Focus

You ever have those weeks where you just can’t focus? I can’t seem to concentrate on anything. I feel like a piece of clothing on tumble mode in the dryer, bouncing along in circles, getting pushed around by all the other pieces of clothing. Or a leaf in a stream, moving along with the water, with no thought or consequence as to where you’re going. I don’t know why I get this way, but I do. And I don’t know how to get out of it. I can’t usually concentrate on anything I want to or need to get done. I’m having a hard time focusing on compiling even this post, but I wanted to get something in, in hopes that it will help to break me out of this unfocused, wandering, confusion that I’m in…

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Inspirational Monday

Sorry folks, I’ve been away for quite a while. Longer than usual. I was doing some training in San Antonio and had no decent internet for four days. No internet and boring TV meant that I did get a lot of reading done so that’s always a positive. I finished Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island and started C.S. Lewis’s Screwtape Letters.

Treasure Island was a great adventure book, quite different than some of the movie remakes (especially my favorite Muppets Treasure Island), mostly because young Jim Hawkins kills people in the book. I don’t think that would translate into a kid’s G/PG movie. But I digress. It was a good book overall but it could be a little confusing at times. The book was published in 1883 by a Scottish man, who enjoyed adding pirate and sailing/boat lingo so I admit I was lost a few times. But overall I enjoyed the classic.

C.S. Lewis’s Screwtape letters is definitely quite different from Treasure Island. It’s about Screwtape, an “old” experienced demon, trying to give advice via correspondence to his young and growing nephew demon, Wormwood, who is trying to ruin a young man on earth. So far it’s been entertaining and enlightening.

I’ve also been trying to get the office finished up. I finished putting a polyurethane coat on the refinished desk and painted the walls white, keeping a gray accent wall. I’ll post pics once it’s complete.

In the mean time, here are some words to help you on this Monday. I know I need it…

joyful

Cake

I decided to make the hubs a cake. He loves peanut butter and Reese’s so I made a chocolate peanut butter layer cake. I’d never made a layer cake before so this was my first go. It turned out delicious, but so rich, which shouldn’t be a surprise since some of the ingredients were: 3 cups of sugar, 2 cups confectioner’s sugar, 2 cups peanut butter, 30 mini peanut butter cups, and lots of heavy cream. Oh yeah….this will probably be my breakfast, lunch and dinner for the next few days.

Learning to make WordPress a hub without attracting too many weirdos…

Earlier this week we had to add our links or social media sites to our WordPress page to get people on our site to visit us in other places to get to know us better. Now we are going full 180 to see if we can pull others from our social media pages to our hub, our WordPress site. I’m kind of still running into the same problem here. I don’t feel like inviting my facebook peeps to my website (I tried it before and it wasn’t really effective) and I don’t tweet. Maybe I’m being too close-minded about this? I’m slowly starting to add some actual writing content onto my site (so far I’ve added one whole excerpt), but I want to draw the right kind of people in as well. Instagram doesn’t seem like a fitting place to advertise my site either considering it’s mostly a visual social platform. Same with Pinterest. I do have a Pinterest site but that’s mostly there as a giant overwhelming list of things I want to make, cook, bake, eat, try decorate, and do. Again, not sure what kind of traffic I’d pull. I’m not even sure how you’d attract people using Pinterest. I think this is when I’d like a little input?

My WordPress site is currently more like a public diary. I chat about my goings-on and adventures in my new home of Austin. I want to introduce more writing eventually but I also want to keep it entertaining with pictures of the home improvement projects and decorating I do, along with day-to-day thoughts and ideas (and hopefully a monthly quote-to-short-story challenge).

Any hints how I can turn this thing into a hub would be great. Let me have it you creative people, you!

My cat (and I) await your advice…

Frasier

Socialization plus event making?

I haven’t participated in yesterday’s assignment (increasing your social media) because I’m not really sure that it’s for me. I have a Facebook account and an Instagram account as well, but I don’t think either one of those would cater to what I’m doing on this blog which is mostly writing. I don’t have a twitter and don’t plan on tweeting.

For me, blogging is a way to force me to write. I have this space and I should use it regularly, so I do (for the most part). I don’t think I’m ready for my Facebook friends to see my writing yet. (Is that weird?) My Instagram pics already show up in my widgets…so for now, I think I’m good on the social media. I also try not to let it run my life and I feel like if I keep adding more and more social media to my life, it’s going to overtake me. But that’s another blog post in and of itself.

social media
webtitan.com

As far as event making? I hate to sound like a cliche but I’m not sure if I have time to host something like that. For me, this is a place to write and think and read and be inspired by other’s writings. Hosting an event sound like something you do if you have  a business/money making blog. A way to generate traffic.

I think I might take the event idea, combined with some other topics we’ve already talked about and do a regular blog “challenge” for anyone wanting to participate. It’s going to include a quote I find, and creating a short (very short) story around that quote. I think I’ll do it on a  monthly basis which will give people plenty of time to think on that quote, as well as time to write in their own blog.

So for now I’m going to keep my social media to a minimum but add a challenge to my blog post, as well as keep on trucking with some other short stories I’m working on. I finally published a small excerpt from a small story I’ve been working on called Home. It’s about an event that changed a married couple’s life plans in a split second and the challenges and choices they face because of the event.

So I hope if anyone wants to participate, they’ll visit me and try the quote challenge. I’ll probably try to post them right away in the beginning of the month so you’ll have time to think about them and come up with something. I may or may not do something for February since we’re almost half-way through the month already (egad!). But stick around til March! I will have something then.

reddit.com
reddit.com

Home

**This is an excerpt of a short story I’ve been working on for a little while. It’s about how quickly life can change in an event, and the effects these events have on love, guilt and honest human emotions. Please feel free to read, comment, whatever…

Winters brought in a flood of emotion for Brett. Thanksgiving and Christmas had always been a time for friends and family, gatherings, food, beer, and general relaxation. It was a time to forget your troubles and get back into the mood of giving. Five years ago, one event changed everything.

Five years ago Brett and Lala were considered newlyweds. They’d been married only a handful of months. The wedding had been small and in the spring, when the flowers were just blooming and you could just feel the touch of the sun’s heat. They had only their closest friends and relatives at the wedding and ate at a local restaurant afterwards. It was beautiful. It was perfect.

One cool and seemingly uneventful evening shifted Brett and Lala’s life forever.

Brett had come home early from work to make Lala her favorite dinner of homemade strawberry citrus salad and grilled steaks. When they had their first date, he’d almost instantly fallen in love with her when she said steak was a favorite food of hers.

He turned on some oldies and started in on the rub for the steak. He mixed his own creation of pepper, coriander, oregano, and salt. He rubbed the steaks in the mixture, making sure to cover every inch, then wrapped them in plastic and set them back into the fridge.

Next was the salad. It was a simple summer salad of strawberries, oranges, brown sugar and mint. He sliced the berries and oranges and tossed them in an elegant white bowl with the brown sugar and thinly sliced mint leaves, making sure to make the top a layer of fruit into a beautiful layered fan display. He wanted to put his heart into this meal. Lala had been a saviour when it came to cooking. When Brett had been a bachelor, he’d been a very typical bachelor. His most creative meal was adding green peppers to his pizza. But Lala had come in and changed all that, without force. She showed her love of cooking and baking so outwardly that Brett found an immense interest in the art, and in turn she showed him a world of flavors he didn’t know existed. She was kind and patient with him when they had cooking dates together. She was never condescending, even when he didn’t know the difference between a saucepan and a frying pan.

As the time grew nearer to Lala’s coming home from work, Brett took out the steaks to warm to room temp and started the charcoal grill. Once the coals were ready, he threw the steaks on the grill and went back inside to the kitchen to take the salad out of the fridge and display it on the table. He also grabbed plates and silverware and set the table. Once placed, he looked at the table. What was missing? Candles! Of course. He grabbed candles from the living room and placed them on the table and lit them. Perfect. Next he went back out to check on the steaks. Brett flipped the steak and checked his phone. 6:15. Lala usually was home closer to 6 o’clock. That was unusual. She usually was never late, or would call if anything came up. Maybe traffic was bad. He didn’t want to come to any conclusions.

When he checked his phone again it was 6:45 and Brett was starting to worry. He had already pulled the steaks of the grill and plated them and they were started to get cold. Beyond the cold steaks, something didn’t feel right. His heart started to sink in his stomach. He called her work phone. No answer. He called her cell phone. No answer.

Twenty minutes later, after pacing the living room floor, his cell phone rang. It was an unknown local number.

“Hello?” Brett asked.

“Mr. Stevenson? Brett?” asked a female voice. The voice was questioning but firm.

“Yeah that’s me”

“Mr. Stevenson, this is Sherry from Presdon Regional Hospital. Your wife has been in a car wreck. She’s currently in surgery but she is ok.”

“Oh my God. What? Wait? Why is she in surgery? She’s okay? What happened? I have to see her. Can I see her? I planned a –”

“Mr. Stevenson!” Sherry cut him off. She’d had enough experience with frantic phone calls that she knew how to revert the call back into her hands. “She is stable but had to go in for surgery. She hit her head on the door and sustain some serious injuries. I don’t know a lot of details from the accident except that she was t-boned. She hit her head on the glass and sustained some whiplash injuries. The doctors are relieving pressure and are tending to her wounds right now. She is expected to be out of surgery in the next hour or two, so you can come down here to see her. But Mr. Stevenson…”

Silence for seconds.

“Mr. Stevenson. Brett?” she called him again.

“Yes” was all he could muster.

“Mr. Stevenson, I suggest you give yourself a minute to collect yourself before you rush over here. We see too many secondary accidents from people trying to get here in a frantic state. Do you have anyone who can drive you?”

“Uh, yeah. I can….I can get our friend, Seth to pick me up.” Brett felt the wind knock out of him. Fear overwhelmed him and it took all the strength he had not to burst out in tears.

“Okay, that sounds like a good plan. We’ll see you in a while.”

“Steaks”

“Excuse me?”

“Steaks,” Brett repeated. “I was making steaks for her. They’re her favorite you know.” Brett’s thoughts were coming a mile a second. Flashes of life were in front of him. Their first date, their first kiss, the last time they saw a movie. Steaks.

“I’m sorry that this happened Mr. Stevenson. We’re doing everything we can to see that she makes a full recovery.”

The phone call ended. Brett looked up and felt as if he’d just been awakened from a trance. He stood still as a statue. What to do next? Where do I have to go? Where’s the hospital? Did I just have this conversation? Who was I talking to? Why do I feel like calling Seth?

And then it all rushed back like a horrible dream. Car crash, t-bone, glass everywhere. Flashes of car wrecks he’d seen in movies and on the news flooded his brain. Oh my God. Lala.

Brett’s knees buckled and he fell to the ground, shaking. I have to be strong, he thought. I have to go see her. He lifted the phone and found Seth’s number and hit the call button.

After two rings, Seth picked up, “Hey buddy, what’s up? I thought you guys were having a date night? Done already or what?” Brett could tell Seth was smiling. He was always making comments about him and Lala. Seth wasn’t much for serious relationships so their relationship was a foreign film to him, something to be amused at but not fully understood.

“Seth” Brett heaved. His lungs felt heavy. Each word felt so forced. He couldn’t hold it in any longer. He wept on the phone.

“Brett?? What’s going on man? What is it?”

“She’s in the hospital…car crash.”

“Oh my God. Brett. Oh crap. Need me to drive you over to the hospital? How bad is it?”

All Brett could do was cry.

“Doesn’t matter buddy. We’ll get you over there. I’ll be at your place in 10. Don’t leave or anything. I’ll be right over.”

Nine minutes later Seth came to the door and knocked hurridly. Brett opened it and Seth hastily walked in, grabbed Brett by the shoulders and looked him into his puffed, tear filled eyes. “It’s gonna be okay Brett. She’s gonna be okay.” He quickly grabbed Brett into a tight hug.

“You got your wallet and phone?”

Brett nodded.

“Okay, let’s go.” As Brett walked out the door, Seth looked back to double check the stove wasn’t on. The stove was cold, but two candles were slowly shimmering and melting on the dining table, among two perfect looking steaks and a fruit salad. “Lala’s favorite” he whispered and blew out the candles. He quickly turned around, walked out the door and locked it.