The Novel

Good morning,

I’ve been quietly working on a novel for the last several months. I’m not very many pages into it because it has become one of the most painful processes that I’ve encountered in some time. It’s semi-autobiographical and draws mainly from the period from my dad getting sick up to more or less when my second daughter was born. I’ve had it squirreled away, partly out of worry that it will show my humanity in a way that I’m not 100% comfortable with, but what’s writing if not terribly personal? I figured it’s time to let it breathe a little and maybe get some feedback. Only two people other than myself have had access to it so far. 

 Here is the first page or so. I’ve got a couple of working titles but for now let’s just call it

Room Full of Strangers

I was born in a room full of strangers.

The doctors, my parents, everyone a blur in the delivery room.  A world of unknowns beyond those four walls of which I was completely unaware.  This feeling is not one that I’ve always been able to identify, to confine or define.  However, in retrospect, it’s one that has always been there.

Me.

All alone.

In a room full of strangers.

I found myself most recently in a stranger-filled room the day my father died.  My wife was on a food run.  My mom was downstairs.  I discovered that a new inhabitant had taken up residence in the room I had left minutes prior.  A stranger with familiar, familial features.

Can it be? I thought, and for one, brief moment, my world froze in a solid silent vacuum as the reality of my dad’s lonely death seeped into my eyes and ears, my nose and throat, my pores.  Death, on tiptoes, stole the man I knew and loved and left in his place a strange, empty shell; someone new and unfamiliar.

Did I know this man, my metamorphosed father?  Of course I knew who he was once was.  In his previous iteration, he was there in the delivery room.  He was there in the emergency room when I broke my arm, the courtroom when I married my wife, every childhood bedroom that a sicker, younger version of myself occupied.  But then, now, in that moment, he is, was not that man.  In that moment, in that room where I watched him slowly grow older, sicker, more broken, he became a stranger once more.  A week later, a lifetime later, a lifetime ago.

The memorial service.

Were we remembering the same person?  Or so many iterations of one person?  The uncle, the husband, the businessman.  My father, my hero, my friend.  The people in that room that I’d met before were as strange as the ones I hadn’t.  Ah yes, I’d say, of course I know who you are.  Who, I’d think, is this person?  Thank you, I’d say, for your condolences.  Why, I would think, are you here?  I saw everyone there through melancholy lenses.  People changed by, dressed in, obscured by death’s cold hand.

Even I, my most familiar self, was not who I had been.  My reflection, a refraction.  My memories and perceptions hung at arm’s length in the rough-hewn obsidian remains of my soul.  Darkness?  No, no.  Darkness gives the illusive promise of a reciprocal light.  The graying world as I saw it seemed fake, painted, staged, wrapped in cellophane.  I could perceive in the corner of my eyes a barrier separating me from the rest of the world, like the lines around a moving cartoon, defining it from its surroundings and confining it to itself.

Confined to myself, to the what’s it called? Cortege?  The funeral procession, the line that defines those that belong to the living and those that belong to the dead.  I look to the left and a stranger is standing there.

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“You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.” – Abraham Lincoln

Alright.  I’m back.  Back back.  Back for more.  Back with a vengeance and a bone to pick.

WARNING: It’s not usually like this around here, but I say the word “shit” a lot in this one.

One of the positive things that has happened over the past year is that I got fired from my job.  Wait what?  Yeah, I said it.  Getting fired from my job was one of the better points in my year.  I hated that job.  I worked 55 hour weeks getting paid peanuts to stock beer in grocery stores.  It was long and the company was/is a joke.  When my dad got sick the second time and went into hospice, do you know what my boss told me?  “Remember, you’ve still got a job to do.”  Cold-blooded, man.  The salesman that covered my region said the same thing.  One of the many things that my father bestowed upon was a stellar work ethic, so getting the job done was never an issue, but they chose that route.  It was a bad place to be.

So anyway, I worked Friday-Tuesday.  I came in one Friday and my boss pretty much lays into me because the beer in the cooler wasn’t rotated.  All he ever told me was that the beer needed to be rotated on Mondays and Tuesdays.  He yells at me, my supervisor calls as I’m walking to the back of the store and he gives me hell.  Then I get back to where my boss is and he starts up again, ultimately asking me “do you even want to work here anymore?”

I didn’t have an answer.  I didn’t want to work there.  I didn’t want to not have a job but I definitely didn’t work there.  So I shrugged.  That was enough for him and the end of my time there.

Whatever.  Their loss.  That’s not my point.

Neither is this.  I went for about a week trying to find something, anything to get some money coming in.  I applied for unemployment.  I sold some of my belongings.  I did what I could.  After that first week, a friend of mine that just worked weekends at the beer place calls and says that he might be able to get me on at the traffic products company he worked at during the week (his “real job”).  Traffic products?  I thought.  I don’t know.  But I needed money like nobody’s business so I told him I was in.  So I came in and I busted my ass like I always do at work.  I hustled to learn the products and processes.  I was making less than I did at the beer job, but like I said, I have a pretty damn good work ethic so I got in there and did the damn thing.  Within a week, I went from being a floater to having a legit position.  Within a few weeks, the owner promoted me to Warehouse Foreman.  Over the next few months, I continued to hustle and learn and get the warehouse into shape.  A few weeks ago, I got promoted to Production Manager, overseeing the warehouse and the in-house sign shop.

And that is part of my point.  Hustle is important.  Work is important.  Responsibility is important.

Now that I’m a manager, I get to, well, manage other people.  I’ve got the Production side of it, but I’m not a huge fan of, well, other people.  I’ve got about seven guys total that I supervise and their kind of a mixed bag.  A couple of them are something else and one in particular has proven to be a real piece of work.  He’s been there for about a year.  He stayed around even after a bunch of people broke off and created a competing business.  He stayed even when shit got real heavy and we were overwhelmed with the size and numbers of sign orders coming in. That’s great.  But he also makes a bunch of mistakes.  And he gets stoned a lot of time before work.  And sometimes during work.  And probably always after work.

So he’s gotten in trouble for other things that may or may not have had to do with him being stoned.  I don’t think he’s a bad guy and I could give a shit less what he does after work, but I can guarantee that his personal stuff is bleeding into his professional performance.  He’s had some more issues lately and made some dumb mistakes and we’re also (unrelated) trying to cross-train some other people (myself included) to do the sign design on the computer, a task which, until now, was more-or-less exclusively his to do.  Now, he’s (understandably) worried that he’s training his replacement (not necessarily true).

I’ve been in this situation.  I trained a guy a few jobs back that wind up getting the promotion that I had been training for.  It’s a terrible feeling.  But I didn’t give up and let things fall to the wayside.  I’ve never gotten into a bunch of trouble at work (just fired out of nowhere!) and been worried about someone else taking my job, but I imagine it’s not too far off.  I imagine that I would be walking on egg shells trying to make sure that I didn’t rock the boat or piss the big bosses off.  But what does this guy do?  He rocks the boat.  He pisses the big bosses off.  And now he’s that much closer to actually losing his job.

This blows my mind some, but what really gets me is his response to getting formally in trouble today.  He assumes the role of the victim.  Oh, everyone’s so hard on him (they’re not).  Oh, he’s done so much for the company (not really).  Oh, he was just taking a few minutes to vape in the warehouse (big no-no).  Oh, nobody likes him (not true).  What the hell, man?  You messed up.  A lot of times.  And you got a hundred extra chances.  And everyone coddles you and tries to make it easier for you so as not to ruffle your feathers and you don’t feel appreciated?  Give me a break.

My point in telling you all of this, whoever you are, is that you have to take responsibility for you: yourself, your actions, your life, etc.  No one’s going to take responsibility for a grown man.  No one wants to spend extra time and effort making your life easier at their expense.  Maybe they will for a little bit, but not forever.  And why would you want that?  If you’re unhappy somewhere, go somewhere else.  God Bless America.  40 hours a week is too much time to spend somewhere that you hate that much.  Also, are you giving it your all?  All 110%?  Roll up your sleeves, do it to it, and see if your situation improves.  If it doesn’t, it probably wasn’t meant to be.  And that’s okay.  No one’s going to hate you for wanting to do something else.  No one’s going to kill you for leaving your desk, your office, your job.

Take responsibility, take charge of you and all of your shit and figure it out.  Because no one else is going to do it for you.

That’s all.

 

Responsibly,

Glass

“So we’re gonna walk through the roads of creation.” Bob Marley, ‘Exodus’

[Four Windows by David Glass available in the Kindle Store HERE]

 

Before I get into the bulk of this post, I want to take a moment and say thank you, Dear Reader for all of the time that you’ve spent perusing my blog.  धन्यवाद to my Readers in India. благодарю to all of the Readers in Russia.  This month I celebrate the one-year anniversary of this blog, and while I have not found (made) much time to write posts, I have told myself that it’s time to get back into it and hit this writing thing hard.

Fun fact: The United, India, and Russia are my three largest readerships, however, in 2015 I had views from 50 different countries I believe I have some additional countries to ass to that list from the past two months.  I share this because it blows my mind.  I have a hard time visualizing other people reading this around the world, but it warms my heart to know that they do.  So thank you, thank you, thank you.  I hope you continue to read and enjoy this journey with me.

 

Speaking of writing, I was looking at my Kindle Direct Press report again, realizing that my marketing skills are, well, apparently non-existent.  I keep saying it’s not about the money, so I’m giving them away one at a time for free.  Starting now:

– – –

Exodus Mining Company

The Exodus Mining Company was founded in the southern region of Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula in 1959 with plans to capitalize on the restructuring of the Egyptian government after the World War II and the subsequent British occupation.  With the creation of the Republic of Egypt looming, the EMC’s founders thought, not unwisely, that the demand for building materials would blossom alongside the burgeoning government.  Exodus’ owners dumped their life savings into the equipment necessary to mine the region’s younger and older granitoid deposits and persuaded the existing interim officials to look the other way as they began making preparations to dig.

It seemed like a foolproof plan.  The granite served a number of purposes appropriate to government building.  Sculptures to heroic new leaders, memorials to the fallen, veneers on buildings and the buildings themselves would all require a substantial yet aesthetically pleasing material with which to be constructed.  The market for abundant reservoirs of said material was set to boom, and Exodus was set to be at the forefront of that financial upswing.

Work began as planned at the end of their first year, but it wasn’t long before unforeseen obstacles slowed the EMC’s progress in the desert.  Despite the fairly consistent makeup of the rock, the machinery could not seem to penetrate more than a few meters.  Explosives malfunctioned or failed to detonate.  The rock itself seemed to resist all attempts to excavate it.  Workers, family members of the founders, began to disappear from the makeshift lodging that had been constructed as temporary housing.  Some of them were found dazed atop the mountains, muttering and clawing at the dirt and stone with raw and bloodied fingers.  As the vehicles had not been moved, the rest of the workers were presumed to have merely wandered into the desert, their trails erased by the blowing sand.

Even stranger were the visitors.  At first it was just people from the surrounding villages claiming to be drawn to site.  Then people from other parts of the region, then the world.  Men and women of all ages arrived unscathed from the direction of the deep desert sometimes with children in tow.  Some of them seemed normal enough, but others seemed to have been pulled like loose threads from the fabric of time, as if there being in the present were more uncomfortable than their barefoot journey through the sand.  Within a week, the only thing common among the visitors was the pull they said that dragged them there, not like a pleasant aroma but like a hook in their heart, as if the only relief was proximity to the exposed stone.  Like the stone itself held the cure to some deep and destructive disease.  And so the came, hundreds of them, drawn into the mountains to find a peace they only understood on the most profound levels.
Another month or so passed and the Exodus Mining Company quickly eroded into history, forgotten by most like the dust is was birthed from.  As for the visitors, their trip into the mountains Sinai was as fragile in their minds as the path they took, but the peace that remained was a lasting vestige of their departure into the desert.

– – –

Seeing as how the whole thing is up, I thought I’d also share some commentary about this piece.  I came up with the general idea years ago, that someone had mined Mount Sinai and turned the rock into concrete which was then used to build a structure that drew people from all over.  Originally it was a highway overpass and there was a sort of homeless modern Moses prophesying from under the bridge, so to speak.  People would be drawn but (a la Cassandra) people would balk at his words until the end of the story when the proverbial camera pans out and people are seen walking en masse to the site as the sun sets over the overpass aaaaaand scene.

A few aspects of this approach didn’t work for me, ultimately leading to a total restructuring of the story.  First, the focus was too much on the man.  The idea was supposed to be that the stone, not the man, was drawing the people and the overpass version veered away from the stone too much towards the end.  In that same vein, the whole idea of a structure at all became a problem.  I thought: overpass, no; street or highway, no; then settled on a government building.  The problem with a highway was that I had originally wanted the story set in the US, but couldn’t conceive of a concise and reasonable way to explain why the US would import Egyptian granite for the building of the any sort of American road when there is plenty of rock here in the States already.

Some research needed to be done around this time to make sure that I was being geologically accurate and establishing a concrete foundation (no pun intended) for the semi-religious premise that would float above it.  The actual site of the Biblical Sinai is not universally agreed upon, so it took so reading to decide which site or region I wanted to use.  Also, I needed to confirm the uses for the materials found in that area.  Finally, after deciding on a government structure as the focal point of the religious aura, I had to find a time in Egyptian history that would facilitate the need for extensive mining of raw granitoids.  I got it all sorted out and got ready to start writing.

One last thing was bothering me, however.  I didn’t want to religiously idolize any government entity and, again, take away from the fact that it was the stone that held the residual-ish power.  So it all came down to the mine.  I had the time and the place,  I created people with a general backstory (focus on the stone) and worked to keep the narrative on the effect of the stone versus anyone or anything in particular.  I chose Exodus as the name of the company because of the Book in the Bible of the same name and because I think it added some connectivity and clarity to the piece.

It was a real joy to research and write and I am very proud of it.  I hope you enjoyed and I encourage you to share it with someone you think might enjoy it as well.

Thank you as always, Dear Reader.

More to follow.

Deeply,

Glass

“Four Windows” by David Glass is officially available in the Amazon Kindle store

I have written a collection of vignettes called Four Windows which can be found here for the ultra-low price of $0.99.

#comingsoon

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The collection is called Four Windows because it gives the reader a peek into four very different scenarios, each one intended to more or less give you the feels.  Please give it a try and share it with someone you know and feel free to comment here or write a review on Amazon.  Thanks in advance, Dear Reader and enjoy!

Briefly,

Glass

Five-Minute Betterment: “And none will hear the postman’s knock without a quickening of the heart. For who can bear to feel himself forgotten?” – W. H. Auden

[Dear Reader, I encourage you to follow my blog for more That Man Glass wit and wisdom and also recommend it to a friend or two.  I would like to see this grow, but it’s going to take your help.  Thank you in advance. – David Glass]

Even in our digital world, there is still nothing quite like getting a letter in the mail.  Not a bill, not something addressed to Our Neighbor At, a real live genuine stamped postal parcel from someone you actually know.  I don’t get a whole lot of letters.  Holland (Mrs. Glass) and I enjoy sending and receiving postcards, even when it’s from something as low-key as Free Sundays at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth (we all really enjoyed that by the way, even and especially Baby Glass).  We sent a few postcards that day and it was nice because they were only a quarter or fifty cents apiece.  So, for a couple of bucks (postcards and postage) we were able to insert a little sunshine into a few family members’ days.

I wrote another FMB post about reaching out to friends which I encourage you to read.  In short, I explain the need to maintain social interactions with the people you care about, even and especially if you only have a few people in your life.

Today I want to encourage you to take a few moments and GO BUY SOME STAMPS!

Stamps, you say?  Yes, stamps.  I always have stamps on me.  If you take a look at this picture

Every single day. #everydaycarry #carry #gerber

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you’ll see my “wallet” which is all of my cards secured with a couple of rubber bands that were once on some asparagus.  As of right now (I just checked) I have 8(!) stamps ready to go for mailing postcards, greeting cards, thank you notes, etc.

The process of actually acquiring a postcard and/or writing a letter is going to take more than five minutes, but buying the stamps won’t.  The stamps themselves will ensure that you’re ready when the mood strikes and will be surprisingly effective at encouraging you to use them.

A couple more reasons to go buy some stamps now:

1.  This past January, the United States Postal Service raised the price of first-class letter-mailing from 46 to 49 cents, the biggest hike in more than a decade.  If you get Forever stamps, they will work, well, forever, and you won’t need additional postage, thereby securing the current rate in the event that the letter-mailing cost goes up again.

2.  Someone is tapping your phone.  Well, probably not tapping it, but there has been some conspiratorial buzz about Google or whoever keeping transcripts of people’s phone calls and text messages.  At the very least, Daily Mail reports that cyber criminals can hack Google’s voice recognition software in Chrome.  So, someone might be listening.  As of right now, there isn’t anyone going in and reading your letters (unless they have a reason to) so they’re probably much more private.  Especially if you Learn Cryptography.  By the way, here‘s an eHow to check if your phone is tapped.

3.  You’ll be more prepared than you were five minutes ago.

Number three is a really important one.  I hope you’re taking the time to follow through on some of these Five-Minute Betterments.  I’m sorry to repeat myself again, but I have mentioned before that preparation begets confidence begets perseverance and it’s true.  The more prepared you are, the better your chances will be of getting through whatever situation you might find yourself in, even if it’s something as simple as needing to send a letter.

Stamped

Glass

P.S. – As you can probably tell, I do have a Manstagram, @thatmanglass . Follow me there for the visual accompaniment to the That Man Glass blog.