Not Long Tales … October 8th, 2019

Jonathots Daily Blog

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9.

Write Before My Eyes

At age twenty-five, just shortly before his wedding day, Nathan Merced decided he wanted to write a novel. Energized by his romance and a bit greedy for some notoriety and profit, he envisioned a book showcasing all of his art and much of his heart.

Now, nearing his fortieth birthday and a father of two, he returned to the dream, determined to once and for all pen a lasting tribute to immortalize his name and offer credence for his time on Earth (or words to that effect).

Staring at the page, with the working title, “Monstrous,” Nathan paused, considering his byline. What name should he use for his book? He had never favored pen names—how would people know it was you who wrote it? Nathan Merced was a solid handle, he thought, but it didn’t have that three-name flow common to writer—like Edgar Allen Poe.

He thought about using all three of his names: Nathan Edward Merced. But suddenly, Edward sounded very common. He decided to transform Edward into Edvard. So now typed on the page in front of him was:

Monstrous

A Novel

By Nathan Edvard Merced

And the morning was the first day.

Coming back after a lunch (which he tried to make continental and light, so as not to bulge his brain with fat grams) Nathan felt his best approach was to conceive a work with a popular theme—of course, nowadays that would be science fiction or a graphic novel. Bringing up something about the Apocalypse would be a plus. Bouncing a few ideas around, he decided to write them down, just in case one of them fired up the ferocity of his writing thrust.

How about a book where a human becomes a monster, while simultaneously, a monster from an alien planet becomes a human? Yes, yes…then they mysteriously meet somewhere in the middle of their transition, and in those few hours of complete similarity—one being half monster and one being half human—they fall madly in love, only to move away from each other as the human becomes more monster and the monster more human, until finally, the human (now monster) kills and eats the monster (now human) whom he or she had once loved.

Nathan sat back and considered. It could work. It could really work.

But did he know enough about monsters to write about one? He laughed. Since there really weren’t any monsters, anything he made up would be fine. No one could challenge him, citing the “Book of Monsters.”

Suddenly there was a knock at the door. He had told his wife he needed to be left alone, so assumed she would answer, running interference. But the knocking continued. Finally, Nathan’s next-door-neighbor, Jack, was standing outside his bay window, pointing to the front door. Nathan heaved a sigh of despair. Apparently, his wife got caught up in some temporary difficulty and failed to be the watchman required.

So Nathan waved at Jack, slowly stood to his feet and walked to the front door. He welcomed a man who was obviously agitated. He invited Jack into the study where Nathan had just been involved in writing the Great American Tome. Before he could offer Jack drink or even seat, the man launched.

“My daughter Cynthia,” he began frantically, “I need help. I need wisdom. I came to you because you have more education than me. You’ve got some sort of degree, don’t you?”

Nathan sat down slowly in his desk chair. “Well, I’ve got a bachelor’s in fine arts.”

“Perfect,” Jack said quickly. “That’s more than I’ve got. I thought you maybe could help—here’s the problem. In high school, my Cynthia’s history class has been studying the 1970’s and she has become obsessed with Patty Hearst.”

Nathan frowned, trying to remember the name. Jack, seeing his confused face, offered, “You remember her, right? That rich girl that got captured by the Symbionese Liberation Army.”

Nathan’s eyes grew wide. “Listen, Jack—you obviously know more about this than I do.”

Jack objected. “That’s only because I looked it up. I thought I should at least know the name of what was destroying my daughter. Do you understand? My beautiful, young daughter, Cynthia, came to me today with a headband tied around her head and insisted that from now on, we should address her as ‘Scratchy.’”

“Scratchy?” repeated Nathan, trying to keep up.

Jack shook his head. “I don’t know. I don’t know why she wants to be ‘Scratchy.’ She’s read up on all this stuff, she knows all the details. She even knows what Patty Hearst wore the day she was abducted. Nathan, for her sixteenth birthday, she’s asked for an Uzi.”

Nathan chuckled nervously. “Come on, Jack,” he said, trying to sound reasonable. “She’s a teenager. It’s a phase she’s going through.” He motioned to the page on his computer. “Listen, I’ve got some work going on here. I think you should back off—don’t do anything to either discourage her or encourage her.”

“Did I tell you the worst part?” jack responded impatiently. “She is advertising—posting on the Internet—asking for someone to come and kidnap her.”

Nathan crinkled his brow. “Oh-h-h. That’s not good.”

Jack sat, shaking his head, staring at his hands, not saying a word. Thirty seconds of silence went by, creeping up to a minute. Nathan, realizing that Jack was awaiting some kind of guidance of divine proportion, finally responded gently, “Hey, Jack…”

Jack stood up, and Nathan rose, too, speaking. “Listen,” he said, “I am gonna help you with this, but not right now. I think I told you last week. I’m on a jag. I’ve hitched a plane. I don’t know how to explain it, but I’m really buzzed about writing this novel, and here I am. See? I’m sittin’ here and it’s happenin’. We’ll talk about Cynthia later. Just go home, lock all your doors and keep an eye on her.”

They arrived at the front door. Jack turned and looked at Nathan like a desperate man on his way to the gallows. “Okay,” he said slowly, “if you say so. But I don’t think I can keep crazy people from attacking my house to snatch my daughter.” A quaver invaded his speech as the last word was spoken.

Nathan nodded his head, walked over, patted him on the back—but literally pushed him out the door and on his way.

Nathan quickly returned to his computer, trying to regain the energy of his monster-human story. He was on the verge of coming up with an idea concerning how the sexual parts of the emerging monster and unfolding human were difficult to…what would be the word? Well, he decided, let’s go with “reconnoiter.” But their love was so strong that somehow, they found a place for everything.

As Nathan turned back to type up the ideas that were eeking out of his brain, there was another knock at the door. He was stuck. He now knew his wife wasn’t home to sidestep the danger, and he didn’t want anyone else doing jumping jacks to get his attention through the bay window, so he eased to his feet and went to the front of the house, peering through the curtain to see who had come to invade his privacy. He recognized him immediately. It was the new minister from the church down the street. (Nathan had only met him twice. Church didn’t come up often on the Merced schedule.)

All at once, the minister winked at Nathan, glimpsing his peering position behind the curtain. Exposed— “made,” as they often said in police dramas—Nathan pulled the curtain back to its former position and stood tall for a moment, trying to remember the preacher’s name. He remembered that when he first met the fellow, his name reminded him of donuts. Powered? Glazed? Jelly-filled?

Unlikely.

Nathan went to the door and opened it. Fortunately, the minister, well-trained by his seminary, solved the problem. “Hello, Mr. Merced,” he said brightly. “I hope you remember me.” He reached out his hand to Nathan and continued. “I’m Reverend Thomas Duncan.”

Nathan laughed inside. There it was. Like Dunkin Donuts. He shook Duncan’s hand but decided to keep the conversation at the door instead of letting it spill out into the house.

The polite parson, realizing he had not been welcomed inside, began to launch on his mission. “I don’t mean to bother you, but I’m contacting all the church families because we have a…how should I say? Well, I guess it’s a crisis.” He quickly added, “But also an opportunity.”

For a crisis, Nathan felt forced to invite the minister in. They walked back to the study where the novel had been on the verge of being unleashed, Nathan perched behind his computer, hoping to create a visual for not talking too long.

The young minister perched and explained. “We have gotten information about a refugee family from Central America. They were just rescued from the Atlantic Ocean. You see, Mr. Merced, they were so poor, so frightened of military retribution, that they made a raft—to the best of their ability. Although I have to be honest. I don’t know how they would have any information on how to construct such a vessel. But somehow or another, they got together a raft and launched it into the Caribbean—all six members. Mom, Dad and four kids, the oldest being twelve.”

Nathan was frustrated. He felt a long discourse coming on and he was not in the mood for it. He could just feel the inspiration dribbling out of his body. Here he was, on the precipice of writing the first paragraph—or maybe even chapter—of “Monstrous,” and he was being held captive by an overwrought reverend. Yet Nathan had no idea how to shut the man up, so the soliloquy continued.

“Well, as you probably guessed, they got the raft past the tides and into the ocean, but it began to fall apart. The family members ended up clinging to it, holding on for their lives. As the story goes, they figured out a way to catch fish, or some sort of sea life, which they broke apart, shared and ate raw. On hot days, they licked the sweat off each other for moisture, and when it rained, after the storm passed, they would remove their clothes and wring them out into each other’s mouths to achieve hydration. After six days on the ocean, they were rescued by a fishing trawler, begged for asylum and arrived on the mainland of the United States with no place to go. When the notice of their plight went out on the Internet, I immediately contacted the authorities and offered our town, and said that our church would provide this family lodging for two weeks, until they could gain their admission, get assistance and make their way to becoming part of our great country.”

Even though Nathan was absorbed in his own concerns, the tale was so compelling that a tear came to his eye, yet he bravely fought it back in respect of regaining his muse. “Listen,” he said, “we can’t have a family near here. You see, the problem is, Pastor, there’s a girl who lives next door and she’s kind of crazy right now. She wants to be abducted by…what should I call them…scoundrels. I don’t have time to give details—but I don’t think this is a good place for this lost family, but I will tell you what I’ll do. I’m gonna sit down right here—right here at my desk—and I’m gonna write you a check. Yes, I’m gonna give you a donation to help these folks.”

Nathan grabbed his checkbook from the drawer, took his pen and scrawled the gift. He ripped it out and handed it to Pastor Duncan, who said with as much vigor as he possibly could, “Oh! Twenty dollars! Well…that should help.”

Nathan interrupted him. “That’s what they say, Pastor. Every little bit helps.”

The startled preacher responded, “And this is just that. A little bit…”

The young pastor quickly stood to his feet, shook Nathan’s hand and headed for the door, asking him as he walked, “If you have any other people you know or ideas, please contact me.”

Nathan, a bit ashamed, confused, yet a tad irate over his donation being trivialized, tried to change the subject. “Hey, preacher,” he said. “You know how I remembered your name?”

The minister shook his head. Nathan chuckled. “Donuts. I remembered ‘donuts’ and that’s how I knew your name was Duncan.” Nathan laughed.

The minister smiled. “Huh,” he said. “I never heard that one before.”

There was no more conversation.

Nathan’s mind was already floating back to his computer and the pastor’s focus began to float to the lost souls who had floated his way.

With the departure of the cleric, Nathan gleefully shut the door behind him and ran to the computer to resume his quest for the Great American Novel. He hadn’t even made it to his seat when his phone buzzed. He glanced down at the screen. A text from his wife. He wanted to ignore it. He wanted to purposely set it aside to demonstrate his devotion and dedication to his mission. But after all, it was his wife. How could he ever explain to her that he had declined her text?

So he punched the button and the text came up. “Son arrived at school dressed in drag. Meeting required immediately. 2:00 P. M.”

Nathan wanted to throw the phone across the room, but such actions always ended up costing money, only offering temporary satisfaction. He glanced at his watch. Twenty minutes until two, and the school was ten minutes away.

He shouted at the walls around him, “How the hell am I supposed to write a masterpiece in this environment, where I am constantly interrupted, and I don’t have the chance to transform small ideas into great ones? My God! How did the masters ever achieve their successes, surrounded by sniveling mortals?”

He finished his little speech, so enthralled with his boisterous outburst that he quickly typed onto his screen the phrase, “sniveling mortals.” He would certainly want to use that later.

He decided to take ten minutes—ten holy minutes, ten consecrated minutes—and see if he could add to the already burgeoning possibilities of “Monstrous.” But rather than being inspired by his efforts thus far, the plot line began to mock him.

Who would be interested in a half-monster and half-human, getting busy?

How would he sell the book to kids under fifteen once it was dubbed too racy? They would certainly read it, but they would download it from their friends, and he wouldn’t make a penny.

And finally, the worst realization. What kind of name was “Monstrous” for a novel?

He was so discouraged.

Why couldn’t Jack take care of his own daughter?

Why didn’t the preacher start somewhere else to seek aid?

Why didn’t his son choose Saturday to experiment with women’s clothes?

A sense of gloom, and then doom, fell upon him like a pelting summer rain. He closed up his computer, heaved a sigh, stood to his feet and walked toward the study door, turning for a moment to address his computer.

“Good-bye, old buddy,” he said softly. “I don’t think I’ll come again. There just don’t seem to be any great stories left to tell.”

Donate ButtonThe producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly donation for this inspirational opportunity

Jesonian… January 28th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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jesonian-cover-amazon

Jesus knows us because He was us. (What a great title for a praise band song).

He didn’t come to Earth to stand afar and consider our befuddled actions from his undergirded, divine nature. He was human.

He learned, he grew and he found favor through trial and error. I didn’t make that up. That’s what the Gospel of Luke says.

So by the time he reached his thirty-first birthday and was sharing the Sermon on the Mount, he had a firm comprehension of the human reaction to life.

It is in four phases:

  1. We feel
  2. We muse
  3. We think
  4. We do

There are folks who reject their feelings, muse over their failures and go to their brain–only to find it a library chock-full of old information, and therefore end up doing things repetitively, wondering why they can’t change.

Our emotions exist to tell us what we feel. They are not definitive, they are not final–they are sensors.

Our spirit is there to muse–to add that gentle balance that “all things will work together to the good.” Muse is the root word of music. The spirit should be the soundtrack to our solution. Sometimes it takes an hour; sometimes it takes a year. I suppose there are even things that take a lifetime.

But when we enter the third phase, we must be careful. We think.

Contrary to popular opinion, the mind is dangerous. Why? Because it is already programmed. It has our culture, our bigotry, our training, our prejudices and our false statistics. It’s the reason Jesus told his disciples, “Don’t think so much.”

Because if you come across a problem, feeling it may be a difficult one, and you muse over it in your spirit, but then decide to seek an answer in your brain, you’ll consider data that is often only worthy of the trash bin.

But do we put it in the garbage? No.

So when we start thinking, we start worrying, which negates our spirit and frustrates our emotions. We literally do the first thing that comes into our head–and it’s often wrong.

So what did Jesus suggest? What is the Jesonian?

Take your feelings to your spirit and muse over them until you get the music of wisdom–either from God, your own fresh experience, or even the counsel of others. Then move on that tuneful wisdom and do what’s right. At this point you can come back and renew your mind. It’s like putting another book in the library.

Your brain starts gaining flexibility.

The Sermon on the Mount is not a wish list by a religious boy who came from God, possessing an advantage. It is the observation of a man who lived in a household with at least six other brothers and sisters, worked as a carpenter, flushed out some bad demons in the wilderness, and was prepared to look at life as it really was … instead of trying to think he could handle everything.

Donate ButtonThe producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunityty

Jon and Tracy … June 14, 2012

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I had an idea.

In lieu of my children giving me presents for Father’s Day, I asked each one of them to take the money they would have targeted for my gift and find a way to bless somebody else in the circumference of their life and tell this individual they were doing it in honor of their father.

I certainly don’t need any more “stuff” to carry with me on the road, and it sounded like the experiment would yield all sorts of pleasant and interesting results. I also asked my sons and daughters-in-law to send me the results of their escapades in story form so I could share them on my jonathots with you readers.

Well, I asked this last week, and then sent out another email to my familial “entourage,” reminding them of the task. Yesterday I received my first response, from my first-born and his wife.

Jon Russell and Tracy Nicole live in Albany, New York, and make movies for a living. Actually, it would be more accurate to say they somehow scratch out a living in the process of making movies. However you may speak about their situation financially, they are absolutely ecstatic in what they do and thrilled to be together.

For a season of about three years, I was their dramatic muse, penning the screenplays for their projects. About a year ago, I asked them to expand themselves, meet new people and get the mind and the heart of other scribblers. Now let me explain something about my relationship with Jon and Tracy. We love each other dearly but disagree on many things. I have never been afraid of a good disagreement, nor did I teach my children to think that merely finding oneself in an adversarial position with a loved one was of any particular dastardly significance. In other words, people who think always disagree. It’s the price you pay for thinking instead of just blindly following. You will occasionally find yourself at odds with others, even though you love them dearly. And the only reason I share that particular friction with you is that even though I’ve had my disagreements with this pair, I can still always count on them to jump in with both feet and usually be one of the first ones to respond to both need and desire.

Thus, in this case, they are my first family members to bring forth their story about what they did with money alloted for Dad’s Day, which instead, was used to benefit others.

Jon and Tracy took their money, went out into the streets of Albany, New York, and asked a complete stranger what he or she would do if they suddenly found themselves in the possession of an unexpected five dollars. As long as the person had an immediate plan, Jon and Tracy gave them five dollars in my honor. It was fascinating to listen to the story. Matter of fact, you can hear the entire verbal exchange they had with the Upper State folks because I have placed the audio link on my website (below).

But the thing that came out of the experience for me is that lots of folks just don’t know what to do when they’re surprised–and often believe there is a hidden “snake in the basket” instead of a “blessing in the bushel.” I do not know has made us so suspicious and frightened of one another, but if somebody has plotted to make us paranoid, then they should go reward themselves with a fine dinner, because they have accomplished their mission.

But you can listen for yourself, and as you do, keep Jon and Tracy in mind–and even though I love them dearly and disagree with them on several fine points of art and entertainment, you won’t find two people who are more desirous to find joy in their lives in what they do than this duo.

Matter of fact, that’s my first suggestion about fatherhood. One of the greatest things you can do for your children is to teach them to blend work and play. If you want to make a grouchy human being, make a distinction between the work they have to do that is holding up the clock on possible playtime. I taught my children to play while they work, but also to work while they play. Blending the two makes you realize that nothing in life is too painful as long as you decorate it adequately.

So much thanks to Jon and Tracy for spreading a blessing across the Empire State in my honor. And I hope you enjoy listening to the audio of their experience on this website.

Make your work playful, and make your play time work for you–because you’ve organized it well.

Not a bad tip … and not a bad son and daughter-in-law, for that matter.

   

The producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

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