Sunday, December 26, 2010

December Update

Dear Reader,

December is nearly over and I haven’t managed to get my fingers on the keyboard to write a single blog entry. In fact I owe an apology for my lack of activity of late. I haven’t set pixel to paper since October and that’s not the sort of rate of correspondence I’m hoping to maintain. I will say that I’m still getting used to a new job and there have been a trio of holidays to contend with – Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Yule to name names.

Regardless, there is news from the writer’s desk. As of this week I’ve completed the second edit of my forthcoming novel, Time of Death and it has been sent back to the publisher. As of the present, the expected release date remains September 2011. I’ll provide updates as they become available.

So, the work goes back underground. Steadily growing and evolving into the piece that will emerge into the sunlight when September rolls around. For those of you who write or are thinking about writing, the process so far has been pretty simple. The first editor focuses on larger edits, finding confusing passages or missing information, honing the language, and punching up the verse. The first editor is your General Practitioner, listening to the heart, taking the blood pressure, and temperature maybe writing a prescription or two as needed. The second edit is more surgical and the focus shifts. Your second editor is likely to look for errors in consistency and dates.

Beyond this round of editing lays a final edit by the publisher and then galleys before September. I’m reminded of a writer’s conference I attended a long time ago where I had the good fortune of hearing Margret Atwood speak about the process of writing. During the conference, I sat in on a session with a science fiction writer (whose name I can’t recall at the moment) and the subject of editing novels came up. His comment to the aspiring writers in the room was to remember that by the time you’ve completed editing your novel you’ll be so tired of it you just want to let it go. Personally, I’m not sure that’s an accurate depiction. I’ve edited Time of Death six times: twice myself, once with Kelly playing editor, once with Kelly’s sister as an editor, and two edits with the publisher. I’m not sick of the book yet and I don’t see myself getting sick of it. Sure, I’ve still got another edit and galleys to go but I can’t see getting sick of the manuscript before it’s published.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Working the Soil

Dear Reader,

For those of us who enjoy gardening, or at least seriously dabble in the subject, fall isn't just harvest time - it's also the beginning of the next year's planting. As trees shed their leaves we dig the soil for the tubers and bulbs that will herald the arrival of spring and the height of summer. Though we've a very small amount of planting space, we spent yesterday evening out in the gusty wind, digging through the leaves and preparing beds. Into our landscape went a hundred Asiatic 'naturalizing' lilies, twenty-five Tigrinum lilies, eighteen alliums, and three peony plants all in the space of an hour and a half of hard digging and clearing. When we lived in Shelbyville, that amount of planting and hard work would have disappeared into the landscape without making a visible impact. The differences between a five acre plot and a few hundred feet of planting space are appreciable.

The parallels between writing and planting have probably been mulled over a hundred-thousand times: seeds of ideas, fertile imagination, and all that kind of stuff. I can see the parallels, they're obvious. The most striking to me, though, is the act of burying something and hoping it will spring into glorious bloom when time and weather are right. The author sends off a manuscript, tucking it into the mail (electronic or otherwise) and it's gone from sight - all that remains is the hope and only time will tell if hope will come to fruition or ruin.

That's the feeling I'm confronted with as I put the final chapters of The Cinder Girl together. With each paragraph I wonder if what I've put together is right and good enough. I fret over putting my hard work in its furrow. There's still the hard work of editing to go, the covering over of the seeds, and after that there will be waiting through the long, harsh cold of submission and rejection. This is where the gardener and the writer must be most alike - both must have faith and patience.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Sammy Terry

Dear Reader,

Recently, while searching the web for Halloween paraphernalia, I stumbled on a small piece of my childhood. As a kid I remember wanting to stay up for the late-late show. I believe every town large enough to have a local television station had (or has) a late night purveyor of B-grade horror flicks and in Indianapolis, it was Sammy Terry. He occupied the television schedule from midnight until two or three, filling the time with double features like "The Creature from 50000 Fathoms" and "The Bride of Dracula". It was a mark of manhood when I could outlast my brother in the face of the Creature from the Black Lagoon (I'll always have a soft spot for the scaly fellow for that very reason).

Reminiscing about brotherly torment aside, though, the particular piece of my childhood I encountered was Sammy Terry's MySpace page. I will repeat that - Sammy Terry MySpace. Unfortunately, repetition doesn’t make it seem any more real.

Sammy Terry being on the Internet seems - wrong. Don't get me wrong, I'm far from opposed to the idea. In fact I'm thrilled to see he's still active and has the kitsch sense of humor he always brought to his show. Maybe it's the pixelization of all my old memories that lends a surreal quality to seeing Terry on the web. Cherished things are best viewed in subdued light.

I close my eyes and I'm back in the tiny first-ring suburbia ranch house where I grew up, laying on the shag carpet and listening to Terry's ghoulish laugh. The TV is turned down so that it won't wake the parents as Sammy's coffin creaks open and the devilish MC rises to bid his fans and victims a goooood eeeevening. Then there'd be the send up of the evening's features with a good send up of the first monster to darken the screen. During the intermission between features, George (the chattering and suspiciously rubbery spider that took the role of Terry's co-host) would put in an appearance, reminding Sammy of some pertinent humorous line. Though I'd be asleep half way through the second feature, I wouldn't dare turn the television off. The staying up was the thing.

Years later Elvira, Mistress of the Dark would bring a new look to the late night horror genre but there'll always be something special about Sammy's late night antics. Through his show I saw some of the early masters of the genre and some of the great (and infamous) films of the forty's, fifties, and sixties. The world is a better place for your being in it, Mr. Terry.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

October's Bright Blue Weather

Dear Reader,

Tonight we're going to a weenie roast, or at least our version of one. We'll sit by the fireside with a couple of friends torching a few franks and marshmallows, eating smores and poking the embers, and enjoying the clement weather while it lasts. In the fall I love campfire cookery. It lets me play at being a cattle-drive cookie, tending the cook-fire while the roughnecks are out working the heard and riding along on the chuck wagon to the sound of clinking pans and rattling leaf springs as I cross the untamed prairie. The weenie roast gives all the glory of a fall night by the fireside without need of hardship or horsemanship, what a deal.

A poem for the day.

October's Bright Blue Weather

O SUNS and skies and clouds of June,
And flowers of June together,
Ye cannot rival for one hour
October's bright blue weather;

When loud the bumble-bee makes haste,
Belated, thriftless vagrant,
And Golden-Rod is dying fast,
And lanes with grapes are fragrant;

When Gentians roll their fringes tight
To save them for the morning,
And chestnuts fall from satin burrs
Without a sound of warning;

When on the ground red apples lie
In piles like jewels shining,
And redder still on old stone walls
Are leaves of woodbine twining;

When all the lovely wayside things
Their white-winged seeds are sowing,
And in the fields, still green and fair,
Late aftermaths are growing;

When springs run low, and on the brooks,
In idle golden freighting,
Bright leaves sink noiseless in the hush
Of woods, for winter waiting;

When comrades seek sweet country haunts,
By twos and twos together,
And count like misers, hour by hour,
October's bright blue weather.

O suns and skies and flowers of June,
Count all your boasts together,
Love loveth best of all the year
October's bright blue weather.

Helen Hunt Jackson (1830-1885)

Saturday, September 25, 2010

My Mayberry

Dear Reader,

Wednesday, September 22nd we drove into Mt. Airy, NC just ahead of an autumn thunderstorm that had been dogging us since we crossed the West Virginia state line. For a couple of hours we'd been driving in and out of downpours. In one mountain valley the weather would be clear and sunny and in the next pouring rain would make the going treacherous. The final run of road was kind to us, though, and we managed to beat the rain to our hotel on the outskirts of town. We checked into our mediocre hotel room, unpacked the few belongings we brought along for the trip, made a list of the things we managed to, and road-weary we set out to reconnoiter and find dinner in the land of Mayberry.

The drive into town was uneventful if you don't count my fatigue inspired driving. We passed the town water tower, the hospital, the fire station, and the police station before finding a parking spot in the gravel lot beside the post office. I'd just turned the car off when the rain we'd outrun in the mountains caught up with a vengeance. It fell in a straight torrent and we sat listening to it pound the rooftop while we debated what we should do.

The road makes you tired; especially nine hours - a large portion of which was spent driving across the uninspiring landscape of northern Kentucky. Still just outside, mingling with the raindrops, was a town that I'd only witnessed through the sepia-toned episodes of a television show I personally consider an emotional cure-all. Almost every work-related trauma I've suffered has been healed in no small part through visits to Mayberry, NC. I bore the rain to retrieve umbrellas from the trunk and then we set out to get our first real look at America’s most iconic small town from under the brim of an umbrella.

What did we find? A tourist trap complete with Andy and Barney paraphernalia being hawked from countrified storefronts? Maybe we found busloads of wide-through-the-middle Americans clogging the sidewalks while they took snapshots of their snot-nosed kids in front of the Andy Griffith Show opening-themed statue? Actually, none of the above.

Don’t get me wrong, Mt. Airy has made plenty of hype about their native son (according to a local news station fifty thousand visitors will be in the little town today). I kind of feel like it's fitting that they do. In some ways we're all products of where we grow up and if the place makes the man is emblematic of the place. Things get a little more complicated when that man in question is famous like Andy Griffith and the persona that is being honored is fictitious like that of Andy Taylor, the sheriff of Mayberry. Still, without the influence of his hometown, Griffith wouldn't have begat Taylor and through the TV lens and the twisted genealogy I've just outlined, the town benefits from its native sons (both real and imaginary).

Walking down the streets of Mt. Airy you'll encounter various establishments that are mentioned in the television show. There’s a Snappy Lunch Café, there’s a Bluebird Diner, and there’s even a soda shop that claims to be the inspiration for Walker’s Drugstore. Even during these troubled times all of them seem to be doing fine. Maybe there is safety in the shade of the long shadow Sheriff Taylor has cast over the collective imagination.

However, I'm departing from my story about what I found in Mt. Airy. When we stepped onto the soggy sidewalks was a little different than the television rendition of the small town but at the same time, very similar. Mt. Airy is a rugged little North Carolina town. From the post office steps you can see the weathered peaks of the Blue Ridge Mountains. On the day we arrived, the ghosts of rain clouds swept down the valleys and thunder rolled off the mountain sides. We walked along Main Street (its actual name) at eight o'clock and every store was closed. We strolled under along the awnings, window shopping like people do in Mayberry. There were kitsch storefronts as I mentioned before: The Snappy Lunch, the Bluebird Café, Opie's Candy Shop, and a few other themed stores but something struck me. Somehow, in spite of the theme, the town managed not to become a theme park. It remained a living, breathing town independent of what American culture would make it into.

We turned down a side street and found the Trio Bistro and Bar, the only place in town to get dinner. Sure, Trio is a chain but it's one of the better ones and literally it turned out to be our port in the storm. Good food and drink go a long way toward soothing the road-weary soul. Tired from nine hours on the road I sat down over salmon and bread and some time before dinner ended I realized I'd really made it. This was Mayberry at its core - outside was wet and cold but inside was safe, inside was warm, inside I had the person I loved most in the world and together we were okay no matter how hard the wind blew. We saw the museums and ate at the soda fountain, hearing stories about Andy Griffith and the things he did when he was a kid…but I found my Mayberry before any of the festivities began. That's the thing I'll never forget about this little trip to the center of America's heart.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The New Normal

Dear Reader,

This was my first week working from home (other than as a writer). It was a strange experience, something akin to playing hooky even though I spent probably more than eight hours a day hooked to my PC. I think the reason it felt like misbehaving was that those eight hours were spent trying to hammer out the basic stuff we all take for granted when we go in to an office for the daily grind. There were server issues to handle, email transitions to be made, and telephone machinations to be considered - all from the quiet sanctuary of my home office. When I used to drive into an office in the morning I would have just dropped by the IT guy's desk to make mention of any issues. Later in the day he'd shamble in, mutter at the monitor, climb around under the desk, excuse himself to go shake chicken bones at the server, and viola I'd be fixed up. Now I've got to call across a time zone and crawl through the red tape before I can get in line to get service. I'll call it progress because that makes me feel better.

I did visit the old building on Thursday. I needed to box up a few things and pay a visit to one of the people who are still working out of the place. It felt a little like returning to a murder scene. The steady decay of shutting down is progressing in earnest now, even the company name has been removed from the building's façade. I walked around the hallways, visited my old office, and after rattling around a little headed home. This is normal, now all I have to do is get used to it.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Lighten Up

Dear Reader,

Obviously the last few months have been something of a downer. It's ironic that enjoying the company of your coworkers and the job you're doing exposes you to the possibility of great disappointment and heartbreak. Pablem advice says do what you love however, doing what you love contains within it the possibility of tragedy. No bored button-presser ever laments losing the button they press.

Regardless, the point of this missive isn't to continue lamenting the state of the economy or job market. I thought it would be good to lighten things up.

"You see, Colonel Murphy, we're absolutely safe as long as this safety is engaged - why, if this little switch was in the off position we'd all have been vaporized..."

And then they were.

Later Hank would discover it actually was the cute little nicknames he gave his girlfriends that prevented his ever having a successful relationship.

Now Billy understood why his parents kept Uncle Buck locked in a trunk in the attic. It all made sense, but it was far too late…

They all laughed at Tom's little red yacht. He heard them snickering and pointing at the club. He saw the women roll their eyes and he caught the snide remarks the men made at the marina. They all thought it was so funny. They stopped laughing shortly after he gave Jarvis the order to open up with a full broadside. Yes, when the smoke cleared, Tom was the only one laughing - a high-pitched maniacal laugh that he'd keep up all the way to the padded cell at Belleview.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Slow Decay

Dear Reader,

Twenty three days until closure. That includes weekends. The death of an organization is a little like seeing a patient withering in a hospital bed. Slowly faculties decline, one week memories are there and the next they’re gone – vanished as if they’d never existed. Eventually the patient begins to hallucinate, to see ghosts. Last week I got a call from someone who used to be one of the key R&D scientists here – a genuine absent-minded professor sort. Just like in the old days, he couldn’t find something. In the old days I would have had the capacity to locate the missing item and bring it to him. Not in the dying shell of this facility, though. All I can do is walk the empty offices, check the shipping records, and ask my few remaining coworkers…all the while I know we won’t find what we’re looking for. The capacity to find it doesn’t exist any longer, all that remains is a memory of when the finding would have been possible and a faint recollection of what that felt like.

Adding to the personal sense of malaise is the fact that two weeks ago I had to move out of my office because my desk had a new job in another city. The bastard didn’t even wish me well, just packed itself up one night and headed for wherever to be with its new fling. I hope they’re happy together – I really do. Then again, some part of me can’t help but be resentful. Regardless of my emotional state, I’m sitting at the desk of a former coworker, using a laptop, and sitting on a scavenged third-rate chair that’s destined to be a fatality of this move.

About the time I got ousted from my office, the workmen showed up. They’re agents of decay, tasked with disassembling anything of and to restoring the rented space the office occupied to the state it was in when we moved in. What can be salvaged will be shipped off to other facilities across the country, what isn’t deemed sufficiently valuable will be scrapped. When we’re gone I’m sure there’ll be a shadow of what used to be here – but only a shadow, a soulless shade.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Sea of Life

Dear Reader,

Over the weekend I went to a birthday party. It was a celebration of my niece turning 18 and watching her I could almost see her looking expectantly toward a brand new life in the big, wide world. I remember that time of life. I remember standing in the tiny bedroom of my suburban Indianapolis home, looking out the south-facing window late at night. Over the asphalt shingles of suburban sprawl I could make out a single beacon – the flashing red light atop a water tower that stands in Gustafson Park. I'd stand, elbows resting on the windowsill, and watch the light flash out a message only I could interpret.

"The magic is out here." It would flash. "It's waiting on the edge of the night, just beyond the farthest you've ever travelled."

On a cool autumn night, the first breath of approaching winter would waft through that window and I could feel myself changing; turning away from the stale world of childhood and toward the hopeful dreams of adolescence. In that instance I knew the magic was out there. All I had to do was put the safety of home behind me and embrace uncertainty. I became a boat straining at its moorings, drawn by an unseen current that would carry me away from the harbors of my life and onto the open sea. That's what eighteen is – it's being filled with yearning, it's sailing beyond the reach of parental lighthouses and relying on your personal compass. My personal voyages on the Life Sea have been fraught at times. Disappointments, betrayals, and failures are the reefs and rocks that lurk beneath the waves but the glorious feeling of being the helmsman of your own life makes the risk worthwhile.

So, as I write this I sit in my half-disassembled office in a building that will be closed down in forty two days. For over a year I've been heading toward this day – the day when out of the hundred-plus people I worked with only twenty five are left. The facility seems huge and any time I venture into the hallways I'm left feeling like a widower rattling around a big house that used to be filled with life. Each empty office houses a ghost. There's the polite and old-fashioned woman who used to work in Inventory, the guy who could have been the original absent minded professor, the guy who acted as my guide for the first two months I spent at the company, and a hundred others moving silently through the empty hallways. I wonder how long they'll linger once the doors are locked. I wonder if the next tenant will sense their presence and get the shivers.

I'm staying behind to the end. At the end of the week my desk will be moving on, heading for its new job in California. I, on the other hand, will be bunking with the ghost of a former coworker. We'll share stories of the way it used to be for awhile and then I'll get back to work and she'll take her chains out to the foyer for a good rattling. Sometimes the open sea plays tricks on you and you have to sail on, always heading forward, always charting the course toward the magic.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


Dear Reader,

Lafayette Colorado, a suburb of Denver and part of the run-up to the Rockies. If you haven’t guessed, I’m on another business trip. I’ve been on the road since July 12th and it’s been a tough one. Starting with an airline without a flight crew and ending with a cancelled flight and boarding passes that won’t print from the hotel business center. Road fatigue has set in and there’s no place I’d rather be than home right now.

The whole thing has been hours of meetings followed up with the traditional dining in restaurants and trading horror stories. None of the participants in this ritual really know one another and it’s not really about human relationship. This is akin to territorial displays, if we were peacocks we’d be flaring and shaking our tail feathers. The oldest or boldest win the day and the rest are relegated to listening and providing the obligatory laughter. The tab goes to the company and we stumble back to our hotel rooms to prepare to do it all again when the sun comes up.

I’ve decided I’m not a good group traveler. Outside of my wife and cat, I prefer the company of a good GPS system. Coordinating travel through the modern American airport is something akin to arranging peace talks in the Middle East. As I said, my first flight was delayed two hours because someone forgot it wouldn’t fly itself and my flight home already has been cancelled forcing a radical reroute. Imagine trying to target hitting the receiving airport in tune with three other travelers so that you can share a rental car. I believe I would rather have do it yourself dentistry.

There also are the quirks to deal with. I’m all for individuality – writing would be a very dull affair if every human being on the planet had a nice, level personality without irritating habits and grating tendencies. I will say that these oddities are a lot easier to tolerate when you have some emotional connection with the oddity’s owner. When you’re travelling for business the quirks become an irritating nucleus that’ll never morph into a pearl. However, at the end of the trip when you’re shut into your hotel room on that last night before the flight out, the absence of those irritations become a sort of vacuum. You’re left with your fatigue, longing for home, and the throbbing of the elevator down the hall and somehow that feels – empty.

On my last trip I wrote chapters. This time I’ve only got a few paragraphs and a little editing to show for myself. At three in the morning I head back into the whirlwind of the airport with the happy knowledge the turmoil will deliver me home again. In the meantime I can only pray for clear skies and no middle row seats.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Dear Reader,

Summer is long, hot, and listless. It's only just begun and already the days seem to stretch out, hazy morning becoming humid day before transitioning into steamy night. Only the thunderstorms that roll across the Midwest break the stagnant routine. They keep a regular schedule, showing up around five and working a shift that any vampire could be proud of. Late at night I wake to the staccato taps of the first raindrops on my windowpane. The bedroom vibrates with the light of distant lightning and I count—one-Mississippi, two-Mississippi, three-Mississippi before the sound arrives. The seconds between flash and boom are breathless, alive in the way only the mysterious life of nature can be alive. I lay in bed torn between two halves of myself.

The kid inside me wants to run outside, feel the breath of the approaching storm on his face and the yearning warm grass under his feet. He wants to stare up into the roiling clouds and wonder at the arc light that flickers in their bellies. He wants to feel those raindrops, cool and refreshing, striking his face and driving back the heat of summer for an hour or two.

The adult worries about things like whether the surge protector in the UPS connected to his computer would stop a power spike. He obsesses over the gutter that the maintenance crew hasn't fixed, the one that will spill rainwater on the deck and send waterfalls streaming down the siding. He thinks about the National Geographic special on lighting strikes, how more people are killed each year by lightning than tornadoes, and how dangerous it would be to go outside to gawk at the storm even though he'd secretly like to.

We all lay, having this convoluted discussion among ourselves while thunderheads sail across the land. Their billowing sails reach for the stars and they eclipse the moon as they set an easterly course. It's as if the pilgrims arrived, took a tour of the country, and decided they were better off in the old world. They head for the dark and boundless Atlantic firing goodbye salvos as they go.

When the storms pass the night is still and ripe. Droplets catch the light of the moon's freshly washed face and lightning bugs scale grassy masts, blinking their intent to the darkness. The retreating lightning is nothing more than an electric postcard, sent from the east filled with memories of times gone by and finished off with a rumbling signature. I sink into my pillow and close my eyes, thinking about tomorrow and the tomorrows that will follow and all of their deadlines, disappointments, and challenges. But I dream about riding the wind on a hot summer night.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

For Whom the Bell Tolls

Dear Reader,

I apologize in advance for the fact that lately everything I'm adding to the blog seems to be about the impending implosion of my second job (that is the one that's not being a writer). Unfortunately, while waiting for the second edit of Time of Death to come back from the publisher and slugging away at the last half of my Cinder Girl manuscript the only events of note seem to be the steady goings of my colleagues.

Today was our HR representative's last day. Nobody mourns the going of someone from human resources. In the modern workplace it de rigueur to express contempt for all things related to the department. Maybe far too many HR reps don't represent anything human at all, instead being a corporate organ devoted to the enforcement of self-beneficial policy and obfuscation. All I can say is that, in the case of my small corner of the world, that wasn't the fact. Having our HR rep was a little like having an easily angered terrier in your corner – and I mean that in the most positive way possible even though it might not sound that way!

Regardless, nobody mourns. Perhaps after losing so many fellow employees, those of us who are left can't muster the spirit for heartfelt fare-thee-wells. I'm not certain of the reasons but there wasn't any card circulating around for signatures, there wasn't any goodbye lunch held at some noisy local restaurant, and there wasn't a group meeting to express thanks - only the quiet progression of emptying offices and disappearing faces. The rolling wheel of this last year runs over another victim and continues down the road.

107 days remain, and each promises to be a little more depressing than the last.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Hard Work

Dear Reader,

The real work started this week. I'm over half-way through the first edit of The Cinder Girl and it's time to go back to chapter one to start a hard edit.

Creating is fun; you're rambling along with the story and finding where it takes you. Every chapter is a new discovery. As an author, I believe it's the closest you can come to experiencing your novel in the same way your reader will. You're navigating a new country without a map (at least if you write like I do) and the only way to find out what's on the opposite side of that next mountain is to climb it.

Editing, on the other hand, is a bit like farming the ground you've discovered. Lewis and Clark might have mapped the Northwest Passage but they didn't build the roads and bridges, carve out the settlements, pull stumps from the fields, and plant the crops to sustain the townsfolk. To edit a novel is to work its soil, to improve its fertility and harvest every bit of creative fruit possible. It's hard work. In one week I've managed (along with writing two chapters) to edit just seven five pages of printed manuscript. In the process it grew to seven pages of (I hope) better constructed story. I'm telling you, it's tilling the soil!

The best things aren't the always the easiest, I guess. When the work is done I feel good about it, I'm proud of what I've achieved. Sitting in my office on a Saturday afternoon, hammering out paragraphs, it seems like it'd sure be nice to nail it the first time through, though!

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Demise

Dear Reader,

I should have done this sooner. It's something that's been a major part of my life for the last year and I haven't really made more than a passing reference to the fact that it's happening. Since April of 2009 some portion of my waking consciousness has been focused on this thing. It's lurked behind the good and bad news of the year passed, hanging around like smoke in the atmosphere. The dire thing I'm writing about, of course, is the closure of the office where I work and the displacement of the 300-some workers who've made their livings working there.

Until now I've never experienced a plant shutting down. I've worked places where I knew the company was taking on water but, in those cases, the company in question had so many other flaws I felt good to climb into a lifeboat. Hearing those companies went under never felt good but it did give me a certain feeling of validation – a feeling that I foresaw the coming disaster and had the wisdom to get myself out. This time, at least for me, the experience is different. It's different in two ways really.

Firstly, I've never stayed until all the furniture was gone and the doors locked. This time, as a part of my own succession plan, I'll be doing just that. It's like making your home in a hospice, every day someone else is gone. You hear about people who are moving on or will be moving on, you walk passed darkened offices where people you knew used to work, you see the possessions and files being boxed up and labeled for shipment, and the only constant seems to be your playing witness.

Secondly, I've never been working at a really good company when this happened. Sure, some of them were okay and some even had a few good people working for them – but the signs of their demise showed in petty managers, poor or adversarial policies, lack of direction, dry product pipelines, and a hundred other little ways. Not so this time. I can honestly say this is the first place I've worked that really had it all – it encompassed the close-knit feeling of a small company with the resources of a large one, the staff was damned smart, and the policies were geared toward doing the right things for the right reasons. In spite of all those things on October 1, 2010 this facility will close down and all of the jobs were transfer elsewhere. On that day I'll walk out the door for the last time and then the building will go quiet.

Maybe it's the last quarter of existence that's got me in a certain dark mood today. Maybe it's the realization that time is really short that's driven me to write about this subject in what is truthfully a writer's blog, not a diary. I hope you'll forgive my spending time musing over something that's not about writing but then, isn't it? Isn't a writer formed from the experiences they have throughout life? Isn't every moment, every encounter, and every chance happening, traumatic or benign, fuel for creating new characters and new stories? Possibly.

I'll keep you updated on the major happenings in these last months. Maybe something will spring from these missives and maybe it'll just be a record of how I felt in this time and space. Either way, I hope you'll pardon my occasional fixation on matters other than writing.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Website Updates and Progress on Novel

Dear Reader,

For a week of vacation, this has been a productive week! I have 40k words on my latest novel and I’ve completed a total revamp of my website. The site that used to be Ghosts of the Mind is now The Gentleman from Indiana website. I’ve reformatted the site and added new content, so take a few minutes to stop by.

As for the novel, I’m about half way through. The goal is to finish the first draft and edits by the end of the summer and to have it edited and ready for submission to publishers by the end of 2010. With luck it will be taken up by a publisher and you’ll be able to find it at your local bookstore after that. I’ll keep you updated on my progress.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

A Working Vacation

Dear Reader,

Over the past week I’ve been hard at writing and doing it full time. You see I’ve been on a vacation of sorts. Not the type where you pack up your bags and board a liner bound for the great mysterious somewhere else or even the jump in the car, point the steering wheel in some random direction, and figure out what to do once you get there kind. I’ve been on a working vacation.

The gist of the working vacation is simple. You take time off work so that you can – work. In my case that means taking time off the bread and butter job to hammer out a few chapters in the new novel. Yes, I’ve traded days stuck in the office, staring at a computer screen for days in the home office, staring at a computer screen. For variety I huddle over a journal, penning passages that later are translated into the computer. It’s a thrilling life that only those with a strong constitution should endeavor to undertake.

I guess the general point, though, is the whole work angle of writing has really come home to me this week. It’s one thing to steal an hour during lunch or between doing this or that to pen a few paragraphs but a whole new animal to sit down at a desk with the whole day spread out before you and nothing but the story to kill the hours. Wonderful things happen when you’re that free but then, not so wonderful things do too. What’s more, you make interesting discoveries about yourself and your writing style.

I’ve discovered just how much I need change to write effectively. Many authors need a stable, quiet environment in which to do their best writing. They thrive on consistency, on feeling at peace. Personally, I need to shake it up a little to get the words flowing. I write well in a car or on a plane, I get a lot of good out of alternating between composing at the computer and in longhand, essentially I need to harvest the energy that comes with change. This doesn’t mean I can’t create while sitting in my office in the quiet. On the contrary, that is the time I get my editing, rethinking, reimagining, and refining done. While I can pen a new chapter while wedged behind the wheel of my car parked in a lot behind the local supermarket during lunch hour, I can’t edit for squat under those same conditions.

I like to think this makes me an interesting author. I’m not sure, maybe it really just makes me quirky. Regardless it reinforces something a writing instructor once said to me. There is no one right way to write – do what you need to do and you’ll get the most out of your talent

The Fountain Pen

Dear Reader,

You might have noticed my recent missive on the death of one of my favorite pens. It wasn't the cheapest of writing devices but, to be honest, it was a disposable pen. Still there was something about it, some kind of attachment that made me actually feel sorry when it reached the end of its life and spilled its last bit of ink on paper. It started me thinking about writing and writing instruments and, generally, the handwritten word.

The first functional fountain pen was patented by Louis Waterman in 1884. Earlier, ink-carrying writing devices preceded Waterman's pen – a Frenchman named M. Bion designed one in 1702 and Peregrin Williamson, a Boston shoemaker, patented a pen in 1809. Schaefer and Parker also had pen (or pen-like devices) before Waterman; however all were plagued by ink spills and weren't widely used. Waterman's design attempted to rectify some of the most irritating failures of previous pens by adding an air hole to the nib and three grooves inside the ink reservoir. The end result of Waterman's experimentation was a more reliable pen with fewer ruined documents.

It's interesting to think that, since the nib of a pen wore down according to the way the writer used it; a fountain pen essentially became broken in, conforming to the writing style of the owner. Up until the invention of the ballpoint pen (1945), pens were as personal as clothing.

The mention of the disposable ink pen brings me back to my old faithful Precise V5. Like the fountain pen, the V5 is far from the perfect writing instrument – the ink can smear, some V5's put down ink like a paint roller, they can leak, and taking one up in an airplane should only be undertaken if you have a change of clothing because the pressure will drive the ink right out of the reservoir. It is, however, one of my weapons of choice when it comes to putting word on page. I've been looking for a good fountain pen and I've even gotten a set of Pilot Varsity disposable fountain pens just for the novelty but the V5 will always be a favorite.

Recently, however, I've been using a new pen for my longhand composition. The Varsity is a disposable fountain pen made by Pilot. It is available in a range of colors (good if you're making corrections and notes on a manuscript) and unlike some disposable fountain pens I've used, has a metal nib. So far the writing is smooth and I haven't encountered any problems with smearing or leaking. Not a replacement for the V5 but a change of pace, for certain.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Looking Back...

Dear Reader,

This is not a travel blog, it is a blog dedicated to writing. I keep repeating this phrase to myself as I put pixel to paper. In the wake of a - less than pleasurable - travel experience, however, I felt like posting something on the subject. Rather than tossing around accusations and uncouth inferences I thought that I would roll about in the nostalgia patch until I got the stink of modernity off myself.

The Stratocruiser was a pre-jet age plane that provided trans-Atlantic and coast to coast service to air travellers between 1947 and 1963. It was big and graceless, with four droning piston-driven engines keeping it in the sky, but inside its polished aluminum skin existed a world that travellers might dream wistfully of today. I offer diagrams.

Oh for the days when an airplane offered private staterooms and a forward berth with an attached bedroom. Surely a luxury item beyond the pocketbook of a poor, struggling novelist but knowing the possibility existed means something. If you look at the "custom-designed cabin" you'll note - no more than two seats per row and they have space between them. One might not feel like a canned sardine in a cabin like that! One might feel human and be inclined to dress for travel instead of wearing pajamas and sweat pants. Then again, I imagine in days gone by a trip through security didn't have so many similarities to being abducted by aliens.

I'm intrigued by the lower deck "Hawaiian Lounge". A part of me wants to believe there were shows with guys in grass skirts twirling flaming batons. It wouldn't be wise but it would be thrilling. Then again it'd be thrilling to order a tiki drink at thirty thousand feet while sitting at a bar instead of having service consist of trying to juggle a laptop, napkin, and plastic cup on a tray-table with your knees shoved under your chin.

The British Speedbird included men's and women's dressing rooms, a hat and coat room, and a snack bar. Personally I'm intrigued by the spiral staircase. Somewhat less descriptive (or imaginative) cutaway here but still - look at the midships cabin. Notice two seats per row and space between? In the late forties and fifties people had elbows. When the seventies came they were surgically removed at birth to assist with neat stacking of passengers on increasingly crowded mass transit. By 2050 I'm told we won't have legs below the knees, that way there can be two floors of five seat rows on DC9's.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Farewell, Dear Friend

Dear Reader,

Last night I killed another pen. Well, “kill” is probably too strong a word – it ran out of ink. Still, as I sat staring at the drained writing instrument, I felt a slight pang of sadness for seeing it go. You see, I’m a writer who doesn’t compose everything on the virtual typewriter of a word processor. Occasionally I go through a period where words and ideas flow best from the tip of a pen.

This is especially true when I’m travelling. For some reason the vacuum of an airport draws ideas from my pen and at ten-thousand feet, while crammed in the window seat, I get pages of text. The same is true of hotel rooms. Something about the feelings of emptiness that come in a place that is meant to look like home but isn’t sparks my creativity. The pen is the vector through which this infection of ideas is transmitted to paper.

So it was with sadness I said goodbye to my Precise V5 fine point. Its blue ink saw the heroes of my latest novel from the doorstep of their homes to the gateway of the untamed wilderness. It was a trusty friend, a reliable antenna to the muse, and I will miss it.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Now on Twitter

Dear Reader,

I wanted to drop a quick note from the road. Presently, I’m in California tending to business but I had a bit of time to set up a Twitter account. Eventually I’ll manage to figure out how to connect Twitter to The Gentleman from Indiana Blog without blowing up the look of the blog – for the moment you can find me under the ID “yarn_spinner”.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Vanishing Words

Dear Reader,

I hope you will forgive my doing a rare blogging double-dip today. Generally I tend to space my posts out (it placates my inner laggard) but today the ideas wouldn't be satisfied with sitting in quietly the queue. Compartmentalization seemed the best course of action. Why not get as much mileage out of this productive spree as possible? So there are my excuses and justifications, take them as you will.

What I'm writing about is an episode of the radio program Radio Lab. Some of you may be familiar with the highly produced show out of New York's WNYC. The hosts excel at inducing mental lapses in me. If I tune in I soon find myself staring into the middle distance, totally engrossed in the tale that's pouring out of my headphones. Such is was the case with the recent piece entitled Vanishing Words.

I recommend you listen to this piece since my synopsis can't do it justice. The crux is this: Agatha Christie wrote a great deal of fiction during her long career and recently a scientist has started to analyze the substance of her writing. He has gotten what he believes may be a glimpse into things that the author herself may not have realized about herself. The words Christie used to compose her mysteries may indicate the author was developing Alzheimer's disease. As I said, I recommend you listen to the program, it's very thought provoking.

It's fascinating to think that in everything you write there is a hidden piece of yourself. Behind the biases, prejudices, and habits we all possess, behind our individual style and education, behind our regional tendencies, there are the fingerprints of our mind. There may be a day when biographers add another data source to their toolkit: forensic analysis of documents. A hundred years from now someone might be combing through published works, attempting to divine whether a particular author had a particular mental condition or the exact moment when their mental capacity to write began to decline.

A strange sadness accompanies that thought. In the past few days I've been ruminating on empty spaces and shadows and this idea of missing words creates a lonely trinity. It seems every time you walk through an empty room you leave some phantom of yourself behind. A pale shade of who you were lingers in every hallway you walked, every empty elevator you rode, and ever deserted parking lot you crossed. Our youth sits in disused classrooms and boarded up hotspots, listening to silent music and waiting.

National Teachers Day

Dear Reader,

In high school I had the good fortune of being able to take a creative writing class. The instructor was John Combs, and he was fantastic. I remember him as a man who passionately believed in writing and that every child in his classroom might, someday, become a writer. During the one hour a day I spent in Mr. Comb's class I felt special. I no longer was a mediocre student–just another kid from a blue-collar family who only could aspire to climbing one rung further up the corporate ladder than his parents. For an hour I became someone in the most mystical sense of that word. No other teacher had such a positive impact on my life. I owe Mr. Combs a debt of gratitude.

So, here's a belated National Teachers Day hats off to you, Mr. Combs–wherever you are. Hopefully you've written a wonderful story for yourself and you're busy living it right now.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

'Tis Spring

Dear Reader,

Pardon my recent absence. A bad bout of life in its most fundamental broke out, taking me by surprise and forcing me to spend a few weeks in the ward of consumerism. In short everything in the house decided to break at once and I've been fixing, reassembling, and replacing since. I promise to share my views on the sinister nature of appliances on some future date. I'm under doctor's orders to maintain a pleasant disposition until everything heals so I'll purposefully digress.

Finally the first redress of Time of Death is complete. Rogue sentences have been tamed, errant ideas rechanneled, and the clean copy has been sent back to the publishers for its second culling. With spring pressing on the windowpanes I'm reminded of how much writing resembles gardening. There are weeds to pull, rows to hoe, and ideas to furrow into what hopefully is fertile ground. Now, with everything neatly tucked into its bed I'm left to wait for the sprouting. Five Star's tentative release date is September 2011 (mark your calendars). My garden intuition says that is a long time to wait for something to sprout. Maybe that's the flaw in my whole garden metaphor.

The off time won't be wasted, though. I'm in the midst of two science fiction novels, one with the preliminary title The Cinder Girl and another which is still lurking around my desktop without a name. Before old nameless is completed I'll be spending time on the follow-up to Time of Death. If that's not enough, there's a fantasy and a literary novel kicking about in the darker regions of my brain. Evidence suggests spring is a season where ideas and hares frolic madly and multiply.

Friday, April 16, 2010


Dear Reader,

Spring has arrived and with it the sense of renewal everyone's so fond of talking about. I'm a winter person myself. I can't say exactly why. Maybe I enjoy the long, dreaming slumber and the imagining of possibilities before the hard work of manifesting them. It probably would take a psychologist (or maybe a philosopher) to sort out the truth. Still, with all of that said, I'm not totally adverse to the whole renewal, re-growth, and reinvention thing. It would be difficult to be a writer while sticking strictly to imagining your stories without ever revising them and revision is impossible so I embrace the season's growth even if I don't look forward to the mosquitoes.

A few days ago, in the spirit I mentioned, I ventured into the deepest recesses of my closet and brought out a relic. Probably twenty years ago I bought a Canon TL QL 35mm camera from a coworker. It was, at that time, ten years old and had seen many of life's rough patches. I like to imagine it'd ventured across the ocean to Viet Nam where some soldier or civilian used it to document the conflagration that had set fire to east and west. I like thinking that because it helps the winter side of me justify holding on to a thirty-plus year old camera that I haven't used in at least ten years. The writer in me likes believing the story because it's got a romance about it and might make the backbone of a short story if properly parsed. The realistic side of me has to admit that, knowing the guy I bought the camera from, it's unlikely the Canon ever saw anything more daring than taking pictures of buddies water skiing and drinking beer.

None the less, I drug out the battered leather case and pulled out the heavy camera for a dusting off and refurbishing. The batteries were long-since dead and a couple of them had puked their acidic guts up, corroding the battery terminals and requiring a baking soda scrubbing. I had to order a battery for the camera's onboard light meter - shipped from some distant port that the camera itself may or may not have visited. And in the end I found that the light meter which I'd went to the trouble of ordering that battery to power, no longer functions. I debated purchasing an external light meter to replace the onboard one - but then I thought. This is a thirty year old camera. I put all the camera components back in their boxes and stowed them away again. There is a time when renewal fails.

One great thing about writing is that renewal need never meet mechanical failure. Words don't corrode and if they don't work, a bit of mental gymnastics usually will accomplish the necessary repairs. This is something I'm discovering as I go through the first round of edits for Time of Death. Some of the words I stored inside the story have gotten tarnished or failed but they can be renewed and refurbished.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Pushing the Kid out the Door

Dear Reader,

Last week I sat at my desk with two envelopes sealed and waiting. The first, an eight-by-eleven manila, contained signed and witnessed copies of contracts for my forthcoming novel Time of Death. The second, a standard mailing envelope, contained a completed author's sheet for my publisher with the form dealing with the legal permissions. I sat there, staring at the envelopes and feeling a strange sense of unease. This was, after all, the accomplishment of a long-held dream – becoming a published novelist – and even though mailing off the paperwork equated to taking the final step into the dream, I felt…well…nervous.

The cliché goes that any creative venture is, in a way, a child of your imagination. You labor long hours, shaping, refining, and generally muscling it into something presentable and then there comes that moment when you must let go. The work will stand or fall on its own virtue as a reflection of the effort you put into its formation. All the creator can do is stand aside, trust, and wait.

Surely, for me, there's plenty of work to be done before the final letting go. I've signed the contracts and mailed them off and now I wait the assignment of an editor and the heavy-lifting that's to come. I'm sure my creative child needs a lot of schooling and a fair amount of discipline before being ready to enter the public. I guess if I had one bit of advice for the aspiring writer (I'm still in this category so I'm half saying this to myself) it would be not to fall into the trap of believing the work is completed when the manuscript is finished.

Friday, February 19, 2010

In Memory of a Dear Friend...

Dear Reader,

I bring you sad news - truly a tale of terror fit for a noir thriller. It is the story of a dear friend of mine, Frosty. You may be familiar with Frosty, many people are. He's a happy soul - some might say jolly with his dark eyes and button nose and ever-present pipe caught in the corner of a happy smile. Frosty was a fellow who could almost magically lift the spirits of a room when he walked in. He'd doff his silk and in that way of his, ask the ladies to dance - soon all the worries of the world vanished.

Even children loved Frosty. Those who know me will be aware that I'm not particularly fond of the little cusses. They make me nervous and generally run amok given even the shortest span of leash to run with. Not Frosty, though. He saw them as windows into his own childlike spirit, muses sent to bring out the playful essence that lurked within. Yes, put Frosty in a room with a flock of kids and soon they'd all be running and romping together. In a way I envy his comfort with the younger set.

Well, late last year Frosty met a lady and fell hard. Immediately I was concerned - she didn't seem his sort. I'd always pictured Frosty as the sort of guy who'd go for a jolly, well-rounded lady who shared his cheerful disposition and mischievous streak. Knowing that, you'll understand why I was taken aback when he showed up with a wasp-waisted brunette in a tight red sweater. I told myself the unease I felt was more due to my preconceptions being shattered than any real gripe or concern with his choice of companionship. Every man is entitled to be happy and the Frost-man certainly seemed to be just that. Happy.

So, I played along when he traded in his old top hat for a porkpie and his fine clothes for trendy garb. I ignored the fact he spent more time at the track than with his old friends. I didn't even say anything when he started drinking - bourbon on the rocks, I should have realized he was on the downhill slide. We all ignored the changes in his personality, his clashes with the police, and his public acts of indiscretion. If a man wants to trot about the square, that's his own business - right?

Then, one night with spring on the cusp of breaking, he disappeared. He left the club, muttering something about having to hurry. The last I saw him he waved jauntily from the doorway and then disappeared. None of us could have imagined he would be gone from our lives so soon.

The police were summoned to the Frosty residence on a call from the mysterious brunette. His body was discovered in the freezer and, though I find the explanation ridiculous, the coroner's report would say he fell in and the door shut behind him. The police say his blood alcohol level was so high that it's likely he never felt a thing. The brunette, sole beneficiary in Frosty's will, soon disappeared - moved to Florida I hear tell.

I will try not to think of Frosty's springtime demise but I have to say, whenever the calendar turns and the temperatures climb it will be hard not to think of my dear friend. I'll look out over the snowy hills, wipe a tear away, and I'll remember we'll be together again some day…

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

More Snow, More Validation

Dear Reader,

Another night and Mother Nature has provided another storm. This one is more of a show than anything serious - three or four inches of snow through the day and as the sun set the wind began to moan through the bare cottonwoods outside my office window. Before night fell I watched snow blowing up from the reservoir and across the road, forming drifts when it met any obstacle that couldn't easily be circumvented. Sitting here, warm and safe, I'm reminded again of how much I love winter. Of all seasons, winter seems to be the most mysterious - the most untamed and unmanageable.

I heard that the east coast is getting more than two feet of new snow to top up the two-plus feet they received over the weekend. It's possibly because I don't have to deal with that kind of snow that I sit and wistfully dream of feet of fresh powder slowing the city to a halt. I find many times my fancy for certain things is governed by having no experience with them.
Another thing that has my heart feeling fine this evening is the fact the publisher's preliminary contract came through today. With my reply I should receive a copy to sign in short order. Thus another hurdle in selling my first novel seem real has been cleared. Validation (like all happiness) comes in small servings and should be savored!

Saturday, February 6, 2010


Dear Reader,

The storm arrived for brunch. It started with tiny flakes that disappeared as soon as they touched the relative warmth of the ground and by noon the air was filled with big, sloppy clusters that splattered juicily like overripe winter fruit when they encountered any obstacle. Through the day the storm lingered and the city’s inhabitants gathered at windows to assess and fret over road conditions and traffic tie ups. By two o’clock the office had virtually shut down and when I found my way to the parking lot my car had been thoroughly encased in a frosting of snow and ice.

I’ve always had an affinity for snow. Maybe it comes from growing up at the tail end of an era when every winter meant at least one hefty snow would grace our city and that there’d be the off chance school would be canceled. As a grade school boy I benefited from the last true blizzard to hit Indiana. In 1978 I woke to find that all the world had been turned to winter. I remember watching from the picture window of our little suburban ranch house as a drift slowly built until it nearly reached the eaves. I’ve never outgrown the feeling that school might be cancelled due to inclement weather and it’s for that reason I’ll never want to move to some tropical paradise where temperatures never dare drop below fifty.

Snow turns the world silent – if only for a moment. It eliminates the world of deadlines, schedules, and expectations and slows everything down. From my window I see pines frosted with fresh snow and a landscape that rolls like a down blanket. It won’t last but while it does I feel a lovely sense of peace.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


Dear Reader,

Wonderful news today, my first novel Time of Death has found a home! On January 19th I received word from Five Star Publishing that they would be purchasing my manuscript.

Writing is a funny business. You spend your time laboring away over the keyboard – pounding away at the keys and burning up synapses to create what you believe is a great story, you edit heartily to prune everything up into a presentable shape, and then you send your work off firmly believing you will be rejected. In no other business is the performer so convinced that all their efforts will come to naught. Yet we keep going.

Perhaps being a writer is a form of insanity – it’s worth considering. Unfortunately, as soon as you’ve come to the decision that you’re crazy you sell a piece and the whole cycle of insanity is revived.

Now I wait for contact from the publisher. Probably an editor who will help me with further pruning and shaping – it’s the hard part of the job, the part that isn’t fun. In the end, though, what comes out will be tighter, better written, and more pleasurable to read. I once attended a writer’s conference where Margaret Atwood, author of The Handmaid’s Tale. She said something at that conference that has stuck with me, “If you sell a novel you’ll start editing – by the time you finish editing you will hate your novel.”

I hope I don’t wind up hating it – I put a lot of work into it to hate what I created!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

More Airports, More Transition

Dear Reader,

Traveling seems to be my obsession lately. Maybe it’s a part of the general unrest that’s become my work life lately. With insecurity surely must come unrest and there’s nothing more restless than the modern airport. It’s a place of transience, a hallway between two states.

The first state is physical – you are traveling and that, reasonably, entails moving from one place to another. As I sit at the terminal, waiting for my flight, I watch dusty travelers bound for destinations across the country and around the world. There are the vanquished fans of the visiting football team, the road-weary business travelers heading for the next corporate call, and then there is the endless stream of bleary-eyed refugees. Even the flight crews are just passing through – either on their way to their next plane or home for a little sleep before taking off again.

The transition is more than physical, though. When I step through the doors and walk into the ticketing level of IND, my mental attitude changes. I’ve long lauded the ‘old fashion’ concept of air travel – the days when boarding a plane and was part of the enjoyment of traveling. There’s something lovely and nostalgic about pictures of stewardesses with little airline hats pushing carts of complementary comfort items down the broad aisle between rows of seats and travelers who dressed (jacket and tie and a nice dress for the ladies) to travel. Merely going from ticketing area to terminal destroys that image – the process is something like passing through a Star Trek transporter where you are disassembled molecule by molecule and reassembled on the other side of the x-ray machines. No amount of nostalgia can survive such a trip – its hard enough to maintain your dignity.

Security isn’t the problem. I don’t think you could find a single person who’d like to reduce airport security to the level that would allow crazies with exploding underwear to board of their own volition. Personally, I believe the blame for the death of pleasurable air travel on a variety of factors. Airports have become ticket kiosks attached to low quality, over priced strip malls. Airlines no longer have to provide service. Unless flying first class and on a luxury carrier the traveler is considered an irritating inconvenience instead of a customer. The airlines have strangled the service they provide down to the utter minimum and shoehorned as many travelers as possible into the smallest amount of space. And, unfortunately, I’m sure that it only will get worse until the air travel industry is forced to reinvent itself.

So, I sit here at terminal B7 waiting for my flight to Dallas. It isn’t dawn outside and when I look out the cantilevered windows I only see the lights of the waking city, the blinking indicators of the runways, and my own reflection. Everything else is uncertainty, a dark canvas to be filled in by the light that time will bring. After tomorrow I may have a secure future, a great new job, and an assurance that my life can move forward in some trajectory that resembles what I’d hoped for before the Great Economic Decline. Then again, maybe there’s only more uncertainty out there – another airport and more waiting and wondering.