A Day Off- By DESPERADO SAVAGE.

I needed a day off, so I took one. I was doing a 90 day YouTube Challenge and had made 63 videos in a row and created two channels. If you have children check out my teaching channel, I release lessons Mon-Fri. So on Saturday, I decided not to make one. Then on Sunday, I didn’t make one. I also write a weekly blog post. I was set to put up a post this week from my novel. I decided I needed a week off. So I decided not to write the excerpt from my book. I am beginning to acknowledge that I have limits. So I am taking a day off. I was going to write a podcast and record it today, but I will do it tomorrow. I went for a walk yesterday and took pictures of flowers. Next week I am going to make some more videos and another podcast.

I had fun making my last one, It is called Rocket Man, have a listen here- The Steven Thompson Experience.

I wanted to take the time to share with everyone some tools I used this week to have some fun. Though we are separated physically we can connect with others emotionally and spiritually and build community.

My son turned 11, and I threw him a virtual B-Day party. Here are some of the attractions and games, I am including links to share. We had a blast.
I had a rap- artist-educator Kimyung Kim perform. Check out his page. 

We played a game of Kahoot.

Next was a drawing game- We played Alphabet Landscape number 10 on this list, a mix of digital and analog.
I used the Wheel of Names  to pick the winner.

Gave a lucky young lady a Postmates Gift Card for the winner.

Of course, we needed a cake.

Every Friday, I host Virtual Coffee for our staff.

I had everyone go to WuTang name generator and rename themselves using their Wu-Tang Clan name.
I brewed my latest coffee from Trade Coffee.

Then we played Virtual Family Feud.

In between, I did my first Instagram live for the company, giving families tips on homeschooling while working.

So by the time, Saturday hit I needed to take a day off, then I decided to take Sunday off to, except for writing this post. On Saturday I took some time to take a walk and experience beauty. Below are some pictures I took. In California, we have 19 days left of the stay at home order. After that, we don’t know what the future will look like, but we do know it will be different. My emotions are conflicted, but that’s ok. I realize for me that better doesn’t mean going from imperfect to perfect, it may mean just being fine with being imperfect, and saying I don’t know, and I get afraid, and I get sad, and I get happy, and I get thankful. But when I am sad, worried, anxious, and afraid. I know that I can still throw parties, take pictures of flowers, and take a day off. Even find great cause to donate to. So my wife and I contribute. Or use my WuTangClan name for the title of this post, just because. Signed- Desperado Savage.

 

The Staff Meeting.

The Staff Meeting- You are looking into a staff meeting between Steven- Author and his characters from his in-progress novel- The Adventures of Aquafunkapus and his Band of Misfit Heroes. Steven wrote a rough draft of the novel in November during Nanowrimo. This year on his blog he has been posting excerpts about it. He is looking for feedback, but if you tell him you don’t understand he gets super irritated, tells him something else. He knows you don’t understand it, and lecturing him on the obvious isn’t helpful.  Oh, my name is DJ I am one of the characters in the novel. At the current moment, I am in quite a jam, you can go back through the blog posts and read about it. Danyo is good enough for an introduction in case people are here for the first time?

Danyo- Yes I suppose so, I know Steven is into being kind, and empathic, and watching out for people’s feelings, but in my mind, he has gone overboard and that is why we are in this predicament. Who cares if someone is here for the first time? Do we need to explain why we exist to everyone who shows up? Do you go into Starbucks and ask for an origin story every time you go in? No, you ask for coffee. Steven just needs to put the words out there, if they are interesting people will come back. I mean really how many times have you turned on a movie one hour into it? You don’t turn it off, you watch the entire movie, then you go back and watch the beginning, and if people are here for the first time, they can read it, and send Steven and email. Gosh, I am getting perturbed by him. Speaking of him, Akemi take over, I need to go get him so we can start this meeting.

Akemi- Narrorating- Myself and DJ are sitting around a virtual zoom background. Steven has made some coffee he procured from an instacart window that opened up this week. Steven broke down and went to Starbucks yesterday. The first time in over a month. He felt a bit of shame as he sat in the drive-thru lane. He sat beating himself up because he had so much, and others had so little. Steven finally had to just say that he was thankful for his blessings during a difficult time.

DJ- Akemi, should you be using Quotation marks when we talk?

Akemi-Possibly, but who cares? I mean, I guess I could, but it takes to much effort. I mean, I keep forgetting, to get a quotation mark, do I have to hold down the shift key, or can I push the key? When I push the key, I get an apostrophe, but on the keyboard, it looks like a comma because it is underneath the quotation mark symbol. It’s not that simple. People never think of these things. But it gives me anxiety, so I am not going to use quotation marks!

DJ- So what are you going to do? File a stress claim?

Akemi- I could! I need to have a support animal or something to help me with my stress.

DJ- Just do you Akemi, we can work with it.

Danyo and Steven enter the room. Steven has coffee for everyone, and Danyo is eating out of a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos.

Danyo- Hey, Call this number- 1-719-266-2837- Trust me, it is cool. It is called Call and Oats when you call it gives you options of Hall and Oats songs to listen to.

Akemi-Sure Danyo, really off-topic.  Ok, Steven, what have you brought us here to discuss? What are we doing next?

Steven- I don’t know if I should publish any content from the novel.

Danyo- Stop it! Yes, you should!

Steven- It feels irresponsible to try to be funny during this time.

Danyo- You said 30 weeks, and 30 posts, that was your goal.

Steven- I did, but that was before the Virus came.

Danyo- So what? Who do you think you are anyway? Shawn Hannity? Rachel Maddow? Don Lemon? Get over yourself, America isn’t turning to this blog to get the latest information on the Virus.

Steven- But don’t I have an obligation to contribute?

DJ- I am going to have to agree with Danyo on this one,, you sort of left us in limbo- People don’t understand why Danyo is is the bad guy, they don’t know his motivation, and why he does what he does, you have the responsibility to give the readers a consistent narrative.

Steve- DJ, you do have a point. I have been a little gunshy to publish new content. I sound like I am writing stream of consciousness, my characters all sound alike, maybe I need to step back and figure somethings out, get that narrative set, get it, so people understand.

Danyo- Please, DJ, shut up with that nonsense. Steven, the only obligation you have is to produce your pages. Having a consistent narrative is over-rated anyway. Go on Netflix and pick out a foreign film, any foreign film. I bet you people can’t figure out the narrative. Think about all the inconsistencies in the Marvel movies, the Star Wars films, people being confused and not knowing what’s going to happen in a story, some people call it confusion, some people call it a conflict. The problem is you are falling into the bad habit of wanting to hide behind some made-up nonsense you heard on a Youtube Video.

Akemi- I am going to have to agree with Danyo, you made a promise to put out 30 excerpts from this novel. That is the goal. The second thing you said you were going to do is once you are done doing that, you are going to work on putting it all together into a coherent narrative.

Steven- Thanks everyone, you are correct. I am writing a rough draft, and I need to accept that. Akemi, you are right, Danyo I have to give you credit, you are correct as well.

Danyo- Ok, so what does this mean?

Steven- Well, it means two things. First I will be back next week with a video that explains the story the best I can,

Akemi- What is it going to be called?

Steven- The Devil went down to Georgia.

DJ- Sounds very interesting, what is it going to be about?

Steven- About Danyo, and his motivation. Why he does what he does and what he hopes to achieve.

Danyo- Perfect- Steven remembers to promote your podcast and Youtube Channel, Really what is the point of doing a 90-day challenge posting 57 days in a row, and not sharing. Are you proud of having zero views?

Steven- Nope, I am not, but I can only put out content and hope for the best. Consistency and Effort are my strengths, marketing isn’t. I will get better.
Anyway check out the Latest Episode of The Steven Thompson Experience- Rocket Man.

 

 

 

Grief and Hope

This week STUNK! On a national level, the US saw thousands of people die. On a personal level, my wife’s family lost two relatives to COVID. Life changes in an instant, and I hope to have the emotions to meet specific situations. This week I was tested in several ways. The test began one morning, I was excited this week to get one phone call from the California Department of Education they saw one of my teaching videos and wanted to use it to provide guidance to schools for distance learning.

Not more than ten minutes later, we got the call that my wife’s cousin had passed. Just like that, emotions are high, then emotions are low. Her cousin was a very nice man, when we would travel to Chicago he picked us up from the airport a few times, he would always help the elderly taking them on shopping trips, and would drive my mother in law on errands. His father, my wife’s uncle, had passed away two days earlier, Gilbert, my wife’s cousin, didn’t even know that his father had died.

We have a lot of space in our lives. We make a ton of room for joy, creativity, and goal setting. There is a lot of talk about being creative during this time. I am being creative during this time. I make daily YouTube videos on my personal channel. I created a new Youtube channel for teaching videos. I am active with my podcast. Besides, I started learning how to play guitar. For fun, I am playing video games again, I am reading a ton and journaling. Yet in all of this, I have to make space for grief. More so, I have to be prepared for when the pain will strike.

I believe we all do. Are you prepared for grief? How are you thinking about pain? Do you embrace grief? For a guide on how to rewatch the movie Inside Out . We need to acknowledge that sadness is a valuable emotion; without acknowledging it, in your personal life, you will be tempted to turn to unhealthy forms of support, alcohol, drugs, etc. The only way to get through the pain is to walk in it to the other side. If you don’t acknowledge the sadness in others, you are insensitive, and bordering on cruel. When someone is in pain, stop and consider the person in pain, don’t tell them to get happy. It may come from the right place, but trust me, if you have experienced a loss, it doesn’t help. Experiences warrant different emotions. I know when my Father died when I was in High School I thought the appropriate response was to simply get up. act strong and keep moving, it took decades, and counseling before I realized that my grief not expressed led to unhealed wounds, and poor behavioral choices.

Our hearts aren’t studio apartments with room only for joy, creativity, and happiness. Our hearts are large homes with space for all of our emotions. In this time, we are humans living with common problems. Over 7,000 people died in the United States this week. Each one of those people has multiple people who’re hearts are broken. It is ok to have your heart broken too.
In fact, if you want to have hope for the future. Griefing and mourning is the bridge to healing that you have to cross to get to hope in the future. Every culture has a tradition of mourning.
I turn on the news, and I keep hearing stories about the economy opening up. The economy will eventually open up. Stay at home orders are in place until May 1st. We can take time to plan to open the economy, but the present moment does call for us to grief, to mourn, to remember, to celebrate those we have lost. If you are blessed with health, we can take time to comfort others who are in pain. If you are afraid, we all acknowledge it.

Today is Easter. A day of reflection and renewal. In the Chrisitan faith, we believe in a risen savior who conquered death and who brings calm out of the chaos. Perhaps you don’t have a particular faith tradition, in these times, you still can choose to mourn those who have fallen. You should acknowledge your fears and declare your hopes for the future. I have no idea what the future is going to look like. For those of us who are alive, and in good health, we have an obligation to live our best lives, because I have to believe that the 7,000 people who passed this week had hopes and dreams. I think they had planners with events, parties to go to, and people to see. They were loved, cherished, and cared for.  Take time to remember that you have a gift, a gift they currently don’t have. List your blessings daily. Do your best with the time you have, and meet the moments with your dreams, goals, talents, and gifts. We will continue to hurt,If you need to scream, cry, or shake your fists, after that you will begin to heal. No one knows how long it will take. Your healing doesn’t need to be on a timer. We will be wounded and scarred but not broken. Find time to contribute, to help someone in need, give money to a cause or a person, send a card, call a friend. You are the inspiration that someone in your sphere of influence needs, and you also may need to be inspired as well. Both can happen. Each day we are emptied and need to be recharged and renewed. Right now everyone has a megaphone, the media, the online news, the pendants, the political parties. Turn them down, or off for a bit. Then turn to a trusted voice.  The voice inside of you, the best version of you that is coming up out of the pain, sorrow, fear, anger, joy, happiness, and confusion. What is it saying to you?  Where do you want to go? Set your course and go.

Our most excellent days and achievements lie in front of us.

 

I don’t need permission to make my own decisions – That’s my prerogative

Check out this video before you read. It takes place after the events in this post. Sunday Bloody Sunday- If you would like to get some sort of connection Read it here. If you leave confused. Watch the video below. Confusion may be the expectation. Just keeping it real and trying to work all of this out.

 

DJ found himself in a coffee shop in New York. He had no idea how he arrived. The shop was empty except for the women sitting next to him. He recognized her as the girl who had been decapitated by Danyo. She had the rest of her body back. She made him an Almond Milk Latte. He took it. She pointed to a monitor. DJ looked up and saw himself but 20 years younger. It was his first assignment in the multiverse. He knew that the only option was to sit back and watch the video. Danyo had trapped him. He took a sip of the latte, and watched the scene unfold, below is what he saw.

It was 1989, and DJ was standing with Akemi. They were in the parking lot of  Cipriantos Banquets. A host of teenagers were dancing to Bobby Brown. Bobby was all the rage in 88-89. Don’t be Cruel dropped. Then out came My Prerogative. If you could rock it right, you got a flat top hair cut and some multi-color cardigans. DJ was at his High School Prom.

DJ  could see into the hall he noticed his friends. He saw Travis This was Travis before Laura, he was dancing with the girlfriend of the moment Judith, Freddy was in the corner negotiating a weed deal for after the dance.

Instead of scanning the room for himself, he started examining his emotions. They went from happy to extremely anxious, then sad. A sadness that hit him like a truck running over your feet. This is the feeling DJ felt. Akemi turned to him. Welcome to the multiverse. “I see Freddy, there is Travis? Where are you at?

DJ knew where he was at. He was at home watching something he rented from Sputnik Video or since it was a Friday night in May, an NBA Playoff Game. Akemi had struck a nerve. “I wasn’t at the dance “DJ was insecure. He had female acquaintances, but as far as a girlfriend. Nope, he was too shy, he was stuck in the friend zone. He did have one crush. Valerie Grant was the only girl he wanted to go with. He actually had gone on a few dates with her, but then her boyfriend came back from college, he was with Valerie at the homecoming dance. DJ said. “Akemi turned to him and said, would you like to go? I would’ve loved to go, but that was over twenty years ago.

“DJ, DJ, you are in the multiverse now. Akemi spun around, and suddenly a 17-year-old girl was standing in front of him. He looked down, and he was wearing a black outfit. Precisely the same one Bobby Brown wore in the My Perogative Video. Want to see what it look like? Check it out here-. He even had the shiny lapel pin as well. He had aged backward and was now 17 again. He suddenly had all the vigor of youth but the wisdom of an adult.

He did the first thing that came to mind. He started singing and dancing to My Prerogative. Akemi laughed, Now we need to work on making an entrance.

We need a car. Akemi placed her hands on his head and closed her eyes. Akemi snapped her fingers, and with a flash, he was sitting in a Mustang GT, black, Akemi his buddy Julius was in the back seat with Stephanie. Julius, way to get us here in time! DJ looked at Akemi, and she took him by the hand and squeezed it. Let’s go, honey. “At this point, what do you do? He suddenly had a seventeen-year-old body and a forty-something-year-old brain.

On his arm was a drop-dead gorgeous date. He had a Mustang GT. Life was grand. He walked to the driver’s side of the car, opened the door for Akemi, and began to walk into the dance like a boss. Julius and Stephanie went ahead of him. You two go in. We will catch up. DJ waited for then to get ahead, and then he turned to Akemi.

Ok, so what do we do? “We go in and dance, “she said, “the best way you learn about the multiverse is to experience the multiverse “Just wing it.

They walked into the dance,  Travis and Judith came over. “Judith ran over to Akemi. She squealed, oh my goodness, Akemi that dress is to die for. I knew it would be great on you,” Akemi smiled at her. Let’s go out back, look what I have. She opened her purse and it revealed a bottle of Purple Passion. Wow! Akemi had that 17-year-old girl act down! He wasn’t going to dance to New Kids on the Block. That would be a bridge too far to cross.  The girls went away, and DJ was standing there with Travis. His 17 year old friend Travis . Dating Judith .

DJ stood there with his childhood friend and he despised him , felt nothing but contempt. What was he supposed to say? He figured trolling would work.   I see you eyeing Samantha, you know  wouldn’t give you the time of day, but if I wanted to, I could take both of them home with me and leave you here with Freddy drinking spiked punch before you both went to White Castles.”

Travis just smiled it off, then threw a soft punch that landed on his arm. DJ “Not everyone has it as good as you, being able to have his own car.”

DJ remembered that he would drive Travis, Freddie, and Julius to school each day.  This was before Akemi had upgraded him to a Mustang. The contentment began to melt away, he was suddenly flush with pleasant memories of the good times they had growing up.

Back in the present DJ felt the warmth of his friends, he remembered that night with Akemi as well. His recalled having a crush on her for the first few years of their partnership as well. He picked up his cup and placed it to his lips to take a sip, a hand grew out of the cup, and grabbed him by the face slamming him to the ground, and out of the cup came Danyo. Danyo stood over DJ. Danyo snapped his fingers, the lights went out. When they came back on, a spotlight was on Danyo. Now DJ it is time to begin our new relationship. Why don’t you listen to some Prince to prepare- Danyo turned on some Prince- You can listen to and imagine what will happen next-

 

Mystify

WATCH THE VIDEO! THEN READ THE POST!

D.J was sitting in the corner at the rehearsal dinner waiting for it to start. He wished he had brought in the book he was reading, but felt that it would look pretentious to be isolating himself in the corner reading. He looked up in time to see one of his close friends Freddy walked in the hall.

“Where’s the bridesmaid I am walking with, and how big is she?” This was how Freddy made is an entrance to the rehearsal dinner. Crude and loud and perhaps misogynistic is how modern eyes would interpret this statement. He had literally just body-shamed on of Laura’s bridesmaids. DJ thought that Jennifer would be the one Freddy would be walking down the aisle with. Jenny was a bit portly, she had given birth to two children. Most of their graduating class had gone to college only to fail out a year into it. Another percentage ran up credit card debt, yet somehow managed to cross the finish line with a degree. A few others went to community college, which was really an extension of high school. Some went to work at the local dive bar waiting tables or loading trucks at the freight company. Short money early is not something you considered. Right now my future self is congratulating me on completing college and not being in the group that loaded trucks. That day DJ knew nothing of body shaming, he laughed as he heard Freddy’s comments. It was good to see Freddie. He hasn’t seen him in several months. It was great to be back home. Hanging around with his old friends.

INXS was soothing to him, the lyrics spoke to his heart-If you want to feel a bit of whar DJ is feeling listen to the song here.  DJ was attempting to leave his broken heart behind. He no idea what an almond look was. Thought that day, he stood mystified because his Laura was about to marry his best friend, Travis. Neither of them knew the resentment and bitterness that was brewing in his heart towards the both of them. DJ has hidden his feelings for Laura. Tonight he would act friendly and prepare to celebrate with them.

Wedding rehearsals can either be mundane or fun, depending on your perspective. Though its best to keep your view to yourself. I am sure most people aren’t having fun at wedding rehearsals, but they wouldn’t dare mention it. Superstition rules the day. For example, there is a stand-in bride. Another woman will stand in place for the bride. Yet you never see a stand-in groom. I guess a stand-in groom would defeat the purpose of having a rehearsal. DJ and weddings made him think about The Godfather.

After the Rehearsal was over, everyone would head over to the town banquet hall to have salad and pasta and wish everyone well. Later perhaps the men would go out for a bachelor party, and the women would go try in dresses. Someone would freak out because the dress wouldn’t fit. Yet, it would all come together somehow. So there was a DJ. He went to dinner and sat at the table meant for the wedding party. Freddy was joking about his latest job venture, and Dennis was eyeing one of the bridesmaid’s mother. Which was really bizarre because she was 20 years his senior. Icky and weird all the way around. DJ got up to look for a bathroom. As he strolled by, he walked through the bar and looked up at the TV, hoping to catch a baseball game.

The TV instead had the Soap Opera General Hospital on. This is very strange, he thought. General Hospital is on at 2 in the afternoon. What in the world! He looked at the screen and saw Sonny and Carley fighting. DJ has been a fan of General Hospital since he was a boy. His grandmother would watch the soaps, and he would lie and the floor and watch them as well. I mean, what else was there to do? DJ was familiar with all the main characters on the show. He recalls Luke and Laura, The Cassadines, Robert Scorpio, Holly, Anna Devane. All of the
Love triangles, and of course, no one ever died on a soap opera and stayed dead. You could always count on a person returning from the afterlife in some shape or form.

Yet there was Sonny Corinthos and Jason Morgan( Quartermaine) standing in front of him. Sony spoke first, “I don’t know where you came from or who you think you are, but you don’t talk to my wife.” Wow DJ’s mind was racing, he would’ve never have chosen Carly as a romantic interest at all. She wasn’t his type. Way too high maintenance, plus she had an affair with her mom’s husband. Her and Sonny were a mess of a couple, and she had this odd relationship with Jason, and Jason’s brother AJ now Sonny. She got around. Later she would also have connections with Jax, and another man, who’s name couldn’t come to mind.

He couldn’t punk out to Sonny, and the crazy thing was he still had his rehearsal dinner outfit on. He decided to show off. He looked Sonny dead in the eye and said this. She’s my wife now. I am taking her to my friend’s wedding tomorrow, pack her stuff, and I will have someone pick it up”.

Then to increase his street cred, he threw a left hook and hit Sonny in the mouth. Sonny fell backward, Jason and Max grabbed DJ, Sonny pulled out a gun and stuck it in his mouth.

DJ looked up at Sonny, but instead saw the bottom of the toilet, his shirt was stained in puke and Freddy was standing behind him. He was back at the Rehearsal He was in the bathroom and had no idea how he got there. Freddy bent down to talk to him, “Dude, what in the world”? You haven’t had anything to drink. DJ looked around stunned. “It must have been the chicken he ate.

Freddy shook his head. Come on, you have been drinking, right? Just like the old days? I thought you had given it up, but you still have a little lizard in you. The lizard was the name everyone in the crew had given each other. Freddy handed him a paper towel to wipe his face. “that shirt is a mess” “You should just go out the back.” Freddy gave him some more paper towels to sip his face. “I am going to go talk with Merissa, you know how it goes, drink to she’s cute.

Wow.
DJ shook his head; the misogyny runs deep in this one, he thought to himself.
He turned to answer Freddy, but he was gone. He stood up and started to head to the door. He started walking towards the door, but the more he walked, the further away the door seemed to be, everything went black, and when he opened his eyes, he was lying on a couch. The room was nice, it’s seemed to be a penthouse. He looked around, and he saw Carly from General Hospital staring at him .” You can’t be here,”! She threw his jacket at him. “You need to get out” She began pacing around the room. He stood up, he might as well give the crowd watching a show. “Sonny and his lapdog are on there way here” DJ stood up, and took off his jacket, he heard a bang on the door, and the. He heard Sonny’s voice. “I am coming in Carly, I am going to kill that piece of garbage, the door was kicked in, Sonny, Jason, and Max stormed in. DJ ran over and grabbed Carley, Sonny , Jason, and Max stopped. DJ really that if he were in a dream, he might as well go with it and have some fun.

“DJ held Carley who was squirming, he looked at the trio and exclaimed in a loud voice, “I told you, she is my wife now. Then he planted a kiss on Carley, next by some sort of instinct he pulled a gun out of his pocket aimed it at Sonny and pulled the trigger.

The room went black, Carley faded away, the walls of the penthouse melt and suddenly the walls were gone, he was surrounded by trees, in the background he heard the sound of a running river. In front of him was a throne, no one sat one it. He listened to a voice, coming from the throne. “Step forward,” you have passed the first test,” you have passed the first test? DJ thought to himself, couldn’t you have come up with something better than that? That was so cheesy, so terrible, in fact. What in the world kind of statement was that?

DJ was feeling himself; for some reason, being in this weird dream-like world made him feel super – confident.
DJ heard in the distant, INXS was playing -“He heard the following lyrics- You’re eternally wild with the power
To make every moment come alive
All those stars that shine upon you
Well they’ll kiss you every night
Mystify
Mystify me
Mystify
Mystify me”

A cloud floated over his head. The cloud hovered over the Throne and began to take the form of a woman, then a man, then a dog, then a bear, and finally a unicorn. A white unicorn with a rainbow mane, and a gold horn. Greetings DJ! Welcome to the Multiverse. Where life can be anything you choose, and anything has chosen you. Would you like a snack, the unicorn bent over to poop, as much as other people enjoyed the idea of a unicorn pooping multi-colored ice cream, he didn’t. Anything coming out of the rectal area of any animal was not fit for consumption. The unicorn sat down on his throne. No, No, No!!! It just isn’t true. An urban legend, in fact .” Us unicorns don’t poop rainbows” DJ instantly tensed up, Could he read my thoughts?

The unicorn sat up and walked over to a cabinet, he opened it up and pulled out a McRib and some fries. I know that you like these. DJ grabbed the McRib and the fries and sat down. Suddenly a table appeared, and in front of him on the table was a book and a newspaper. “the unicorn responded, “I know that you like to read when you eat, so I got a paper for you, A New York Times and a non-fiction book. Wow, DJ thought. How considerate of you. This was one lovely unicorn.

The unicorn changed shape once again, and this time it was in the form of an older woman too old to be romantically interested in but too young to be his mom.

“As I said, in the multiverse, you can do and be anything you want.” My name is Akemi. I was born in 1878 in China, my parents moved to the US, to San Francisco. My father worked on the railroad and my mother took in laundry. In 1928, I was reading a book on a corner, it was after lunchtime. When suddenly I found myself in Missouri on a raft with two boys and an African American man.

DJ stopped, you were with Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer? “yes and there slave Jim, well I floated down the river with them, and they dropped me off at a cabin. The cabin opened up into a forest, and a unicorn offered me a snack, a hot dog. I had heard about hot dogs in the paper, but we never had any. The unicorn presented me with the same opportunity I am offering you with. DJ took a bite of his McRib, wow this was an awesome McRib. The sauce was scintillating, the onions and pickles made him feel comfortable, and the fries felt like a warm hug on a winter day. He swallowed all the sweetness down and felt a rush of dopamine flow through his body. He smiled.
“I am offering you a job in the multiverse. We hope you will say yes.

we interrupt this program

I am currently doing a 30 post-challenge. For the past eight weeks, I have posted an excerpt from my novel. I am pausing this week. I felt the need to. The entire world is experiencing a universal moment. In California, we were told to Stay at home. I went out to the store and purchased groceries for my family. I feel both blessed and also a bit guilty at the same time. Blessed because my wife and I both can work from home, we have insurance, our health, and our son. We have enough technology and wifi- connectivity to satisfy all of us. Guilty because I know so many people are struggling. I thought about health care-workers, grocery store workers, and the hundreds of thousands applying for unemployment. How do I resolve that tension?  I think it can be resolved by committing to contributing.

My wife hosted a crotchet- along this weekend via stream-yard were the women in attendance made hats for an anti-bullying program called hats, not hate. We watched Inside out as a family. I cooked dinner on Sunday. I completed my videos for my youtube challenge, had two coaching sessions, hosted online- church, and rested from doing any work.
I tried hard not to watch the news but did anyway. I listened to people who had dance parties on Facebook.

This may sound like I was doing a lot, but in fact, I was relaxing. If I sit still, I get anxious, my mind races, and races, and races, and the next thing I am doing is preparing my eulogy because I have convinced myself I will be dead in a week. You can’t think your way out of anxiety, and you can’t contribute to making the world a better place by sitting in place, continually thinking. At least I can’t. The reality for me is. I can contribute by staying at home, social distancing, washing my hands, and making things. I write. I make videos. I host an online church service for my friends. I find out how I can help others. I lead our group of teachers.  I

f I get sick, I follow will follow the protocols suggested by our elected leaders. That is enough. I have to begin to put the news down. I have to be selective with social media. So this week. I hope that everyone is safe. I wish everyone good health. I hope that you choose to make something. Anything. Fear and Panic are choices. I know that I will look at numbers and watch the news. I want to be a contributor.

I hope to be compassionate, and also considerate, realizing that I am blessed, and I can be happy about that. I also can contribute to those who are struggling during this time. In the end, we all are struggling, some physically, and some mentally. If we are struggling physically, I pray that you will get healthy, and I am sorry it stinks, and it isn’t what you or your family wanted.I wish I could wave a wand and we had enough masks, ventilators, and testing kits. Yet I just don’t understand. How in the richest and wealthiest country in the world we are struggling to find masks? A billion-dollar NFL stadium is a fifteen-minute drive from my house. The stores are filled with flat-screen televisions that seem to get bigger. A TV set, A football stadium, those things can’t protect a health care worker from being exposed. Perhaps this is a time where we as a society can pause and rethink our priorities.    If you aren’t physically sick, choose to help others, and choose not to script negative stories, spread conspiracy theories. That’s it—next week. I will be back with regularly scheduled programming.

I wanted to close with a post a friend shared with me from a Rabbi it was very supportive to me. I hope it helps you as well-

Question: This Coronavirus thing has really thrown me. I feel like I’ve lost all sense of certainty. No one knows what will happen next. How do we stay sane when we don’t know what’s lurking around the corner?

Answer: It is not that we have lost our sense of certainty. We have lost our illusion of certainty. We never had it to begin with. This could be majorly unsettling, or amazingly liberating.

This tiny virus of 125 nanometers* has sent the entire world into chaos. All of our plans are up in the air, markets are going crazy, entire countries shutting down, and we have no clue what the future holds.

But that is always the case. We never know what the future holds. We only think we do, and keep getting surprised when things don’t pan out the way we expected. Now the mask is off. We have to admit our vulnerability.

What will happen next? We don’t know. Our experts don’t know. Our leaders don’t know. Only G-d knows. And that is the point. Only G-d knows.

Close your eyes and feel the uncertainty, make peace with it, let yourself be taken by it. Embrace your cluelessness. Because in all the confusion there is one thing you know for sure. You are in G-d’s hands.

Keep calm. Panic and fear are also contagious. Take every precaution as advised by health authorities. Wash your hands well. And every time you do, remember whose hands you are in.

*A nanometre is one billionth of a meter.

 

Sunday Bloody Sunday

WATCH THIS VIDEO BEFORE YOU READ ANYTHING! Except of course this sentence. NOW WATCH THE VIDEO!

Danyo here! Steven is finally making some attempts to promote his Podcast and Youtube Channel. Watts is away this week. She is attempting to find a voice that is different than mine. Personally, I believe that I should be driving the story.

Now for this week. Multiverse jumping in the flesh.  Here is how jumping into multiverses work. First, go with it. Don’t start asking a whole lot of questions. Second The characters who can jump multiverses work in the multiverse- DJ, Watts,Akemi, Me. We work in the multiverse. Laura, Travis they can’t jump into a new multi-verse, but they exist in many. This follows String Theory and if you really have a desire to understand String Theory watch this Ted Talk.

When you work in the multiverse, you jump into a different universes through music videos, television shows, and movies. You will see DJ jump this week so you can get an idea of how all this multiverse jumping works.

Again, resist the urge to start asking a ton of questions on how this works.  Go with the flow. What do you have to do anyway? As long as you have enough toilet paper and purell life is good. Besides if you start asking too many questions Steven will try and research it all, look up the answers, and get himself tied in knots. He is very anxious these days. Be gentle with him.

Fiction is something that is made up, so if Steven wants a Cheeseburger to talk to a mule in 1936 while watching the Yankees play then he can. Let us set the scene DJ is in a coffee shop, he has bitterness towards his childhood friend Travis. Travis is about to leave his wife Laura for a younger woman named Kayla. DJ has rekindled his love for Laura and is plotting to start a new life with her in another multiverse. If he does this, then he will lose his life in the current universe and be forced to quit his job as a multiverse worker, and with it all the benefits of multiverse jumping. He is going to jump into New York. This is why we call it Spiritual Science Fiction Soap Opera. You have all the elements, except for the spiritual part. Be patient. We will add that component soon. We take you to a coffee shop present day before the Coronavirus lockdown. If it were set during the lockdown, you can be sure that DJ would’ve washed his hands, while singing happy birthday then he would practice social distancing, because Steven is all about flattening the curve. Danyo is about finding memes.

DJ sat in a coffee shop, he was listening to Joe Cocker and had a sudden urge to go to New York City. He was thinking of When Harry Met Sally or was it Sleepless in Seattle. He was thinking about Meg Ryan, but the wrong Meg Ryan movie. Bye, Bye Blackbird was in the Sleepless in Seattle soundtrack, and that wasn’t filmed in New York. Well, I think the last scene of the movie is filmed in New York. He wasn’t even listening to Bye Bye Blackbird. He was listening to Feeling Alright.

Yet he yearned for New York. He thought of the autumn leaves, hot dogs, and coffee in those blue cups. So he decided to head off to New York. He set a timer on his watch for five minutes. That would give him five days, but he really didn’t think he needed five days, maybe just one day. So he set his timer for 24 seconds, he got up and went to the bathroom, that way people wouldn’t freak out, if he disappeared for 24 seconds and then returned to his table, 24 seconds later. He took his phone with him, he couldn’t find When Harry Met Sally on any streaming sites, but that didn’t matter, what he did do was find a clip of the movie on Youtube.

He brought it up, and he was in New York.STOP – ( Danyo here, look at this point don’t ask how he got into the movie, he opened up youtube pressed a button and he was in New York, if you ask how he got there, I will slap you, suspend belief.) Danyo disappears back to the story. START- HA!! I be that jarred you a bit! That is what the villain is supposed to do. Ok for real this time, we are going back to the story, and if you are confused GOOD, that was intentional!! A villain like me causes chaos in all aspects of the story. Ok for real now Danyo out. Back to the real story. START-

He was in the living room, he saw Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal talking. DJ slowly creeped out the door to avoid being noticed.  DJ  ran into the street. A cab was headed straight for him. He managed to jump out of the way but only to be splashed by the water. He looked over and saw a strange-looking man or maybe women, leaning against a pole. The person had on black sunglasses, black jeans, doc martens and a My Little Pony T-shirt. He glanced away and kept walking, what DJ didn’t know was that person leaning against the pole was Danyo. His soon to be a nemesis and someone that DJ would either have to kill or be killed by. Perhaps there was a third option available, but no one seemed to know what that was.

DJ took in the smells of the city. It was 55 degrees at 3pm, it was clear, Humidity was 80%, the wind at 5mph, and Precipitation currently was 0. He looked and saw the autumn leaves on the trees. They were an orangish color. He saw a row of benches, the benches were brown, and a few loose leaves had trickled down from the trees and landed on the bench. He thought of heading over to one and sitting down. He turned to his right and saw a couple kissing. The man had on a cream-colored outfit, and the woman he was kissing had a jacket with black buttons and a checkerboard pattern on her coat.

Over her shoulder was a white bag. Both of them had their eyes closed as they kissed. DJ wondered if they were really in love or just posing for an Instagram shot. One that would generate thousands of likes. He decided he would head in the direction of the park benches, as he got closer he saw the row of park benches, the trees in this area had changed instead of seeing bright orange leaves, the sidewalk was covered in yellow leaves. He wondered to himself if anyone would come along and clean them.

The benches were empty. Which was odd considering the time of day. Except for one person, a woman. This was a different woman. Without a partner. Perhaps this was why he yearned for New York. Laura wasn’t his destiny. This woman and the park bench was his soul mate. She had long black hair. Her left hand was on her head. Her right hand was on the bench. She seemed to be posing. She had on a red vinyl coat, black pants, and white boots. DJ made eye contact with her. A chill went down his body, something felt off, then a gust of wind came and blew the leaves straight up in the air. A feeling of dread sped down DJ’s body like electricity flowing through a current. The jolt was so intense his eyes shut. When he opened them, he saw Danyo standing behind her. Danyo ran his hands through her hair, back and forth, smiling, he leaned over her and kissed her. He pulled out a knife and cut off her head, and threw it, it landed at DJ’s feet. DJ jumped, and then he looked down. The head’s eyes opened, and she said to him. “Will you join us for drinks?”

I am too tired to think of a title. So I posted anyway. I know that I am not supposed to make long titles that aren’t SEO friendly. But this is my blog and I can do what I want. ( Sticks out Tounge)

DANYO!! Steven left you in charge of writing titles and this is what you come up with?

Yes, Watts! ” Life is about breaking rules and conventions” Steven has a full-time job. He gets paid to work. If you want an opinion on the title, then cut a check. Earn the right to criticize him.  When someone pays him to write titles, then he will write short titles. Plus Steven needs to find his audience. The person who criticizes the length of the title isn’t our intellectual superior and has no business reading our work. In fact, get out now. Stop reading. If someone is critical of a long title, go get a blog and write a short one. The problem with Steven is that he needs me to say what he is afraid of saying.

Ugh fine! Leave the title long and wacky. I will move out of the way and avoid the lightning that may strike. Also insulting our readers is not the way to build a following. The sheer arrogance of your statements are stunning. If you were upset by Danyo or the title please stick around ! I am taking it from here. Greetings this is Watts, I am one of the characters in this novel and the rude individual at the top is Danyo. He is the villain. Steven is busy. He just finished recording the latest episode of The Steven Thompson Experience you can find it here. Steven’s Podcast turns 3 on March 7th! We are trying to help him figure out a way to celebrate it.

Steven also loves a good challenge. He has two executive coaches, and three accountability groups at the moment, plus his full-time job as a school principal. Yet he loves to add one more thing. Not sure why he does this. He will never say this publically, but he is very competitive and believes he can outwork anyone and everyone, a tab bit arrogant. Still, again, he doesn’t talk about it. So he is not here this week, but you can find him working on his new YouTube Channel- Check it out here– Steven is on Day 15 of a 90-day Challenge.

He told me his only goal is to put up 90 videos. He also said he is going to break all the rules. Please don’t talk to him about analytics, and SEO, because in his mind, the only Youtube experts are those who make videos.

Back to the story.
This story is a Spiritual Science Fiction Soap Opera. I am pretty tired right now, so I am not going to explain everything, go back and read the last several posts, or send Steven an email and ask him to tell the story. He will respond. Ok here is this week’s excerpt. It involves DJ and Laura.  It is a bit short. I am tired it must be the time change. Danyo transition us to the main part of the story. Sure, thank you Watts. ” DJ likes Laura but he is too shy and insecure to admit it. This scene shows a moment in history that he wishes that he could do-over. See below. Look the transitions are still a bit rocky. But it’s the best we can do. Steven doesn’t have much of a budget. So this is where my rant ends and the story begins. Thanks Danyo.

DJ finished his work at the paper. He had written a piece on Jerry Brown’s chances in the Democratic primary. Bill Clinton had too many scandalous affairs to be a serious candidate for President. George Bush was a pretty popular president after the Iraq war, so he wouldn’t lose, right? Who really knew in 92.

DJ didn’t have time to change, but he rushed to the bar. He knew Laura would be there, Sammy and Michelle from the paper would be there as well, and Winston, a friend from his Marxist thought class. The Band played ska. Ska was fun to dance to. DJ would even get into the mosh pit. He went out and purchased some flannels and a pair of black Dr. Martens. Laura was having a strange effect on him and his mood. When hs arrived, Laura waved him over. She already had a drink, the table was empty.

DJ sat down at the table, Laura pushed him a beer, and he began to drink. “Where is everyone?.,” Right now, it is just us. Winston said he needed to study, Sammy had to work, and Michelle may be here , but later. She is having a bad hair day, plus she is holding out that the TA from her Spanish class will ask her out. It looks like it’s just us. The Band was called the Green Beanies. They wore all green, and the stage was adorned with Beanie Babies. At the end of every show, they would throw Beanie Babies into the crowd.

DJ and Laura danced most of the night, they shared beers and had gravy fries. Laura made sure that the gravy from the fries didn’t have any meat products. At the end of the night, both of them were sweating and happy. Laura grabbed his hand and led him out into the night. DJ gave her a hug, and looked into her eyes, for that brief moment, they both felt a connection.

Sparks flew. DJ leaned in, but then stopped. He walked her to the bus, and she got on. He waved goodbye, and she went home. He looked at the bus drive away. Soon after, Travis would come to visit DJ, and Travis hit it off with Laura fast-forward 20 some odd years to today.

Every year DJ would replay that moment. He should’ve kissed her. He should’ve started a relationship with her. He would’ve loved her and never would’ve cheated on her with a 23-year-old.

The one that got away.

 

Steven is away at the moment. He is attempting to figure out how to explain the process in which Danyo harvests emotions and creates a new life for you in an alternate multiverse. Steven likes to think, perhaps sometimes a little bit too much. Currently, he is walking down the street listening to Prince.

Steven has a lot of anxious thoughts. He read this article this week and discovered that you can’t think away anxiety, so he is out walking it away. So you have me, Watts! To catch everyone up.

This is a rough draft of Steven’s story, the Adventures of Aquafunkapus, and his Band of misfit heroes. The story was written by Steven in November of 2019 during National Novel Writing Month. Steven decided to post an excerpt from the novel for the next 30 weeks. This post number six. Steven called this a Spiritual Science Fiction Soap Opera Musical. So far, we have introduced the villain Danyo, Multiverse Jumpers, Akemi, and DJ.

In addition, we have met DJ’s best friend, Travis. Travis happens to be engaged in an affair with Kayla. DJ is upset. This week DJ is reflecting back on his time with Laura in college. One more thing. Steven is the author of the story, the owner of this blog, the host of a podcast, and a youtube channel. He created all of us. He writes himself in and out of the story. It may get confusing. That’s ok. Just write to him. He keeps a google document with feedback and tries to put it into the story. Steven wanted a Prince song for the title, but I am changing it. The title of this week’s excerpt is the One that Got Away. By Katy Perry.

 Twenty-some odd years ago, DJ worked with Laura at the student-run radio station on their college campus. They worked on a political show. This was long before Fox New MSNBC and the craziness we see. Yet it was the time of Oprah, Jerry Springer, and Morton Downey Jr. So the excitement was still to be had.

 Laura had moved to their college from Portland, and she met DJ in line at a coffee place. Grounds for coffee was the name of the spot. DJ would go to read and study between classes. A coffee shop is a small slice of heave. Even when you are stressed and overwhelmed, the smell of beans roasting and cups clanging brought joy back to your heart. DJ enjoyed people watching.

He would stare at couples and wondering what movies they would watch together. He would peer at girls and wonder what it would be like to be in a relationship with them. DJ was ordering coffee, just coffee. Laura ordered coffee and a scone. They were brewing a fresh pot, and DJ thought her to be a bit odd. It was January, and a girl was standing in front of him with dreadlocks and Birkenstocks. Who wears Birkenstocks in the winter?

 As they were waiting for the coffee to brew, he saw her put her bag down on the table. Then come back up to the counter. Darn, he thought to himself, he should have done the same thing. Now there were zero tables left in the place. When the coffee came up, he took his, went over, and put his cream and sugar into the coffee, a ton of sugar. He had watched a movie written by Quentin Tarrantino, and the lead character played by Christian Slater, said he puts sugar into his coffee until the spoon stands up. To heck with getting diabetes, and who thinks about getting diabetes at 22? He looked around the shop, no one was getting up from their seats. 

 He looked over at Laura, and she sat down and was drinking black coffee. This was something he had never seen before. Black Coffee? No cream? No sugar? There had to be something off about this. 

  DJ stirred his coffee and watched Laura, he didn’t know her name was Laura at the time, but he was slowly becoming enchanted by her. Then she pulled out her notebook, it had a sticker on it that read- “Meat is Murder. ” This is cool. She is a vegetarian, the next item that came from her backpack was a book. He saw the title from a distance-“God Is a Woman and She Is Growing Older” DJ thought Wow that is interesting. He had never believed that God could be a woman, he thought to himself. Then the next book came out- The Sexual Politics of Meat: A Feminist-Vegetarian Critical Theory. DJ was in love at that moment.

 

 You would be led to think that Laura and DJ would’ve embarked on a whirlwind romance, that they would’ve married, had kids, moved to Portland and started a tech company. They would homeschool their children and raise sustainable livestock. Nope, not at all. Not even close. Laura would be co-opted. Her activism would soon become raging capitalism. She would start voting Republican. Her God is a woman book would be burned, and she would end up reading books like Fascinating Womanhood: How the ideal women awaken a Man’s Deepest Love and tenderness by Helen Adelin. The idealistic women would adopt the persona of a Stepford wife.

There was a whirlwind romance. The only problem is that it existed in DJ’s head. DJ was too insecure to begin any sort of romantic relationship. The two of them would go on to build a great friendship, and no one really outside of Laura ever knew what she thought about DJ. I mean, who really knows what goes on in the mind of a woman, outside of the woman herself, and trying to figure out what goes on inside that mind is an exercise in futility or arrogance, whichever you choose to believe. 

Fast forward 27 years. DJ thought about Laura. She chooses Travis, and now Travis was picking Kayla. She didn’t deserve this. Not at all. I mean, in some aspect, he felt a strange sense of joy that their marriage was falling apart. Over the years, they had always been the couple who, in his mind, they thought they were better than everyone else. They went to church, they worshipped God, they felt that their church was better than everyone else. DJ had attended their church for several years, but he existed more on the fringes of it. People didn’t really know what to make of him. He poured himself into service, but he never got married, so people thought him odd. He worked a job that had odd hours, and no one really knew what he did. He then packed up and moved away. 

 Yet because they grew up together. Travis confided to DJ about his relationship with Kayla, and again DJ felt shame. He should’ve rebuked Travis for his indiscretions. Yet he failed at that.

The road of stupid decisions is paved with ingratitude. Those were the seeds that led Travis to break his life long commitment he had made with Laura. He never would’ve thought that he would betray Laura when they said there vows. No one would think it or believe it. Travis and Laura appeared perfect. They took Christmas pictures every year and handed them out to their friends. The outfits were matching, even the dog had a matching outfit.

Laura’s Instagram feed was the envy of all of her friends. During Halloween, she had pictures of pumpkin patches, harvest parties, parades at school, and of course, trick or treating with there neighbors. Every year they would meet close friends for trick or treating and then head back to someone’s house for pizza, and the kids would watch The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown.

Thanksgiving was the same, a beautifully set table, a luscious turkey, mac and cheese, yams, and pie. Christmas was a family treasure, matching pajamas, nights when they would all cram into the family van, and go see Christmas lights. On Christmas Eve, they would gather in front of the fire and watch the Polar Express. Then on Christmas Day, Laura would make pancakes; the family would open presents. 

 New Year’s was spent with friends as well. Everyone would watch Dick Clark’s Rocking New Year’s Eve, they would toast in the New Year, embrace and kiss. They were the perfect 21st Century Family. Why because Facebook and Instagram said so. People envied them, wanted what they had. 

 Yet Travis had a hole in his heart. A lack of satisfaction with what he had. A roving eye, An active imagination. He hid it well. No one knew. No one knew the growing discontent that bubbled inside his heart. On the outside Travis was a model citizen, He read his bible, led song service, served the poor, preached an occasionally Sunday message, gave his 10 percent. Coached sports teams. Why then did Travis have this hole?  

It is hard to explain where holes come from. You don’t see them. They are present. Holes can also be doorways, entry points. Travis had a hole, and it led him to Kayla. DJ felt bitter against Travis. Bitterness and regret are potent ingredients. What DJ didn’t know was at the moment Danyo was harvesting his emotions. Harvesting the resentment, and Harvesting the disappointment. Harvesting envy. Danyo was an artist. Feelings were his medium. Sculpting news lives was his passion. Yet it came with consequences. IF you knew the results of your actions, would you still proceed down the path?

” Hey, Steven, we are finished.” Watts cried out to Steven, who was in the other room watching Primary Election results. Steven yelled back to Watts, ” How was the transition back to me and you talking?” Watts looked around, she really didn’t know what to say. Transitioning between the story and the story within a story was confusing. Steven wasn’t helping at the moment. She felt a hand on her shoulder. She turned, and there was Danyo. Danyo was eating a bowl of ice cream, he took a spoonful and began to chat. ” Steven loves watching politics, except he never talks about it because he is afraid of upsetting people.” Watts looked at Danyo with annoyance. ”

“Really, Danyo? You show up mid-story and eating ice cream, and you didn’t bring any to share?” Danyo put down his ice cream and stood up. Danyo had come for a reason. He was going to explain to us how he would harvest the bitter emotions that DJ had and allow DJ the option of going into a different multiverse and starting a new life with Laura. The one that got away. How would Danyo do this? Come back next week to find out. 

Does your mind constantly generate stories that aren’t true? DJ has a problem.

I was watching basketball, doing laundry, drinking coffee, and chatting with Watts, “What’s the rush, Steven?” The questions Watts posed caused me to reflect and change my course. Here is what she told me “Take the next three weeks to introduce the relationship that Donavan and Travis have. Then use week three to introduce Laura.”

Watts was one of my more rational characters. Danyo was one of my favorites because of his devotion to chaos, and Watts helps me to make sound decisions. Watts was a free spirit. For example, as we chatted she was dancing around the room with her headphones on singing along to Hall and Oates the song was You make my dreams come true. She stopped dancing for a minute to make a statement. “Tell them the inspiration behind my character Steven.” “Watts, I went full-blown Austin Kleon Steal Like an Artist for you.” I looked up from the basketball game I was watching and proceeded to talk about the inspiration for Watts. “Watts, you are modeled after the character Watts from the lates 80’s John Hughes movie Some Wonderful.” If you would like to see what Watts looks like, check out this clip. What Watts does in the multiverse will remain a mystery for now. “Watts, what are we going to read this week”? ” She stopped dancing and came over to the table where her coffee was sitting she picked it up. Watts took a sip of coffee, then put down the cup. “This week, we will hear from Travis as he explains his infatuation with Kayla and DJ’s reaction to it.” Then Watts went back to dancing. Watts changed her song to the inspiration and title for the week- Ramblin Gamblin Man. Enjoy.

To deal with the stress of jumping between universes, DJ took up coloring. He read an article about adult coloring and how it helped deal with stress. So he went to the local dollar store and purchased some kiddie coloring books. When he colored in the office, he got strange looks. A co-worker told him that there were actually real adult- coloring books. He didn’t need to be coloring Spiderman at his age.

Rather than purchasing one of those cool adult coloring books, he just went with it and kept coloring Spiderman fighting Doctor Octopus. He pondered, coloring Spiderman purple instead of red. The phone buzzed. His coach had told him to take more risks, so why not color Spiderman purple? That was risky. He looked at his phone and saw TRAVIS.
DJ answered the phone, and instead of saying hello, Travis began to rant about music. DJ was pretty sure he ranted to lighten the mood before dropping some news on him.

Travis started his rant- “You remember the song Virtual Insanity“? Travis didn’t give me time to answer, he just kept going. “What do you think about the line about living underground”? Yes, you as a reader may be thinking, Why do you greet someone with a song lyric?

My response would be, well, why do you greet someone with a hello? Or greet someone with a what’s up? Breaking conventions are just a part of my life. It is who I am, and I am attempting to get more comfortable with just living as who I am.

In good times this was the nature of our relationship. Now it just didn’t feel the same. There was tension. Caused mainly by him. Yet I needed to play along. “Jamiroquai? I remember the video, Let me look it up now.

I pulled up the video on my work computer. I picked a random image from the video to keep the conversation moving forward. ” I never noticed the Raven flying around or the cockroach on the ground, the outfit he has on, is wild.”I think I will dress like Jamiroquai. A black turtleneck with a big old black hat, is he wearing converse all-stars ?”

So what’s up? I finally had to ask Travis or we would go on waxing about music. The phone went silent. “Hey, are you still there ?” I braced myself waiting for his answer. In the pause, before he spoke, my mind began to race. Do you ever fill the silence with scenarios and stories? I do. It is hard to just settle into the silence. So I told stories. I told stories trying to predict what Travis would say.

Here are some clips of what I expected Travis to say. ” Laura left me.” Maybe but he wasn’t crying. Perhaps he would say, “I left Laura” or “Laura caught me”.  He could say “I got called into HR and was fired for dating a co-worker. ” Then I pivoted to ” Kayla found another boyfriend.”

This is just the way my mind worked. In a few seconds, I generated five different scenarios. The thing about it is that none of them would be true or accurate. I would simply get stressed out for no reason. I frequently do this. Do you? Here is another example. I told one of our young aspiring universe jumpers that I thought she was a natural, and she should enter into our intern program. One day a few weeks later, she sent me a text and asked if she could talk to me. I instantly thought to myself, well, she is quitting, putting in her two weeks. I also thought she was going to think I was the creepy old guy hitting on her. I got paranoid. I shouldn’t be sending text messages to interns. I would get Me Too’d. That is why people began to stare at me. I could almost hear them saying, there goes DJ the creeper.  Instead, she wanted to tell me that she was going to apply for med school. I know I am not the only one who has wild thoughts?

In my line of work, I often think to myself, am I making any sort of a difference? I would love to be on stage singing or throwing footballs to open wide receivers, singing Hey Jude, for example. Did you know they Nah, Nah, hey Jude for about 4 minutes? It is so easy for me to get distracted.

Ok, let me get back to the phone call.

Travis said to me,  that he had started a relationship with Kayla. They shared a love for horror movies, He took Kayla to see the latest talking doll movie. Travis had held her hand and kissed her goodnight. He went on saying that Kayla made him feel secure, with Laura he was a caged bird. He needed to fly again. I snapped on him. I told him that this was crazy, he was committing adultery. I didn’t want to hear any more about Kayla. I knew Travis and Laura. We ended the conversation, and I was furious with him. Travis had made a commitment. The commitment to be with Laura for the rest of his life. It doesn’t matter how you feel. Your feelings are not a valid argument made to break a life long promise you made before God and the people who attended your wedding.

Travis opened up his photos app. He looked at the least picture of when he and Donovan had hung out. It was at a baseball game. DJ was eating a donut cheeseburger. DJ always seemed to eat bad food but was super healthy. We all called him DJ, but his real name was Donovan. Donovan has been my best friend since third grade. Travis recalled with fondness that  Donovan didn’t really care what people thought about him. That was his superpower.

One example from our childhood was his behavior at lunch in grade school. He would bring BBQchips to lunch every day, and when people would beg him for food, he would spit in the bag. That would stop people from asking. In addition, Travis admired that  Donovan was incredibly confident, and at the same time, remarkably shy.

For example, he won the school talent show multiple years in a row; by doing singing impersonations, one year, he would dress up as Elton John and did a stellar version of Rocketman. The next year he would sing an obscure Otis Redding song. DJ was the starting quarterback for the football team. He was an all-state talent. Yet he was petrified around the opposite sex. For example,- Jasmine Henderson was the captain of the cheerleading team. DJ had a crush on her since he was in 5th grade, but he would never talk with her until his junior year in High School. He took her on a date, they saw Batman. The Micheal Keaton version. DJ wouldn’t hold her hand or try to kiss her. After the movie, he got frustrated with Jasmine because she didn’t understand the symbolism in the movie, also that she didn’t know about the Cesar Romero version of the Joker. I listened to him as he ranted about how she was beneath him intellectually. DJ read too much and then tried to take on the roles of characters. For example, he had this fantasy that he was Gatsby from the Great Gatsby. Most of us just read the book and took the test. DJ started a fight with our High School English teacher because he felt the teacher wasn’t being consistent with Fitzgerald’s intent. He failed the test as an act of protest.

DJ had an unusual approach to romance. He would pick up Jasmine in his mom’s car, and he would make a mixtape for Jasmine, one that included Bobby Brown, Whitesnake, Charlie Parker, and White Lion. Like I said, DJ was eccentric. The relationship was odd and very one-sided.

Jasmine was dating Lawerence Jackson, who was a year older than us, Lawerence was in college, and he came home to watch the football game. After the match, when DJ went to hug Jasmine and ask her to go to Ronnies pizza, there was Lawerence. Lawerence was holding Jasmine’s hand.  Broke DJ’s heart. I told him he needed to go confront Lawerence, and kiss Jasmine, then take off with her. DJ didn’t. He hung his head and slunk away. He spent the next two weeks in his room with the lights out listening to sad music.

DJ moved to the east coast after college. He said that he wanted to emulate Frank Sinatra in the song New York, New York, if he could make it there he could make it anywhere. He came home for my wedding to Laura, and we would see each other on holidays, and reunions. The cool thing is that DJ introduced me to Laura.

DJ never married. He was 46 single, and oddly happy. I think he had one or two relationships, but he acted as if he lived by some strange code. In fact, his last relationship ended right after he took a job at the tech company he currently worked at. A very odd place. DJ was very secretive about his work. No one really knew what he did. Yet he always had nice cars and plenty of money. If he wasn’t my best friend, I would think he was involved in something nefarious.

DJ was upset with me after I told him about Kayla. I don’t know what happened. I still loved Laura. She was my wife, we had two kids together. I was happy with her. Yet Kayla was magical. I don’t know why. She was a child, I mean I could be her Father. Yet she made me feel strong, powerful. I had a second chance with Kayla. People would look at me, and think wow, this guy has it going on; he is in his forties and can still bag young girls. I find myself at night thinking to myself, that I wanted to leave Laura and the kids for Kayla. Why didn’t the DJ understand? I needed him to understand me. To acknowledge my truth. I didn’t need his judgment.

DJ felt physically ill after hanging up the phone. He felt this onslaught of guilt descend on him. He wasn’t even married but he felt as if he had committed a sin. DJ got up and began to pace. He walked in circles around the office. Picking up items from his desk and moving them around.

He thought to himself – Travis was straight up looney tunes. What in the world? Was he going to leave Laura and his kids for Kayla? A 23 year old fresh out of college?A teacher at his school? Yet this was what Travis was like. When they were kids, he always talked about making memories, living life to the fullest. For example once over winter break he got in the car and drove to the Grand Canyon just for the heck of it. Travis reminded him of a Bob Seger song- Ramblin Gamblin Man. He was turning into a rolling stone. Travis was stubborn too, he wouldn’t listen to my advice. He would have a relationship with Kayla, and to heck with Laura. I needed to put Travis out of my life. My coach had told me to read a book about safe people. Travis wasn’t safe. DJ opened up his desk and pulled out two expresso pods and made them to drink. He then went over to his desk, picked up the coloring book, and placed it in the drawer. He would deal with the stress by pounding a few Expresso’s and then make a universe jump.

DJ was mad at me. I mean, he would never understand my feelings for Kayla. DJ was loyal to a fault and inflexible. He was irrational, that is why he was so successful, but his perfectionistic tendencies were also his downfall. This is why he sat single in his late 40’s. He could’ve married Jasmine, Lawerence was a knucklehead. He didn’t fight for her. Instead he found faults with her. There was a string of women he remembered. He would bring them to double date with Laura and myself. There was  Donna when DJ was 30, Melissa when DJ turned 40. Now. DJ was married to his career. Love had eluded him, so who was he to judge my decisions? DJ was merely jealous. He coveted my life.

Travis was insane, I don’t know what has bewitched him, He really feels justified in this relationship with Kayla. I feel trapped. I think for Laura and the kids, some part of me says that I should tell Laura, yet another part of me knows that this is the wrong thing to do. One, I am not a snitch. Two- Travis needs to tell Laura himself. I am not going to endorse his actions, but I am not going to let him off the hook. I am just going to put my head in the sand and get back to my job.

” So that’s it, DJ puts his head back in the sand and goes back to work ?” Danyo had sat down next to Watts and myself. I offered him some coffee. Danyo declined. Instead, he pulled out a RedBull and mixed it with mountain dew. ” Steven DJ is a mess, I mean what in the world? How can a guy with a stable job, and a career, not have a stable relationship? ” The sheer amount of contradictions in this character’s life is driving me crazy, and I am crazy. ” Danyo sipped some Redbull and Mountain Dew. ” Plus, Steven, why are we drinking all the time?” Could you get a tad bit more creative in our interactions? Danyo put the drink down, and looked up and saw Watts. ” Why is she here”? I laughed. Danyo,” I told you that you would get to do a few weeks and Watts would get to do a few weeks. Watts laid out a perfectly nice plan for the next few weeks. ”  ” I sure hope so” Danyo was agitated. Watts stood up and gave him a hug. ” Don’t worry Danyo, next week you will get some action, right Steven? ” Of course Watts, next week we are going to explore DJ and Laura’s relationship and how she got away.  Which is going to be the title next week. The one that got away. ” Sure Steven, you say that know but you know you always change your mind.” I had to give Danyo credit for that. I am going to try hard not to change my mind. In the meantime the enjoy some pasta.

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