Arn? Narn.

Shakespeare on Cowardice:

“A coward dies a thousand times before his death, but the valiant taste of death but once. It seems to me most strange that men should fear, seeing that death, a necessary end, will come when it will come.” – William Shakespeare

And make no mistake, Jacob Will was a coward… in love, truth, and most importantly, himself. He lived no truths, without love, and he would have to learn to know and trust himself before he could do anything about it. He would have to die at least eleven times before he could live.

He was fearful… and he was a coward.

Jacob Will was both, not the best combination for someone looking to destroy his former self in order to live a new and better life. Could he do it? Could he take that plunge (not a knife, but just as deadly in its own way) and come out on the other side?

Shakespeare may have put in best, “Cowards die many times before their deaths; The valiant never taste of death but once.”

#acowardsguidetoliving

A future with love, not fear: D – Part 4. A Thistle and Bee story.

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Since getting in to “The Hive”, D feels like a whole new, completely different person. For the first time, in her adult life, she had access to health care, regular meals, her own bed, and clean clothes. It has shown her how she could live without cigarettes, drugs, or alcohol.

It is not without responsibility. She goes to meetings to learn how to deal with her plaguing issues. However, a couple of instances stands out in her mind. D was recently going to a GED class and there, in plain sight, was a guy selling dope. The school knew the guy was selling but didn’t do anything about it. She knew she couldn’t stay there. Temptation is everywhere, even where it would be considered “safe.”

Looking for a safe place, she then took herself to a church and right outside there, people were smoking dope. Everywhere she turned, there were drugs to be had. Fortunately, her ride was waiting, and she was able to avoid temptation.

This underscores a greater problem: the easy availability of drugs. When one can score at a public school, a church, it’s not difficult to understand why the problem is so rampant. “Addiction don’t discriminate, child, adult, no difference.” Age doesn’t factor into it either. D is right, she witnessed a 13-year-old shooting right into their hand and foot. How could that not bring up terrible memories?

Thistle and Bee is helping D to learn to love and respect herself. Before coming to The Hive, she didn’t care when she was high and wasn’t ashamed to be out on the streets. But her family did care and was ashamed for her. They knew she was using, their mother was a junkie, a crackhead. But now her future is in front of her and she feels like a new baby, being birthed.

D is experiencing freedom and feels like a child in a candy store with so much to see and now something to live for. She’s doing “The Twelve Traditions.” She along with the other women at The Hive are learning how to live, on their own and together. They’re learning how to share and to help. D calls this “love help.’

Most of all, D wants other people to her story. “If they need help, ask for it.” It was hard for her to ask for help; she didn’t want to admit she was an addict who needed a helping heart. D knows how hard it is but knows it’s not as hard as the life she’s leaving behind.

#bmeisterman.com

 

Getting our s— together.

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Here we are, five weeks or so into the WFH hostage situation. This is the spring we’re all missing. As I look out the window of my home office, I notice that it’s become very green outside. Usually, this would lighten my spirits, but as we’re confined to our homes, we must look for spirit-lifting actions elsewhere.

I find I’m “unfriending” on social media a large number of people who, generally, I respect. But to turn this situation into an opportunity to spew negativity is counter-productive. Can fingers be pointed? Yes, of course. Does it make things better? No, not really.

Instead, I’m quietly celebrating those whose concern for their friends, neighbors, and family make life worth living and as I said, celebrating. This certainly includes those healthcare and essential workers. But I’m also thinking about those people who, on any given morning, nod a hello to you and go off to their daily endeavors. Today, they’re inquiring about their neighbors, whether there is something they can do for others. Asking whether or not they can pick up something at the market for them or leaving small, unexpected gifts of food or treats.

In John Carpenter’s film, Starman (see image above), the alien (Jeff Bridges), in talking about humans, states, “Shall I tell you what I find beautiful about you? You are at your very best when things are worst.”

Down here at the granular level, he was right. Something good is happening. We need to take notice of these acts of kindness and thoughtfulness and remember when this finally runs its terrible course, that perhaps we have gained something we lost sometime ago. Let’s not forget what these small lessons are teaching us. We can and maybe are getting our s— together. Instead of playing politics, let’s play together. #elevenlittledeaths

 

 

Brienne of Tarth, maybe.

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The first time Jacob Will saw Hannah, Brienne of Tarth from the Game of Thrones TV series came to mind: not so much the perpetual scowl but her countenance. Uncommonly tall, uncommonly beautiful, and a dazzling smile. But why was she with an older, a much older man? And in Key West. All of it seemed unlikely.

And like Jaime Lannister, Jacob would be smitten too and it would change his life forever. But that wouldn’t happen until he had committed his own eleven little deaths.

#elevenlittledeaths

 

 

 

New Book Coming!

Greetings!

It has been a long time since I last posted. My first book, Arn? Narn. had just come out and there was much cause for celebration. In the ensuing time, I have been quite busy working on a new book.

This one is quite a departure from Arn? Narn. in that it is a novel. I look forward to sharing more about it with you in the coming months as I seek agent representation and ultimately a publisher.

Over the next few months, I’ll be posting and keeping you up-to-date on what’s happening with it. I’ll even share some of the story with you. It’s called Eleven Little Deaths and hopefully it’s not at all what you think. It’s not a murder mystery, rather it’s more of a celebration of life. More to come.

‘Til then…

All the best,

Bruce

 

A cast of thousands (well, maybe not quite that many), years in the making, and best of all, no animals were harmed in the production of this book.

All of that is true. And that’s about it as this is a fictional tale of a man charged with getting his s___ together. How many of us can honestly say we have our act together? How many of us have gotten ill-advised tattoos? Been assaulted with a metal detector and then treated to lunch? Or wasted a bottle of expensive champagne and not by drinking it? Fortune told? Yes, twice. Or… ah, the list goes on.

And that’s just a hint of what Jacob Will (think Adam Driver) encounters in A Coward’s Guide to Living, now available in paperback here.

A Day-Glo, Chromium Yellow Panda Bear? Well, of course. And now you can find out why.

That Panda Bear is only one of the characters in my new book, A Coward’s Guide to Living. In this coming-of-middle-age story, Jacob Will is charged with getting his life together via a most unusual method. He must commit a number of little deaths, “killing” those things preventing him from living a genuine life. Be assured, no animals or people were harmed during his quest.

His adventures will take him across the United States in an an attempt to fulfill that charge. Why did he destroy an expensive bottle of Champagne? What’s the meaning of that tattoo? And will he sue the manufacturer of a metal detector? Will he discover what love is?

These and more questions are answered in A Coward’s Guide to Living. Available now through Amazon on Kindle and paperback.

Coming soon, real soon… really.

What’s the phrase ‘All things come to those who wait?’ actually mean? If one is patient and willing to endure the interminable time before the dream becomes a reality (if indeed it ever does), then surely it will materialize. R-i-i-i-ght!

Or you can take the bull by the damn horns yourself. And that’s what I’m about to do. Now I do not equate this with something as perilous as running with the bulls in Pamplona, but it is a little risky and more than a little scary.

After trying for several years to get my latest book published the traditional way (query, agent, publisher, remainder rack), I’m going to creep out on the ledge of self-publishing, trying not to fall off in the process.

The book is one that has gone through a number of titles before its current one, A Coward’s Guide to Living. It’s a coming-of-middle-age story about a man charged with learning who he really is. He is charged will “killing” those things internally that prevent him from growing.

It started as My Eleven Suicides, Eleven Little Deaths, A Coward’s Guide to Living, and Jacob Will 2.0: A Coward’s Guide to Living. I have a favorite among these, but am interested in what you think works best: a hybrid of these or something new. Who knows, you may wind up creating the new title for it. If so, I’ll send you a copy of the book.

I look forward to your thoughts.

It’s for you.

That’s what I hear way too many times at home when the phone rings, regardless of what the caller ID says. “It’s for you” is what I get.

And it’s never good news. Now let me set this straight – it’s not usually bad news either. Many of the calls I get must be a measurement of my popularity. That’s what I keep telling myself. Why else would I be getting so many of them??

The one thing they all have in common is an interest in: my health, my political leanings, my business listing, is my house for sale, car warranties, financial aid, medicare, animals in need of rescue, some obscure disease foundation dedicated to ending avian obesity, police and firemen, and of course will I support their obviously well-meaning and charitable organization. Though many of them are prerecorded, they all sound really sincere. I almost want to talk with them. Maybe we can become good friends. However, they all sound like either the same woman or man. Someone is working really hard.

Smartphones today enable one to block such calls, but only after the call had been made. So I assiduously block them. But this man or woman must have multiple phone lines to inquire after me as they keep calling. I wonder why are they so insistent upon talking with me. One might get the hint that a continued inability to speak with me is an indication of my interest in what they have to sell. But no.

So let’s set the record straight for that woman and man who are trying to reach me. If I need what you’re hawking, I’ll reach out to you. Really, I will. I’ll keep your toll-free number right by my phone. But in the meantime, I’ll…, wait, I got to pick up this call.

Who am I? Who wants to know?

Recently, an acquaintance of mine sent out a newsletter with the question: “Who am I?”

As he confronts a new period in his life, retirement, he finds himself questioning that now as he’s out of the work force. We so often define ourselves by our profession and the other roles we play in our lives as he has. In doing so, we may lose sight of another answer, one that is more accurate.

Then, I ask the question, “does it matter?” What does it matter if one is a physician, a plumber, a writer, or a politician (let’s not get into that last one, it will have to wait for another time).

I offer that it doesn’t matter. What matters, or should, is what we are. Not cultural, race, religion, politics. No. Are we good? Do we look out for others? Do we care about them? How do we help them? How do we make things better?

This is not a screed against work and the benefits it offers. It’s necessary. And yes, sometimes it may do more harm than good and that’s something to be addressed. It should not be a, or the, defining factor of who we are.

Rather, how do we live our lives? Hopefully as a positive force for good in any of the arenas in which we dwell. That’s who we should be. Who we are should be measured by deeds, not occupation.

Me? I’m trying my hardest to live into that.

The folly of red.

In what life does one admit to their own weaknesses in public? This one, I suppose.

I have an addiction to… red. Not in clothing, thankfully, but in things that matter more. My first girlfriend, if you can imagine a third grader capable of conducting such a relationship, was the red-haired Patty who sat next to me in homeroom. It was a foretelling of my future. As third grade “romances” go, it probably lasted all of a month. I realize in retrospect, the hook had been set and I was hopelessly attracted to “red.”

On purchasing my first car, it was a toss-up between a snortingly powerful, red Chevy Impala convertible and a small, red, come-hither MGA, it too a convertible. Either one would have been the perfect accomplice to my adolescent dreams of attracting someone of the opposite sex, preferably a red head, to me. I opted for the MGA.

Low slung, wire wheels, and a white canvas top, it was beautiful and vengeful. It rewarded me with a repair bill if taken anywhere further than the nearest gas station. After one particularly long trip to Boston and back, it stayed true to its mission and blew its engine. At least this relationship lasted longer than the one with Patty.

My next “red” relationship was with a Toyota sedan. Purchasing it under the assumption that since it was a Toyota, it was therefore indestructible. It was until one very wet and snowy day, it decided to, in front of my house, self-immolate due to a wet wiring harness. Was this confirmation that redheads are indeed fiery? It may be an inarguable point. However, it did last longer than Patty and my late-lamented MGA. But, I was missing the signs.

This particular curse is spoken about in the 1980 film, “Used Cars” starring Kurt Russell. Red cars are to be avoided at all costs as described in this piece of dialogue, “Rudy, what the hell is this? Rudy, this is a red car. Holy shit! A red chariot to take my ass straight to hell!” Stay away from red cars at all costs. It summed up what I had already discovered.

And yet, that wasn’t warning enough to prevent me from purchasing a lovely maroon red Saab. There wasn’t really anything wrong with that car except it had a penchant for magnetically attracting other vehicles. The first was when a honking big SUV backed into it (details are classified to protect the guilty); the second, and ultimately fatal to the car, was when an elderly person decided to displace my car on the road in favor of his, consequently totaling it. Maybe I should have known better.

But still, it’s a hard addiction to kick.

Have I owned any red cars since then? Hell, no. But I did marry a red head. And many things attributed to gingers are true. And I wouldn’t trade this model in for anything.

Taking the mask off.

Much has been written about the efficacy of masks the past couple of years. More so now that the pandemic appears to be waning. But this is not about the health benefits of wearing one nor are there any political undertones. No, this is about who the hell is that person masquerading as me for those two years.

Yes, we don’t wear masks in the house, at least not in mine. Nor do I wear one while showering and brushing my teeth. I do see my reflection in the mirror daily so it’s not like I’m a complete stranger.

Yet. Yet. It’s a different face. It is two years older and two years greyer, bordering (beardering?) on silver. WHO is that person?

There are new lines, a bit deeper than before. And the eyes, wearier now.

Such is the cost of what our lives have become in the short yet interminably long two years. Some of what has occurred is due to aging. I’m not fooling myself about that. It’s been a hard two years for all of us. It’s strain I see in my face now from not being able to live as I once did. It’s the weight of emotions from isolation, insecurity, and invasion. It has all contributed to the face now before me.

Besides the physical change, there are other changes. I’m more appreciative of the newly regained freedoms that are returning to us, ones we took for granted. I’m also more intolerant of deniers, those who for whatever reasons refuse to accept that this is no longer the ’50’s and that we are all in this together. One person’s freedoms are not another’s restrictions. That equation doesn’t work. Uh-oh, some science creeping in here. That’s not what this is about though. Hardly.

I’m glad the masks are coming off. They’re allowing us to see ourselves again in the harsh light of day… and those around us in the same way.

And if it becomes necessary to put the masks on again, I will and hope others will too.And that will produce change again and hopefully this time universal and for the better.

What is a friend?

It’s a word bandied about rather loosely without the true meaning attached to it. We receive “Friend” requests on Facebook, yet a “friend” on that site connotes something more than it actually is. Used that way, the word is becoming meaningless

The Oxford Language definition of friend is this: a person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, typically exclusive of sexual or family relations. Do we really have that bond with our social media friends? Ehhh, I don’t think so. Nor can we. We are too far removed because of social media to have a genuine connection.

While it’s true many us have lots of “friends”, how many of those could we rely on should the need arise? Do we need that many friends? And how many of them really share our values, ideologies, positions, even our taste in ice cream? How important is that? You decide.

We are too quick to make new “friends” that we miss the value in the real ones who don’t need or maybe even want to know where we had dinner last night. Or why they weren’t there with us. A true friend respects our needs and asks nothing more than the same from us.

Finally, are we true friends to others? Hopefully, yes. Otherwise, we’re just acquaintances.

You can’t take it with you…

Nor should you. I’m not talking about death though it could just as well apply. What’s up for discussion is what we need to get through our days.

From the earliest pandemic days, working from home (euphemistically called “sheltering at home”) I stopped wearing a watch and my wedding ring. There was no need for the watch as my computer screen was far more accurate. The ring? Well, my wife was in the room next me and I saw no need to remind her daily of our commitment to one another.

And now?

As things cautiously open up again, I find myself as I venture back into life, now leaving those artifacts behind. The watch – nice, but unnecessary as my phone will tell me what I need to know. The ring? I’m of an age now where my ringless hand will not entice anyone to inquire of my availability, not that they would have in earlier years. The commitment remains, just as strongly as in the past, but sometimes the ring remains in the drawer.

There’s no need for a briefcase or tote to carry business stuff in as most of it’s available, again, through my phone. The same goes for an appointment book, archaic as that may sound.

Wallet and keys? It’s getting to the point that the phone will surplant those too. How long will it be before our cars will recognize our phone and allow their use without a key? Soon, I’m told. And you can pay for your coffee with a phone.

It will boil down to a smartphone is all we need to carry on.

So, at the end of the day, you really don’t have to take it with you and why would you. All I have to figure out now is how to leave the damned phone behind.

Thoughts while on “hold”.

How many times has one been put on hold for what seems like eternity after being told “your call is important to us”? Just how important is it, really?

While waiting in an office for an appointment, I’ve been offered coffee or water. That tells me that I am important enough to recognize my presence.

On the phone, we’re treated to generic “music” or what passes for it. Thinking longer about that, I wonder who composed it and were they paid royalties for it? Going deeper into that, did they study “music” in a conservatory? Do they have a record deal? Where can we get their latest CD or stream it?

Are all these call centers that busy all the time or is everyone on an extended coffee break? If they are indeed that busy, what does it say about the quality of their products that so many people are calling for assistance?

Is there really a queue in where our calls are placed or is it more like a Mayberry switchboard where some overworked operator is plugging in lines willy-nilly?

And then, only then, after waiting for the Messiah to come, is your call picked up by someone uniquely unqualified to help you. After explaining your situation multiple times, you’re asked to, yet again, be put on hold for a brief moment. The dictionary explains brief thusly: “of short duration.” “Brief” in their world is measured by a calendar, not by a clock.

Currently, I’ve been on hold for over forty-five minutes, though I’ve been reassured I’m next in the queue. Check back with me next week as I’m sure I’ll still be next in line on the queue.