A freewriting experiment.

I’m going to try something different with this post. Instead of agonizing over what to write about, I’m just going to type away and stop only when I’ve reached the 500-word limit. Well, WordPress doesn’t have a limit on the number of words in a post, but 500 words should be enough for a few minutes’ worth of reading anyway.

I still don’t know what to write about but already I’m on the second paragraph, so things seem to be going according to plan. I could write about my job but I really don’t want to turn this blog into a diary. Rather, I want my blog to serve as a digest of my literary creations, be it a poem or a short story. Not do I want to express any political opinions, although I certainly have strong feelings about the state of things in Washington right now, but I won’t go there either. Again, the strong emphasis is on my poetry, stories and miscellaneous thoughts.

Wow, this is going better than I thought. Already on the third paragraph and the words just keep flowing. I could write about the weather or my plans for the day but for now I want to cast all those boring thoughts aside and just write as fast as my fingers can type. The funny thing is, that when I started this post, I had no idea what I was going to write about but a few minutes later the post is filling up nicely.

When I was in high school, I took creative writing as an elective course as I thought I’d have some fun with it. I’ve always enjoyed writing as a way of expressing my thoughts and to let out some steam at the same time. One of the things I learned in class was freewriting in which I just pick up my pen and write whatever comes to mind, and along the way, ideas start popping up and my case of writer’s block is instantly solved.

Lately I’ve been short on ideas for what to write about in this blog so it was time for me to do a freewriting experiment to keep things going. I just renewed my domain for another year and if I am to get my money’s worth I need to keep it updated with fresh stories and thoughts. There will certainly be more of that along the way.

Or perhaps I could go through the 17 saved drafts I have and see what I can do to finish those and get those posted for the world to see. Too often I feel I’m too busy to just sit down and write for a few minutes, let alone work on those drafts to completion. There;s been too much on my mind lately with work and money matters, but I cling to the hope that I could possibly utilize my writing talents to ease my financial woes a bit.

And I still have those unfinished novels I’d like to get published someday and get my name up there with the literary greats. I need only the time to work on them and get them submitted.

Well, I’ve exceeded the 500 word limit and looking back, I think I have another fine post for the world to read. There were times when I paused to ponder my next sentence but other than that the words came out virtually nonstop.

This concludes my freewriting experiment. That wasn’t so bad, was it?

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Your Shadow and you.

While reading the ground-breaking book The Tools, I had a rare spark of creativity while reading the chapter on the tool that uses my Shadow to boost my self-confidence. According to the book, my Shadow is a physical manifestation of all my negative traits that emerge whenever I talk with someone whom I find difficult or intimidating. These traits can also emerge whenever I find myself speaking to an audience. The book has me focusing not on these people but on my Shadow to channel its presence so we both work together instead of against each other.

And when me and my Shadow both drink a bottle of Diet Coke, my burps will come out twice as loud.

The cool side of curiosity.

One of my favorite radio stations is WKGR (also known as The Gater) which specializes in classical rock music. One day as I was listening to a song I was particularly fond of, there was a short interruption in the signal that briefly took the station off the air. Later the DJ came on and said there was a problem with the transmitter in Martin County that got fixed, so he replayed that same song.

I’ve since become aware that the radio station itself is not far from where I live here in West Palm Beach, and I’ve even driven past it numerous times. On the building itself are logos for some of the other radio stations that serve my area. That got me curious about where the DJ’s work. For years that curiosity kept nagging me until finally I decided to send an e-mail to the afternoon DJ to put to rest this nagging question once and for all.

I have a question that’s been nagging me for quite a while. Years ago I remember hearing you say that the transmitter for the Gater is in Martin County, and I know the radio station itself is on 45th Street. It does look like a rather small building for the radio stations serving our area. I keep thinking it must be crowded in there! Is there a separate location where you DJ’s broadcast from?

Later on that same day I got this response.

Actually our building is huge. There are 50 desks (not all occupied) in the sales area. We have 6 on air studios, a giant bullpen, 10 bathrooms, manager’s offices, on-line too. Call me and I’ll give you a tour sometime.

Even better, the DJ gave me his phone number. I’ll take him up on his offer for the tour of the station as soon as I find some time in my busy schedule. Finally, I’ll get to meet one of my favorite DJ’s in person.

It’s cool to be curious.

My first colonoscopy.

This morning I had my first colonoscopy. Needless to say I was nervous about it but once it was over, it turns out there really was nothing to be nervous about.

My mother told me that the worst part of a colonoscopy is the preparation. It turns out she was right. The day before my procedure I was to eat no solid foods and consume no dairy products or alcohol. Clear liquids were okay but any red or dark purple fluids were off the list.

Around 11am I took four stool softener pills to begin the bowel purging process. That wasn’t too traumatic. But at 5pm was when the gastric fireworks began. That was when I had to drink a 16 ounce cup of Suprep mixed with a little water. It tastes like grape juice mixed with seawater, not exactly a pleasant flavor. A half hour later I was running for the bathroom to play giddyup with the porcelain pony. A few minutes later I had to go again. And again. And again. Finally, after several hours, the runs eased up.

Then I had to do the Suprep thing all over again three hours before my procedure. My appointment was at 6:30am, so that meant I had to take the second dose no later than 3:30am, and by 4am, the gastric floodgates opened and once again I made repeated trips to the porcelain throne. The runs eased up just in time for my appointment. I swear lost 2 pounds during this preparation.

My mother picked me up this morning as I would be too sedated to drive after my procedure. Once at the clinic, I changed to my gown and a nurse took my vitals and started the IV. The nurse told me that I might wake up feeling bloated from the air and water used during the procedure.

A short time later I was wheeled into the room where my colonoscopy would be done. There another nurse connected a breathing tube to my nose and told me to lie on my left side. Then the doctor entered and the last thing I remembered was feeling lightheaded from the medicine that put me to sleep.

When I woke up, I was back in the preparation area where I was when I first arrived at the clinic. I began wondering if they started the procedure yet, but I was relieved when I realized that it was over. I felt no pain or bloating whatsoever. Then a nurse came to check on me and removed the sensors that monitored my vitals along with the IV needle from my hand. The doctor came by and told me no cancer was found and I have a clean bill of health. After signing the discharge papers I was finally free to go. I won’t have to go through this again for another 5 years.

UPDATE: I went back to work the next day.

A notepad on my nightstand.

When I drift off to sleep, I often get strange ideas for names, quotes, lines of poetry and even melodies. I used to try committing these ideas to memory so I could jot them down in the morning, but by then they are lost forever.

Nowadays I keep a notepad and a pen on my nightstand so I can capture these ideas while I still can. Of course, the hard part is willing myself to grab that pen and write that idea down before it’s too late. It’s tricky writing in a dark room where the only source of light is the alarm clock. Then there’s that uncertainty of whether the pen I use even writes. Trying to write with an empty pen completely defeats the purpose of delaying my sleep this way. Using a Sharpie marker seems to be an ideal solution as it’s easy to see those thick lines in the dark.

But all that effort is well worth it as there will be some rather interesting reading material cometh the dawn.

Confessions of a hit and run driver.

Every time I read about a hit and run accident on the news, I am reminded of the time that I was once a hit and run driver myself.

One evening many years ago, I was leaving the mall on my way to work third shift at a hospital when I stopped at a crossway guarded by a stop sign. Just when I began moving, my car bumped into a pedestrian who was crossing the walkway. Instead of stopping and making sure he was okay, I foolishly drove off to work to avoid being late.

Once I was at work, I began to worry about the pedestrian. I called my answering machine at home to check for any messages and sure enough, there was a message from the police department requesting a call back regarding the incident.

At this point I was terrified, but I knew I needed to call the police department back. So I looked up their number and called them from work to identify myself as the driver responsible for the incident. I don’t remember what happened next, but I think the police contacted the pedestrian and got his number. The police could tell I was very concerned and told me to call the pedestrian at home.

Calling the man I hit with my car was the hardest phone call I ever made in my life. He was understandably upset but decided not to press charges despite suffering a bruise on his leg. I broke down and gave him a tearful apology. He wished me a Merry Christmas and ended the call. I continued sobbing long after I hung up the phone, but I could at least begin to put this nightmare behind me.

Although what I did was stupid, I’m glad I took responsibility for my actions and give everyone closure. Had I avoided making those calls, the events of that fateful night would have haunted my conscience every day for the rest of my life.

My cousin Raminta.

I have wonderful childhood memories of visits from my cousin Raminta, who is an accomplished pianist. Her late father, my Uncle Jurgis, was choir director at a Lithuanian church in Chicago. She, along with my late grandfather Vladas, sang in that choir, which would record several albums of traditional Lithuanian folk songs. I think it’s safe to say she came from a musical family.

During one of her visits to Florida, Raminta brought along some of her friends who were musicians themselves. There was Michael, her boyfriend who played violin, Patras the flautist and Dirk the singer. One night they gave a concert in my parents’ living room with my neighbors in attendance. It was a magical evening indeed.

There is one moment from this visit that I will always remember. I myself was taking piano lessons and was practicing “The Entertainer” by Scott Joplin one afternoon when Michael came along and played the same piece on his violin. I’d never heard “The Entertainer” on violin before and was impressed with how easily Michael was able to play it.

The only problem we had was deciding where everyone would sleep. Our house had three bedrooms and eight people, so my parents had to make modifications as to who slept where. I slept in my sister’s bedroom while some of the visitors slept in mine. After they all left, I was about to fall asleep in my own bed for the first night in days when suddenly I saw something glowing on my nightstand. My heart was racing as I reached for the light, and after the light filled the room, I saw some glow-in-the-dark vampire teeth left behind by one of the visitors.

The last I heard from Raminta was years ago when sent us a copy of her album featuring her piano music accompanied by a singer. There is also some instrumental music for violin and organ respectively. A little bit of everything. I really enjoyed hearing the album and consider it a quality production of the highest order. I still love listening to it.

I see Raminta has her own web site and from reading her list of accomplishments, it looks like she’s been very busy performing and teaching her craft. I’ll have to get in touch with her again and relive those fond memories I now possess.