Happy Halloween and My 100th Post!

Pumpkin100That’s pretty crazy, right? I only started this thing back in late June and I’ve already eclipsed the 100 posts mark (slow for some perhaps, but fast for me). I’d say that’s pretty good. Right? Quiet voice from back of room: “Sure dude! Whatever!” 😉 So, I really wasn’t sure what to do with blog post 100, so I’m just going to throw some bloggy stats out.

Total views: 2304

Total visitors: 1469

Total comments: 197

Followers: 164

Views from search engines: 189

Top post (aside from homepage): Wow… BookBub… Wow

Most clicks: Amazon.com

Best month: September 734

Best week: September 1 (154 visitors, 268 views)

Top 5 Countries that visit my site: US, Brazil, UK. Germany, Canada

Spam blocked: 4,068

Alrighty then! Onward and upward! Use this info as you will. Maybe as a barometer for the success of your own site? I hope you’ve enjoyed hanging out with me for these first 100 posts.

I’m Exhausted

CushyDeskJob-1stWorldProblems

This post is really about nothing. It’s essentially me whining, so feel free to move on to other more substantial posts. ;-D

Frequent visitors may remember my post from a few weeks ago about how my job circumstances were forcing requiring me to commute into NYC three days a week. Well, nearly 3 weeks later, I’m adjusting to my new situation and trying to roll with it, in hopes that it’ll come full circle and I’ll recover my blessed 10 minute commute again. I’m not normally an optimist, but when it comes to work, I tend to become a rose-colored glasses kind of guy.

Anyway, I’ve been exhausted. I drop my son off at the bus, haul my butt over to the train station, buy my ticket, take a seat, and hope that whoever sits next to me today (because the train is often full by the time we reach Penn Station) is a normal/healthy human being. It’s never a cute girl. Why don’t the cute girls want to sit next to me? It’s always some suit who smells like he’s already worked a full day at 8:30 am. Then, it’s an hour to the city (on the express), up into Penn Station, through the crowds, and down to the subway to catch a downtown train to 14th Street, where I come up onto 16th and walk over from 8th Ave to 9th. Finally, I walk into Chelsea Market, up a flight of stairs, and into the office, where I take my seat in a department that isn’t even mine (they’re at capacity and ran out of room in the copy department).

My work day is no different from my old work day. I put in my 8 hours (if I’m lucky) and head home. Then it’s the morning commute in reverse, except if I’m late for the train. Then it’s like I’m Snake Plissken (1000 points to Gryffindor or the house of your choice if you get that reference). Last week, my usual train was cancelled, which meant that everyone who was going to be on that train got on the next train. I stood, between cars no less, for and hour and fifteen minutes. I love the smell of burning brake dust in the evening. It smells like life.*

*This is a lie.

So, I’ve been forced to move my beddy-by time up. 10:00 PM guarantees I get my 8 hours in. Anything less and I’m dragging my butt out of bed the next morning. It’s certainly put a kink in my available writing time. I get home around 7:15 PM, eat dinner, relax a little, and then I’m looking at the clock. Last night, I was in bed by 9:30 and asleep by 10. I still didn’t want to get up when the alarm went off at 6:30 and I’m sure the torrential rain outside didn’t help. Better rain than snow, I guess!

Thanks for stopping by and listening to me ramble about my first-world problems. Having a job is a rough life. 😉

A game of inches

Football, baseball, hockey. You name the sport and you’ve probably heard someone refer to it as a game of inches (sorry, rest of the world, the phrase “game of centimeters” just doesn’t have the same ring to it). Trick is, you can apply that to life as well. An inch here, or a moment there, and things can turn out very differently.

Have you ever had a moment where you thought, “Boy, another inch/foot/second/minute and I’d have been in trouble!” I’ve only had a few. One was a car accident I witnessed. The driver apparently fell asleep or passed out at the wheel, lost control of the car, swerved back and forth across three lanes of a major interstate and managed to walk away without, apparently, hurting themselves or anyone else. I noticed their erratic driving before anything happened and had slowed down to remain behind the person. Alongside me, a group of motorcycles had just pulled up. Probably about a dozen or so in cruising formation. It occurred to me that, had I been a second faster, not observed her slight swerve onto the shoulder prior to the major accident, that my family and I could have been involved in a serious accident. The same could be said of the motorcyclists. Someone could have died.

They didn’t, but it was a really just a matter of moments. If find this thread of thinking both fascinating and mind boggling. So much of what happens to us is just a matter of timing. I’ve been thinking about this lately because of the whole Ebola “crisis” thing. It could really make you paranoid to do anything. I live near Princeton and if you’ve been paying any attention to the news, you’ll know that a news correspondent recently broke quarantine in town. And, while the CDC has claimed that she didn’t risk public safety, it highlights the reality of the situation: If you rely on potentially exposed individuals to police themselves, this could get out of hand.

It makes for fascinating story telling and the butterfly effect is always an intriguing concept. But it all becomes a little less fascinating when the story and intrigue are happening in real life. I don’t want to have to look back and say, “Gee, what if I hadn’t sat next to that guy who was coughing on the train?”

Ebola is a terrifying prospect. Stay informed and educated about signs, symptoms, and modes of transmission. That’s the only way we’ll beat this.

Vacation is supposed to be restful, right?

Well, if that’s what you expect, then don’t go to Disney with an 8-year-old who, apparently, has an unlimited amount of sustainable energy. I kept waiting for him to crack. We spent so many late nights and rarely slept in past 8, I figured it was just inevitable. But, despite some particularly whiny moments in the last few days of the trip, he held on. It was his mother and I who were ready to curl up in a ball and weep. 😀

It was a nice escape from reality though. Something I think we all needed. I did very little in the way of anything home-related while I was away. There was just no time. When we weren’t sleeping, we were on our way to the next park and when the day was done, I often only had enough energy to tuck my son into his bed before I did the same for myself.

There was enough new stuff at the parks for my wife and I to enjoy ourselves as well. It had been 8 years since we last visited and Universal Studios had certainly changed drastically. If you’re a Harry Potter fan, you really have to visit the Hogwarts and Diagon Alley. They’re to die for. They really put in so many little details. So much fun. But, at the same time, I also noticed how Epcot is starting to show its age. Space Mountain, Peter Pan, and It’s a Small World, while classic, could all use a fresh coat of paint and perhaps a reimagining. Even Soarin’, which isn’t that old, looked faded due to a lack of high def film and the occasional broken pixel.

Anyway, it’s good to be back on the blogosphere and sleeping in my own bed again. I hope you are well and that your writing is flourishing.

I’m Going to Disney World!

MickeyMe

No, really. In fact, I’ve scheduled this post to go live when we’re expected to land in Orlando. 😉 So, things might be a bit quiet around here other than the occasional selfie with Mickey (and a few pre-loaded posts). I know you’ll miss me, so I’ll leave you with some of my previous (and most popular) posts from the last few months.

Author Milestones

This is why I self publish

Putting emotion into your writing

Wow… BookBub… Wow 

5 ways to utilize Goodreads 

5 DOs and 5 DON’Ts of Twitter 

See you in October! 😀

I Remember 9/11

September 11, 2001 was one month to the day after my wedding day. We sailed out of NY harbor on 8/12/01 and took pictures of the towers on a cloudy, drizzly day. I couldn’t fathom that they would be gone a month later and our lives would be changed forever.

Towers_8-12-01

Anyone who was old enough to remember, knows exactly where they were and what they were doing when they heard the news of a plane hitting one of the Twin Towers in New York City. I had just walked into the office, barely nine months into my first desk job. A coworker stuck her head out of her cube and told me the news. “Really?” My reaction was one of innocent disbelief. “A small plane?” That made sense to me. A small plane getting lost or disabled and hitting a tower. That made sense. Not an airliner… and certainly not an airliner hijacked by religious zealots. “No, an airliner.”

By the time I logged onto my computer, Flight 175 had crashed into the South tower at 9:03 AM. The Internet slowed to a crawl (remember, this was 2001), but for some reason, my computer is able to refresh images on MSNBC.com. It’s one of the few media feeds we are able to get. A crowd develops in the confines of my small cube. We chatter about the events. At 9:43, flight 77 crashes into the Pentagon. “We’re under attack!” someone says. It’s a statement that sounds absurd, but appears more and more real as the minutes tick by.

We discover that a coworker’s sister works in the North Tower. She cannot be reached by phone.

At 10:05 AM, the unthinkable happens. I refreshed my internet feed to see a new picture of the South Tower coming down in a cloud of dust and smoke. “No way it totally collapsed,” says a coworker. “No way the whole thing came down. The top probably just fell off.” If only that were true.

At 10:10 AM, Flight 93 crashes in Pennsylvania.

At 10:28 AM, the second tower collapses.

The coworker’s sister would not survive the day.

Around 1 PM, my company announces that employees may go home at their discretion. I leave immediately. I want to see my wife. I want to go home and feel safe again.

At the time, we lived in an efficiency and were so broke, we didn’t have cable. When my wife got home, we sat in her car and listened to the radio at intervals before going to bed. I stayed home the next day and listened to the radio on and off. We went grocery shopping that night. Living in Northwestern NJ at the time, we were in the direct path of flights coming into the East coast. You were used to seeing planes in the sky. That night, the sky was empty and unsettling. It was as quiet as I have ever known it.

The following weeks were quietly chaotic. I worked in a haze as I dealt with my own feelings about the tragedy. Being so close, the stories of loss and close calls were numerous. “I was supposed to be in the North Tower that morning, but I was running late.” “I lost my uncle.” “There were dozens of cars at the train station left behind by commuters who hadn’t made it back that day.”

A week later, my boss (a woman in her late 70s at the time) makes a point of declaring she doesn’t know what the fuss is about. “More people were killed at Pearl Harbor.” I’m 26 at the time. I have no argument. Now, I would say, “But Pearl Harbor wasn’t in our back yard. And that was a war with clearly defined sides. And there was a military objective behind that attack.” And someone who knows anything could probably come up with a dozen other arguments against that statement. But, that was the defence she had chosen to put up. Otherwise, you had to admit that it had scared the hell out of you. Which it had.

Whether you like to believe it or not, the events of 9/11 changed everyone. It became this generation’s Pearl Harbor, in a war few can define. The experience has made me who I am today, for good or bad. I hope that my son will never have to see an event transpire like that one. I hope he can grow up in a more tolerant world that isn’t driven by greed and power. But, that’s wishful thinking.

At this point, I have the urge to run off into a diatribe about money being the root of all evil, which means I should probably just stop while I’m ahead. A peaceful Patriot Day to you all.
Event times referenced from: http://edition.cnn.com/2001/US/09/11/chronology.attack/

Differing Opportunities

We met up with some old friends this last weekend. Late in the day, I found myself having a conversation with someone I didn’t remember sharing much of a past with. We’d moved in very different circles in high school, but we’d shared the commonality of singing in the boy’s choir group. He brought it up with some fondness and waxed reminiscent of days when the ladies of the larger choir basked in our jocular glow. He said all this with a wink and nudge as if I must have had a similar experience to the one he described. Imagine his surprise when I contradicted his assumption. “Well, it was happening. You just didn’t let it happen,” he said. Not being one to argue (have I ever mentioned that I’m awefully passive-aggressive?), I simply nodded and breathed a sigh of relief when the waitress interrupted to take our order.

But I couldn’t forget the moment. This insinuation that life was happening around me and, if I had just taken the leap, I would have had the same experience, is an awful thing to consider. Had I really been that blind? It wouldn’t surprise me entirely. I led a very sheltered childhood and was prone to conservatism. But, as someone who was always looking for inclusion in the right crowd (and often not finding it), it’s hard for me to believe it was right under my nose all along.

I didn’t date in high school. This is a statement that has surprised more than one person in my life. “Seriously? You didn’t date?” It’s not like it was an active choice! Tall, skinny, red-haired, geeky, self conscious to a fault. It was a poor combination. Looking back now, I also went through periods of depression and suffered situational anxiety. Heck, I didn’t kiss a girl until I was 19. Then I married the next girl I kissed and she’s still a pretty damn good kisser. But I digress.

None of us like to miss out. But, there’s missing out on a free lunch, or that 50% off sale at Target, and there’s missing out on life. Not everyone has the same opportunities, whether it is in life or love or money. Each situation, no matter how similar, is unique. Have I missed opportunities in lfe? Sure, we all have, but, in my eyes, this wasn’t one of them. Yes, I was in the same place and time and situation as you, but I wasn’t blind to something. It just didn’t happen to me that way and that’s just how life is sometimes.