“The New Ramtha” – a Short Story by JL Wilson – read and vote (please!)

“THE WAIT IS OVER! You may now read the short story People Mag calls “a story by JL Wilson” & EW raves “has characters & a story”

After you read my story  (below) and recover from how awesome it is, go here – https://shortfictionbreak.com/spring-18/ scroll to the bottom and click on the green “blah blah blah VOTE blah blah” button (I forgot what it said, the important stuff= it’s green and it has the word “vote” on it). Drop the tick box thing down and scroll to the very bottom and vote for “The New Ramtha” by J.L. Wilson (fancy huh?). Next, share this and tell your friends to vote for my story.

 

 

“You’ve captured me,” the oversized sleeves of his purple robe billowed as he spread his arms and presented himself to a waifish youth pacing the floor opposite. “What now?” he asked, bemused.

The youth muttered incoherently and upped the tempo of his pacing. His mind was a tempest of doubt and insecurity. What now The words bounced around the inside of the young man’s head, his head ached from all the intrigue.

“Oh, I see…” the robed man put up a long, grey finger. “…you didn’t expect to get this far.” The taut ashen skin on his face became a landscape of sharp hills and furrows as a sinister smile transformed his face. He risked a few chuckles; enough to patronize, but not incense his captors.

The youth abruptly halted. His head snapped to face the old man. “Even now, the Ramtha, the murderous tyrant, bane of the people, laughs? You laugh knowing that I can have you killed where you stand?” The deep, penetrating baritone voice belonged to an adolescent boy in the throes of puberty.

The old man cackled exuberantly.

At length, he composed himself and in a velvety smooth voice said, “If you were standing where I am standing, which someday, you probably will, you’d laugh too, dear boy.” His eyes flashed knowingly as he spoke.

The young man clenched a fist and lunged at the Ramtha. The moment his fist would have connected with the man’s greying temple, he pulled up short.

“Tell me why I shouldn’t order your death right now?” asked the lanky young man harshly.

The Ramtha, unfazed by the sudden maneuver, calmly replied “If you wish to take my place as ruler of Lemuria, you’ll need more tactful methods of enforcement than a gang of thugs.” he gestured to the cadre of soldiers around the room.

“Ruler of Lemuria?” muttered the youth, perplexed. “How…” he trailed off, stifled by another effervescent display.

The Ramtha recovered from his latest outburst. He placed his hands on the youth’s shoulders and bored an austere gaze into the young, naïve eyes.

“Kareb? May I call you Kareb?”

Kareb nodded.

The man leaned into Kareb’s ear, causing a few of the soldiers present to produce pistols and lurch anxiously.

“I fear one of your men might make a grievous mistake, shaky as they are, and we have some high-minded talk they need not be privy to.” he whispered.

Kareb pulled back from the grey head and stared intently into its dark eyes, looking for deceit.

After a long moment, Kareb raised his arms, palms down and signaled the men to stand down and said they needn’t be concerned – the old man was harmless without a unit of his legion behind him.

Reluctantly, the men stowed their weapons and exited. All except one. Gerald, a childhood playmate of Kareb’s, still had his pistol leveled at the old man. Visibly shaking and breathing rapidly, he plainly was no warrior.

Still, he was gripped by a courage rooted in a life of downtrodden poverty and abject abuse at the hands of the Ramtha’s regime.

Kareb held out a hand gloved in the same hide leather of his tunic and kilt. “It’s fine, Gerald. I’ll be fine. Join the others.”

Gerald stood for a long moment, “You sure? Remember Olaf’s?” His voice trembled with a volatile mixture of fear, repressed fury, and teenage angst.

“Definitely, my friend. He will gain nothing by killing me, where will he go? We have this entire complex.”

The Ramtha faced Gerald, “Heed your friend, boy. You’ve done well to get him this far, but only he can continue…”

Gerald spat on the floor and left the office without lowering his weapon or looking away from the Ramtha.

The door shut, they were alone.

The Ramtha put his hands behind his back and started to amble around the room. “Well, here we are. Rather, here YOU are…”

“I don’t want a recap. I want answers.” Blurted Kareb forcefully.

The Ramtha stopped, “Answers? What questions?” he queried.

“What did you mean by I’d someday stand where you are standing?”

The Ramtha turned to face Kareb, his face scrunched with suspicious curiosity. “You really don’t know?”

Kareb stared blankly.

“YEE!” The Ramtha stomped a foot and clapped enthusiastically. “I had my doubts about the boys at the Bureau of History and Enli…”

“Know what?” asked Kareb.

“…ghtenment. But Heinrich’s Jugend Programm has…”

“KNOW WHAT, DAMMIT?” Kareb snapped, his furious eyes burned into the Ramtha.

A baleful smile returned to the Ramtha’s face.

He ambled back to Kareb.

“You’ve got a fire burning inside you, m’boy. It’s critical that you learn what I’m about to tell you at this point in your ascension…” he trailed off leadingly.

“Ascension?”

“You can’t be this clueless and be the leader the people need, lad.” said the Ramtha.

“I once stood where you now stand, having the same conversation with the then Ramtha…”

“… the then Ramtha? But you…”

“… are the eleventh Ramtha since Ramtha emerged 300 years ago.” the Ramtha interjected.

Incredulous, Kareb’s eyes narrowed at the Ramtha, trying to pierce the smokescreen of the old man’s body to his soul to find truth.

“I’m A Ramtha, THE Ramtha is a concept fed to the populous. The Ramtha is not a man, it’s an office; a grand part played on a rotting stage in a melancholy production.

“Don’t you see? Lemurians can’t rule themselves. The revolution occurs when a new Ramtha takes control – the people won’t know and they don’t need to. As far as they know, the Ramtha is divine, an immortal god king. They simply can’t know the truth.

“The results of past attempted coups were disastrous. Lemuria was a wasteland ravaged by war before the Ramtha.

“You have two choices. You can remain the proud messiah, free Lemuria from the tyranny of the Ramtha; then watch Lemuria destroy itself, or take up the mantle of the Ramtha and guide Lemuria into the future. Therefore, you’ll need me alive, to serve as an advisor.”

Kareb stared at the Ramtha in disbelief as he struggled to rebuild a shattered worldview. Kareb clamped his eyes shut and went to that horrible night at Olaf’s bistro. Five inquisitors from the Bureau of History and Enlightenment broke into the Olaf’s, a local haunt for the youth in Kareb’s small borough, to thwart a “rebel co-op”, it was really a welcome home party . Kareb knew this because Gerald’s sister was there, the gathering was for her and her newborn daughter, Gerald’s niece. All present were beaten and the women raped, then flayed and burned alive. Is that the price for our security? The thought made him shudder.

The Ramtha continued, “You are here to play your part in this production, now you must choose – be the savior who destroys the world or the tyrant who saves it.”

The office door creaked open. Gerald entered, “Excuse me, I left my…”. By this time, he was arm’s length from the Ramtha. In one fluid movement he halted. He withdrew his gun and shot the Ramtha in the head. The Ramtha’s body crumpled to the ground, the stump that was his head gushed blood.

Kareb lurched back, face twisted in shocked disbelief.

“Whuh…???” was all that Kareb could say.

He watched as Gerald scurried haphazardly across the room to the desk and snatch up a fountain pen. Then, without looking up, he hurled himself at Kareb and buried the pen in Kareb’s neck.

Attempting to speak, Kareb could only gurgle through the blood in his throat.

He fell to his knees, blood covered the left half of his body, pooled on the marble floor. “I heard everything.”

Gerald, his voice starting to crack, held his friend under the arms so he didn’t topple. He looked down at him, “I won’t live through another Ramtha, even if he is my closest friend.” His eyes welled up with tears. “You were wavering, so I’ve decided for you.” Gerald’s lower lip began to quiver. “Remember when we were kids? After weeks of planning we were going to get back at Sigurd and his thugs on the playground? One look at him and you turned white and walked away. Like then, you’re turning white. Take heart, friend. Your death will redeem us all.”

He put a finger on his com, and in a panicked voice yelled, “COME QUICKLY! BRING A MEDIC! The Ramtha stabbed Kareb with his fountain pen. PLEASE HURRY! HE’S FADING FAST!” —

Gerald looked upon the bloody mess that was his best friend; stared tearfully at his glassy, lifeless green eyes and closed them for the last time while What now? What now? What now? reverberated inside his head.

Bashing Through the Prose, In 100 Days…

I recently tried an accelerated writing program offered by thewritepractice.com. The program is designed to help the aspiring writer complete the first draft of a novel in 100 days. It is aptly named “The 100 Day Book” program, the brainchild of Joe Bunting (not to be confused with the “100 Novels in a Day” program from Bo Junting).

Full disclosure – I didn’t finish a first draft, but I’m still pleased with the overall experience. To finish a draft would’ve been great, but I did come away with several valuable lessons.

First and foremost, I learned that I am what Kurt Vonnegut refers to as a “basher”, as opposed to a “swooper”. Hard as I try, I can’t churn out 800 to 1,000 words a day. The basher

“goes one sentence at a time, getting it exactly right before going on to the next one. When they’re done they’re done.”

The swooper

“write[s] a story quickly, higgledy-piggledy, crinkum-crankum, any which way. Then go over it again painstakingly, fixing everything that is just plain awful or doesn’t work.”

Teh Basher
“Hey Joe, where you going with that hammer in your hand?”

I did have a few breakout sessions where I produced 1,000 words, so I can swoop, but for the most part, I bash. All the same, no matter what your approach, this program provides sage advice, deadlines and a support forum for other aspiring writers to hold you accountable and provide feedback on your writing.

Perhaps the most useful feature of the program is the daily email tips to spark the flame of goodly writing inside the budding writer. Notable examples –

“Today, have a character do something. It can be as small as eating a cookie or as dramatic as drawing a gun on someone. Whatever they do, use it to show us who that character is and make them stick in our minds.”

And

“Open up your book to something you wrote a few days or weeks ago. Glance over it and take a few minutes to laugh. Then, once you’re feeling good about writing again, jump back to today’s scenes and keep writing!”

Uno mas,

“Challenge yourself to write something deliberately bad today. What’s the worst sentence you can imagine? Write it down, and then keep writing.”

 

This last tip is especially meaningful for me. As were all the messages concerning what a pissant perfectionism can be. That was what held me back – the unquenchable desire to be perfect.

Many of the daily emails harped on the myth of perfection. Applying the practice tips from these messages were tools that allowed me to write 1,000 words in one day a few times.

I saved all the emails and plan to revisit them as I do my own thing.

BONUS! A cute lady with a squirrelly last name sends you weekly emails with your progress and other words of encouragement. Perhaps most impressive of all is that both cute, squirrelly last name girl and the Joe himself always responded to my questions and concerns with a genuine, not canned response, and in a timely manner.

And Joe is a good sport, I’d message him on Facebook, starting with “Hey Joe, I heard you shot your lady down” or “Hey Joe, where you gonna run to now?” and he played right along.

I was way short on the word count, but that’s because I need to get over this idea that my writing must be perfect as soon it’s written. I’m happy with every single word that I wrote – wish there were more…

I suppose that’d be a complaint – the program didn’t write a book for me. Writing a book is frickin hard, but this program breaks it into manageable tasks, making the process a more… manageable task.

Another perk was weekly author interviews. I attended a few, and it always got me thinking about my own writing process, but while sitting there listening I was jonesin to write, so I skipped some. Looking back on it, I wish I would’ve sat attentively through all of them, that’s part of the experience that I paid for.

In closing, I’d say this program would benefit any budding writer. You may not finish a book, but you’ll be writing and you’ll gain an understanding of the logistics involved in writing a book. In the end, if my ho-hum attitude toward interviews is any indicator, you get out what you put in.

TO FALL IN LOVE…COUNTY

Hello, Internet,

I composed a short story for a short story competition. I’m publishing that story here, so that you might read it, and go vote for it HERE.

I am pretty proud of this story, so I am pulling out all the stops. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. Cheers –

—–

I’ve fallen in Love…County, Oklahoma – Thackerville to be precise. If the proprietors of Winstar World Casino were here, they’d say I was in Paris. Amor, indeed.

Probably less confusing if I say “I took a spill in Love County, Oklahoma.” I’m now a guest at Carter County’s Mercy Hospital Ardmore, Thackerville’s exotic neighbor to the north. It didn’t take much testing to diagnose severe dehydration.

It’s funny how similar casinos and hospitals are. There are the blinking lights, and the veritable symphony of bells, chirps and beeps. The IV infusion pump at the other end of the tubes in my arm could well be a less enthusiastic coin machine. Instead of coins, it runs on bags of liquid. Instead of winning money, the player wins a cocktail of meds.

My adventure into a state of critically low fluid levels started two days ago. At that time, I was a well-hydrated 47-year-old man visiting “Paris” for a poker tournament – Paris if it became a gaming room parody of itself populated by muffin topped rednecks & chain-smoking grandmas and offered overpriced drinks, gimmicky slot machines and token table games.

“Falling in love” – either the kind where gravity forces you to the ground in south central Oklahoma/Paris or the kind that makes you act like a child – was the last thing on my mind. I’m recently divorced, so I’ve done the whole falling in love, til death do you part song and dance.

Get this, the theme of the tournament was “Fall in Love (County)”. It’s early September, the casino was kicking off Autumn with sappiness.

Now I’ll tell you about how I was hustled by a native American woman physiologically, emotionally and financially.

Firstly, my name is Gavin Cleveland. I’m a real estate speculator, or I used to be anyway; I did so well last year I retired. “Retire” sounds off – I have a lot of money, I don’t work. The end.

I enjoy gambling. What is real estate speculation but a high stakes gamble? I’m trying my hand, literally, on the pro poker tour. I’ve started small, at a casino in southern Oklahoma.

I say Thackerville, they say Paris, let’s call the whole thing off.

Shortly after my arrival, I met an exotic native American woman named Awanasea. The thing about her that revved me up was that she looked so wholesome, so genuinely native; a real woman with calloused hands and crow’s feet instead of Hollywood’s Pocahontas. Like a bay horse, her soft mocha skin contrasted sharply with her jet-black hair and brought out glimmering shades of brown in her dark, dark eyes. Her hair was long, with the crimped wavy quality of the occasional “I only have hair because it’s not acceptable for women to be bald” hair days.

I was at a table with two others, playing Texas hold ’em, when Awanasea, garbed in glossy black leather, squeaked leatherily (that is to say, uncomfortably) into the chair at the end of the table. She reached into her purse for some cash to buy in as I raised the dealer to the single bet limit of $50. After hearing that and gawking at my healthy pile of chips, she said “you must be here to Fall in Love.”

“Beg your pardon ma’am?”

“The poker tournament…” she winked.

“Oh.” I smirked. “That’s right. How’d you guess?”

Well, there’s the huge stack of chips, then your miffed expression when you said ‘I raise to $50’, right?” she raised her eyebrows. The house lights set off facets of umber in her eyes.

“That’s right, miss…” I trailed off inquisitively.

“Awanasea. Call me Sea.” she framed ‘SEE-YUH’ in air quotes. “Head over to the poker room for higher stakes, Mr…” She trailed off, imitating my ham-handed approach to learning her name.

“Gavin, name’s Gavin. Where’s that?” I asked.

“Well, Gavin – The poker room, higher limit tables, and the dollar machines are in London.”

“Such diversity in southern Oklahoma…” I quipped.

“Despite you people’s best efforts to the contrary…” she jabbed playfully. “That’s okay. We’re evening the score.” she said. She held a copper hand level with her nose, and rubbed her fingers together in the pan-tribal, indeed pan-galactic sign for money.

She was a feisty one, this Sea. I stood, gathered my chips. Then asked her, “How do I get to London?”

That’s right, a Caucasian American man in “Paris” asked a native American woman for directions to “London”.

She pointed towards some sparkling golden dragons to her right, hanging from the ceiling around a brilliant, terraced jade fountain. “Go through Beijing, Rome, then Madrid, the next area is London. The poker room is at the far end.”

She sounded like a demented geography teacher.

“Thanks. I guess I’ll ‘see-yuh’ later” I said, with a big shit eating grin.

She sighed. “I ‘Gavin’t’ heard that one recently!” she replied.

I was starting to like this girl.

“Clever!…I’m really going now. “You said past Beijing and Rome, through Madrid and to the far end of London?”

She nodded. “Tell you what. I’m pretty hungry. There’s a buffet right there, I’ll walk you over there, I’ll even point out the weak dealers.” she said as she lit a long cigarette, exhaled a cloud of smoke.

We left the table and joined a flowing river of pilgrims seeking fortunes from bedazzling machines and black tables topped with green felt.

We passed through two continents, and now stood before a relief of Big Ben on frosted glass. The buffet was just off to our left, and just beyond, a neon blue “poker room” sign.

Sea grabbed my hand, and we carved a path through machines offering the “Gems of Africa” or “Treasures of the Amazon”. These machines operated as much on money, as on the life forces of the players. She stopped well short of our destination.

“Let’s get a few games in…” she sat at a machine, patted the seat next to it, her dark eyes beckoned.

“I thought you were hungry…” I countered.

“I can wait, it’s open 24 hours anyway.”

What’s a few games on a nickel machine? I thought. That wouldn’t be the last time such a thought crossed my mind. I sat down, fed the machine a twenty and noticed that, being in the “high roller” area, all machines were a dollar. Sea reached over me and pressed the “max bet” button. Her leather jacket squeaked as she stretched. Her fingernails brushed my leg on the way back. This little touching was making me more curious about her.

We spent $60 of my money at the machine (well, not all of it. I still have $0.55 and $1.10 vouchers in my pocket), then we walked to the buffet.

“Well, I guess this is goodbye.” I said, feigning sorrow.

“What? A date with no dinner?” she asked indignantly.

I started. “Date?” I queried, confused but curious.

“Why not?” she replied, eyes sparkling.

“Yeah, why not” I parroted.

So, we ate and had cocktails.

Finally, the check came. I grabbed it to indicate that I was ready to go. Sea jumped up, grabbed my arm and hung on me as we walked to the register.

“Poker room?” she asked innocently.

“Yeah, you coming too?”

“Want me to point out the weak dealers?”

“Oh yeah. Let’s go.” I said, looking down at her. Our eyes met and she came up for a kiss. Nothing too salacious, just a quick peck on the lips.

At that point, it was early evening on Friday, August 25th. It is now midday on Sunday, the 27th according to the whiteboard in my hospital room.

In a casino, there is no time – there are no windows to indicate what time of day it is. There are clocks, but who cares about time when you’re throwing away money?

Sea had me so bedraggled by Saturday night, I forgot to do what I went there to do – play in the poker tournament.

Every time I tried to call it a night, she’d feed me a new reason to stay out. If it wasn’t “one more drink…” or “one more hand…”, it was seizing opportunity, or as she put it, “time to strike while the fire is hot.” The third time she said that, I asked, “as opposed to the fire being cold?” she stopped saying it after that.

Early Sunday morning, I excused myself to the bathroom with the intention of slipping away. Suddenly, the hallway was an old rickety bridge swaying violently back and forth, for me anyway. It got so bad that I staggered headfirst into a water fountain and went lights out. Talk about have a drink.

I woke up at the hospital with an arm full of needles.

My fluid levels are improving, still haven’t seen my wallet, car keys, phone… not to mention the girl I “fell” for.

At least I’m not in Love anymore…county or otherwise.

Again, go here: http://shortfictionbreak.com/fall-17/#poll) to vote. my name is Jarrett Wilson. This story is called “To Fall in Love… County” and when the menu drops down, stories are listed alphabetically by author last name, so mine is near the bottom. Thanks again!


 

So Close, Yet So Far

WP Cover PicThe prezi found here: https://prezi.com/0mvptvuqyviu/ is a synopsis, in a way, of a book I’ve been writing about my experience with a brain injury. It contains excerpts from the book, but guides the viewer with a whimsical poem. I’m gonna go ahead and blame my Ahab like compulsion to write this book for my absence from blogging of late. I made this to show agents and such at a writer’s conference. I was hoping I had enough to get the ball rolling. Turns out, I’m less than halfway done. But, as Ahab got the whale so shall I finish this book – hopefully, it doesn’t do me in, though.

Aztec Gods, Needles in a Foot and Hand Torture, Oh My!

image

I’ve been pretty lazy about the look of my blog. Previous banners have been hastily cropped images of my MRI scans or some such thing. So, I set about to remedy the situation by creating a banner representing my “injourney”. Though it may look precariously thrown together, I assure you that each object represents something very meaningful. I’ll start with perhaps the most powerful being on the banner. The colorful fella in the right corner is Huitzilopochtli,the Aztec god of war and the sun. I’ve a tattoo of Huitzilopochtli on my right shoulder blade –

image

What struck me was, if you say “war” and “sun” back to back very quickly, it almost sounds like “Wilson” – and as you know, Wilson makes top quality sporting good products, and is my last name.
I jest, although not one of his defining divine powers, he’s also associated as being the guide for journeys, having led the Mexica  (Aztecs, though don’t let Huitzi hear you say that, he was against that nomenclature – thought it sounded too much like “ass-tech” and didn’t want people thinking they made fancy toilets or other such things) from Aztlan to the site that would become Tenochtitlan, the Azte…err, Mexica capital city. It is this quality that convinced me that his likeness should appear on my right should blade for the rest of my days. He would always be near to guide me.
The colorful dude on the other side is Xipe Totec, which means “He of the colorful commode”. As you can see, he’s sitting, almost squatting, on a very colorful chair. This is actually a toilet. He was fine with name “Aztec”, thought it’d be a good opportunity to spread the word about his sacrificial, butt guillotine commode. While pooping, a blade slices off the bottom and flushes it straight to Templo Mayor in Tenochtitlan to be offered up to the gods.
image

Again, I jest.

Xipe Totec or “Our Lord the Flayed One”, is the god of, among many other things, the cycle of life-death-rebirth. You see, I’ve come to consider May 22nd, 2009 (the approximate date of my hemorrhage), as the date my old self died. I was reborn when I had surgery to remove the cause of the hemorrhage.

Getting back to the mortal realm, the little girl in the yellow shirt and headlamp is my darling daughter, Quinn. I go to the gym, and therapize myself that I might get to be more active with that little fireball. The headlamp is for what I call “technology spelunking”. I wear it when I need to fiddle around inside my computer case or complete some other task without adequate lighting.

The hand in the vice is a not so subtle reference to occupational therapy and its toils. Not much more to be said about this – if you’ve ever wanted break off your aching hand and use it to give someone (esp. an occupational therapist) a bloody slap across the face, then flip the bird with it, then you understand that image.

Rounding (more like ovaling) out the left side is a MRI scan of the top of my head. The white dot in the middle is a marshmallow I shoved up my nose when I was seven. Since that time, every time someone asks, “What’s that smell?” I invariably answer “marshmallows”.

Come to find out, the marshmallow passed through my digestive tract the same as if I’d eaten it – as such, it has long since done the thing that biological things do, whose name esca…DECOMPOSED (!) in the bowels of some sewage treatment facility.

The white dot in this scan, and the scan of the stick man in the middle, is actually blood – these scans were taken very soon after the big bleed.

The relatively huge foot (MY foot with a NEEDLE in it) is a direct result of that white dot – the blood scrambled some wiring up there, causing a perpetual spasm running through my left arm and left leg/foot. To combat this unpleasant symptom, I get injections of botox every three months, two of which go in my foot (let me reiterate: TWO INJECTIONS! FOOT!)

All these things make up my injourney, and so, are strewn about my path like so many playthings carelessly scattered across the front yard by a whimsical child.

The stick man furthest down the path has a question mark for a head. This is for two raisins –
1. In the future, my head will probably look about the same on the outside. I can’t make any assumptions about what it’ll look like on the inside. Of course, there will still be neurons and dendrites and hormones of varying flavor, but I have to accept the possibility that there might be more white stuff (there also might be a “Johnny Mnemonic” style hard drive or an antenna ala Vonnegut’s Sirens of Titan.
2. I couldn’t think of anything to put there.

And what banner would be complete without the auspices of LepreSean? He popped in and asked, “Whersh me potta gold?” Xipe replied, “I’m sitting on it!”

FIN

@JARRETTLWILSON

Fun with Acronyms vol. 2 and Rhyme Time

Today (or tomorrow, or the next day, and so on until the breakdown of civilization; whenever you might read this), I’d like to tell you about a little mom and pop grocery chain called Wal-mart.
If you are reading this in the distant future and Wal-mart isn’t the hub of shopping activity in your borough, civilization is, indeed, on the verge of collapse.
As of now, 1:47pm CST on January 28th, 2016, Wally World, as it is known in contemporary parlance, is a yardstick…perhaps THE yardstick of American culture. The annals will have it that ours is the age of the of the localized globe, where the world is at your fingertips – literally. This summation contains several omissions (hmmm…’contain omissions’, not sure about that one, but I’ll go with it).
Notably left out of this description is the Vietnam War veteran door greeter who looks at everyone scornfully because they don’t truly appreciate freedom.
Let’s not forget the family of seven with one cart full of essentials (food, clothes, hygiene products) to be purchased with government funds, and another cart full of beer and cigarettes paid for with a crisp $100.
On a more light hearted note, there’s the 200lb woman wearing shorts made for an average sized 14 year old…
I’m getting carried away. The acronym for Wal-mart is Where Ambling, Languid Mortals Acquire Routine Trifles.
Listen, nobody at Wal-mart wants to be there. Hell, they’re not there – that’s where the “Ambling, Languid” descriptors come in. Ambling = meandering about oh so leisurely, languid = lazy, lethargic.
I’d say stop and look around at how people become oblivious, uncaring zombies at Wal-mart, but you (like me) will be one of those oblivious, uncaring zombies. Instead of brains, you’re motivated by being done and leaving.
“Routine Trifles” would be anything, and I mean EVERYTHING that you might need and plenty of crap that you don’t. Stop by the pharmacy to get a blood pressure machine to take your BP after eating one of the varieties of Spam. You’ll want to pick up some toilet paper for when that comes blasting out the other end. Pick up a goldfish while you’re there (the fish tanks are right next to the toiletries at my Walmart – bit of a cruel joke, no?).
It’s a few days later, after writing everything above I wanted to wrap it up, but something kept telling me I needed more. I didn’t understand what more I could do. I felt that I had adequately regurgitated my point onto the page, but the word bile and grammar chunklets on the page beckoned me to await further inspiration. I was listening to the audiobook of When Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris and I got to a part where he writes a poem about a hobo. It was then that I realized why my prose swill bade that I tarry – I must compose a poem. That’s right, people – it’s rhyme time –
I awoke one morning and hungered for cereal with soy milk,
But reached the fridge only to find a small amount of Silk.
I felt a sinking in my heart,
This meant a trip to Wal-mart.
I started making a list of what I needed at the store,
Milk, bread, lunch meat and light bulbs, nothing more.
The first challenge was to find a parking space,
I circled the lot for what seemed like days.
Upon entering the store, I grabbed a cart,
Looked at my list and contemplated a place to start.
I’ve found that, no matter where you begin,
You’ll purchase more items than you intend.
For example, on my way to the lunch meat,
I saw a deal on hot dogs that couldn’t be beat.
This meant, of course, that I had to get buns,
On the way, I saw some Capri Suns.
My daughter has them with her lunch to drink,
I’m never going to leave, I start to think.
I commit to gathering the last few items, then go,
There are so many conveniences to be had, though.
With my cart nearly full, I head to the checkout,
Careful not to look at items that might cause doubt…
…that I have all that I need for now,
If I missed something, I’ll manage, somehow.
Checking my list as I walk out the door,
I started with a short list, but ended up with so much more.

I’ll call this limerick “Jarrett’s “short” list for Wal-mart”.

I’ve enjoyed writing this entry – leave me some comments about your Wal-mart experiences.

Next time, S.T.A.R.B.U.C.K.S.

FIN

@JarrettLWilson

Blowhards and the Trouble with Numbers

“What should I do is vigorously but that the I need to document the blowhard at the top of the ta the most everything will I think it worked think I have my homework to me thank you for your help in this rating is the latch on to you later out of the thing well us tells you so I happen to have some course as always get as summary etc. note that bag works like if I ever found something use IQ a stock of the spring is in the myelin this thing.”
– Me via Dragon Naturally Speaking
I’ve been under the employ of The Good Shepherd Community Clinic, Inc. (GSCC) for about two months now. This job requires that I type more.  Since manually, I type a keyboard scorching 5.3wpm, I use dictation software – Nuance’s Dragon Naturally Speaking. The above gibberish was recorded as I spoke to a coworker about my difficulties mounting a dry erase board in my office. Let me stop there and insert that the comments that follow are not meant to disparage Nuance or its fine product. Quite the contrary, the software increases my efficiency by 152% (give or take, that’s a guesstimate based on a number I pulled out of my bottom).
Let’s analyze this –
“I need to document the blowhard at the top of the ta” must mean…uhh, I got nothin’. You see, I’ve found that Dragon works best when it has a context. Given that fact, we must ask what was the context for “blowhard” and “ta”? Let’s get the official definition of “blowhard” from dictionary.com – “an exceptionally boastful and talkative person.” I can’t say I’ve recently encountered a blowhard, but maybe some stepped into my office while I was away and started bragging about ninja skills or some such nonsense. The next chance it got, Dragon told me to either –
1 Catch this windbag not on ta, but on top of a ta. What is a ta and how does one ascend one?
2 While on top of ta, document the activities of a blowhard.
What about
“note that bag works like if I ever found something use IQ a stock of the spring is in the myelin this thing.”
Again, let’s look at context. It starts of plainly enough, explaining how bags work best if you find something (in it? To put in it?). Wait, I’ve deciphered that part, bags work best when you use your IQ to determine what to stock in it – this is easiest in the spring. If you try it in the summer, fall or, God save us, the winter, you will surely stock the bag with the wrong stuff, then you’ll die poor and lonely. I’m not sure about the remainder of the composition, but Dragon must’ve keyed in on a brain/intelligence vibe owing to the word “myelin” or “a soft, white, fatty material in the membrane of Schwann cells and certain neuroglial cells: the substance of the myelin sheath.” The way I understand it, myelin is the insulation that conducts neurological activity through brain cells. In a manner of speaking, it’s like the outside shell of a subway train car; without it, the train would still get people/stimuli to they’re/its destination, but the cargo will be a bit frazzled when it gets to its destination.
634
My new job roxxorz my soxxorz. Basically, my job is to do everything that I enjoy doing and everything I went to school for. What makes it doubleplusgood is the work environment
Moving on; The GSCC has a strong focus on wellness and improving quality of life. As an employee, I’m encouraged to lead by example and choose a wellness goal or goals every week.
I’ve taken on a new vocation as development coordinator for a nonprofit clinic. We seek to spread wellness across our small community like so much chicken pox festering on the flesh of some unfortunate adolescent.
For my wellness challenge of late, I’ve chosen to write 750 words a week, THIS is word 50, fifty, making the number 50 the 53rd word, but it’s a number, so I’ll fix that. Now the problem is that the word ‘fifty’ is word #54. It has become a case of a number standing in for a word that is a number in a sequence of other words, and so on…
Moving on, my other wellness goal is to be more active with my left hand. Being as clever as I yam, I figured I’ll do them both simultaneously. As such, I’m doing that for tthis portion of the blog. From here on out, like in the previous ssentence, I’m going to leave mistakes – the spasticcitty often causes me to hit some letters twice.
The thing that irks me the most is that I started at about 8:45. It’s now 9:15. I’ve typed a whopping 158…one hundred fifty eight words, not counting the words (and number that counts as a word) after ‘whopping’. That’s a keybooard shredding 158 words/30 grueling minutes = 5.3 wpgm. I’ve found “active” to be especcially tedious – ‘a’ is typed by the left pinky, ‘c’ by the left middle, ‘t’ by the left index,a brief reprieve with ‘i’ on the right side, back to the left mifflr/index with ‘v’, and ginally ginish with ‘e’ with the left ring ginger.sq1e – almost dropped the keyboard. Ivan’t help but think of the symbology that “active” should be the most tiresome, when something like “difficult” id so much easier. I can’t take it anymore, I stop.

FIN

@JarretttLWilson

Jarrett takes a stand

OMG! I had a beautifully written blog ready to post, I clicked “save”, the screen went blank and a dialogue box saying the file no longer exists popped up.
I shall persevere with a brief synopsis of that splendid blog now lost to the great digital abyss (digibyss?).
I wrote the following letter to a collections agency disputing the charges.

August 21, 2015

Texoma Emergency Physicians

PO Box 8775

Fort Worth, TX 78124-0775

Re: Account #Wouldn’t you like to know

Dear Madam or Sir,

The above referenced account is for an emergency room visit on February 10th, 2015 for symptoms that were ultimately caused by an implant malfunction in my spine. Insurance refuses to cover it because I had already been to the ER that day.

I returned due to the fact that the treatment they administered (a pain pill) was having no effect and I felt like I was brushed aside as if I was merely trying to get a fix (an assertion made more credible by the fact that the doctor who referred me is a physical medicine/rehabilitation doctor who specializes in pain management).

If you were to check my medical records in the weeks after that ER visit, you’d find a surgery to correct my implant malfunction and a visit to my neurosurgeon in Dallas to discuss a small hemorrhage that resulted from complications due to the malfunction of the implant.

I recount all of this to show that I knew something was wrong, but was not given the attention I deserved on the first visit. Indeed, I gave the hospital a scathing review when they emailed me asking about my visit – concerning that critique, they’ve not contacted me. The only attempts at communication have been when they call to collect money, indicating their true interest, my bank account, not my health.

Frankly, I don’t think I should have paid the first ER bill – if I got that kind of service at a restaurant, I would have asked for the manager and left no tip. Unfortunately, TMC’s management doesn’t seem to take a customer centered approach when they find out you have insurance (I use the term “customer” as a slight, as I was never treated as a patient).

Please consider this appeal for the $425 balance of the above referenced account, and prove me wrong – that hospitals and those associated with them aren’t just out for the contents of my wallet.

Respectfully,

Jarrett Wilson
You see,  insurance refused to pay because the bill was for my second visit to the ER that day. Given the fact that I  received the brush off,  guy looking for a fix treatment the first time,  I went backand was upgraded to a bed in the hallway! This is an upgrade because EVERY member of the ER staff saw me. Twenty minutes later they saw me leave again.
That 20 minutes in the hallway might cost me $425!
I wanted to share this with you because:
a. Doctors might know more about THE body,  but you are the expert concerning YOUR body.
b. I rarely get the chance to write formal letters,  and I write them real good 🙂

Finding Direction (literally and figuratively)

Please excuse my recent absence from contributing to this blog. You see, this entry is the 129th post to this blog and 1+2+9=12. The 12th letter is L. L is the Roman numeral for 50, therefore I had to wait 50 days (give or take) to post again.

Truthfully, I’ve had a lull in my desire to write. My muse has been elusive (emusive?), but I still like to put words together in a meaningful fashion.

How am I to proceed without inspiration? If inspiration won’t come to me, I’ll go to it and force it to do my bidding. I will be inspired by the word itself. By that I mean that I’ll think of a topic relevant to my recent goings on that starts with ‘I’ and stew (mmm…stew) on that topic until I can’t stew (mmm…stew) no mo’.

After that, I’ll move on to ‘N’ and wax eloquently. After ‘N’ comes ‘S’, and so on in that fashion until I’m I.N.S.P.I.R.E.D.

That said, I’ll begin with ‘I’. I’m reluctant to discuss this, for fear that something will happen to spite this trend, but this being a blog about my brain, I have to report that there is nothing to report. In other words, the trouble spot in my head has been INACTIVE. This is due in no small part to the brainstem cavernoma resection performed by Dr. Jonathan White almost five years ago (read more HERE and HERE).

Fortunately, I only had one cavernoma (more info about this little evil thing HERE and HERE). There are people out there with more than a few of these dastardly raspberries in their heads. There’s a faint possibility that mine will grow back, that’s why I’m happy to report that nothing is going on.

Inactive is the exact opposite of my NON-STOP attitude toward recovery. My advice to anyone faced with a major life change is to go go go. Things are different now yes, but when you stop, you let the life change beat you (Jarrett ain’t gonna get beat so easily).

For instance, even though I still try to talk myself out of going EVERY time, I go to the gym and work out/therapize myself at last twice a week. I wake up super early to prepare for work. Sleeping has become a necessary evil. I don’t enjoy it like I used to; I only do it because my body tells me to. If I could live without sleep, I would. Also, my daughter never stops, so I have to keep moving to keep up with her (more about her later).

On the topic of movement and direction, I’ll move to ‘S’ and tell you about the anomaly of SOUTHWEST. A while back, I had to replace the battery in my car. Being without juice for a brief period, the compass in my car reset. After not calibrating it for a few weeks, the car did it itself. I’m not sure if the car was playing a joke on me, I live near a magnetic anomaly or my car just doesn’t understand that there are four directions, but no matter which way I drove, I was going southwest.

Therefore, I’d leave for work in the morning going southwest. I’d turn left and head southwest for two miles. Then I’d turn right and drive southwest for about three miles…I think you get the point.

In essence, if you were to ask my car for directions, it might say something like this – “start out by going southwest, after you get to the third stoplight, turn and go southwest until you get to an overpass, then do a U-turn and drive southwest for half a mile and you’ll see the donut shop to your right (southwest).

Ok, this is fun, one more – the GPS on my phone and my car discuss directions. My phone says, “head north for about two miles. Then you’ll see the exit for HW 56,  take a right, and head east for three miles, at the second stoplight go north. Go straight through next light, then turn left and park by the north gym to get Jarrett to work.”

My car would repeat these directions back, “head southwest for about two miles. Then I’ll see the exit for HW 56,  take a right, and head southwest for three miles, at the second stoplight go southwest. Go southwest through next light, then turn left and park by the southwest gym to get Jarrett to work.”

My car has since expanded its horizons and embraced all four directions. During that time though, giving directions was easy. “How do I get to X?” I’d chuckle and say, “Just go southwest, silly!”

This entry is getting overlong. Therefore, ‘P’ will stand for PATIENCE. You see, you’ll have to patiently await the rest of the list. I will continue to be INSPIRED on my next entry (a few weeks).

Until then, stay busy and head southwest, unless you need to go southwest.

FIN

@JarrettLWilson

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