A monster.


It’s organized chaos. These days, we live by the calendar. I don’t know what’s happening from one moment to the next unless I’m fully engaged, looking at or talking about the schedule in the calendar.

youthI don’t remember it being this way when I was young. Life didn’t seem so scheduled back then. I did what I was told and had fun not paying attention to much else but the world in front of me. The simplicity of youth. Now it’s complicated. Kids’ schedule, my schedule, my wife’s schedule, my damn dog has a schedule sometimes. The gerbil might even come up on the calendar now and then. It’s ridiculous. And necessary, right?

What if it wasn’t? Oh glory. Another name for vacation could be Calendar Free Week, unless of course one schedules while on vacation. I refuse. No scheduling on vacation. It ruins the relaxation — I don’t want to have to do anything. I want to choose to do something, spur of the moment is my favorite.

Our family needs the calendar. There’s too much going on not to have it; but someday, when my wife and I are old and gray, I’d like tooldCouple think that we will pay attention to nothing but the day ahead. The moments will unfold before us like life’s little surprises. we’ll walk a dirt path to a river, pond, a lake or the ocean. We’ll relax among the bugs and birds while the sun shines on our smiling, schedule-free faces. A utopian idea, I know, but what the hell, it’s fun to think about when I’m in between scheduling.

A persistent villain.

shutterstock_337825361When it comes to writing, I’ve been called a grinder. Talent lurks in the shadows, but mainly I work my ass off. I’m persistent, I take criticism on the chin and push forward. I’m teachable and determined to succeed. This hasn’t come easy. I’m not known for self-discipline.

I learned late in life that I can’t just snowboard, surf, party, go to work and all will be right with the world. I didn’t party so much, but man did I get good at surfing and snowboarding. To this day I stave off the adolescent who wants to stay up late, eat cheesecake, binge watch an awesome show, leave my dishes in the sink and still have life be awesome. It’s sad but true. Now, I self-parent.

I work from home. No one is putting me on a deadline, telling me what to do or checking in on my progress. It’s all me. I’m getting better at it, but I know I can get good at it. When I keep that in mind, I persist. Small accompliments, like publishing a short story, are victories — a positive feedback loop telling my subconscious that the discipline I have self inflicted is working.

Waking up every day to grind out a story, not knowing where it will lead, is Sisyphean. Although Sisyphus’s chore was a punishment from The Gods, it fits in the metaphor of what I do every day. Wake up, feed kids, get kids to school, come home, write, exercise (sometimes), pick up from school, make dinner, go to bed, repeat. At the end of the day I can say that life is pretty good, discipline is just a part of it.





My father died on March 18, 2014.

His friends created a book of poems and tributes for him.


The following is a forward I wrote for the book.

A Restless Farewell

March 13, 2014, 6:00pm

It’s quite possibly happening, the death of my father. I’ve thought of this many times. I’ve been close with him and the dance of death more than once. It never changes, this feeling of fear for the finite fact of life.

March 16, 2014, 10:00pm

Audio hallucinations started last night. He’s dying. Slowly. Respiratory failure. Those of us on the outside equate it to drowning. Lungs fill with fluid, inflammation causes interstitial tissue damage and  his body can’t fight it much longer. With the help of morphine his brain will not think it’s lacking oxygen. He will hallucinate much like the climbers of K2. The high-flow oxygen that’s gently forcing his airway to stay open keeps him alive.

I was the one who had to explain this to him earlier in the day.

“Your lungs are filling with scar tissue. The oxygen… The amount of oxygen you need to stay alive is only available in the hospital.”

He stared at me, I could see confusion behind his thick glasses. He said, “Right. I can stay here forever. Unless it’s money. If it’s money, I won’t stay alive. I won’t bankrupt you two.”

My sister, stoic with a patience perfect and elegant, nodded and smiled. She had done so much already. It was my turn to put on a face.

“When the steroid treatment is over then we will know,” I said.

“But if they don’t work, I stay here. Like I said. In the hospital. I like this room. I’m comfortable.”

My sister started to cry.

Memories of our trips to Mexico and Canada flashed before me as the words, “The doctors aren’t hopeful”, passed across my lips. He might have cried at that moment.

March 18, 2014, Sunrise.

The waiting room looks out over the city of San Francisco. A Heron cuts the skyline as the sun rises. The tragic beauty of this moment gives me the courage to face a decision every son who loves his father fears most.

My two sisters, my cousin and I held hands in a circle around his bed when the oxygen was turned off. We cried over him while he took his last breaths. I can’t remember who closed his eyes for him.

I read once that a son truly becomes a man only when he loses his father. Maybe. I feel different, more alone in the world but not more manly.

At the time of death there is no fault. All of us will cross that threshold one way or another.  I held his hand, told him he was not alone and that I loved him.  For that I’m grateful.

The day a loved one dies — especially one who was close — is heart wrenching. We must come to terms with death at some point in our lives. Thinking that my father is somewhere other than where I am at this moment provides comfort. However, in the words of Iris DeMent, I think I’ll just let the mystery be.

It sneaks up on you.rendered

As a writer, being alone at a desk and putting words on a page is what must happen. I can’t be in meetings, having a conversation or multitasking when I write. The world I write about is in my head. Alone. Weird but true.

renderedWhen I’m on day five of not going outside, not shaving, wearing the same sweat pants and I stink, I need to get out. No big deal. I shower, shave, put new clothes on and walk the dog, go to a coffee shop or just stand outside for a while. I’m still alone, but I look better. If I look better, I feel better. What I’m missing in these moments is someone to tell me to get my shit together, get outside and talk to an adult. It’s a positive feedback loop that involves another person. This person is usually my wife, but sometimes she just shakes her head and is thankful the kids are fed.

When I don’t have solitude, I crave it. When I have too much, I force myself to interact. There’s a balance and I’m still trying to find it.


I’m in the Gutter.


I finally got a story published. It’s short. Real short. In less than one thousand words, I tell a story about a Marshal with a heart condition and a gambling problem who shows up to collect on an Arabian horse he won in a card game. Unfortunately for him, the horse resides on the property of a villain.

Have a read. If you like it,comment on it and share it. This really helps with readership and my future success as a crime fiction writer. If you don’t like it, comment on it and share it —  all of it still helps!  Above all, enjoy it.

There’s Just No Figuringairmen-rightside-full_FPO


A villain we all know.


I’ve been in regular physical therapy sessions for about two years and I still get debilitating back spasms. Three weeks ago, I had to use a cane to get my kids to school. They thought it was cool. It’s not.

One doctor told me a bone spur in my neck was the cause. Another told me it was a twisted 4th Lumbar Vertebrae pulling at my ribs. I’ve been to chiropractors, General Practitioners, Naturopaths, Acupuncturists, Massage Therapists and Surgeons. It boils down to pain management and discipline. I do the exercises and stretches and someday I’ll be strong again.

I hate waiting for it to be “fixed.” I hate the exercises and the stretches.  I want to be lazy, forget about my body and do other stuff — that won’t work. My son wants to wrestle, but “daddy has back pain.” My daughter wants to race, roller skate, play lacrosse, but “daddy has back pain.” I’m determined to beat the pain, win the battle and be the father my kids want and need.

My friend, Joe Clifford has this shirt. I love it!

It’s not easy. Self-reflection, discipline; I must rest, eat right, exercise with proper form, fix the household items that are safe to fix. I stay off ladders — for the most part — I don’t do my gutters anymore and I’m careful when I lift heavy shit. I’m not going to be the perfect father, the guy who fixes everything with a smile, can lift fifty bags of concrete and still wrestle, but I can try.


Many of us live with pain. Maybe our sedentary desk jobs caused the problem, maybe an old injury from our youth — most of my injuries are due to snowboarding, surfing, working as an EMT or landscaping. I was never nice to my back and it’s pissed. I know people who are living with pain from trampoline accidents, motorcycle accidents, car accidents, pool accidents, and stress. With age comes pain, at least in my world.

It’s rage inducing.

road_rageIt’s a cliché, I know, but it still affects me. I wish it didn’t. If only I could find an inner calm, appreciate the fact that I’m in a car, that I have music, that I’m comfortable and safe. Nope. If someone in front of me slows me down because they won’t take an aggressive left at a green light I snap. If someone doesn’t use their blinker to turn, expletives fly from my mouth. If someone is driving too slow, and I’m running late, I hate that person for five minutes; my rage focuses on their perceived driving inadequacies.

Is traffic the villain here? The construction that causes a lot of the traffic I’m complaining about is a byproduct of human population increase. This would mean that all humanity is my villain, and I would be falling into the trap of becoming a villain myself. It’s Sisyphean — fighting the inevitable growth of humanity is an absolute fruitless struggle that would never end; and it’s a total waste of time. As you know, time is not on my side.

I’ve realized lately that when I let myself get wrapped up in hating traffic, I’m having a bad day because of something else going on in my life. If I’ve worked out, meditated, eaten well and slept well, traffic is just another thing — this is a healthy adult lifestyle, right — but it’s tough while trying to launch a new career at the age of forty-four with two kids who go to different schools on opposite ends of the city.

Personally, I can’t wait for the self-driving car. If I were to do the time/life calculation on how much time I spend in traffic I might end up in a psych ward. So, I must come to terms with the fact that I spend a lot of my life with other humans in the river of cars going from point A to B. If I don’t, I lose. I don’t like to lose.

No villain today.

versatilethumbnail-1Thank you, Anna, for nominating Who’s Your Villain.


-You have to thank the person who nominated you and provide a link to their blog. (Be nice. They went out of their way to nominate you.)

-Link the nominees and inform them about their nomination. (This passes the love forward.)

-Try to link 15 nominees.

-Share 7 facts about yourself. (Don’t make anything up, we love you just the way you are.)

7 Facts about me:

  1. I love and hate writing. It’s a compulsion. The compulsion is the need to write. The love comes from how I feel when I’m done. Hate is a strong word but apropos for what I’m doing. I’m on my fourth rewrite of a crime novel in as many years. It feels as though I decided to climb Mt. Everest one day and showed up to base came with a pencil and a notebook. I want to quit all the time. But if I did quit, I would hate myself.
  2. I wish Elmore Leonard were still alive. I miss him and hate to think a new book will never come from his great, creative mind again.18xq4spa0u5g9jpg
  3. I hid my writing the year I started because I was ashamed. It makes no sense, I know. But some people out there will understand.
  4. I was recently told to start a blog by two people I respect immensely.
  5. I devour crime fiction. Whether it’s in the form of books, short stories, flash fiction, television or film.
  6. I put grass-fed butter and coconut oil in my coffee.
  7. My fiction is quite violent. It’s not for everyone, but it’s what I like to read. I know ex FBI, Police Officers, Navy Seals, Rangers and Delta Force. I also know hippies, feminists, CEO’s, doctors and paramedics. Not one of them wants to be violent; they want to be content, treated fairly and keep their families safe. But violence, like a boogeyman, is out there threatening to upset the balance of love and family. Many of these people I know have seen first-hand the worst of humanity, even the CEO’s see what goes on behind the curtain and it’s frightening. I hope that someday we can figure out that violence is holding humans back from evolving to their true potential.

These blogs are my all-stars. I’m new to this and I still came close to 15 individual blogs that I think deserve a nomination.

Ginger McGee: She’s brutally honest, her writing is haunted with beauty and emotion. She is also an amazing artist.

Jennifer Moorhead: This is a great blog to follow if you are a writer trying to make your way.  She works tirelessly on her novel and will someday be famous, I think.

Candy and Cigarettes by Joe Clifford: He’s an author of the noir — he also wrote a memoir about his struggle as a drug addict called Junky Love — he’s an absolute inspiration to me.  His blog has fallen off since he gained success, but go to his backlogs. Find him on Facebook and he might start up again.

Wolfman’s Cult Film Club: I love movies. For me, this blog is a place to go where I feel like I’m hanging out with other film junkies.

A Writer’s Path by Ryan Lanz: This blog shares writers tips, journeys, information and advice.  I visit frequently.

Dirty Sci-Fi Buddha: He has my favorite blog title and writes about writing.

A Farm in Iceland by Harold Rhenisch: If you are in any way interested in Iceland this blog knocks it out of the park with stunning visuals and eloquent prose.

James Harrington’s Blog of Geek and Writing:  This blog fills my head with ideas and information on what it’s like to be both a geek and a writer. I love it.

Nicolesundays: I love this blog because it takes me back to college and it’s hilarious.

back fence pdx: This is a great story telling blog.

A Streamlined Mind by James Jenner: This is a wonderful writer and I look forward to his posts.

Mathew Lyons: This is an insightful blog that I look forward to.

Creative Thresholds by Melissa D. Johnston: I follow this one because I’m trying to understand my creative threshold and explore the thresholds of others.

lauralanni not as smart as i look: This blog is a peek into the day-to-day life of a very funny person who loves to read and write.

And thank you, Anna, Once again. Your writing, journey and blog are an inspiration.


It’s frightful.

                                       Photo: Courtesy of MoMA ‘s rain room in New York, 2013.

We are deep into winter, suffering rains will seemingly never stop; it’s a monotonous element, beating down, looking for a way in. Snow and ice are always threatening to follow, to shut down the city — again.

Mid-February is about the time when I start getting kooky. Everything is wet. The rain in Portland rain isn’t an aberration, a result of climate change. It just rains a lot here. It’s a cold rain, too. Thick, almost chunky. Every year I plan for it, or try to, but it creeps up on me. I get blue, cramped up, grumpy, tired for no good reason. It’s constantly dark, cold and wet. My bones hurt. All my old injuries lock up, or swell up, do what they do to annoy me and remind me that I’m aging.

In this weather, I buckle down, work, but my head is in the dark clouds and it takes effort to keep positive. The kids can’t go out, they are stuck inside, crazy and full of pent-up energy. The dog doesn’t even want to go outside. But we live in the rain, we go out, get wet, smile and force life to work for us. But in the heart of winter, it’s easier said than done.

Don’t let the damned weather get you down. Get out there, be in it. Hunker down. It’s an excuse to do nothing.  Whatever your tactics, I hope you are hanging in there.


It’s coming for you.

renderedIn 2017 we have a technology and a science dedicated to beating time. At Wired 2011, Richard Seymore said, “The first person to live for a thousand years is possibly already alive.” I don’t want to live that long.

Besides being the pitch for a decent sci-fi novel, living for one thousand years is probably not a great idea. Considering the current state-of-affairs, humans aren’t smart enough to live that long and make it work. And let’s not forget the science that embraced plastic surgery as a means of fighting time, of postponing aging, of looking young again. Face it (no pun intended), the early adopters of this science look like monsters. Even now it’s obvious who’s “had work done”. The current trend to stave off time is supplements: watch Transcendent Man — a documentary about Ray Kurzweil’s theory on merging with technology. We are trying to outsmart time because we are afraid of death.

I’m afraid of death, but not my own.

I was terrified after the birth of our first child because I had to contemplate her death. That’s how my mind operates. Four years later, my son got sick in-utero. We were told by a specialist that his chance for life was slim. We became obsessed with time. Doctor appointments, sleepless nights, wondering how the baby was doing with each painful passing moment — time seemed to slow down for us.

I’m 44, about halfway to the end. I’m running out of my cherished time. It’s why I started this blog, why I started writing my novel, why I slow down to hug my kids a little longer and why I stop to give my wife an extra-long kiss and tell her she’s great. Time will eventually take everything from me  — it just will. My kids will grow, leave the nest and someday one of them will get the call that I have had a stroke or a heart attack or died in my sleep (the last being my most preferable way to go). In the meantime, I take care of my health. Even though time doesn’t care what I think, what I want or need, I still must try to live a rich and full life. It’s a conundrum, like folding laundry — why fold it if I’m just going to unfold it and wear it again? Why be healthy if I’m just going to die anyway?

Time is a villain to all of those who fight it, but they can’t win. Time’s coming.