Giving Days

I wrote this for a writing group holiday reading party. now it is yours. Giving Days by Joshua R. English On one hand, Raina was larger than the average woman, not overweight so much as oversized. Her boyfriend had rekeyed their condo and kept the dog. No note, no voicemail, not even a text. She had no car or housing, only a glimmer of Christmas. She could do the job. She needed the job. On the other hand, no one had heard of a woman playing Santa at the mall. Mrs. Claus was just standing around serving warmed-over brownies and watered down eggnog. That wasn’t what she wanted. Her life was out of control and she needed to control just this little bit. She needed to play Santa. “Our beards aren’t the best,” the Rent-a-Santa man said. “And the voice. Kids can tell.” “Ho ho ho,” she said. “How the Continue reading Giving Days

Uncle Josh thinks about John the Baptist

Today’s Gospel is Matthew 11:2-11. This is the story of John in prison sending his disciples to Jesus to ask “are you, like, the Dude, or what?” [Obvious paraphrase from The Bible for the Laid Back]. Jesus says a lot of things about the blind seeing and the deaf hearing and lame walking and the poor having good news for a change, but in paraphrase: Jesus waved his arms to those around him and said, “dudes…” But the second time I heard this story, I kept thinking that this was a really dumb question for John to ask in the first place. He was Jesus’ cousin. He knew who Jesus was (Matthew 3:14-15). He knew who Jesus was in the womb (The BLB skims the birth narratives, but more reliable translations do not). So why would John question this? It is possible that he heard the stories of a new prophet Continue reading Uncle Josh thinks about John the Baptist

Uncle Josh Limps to the End of NaNoWriMo

This experiment has not been a successful one, but I know the external factors that led up to this failure: The election took a lot of wind out my sails. OryCon slowed me down, but no more than the other days. The internal failures were consistency: I scheduled a 6-7 am writing hour every day and didn’t follow the schedule for a whole week in despair; and I often didn’t get up on the weekends to write. I didn’t make up that writing time, either. The other internal failure was tracking my progress. I decided to write this one non-linearly. I had a rough outline of what I needed to write and let my mood for each day dictate which scene I worked on. This made for some good writing sessions and for some good drafts. When I knew what I needed to write and let myself go, I wrote Continue reading Uncle Josh Limps to the End of NaNoWriMo

Uncle Josh Metawrites

At OryCon and getting some good practical stuff on writing and process, and some silly stuff that involved losing a rhyming challenge. Ah well. I have fallen into the trap on not writing fiction, which seems to be a constant in my life but it always has that extra special sting during NaNoWriMo. This year I am finding inspiration in my simple desire to be a panelist. I have to check myself from kibitzing through panel after panel after panel. It’s worse when I know the real panelists personally. I like to teach and help other people that’s what I think I’m doing when I’m just being that guy who’s going to help you fill out or ConBingo card. So to mollify my need to pontificate, and to help myself get a framework of my own process for writing and editing, I’m going to work on a series of essays Continue reading Uncle Josh Metawrites

Uncle Josh does the NaNoWriMo thing again

This morning the plan was to get up at 6, make a cup of coffee, and start writing for NaNoWriMo. My body decided that I needed to be up at 5:30, but I wasn’t aware of the time and after failing to fall asleep, got up about ten till six and made my coffee and managed to start writing by 6:08. Not bad. One hour later I heard Stephanie up and about and so I called it a day and checked my word count: 1,714. That had to be wrong. I don’t write that fast. Yes, I’m a fast typist but I average 1,000 wph when drafting. I have a new computer. It’s possible the program I’m using (Focus Writer, damn fine tool) wasn’t calculating it correctly. It’s possible something went wrong with the file. I opened it LibreOffice and it confirmed the count. On the way to work, Stephanie Continue reading Uncle Josh does the NaNoWriMo thing again

Uncle Josh Fights for the Commons (Multnomah County Measure 26-184

The “American Commons” is a phrase I use to describe my ideal political party, although at this point it’s really about being in full support of Democracy as opposed to Oligarchy or Monarchy. One of the things we need to do, as a country but also at every level down to the neighborhood, is apply Democracy to the election process. One way to do this is to publicly finance campaigns, letting each serious candidate draw from a stipend during the official three-month campaign season and have the state buy advertisement slots which can be distributed evenly among those candidates. In the meantime, we have Measure 26-184, which puts strict restrictions on how much any individual can donate to a county-level campaign. To win broad appeal, political figures will need to make a broad appeal instead of getting one or two special interests with deep pockets behind them. I am for Continue reading Uncle Josh Fights for the Commons (Multnomah County Measure 26-184

Uncle Josh goes all Aaron Burr (Oregon Measure 94 post)

Thanks to Hamilton, most Americans know a story of Aaron Burr. Burr does not always act to better his position, but waits for someone to realize his virtue and give him status. When he does decide to make a move to get into “the room where it happens” he finds the last available seat is taken up by Alexander Hamilton. Imagine (or remember) a time when the only way to learn about new movies was to read the news paper (which came to your door every single day) and scan the ads. Sometimes there was a movie reviewer, and some times an ad on TV, and sometimes schoolyard scuttlebutt. You are twelve years old. You see a bunch of movies that look good (they aren’t, but you’re twelve! What do you know?) and you look forward to a whole summer of catching movies. Then a new rating comes out: PG-13. Continue reading Uncle Josh goes all Aaron Burr (Oregon Measure 94 post)

Uncle Josh is Half the Man He Used to Be

Well, not literally, but I am a writer and allowed to bump the baseline, as the song goes. But I am feeling smaller, and I’m not sure I’m comfortable with that. This is the end of Day 13 of our Whole30 and on top of getting sick and tired thinking about and working for our food. It seems like all our free time is going into food prep and cleanup. I carve out enough time to work out three times a week, and I feel like I’m  losing ground. I started serious strength training on June 20, 2013. I did my first set of squats (5×5) at 25 lbs. On September 16, 2013 my squat was 215 lbs. It maxed out at 290 lbs that November and had read Starting Strength on the recommendation of a chiropractor, so I only needed to do three sets of five, but I did them. Continue reading Uncle Josh is Half the Man He Used to Be

Uncle Josh breaks a mayonnaise

This is day 6 of our #Whole30 and it was a tough one. I was tired all day no matter how much coffee I drank. I ate everything I had taken to work and was hungry by the end of the work day. Tonight was also a lifting night, and I was afraid of what the iron would do to me. I had to run and errand during the day and I turned a corner to see the sign of a sub shop and my first thought was “she’ll never know.” I was tempted. Hungry. Worried. And there was the promise of forbidden foods that would make me oh-so-very happy. I even persisted in the illusion that I could hide it. No, that’s not bread and onions on my breath, not at all. Gee, hon, I don’t know how that sub shop charge landed on our bank account.  I was, Continue reading Uncle Josh breaks a mayonnaise

Uncle Josh Dreams of Food (Whole30 Day 2)

Yesterday, according to Weight Watchers, I only ate about 63% of my daily allotment of SmartPoints™. I was satisfied with breakfast, but fell into hunger mid-morning and mid-afternoon. I ate raisins as a pre-lift snack and because it was cool I managed a pretty good workout between WW and dinner. Dinner was wonderful, and there was a hint of peckishness as I fell asleep. I was not prepared for the dream. It was a common scene: I was in a parking lot outside a grocery store moving soda waters and chips from the cart to my car. I opened a bag. I ate a chip. And then I had this horrible feeling that I had done something horribly wrong and betrayed everything that is good and wholesome in the world and had cheated on my wife. I was not prepared for the dream. I tried to hide my sin. I Continue reading Uncle Josh Dreams of Food (Whole30 Day 2)