ANCHORS AWEIGH PART 12

Hey! So it’s been awhile. Holidays happened, life happened, and I’m finding myself overcome with projects, some going on a year old now. However, I didn’t want to abandon this. Thank you to the few who take some time to read my ramblings and I’m so glad to hear from some of you that this stuff actually helps encourage you! That’s the whole point, why I write, create, blahblahblah – to try and make the world a better place if only a little bit at a time. So, I’m going to try and get this back into weekly mode and maybe get into more stuff as time goes on and I get this time management magic worked out.

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So here’s where it starts getting weird.

I got that initial paperwork regarding the treatment of my kidney stone in as quick as I could. A day or two later I learned that it was not sufficient. There needed to be something stating that I was treated, released from care and that there were no subsequent occurrences. So, I figured I needed to do a little more footwork. I thought and thought and thought…and HUZZAH!

I remembered when after I passed the stone I visited a urologist for follow-up. So I tracked down the doctor who did all that, called up the office and was able to get the records sent relatively quickly.

However, in conjunction with that, Navy Personnel Command required I get tested locally to show a recent record of my clean bill of urological health. It would be a doctor’s visit requiring a pee test and a CAT scan.

Uh-oh.

At the time I was working in a call center department for a natural gas company through a temp agency. Because money was kind of tight I used their 0$ group health insurance. I had no idea how much a CAT scan would cost, but I was convinced my meager health insurance wouldn’t cover it, so I googled out-of-pocket costs for CAT scans. Holy Cheerios, the lowest was about $1,500 and highest around $4K. There was no way I could cover that at the time.

All that time I had been praying, seeking God’s will. I was sure he wanted me to pursue enlistment, but with the setbacks I wasn’t so sure he wanted me to succeed. I was seeing it more as a “are you willing to go this far?” kind of faith test, perhaps preparing me for something greater.

Well, I called up people back home in North Carolina and was encouraged to not give up quite yet. Just go into a doctor’s office and see what would happen. Bear in mind, I didn’t have a primary care physician at that time, so I had to go to a Minute Clinic. Before leaving the house that morning I said to God, “Hey man, you want this to happen, I’m gonna need to get this procedure for a song.”

On my lunchbreak, I went to the nearest Minute Clinic location. Handing over my paperwork to the lady at the desk, my heart skipped a beat as her brow furrowed.

“I’m sorry, we can’t help you with this.”

I asked her why not.

“Well, we’re in a Kroger grocery store, so we couldn’t really fit a CAT scan machine in here. But our location on the other side of the parking lot has one! You can try there,” she said with a smile.

So I booked it on over to the location on the other side of the parking lot.

I handed the lady there my materials, she had me sign in, and I asked how much it would cost.

“Oh, well, technically this is just a visit, so that’s $29.95.”

“What about the CAT scan?” I asked.

“We can just put that here under the ‘visit’,” she smiled.

“Wait,” I said, “so the whole thing is just $29.95?”

“With your insurance, yup.”

I swear I could hear the Divine humming Rooster In the Straw.

Sunrise in the early morning hours of Chanthaburi Thailand. (from Adobe Stock)

TO BE CONTINUED

 

Weaks to Weeks

I first felt it last Thursday: a scratchiness in my throat, a developing cough, and the occasional minor headache. By Friday night I was coughing and mildly hacking and by Saturday I was fa-reakin’ sick. The Uncommon Cold, I like to think of it.

It continued to grow Sunday and into Monday. The severity seemed to wax and wane, but I knew I was in its clutches Monday night.

This past week has been three parts hell, two and a half parts heaven.

It’s just so frustrating. You can’t do what you normally do. It makes me feel weaker; when my head is all stuffed and aching I can’t focus or concentrate on anything other than the pain and trying to make it go away.

I’m also afraid of getting Jenn and Stormy sick. As a matter of fact, poor

The sun peeking over to campus.
The sun peeking over to campus.

li’l Stormy did get sick. He has this terrible, occasional cough now and sometimes he goes into little coughing fits. It just breaks Jenn’s and my hearts as it sounds so awful and he doesn’t know what’s happening. Fortunately, he also seems to be on the mend after a doctor visit yesterday. We’ve treated him with saline drops (which he hates and I hate administering them), a Vicks Vaporizer and tonight some BabyVicks ointment.

By some miracle Jenn hasn’t gotten sick.

I think the ailment is starting to leave me, too, finally. After this crazy week, today all three of us finally got a chance to catch up on our rest and I started using the saline mist. Not a fan of it going down the back of my throat, but it seems to help.

So then there’s Sunday – a day to catch up on work and cleaning and such, and then Monday all over again.

And soon – very soon – I’ll be out of the Navy.

While this past week kind of sucked, and while the preceding weeks were remarkably challenging, the groundwork is being laid for life after October 31, and it’s starting to pay off.

Work on The Frozen Wastes has all but stopped, but not on the saga as a whole…more on that in another post.

My meager production company, Phazon Media, is starting to see more action.

Other opportunities continue to arise, too.

And by now, if you’re a regular to this blog, you’ve seen my series, Anchors Aweigh! with new installments being posted every Thursday. Thursdays will be my days for serial stories. Soon I’ll be starting one-shot stories every Tuesday with a weekly check-in thrown in there somewhere; perhaps on

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So that’s it for now – thanks for stopping by!

Anchors, Aweigh! [Part 5 of my story of making the best decision of my adult life]

PREVIOUSLY…

The second time – could’ve been another day, could’ve been later that day – I revisited the notion after a long day at work. For a good month or so I’d spend at least 15 minutes in a stall in the men’s room crying softly. The feeling would just come on all of a sudden; I’d have to log off the phone, hold it in while I walked quickly to the restroom, hope no one else was in there, and just let it out as quietly as possible, sometimes stuffing toilet paper in my mouth to help keep it muffled.

...but you already know what I'm thinking...
…but you already know what I’m thinking…

Following one of those many days I had a similar mental exchange. Except when I got to the accomplishing part it seemed a little easier; I was already in my car and there was a highway right over the hill I could have a fantastic wreck on. But then I thought of the other people who might be possibly involved. And then the third voice barged in again, asking what the fuck I was thinking.

You know what I’m thinking, I responded.

RIGHT – BEFORE YOU DO YOU ANYTHING YOU’LL REGRET, MAKE A FUCKING PHONE CALL!!

And then, I don’t know, I just came to my senses and called back home to North Carolina and talked to my surrogate mom – I was ashamed and scared to tell her what I had been considering. Ashamed for the stigma surrounding people possessing such thoughts and scared to admit it because that somehow makes it more real.

She wasn’t mad, she wasn’t ashamed, but she was scared for me and suggested I call my former therapist. I called her right away and we talked for a few minutes. I called her again a few days later; no more thoughts along those lines, and by that time more people were coming into my life.

The all caps, bold and italic lettering voice I think was the voice of God; or my guardian angel if you think God is above using the f-bomb.

TO BE CONTINUED…

INCOMING: “Finding God in the Waves” (book review)

mike-mchargue-photo
Science Mike

The first time I heard of “Science” Mike McHargue was on the podcast You Made It Weird with Pete Holmes. It was episode 201, posted on April 2, 2014. I listened to it when I was in Germany that month. I listened to it a couple times and I’ve listened to it a couple times since. I then got hooked on The Liturgists Podcast, a podcast he co-hosts with a singer/songwriter named Mike Gungor and then his very own podcast Ask Science Mike.

What captivated me initially and keeps me listening is his story.

Mike grew up in the Southern Baptist evangelical church a staunch Christian and in his adult years, married and a father, served as a deacon in his church. When his parents’ marriage fell apart his faith wasn’t too far behind. He began studying the Bible furiously and found his faith crumbling faster and faster. It wasn’t too long before he was an out-and-out atheist, though he kept that a secret from his closest friends and family for as long as he could.

A few years later, the story goes, he had a miraculous encounter with God which ignited his faith in a new way. And now he’s a voice (among many of a growing crowd) for the spiritually frustrated and homeless. It says as much on the Liturgists website.

In April 2014 I was four months out from my divorce. I had been down this road of doubt before and always found myself back in the faith, but this time was different.

It’s funny, but I think all my major catalysts for times of doubt were failed significant relationships. The first time was when my first ever girlfriend dumped me, blaming (from my perspective) God for it. That was the summer of 1998, when I graduated from high school and was getting ready to go to East Carolina University. Three years earlier I had my first real experience with God, where eternity met the there and then, and had been on fire for Jesus ever since.

Well, it was starting to fade by end of senior year, and then going to a “secular” school – outside of home, family and my Christian bubble for the first time – I found myself questioning a great many things.
And so the cycle of doubt-faith-doubt-faith began for me. And again, each period of doubt followed the failed attempt at a significant romantic relationship.

That cycle more or less broke when I went into therapy nearly 10 years later. Well, I don’t know if it broke so much as it evolved. Instead of trying to control everything and be a good Christian boy I started just letting things happen.

Almost another 10 years later I finally got my first shot at marriage, that sacred, holy institution of the Western Church (WC); what the Catholic Church calls a sacrament (and the term Protestant churches appropriate in their search for deeper meaning and depth in their faith to fill the void left by condemning and abandoning all Catholic tradition).

So there was a lot riding on this.

I did everything to the best of my ability – being patient, loving, kind; doing things dictated by the Western Church such as asking my ex to not have any male Facebook friends I wasn’t friends with (that went over SUPER well) and other things along those lines. Being a long-distance marriage didn’t help (I was stationed in a place she wasn’t able to live), but following the prescriptive dictates of the WC didn’t help much either, except to quicken the inevitable, perhaps.

And so I entered another phase of doubt – this time not so much toward God, but toward my understanding of Him as propagated by the WC. However, without that institution I was so accustomed to since birth, I found myself with more and more questions.

Then i9781101906040n April 2014 I listened to the Science Mike episode of You Made It Weird and for the first time learned of the plight of so many other Christians similar to me in Science Mike’s testimony.

When I found out he was writing a book about his experience I was super excited and volunteered to be an advanced reader and reviewer. And so my review of the book will be up some time this week.

However, I strongly encourage you to check it out yourself – shucks, it comes out TOMORROW* (9/13). Check out the linked websites above, listen to his podcasts, listen to the oft-mentioned You Made It Weird episode! It’s great! It changed my life and I’m super duper excited to bring this review to you soon.

 

*depending on your time zone

Once Upon a Time…

Pre-order today!
Pre-order your copy today! Just click on the image!

Once upon a time, Magnami was a world of fantasy and magic. A great cataclysm was brought upon the land when Dalimor, the King of Shadows, attempted to usurp power from Thael, the Star Guardian. As the peoples of the world began to rebuild, they did so not with magic, but with science and technology.

The cataclysm changed the face of Magnami. The Impassable Mountains sprang up between Aenod and Xiriath; the ocean was widened between Aenod and Silespi; the land of the Huma, Avotin, was brought closer to Aenod, the land of the Hara, thus, expediting the proliferation of tools and machines and the diminishing presence of spells and enchantments.

Where there was once a divine paradise, there is now a frozen wasteland where legend has it time itself freezes in the otherworldly frigid climate.

Over time, the era before the cataclysm (B.C.) fell into myths and legends, stories not to be taken seriously, but only considered as fairytales.

And so, in the new post-cataclysmic world (P.C.) a new era of civilizations strive to make sense of their history and initiate the Myth Initiative. The mission is to explore the myths and legends to discover the truth behind the stories. However, within the coalition is a faction with more clandestine objectives.

Led by the mysterious General Krazán, he always has a handpicked man or woman leading each venture.

At the time of the Frozen Wastes, we join Perilea Greyleaf, a 19 year old freshman in college joining in on what’s supposed to be the final mission of the Initiative. She herself suffering from a genetic condition endemic to her ethnicity has been tenaciously researching the history of her people, the Shohara, and discovering more questions than answers in the annals of medicinal history; but when going down a more fantastical road of insight, she learns of amazing new possibilities as well as a potential threat in the Wastes of a most ancient and evil origin…

Pre-order your copy today!

Doors

Lotsa doors, yo...you can only go through one at a time, though.
Lotsa doors, yo…you can only go through one at a time, though.

The Frozen Wastes Update!

After a couple false starts involving vanishing Word docs, I’ve finally got a handle on the file management system with back-up and so hopefully I won’t have to start the book bible from scratch again. Especially now; it’s getting quite extensive.

[You can pre-order here: https://www.inkshares.com/books/the-frozen-wastes ]

I DID start on the manuscript tonight – got a whopping 476 words! I know that’s not a lot, but I got 800 and change in the bible, so in all, over 1200 words going toward the story. And however many is in the chapter posted here and that’s over 2000! Only 48000 to go! Woohoo!

I want to thank you all again for following and supporting and especially for the folks who plunked down the digital cash for the pre-order! That’s really the best kind of support an author can get, I think. Moral support is great, of course, and the support of my wife, giving me time to work on all this, is fantastic. But moral support doesn’t get books published – dolla bills do.

I know I didn’t finish out the project before, but you can rest assured I will finish this time.
There’s about 88 more days in this campaign…please tell your friends, especially if they like sci-fi/fantasy in the vein of the Weasley twins taking Frodo Baggins to a party at Cair Paravel being DJed by the Doctor and crashed by Kefka.

If you get all those references or know someone who would, this book is DEFINITELY FOR YOU. If you just like the Harry Potter books, Chronicles of Narnia, The Hobbit and the like, THIS BOOK IS FOR YOU. It’s book 1 of 13, so there’s a lot more adventure to be had!

Thanks again – have a wonderful day!

Cliff

Now on YouTube!

I feel like I should say something…

I’ve got a YouTube channel! With a vlog! New episodes every Tuesday and Friday!

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCbvWcTo6JK_Vyos_naU9VfQ

The Tuesday vlog is called Here We Are.

And the Friday vlog is a weekly update on the progress of my first book, The Frozen Wastes on Inkshares.com!

Please check it out and consider subscribing!

A KICK IN THE PANTS

Last night I had the opportunity to attend a panel discussion on web series. The panel consisted of three folks (Bernie Su, Hannah Cheesman, and Julian DeZotti) who have produced series for online distro and consumption and have a significant measure of success.

Check out The Lizzie Bennett Diaries and Whatever, Linda.

There were a few folks there I know from the Collective and a lot of folks I’ve never seen before.

It was my first panel discussion, so I figured I’d go whole hog into the experience and ask a Q during the Q&A portion.

I wasn’t planning on bringing up my ambitious goal of writing a 13-book series, followed up with a 3-5 season web series, culminating in a 1-3 film theatrical event, but when my question on audience-building apparently proved too vague, my hand was forced.

Even now my mind is a little foggy as my head was spinning, but what I took away from the event was: JUST DO IT.

I mean, there I was…I told them the span of the idea and that it’s a bit of a cross-pollination of Doctor Who, Lord of the Rings, and Chronicles of Narnia. And these industry professionals, as well as a lady and gentleman of high import for the industry in Hawaii, all admonished, encouraged, and just told me to DO IT – WRITE THE STORY – DO THE THING!

DO THE THING - by Arvaus on DeviantArt.com
DO THE THING – by Arvaus on DeviantArt.com

Thing is I’ve known I’ve needed to do the thing for quite some time now! I just…haven’t.

I’ve hemmed, I’ve hawed; I’ve put the pro in procrastination but the time of side quests is done. The Dragovian Trials have adjourned and it’s time to go after Dhoulmagus.

So, in terms of stortytelling, of writing, producing, anything, it’s all going toward finishing BOOK I of the KNIGHTS OF THAELION.

Jenn’s been encouraging me ever since our first date (if memory serves (regardless, it’s a good story)). Other friends, along the way, have encouraged me over the years. The inner voice keeps encouraging me.

And yet…RESISTANCE ALWAYS RESISTS. This is why it’s important to be in community with others.

Flyntax and co. have been banging around in my brain since I was 13. Time to let ‘em out.