Sermon for Proper 14, Year A: Choppy Waters

Matthew 14:22-7

It’s hard to imagine looking at the news this week and not feel the choppiness of the water surrounding our boats. We pray for all those affected by the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, particularly the family of the woman who died and those injured. We pray for all those at University of Virginia and the neighboring schools who are watching in horror.

We pray for Guam, who has been directly threatened by Kim Jong Un. We pray for a president who has no experience in this type situation, and may encourage violence rather than squash it.

Prayer is about hope, faith, and love. We may not be able to directly calm the waters around us, but we can abate the hurricanes inside us, emotions rising that we may not have felt before because for the young, they are walking in new territory… while older Americans remember the white supremacy violence and nuclear threats of the 1960’s, and have to relive that trauma.

Today’s Gospel reading is about Jesus needing rest and relaxation after preaching to the crowds and having them flock toward him, overwhelming the calm inside him and needing to retreat to recover. While he is gone, a storm brews on the Sea of Galilee (now known as Lake Kinneret), and Jesus cuts his time away short to run to the shore and help them.

It is essential to remember that Jesus is not doing anything out of the ordinary, and is in fact, a part of his personality. Jesus is doing what he always does, which is to help people in need. When the Disciples see him walk out onto the water, they are terrified. Some people translate this literally, that he could walk on water. However, from the Greek, it is unclear whether this is what happened. In verse 25, it is epi ten thalassan, which can equally mean over the sea and towards the sea. In verse 26, it is epi tës thalassës, which can mean on the sea or at the seashore. Therefore, it is hard to tell whether the Disciples thought they’d seen a ghost because he was walking on water toward them, or whether he just sneaked up behind them and they jumped out of their skin. Remember, he was away and unexpected.

The surprise regardless of what you believe happened is that Jesus shows up in their hour of fear and need of reassurance. Whether the storm blew over on its own, or whether Jesus personally calmed the waves is of no consequence. As  Rev. Fred Rogers, a Presbyterian minister in addition to his PBS presence, put it, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers — so many caring people in this world.

When we look around at the choppy waters surrounding our own boats, let us not focus on the water. Let us focus on the people who are willing to drop whatever they’re doing to rush in and help us in our own hours of need.

There is no better metaphor for our current situation than Operation Dynamo, the Dunkirk rescue mission during WWII in which private sailors volunteered to drop everything they were doing, including fishermen who would lose wages, to go and rescue soldiers in France and bring them back to British shores, because the destroyers could not reach shallow water. Without even thinking about it, they refused to focus on the choppy water, but on the people in need. People who never signed up for military service endured gunfire and bombs, but ignored the threat in favor of “keeping calm and carrying on.”

It has become a trite saying, but when you really ask yourself, “what would Jesus do?,” this is it. This is the spirit of Christ working through enormous chaos, calming the water for the soldiers who saw the rescue boats coming. Just like the Disciples surprised by Jesus, they had no idea that the small crafts were coming. Some were scattered among different ships, and others were swimming for their lives.

Even if the weather was still bad, the storms that raged within the soldiers as they knew they were facing almost certain death from German fire or hypothermia were calmed. The spirit of Christ walked on the water, to the water, in the water.

When the storm rages within you, know that someone is coming. It might be the spirit of Christ that lives in you, or it might be the spirit of Christ that lives within someone else, ready to drop anything to come and help you in your own hour of need.

Amen.
#prayingonthespaces

The Left Turn

I just saw the most disturbing scene of my whole life, and I hope never to repeat it.

It was shopping day. I went to a repair shop and got my “dress up” Mickey Mouse watch I’ve been meaning to fix for three years patched up. I got my old glasses fixed at the place where I got my new glasses that won’t be ready for two weeks so I’m not blind my whole “vacation.” I went to Dollar Tree and got enough food to last me a few days, including mini chocolate bars and bubble gum for the plane… disappointed they didn’t have the smoothie packs I use every morning… If I’m not allowed through security with mini chocolate bars, TSA can have some fun on me.

So, after this incredible feeling of “I’m gettin’ shit handled,” I’m driving home, cruising down University and slowing down for a red light. All of the sudden, a young Indian woman starts running across the street between cars, about 100 feet behind the crosswalk- against the green turn light- and is bulldozed over by a car that was going toward the left turn lane.

Luckily, she was just hit by the front of the car and the tires did not run over her body. She was able to get up and walk to the median, as people start running from the far side of the street to help her. Someone runs up to the car that hit her to make sure he doesn’t get away, and my light was green before I got to see whether he just rolled up his window and drove off, or whether he actually turned around to call the police.

I’ve heard of people getting hit by cars my whole life, but this is the first time I’ve actually seen it happen. In the state of Maryland, the driver has, at best, only partial responsibility for the accident because he hit a jaywalker. The law says that the driver only need pay medical bills, etc., if he or she was the cause of the accident. I just hope the driver was a good Samaritan and waited until the police and ambulance arrived.

I was terrified for the girl, because whether it was her fault or not, it was excruciating to watch. She was carrying lots of stuff, and, on impact, dropped all of it. In skiing, we call that a “yard sale,” and the description was apt in this case as well. Hair ties, her hat, and her shopping bags all crashed to the ground, and the contents spilled into several lanes.

Possibly for the first time in my life, I got intense road rage, because all these people are picking up stuff in front of my car and the cars behind me are honking at me to go. I suppose I can’t really be mad- they weren’t aware of what had just happened and couldn’t see the pedestrians in front of me. Wait, that’s not true at all. The car behind me must have seen what happened, and was still just a giant dickhead to me.

Surely they could’ve seen that a full-size sedan did not have enough feet in front of him to brake to a full stop as the girl was running, trying to make it before my light turned green.

In the nanosecond after the accident, I wondered if she was dead. It took her a minute to get up, and I audibly sighed with relief. I’ve never been hit by that many pounds of metal, so it was shocking in a good way to see that she didn’t seem permanently injured…. although it’s probably too early to tell. She may have been walking on adrenaline and imagination, and could conceivably have a brain bleed as well.

It’s hard when you see something like that and say to yourself, “she should have known better,” because you know you’ve let your judgment impede your compassion, at least for a second…. It was hard to tell how old she was, though. She could have been anywhere from 15-30. Perhaps she was just naive, and perhaps she was distracted by seeing people she knew on the other side of the street. Whatever it was, I am sure that we will both be mindful of properly using crosswalks from now on.

Life and Baseball

I have to admit that when I bought a ticket to go see the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs play the Sugar Land Skeeters, it was a circuitous route. Apparently, there is a new baseball team in Portland called “The Pickles,” and because I knew I wouldn’t be in Portland long enough to see a game, I wondered if they would come east.  They, in fact, will not. It’s not even the same league. So, I’m looking through the Blue Crabs’ schedule and notice that my home town team (though put in long after I left) is going to be in Maryland the weekend after I get home from Bryn’s wedding. The ticket was less than $20 ($13 plus all the fees they seem to make up), a great price to see my two of my three favorite states duke it out.

For those that are unfamiliar with the area, Sugar Land is a suburb of Houston to the southwest, in one of the country’s fastest growing counties, Fort Bend. It’s called “Sugar Land” because it was the home of the original Imperial sugar factory. My family moved there the summer before I started 11th grade, and I ended up going to school there for a not so small reason- Houston traffic. The rule that you had to live in HISD to attend HSPVA was put in action when I was in 10th grade, so I was grandfathered in if I wanted to stay. However, the thought of commuting 45 minutes (more if the traffic was bad) to school seemed daunting since I’d just gotten my driver’s license.

It was not a small decision to switch schools, because back then I didn’t know that the symphonic band at Clements was actually better than the one I was currently in. They didn’t have a jazz band, so I auditioned for choir, instead. My two claims to fame from those years are that I was the first student to be in the top band and the top choir at the same time, and the first student to be openly gay.

I didn’t know that I was the first to be out, though. I learned it when Lindsay was a freshman at Clements, the year I was a freshman in college. Apparently, there were a bunch of kids with rainbow ribbons on their backpacks and Lindsay asked them about it. She told me that they said, “we do it in honor of this kid, Leslie.” You could have knocked me over with a feather. In retrospect, I’m not sure I’ll ever do anything more important in my life than pave the way for others to be brave in a conservative Republican suburb.

During my 11th grade year, I went back into a very large closet and told no one, because in a magnet school like ‘PVA, none of my church friends and school friends crossed over (as if it wasn’t obvious just by looking at me….). My senior year, my dad left the ministry and all bets were off. I wore my pride rings every single day, I flirted with girls (one in particular), and to my surprise, no one thought anything of it. The reason I was so surprised is that HSPVA was a nightmare (this is a link to a paper I wrote my senior year about my time at ‘PVA) some days. On others, it was fine.

I owe Sugar Land a lot in terms of my growth and development, but not sure I owe it enough that I automatically believe the Skeeters should win. 😉

Falling Water

I’m reading a YA series that I started for free on Amazon and couldn’t put down. It’s called The Face on the Milk Carton, by Caroline B. Cooney. Janie Johnson has a milk allergy, so she shouldn’t have even been drinking milk that day… but she was eating a peanut butter sandwich, and couldn’t resist grabbing a friend’s carton. The blood drains from her face as she looks closely at the waxed cardboard. It’s a toddler wearing a dress she can still picture, still feel the fabric in her hands. It doesn’t make any sense.

51CtC+YyAXL

Her parents couldn’t be criminals. Ready to faint, she realizes she was kidnapped 12 years ago… and whether or not her parents were criminals, there was still another family looking for her.

Through a series of twists and turns, the first book ends with Janie meeting her bio family. The second book is her adjustment period, in which her boyfriend listens patiently to all her worries, fears… and rarely, joys.

The third book starts with her boyfriend going to college and becoming a DJ on the college radio station. Dead air hangs as he struggles with what to say… and all of the sudden, it comes to him… Once upon a time….

I’m guessing you can figure out what comes next. All of the sudden, my fears and insecurities spilled out on the couch. I body-blushed, and panic raced through me as fast as the water falls through the Columbia River Gorge. I’m halfway to dry heaving before I realize I have the ability to put my thoughts to paper, and hope it helps. It generally does. If not, I will take a walk with my headphones in and set to dead air. Thinking while mobile allows my endorphins to create different pathways in my head, so that I stop thinking about problems and start thinking about solutions.

I started this YA series to get the structure and feel of it. Now about 60% through the third book, I realize that in a lot of ways, I am no better than Janie’s boyfriend, who isn’t malicious, but certainly thoughtless…. or is he?

Through all of his talks with Janie, he’s had nowhere to put them. Nowhere to decompress. Nowhere to receive feedback from strangers who have no horse in the race. His signal strength is nowhere near broad enough to get from his college town to Janie’s house in a different state. He spills his guts, unloading all of his own thoughts and feelings on everything he’s been through, trying to communicate and organize the jumble of emotions in his head…. without thinking that someday, someone close to him would turn the knob to his frequency.

He’s the good guy AND the bad. He can’t help but have been affected by all this, but he doesn’t take precautions. He doesn’t change names, he doesn’t change descriptions, he doesn’t change any identifying details at all.

I, at least, try. What I have found over time is that I’m not very good at it. There are certain people I do name, but a thousand others I don’t. I want you to know my friends, to meet them in your own way as they develop over time into 3-D characterizations that I hope are as full of life as they are…. especially for my friends in different areas of the country that I hope will one day run into each other.

Other people whose identities I thought were sealed have been as flimsy as shaved ham…. and I think, how could I have been so stupid? Why couldn’t I have thought a few more steps ahead? It feels like I have been Gretel all along, leaving breadcrumbs and then throwing myself into the oven. The only defense that even possibly stands up is that even though I was leaving breadcrumbs, they were too small for me to see… too small for me to find my way back… but not so tiny that other people couldn’t.

If it wasn’t for The Wayback Machine, I would have gotten up from that novel and deleted this entire site…. because now I know I’ve been tattooed from my scalp to my heels. There’s nothing I could do or say to get away from the things I’ve already written, both about myself and others. My comfort comes from the fact that I’ve tried my very best to only tell my side of the story, leaving room for both other people’s perceptions of me and the Truth™ that exists in the middle. But sometimes, just sometimes, I’ve crossed that line. The truth that exists for me is that those moments have been subconscious, because I’ve always thought of this blog as being about my own reactions to other people and not the things they think about me… and if I’ve published something that was a reaction to me, it was only my interpretation of what it might mean, and not the meaning that the other person would say it was. But when I do that, the chances that I’ll learn their truth diminish dramatically, because they think I’ve already made up my mind.

You can read three or four days of entries in a row and tell that’s not true at all. I change my mind constantly, which isn’t always seen as evolution, but maliciously two-faced. It is then that I go back to the name of this web site, which I coined from my belief about The Bible…. Stories That Are All True…. and some of them actually happened. I would like to think that the conflicts in both are made up of evolution in thought…. like the old joke about describing different parts of an elephant. The views from the front, sides, and back are completely different, and yet, all valid. Different entries are different trains of thought, sometimes brought about by the view in front of me and/or the passage of time.

Time has a way of softening hurt, and yet, does not defeat it entirely.

From where I sit right now, the passage of time has allowed me to look more fully at all the ways my marriage and my friendship with Argo went well… but it doesn’t erase the hurts they dealt me, or my guilt at the hurts I dealt them, either. Time just slips in and, like water, smooths the hard places.

And yet, those two people aren’t even close to the number of people I’ve loved and lost because I wrote something without thinking about it all the way around. Outside of Argo and Dana, there’s another woman I met over the Internet that used to chat with me when I worked overnight at Alert Logic, keeping me company on a lunch break that usually started at 0400… some of the most precious hours of my life. She was my velvet hammer, with the metal on the outside so that hardness and softness coexisted in a beautiful way. You couldn’t get to the velvet immediately, you had to be invited…. but I got the metal when I was entirely deserving of it… that friend who wasn’t afraid to tell you that you’re fucking up instead of covering it up as not to engage, or couching it in sugar so that you couldn’t really tell what was being said in the way it was supposed to be taken.

I let her go without a fight, when she deserved to be fought for. I didn’t have many friends that would tell me the straight-up truth when I needed to hear it. Telling you why it ended would just be yet another breech of confidentiality. All I will say is that it was my fault entirely. She didn’t leave so much as she was forced to say, I’m out. She didn’t say those words, exactly, but context clues are my strong point.

I also got the sense that she didn’t want to be fought for, didn’t need or want my input on the situation, which was basically I’ve been an idiot, and I should have and could be a better friend to you. But no. I just tried my best to pretend it didn’t hurt and move on.

As my hurt began to compound interest, I was bleeding out emotionally… but what was coming across was anxiety in the form of rage when I didn’t even know that anxiety presented that way… that not getting so angry was an easy fix. I needed medication to slow my physical reactions and therapy to slow the behavioral ones… but I didn’t get it (physically or mentally) until I hit rock bottom and had to claw my way up.

Rock bottom was not everyone else becoming exhausted and enraged by my behavior. Rock bottom was realizing who I was in the equation, exactly the person I did not want to be. I can make all sorts of excuses… I was emotionally abused as a child, I didn’t have coping mechanisms, my medication wasn’t right, blah blah blah… The awful thing was that until I released my own thunderstorms, I actually believed them. Didn’t question them for the excuses that they were, because I thought I had no power.

People like me didn’t have power. They stood next to powerful people and hoped it rubbed off. Or, worse yet, people like me didn’t have power. They married into it, because when you aren’t carrying yourself under your own power, it’s easiest to support someone else in theirs…. to make them able to do what they do better because solving their problems is infinitely easier than looking at your own.

The paradigm shift didn’t come until I met Dana, because we were both on equal footing in life, and neither one of us was the driving force carrying the other. When it was over, I retreated into myself, because I realized I was falling backward instead of stumbling forward. It took two dates with a lawyer and thinking about a date with an intelligence agent on loan from MI-5 to realize it.

After that, dating was over for me. Just done. I realized that if I couldn’t have the same type relationship I’d had with Dana, where we both came into the relationship on equal footing, I didn’t belong in a relationship at all…. and still don’t. It’s not a matter of wanting Dana back. It’s a matter of refusing to engage in romance until I am sure that I have something to bring to the table without being an accessory to greatness… wanting that relationship where there is no chance of codependency because we are both taking care of our own problems rather than the me that would fix your life in a hot second while mine hangs in the balance, unexplored, and in turn, unlived.

I’ve made a couple of people laugh when I’ve joked, at this point, my only hopes for retirement are Pulitzer Prize or marry well. I’ve since stopped saying it, because even though I really was joking, the more I prodded into my sub-conscience, it ceased to be funny.

So, Pulitzer Prize it is.

The Prayer for Relief

It’s a little before 1300, and I’ve already had a day and a half. I lost my glasses this morning, and somehow I knew I was going to find them with my shoes. I was, in fact, correct. I’d put them on my laptop’s side of the bed and they’d fallen off. I’m looking for them frantically when all of the sudden, I hear a crunch.

I got in touch with Zenni, and they’re sending me new frames and a tool to pop the lenses out of my old ones for free. But then I thought I might be able to get new glasses quicker at the local shop. So, I go and their next appointment is Wednesday at 3:00. I go ahead and make the appointment, because I need a spare pair, anyway, and I have vision insurance. I can only hope that they are better quality than Zenni… and probably will be, because I can try them on in the store, rather than having to guess. The keyhole bridge glasses I have kind of make me look like that guy you avoid because you think he might be a perv. Such a disappointment, because online they looked so cute and timeless. Instead, they take up my whole face. If my hair was really long, they might be acceptable. Right now I look like a Marine recruit without even meaning to…. my hairapist got a little scissor happy.

My hair grows fast, though, so I really don’t have anything to worry about. And I still have prescription sunglasses for driving. I’ll just have to look like a perv at night. God, doesn’t that sound appealing….

Despite my hair being that short, it actually is really cute on me, as long as my glasses are small & cute as well. At least I only have to wait 7-10 days to get them back. Though my appointment at my local shop isn’t far away, my lenses take a while to make (I’m guessing) because they’re prisms. It usually takes three or four weeks for me to get them online.

But the real anxiety was hearing the crunch under my feet and knowing I hadn’t stepped on recycling.

I have one last shot at getting glasses sooner, and I’m about to leave to go see if it works out. I had my eye exam at LensCrafters in the mall, and I think my prescription is valid. I just need to see if they’ll take my insurance for frames. This is not how I wanted to spend my day, but it’s a necessary evil.

When I said a prayer asking for relief from grief, I suppose I should have been more specific.

Highs and Lows

It seems as if there is no limit to the amount of grieving I can do, and it’s not for lack of wanting to stop. I listen to peppy music, I go for walks, I do everything I’ve been taught to change my mood, and yet, my mind still wanders back to the days I lost Dana, Argo, and my mother. No one ever dies conveniently, but it was a body blow to lose my mother when I was still so lost in the throes of grieving the loss of my wife and my friend, and in Dana’s case, both.

Dana was my best friend in the entire world the whole time we were together, but officially for almost four years before we admitted we were in love with each other and didn’t just love each other. The rumor mill started long before that, but when I met Dana and we first started hanging out, my heart had been marinated, grilled, and handed to me on a platter. I didn’t have room for that kind of love in my life, and a best friend fit the bill nicely. I didn’t realize until probably two years had gone by that I was stopping myself from dating because I’d rather hang out with her. There were too many things to explore, like hiking and endless amounts of Trivial Pursuit in every genus imaginable, and in various states of sobriety.

In terms of driving out The Gorge, we called it “hiking o’clock” and “beer-thirty.” McMenamin’s Edgefield was halfway between Portland and Multnomah Falls, so generally we’d stop there on the way home for a pint. Multnomah, though, was only our starting point because there was an easy parking lot. We’d start there, then end up

angelsrest

The One Where Dana Holds My Ankles So I Don’t Die

somewhere over Wahkeena Falls or Angel’s Rest. At Angel’s Rest, I laid down on the rock and Dana held onto my ankles as I tried to get the perfect shot, because the rock pointed downward at a steep angle… and I can’t remember how we came up with it or when, but it was repeated that day. The setup is either one of us having to call our fathers. “Steve (or David)? Dana (or Leslie) was bein’ a dumbass and got herself killed.” The colors in the photos I took that day aren’t nearly as rich as they were in person, because back in those days, camera phones took quick and dirty pictures, not semi-professional quality like they do now. Although I will say that for a two megapixel camera and 640×480 resolution, this shot isn’t terrible. You know why I don’t have a better one? That was the longest, shittiest hike I’ve been on to date, and I am reticent to do it again. First of all, from Multnomah Falls, it’s about a mile and a half to the trail head to go up to Angel’s Rest. Second of all, it’s about an 11 mile hike round trip. On the way back, it started raining cats and dogs. Soaked to the skin, we almost cried when we got back to the trail head and realized it was still another one and a half miles to the car.

But, no pain, no gain, right?

There are too many funny stories between Dana and me, but right now the ones on my mind are about taking pictures. The setup on the first is that you have to know Dana loves genealogy, and I, to put it succinctly, do not. To me, it’s kind of boring. I let my grandfathers do all the work and just listen when they’re done. Dana will do things like call up historical societies. She did so and found out that one of her ancestors was buried at Beth Israel cemetery in Portland. So I had this bright idea that we should go and take pictures of the headstones with a “light dusting of snow.”

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Headstones with a “Light Dusting of Snow”

I’m laughing so hard I can barely breathe now…

We start driving and I forget that SW Portland is at a much higher elevation than SE, and when we get there, we are fuckin’ KNEE DEEP. We pull up in front of the caretaker’s house and Dana rings the doorbell to see if he can help her locate her ancestor’s headstone. He says, “where were you four hours ago?” It’s starting to get dark and the snow is falling even harder.

Tears are starting to roll down my cheeks now.

She asks if he has a map, and he says, “not one that you can read.” Dana gets all indignant thinking he’s just being shitty to her and tells me as such when she gets back in the car. I said, “it’s probably because it’s in Hebrew.” A light dawns in her brain that we’re at BETH ISRAEL CEMETERY. We decide that it’s getting too dark to see anything, anyway, and start home. We end up having to pull off to the side of the road to CHAIN UP due to my brilliance. It was a nice idea, anyway.

Another of my brilliant ideas turned dumbass attack was in Sacramento, California. Counselor, Dana’s sister, lives there, and we’d gone to visit her and the parents. We used to have code words that meant “get me the hell out of here” when being with family became too much for either of us (introvert and ambivert that we are). I said the code words and off we went for a drive. I think we went to a liquor store because as the resident mixologist, I was usually the one that made drinks for everyone in the afternoon. On the way home, we saw this field of sunflowers, and I told Dana to stop the car. Since we were on the highway, she knew I’d found something I wanted to take a picture of…. something I did often. To Dana’s credit, she ALWAYS stopped…. and didn’t leave me there, not even once. 🙂

To get the highway out of the picture, I crawled down into the gulch and before I knew it, I was past my

sunflowers_nofilter

My Shoes are Probably Still There

ankles in mud. It didn’t bother me, because I’d learned early that if you wanted a great shot, sometimes you had to pay for it. How much did I pay, you ask? Well, once I was that deep in the mud, I couldn’t get back out. I tried everything I could to struggle upward, because I’d just gotten new running shoes fairly recently and they needed to last me for a while. After about ten minutes, I finally realized that the only way I was ever going to see Dana again was to untie them and try to get my feet out that way. I managed to successfully get my feet out, but when I reached down for my sneakers, they were stuck as if superglued. Dana saw me walking across the highway in my socks to the convenience store where she parked. I opened the door and she looked at me knowingly. “…but I got the shot,” I said. I can’t remember whether she said anything or just sighed. If she just sighed, I promise I knew exactly what she meant.

The Update

One of my birthday presents came early; it’s an American Giant rugby jacket… basically a hoodie without the hoodie part. I chose the rugby jacket over the hoodie because I, in short, wanted to. Yes, AG is known for “the perfect hoodie,” but I already have several and my Irish national team rugby jacket is on its last legs. Plus, the black puffy jacket I already own is also rugby style, so I won’t have the hood poking over it, which I have found in falls/winters past that it doesn’t look that great. I’m going to be wearing it a lot, what with the Maryland fanatical devotion to air conditioning and it’s supposed to be down into the 60’s tomorrow because of a HUGE storm that’s already here. Flash flooding is already happening, and I’m glad I got out early this AM to go to the pharmacy.

There are always people who think they can drive in this kind of weather without being able to see the street. That way, they drive into three feet deep water, hoping against hope that their little Ford Damnits survive… #dumbassattack

Getting home before the storm really picked up was a smart decision, because I can’t go without my medication. Withdrawal is nothing short of craptastic… headaches, nausea, chills, the WORKS. Oh, and I had to pick up some shampoo. So there’s that.

I also went to see Dunkirk a few nights ago, and though there’s not much character development, the cinematography is exactly what it feels like to have been there. It was as if there was a sand filter on the lens, adding to the tension. You’re literally on the edge of your seat with fear as people get shot, drown, pilots overhead making crash landings into the water and onto the beach. It’s sort of a summer blockbuster, but it feels more like a documentary, because it doesn’t seem like liberties are taken with the story. There’s no made-up romance, no fictional backstory. Just the horror of war, and plenty of it.

My favorite line in the whole thing comes from this exchange:

-Is it going to work?
-We’ll know in six hours.
-I thought the tides came every three hours.
Well, it’s a good thing you’re Army and I’m Navy.

…and that’s pretty much all the comic relief you’ll get. Good luck. God bless.

Although I will tell you that I was way less terrified than in the first 20 minutes of Saving Private Ryan… so there’s that.

Also reading several good books- the rest of the Jane Whitefield series and Al Franken’s new book, Giant of the Senate. All are fascinating in their own way. Jane is a guide who gets people off the grid. Al Franken is a guy that gets you fired up about saving the country.

Haven’t written for the blog since Sunday because I’m trying to flesh out Sarah Silverman from the time she blows chunks into the class fish tank. The book itself is called Fish Ralph, what her class calls her the rest of the year.

Other writers say to “write what you know.” I remember middle school. All of it. But Sarah is not a reflection of me, she’s her own person, and I like spending time with her.

Since I don’t have an agent, I may try to get it into Amazon on my own… but that’s putting the cart before the horse, because only Chapter One is complete.

It has a Harry Potter sort of arc, because even though it’s not fantasy, if the first book takes off, there is every bit the chance that the books will grow up as she does. But don’t think for a moment that her nickname will ever change. Kids don’t forget. Anything. I just don’t want to, again, put the cart before the horse and publish a complete series before I know if it resonates with people or not.

I write my blog for me. Novels, on the other hand, are, in an ideal world, supposed to make money.

Lindsay has been bugging me to work on this novel forever, because she genuinely wants to see what happens to Sarah. Now THAT is a compliment, my friends.

And on that note, Sarah is calling me. I better get back to her. You know how middle school kids are…..