642 Things – 59: The best thing that could happen

Winning the lottery. Not just any lottery, I’m talking BIG BIG money. $100 million or more after taxes.

Yes I know, it sounds shallow and simplistic, but hear me out.

With that money comes security. I could pay off all my bills, and invest a large portion in low-risk areas, and give myself a monthly paycheck off of that, something I could live comfortably off of the rest of my life, should I lose all the other money.

Then I could help out my friends and family. Pay off my Mom’s house. Help out friends who need a new car, or that surgery that insurance won’t cover, or pay off their student loans.

Then I could do something I’ve always wanted to do. Travel. Travel everywhere. England, heck, all of Europe, Hawaii, Alaska, Australia, Japan. Take a cruise, maybe take a couple.

And then I could settle down and do what I’ve really always wanted. Be creative.

I could make my movies, without worrying about the budget. Now, I’m not talking about million dollar blockbusters. I could do amazing things with just $10-15 thousand dollars. Maybe use my money to help other content creators get their stuff out in the public eye more. Help an indie film get distribution, help a struggling artist get a gallery showing, so on and so on.

Without the constant need for money to let me just survive, I could really thrive, and enrich the lives of those around me. And, without having to wake up early every morning (a very draining experience) and go to work 40 hours a week (even at a job you like, it takes energy) I could actually focus my energy on writing. I have so many books and scripts in my head just begging for release. Last year I took a week off of work and managed to write an entire screenplay. Imagine what I could do in 2 or 3 months.

I mean, I’m not totally selfless, I’d build myself a really nice house, but my friends could always come over and visit.

 

 

 

 

Unlike my two books (“The Great Platypus Caper” and “The Coconut Monkey Horror”) I can not promise that each entry in my 642 things to write about series will be true stories drawn from my life, I’ll leave the amount of truth in each entry up to your imagination.
Want to stretch your writing muscles as well? Post your response to the writing prompt in the comments section. I’d love to see it.

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642 Things – 58: The worst thing that could happen

Being homeless.

I mean legitimately, no home, nowhere to go, living on the street, unsure if I’ll get to eat today.

That seems like the worst thing that could possibly happen to me, because it seems like a hole that would be almost impossible to dig yourself out of. I’m not speaking from ignorance, but I’d imagine it’s incredibly difficult to get a decent job when you’re homeless, increasingly so the longer you are homeless. But you need a decent job to get a roof over your head, and new clothes. But you need an address and the ability to clean yourself up nice in order to get a job. See the issue?

I’m sure there are programs designed to help homeless people get jobs, but man, you can’t tell me any of those jobs would be enjoyable, or pay decent wages.

It just seems like it would be a situation where you couldn’t hope for a better tomorrow, instead you’d just be hoping there was a tomorrow….or maybe not.

I’m very fortunate, I don’t think this will actually happen to me. It would require a very unlikely string of events. I’d have to lose my job, which seems very unlikely at the moment. For some reason I’d have to be completely unable to get another job in a timely fashion, even though I’ve always managed it in the past. Then, my mother would have to die (otherwise she’d always take me in), and I hope that is decades away. Then, Jess, Princess, Gary & Hillary, Victor & Sarah, and Jason & Laura would all have to die as well, because I firmly believe any of them would be willing to house me and help me put a life back together.

There are probably even more people who would take me in, but those are the ones I’m absolutely certain of. So I think it very unlikely that I’ll ever be homeless.

Which makes me even sadder when I see people that are (and Austin has a lot of them). These must be people without jobs, family, or friends. Whether by choice or fate, a life without family or friends is the worth thing that I can imagine for anyone.

 

 

 

 

 

Unlike my two books (“The Great Platypus Caper” and “The Coconut Monkey Horror”) I can not promise that each entry in my 642 things to write about series will be true stories drawn from my life, I’ll leave the amount of truth in each entry up to your imagination.
Want to stretch your writing muscles as well? Post your response to the writing prompt in the comments section. I’d love to see it.

642 Things – 57: The moment you knew you were no longer a child

I’m not sure that there was one definitive moment, I feel like it crept up on me slowly, and in spurts. Was it the first time I decided to clean my bathroom just because it needed it? The time I decided it was finally time for me to learn how to cook something decent? The time I realized how much I like my job, even though it doesn’t have any creative aspects to it at all? The times my family relied on me to be the voice of reason in emotional moments?

I dunno. At no point did I have any kind of epiphany. I mean, there’s no doubt that I’m an adult. But I don’t recall a turning point. I still like the same things I liked as a kid, the same stories, games, what have you, I just appreciate other things as well.

I think a lot of that has to do with my upbringing. I don’t ever recall my parents telling me that I was too old to do something anymore, that was the sort of thing they let me figure out on my own. They never encouraged me to sit, evaluate all my interests, and then discard the things I was no longer allowed to enjoy because of my age.

I was recently invited to go and participate in a Nerf gun war. The event ended up being canceled, but it was my understanding that it would be a bunch of us in our 30s running around this facility and shooting Nerf darts at each other. I agreed to go without a second thought.

Just because I’m 34 doesn’t mean I don’t want to have a good time, and screw anyone who wants to judge me based on how I find enjoyment. As long as the activities that bring me joy don’t actually hurt someone else, then it’s nobody’s business how old I am when I do it. It’s really similar to the idea that I’ve never enjoyed watching sports (except roller derby). I grew up in a very sports-centered state. My lack of interest has led to me being called names, or my sexuality being questioned. And as a teenager, and probably a young adult, I’d belittle those who enjoyed sports…I mean, they started it.

But that’s what not being a child anymore is about. It’s about realizing that different people are different. It sounds horribly simple, but it’s a deeper concept than you’d think. Different people are different, and that’s ok. So John down the street really enjoys watching football. Great, enjoy the football game John. I really like playing video games, and no matter what your ego may try and tell you, one form of entertainment is not superior to the other. They’re just different. I’d be bored watching a football game, and John would be bored (or maybe just frustrated) trying to play a video game.

Aren’t we lucky we live in a world where both things exist?

My transition from child to adult didn’t feature a lot of changes…instead it was more like augmentations, additions.

I still enjoy being the center of attention, but now I also make sure to pay attention to other people, and wait my turn.

I still enjoy playing video games, I just make sure there’s nothing else I need to take care of first, because I know I can’t always be trusted to turn off a game at a set time.

I still like going out and doing things with my friends, I just try not to do it when I have to get up early for work the next day.

My core values haven’t changed, they’ve just been improved with the gift of insight.

So how do you pinpoint a precise moment in a fluid change?

And the idea that I am now an adult comes with a hitch as well. If child, teenager, and adult are simply stages of development, doesn’t that rather imply that I’m done? I’m now an adult, and if we’re thinking in terms of stages then there is nothing more to grow towards, no more changes that need to be made.

And I think we all know that’s foolish. As advanced as my beliefs and values are now compared to my 6 year old self, so I hope my beliefs and values will appear in my 40’s when compared to today.

Alternatively, perhaps the moment I changed was when I injured my knee so severely during a water gun fight that I knew I’d have a large scar (and pain) for the rest of my life. That I wasn’t invincible, and that it was possible for my life choices now to effect me for the rest of my life. That some things didn’t come with a taksie-backsie option.

But I prefer the first answer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unlike my two books (“The Great Platypus Caper” and “The Coconut Monkey Horror”) I can not promise that each entry in my 642 things to write about series will be true stories drawn from my life, I’ll leave the amount of truth in each entry up to your imagination.
Want to stretch your writing muscles as well? Post your response to the writing prompt in the comments section. I’d love to see it.

642 Things – 56: Thoughts on your favourite pet’s personality

What I find most interesting about Daisy’s personality is, her cutest aspects are behaviours I wouldn’t tolerate in a human.

When she wants something, be it a treat, to go outside, or to go to bed, she wants it NOW. She will stand in the middle of the room and stare at you. If that doesn’t work she’ll shake and give a little bark to get your attention. If that still doesn’t work, she’ll start gently pawing at you. At least she’s usually nice enough to clearly communicate what she wants, because once she has your attention she’ll stare at you, and then move her head to stare at what she wants.

She also does the pawing thing if you feel like you’re done petting her for the moment, but she disagrees. You aren’t done petting Daisy until SHE’S done having you pet her.

But I love my dog. I love how excited she gets when she sees other people. All she wants in the world is for everyone to love her. And God forbid if you try to keep her away from small children. She will cry and whine until you let her go play with them.

Of course, that relationship doesn’t go both ways. She gets very jealous if she sees, or smells, that I’ve spent any time with another animal. She gets to run around and get attention from anyone she wants, but I have to be monogamous.

We have a word for that kind of behaviour in a human.

But Daisy isn’t always desperate for attention, not really. Often she’s perfectly content to just hang out near you. Many times I’d be working at my computer and she’d walk up wanting attention, I would explain that I was busy, and she’d just go and lay down on the floor and wait for me to have time for her.

Well, she’d be willing to wait for a little while. Then it’s back to the pawing.

 

 

 

Unlike my two books (“The Great Platypus Caper” and “The Coconut Monkey Horror”) I can not promise that each entry in my 642 things to write about series will be true stories drawn from my life, I’ll leave the amount of truth in each entry up to your imagination.
Want to stretch your writing muscles as well? Post your response to the writing prompt in the comments section. I’d love to see it.

642 Things – 55: Would you rather win the Nobel Prize or be a rock star?

I think it speaks ill of my nature that this isn’t even a debate for me. Rock star. Every single time.

I understand the appeal of the Nobel Prize. Not only have you accomplished something significant, but you’re receiving the recognition of your peers. You’re joining an elite class of thinkers and doers. I get that.

But if you ask me whether I’d like that, or the acclaim of the masses, it’s not even a question.

I could lie and try and say that while being a rock star isn’t the same as being a writer, at least both are creating art, and that’s what I most identify myself with. I could try and sell that lie. But no, I just really like the mental image of me in front of a giant crowd all screaming and jumping up and down because of me.

I never claimed not to be a narcissistic ego-maniac, but I’m the very best kind of narcissistic ego-maniac, the self aware kind.

 

 

 

 

Unlike my two books (“The Great Platypus Caper” and “The Coconut Monkey Horror”) I can not promise that each entry in my 642 things to write about series will be true stories drawn from my life, I’ll leave the amount of truth in each entry up to your imagination.
Want to stretch your writing muscles as well? Post your response to the writing prompt in the comments section. I’d love to see it.

642 Things – 54: Finding a bag of cash.

Neil wasn’t having a particularly good life. The amount time and effort he put in to things never seemed to pay off the way that it should.

He never took a sick day at work, never surfed the internet on company time, and always got all his projects done at least 3 days early. As a result he’s gotten the same cost of living increase in his wages every year, the same one everyone else gets. Sure, he’s well thought of, his manager likes him, but it just feels like he should get a little something more.

He had been married for 15 years. He never forgot a birthday or anniversary. He even made a point of displaying at least 1 random act of affection towards his wife per month, be it flowers, a card, or just a surprise shoulder massage. And yet his relationship seemed to lack that sense of…urgency, of need for one another that had led him down the aisle in the first place.

He joined book clubs, movie discussion societies, he’d even tried speed friending (a different take on speed dating that even Neil couldn’t believe he tried). Despite all of that, he still had the same 3 close friends he’d had since high school, and all of them lived out of state.

It’s not that he had a bad life. His job was stable, and he was good at it. He loved his wife, and she loved him. His friend came into town a couple of times a year and they always had a great time.

It just didn’t feel like it was as good a life as he deserved. Neil didn’t want much. He wasn’t asking to be a rock star, or a millionaire, or to develop super powers. He just wanted life to be a little bit more…interesting?

And then he saw it.

Right there in the middle of the sidewalk. A large bag of money. Just sitting there.

People walking by were ignoring it, but it was there, plain as day.

Long dormant sections of Neil’s brain kicked into overdrive. The parts of his brain that hadn’t been turned on since that time he realized he only had 20 minutes to write a 5 page paper on the mating cycle of the gypsy moth for his college professor.

“Look at that, free money, for the taking. I mean it’s right there. It doesn’t look like it belongs to anyone. Everyone else is ignoring it. Who would stop me from just picking it up and walking down the street like it was mine? Just ‘whoops, there’s where I left that darn bag of money’ and off I go. I could take Cheryl to Hawaii, that’d be exciting, she’d need a couple of swimsuits for the trip, just the shopping for those might be worth the price of the trip. I should just take it.

“But wait, I’m not that stupid, look at all these people ignoring the money, clearly it’s a trap or a trick or something. It’s some reality TV show, and all my neighbors and coworkers will see me on it, and I’ll look like a monster, or a moron, or both. A moronster, that’s a thing right?

“Even worse, what if it’s some kind of sting operation for the police? I don’t know what’s illegal about picking up a bag of money, but they always say on TV that ignorance is no defense. I wonder if it’s a problem that I get all of my legal knowledge from television? Nah, it’s not like I’m a lawyer, what does it matter?

“Maybe I should pick it up and make it very clear that I’m going to turn it into the police, into lost and found or something. Then maybe whoever dropped the bag will give me some kind of reward, yeah, or if nobody claims it after 30 days the police just let you have it. I saw that on TV too.

“But everyone else is still ignoring it. What do they know that I don’t? Oh man. No. No. This is a trap, it has to be a trap. And I’m not falling for it.”

All of those thoughts rushed through his brain in the space of seconds, and without ever breaking his stride, Neil walked right past the large bag of money, just like he’d never seen it, just like everyone else.

 

 

 

 

 

Unlike my two books (“The Great Platypus Caper” and “The Coconut Monkey Horror”) I can not promise that each entry in my 642 things to write about series will be true stories drawn from my life, I’ll leave the amount of truth in each entry up to your imagination.
Want to stretch your writing muscles as well? Post your response to the writing prompt in the comments section. I’d love to see it.

642 Things – 53: A bad situation that turned out for the best

I was stuck in a job I didn’t particularly care for. The pay was ok, the responsibilities were serious, but manageable. But the boss was horrible. She liked to operate through fear and anxiety. She managed to make you feel like any day of work could easily be your last day. Living on edge like that isn’t good for anyone.

So imagine my delight when I was offered a position as an on staff writer at a film production company, for the exact same pay I was currently making. A job that caters to my skill-set, working with someone I’d worked with before. And sure, he could occasionally be frustrating, but he didn’t make any of his employees live in fear.

As one last farewell gift from my boss, they changed the vacation policy of leaving employees. The change in policy meant that I either had to leave the company on bad terms, or tell my new boss that my start date had changed. Logically it made more sense to tick off my old company, rather than the new one, but now I didn’t have a safety net. There was no going back. But why would I want to go back? The new job was perfect!

The only downside is that it was back in Dallas, and I had just renewed my lease in Austin.

So I moved back in with my parents…mostly. I took the important stuff, like my computer and my Playstation, but I kept everything else at my apartment, and kept paying rent. I don’t know that I had a solid long term strategy, maybe I was counting on just riding out the lease.

Whatever my strategy was, it didn’t matter, because a couple months later the company folded. Yeah. It was a surprise to EVERYONE that worked there. On the upside, they gave a couple months of severance pay.

So there I was, back in Austin again, unemployed, and with enough money to last me only 2 months. I couldn’t even go back to my former job because of the change they’d made to policy on my way out.

It’s hard to find a decent job, even harder when you have a ticking clock. Because you need to not only find a job, but find it in time to get your first paycheck before you’re homeless.

It’s not a happy place to be.

Desperate, I turned to a temp agency. I aced their typing test, and showed good interpersonal skills, but they didn’t have any decent paying jobs for me. They offered me a temp position at much less than I had been making. Basically I’d be operating at a loss the entire time I was working at this job, but I figured operating at a loss is much better than having no income at all. So I took the job.

It turned out to be a great company, and they hired me away from the temp agency as quick as they could, which meant a pay raise.

I could keep this story going for quite a while, there’s been ups and downs ever since. Like when they moved my entire department to Lubbock, but got me a job in another department here in Austin…and so on. But I’m not going to waste any more of your time on my particular tale. Plus, I don’t like writing about my current job, you never know how good a sense of humour people in the company may have.

I’ll say this, life is rarely a flatline, at least in my experience. It is a continual act of climbing mountains only to fall down the other side. Sometimes the highs or lows last longer than normal, but they never stay. For every victory, there is a defeat that is coming further down the line. Now, that sounds depressing, but I also believe the opposite is true. For every defeat, there’s a new opportunity for glory just around the corner.

I guess what you hope for is that the defeats are small, and the victories large. As long as you’re willing to roll with the punches, I think you’ll usually come out ahead. I’m certainly on an upswing at the moment…which makes me a little nervous.

 

 

 

 

 

Unlike my two books (“The Great Platypus Caper” and “The Coconut Monkey Horror”) I can not promise that each entry in my 642 things to write about series will be true stories drawn from my life, I’ll leave the amount of truth in each entry up to your imagination.
Want to stretch your writing muscles as well? Post your response to the writing prompt in the comments section. I’d love to see it.