “The Fight” in blog form, with lots of back story that wouldn’t necessarily be there in the actual chapter.

I plan to continue this story where it left off after “The Fight” with posts on Monday and Tuesday, so if you are interested, stay tuned!

Happy Friday!

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Because of My Sunny Disposition…

Well, I done went and done it again. I got nominated yesterday for the Sunshine Award by the lovely and talented Jhobell Kristyl at Book Maven’s Picks http://bookmavenpicks.wordpress.com. This is actually my second nomination for the award. My first nomination came last month from The Frantic Blogger at The Unthemed Nook http://theunthemednook.wordpress.com/, but I got busy and promptly forgot all about it. I do appreciate the nominations, and I hope you all will visit these two wonderful blogs!

sunshine award

Clearly, I was nominated for this award for all the sunshine that I bring into all your lives, and so, I would like to honor these nominations by fulfilling my sunshiny duties. Here are the rules:

1) Display the award’s logo in your post or on your blog

2) Answer 10 questions about yourself.

3) Nominate 10 other sunshiny bloggers.

4) Link your nominees to the post and comment on their blogs, letting them know that they have been nominated.

5) Link the person (people) who nominated you.

Well, neither of my nominators gave me any specific questions to answer (highly irregular, ladies), so I am going to answer an amalgam of the questions that they answered in their own nominations.

  • What inspired you to start blogging?

I wanted to get more practice with writing so that I could write a novel or two. I have had ideas mapped out in my head for years, but have never made any attempt to write them out until recently. I think that blogging about random nonsense helps to give me the skills I need.

  • What is your favorite blog that you like to read?

Well, aside from the ten I will list below, I regularly love to read Becca’s verbal ejaculations at www.ladyornot.com, and the world famous, Le Clown, at http://clownonfire.wordpress.com. I did not nominate those two because they already have half of the world’s population as readers. But, I love them both!

  • What is your favorite color?

You can say I have no ascetic, but I’m not the only one. I like black, and dark blues and browns. Solid colors. Rarely do I wear any type of pattern, except today.

Not Wearing Solid Colors.

Not Wearing Solid Colors.

  • What are your passions?

More than anything else; music. I write music, and listen to it constantly. You thought I was going to say reading, didn’t you? Well, that is one passion, but music tops them all!

  • Favorite animal?

Cats. I could never live without a cat. At 44 years of age, I am already Crazy Cat Man!

  • What is your dream job?

Teaching High School History, grades 10-12. That is my realistic dream job. My unrealistic dream job is being a rock star. Still holding out for that dream!

  • How much time do you spend blogging?

A lot. I am reading other people’s blogs (about 40 or so each day), plus I write my own blogs, and of course, I check my stats every 15 minutes. 😉

  • Do you watch TV? If so, what are your favorite shows?

Yes. Adventure Time, The Mentalist, Tosh.0, Big Bang Theory, and occasionally, Workaholics.

  • Favorite flower?

Dahlias and daffodils.

  • Finally, Mr. Marckx, have you ever felt as narcissistic as you do right now answering these questions?

No.

Phew! Now that I slogged through that part of it, here is the really important stuff; my 10 nominees. In no particular order…

J Hubner – http://jhubner73.com/

Sarah – http://andthisiswhyiwilldiealonesurroundedbycats.wordpress.com/

Kerryalina – http://bikrambutterflies.wordpress.com/

Sarah Cradit – http://sarahcradit.wordpress.com

Marisa D. Lyon – http://fate423.wordpress.com

Donna Seger – http://streetsofsalem.com

The Maineiac – http://shesamaineiac.com

Kristen Mazzola – http://khmazzola124.wordpress.com

Gary – Because I’m Going to Die – http://thisawesomelife0918.wordpress.com

Hilary Marckx – Hook, Twang, Click – http://hmarckx.wordpress.com

And there you have it. If I missed anyone (and of course there are a hundred others I could have named), then I will catch you next time!

Please visit these wonderful blogs! I listed a wide mix of music, humor, history, current events, and personal rants. They are all fantastic, and I truly enjoy reading them every day.

Mr. Sunshine out!

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Happy Birthday, Liam!!!

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Okay, so today is my little Buggy-boo’s 13th birthday. Now that he is 13, I should probably stop referring to him as my little Buggy-boo. It is also the 13th anniversary of me becoming a Papa. I wanted to become a Daddy, but his Mama called me Papa, and it just stuck. When your little toddler calls you any name, it just sticks, no matter what!

Anyway, my little-boy-who-is-not-so-little-anymore is now officially a teenager. It really is amazing how time flies past. I do not often look through photos, since I keep all my treasured memories stashed in my brain (ironic, since I still take a kajillion pics), but I was thinking of some pictures that I could share for this post, and a flood of memories hit me.

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Liam and I have moved around quite a bit during his lifetime, and I associate specific memories and ages with the places that we lived. Where we are now, I consider the Modern Age. The last house, we shared with my ex-girlfriend and our 6 cats and 14 bunnies, so that was the Animal House. Before that was the Fountains, before that was the House in Midtown, and before that was the place in Roseville. Finally, we come all the way back to the home we lived in when he was born.

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Liam and Momo

His Mama and I split-up right after his first birthday, but we remained friends (often), or at the very least, civil. She is, and will always be, “Co-Captain” on “Team Liam”, so we get along nicely if for no other reason than that.

Taken a month before we split up, I think that face says it all.

Taken a month before we split up, I think that face says it all.

I wish that I would have written about his birth sooner, since some of the detail is starting to fade from me. I remember that Heather’s contractions started to gradually get more regular about two days before he was born. We were prepared to go to the hospital, but the contractions were not close enough yet. On Monday the 20th, I came home from work in the afternoon to find Heather and her mother making last minute preparations. We all knew that the time would be very soon.

Still we waited. Finally, at about 11:00 p.m., her contractions got to about 6 minutes apart, and the hospital said we could come in any time we were ready. I was nervous, since we lived way out in the country, and the hospital was about a 45-minute drive (rookie dad), but the baby was not born in the car. We made it there with no issues.

In fact, Heather still felt great. We got to the hospital,  which was a Kaiser Permanente hospital, and there were only two of them with delivery rooms. One has many private rooms, but no NICU, and the other has only two private rooms, but an NICU. We chose the latter. As the nurses did a preliminary check on Heather to see how close she was, we were afraid that it might be a false labor and that we would have to go home. We had already resigned ourselves to sharing a delivery area with others; we knew the sacrifice needed to have an NICU at the ready, but just as they decided that Heather would, in fact, have the baby tonight, they released another couple from one of the private rooms and let us have it. The other couple had a false labor.

So, we got the private room, and Heather’s contractions got closer and closer. It was after 1:00 a.m. by the time we got settled. I brought a bag full of food and snacks and water, but we would never need them. As Heather’s contractions got harder, her sensitivity to everything rose. The smell of food sickened her. Other people’s soap and cologne sickened her. She couldn’t lay on her back—she needed to be on her knees. Nope! Being on her knees was killing her—she needed to be on her back again.

A nurse suggested a warm shower to calm her down. It took about five minutes to walk the 50 feet from the bed to the shower, and when Heather got under the water, it was too much for her—back to the bed. I had been a trained Massage Therapist for about a year by this time, and we had planned for me to do some specific massages and acupressure to relieve her discomfort. However, her sensitivity to touch was too high for her, and I couldn’t do any of it.

This went on for hours and hours. Heather wanted a natural childbirth, which was tainted only by a nurse breaking her water for her, but otherwise remained as natural as can be. It was brutal for me to watch her get beaten down with every contraction, and being able to do nothing to help her. I remember that we could see on the EKG ticker tape when another contraction was coming, and so we both braced ourselves. Heather was always a bit waif-like, but she could grip my hands into powder when a contraction hit her.

By around noon the next day, I asked a nurse at what point we did the emergency C-section, and she just laughed and laughed at me. “This is natural childbirth, honey. This is what that looks like.”

And so we soldiered on. I say “we” because it was hard on me as well. I know that a lot of mothers will think I am a selfish idiot, but I had a rough time in that room, too. It was not easy watching the woman you love go through so much suffering and stand there helpless. I wanted to be by her side the whole time, but I was getting hungry, I wanted needed fresh air and sunshine, and a bathroom break would have been nice, too. At one point, Heather said that when her mom got there that I could take a little break, but once she did, Heather refused to let me go. I could see that it was a gorgeous first day of spring outside, and I just wanted five minutes.

But that was okay. I was there for the long haul, and I really did not want to miss anything. I knew that Heather was having a much rougher time than I was, and even if I could not help her, I know that being by her side was enough.

Finally, at about 2:30 p.m., the nurses decided that it was time to start pushing. The doctor came in, and suddenly everything around us was a flurry of activity. It almost seemed as though everyone ignored us (not true, but, you know…), and then we got all the attention.

Heather pushed and pushed. She started to hyperventilate, and the nurses gave her an oxygen mask. There was some concern that the umbilical chord was wrapped around Liam’s throat, but they did not think that it would present a problem. And so, Heather pushed and pushed, and it did not seem as if she was getting very far until Liam finally crowned. Once Heather reached down and felt the top of Liam’s head, she went into overdrive, and practically shot him across the room!

At 3:25 p.m., March 21, 2000, after 15 ½ hours at the hospital, Liam Gabriel Marckx breathed his first breath, and raised the friggin’ roof with his cries! I mean, he was loud. He announced his arrival to the entire hospital!

He was such a chubby little bubby.

He was such a chubby little bubby.

I cried, and Heather started demanding to hold him, and then at some point some random nurse gave me the scissors to cut the umbilical cord. I said, “Are you sure you want to trust me with that job?” I had tears in my eyes and could not really see straight.

I have so many associations with his birth. I was reading what would become my favorite book ever; Sometimes a Great Notion, by Ken Kesey, and I had just discovered a new band; The Disco Biscuits, and I was listening to their second album, “Uncivilized Area” repeatedly. It was a gorgeous week, weather-wise, and I simply expect perfect weather on every one of his birthdays.

Ripping my hair out and screeching in hysterics about it!

Ripping my hair out and screeching in hysterics about it!

Looking back on all the years that he has been in my life, I have beautiful memories from every age. When his mom and I first split-up, and I was taking care of him by myself a couple days each week, I had to sing him to sleep, which required holding him and walking around the living room in a circle until he finally drifted off. Then I would lay him down, he would wake up, and then we would start all over again.

Favorite memory ever...right here!

Favorite memory ever…right here!

I remember his laugh as a toddler. Such an infectious laugh that bordered on hysteria! I wish I had a recording of it, but it still exists in my memory vault. I remember his first trip to Disneyland at age four, which was also his first flight. I was so excited to take him there, but he was too afraid to go into all those dark, cavernous, hallways that led to the rides. We spent most of that trip on the few outdoor rides.

Sunplus

We used to have a game called “The Mauling Game.” Before bedtime, we would read together, and then I would tickle him, and when he tickled me back I would yell out, “Help, help, I’m being mauled.” That game eventually evolved into him taking a running start down the hallway and pouncing on my chest. We stopped when I thought he was big enough to actually break something.

When he first learned to walk, his forehead found many hard surfaces.

When he first learned to walk, his forehead found many hard surfaces.

I could not ever imagine life without Liam. Even now, at 13; when he is no longer a dependent little toddler, he is still my baby. I am so proud of the young man he is now. He is a straight-A, Honors student; he is a musical prodigy mastering any instrument he touches; and he is an avid reader who devours any book that crosses his path. He is well-rounded and mellow—we NEVER argue about anything.

He hasn't changed a bit.

He hasn’t changed a bit.

I, of course, credit myself for instilling all of his good habits at such an early age, but he has never fought me on any of them. This is why I also celebrate today as my “Papa-versary.” His mom and I wish each other a Happy Papa- or Mama-versary. It is a significant day in our own lives, and not only because Liam was born, but also because it is the day that we became parents.

I could go on and on about how amazing he is, or how much I love him, but if you have followed this blog at all this week, you get the idea. So, I’ll just stop here.

Happy Birthday, Kid-O! I love you many muchos!

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Reading With the Kid

Ever since Liam was a little baby, I have read to him.  Even though I knew that he had no idea what I was saying, or even that he could not decipher the images on the pages, I still read to him.  I remember having a stack of Dr. Seuss books on my right, Liam on my lap, and then reading each book in the stack until they all stacked up to our left.  And then I would go and do it all over again.

One of many.

One of many.

It did not matter that he could not read along, the ritual was the most important part of it.  We read these books so often that by the time he could talk, he recited the pages correctly, even though he could not actually read the words.

He had this whole tongue-twister down by age 2.

He had this whole tongue-twister down by age 2.

We read in the morning, in the afternoon, and of course, before bedtime.  It has always been an important ritual in our lives, and one that we continue to this day.

Liam is such a prolific reader today because I never once tried to hold him to the “age appropriate” standards for kid’s books.  I always let him read whatever he wanted.  As a result, he was always so far ahead of the other kids in his school.

We read “The Hobbit” together when he was 8.  And then we read the entire “Lord of the Rings” trilogy when he was 10 or 11.  That is some pretty dense reading for that age, but he loved it.

Hobbit1 lord of the rings

We read in bed for about a half an hour or so before lights out.  We take turns reading every 3 or 4 pages or so, and usually get about 10 or 12 pages each night.  I only have him 3 or 4 nights a week, so books like “The Lord of the Rings” took almost a year to complete.

We have read the entire Mysterious Benedict Society series…

Mysterious-Benedict-Society

…and the entire Secret Series by Psudonymous Bosch.

pseudonymous bosch

And most recently, we just finished the “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”.

Can't wait to read the whole series now.

Can’t wait to read the whole series now.

I truly believe that all the reading that we have done has made him a bibliophile like me.  As a teacher, I see so many kids who hate to read, and simply will not read.  I do not know how much emphasis their parents put on reading, or how much time they spent reading with them, but I’m guessing television or video games took precedence in their homes.  I don’t want to sound judgmental, but it only gets harder for kids to engage in reading the older they get if they do not already have good reading habits.

I keep thinking that Liam will soon be too old to want to have reading time with his Papa.  He turns 13 next week, and I guess I just expect that his interests and priorities will shift away from me.  However, it was time to start a new book on Wednesday night, and instead of saying “no thank you”, he picked-out “Inkheart”.

inkheart

He hasn’t outgrown me yet!!!

He bought this book about two years ago, but with all the reading that he does, he hasn’t gotten to it yet.  We plan to read the entire series, which will take some time.

And that is fine with me, since I am not ready to stop reading time with Liam!

One final note; he has to read a Historical Fiction novel for his 7th-grade English class.  Well, it just so happens that Historical Fiction is my favorite genre.  I am especially a Medieval England and Wales junkie!  However, since all of my HF novels seem to be 500+ page epics, I picked out a couple shorter HF Mystery books for him to get his teacher’s approval.

The first choice was Sharon Kay Penman’s, “The Queen’s Man”, which is a murder mystery centered around Elinor of Aquitaine.

Queens Man

And the second is the first of Ellis Peter’s “Cadfael” series called, “A Morbid Taste for Bones.”  This is like CSI Medieval England.  Great series.

A Morbid Taste for Bones

We’ll see which one he’ll read for class.

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