The Paternal To-do of 2022

Pixabay – Amigos3D

I stretched awake one Monday morning sometime in late September and decided that I’d take the week off to tackle a backlogged to-do list. With the due date of my first child looming on the near horizon, there were things I had to get done before she was born and other things I certainly wouldn’t have time to do once she was here. This list included baby things (washing all of our little girl’s new clothes, reminding my wife to order a breast pump through her insurance, packing my hospital bag, making space in the kitchen cupboards for her baby supplies, installing car seats, etc.) and things not directly about baby (replacing the brakes on my car and getting the radiator flushed plus the interior detailed, reorganizing emergency supplies, figuring out my insurance due to a change of ownership at work, getting the dry cleaning done, scheduling myself an eye exam, taking the dog to the groomers, and having the dog spayed due to a false pregnancy lasting over a month), plus myriad other items I’m not remembering on top of the usual cooking and cleaning, online birthing classes and doctor’s visits, Hello, Author reading, and my relaxing evening book time.

Pixabay – bohed

Luckily, most of the major baby things (like flipping the guest room into a nursery) had been taken care of well before this “week” of to-do list tackling. Nonetheless, that week stretched into over a month. My to-do list not only took me longer to accomplish than I expected, but it seemed to grow with new additions by each Friday’s end. I finally slowed down, finished reading a fantastic western by Oakley Hall, and picked up my book for future dads only to learn that the next thing I’d likely do is tackle any to-do projects I’d been putting off. Apparently this is the paternal version of nesting, and I’d been nesting hard.

Well, that to-do listing last pretty much until the day our daughter was born. And since then, it’s been baby bootcamp. Well, also baby cuddle time.

So, uh, am I ever gonna get back to writing? Perhaps. It’s 2022 and I’ve got the same old things on my plate: write, edit, consider consistently posting to social media. But I’m also looking for a new job. Yes, babies cost a lot of money—so considering a new line of work wasn’t off the table—but my current job provides me with the perfect hours to avoid the need for shipping our bundle of cute and poop off to daycare. My current job is ideal really. Well, it was, until I caught wind of potential position that would more than double my family’s income and provide more or less commensurate hours. Still, I love this job and how darn easy it is. Easy except for when the customers try to kill you.

Yep, you read that right. Easy except for when the customers try to kill you. A guy went after me with a knife last Sunday. Why? Because we were out of hard boiled eggs. He got up in my face and was like What you gonna do about it? I told him I’d make some more (I normally wouldn’t so close to closing, but whatever). Well, instead of waiting for fresh and delicious eggs, he decided to curse at me and the hotel with some very crude language. At this point I told him he had 15 minutes to pack up his room and leave the property. He got quiet then, and a cold countenance turned the previously angry face into a violent nothingness. I started stepping back and watched as a knife flip open in his pocket.

At this point everything happened rather fast. Through some instinct, I contorted my body in a way to keep my soft parts as far from him as possible and had my arms way out in front of me, all the while apparently moving back toward the office door where I could lock myself inside. I also screamed “I’m sorry!” which paused his advance just long enough for me to get inside the door without harm.

The man was crazy. He began crying and giving me a sob story about being homeless for the past three weeks. I did not end up pressing charges so that he could spend his time talking to mental health counselor instead of in jail, which, yes he deserved, but which also wouldn’t have helped him. Yeah, the man needs to not do these kinds of things, but he’ll continue to do them until he gets some sort of mental health help.

Pixabay – teeveesee

If only this wasn’t the only incident in 2021. Since I began this job over seven years ago, I’ve met my fair share of belligerent, crazy, and downright rude people. I’ve also met some super sweet folk. The fact that not only coworkers, but four guests gave gifts when Cora was born proves that there’s more good than bad here. But my life is worth more than $12 an hour. And it wasn’t too many months ago that a guy I told to get packing did pack away everything but his gun. Instead of entering his room when it was evident that he was still in there, I decided to call the police. While I did not know he had a gun, something told me the mother fucker was in there waiting to shoot me. I was right. The first thing the police did when they entered his room was ask him why he was sitting there with a gun. He had his bag ready to go and his gun ready to go off. Yeah, a real nice piece of human trash. Reason I was kicking him out: he was attempting to pick fights with other guests.

I love this place but, if I’m realistic, I could have died over hard boiled eggs. HARD BOILED EGGS. Fuck that. I’m done.

Pixabay – Clker-Free-Vector-Images

So now I have the prospect of a new job plus all the time and energy that goes into raising a baby. But I do intend to get back to writing. I already know I’ll be spending less time than before on my novels and short stories. Not only because of job and baby, but because it’s a new year. It’s 2022 and, if I’m being honest with myself, I’m not the person I want to be. There’s things about myself I want to work on beyond my creative output. And, in fact, I’m putting that first. Because I can’t be happy with me or even with me as a successful writer until those aspects of my potential I haven’t honed are indulged. So I’m going to indulge in myself this year. I’m going to make my baby girl proud to have me as her father. I want the dad she’ll come to known to be a different man than the one I am now.

And I already know this is going to be a great year. My first email of 2022 was an acceptance letter for Bright Moon Over Lover’s Bridge. So let’s celebrate the beginning of this new year with a book and a beverage. Cheers!

Pixabay – succo

COVID poetry

When I was young I filled notebooks full of poems. These days, I don’t write much poetry. But I wrote a poem about dating during the pandemic. This isn’t from personal experience, but observation and extrapolation helped me along.

It’s short and sweet, and I’d appreciate it if you took the time to read it: FOR WHEN NO ONE DOES SOCIAL DISTANCING ANYMORE

Elizabeth Ellen

While I didn’t intend it, I actually published my interview with Elizabeth Ellen on the same day my poem came out.
Normally, I don’t bother making a blog post about the interviews, but since it came out on the same day, I thought I ought to explain. The Junction didn’t say exactly when my story was being posted online to read, so it was just a coincidence that the day I got my Ellen interview up was the same day my poem came out (though the poem must have come out after I got the interview up since I didn’t see anything about “For When No One Does Social Distancing Anymore” until this morning).

We talk about autobiographical fiction, cancel culture, her collection Fast Machine, and her new play Exit Carefully.

Do check out my interview and subscribe to the newsletter too! Thanks a zillion, all you bookworms.

But, yes, it can be scary – terrifying – once the time comes to let the world see your art. Even if, especially if (?) the entire time you were making it you were like, FUCK YOU (middle finger raised) to the world.

Elizabeth Ellen

Interview with Ivy Ngeow

Ivy Ngeow invited me to be interviewed for her blog segment called “The Writing Life” after I interviewed her for Hello, Author, which is my interview newsletter and website.

Check out the both of the interviews if you’re interested in learning about the writing life from either myself or Ivy.
The Writing Life
Hello, Author

Reflections on a decade-long journey to getting a flash fiction story published.

A revised and updated version of this post was published in The Ascent. Please read it there (especially if you are a paying member of Medium) because I get paid a little when my piece is read and clapped for. Thank you. 

Raw Art Review Publishes "Expire"

Read Expire for free in Raw Art Review’s Spring 2019 Collection or buy a hard copy on the publisher’s website.

This story took a long time to place. I don’t think it took so long because it was poorly written. In fact, I’ve had some compliments on it over the years. The editor at 34thParallel (one of the first magazines I ever submitted to) had this to say about it:

Dear R.E.
Let me say I’m impressed by your story; dialect in any form is difficult–damn difficult–for a whole lot of reasons of which I’m sure you’re aware. So I’ll repeat, I’m impressed–damn impressed (if you’ll excuse my language).

Only this April, the editor over at Barren Magazine had this to say about the two dialogue flash fiction stories I had submitted for consideration:

Thank you for sending “Expire” and “Attributes of a Girl” for our review. I really loved the experimentation but (especially “Expire“) we literally couldn’t tell what was happening. I know these responses are annoying but hope it helps a little!

Tahoma Literary Review also found the piece hard to understand. While they apparently made their way through the dialect, they ultimately decided that it didn’t work:

[I]n “Expire,” I found myself working really hard to parse the patois/dialect.

In other words, the form/gimmick outstripped the narrative.

I don’t blame any of these publications for rejecting Expire. It is a short piece and it is purposefully difficult. In fact, that’s the whole point. The form/gimmick is another layer of the theme. In fact, the way the story is presented makes the reading experience mirror the central issue of the story.

If you do figure out what is going on then you realize that the story is about how difficult it is to get a point across when trying to tell a story. The piece is constructed in a way to make it difficult to read. While the narrative revolves around a guy who doesn’t understand a specific word in a story being told about the Titanic, the form of the story itself challenges you, the reader, to understand the story on the page. Expire is printed as a block of text, using only dialogue without any dialogue tags, and one of the speakers in the story uses a black American vernacular. It’s not easy to read.

Expire is hard, and it’s meant to be hard. So I’m not surprised that I’ve received both positive feedback and criticism. Yes, I’m a little surprised it took me a whole decade with at least 33 submission attempts to get Expire published, but published it is at long last by Raw Art Review.

One of the differences with Raw Art Review is their commitment to trying to get a work. And that’s why I think they published this story where others didn’t. Bullet ten of their current submissions guidelines says this:

“Editors assume you are smarter than we are. We will strive to understand your intention ; stay open-minded and try to avoid imposing our presumptions on your work.”

Trace Sheridan, the editor with 34thParallel who was “damn impressed” with the use of dialect in the story, asked to see some more pieces alongside it. She ended up publishing the story Bad Weather instead of Expire. I don’t know exactly why she or her team didn’t publish it, although I think they would have had I had more stories like it—dialogical and dialectical—since she asked to see some more pieces while also asking, “Is this part of a larger set/collection of pieces?” And, at the time, no, it wasn’t a part of anything larger than itself.

Expire did eventually inspire me to spend a year writing dialogues. It was a good year. And I came out of that year with a good collection. Truly, I owe a whole book to Expire that I wouldn’t have otherwise written. Expire not only set the tone and implicit theme of the entire collection, but as a story that took a decade to get published, it reminds me that storytelling is a difficult art, even when you accomplish perfectly what you intended to do, like I did with Expire. It is one of my best pieces. And like many great pieces of storytelling, it says something that not everyone can hear and not everyone will like, but it says what it has to say boldly from the first word to the last little piece of punctuation.

Rusting Sunken Ship

Image source CC0 Domaine public

How To Piss On Your Therapist

How to Piss On Your Therapist

 

Public House Magazine has republished a story of mine, this time it’s available to read online for free. The original story appeared as Pissing Therapy in their print magazine, themed and designed as a tabloid. The reprint is now titled How To Piss On Your Therapist, cataloged online under their “How To” section.

Click here to read the story.

Art by Agni Dasein, Austria. Via Saatchiart

Art by Agni Dasein, Austria. Via Saatchiart

 

13 Days of Dark Lore

13 Days of Dark Lore

Thanks to Midnight Mosaic for publishing my dialog-only story Demon Zone for their 13 Days of Dark Lore contest. I’m so happy to see one of my darkest and experimental writings find a home online. Midnight Mosaic publishes on Medium, so click this link to go give it a read.

Three DemonsAlchetron © 2019

Some of you might remember this story when I listed it as complete for my 2018 weekly writing challenge. It’s one of my dialogue-only stories, though it’s less of a conversation than a cramped room where three voices are vying for authority. Whether you think this is a story or poem in dialogue, I hope you find it an enjoyable, albeit disturbing, read.

Media free to use with attribution.

New Publication – “Therapy” in Public House Magazine

Public House Magazine "Therapy" by Randal Eldon Greene

 

Thanks so much to Public House Magazine for publishing “Therapy” in Issue number 9 of their amazingly transgressive print publication. This is a super special issue because the magazine turns into a full 2019 calendar. Yep, read it, fill in the crossword puzzles, and then hang it up as useful wall art.

“Therapy” is a piece of fiction from my dialogue-only collection, Dialogues: A Collection of Creative Conversations. Public House has published it under the title “Pissing Therapy.”

It’s pretty cheap, so order yourself a copy if you dare!
Public House Magazine - Issue #9

Winter Reads

Winter Reads

Winter Reads: 3 short stories for you to cozy up to with a cup of hot cocoa.

❄ ❄ ❄When The Dog Gets Ready to Die
Dog in Snow: artwork for Randal Eldon Greene's prose poem "When the Dog Gets Ready to Die"
A prose poem about a sad winter night.

❄ ❄ ❄Aunt Phyllis is Yours This ChristmasAunt Phyllis jess-watters-at designedbyjess
A funny, slapstick story about siblings at odds.


❄ ❄ ❄Man in the Snow
a man in the snow
A meditative story on art in the snow.

❆❆❆

Thanks for reading. Leave comment and let me know what you think and subscribe for more. Happy Holidays!
Hot Cocoa and a Good Book

All photos from Pixabay unless otherwise stated. 

America’s Emerging Writers

America's Emerging Writers

Out of the more than 2,000 writers who were accepted into Z Publishing’s 2018 Emerging Writers series, my story “Everything In Its Right Place” was one of 127 writings picked to be published in the nationwide edition, America’s Emerging Writers: An Anthology of Fiction. My story is in Volume 1 of the this two-part anthology.

Buy on Amazon.

Buy on the website.

You can also find this story in Iowa’s Emerging Writers, available on Amazon or the website.

America's Emerging Writers

 

 

@ChefNipsNips

@ChefNipsNips

Chef Nip’s Nips is a Youtube channel devoted to cooking some dishes of culinary awesomeness. And on today’s upload, this Youtube star will teach you to make murumples!

Obviously, this is not a real Youtube channel (yet). @ChefNipsNips is a story (my latest dialogue) and one of the most humorous pieces of crap I’ve written. Total crap.


Vsauce "Or is it?"
Or is it?

Well, I suppose that’s up to my future editor, my fans, and the critics. Oh, the critics. But, seriously, who wants to cook a murumple? You can find out how just as soon as this baby lands a publisher. Until then, find links and more info about my dialogues here, Dialogues: A Collection of Creative Conversations

Alien pig roast