The Writer's Life

Down & Out in San Antonio (Part IV)

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THE WINKING MR. TARSDALE

 

From the End of Part IV:

 

“But damn it all, Barry, you have to be qualified. Don’t you have to pass tests and stuff?”

“Yeah, well, that …” He got a silly smile on his face. “Well, I told him you have your Life Saving Certificate. That it was at your folks’ home in California and you’d send for it. He needs someone now, Jay. He tried to hire me, but I’ve built up some pretty good time and grade where I work, so I had to say no. That’s why I mentioned you. Listen, Jay …” He quieted me with two palms held between us. “It’s just a formality. I’ll teach you CPR and anyway, they have those long rescue poles you hold out and the person grabs onto. It’s a snap! This time next week he’ll have forgotten all about the certificate.”
 
“Naw … Come on, Barry! A lifeguard? Come on.”
 
He wagged his head, slowly, a faraway grin on his face. “Girls dig ‘em.”

Now … ENJOY!

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“Barry recommends you highly, Mr. Squires.” The graying, short-cropped head and appraising face leaned to the side in his chair and scanned me. “You’ve got the shoulders of a swimmer.” He winked.

“Well, I … ” I shrugged, probably blushed. It was true I had worked out regularly before Barry and I moved to San Antonio, and I suppose I was considered well-built. Since the move, and the shortness of money, I’d resorted to push-ups, sit-ups, lunges, and sundry other movements. Continue reading “Down & Out in San Antonio (Part IV)”

The Writer's Life

Down & Out in San Antonio (Part III)

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 HONEYMOON’S OVER

 

          Sept. 20, 1962
 
On Monday, September 10th, I received a letter with my unemployment check. No foreplay, it got right down to business: “Mr. Squires, you are in receipt of your final unemployment check. I hope you continue with your efforts and are successful in securing employment.”
 
What it didn’t say, but implied, was, “You are now another state’s liability.” Continue reading “Down & Out in San Antonio (Part III)”

The Writer's Life

DOWN AND OUT IN SAN ANTONIO (Part I)

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A RETROSPECTIVE

Feb. 7, 1962

SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS.  We’d been there a little over a week now, and Barry and I, were no longer exhausted, unbathed, cold, and very nearly broke.  The fact was, we found a two- story home to rent in the very old part of town.  We were now bathed and rested.  The floor heater was rattling through the grates.  We took turns straddling it, so we were no longer cold.  Also, we were no longer nearly broke.  In fact, with the first month’s rent now out of my wallet and tucked, instead,  into the landlady’s apron pocket along with a promissory note that the last month’s rent and a cleaning deposit would also be transferred to her apron pocket in one week (with the arrival of my California Unemployment Check) … we were very, very broke.

Continue reading “DOWN AND OUT IN SAN ANTONIO (Part I)”

DIARY: UNPLUGGED, UNEDITED, UNDERSTAFFED

ENTRY: August 19th, 2017

      When you’re awakened by a text message at 6:32 in the morning, it can’t bode well.  My parents raised me to never call anyone before 9:00 AM, and my wife and I indoctrinated our four children with the same social wisdom. There were no cell phones when I was young–hence no texting to apply the 9:00 AM rule to. In fact, cell phones were still in their infancy until my kids were well into their late teens. Cell phones back then cell phonecarried the heft of a size-12 brogan, and  texting wasn’t an option. Lest I lose my point in this morass of communication media, it still follows that you don’t call anyone before 9:00 AM, just as you wouldn’t pound on a person’s door at that ungodly hour.

       And in this enlightened age, you certainly don’t text anyone at 6:32 in the morning, unless … Continue reading “ENTRY: August 19th, 2017”

The Writer's Life

CUT A FELLOW A NEW BREAK?

 

Time to take a ten-fingered grip around the neck of my WORDPRESS Blog Title, “Septuagenarian Journey,” give it a full-fledged throttle. If it lives through it, I need to take it as a sign from the high gods of the blogosphere to Journey or get off the pot.

I think it’s been over a year I’ve been ON the pot. I’ve cleaned myself out of some tired notions of what my blog should and should not do. I wiped my brow, ’cause some of those notions were hard to get rid of. And now I’m ready to start having a good time.

Having a good time doesn’t mean eschewing the serious, or alternatively, skipping along to the dainty ephemera. There should be some nourishment underlying both the heavy and the light.

I have a couple more good years before I’ll need to change the title of my blog to “Octogenarian Journey.”

So why not let the good times begin? As long as you allow me a week or so to shake something out of this head o’ mine, and sweep it into some sort of order.

Until then … look before you flush.

PUSHING THE PENCIL, POUNDING THE KEYS

GOOD, EVIL and WARTS

Good and Evil

I watched an interview with Justin Bateman on the Today’s Show Monday morning.  He was hawking his new movie, which marked his directorial debut.

As writers, we’re all cast in the role of director with each story we write.  Tuck that in the back of your mind (or, not—since it’s pretty obvious).  I’ll get back to it momentarily.

Anyway, either Natalie Morales or Savannah Guthrie—one of the two I always get mixed up because they look like they could be sisters—was interviewing Justin Bateman.  Now, in this movie he played a school teacher who was coaching a group of kids for a spelling bee competition.  The character was apparently pretty hard on them because one of the questions Natalie or Savannah asked him was, “your character was pretty mean, wasn’t he?”

“Well,” said Justin, “I don’t know that I would call him mean.”

And, what followed is the theme of this post:

By the way, I don’t even remember what words he used to justify the behavior of his character—mainly because I was getting ready to go to the gym (which at my age isn’t a vanity but an essential) and I can’t say I was paying a lot of attention.  Anyway, the words, themselves didn’t matter.

It was during a stint on the treadmill that the thematic worm began to burrow into my noggin.  It came up for air a couple of times during crunches and again during curls.  Knowing the worm’ll find no ingredients in that gray sponge to help it turn it into a butterfly, I’m going to yank it out now and take a good look at it.

And, here goes: Continue reading “GOOD, EVIL and WARTS”

PUSHING THE PENCIL, POUNDING THE KEYS

THE PHASES OF CREATING

 

The other day, I was moved by a friend’s blog post.  It was a very honest and compelling post in which she exposed to her readers her sense of frustration in finishing another year without enjoying the sense of emotional fulfillment or financial rewards that her intelligent, well-written, and helpful book should have provided.  She is a spiritual woman, a woman of God.  I sensed a crisis—not of faith—nothing could shake her faith in God!  But, that other crisis in faith: faith in herself.

Secularly, I think we can call it a crisis in confidence— and it can be especially poignant at year’s end.

How many of us plod into the year-end with similar feelings of diminished confidence, at least when contrasted with the buoyancy and unbridled promise we had felt at the beginning?  I have a hunch you’re not the only one holding up your hand.  I for one have been there … In fact, I’ve visited frequently … and recently.  It’s lonely being there.  I don’t want to go back and revisit it. 

But, I’m the cause of it … at least for me.images (6)

And, I’m the only one who can fix it … again, for me.

Continue reading “THE PHASES OF CREATING”

PUSHING THE PENCIL, POUNDING THE KEYS

Ars longa, vita brevis

Ars longa, vita brevis.”  Anyone who has been writing seriously for any time at all would agree that the Greeks hit the mark imagesCAXME1FXon this one.  “Art is long.”  And, given all the inconsistencies, stumbling blocks, bad breaks … and the self doubt to which all else contribute while the writer is struggling to learn his art—indeed, “life is short.”

Perhaps in the heroic quest of safeguarding one’s own unique voice in the pursuit of his art by shunning writing courses or self-help manuals, the writer runs the risk of reinventing the wheel again and again and again until he finally runs out of precious time, or the flame of enthusiasm, which are one and the same. Continue reading “Ars longa, vita brevis”