Every once in a while, Present Charlie has to reach out to Past Charlie to help out Future Charlie. That’s what this post is for. It’s a re-run of sorts, combining these three posts into one, while making a few updates along the way. Feel free to read along, but mostly this is just for me. I could really use the reminder.

Part One: On Giving Up

Once upon a time there was a young man named Pete Becker. You may have heard of him. He was the software developer who created MOS 865, a suite of productivity software used by every office in the world. His combined technical expertise and knack for business made him a multi-millionaire by the time he was thirty.

Now, your average ordinary Joe would be happy with that kind of life. Beyond happy. But Pete was no ordinary Joe. Because in spite of all his conquests, he also wanted to become the Ultimate Fighting Champion. Crazy, right? But who are we to judge someone else’s dreams?

So Pete hired a ring designer and invested fifty thousand dollars on a gym. He hired Hoshi, one of the world’s best personal trainers. He practiced, conditioned, and worked out every day. Hard. Eventually he landed a professional bout where he faced off against UFC champion Tank Abbott.

In spite of all his training and preparation, Pete lost. He lost bad. Like, not even close bad. The fight was over in less than a minute. It was clear that Pete was, in every sense of the phrase, out of his league.

After the fight, he met up with his girlfriend Monica Geller back in the training room. She assumed that this one fight was enough to “get the bug out of his system”, so to speak, and that he would leave fighting behind. Makes sense. But Monica was wrong. In spite of the odds against Pete and his clear lack of talent, he quietly but firmly replied to her with “I’ve got to do this.”

Perseverance. Determination. Tenacity. Some of the undisputed traits of success. Giving up is wrong. In fact, it’s not just wrong, it’s about the worst thing you can do. We learn about it from a very young age. Our parents, mentors, heroes — basically everyone — they’ve all told us that giving up is not an option. Think of all the sayings and phrases and quotes we have on the topic:

“Winners never quit and quitters never win.” — Vince Lombardi

“When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” — Joseph P. Kennedy

“Never give up! Never surrender!” — Commander Peter Quincy Taggart

Why is this? Well, clearly it’s just to make me feel bad about myself. If inspirational phrases didn’t give us the opportunity to stop and think about how little we’ve accomplished, why even have them? Haha. Just kidding.

I think the real answer is: nothing ever got done by quitting. That is to say, on a global, human, civilization-wide scale. What would the world be like if everyone gave up before the wheel was invented? Or the compass? Clocks? The printing press? Harnessing electricity? And let’s not overlook the greatest invention ever: mashed potatoes.

It’s drilled into our heads at every opportunity. If you stick with something, if you just “hang in there” you will change the world. Or you’ll get a job. Or you’ll pass a test. Or maybe even just fix some toast in the morning. But if you quit? Oh, my friend, you are doomed.

But an important question always gets left out of all this “inspiration”: what if you simply can’t do it? Not as in: you’re lazy, or you let them get the best of you, or you didn’t get back up after that last knockdown. What if, like Pete Becker, you just can’t do it? At some point wouldn’t the worst thing you could do be: not quitting?

Let’s take the case of a hypothetical young man whose lifelong dream is to build a rocket ship out of egg cartons and fly to Saturn? (“Stick with it! Hang in there, kid! You can do anything if you just put your mind to it!”)

Or a young woman who decides her lifelong dream is to take a plastic spoon and dig a hole straight through the center of the earth? (“Follow your heart, little lady! Don’t let anyone put you down! You are strong and powerful!”)

Wouldn’t any sane person deem that kind of positive encouragement wrong? Would you not be serving someone better by saying, “Hey, you’re not giving up. You’re simply accepting reality.”

Accepting reality.

The astute reader may already see where this is heading. I’m not talking about space-boy or mining-girl. I’m not even talking about Monica’s erstwhile boyfriend Pete. I’m talking about me.

For whatever reason, back in the early 1990s, I got it in my head that I could write a novel. I don’t know why, but let’s just blame a billion chaotically firing neurons. So I tried. And tried again. And then again. This isn’t news to anyone following me for any length of time. But here’s the thing. I can’t. After decades of digging with my plastic spoon, I’ve made it a full inch toward my eight-thousand-mile digging goal. Having an idea for a book is the easiest thing in the world. Turning that into a gripping, page-turning tale, as it turns out, takes a little more.

Am I giving up? It sure feels like it. But when I step back to a safe distance, it really feels more like pruning a tree. Think, for a moment, about pruning. Why do we cut dead, odd, or useless branches off a healthy tree? Easy answer. Because everyone wins. We can eliminate the danger of a dead branch falling and hurting someone. We can give the rest of the tree more energy to grow. And sometimes it just improves the view. I don’t know about you, but those all seem like really great benefits.

Part Two: On Closure

Ross had been infatuated with Rachel since high school. But by the time they were in their late twenties, and after many failed attempts at starting any sort of relationship, Ross had more or less given up while Rachel remained oblivious to his feelings.

But then one day while Ross was overseas on a business trip, Chandler inadvertently let it slip to Rachel that Ross harbored romantic feelings for her. While initially shocked and unsure what to do, Rachel soon came to discover she had feelings for Ross too. She decided to do something about it by meeting him at the airport upon his return.

Fortunately (from a story-telling point of view, not from Rachel’s point of view) Ross did not disembark alone. Much to Rachel’s shock and dismay, Ross stepped off the plane with his new girlfriend, Julie. What came to pass over the next few weeks was what we in the storytelling business call a “role reversal”: Rachel now pines for Ross while Ross is oblivious to her feelings.

Some time later, while out on a date with one evening, Rachel complains incessantly about her situation. Her date Michael, in a dual play to help this floundering woman and cut his miserable evening short, suggests that Rachel’s true problem with Ross is that she never attained “closure” in the relationship.

“How do I get that?” Rachel asks. Michael wisely suggests, “Whatever it takes so that you can finally say ‘I’m over you.’”

This clicks with Rachel.


It doesn’t seem unreasonable to assume all writers want to see their published works succeed. But success comes in many forms. Modern popular culture sets a rather high bar. In particular, authors who:

  • Sell millions of books
  • Cut movie deals
  • Earn merchandising royalties for decades

These rare and select few sit at the top of a very large pyramid. But that’s just one of many possible definitions of success, and perhaps the most narrow of them all.

Writers who “only” sell one thousand copies of their book are also successful. I can make an argument that selling one hundred copies counts as well. And for some, success might be the solitary act of having one’s book accepted by a publisher, irrespective of anything that comes after.

The important take-away is that there’s no single definition of author success and that the only definition that matters is the author’s.

Smart Mouse

Almost all neurologically advanced organisms come with an innate fight-or-flight response system, including me. (We’ll just set aside any discussions of my inclusion in “neurologically advanced” for now.) In Part One, I attempted to convince myself that under the right circumstances, flying can be just as intelligent a response as fighting. After all, who would fault the mouse that chooses to run when confronted by a lion?

Well, I can answer that question. The mouse could. We, the third-party observers would not fault the little guy. But I can easily see him scrambling back to his hole and thinking, “I hate myself! I should’ve stood my ground! Am I a man or a . . . ? Well, never mind that. Still, I shouldn’t’ve run!”

The mouse isn’t dumb. He knows running was the right (even the only) choice. But mouse society has indoctrinated him with inspirational phrases: “Success is everything! Don’t give up! Follow your dreams!”

After his moral failure when confronted with a lion, about the only thing that will comfort this poor mouse is the same thing that helped poor Rachel:


Since I first got the itch to write fiction in the early 1990s, I’ve cycled through about every definition of success there is. In the end, however, I’ve landed on a single definition. Well, a single definition with three prongs:

  • To write
  • To be read
  • To be appreciated

As the song goes, “it’s not about the money, money, money.” It’s not fame. It’s not jet-setting about the planet rubbing shoulders with the other award-winning authors. It’s not about having people lined up for blocks at book signings. No, it’s simply about assembling words in a pleasing manner, sharing the words, and having a non-zero number of people say, “Wow, I enjoyed those words Charlie assembled in a pleasing manner.”

And I’ve experienced that already to some extent. Here are all the books on my author page at Amazon:

But in spite of the work I put into them, and how much readers have liked them, in my brain they don’t count because I still haven’t produced a novel. And that’s where I get back to my mouse-vs-the-lion issues. In Part One, I admitted I can’t do this. But I’m still not over Ross yet. I need closure.

Part Three: Plan B

After Rachel left Barry at the alter and moved in with her high school friend Monica, she quickly found herself way out of her depth. Her father had taken care of her, financially, for her entire life. But now her sudden swan dive into independence generated a good deal of mental strain. Topping her list of issues: she no longer had a plan for her life.

“Y’know, it was clear,” she lamented. “It was figured out. And now everything’s just kinda like — ”

“Floopy?” suggested Monica.


Monica pondered her own circumstances anew and then realized that she didn’t have a plan either. They checked with Phoebe who noted, not only did she not have a plan, she didn’t even have a “pl.”

The Plan

Well, unlike them, I have a “pl”.

At this point in my life, it’s clear I’m not going to sell millions of books and cut movie deals. I’m not going to attend the premiere of one of my books adapted into a big budget film. And I definitely will not be invited to the grand opening of “Underhaven World” in Orlando, Florida.

But I can attain closure. I have a backup plan. It’s a good one and I know it will work. How? Whelp, because I’ve done it before. Check it out:

Exhibit A: Timekeeper. My biggest software pet project has been Timekeeper: a Windows-based application that tracks all the time I spend doing things. The project began in 1999 and I used the (simply awful) Version 1.0 for about eight years. I finally got around to writing Version 2.0 and moved to that in 2008. By 2013 I’d been talking about how cool the hypothetical Version 3.0 would be for five straight years.

Unable to put it off any longer, I finally began work on the third version on March 1, 2013. I kept at it in my spare time: mornings, evenings, weekends. The list of features grew. I changed directions once or twice. I built new software libraries to drive it.

The months wore on. I grew to hate it. I just wanted it to be over. By October 2014, I decided it wasn’t good, but it was good enough. While it didn’t have all the features I wanted (and it definitely had bugs), it passed my minimum requirements for usability. I slapped the “beta” label on it, uploaded it, and *snap* just like that, my brain considered it done. I can still remember how good I felt. Not out of any sort of sense of accomplishment but by just having this self-imposed weight lifted from me.

Over the course of 592 days of development, I’d put in 801 hours, 35 minutes, and 51 seconds of work on it. (A figure I know is accurate because I use Timekeeper: a Windows-based application that tracks all the time I spend doing things.) And even though it wasn’t finished, the act of releasing it to the public gave me closure.

Exhibit B: Personal Mail Service. I’m in the habit of using a different email address for almost everything. This keeps my private email address spam-free while disposable email addresses are handed out to everyone from Amazon to Zoho. However, creating and maintaining them was a pain. As they say, necessity is the mother of invention, so I came up with an idea: my own mail service.

I needed a web-based tool where creating and maintaining dozens, if not hundreds, of email addresses would be easy peasy. But as I began looking into the sheer programming effort, I thought, “No. I can’t spend 592 days and 801 hours on another pet project.” So I found an existing service that already provided everything I needed. I tried it out and *bam* just like that I had closure on a project I barely even started.

Get On With It Already

I know, I know. Over two thousand words now, just to get to the punchline.

So here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to just write the novels I have in progress. Straight through. Start to finish. I don’t make them awesome. I don’t spend forever perfecting them. I dump the story in my head onto the page, slap a cover on it, and self-publish it. It will sit alongside my non-fiction publications at and my brain will thank me for lifting another great weight. Thanks for coming to my TED talk. Any questions?

“Charlie! That’s horrible! Anything worth doing is worth doing right! What’s the point of this?”

“Charlie! Why waste the time and resources to just do something half-hearted?”

“Charlie! Who on earth is going to take the time to read a novel even you yourself didn’t care about writing well?”

All good questions! And I have one good answer to address all of them: I can’t write a novel, I can’t stop thinking about writing novels, and I want to — nay, have to — stop thinking about writing novels. So Plan B is all I got.

“Charlie! Don’t you think you’d find greater satisfaction in producing one really solid and well-written story than one that’s just meh?”

Another good question! You would think so, wouldn’t you? And I’ve thought about this a great deal. More than you’d think, most likely. So let me splain:

Remember my cancer memoir? Sure you do! Well, according to Timekeeper 3.0, I spent 337 hours, 14 minutes, and 11 seconds working on it. The project began back in 2014 and I finally published it in December 2017.

To date I have sold 42 copies and earned about $75 in royalties. That comes out to about twenty-two cents an hour. And I’m pretty sure I spent more than $75 in copies for myself, giveaways, plus other overhead. But, for the sake of argument, let’s just say I made zero monies on it.

But that isn’t the half of it. The book contains a little over 44,000 words. The generally-accepted bare minimum for a novel is around fifty thousand. Here are word counts for a few other novels, just for comparison:

Title Word Count
Why Your Last Diet Failed You 64,913
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone 76,944
Nineteen Eighty-Four 88,942
The Hobbit 95,356
Pride and Prejudice 122,685
Moby Dick 206,052
A Game of Thrones 298,000
Gone with the Wind 418,053

My 44,000 word memoir had no storyline, no plot, no character arcs. It was little more than a giant blog post. In theory, it’s the easiest (and fastest) kind of writing there is. And yet I still spent over three hundred hours working on it.

If this were my full-time job, that’s not a big deal. Only about two months, adding it all up.

But, and I can’t stress this enough: this isn’t my job. My real job takes up anywhere from forty to seventy hours a week. Sometimes more. I spend most of my evenings with my family for dinner and watching television. I have chores and other grown-up responsibilities. Which is why a straightforward, simple, two-month writing project stretched out over four calendar years.

I look at that and can’t help but extrapolate. A novel is ten times more demanding. For starters, it’ll be double the word length. And great care and attention must go into the plot, characters, narrative, voice, and everything else. If my past performance is any indication, my first novel will be published in 2083.

But for the sake of argument, let’s say I do that. Let’s say I commit, not 337 hours, but two thousand hours on it. And let’s say by some miracle, I get it done in just six short years. I’ll put it on my website. And launch a marketing campaign. And I’ll post it all over social media. And . . .

And I will sell 42 copies and earn about $75 in royalties. Why? Because selling books is difficult. I’m an absolute nobody. This will be just one novel in a sea of a quarter million other new novels that come out that same year. In fact, the only real good that will come of it is that I’ll get that feeling of closure.

And that’s the heart of Plan B. Why spend six years and thousands of hours to get to a place I know I can reach in a tenth of the time? This isn’t being defeatist, it’s just being realistic about my capabilities. And like the smart mouse who decides against fighting a lion, I’m okay with it.

So What’s the Plan?

First up is Ronald and the Curious Bookshop. This is a story idea I had in 2013, and one I’ve talked about here before. It’s both the most-developed storyline I have in my head as well as being the least complicated.

After that? Well, let’s just get one done and go from there.


I wrote the above words nearly two years ago, in the spring of 2019. Since that time, I’ve made some progress, albeit a bit more slowly than I’d hoped. But it’s better than nothing, I guess. Ronald has gotten some attention, some of which I even posted here.

But apart from moving slower than a herd of turtles stampeding through peanut butter, my main issue is that I’m still trying to write well. I’m having a really hard time just spitting out mediocrity. On purpose, that is: it’s very easy for me to do it without thinking. That small voice saying “anything worth doing is worth doing well” won’t go away. That’s exactly what will keep closure at bay indefinitely.

As will this three-thousand word blog post. Going to wrap it up here!

Whelp, to say that my plans for 2020 didn’t work out is a bit of a non-statement today. While I’d like to blame it on the Year of the Pandemic, the truth is that my plans rarely work out — even in normal years. Because of this, I decided to scale things back for 2020:

  • Sit in the tub more often
  • Play bass guitar for at least one minute a day, four days a week
  • Select one day this year to consume nothing but cookies and port wine
  • Stretch goal: while wearing sunglasses and smoking a cigar, walk away from an explosion in slow motion

And I still managed to hit zero percent.

Last January I also wrote this:

I’m going to break my four-year tradition of posting (only) on Fridays. It’s an artificial schedule and, frankly, I’m having trouble sticking to it. I’ll post when I have something worth posting, and not just filler. That could end up being more than once a week. It could also be every other month. I’m honestly not sure at this point.

I never thought at the time that I’d vanish completely. And while I’d like to blame it on the Year of the Pandemic, the truth is I really can’t figure out what the purpose of this blog was. When I left Back to the Fridge behind nearly five years ago, I wanted to get away from being the “diet guy” and shift more to writing about my various creative endeavors. And while I’d continued to dabble over that five years, none of it has been really worth writing about.

As I’ve noted in the past, I frequently think back to Curly from City Slickers and how his big secret is Just One Thing. Well, I don’t have one thing. I have many, many things. Which, ironically, adds up to Zero Things.

Anyway, this post is mainly to check in. No plans or brilliant revelations. Just that I’m still here and to let everyone know I didn’t forget my blog password.

Full disclosure: I forgot my blog password. But fortunately I have software to pick up where my brain leaves off.

Happy New Year!

On Monday morning I had a plan for the week. “I will take thirty minutes a day, right around lunch hour, to do something for myself.” Quite specifically, that “something” was to be resurrecting my work on the Ronald manuscript. A couple weeks ago I’d printed out the manuscript-in-progress. My first order of business? Getting familiar with the story again. I’d written up three chapters and had started on the fourth, but too much time had passed and I really couldn’t go any further without reacquainting myself with the material.

The first time I set aside a little time to read it, all I ended up with was this Tweet:

I’m sure it was just the wrong time of day. So this week, with some of the pressure at work coming back to normal levels, I thought I would start over.

And so at half past noon on Monday, I refilled my tea, popped open my backpack, and pulled out my . . . where is it? Where’s my printout? I shuffled through my backpack in the same exaggerated way you see in television or film.

Rats. Not there.

Tuesday. Half past noon. “Damn it!” I forgot to look for it at home. Not that it mattered. The pressure level at work was rising again and I didn’t have a half hour to myself anyway.

Wednesday. Nope.

Thursday. Nope again. No manuscript and also no time.

Thursday night. Printed out a new copy.

Today is Friday. I’ll give this another shot. I’m hopeful — I’m always hopeful — but if I were a bettin’ man, I’d put my money on “rats, nope, and no time.”

But on the upside, it’s pizza night! So either way, I win.

I wrapped up my New Year post with a few half-joking plans for the year. But that’s not like me. No, I have to come up with real plans to kick off a new year right. Fortunately, I’ve made that easy on myself. I only have one plan for this year:

  • Don’t Make Any Plans

Done! And would you look at that! I accomplished my goals for the year and we’re only ten days in.

Now, that being said, I do have a few blog-related announcements:

  • I’m going to break my four-year tradition of posting (only) on Fridays. It’s an artificial schedule and, frankly, I’m having trouble sticking to it.
  • I’ll post when I have something worth posting, and not just filler. That could end up being more than once a week. It could also be every other month. I’m honestly not sure at this point.
  • That said, I haven’t forgotten about “Europe, Part One” ending abruptly at Part One. My next post will pick up that loose thread.
  • And that’s about as far as I’ll project. Anything beyond that borders on lying. 😉

See you next week soon!

Anyone born before Generation Z can clearly remember what it was like to think about “the year two thousand.” It carried such a futuristic vibe to it — in such stark contrast to the past ten, hundred, or thousand years: years that all began with a one. Everything would change when we incremented that first digit. By the year two thousand, we’d have flying cars, robot butlers, and ice cream completely made out of small frozen dots.

Most rang in the new millennium with a combined sense of hope and dread, that latter mostly fueled by Y2K fears. I, for one, did not fear any major Y2K issues since I was part of that invisible army of software developers who’d spent the previous three or four years studying it and fixing it.

Fast forward

I blinked a few times and suddenly the calendar flipped over to 2010. What I remember clearly about that year is that suddenly it felt like the two thousands were real. I guess up until then it kinda felt like the years just went from 1999 to 19100 to 19101 and so on. When we hit 2010, though, it was like: wow, okay, this millennium is here to stay.

Fast forward

I blinked a few more times and suddenly it’s 2020. We’re now somehow one fifth of the way to the “new” century. And it’s times like this my brain dives deep into one of its favorite pastimes: temporal pondering.

It’s All About Context

Time fascinates me on so many levels, but the one that gets me most is how the human brain is so woefully incapable of handling it. Ten years from now feels like forever while ten years ago feels like two weeks. More difficult still is to conceptualize time periods before our birth. Any teenagers who watched Marty McFly first travel from 1985 to 1955 saw him land in a world that may as well have been populated with as many dinosaurs as poodle skirts. Those same teens today feel like 1985 isn’t that long ago.

Two time-related things happened to the internet (and, by extension, to me) just yesterday. The first was the realization that The Wonder Years — a show which debuted in 1988 and set in the year 1968 — would be set in the year two thousand were it to debut today. Younger audiences in the late 80s felt like 1968 could’ve been the year World War I began. Those viewers today are freaking out because 2000, clearly, was only like a year and a half ago.

The second time-related thing had to do with the Brimley/Cocoon Line. As you may remember, Wilford Brimley played one of the senior citizens in Cocoon, a film which came out like a year and a half ago. He was the youngest of the senior actors: by some twenty years or more. But as old as he looked in the film, he was only forty-nine when principal photography began. Granted, makeup artists whitened his mustache and hair, and gave him more wrinkles and age spots. But still…

When the film hit theaters, he was only 18,530 days old. So it’s become a bit of a fad to make special note of when today’s actors have crossed that same line. Mostly because the vast majority of them do not look like . . . Cocoon Senior Citizen Wilford Brimley. The actor who made the rounds yesterday was the ageless Paul Rudd. The first time I’d heard about this phenomenon was in 2015, when Tom Cruise hit that line about the time Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation came out.


Mission: Impossible.

It’s kind of hard to believe, isn’t it? And before we leave this topic, other non-Brimley-looking actors who’ve passed the BCL are:

  • Matthew McConaughey
  • Jennifer Lopez
  • Brad Pitt
  • Naomi Watts
  • Johnny Depp
  • Halle Berry
  • Will Smith
  • Every single “Friend”

Final Thought

Here’s a question. What were you doing on or around October 11, 1994? A lot of things happened that year: NAFTA established, the Channel Tunnel opened, a White Bronco raced down a California highway, founded, Forrest Gump told us what life was like, The Lion King broke all the records, not to mention every single “Friend” got together and started up Friends.

But on October 11, 1994, can you recall the first moon landing? You know, an event that probably seemed like it took place during World War I? Well, brace yourself. That exact same amount of time has now passed again: 9,214 days to be precise. Suddenly nine thousand days doesn’t seem like that long a time. Unless, of course, you turn it around and project to the future. That would be March 26, 2045.

Coincidentally, that’s the same year my debut novel will be published.

As the clock approaches midnight tonight and we embark upon a new year, I will do two or three things:

  1. Reflect on a year of accomplishments
  2. Think about all my Big Plans for the Future
  3. Beer

This is nothing new. I have, after all, gone through this process about 193 times now (although it feels like more). The reflection part typically involves a look back at the Todo List that I created for the year and noting that fewer than ten percent of the items got a check mark. My big plans are handled by copy-pasting ninety percent of the old todo list into a new one.

It’s always the same: clean up the house, compose some music, teach the world to sing in perfect harmony. I start the year with the best of intentions, but somehow life always gets in the way, and suddenly 365.25636 sidereal days later, and I’m right back where I started.

As Teddy Roosevelt so famously said in his Gettysburg Address, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a finished novel to come out of it.” So for the last few months, I’ve been thinking about my “2020 Vision” and how I might try something different to shake things up and I set a deadline of today.

Today is, after all, the traditional time to do so. When the old year goes out and the new year comes in, it’s a clean slate and anything becomes possible.

Except for one small problem. The clock ticking over from 2019-12-31 23:59:59.99 to 2020-01-01 00:00:00.00 doesn’t magically change anything. Same job, same obligations, same time constraints. The things I’d really like to do are simply incongruous with my lifestyle, which is why the last one hundred and ninety three years have played like a broken record.

But I’m not going to let defeat, self-doubt, and a scorching case of existential nihilism keep me down. This is a new year, gosh darn it! Heck, it’s even a new decade (setting aside the fact that that doesn’t start until next year.) If “failing” is an annual tradition then “optimistically looking forward” is as well. All I need to do to break the long cycle is to come up with a completely new set of goals.

This is still a work in progress, but I think I have a good start.

  • Sit in the tub more often
  • Play bass guitar for at least one minute a day, four days a week
  • Select one day this year to consume nothing but cookies and port wine
  • Stretch goal: while wearing sunglasses and smoking a cigar, walk away from an explosion in slow motion


It’s the night before Christmas and here in my house
   Sit me and the kids and also my spouse.
We gather in front of the TV at nine
   To watch a great film for the one hundredth time.

With food on our plates and with drinks in the mix
   We pop in the disc for our annual fix.
The screen now aglow with that musical strain,
   It’s time to revisit the Parkers again.

With Ralphie and Randy, their mother and dad,
   Our family at home is now nothing but glad.
We’ll sit and we’ll watch as we’ve done now forever
   To see if this kid finally gets his one treasure.

Ralphie, the hero, wants only one thing:
   The greatest gift ever that Christmas could bring!
A gun that shoots BBs! Protects him from crime!
   With a compass-in-stock and a thing that tells time.

There’s only one problem here, right from the start.
   The hitch that stabs Ralphie deep down in his heart.
Guns are a danger! That’s all they’re about.
   As everyone tells him: “you’ll shoot your eye out!”

Adventures do follow, along his great quest
   Seemingly giving our hero no rest.
There’s triple dog dares, and hounds from the neighbors
   Increasing the strain of poor Ralphie’s great labors.

The old man he wins some big major award.
   Then Ralphie cries “fudge” and the old man is floored!
There’s school and there’s homework to throw him off track…
   And, geez! There they are! Those darn hounds have come back.

And who can forget, the neighborhood bully,
   Who torments all kids both cruelly and fully?
His young brother Randy, lay still like a carcass
   To defend his poor self from the likes of Scut Farkus.

At last Christmas comes, in boxes and bags.
   They tear up the paper and cast off the tags.
Will Ralphie now get his most sought-after prize?
   Will Santa have answered his long-running cries?

He digs and he searches, through gift after gift.
   He gets some nice things, though one has him miffed.
Set like a trap among all the good loot:
   Is a horrible, horrible pink bunny suit.

But soon it’s all past, the gifts they’ve all landed.
   And in spite of it all, our boy’s empty-handed.
Until the last minute — the Old Man’s so sly! —
   He spots one more gift in the blink of an eye.

Off in the corner, a box stands alone
   There, out of sight, how could Ralphie have known?
It’s the greatest gift that he would ever receive
   Who thought the old man had this tucked up his sleeve?

He unwraps it with care and then takes it outside
   So happy and thrilled — why we all could’ve cried!
Then with deadliest aim, and with nary a doubt
   Ralphie pulls on the trigger and shoots his eye out.

Not really, of course: the BB just misses
   He goes back inside where his mom tends and kisses
Leaving their supper downstairs and unguarded
   Ripe for those hounds to break in and bombard it!

With supper destroyed, the family gets dressed
   Hoping to salvage their holiday fest.
They find a great place where the staff sings a while
   Then brings them cooked rice and a duck with a smile.

The credits they roll and my family gets up
   We clean up our supper, each plate and each cup.
My clan is then off to sleep deep and sleep pleasant…
   Except, ’course, for me. It’s now time to wrap presents.

While I realize that, technically-speaking, Thanksgiving is already over, many of us still have three days of “Thanksgiving” to go. So it’s not too late for me to wish you a happy one. As expected, I got no further this week on any of my personal goals. And I’m still nowhere near ready with the long-awaited Part Two Post of the Europe trip. I don’t even have any placeholder poetry this week. But I can still take a couple minutes to wish everyone a happy, long weekend. Unless you’re braving Black Friday today, in which case I will wish you a solid Good Luck instead.

“I’ll give it another shot next week.”
— Charlie Hills, November 15, 2019

Whelp, it’s “next week” again already. And no new post. Apparently fate has again decided I get zero hours to myself. Oh well…

This week y’all get a Haiku instead of a more poem-y poem like last week. It’s very timely and relevant!

Finding time is hard
When there’s so much going on
Did you see that Tesla!?

Whelp, I’d planned on posting the second part of the Europe trip today, complete with my wonderful prose and beautiful photos. Instead, real life got in the way quite a bit this week, and before I knew it, it was already two o’clock in the afternoon. I’ll give it another shot next week.

In the meantime, here’s a poem:

‘Twas the night before blog post and all through my brain
Ran thoughts of my deadline bearing down like a train.
“Where did the week go?” I pondered and wondered.
The days flew right by as I worked and I blundered.

Sunday and Monday and Tuesday they came!
Then Wednesday and Thursday! Now who is to blame?
I figured I’d have a few minutes or more
To upload some photos and write words that soar.

But nope, not this week, it just wasn’t to be.
The tasks they came fast and the time it did flee.
As always, however, I hold out hope for next Friday
That things will