Parsley — My New Life Coach!

Here — in the dreary winter of Covid-19 — I’ve decided to quit listening to the news, the pundits, the experts, social media mavens and those lower-than-low-life influencers.  From here on, I’m taking my life strategy — from parsley.  No, I haven’t become a Lockdown Loonie.  Nor have I gone mutant Dr. Doolittle and started talking to the vegetables.  But I’m telling ya for a fact that parsley says all there needs to be said about how to live life in these troubled times.

First of all, you need a little background.  We live in a large urban area, but my wife is originally from cattle country.  (Where she’s from, they eat steak for dessert.)  Unfortunately, the only wide-open space we have is a medium-sized balcony/deck.  But rather than bitch about the lack of “land, lots of land, ‘neath the starry skies above,” every year, my wife rounds up a bunch of pots and creates a herb ranch – the “parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme” variety.  We eat like medieval kings, and she gets to channel her inner Jesse Chisholm.

Okay, so today, after what seems like a lifetime of gloom with an extra portion of doom thrown in, I was looking around for something to satisfy my optimistic soul.  Good luck with that!  Anyway, by pure chance, I noticed the parsley.  It’s been sitting there on the deck, in its pot, nice boy, since last spring.  It’s part of the landscape — like the rosebush, the patio table and that gate slat I haven’t fixed (OMG, has it been 2 years?).  But – here’s the deal — it isn’t supposed to be there.  It’s winter: parsley dies in the winter.  And in Canada, we do winter like nowhere else on this planet.  Think Siberia, and drop the temperature by 10 degrees.  Our polar bears get frostbite, for God’s sake.  There are parts of this country that are colder than Mars.  (That’s true, BTW.)  Even here in Vangroovy (the garden spot of the Great White North) our below zero can be double digits.  So, what the hell was the parsley doing there?

They say a good leader always leads by example, and what better example of straight in-your-face badass is a plant whose lifespan is April to September, still green as moldy cheese, in the middle of winter?  Even Vin Diesel isn’t that tough.  This little guy is defying the laws of Mother Nature, Father Time and Old Man Winter — just by being there.  Whether his purpose in the world is getting chopped up for soup, sprinkled on mashed potatoes or used as a decorative garnish to be thrown away without another thought — he’s doin’ it.  He’s doin’ it every day — without fail — to the best of his ability.  Without fanfare or flourish, that parsley plant is telling the universe “I’m still standing.”  And in these dismal dark days, that’s pretty damn good advice.

Bad Advice To Writers

writing

Everyone knows how to write.  We learn it in school.  However, to be a writer takes a singular commitment that nobody can teach you.  Unfortunately, there are tons of people out there who think they can — and they’re spreading a lot of misinformation around.  These literary hacks aren’t lies, as such; they’re just bad advice.  Here are a few of the most notorious ones.

Write for yourself.  This is just a crock!  No writer writes for themselves.  If they did, they wouldn’t WRITE IT DOWN!  The minute you commit words to paper, you are trying to communicate – full stop.

Take risks.  Here’s a newsflash.  You’re sitting in front of a computer, not dashing into a burning building.  The only risk you’re taking is that people won’t read your stuff, and once you get through that emotional firewall, the rest is easy.  Pouring your soul onto the page is what you’re supposed to do.  It isn’t a risk; it’s a necessity.

Write about what you know.  This is stupid advice.  Folks, it’s called fiction, and fiction, by definition, is a pack of lies.  Writers are liars.  That’s their job.  Billy Shakespeare didn’t know anything about Danish princes, but he wrote Hamlet … because, guess what? … he made it up.  Writers create their own universe; good writers make it believable.  If you’re going to limit yourself to your own experience, stick to those rambling End-Of-December emails that chronicle your family’s yearly adventures.

Paint a picture.  This is one of those sounds-profound bits of advice that doesn’t mean a thing.  Quite frankly, if you want to paint a picture, ya might wanna get a brush and some paint.  Apparently, that’s worth 1,000 words.  Here’s the deal. Your audience has seen a tree.  They all know what it looks like.  Describing it in great detail is not going to enhance their experience.  What you want to do is write the mood.  For example:

The tree was dancing green in the brilliant afternoon sun.
The tree was moldy green against the grey evening sky.

This is the same tree, but with six words you’ve changed the time of day, the season, probably the temperature and, most importantly, the mood.  The reader paints the tree themselves.  That’s the beauty of words on a page: the details (the real details) of any tale are already in the reader’s mind.  The writer’s mission is to jumpstart that imagination so each reader can see their own tree.

And finally:

Join a writer’s group.  This is actually good advice, but remember the more time you spend talking about writing, the less time you have to actually write.  And the only way to become a writer is to write.  Everything else is just playing at it.

Proverbs — The Remix

wise words

Old people are always making up stupid stuff to tell young people how to live their lives.  (Yeah?  If you’re so smart, how come ya got old?)  These “wise” old sayings used to show up on kitchen plaques and bumper stickers, but now they crawl around Facebook like ants at a picnic.  Most of them were thought up hundreds of years ago, when people had nothing to do but sit around and actually talk to each other.  Those days are gone.  So, as a public service, here’s a remix of just a few of these geriatric proverbs to reflect real life in the 21st century.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a credit card.

If you can change just one person’s life … that really isn’t good enough, is it?

You can’t tell a book by its … book?  Book?  What’s a book?

Beauty is only skin deep.  Is that “beauty shaming?”  “That might be “beauty shaming?”  Do you think that’s “beauty shaming?”

The meek shall inherit the Earth — until some ratbag lawyer decides to contest the will.
(This is not a comment about any particular ratbag lawyer, so forget about suing me!)

Cheaters never prosper.  They just win elections.

If at first you don’t succeed … there’s an App for that.

He who hesitates doesn’t have a Twitter account.

Money isn’t everything, but it’s sure as hell ahead of whatever’s in second place.

Do unto others — cuz eventually they’re going to show up and do unto you.

The early bird catches the worm.  But nobody ever thinks about the early worm.  What about the early worm?  WILL NOBODY THINK OF THE EARLY WORM?

History repeats itself.  Cool!  I’m totally getting a dinosaur.

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names – now, that’s the real problem.  They can cause deep psychological issues that last for decades.  We need to have trigger warnings on names.

The pen is mightier than the sword.  This is a joke, right?

Never put off ‘til tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow – or next week, or sometime in the near future, or ….

No news is – uh – well, at least it’s not fake news.

The road to hell is paved.  That’s why so many people go that way.

Seeing is believing — unless your friends have Photoshop.

When the going gets tough, most people wander away and watch Netflix.

Absence makes the heart grow fonder.  Out of sight out of mind.  Uh . . . I’m confused.

And finally:

What doesn’t kill you can put you in intensive care for six months where you become addicted to painkillers.  Then, when you get out of the hospital, you spend all your money on illegal drugs, lose your job, your house and your wife leaves you.  Finally, you end up living on the street, eating out of garbage cans and selling your body to buy crack.  But, wow, are you ever strong!