I Think I’m Done…For Now

Anyone that knows me, or has followed me for any length of time, know that I’m prone to taking extended breaks from blogging. These breaks typically start in the fall when my life ramps up with activity. It’s hard for me to balance writing along with everything else that goes on the latter half of the year. I’ve often had to admit to myself that I am not “superman” and that I can’t do everything, so I step away from writing/blogging for a few months.

I wish that were simply the case now, but it’s not…

It’s been a month since I have written/posted anything new, and that was a simple 7-line “Essence” poem on September 1st. Everything after that have been reposts of older pieces that I had written a long time back. To be honest, I am not trying to force the words. I haven’t even attempted to write anything new. Why? Because, the only words that have been coming to me are the ones you are reading right now.

I often wonder why I came back to write in March/April of this year after taking an extended break for several months. Even then, my heart really wasn’t in it anymore, and it hasn’t been for a long, long time. The words are forced and have begun to sound rote (and repetitive) to me. To alleviate that, I tried getting back into storytelling, but even that was escaping me. So, I tried my hand at writing personal essays, but, that…that just isn’t me.

At one time I thought writing was as natural as breathing for me and that it would be impossible for me to stop. I felt like it was an essential part of my life and that I would be lost without it. I’m beginning to think that I was wrong about that and other things as well.

That being said… while I will continue to be around to read and comment, I will be taking an extended break with no promise to return to writing. However, I have no plans on deleting/removing this site. I will keep it up just in case the urge to write ever strikes me again.

Take care,

AC Elliott, 1 Oct 18

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On Shaving and Compassion (Thinking Over Coffee #6)

I woke up this morning, and somehow managed to slide out of the bed. By sliding, I literally mean…sliding. I had done something to my back towards the end of last week and it hasn’t been forgiving to me in the least. Needless to say the muscle relaxers are long out of my system by the time I try to get up. Therefore, sliding is a necessary evil.

It’s not the age, it’s the mileage, I thought to myself (not for the first time). I can’t remember where I first heard that turn of phrase, but these days it’s more applicable than it used to be. Between the shoulder I’ve dislocated so many times that I’ve lost count, the bum knee from 20 years earlier, and my back…there’s a lot of mileage on my body.

Stumbling over to the vanity, I took a bath cloth and ran it under cold water. I was hoping that the cold, damp cloth would help to clear the fog in my brain from the muscle relaxer. It didn’t, but, at least I tried.

Damn, if that boy wasn’t right, I thought, looking at myself in the mirror. My youngest son had recently told me “the gray really shines through when the light hits your beard just right.” He was right, it did shine through, like shimmering stars on a cloudless night. In and of itself, that didn’t bother me in the least. After all, I know how old I am, and gray hair is par for the course as you age. Still, I decided to shave it off none-the-less, for no other reason than the fact that I hated how itchy it made me feel when working outside this past weekend.

Finally, ready for my day, I decided to make some coffee and think for a bit. I had recently been talking about my progress and evolution in writing/blogging. So, I thought I might continue down that line, but my brain had other ideas.

My coffee tasted bitter today. There was nothing different about it. I used the same coffee grounds, the same amount of creamer and nothing changed with the sweetener. So, there was nothing wrong with my coffee. I could only assume that the problem was with my own taste buds and the bitterness that clung to it.

I’m not sure where the bitter taste came from either. It was just there. I was in one of “those moods” today, and I couldn’t shake it no matter how hard I tried. It might have had something to do with the ominous feeling of change that I felt settle over my shoulders as soon as I woke up.

Those changes could have been work related. Last week I had a large meeting that lasted 2 to 3 days, where a lot of things were discussed, changes were made organizationally, and new tasks were handed out. Truth be told, I am still unsure of what is going to come from it.

Or, it could have been personally related. Especially since I have a lot going on there as well.

Regardless of the cause, the bitter taste was there, and I couldn’t shake it, no matter how hard I tried. One thing I do know, is that it has influenced the rest of my day and heavily impacted my thoughts.

For some reason, it brought to mind a discussion I had with my new director last week, about strengths and weaknesses.

The Conversation

“What do you feel is one of your strengths?” he had asked me, while we were getting to know one another.

“My compassion has always been a strength, because underneath this rough exterior, I really do care for my people.” (further expounding unneeded for this venue)

“And, your weakness?” He asked, and I smirked, knowing that question would come up next.

“My compassion, because underneath this rough exterior and loud bark, I really do give a shit about people.”

Further Thoughts

So, how can being compassionate be both a strength and a weakness? I asked myself, taking another sip of coffee. Is that even possible? Well, obviously it is, because I just stated it was both a strength and a weakness of mine. I’m still working on how to explain the how and why.

~~~~
© AC Elliott, 21-Aug-18

Discovering the Void (Thinking Over Coffee #5)

I woke this morning, and once again reluctantly started my day. Looking in the mirror, I could see the gruff visage and dark eyes looking back at me. I had recently decided to grow my beard out, and honestly, I’m still on the fence about whether to keep it or not. Especially after my son made certain to point out the gray in my beard the night before, and how “when the light shines, the gray just shines!” God love him, I thought, deciding to leave the beard for now.

Once I was finally ready for the day, I poured my coffee, and as usual, added my dash of sweetener and creamer. Taking a sip, my mind immediately wandered back to this little series. I had started it a couple of weeks prior and it was aptly named “Thinking Over Coffee”, because, well… it is my thoughts while sipping my coffee, lol.

When I started it, I wasn’t certain where I wanted to go with it. All I knew was that it isn’t easy for me to talk openly about myself, so I started writing it in the third person as a story format. That was easier for me to do, and while I am not usually one to take the easy road (on anything), I felt it was a good way to break myself in properly. And, now, I am ready to change it up some and write it in the first person as a personal narrative. We will see how it works out…

~~~~

In the last couple of entries, I had taken on discussing my writing and where it comes from. The original title of this portion of “ToC” was actually “The Evolution of AC Elliott”, because I wanted to discuss how my writing came to be and the different variations I have gone through over the years. However, I later changed the title to “A Means of Escape”, because it fit the content better. Truthfully, I had no idea where it was going to go and was surprised with how it all came out.

I had left off on my last post talking about how there was “No Means of Escape”. In that piece I had shared how I had felt my work wasn’t good enough to share due to the negative reinforcement I had been receiving. That wasn’t written out of self-pity, it was more a retrospective piece and I am continuing in the same vein.

~~~~

Then

In 2000, I had decided to delete my first website and withdrew from writing altogether. There was a bitter taste in my mouth when it came to writing, any kind of writing. I still told stories to my oldest son, who was 7 at the time, but the thought of picking up a pen to write made me sick to my stomach. That feeling stuck with me for the next several years too, until sometime in early-to-mid 2004.

By 2004, my life had changed quite a bit. In the intervening years, I had started up two businesses, was working full time, was deeply enmeshed in college studies, and I had gotten married to my second wife. One would think that all of that would be enough, but still there was a void inside of me. Something was missing from my life and I couldn’t put my finger on it.

Ironically, I had found my love for writing again through writing college papers. Especially philosophical and argumentative papers (because I am soooo opinionated). However, I also enjoyed the dissecting of classical literature and poetry. At the time, I had written a paper on Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” wherein I portrayed Dr. Jekyll as a Victorian Age drug addict. Afterwards, I tackled Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem “Christabel” comparing the main character to a vampire. Once more, my fate was sealed, I was hooked and had found what was missing from my life.

Although I was once more hooked, I still wasn’t certain what to do with it. I was reticent about creating another site for hosting writing. I really didn’t know how to market it anyway, and I was still deeply enmeshed in my college studies as well. Therefore, time was not on my side (and it never has been either).

Then, I stumbled onto a website that allowed you to post articles. It escapes me what that website was called at the time, and it may/may not still be around. However, it was a website that allowed you to write articles in different categories based on topics that were presented. Intrigued, I took a stab at it and began writing articles here and there (when I wasn’t busy with other things).

It was fun, but still something was missing… I still needed to find my escape and those articles weren’t proving to be the ticket…

(To be continued)

~~~~
© AC Elliott, 14-Aug-18

Wishing for a Hammock

Although I seem to be on vacation a lot, I’m often more tired after the vacation, than I am before the vacation. Why? Because, most of the time, those vacations are slam packed with activity…go, go, go from morning to night (much like I am at home too). Even when I was out camping for a week, every day was filled with some sort of activity. So much so, that when I got home, all I did was crash and burn. That being said, I don’t know the last time I had a relaxing vacation where I only did what I wanted to do. In fact, I had pretty much forgotten how it felt to relax, even for a little while.

I’ve been tired too, and I’ll be the first to admit, more than just a little ornery. All this go, go, go has been wearing me thin. Always being the one to fix everything, whether at work or at home. Always the strong one, when sometimes even I need help. Tense. Sore. Muscles tight. Alone, even when not alone. I think Waylon said it best, when he said…

“Been driving these highways,
Been doing things my way
It’s been making me lonesome on’ry and mean”

Yeah, that’s me… “lonesome, on’ry and mean.”

So, I took that time and did what I wanted to do. I drank some beer and fished all day. Caught a mess of drum, croakers, flounder and mullets. Then, taught my boy how to clean and cook them right. I enjoyed the sunrise while sitting on the dock by the house, fishing rod in hand. I went kayaking for hours to work out the stress and tenseness in my body. Then, I laid back in a hammock, closing my eyes and letting myself get whisked away into other pleasant places where stress is released in a much different way.

And, now… now, I am back at work and wishing I was still on that hammock…

~~~~
© AC Elliott, 13-Aug-18

Gone Fishin’

After weeks and weeks without respite
I’m gone fishin’, both on a boat and from a pier
armed with my rod, reel, and a cooler of beer
to do nothing but sit in the sun
and hope the fish don’t bite.
~~~~
© AC Elliott, 8-Aug-18

I’ll be back on Monday, y’all have a good rest of the week.

No Means of Escape (Thinking Over Coffee #4)

Writing had become his salvation and his saving grace… he continued to think, staring out of the window into the backyard. His thoughts interrupted by a fat rabbit scurrying through the weeds. The tall weeds shook as it disappeared, making him realize the yard really needed mowing and he had no idea when that might get done.

Taking another sip of coffee, he finally found his way back to his original line of thinking…

In the beginning, he did most of his writing on his computer, saving the short stories as files on 3 ½ inch floppy disks. Although he enjoyed the writing, he wasn’t quite ready to share it with anyone just yet. It wasn’t something he was comfortable with and he wasn’t sure he would ever be comfortable doing it. The only person that ever read what he wrote was the nurse trying to “heal his broken soul.”

Eventually, she managed to convince him to share his work and he did so, reluctantly. He started up a website using GeoSites (yep, that long ago), and went from there. It wasn’t like the WordPress of today, and posting content was interesting, but he tried to make a go of it. All of his content was stories, fictional and non-erotic tales spun from his mind. Despite his initial hesitancy, he was getting excited, seeing all his hard work coming together.

Then, I went and did something stupid, he thought to himself ruefully. The coffee suddenly not tasting so good any more due to the bitterness on his tongue.

Even though he was in his mid to late 20’s at the time, he was still seeking his parent’s approval. Just once, he wanted to hear a little praise and support. So, he invited the woman that had taught him everything he knew about writing to read his work… his mother. That was one of the worst mistakes of his life at the time too.

“Your grammar is good, but you need to work on…”

and

“Creative, but, your content…”

And, on and on. It didn’t matter that his work, even though it needed polishing, was well written. There was always something wrong with it, and not an encouraging word shared. The praise and support he needed was non-existent, and to make matters worse, the relationship with the nurse had come to screeching halt.

So, to keep from hearing the negative comments that were sure to continue, he deleted everything and retreated behind his walls, believing he was right all along…his work wasn’t good enough to have out there and there was no means of escape.

(To be continued)

~~~~
© AC Elliott, 8-Aug-18

A Means of Escape (Thinking Over Coffee #3)

The house was so quiet that the only sounds he could hear were the ticking of the clock over the mantel and the air conditioner. The household was away, at least, all but him. The lack of noise at night disturbs him and makes his sleep restless at best. It’s always that way though, he needs this time of peace and quiet, with no one around but his own thoughts. However, at the same time, he doesn’t like being alone at night.

It’s funny how that works, he thinks to himself, his coffee cup in hand while staring out the window from the breakfast table. I long for the quiet and then when night comes, I can’t stand not having the physical presence of another in the house.

He takes a sip of his coffee and his thoughts start flowing of their own accord. When he is working outside, or even cooking, his thoughts are more structured and usually forward thinking. So, it’s a different kind of thinking when he is alone. There’s a lot more retrospection and introspection done during quiet times like these.

Right now, his mind is stuck on who he is as a writer and how he got to where he is today:

He can vividly remember sitting down in his house in Montana almost 20 years ago and deciding it was time to pick up the pen once more. It had been a while since he had written anything. He had started “writing” when he was in the first or second grade, it was a small book complete with pictures and writing beneath it (he could probably find it if he took the time to dig for it).

Over time, as he matured, his thinking and writing also matured. He found he was heavily drawn to and influenced by authors (and poets) such as Edgar Allen Poe, Stephen King, and Clive Barker. But, he was also drawn to a more philosophical thinking, such as Voltaire, John Stuart Mills, Nietzche and Plato. That in turn lead to his fascination with theology and the study of every major religion (and occult) that he could get his hands on.

His fictional writing bounced between horror and fantasy. His poetry, well… his poetry was a byproduct of not being able to talk to girls too well. His introversion didn’t make approaching people an easy task, especially girls. But, that didn’t stop them from approaching the quiet loner with the dark eyes, that only wore cowboy boots, jeans, button up shirts, complete with a black cowboy hat and a long black duster. Anyway, he learned to express himself through writing, and the poetry attracted the girls.

The last (and only) piece of writing he had published was in 1992 when he was 17 years old. It was a story called “The Vampire’s Kiss”, that was published in a no longer existent magazine. It romanticized vampires long before Twilight, and the latest crazes. Then, after that he left home at 17, was married with a child when he was 18, and was gone all the time with the military.

His writing just died out.

It wasn’t until he was in his mid-20’s, a divorced, single father that struggled with PTSD and was a borderline alcoholic, that he began writing again. In fact, it was a woman that pushed him back to writing. There’s always a woman in the story, he thought to himself, smiling as he took another sip of coffee. She was something else too, a nurse that wanted to heal his broken soul, so she pushed him to write as a means of escape. In the long run, she ended up breaking his heart not mending his soul, causing his already present walls to harden even more. But, such is life, you live and learn.

Regardless of how it had turned out, she was good for him when he needed her. He was back writing again. He was telling stories to his son and spinning tales to release the chaos in his mind. Because of that, he was able to resist the hold that the bottle (and the pills) had over him. He had fought that battle and won, pulling himself up by his bootstraps and pressing on. So much so, that even when he lost custody of his son (not connected to his PTSD or anything else), he was able to resist the temptation to lose himself in the bottle.

Writing had become his salvation and his saving grace…

(To be continued)

~~~~
© AC Elliott, 7-Aug-18