Monday, February 23, 2009
Over the past couple months I have become a big fan of Facebook. It is an invaluable use of technology to get back in touch with people who have regrettably drifted out of your life and a fun way to interact with people you were already staying in touch with. There are also some cool applications on the site, no doubt far more than I'm aware of, certainly much more than I bother to use. But in spite of getting destroyed by friends who seem to play professionally, I've enjoyed playing Scrabble at a very leisurely pace on Facebook. Another FB application is TextOnPhone which happens to feature several of my short stories. Apparently I'm one of the most widely read authors on TextOnPhone, which I do not have on my outdated cell phone, but I do get to check out reader's opinions of my writing on TOP via Facebook. So far readers have been pretty generous with their praise. Recently a chain mail of sorts was circulating on FB asking people to write 25 random things about themselves and forward the list to 25 of their friends. I typically ignore this kind of thing but my wife got caught up in it and her enthusiasm proved infectious. Next thing I knew, there I was crafting my own chain mail list and highly enjoying every minute of it. I may even write a sequel someday. Since I'm rather pleased by the result of my nudged introspection, I've decided to repost it here on A Line A Day. Certainly it was an interesting way to let people know more about me than they may previously have realized, but perhaps more importantly, it was a great exercise in self exploration that I highly recommend to anyone who has not already done anything like this, whether on FaceBook or your own blog or simply a pen on ink list to keep in a drawer somewhere at home. Those who already know me may find the list of interest. And perhaps those who do not may as well, which is why I chose to post it beyond the radius of my friends. Happy reading, and if you end up being inspired, happy writing of your own.
1. I can touch my tongue to my nose and hold my hand with the grip of a left handed person when writing, even though I write with my right hand. These are my two physical marvels. I wrote the Justice League about them and it turns out that neither qualifies me for superhero status.
2. I decided I wanted to be a writer and that I was a feminist on the same day. It was after I had read my first full length novel, either 10,000 Leagues Under the Sea or Journey to the Center of the Earth, by Jules Verne. The fact that someone had managed to thrill, enthrall, amaze me with nothing more than words on paper convinced me that writing was the noblest of all professions. I assumed Jules was a woman’s name and the book therefore was proof that women really rocked. I came to learn that the author was a man, and eventually learned my mistaken belief was correct after all because women really do rock.
3. Certain phrases amuse and/or fascinate me to no end for no apparent reason. “French Canadian” is one example. Don’t know or care why.
4. I dig quotes and have countless memorized. Actually I probably could count them if I put in the effort, but I have no intention of doing so. “Poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese”. – GK Chesterton. “I have naturally curly hair.” – Charles Schultz
5. My list of pet peeves is fairly short and most are related to commuting via public transportation. One non-transit related peeve I have is when someone remembers that they really loved a book but can’t remember the name of its author. The names of those who have provided you with great reads or great orgasms should always be memorized. I am guilty of breaking my own rule.
6. I understand racial/national pride, but I don’t understand using such arbitrary measures to define yourself. I’d still be Roy if I was Samoan, although I might weigh a little more.
7. The less you think and the more you act instinctively, the better off you’ll be. Works great in tennis, and in many aspects of life as well.
8. I loathe the green line Outlook puts under a sentence it doesn’t feel I have properly phrased, despite the lack of any typos. Has Outlook never heard of poetic license? Can’t anyone program that in? If they can, let’s give him or her a medal. Probably will be her. Women, like poetic license, rock.
9. If you’re at all entertained by this list so far, keep in mind that I’m quite narcissistic and therefore keep constant tab of random things about myself. I’m probably kidding though. I’m rather facetious. I had to look the word up when first described that way, upon which I promptly agreed wholeheartedly.
10. Still, 25 is a pretty big number. I’m running out of material already. Fortunately I’ve now remembered that I love to watch fish in an aquarium, though watching them in the ocean would of course be preferable. It’s my form of meditation, observing wingless underwater flight. Also meditative and cool is being able to populate new worlds with new people through my writing, and permanently capturing slivers of time through photography, such as a moment when Ava has the perfect expression on her face.
11. The opera and ballet were impressive concepts. The radio program was pretty cool, particularly because it made you visualize, now a dying art. Then television shows (sitcoms, dramas, variety, reality, whatever) and movies moved to the top of the passive entertainment list. But it wasn’t until the advent of the infomercial that true majesty was achieved. If it has an infomercial, chances are I own it or have seriously considered buying it.
12. There are so many things I haven’t tried and places I haven’t been to yet. That would apply no matter how many things I had tried and places I’d gone to already. Soon as I’m done typing this list I’m going to try something or go someplace. Unless the Knicks are playing or I don’t feel like it. Gotta love freedom of choice.
13. My earliest memory of a memory is running up a hill to my mother’s waiting arms.
14. I can’t grow a proper moustache or beard. This is a shame and humanity’s great loss. But that’s okay because I have naturally curly hair.
15. I have my regrets but will never let them paralyze me. Keep moving. The shark has the right idea. Speaking of which, if you’re ever trying to keep two or more kids headed together in a relatively straight line in spite of their disorganized inclinations to stop and stare and goof off, just tell them to pretend to be sharks. Works every time. Well, it worked the one time I tried it. No doubt it will eventually come in handy again.
16. I believe that we are all in some way, shape or form philosophers, poets and royalty. But not all of us can carry a tune. I consider it fortunate that my curly headed, beardless self can.
17. I firmly believe in bracing myself for the worst case scenario so I’ll either be prepared or else pleasantly surprised. But usually I don’t truly believe the worst case scenario will occur. My glass is neither half empty nor half full. It’s filled to the brim with champagne.
18. For years I vowed to one day have 6-pack abs (hence the majority of my infomercial purchases) and be able to dunk a basketball. I’ve just about given up on dunking, but it’s not a surrender to age, just transfer of aspiration. Now I want to hit a 100+ mph serve. For all I know I’ve already done so, though I seriously doubt it. I’ve served many aces anyway because placement can be even more valuable than velocity. This too is as true in life as in tennis. Never underestimate the value of being in the right place at the right time.
19. I’ve tried a lot of diets, most of them self created. The dumbest was thinking I could lose weight by having a Starbucks Frappuccino for breakfast each morning in spite of the fact that it wasn’t even replacing what I usually ate, because I tend to have no breakfast at all. For the most part though, I’m a pretty smart guy. I just happen to love sugary beverages so I’m adept at coming up with reasons why I need to have one.
20. Throughout the years I’ve been led to believe that my family bloodline descends in part from Jewish, Irish, and Spanish (Spain) heritage. One, some, or all is probably the case. Good thing I have # 6 on my list.
21. I obtained my second tattoo (an angel) because in case I was hit by a truck (the clean underwear rationale) I didn’t want my first (a skull on fire with a dagger going through it) to be the only artwork adorning my body. Seemed too evil a representation, and since I’m a relatively nice guy I decided this was false advertising. What I am is contradictory, so getting the opposite imagery on the opposite arm made perfect sense. Yes, I am Radio Raheem from Do the Right Thing.
22. I once thought I was just about the fastest person in the world until my dad effortlessly beat me when I challenged him to a race, toying with me until pulling away at the end. This was one of those defining little moments that I’ll never forget. Life is basically a series of such moments linked together by the thread that is our journey from cradle to grave. I will definitely have to re-use that last sentence in a novel or short story, or at the very least, a profound text message. I think I was about 10 at the time of the race, which would have put my dad in his early 30’s. No wonder he was able to demolish me and my delusions. I bet I could beat him handily today, but I wouldn’t think that makes me the fastest guy in the world. Apparently another word for that necklace of moments is wisdom, which will come in handy now that I’m dad to the smartest kid in the history of the world.
23. When you have to be the best of the best simply to earn a place on the same playing field, epic greatness is the result that possibly may not otherwise have occurred. Jackie Robinson had it pretty rough. Made excellence look easy though. Same deal with Jack Johnson. Same deal with Obama. I’m not sure that I’ve ever had to be a pioneer at anything other than my own existence. I’m the first guy ever to be me at this particular point in time. Hard damn work, yet to the outside observer it looks like I’m in cruise control.
24. I felt before ever hearing it said that the genius of Miles Davis was not in the notes he played, but in his pauses, the space he left to appreciate what was around it. I’m pretty sure I can make good use of such knowledge, not only in art but also in the art of living, even if I haven’t quite figured out how to do so just yet.
25. I am the son of an amazing woman, the brother of amazing women, the husband of an amazing woman, and the father of an amazing woman to be. Amongst the gender that rocks, they rock best of all.
- Roy Pickering ( Author of
Patches of Grey
Husband of the talented woman who created this blog -
The Gluten Free Illustrator
Erin is also the owner of this fantastic online shop -
Erin Go Paint Etsy Store
Saturday, February 7, 2009
Prior to the election our our new President I was not an especially political citizen. I pride myself in an ability to see both (or more) sides of any issue, which comes in handy in fiction writing because it allows for creating moments of decency in the most morally deprived characters and allowing the saintly ones to fall considerably short of perfection. Accepting the dogma of a particular party without question or reservation goes against my nature, as does seeing the opposition simply, strictly, simplistically as the enemy. But life among other things is about making choices, and growing up in a non-affluent African American (Caribbean to be precise) household put the democrats in a far more flattering light than the republicans, so I didn’t ponder my registration decision strenuously. It was basically a pre-made choice. When I registered to vote and declared myself a democrat, the timing of it had nothing to do with wanting to support whoever was running for president or governor or mayor at the time. I had gotten a job collecting signatures for a politician who was trying to get on the ballot to run for lieutenant governor of the state of New York and as one of his campaign workers I was asked to register as a democrat, which was fine by me because I already considered myself to unofficially be one. Had I gotten that same job working for a candidate who was republican, perhaps I would have taken the decision lightly enough to say “what the heck” and gone the other way. It was the summer between my freshman and sophomore years at NYU and there were far more pressing things on my mind, like girls and…like girls.
Every four years as election time rolled around I surveyed the field and made a gut call. Typically it was for the democrat. But since I considered politicians a rather untrustworthy lot in general, this felt more like picking the lesser of two evils than supporting who I was most inspired by. I voted for Ross Perot specifically because he had not spent the majority of his life prior to running for president as a politician. That seemed to be the strongest qualification a candidate could possess. After all the sound and fury of each election season, the winner would step into office and for 4 – 8 years achieve scattered results and mixed reviews. Sometimes circumstances dictated a rise in his popularity, other times a significant fall, but none of these men changed the world from my perspective. World changing seemed to have reached its zenith in the 1960’s, whether the agents of that change were politicians or preachers or athletes or musicians, and after that the world simply grew more technologically advanced each year but not necessarily much different than the past. The decades of the 50’s and the 60’s were basically night and day in comparison to each other. Subsequent decades flowed into one another with much less contrast regardless of the fanfare.
Then this time around came around. A man by the name of Barack H. Obama took to the world stage and rocked it like the Kennedys, the Beatles, Elvis, and Grand Master Flash and the Furious Five all rolled into one. There was no doubt in anyone’s mind that if the blatantly right man for the job somehow won, things were going to be quite different going forward. The game was going to be played by a new set of rules. Those who had strongly cared about government in the past continued to do so, but those who had scarcely paid attention before were now also engaged. Obama was not the first black man or the first minority or the first person under 50 or the first dynamic speaker ever to run for president. What he was, what he is, continues to be written in the history books. We’re only in the early chapters of those books, at the beginning of what surely has the potential if not guarantee to be greatness. We sense that great change is coming once again. What that change will be isn’t really clear. I'm not holding out hope for those 40 acres and a mule. Not much beyond disappointment may even occur, if only because there is so very much for this particular presidency to live up to. Time will tell as it always does. But for now, the sense of promise and potential is overwhelming, and all things seem possible even if we don’t actually understand what is meant by all things. What we do know is that a black man became president, not even one with a WASPY name, and if that could happen who knows what might take place next. Condominiums on the moon? Moving sidewalks? Flying cars? Robot maids? A cure for aging and antidote to death? A diet pill that works fantastically for 100% of the people 100% of the time, with no side effect other than increased libido? A pill that enables 80 year old men to get it on whenever they wish? Oh yeah, we already got that one. The New York Jets winning another Super Bowl? That’s what Obama’s election felt like – as if the future, at least the first part of it, had truly, finally arrived.
I've been asked by a number of people to describe the experience of being in DC on the day Barack Obama was sworn in. What did it feel like to be standing for hours among millions in the blistering cold in our nation’s capital to watch the inauguration of our new president, our great black of skin but colorless of soul hope? How did it feel to be there with three of my four siblings partaking in such a historical moment? How did it feel to know the moment would have occurred whether we were there to share in it with the masses or not, whether we had each done our small part by voting for him or not, but we had chosen to come nonetheless because it seemed senseless to be anyplace else? How did it feel the day after the day honoring Martin Luther King Jr. to believe the dreamy vision he had spoken of shortly before his death was by all appearances at last being realized? How did it feel to know that if my daughter ever asks me where I was on the day Obama became president and the future perhaps became the present, I will be able to say – I was right there with him, in body as well as spirit?
It felt great.
- Roy Pickering
Author of Patches of Grey -http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0578005816/ref=nosim/porfessionalp4-20
and Feeding the Squirrels - http://www.synergebooks.com/ebook_feedingthesquirrels.html