Letters to Strangers: Hungry Man

Coconuts

Dear Hungry Man,

I’m sorry I’m bad at climbing trees. To be fair though, I think you could have chosen in better champion in the Coconut Retrieval event. Perhaps someone a little less… Well, me. I’m not as spry as I used to be and even in my prime I was never exactly blessed in the athletics/physical strength department.

That’s not to say I didn’t appreciate the gesture. You were absolutely right to get my attention and call me over. As you noted, the wind was picking up and the coconut bundles I’d been walking beneath only a moment prior were hanging on precariously. There was a pretty solid chance I could have been badly injured, so my thanks go out to you.

I wish you would have been a little more direct with me though. I actually feel bad that when you suggested that, “Maybe someone should climb up there and knock them down.” I sarcastically suggested that you give it a shot. You, probably 30 years my senior, looked like you hadn’t eaten in a week; but my default setting is wry cynicism. I thought we were just joking around. It wasn’t until a while later that I realized you were slyly asking me to shimmy up there and get you some food. Again, that wouldn’t have worked, but at least then I’d have been clearer as to your motives and could have proposed an alternative; say, I could have bought you a sandwich or something. I was, literally, travelling between cash-machine and food-truck when you got my attention. I had money to spare. Hell, I ended up throwing away half of what I ordered.

But perhaps that would have defeated the effort entirely. I’ve seen my share of pan-handlers and beggars in my day. I grew up close to Portland, Oregon and downtown Honolulu is rife with their ilk as well. Most have some manner of gimmick; some try to look pitiful, others try to guilt you out of your pocket change, some try honesty, “Hey man, you got a dollar, I wanna buy a beer.” As though telling me honestly that they intend to use my donation to become intoxicated will somehow endear them to me… It’s a strange assumption, I think, that the desire to get drunk on cheap liquor is assumed to be an empathetic attribute. I digress.

But, no, you instead chose kindness; looking out for my well-being while you waited patiently for Mother Nature to provide you with a single coconut. It’s a gesture I respect and wish I could reward now, but sadly by the time I got it through –my- thick coconut of a skull you had moved on.

I can only hope the winds favored you that day and that you walked away with a bushel of fresh coconuts to last you a while and again; I’m sorry I’m a little slow on the uptake, and shit at climbing palm trees.

Sincerely,

A. Stephen Getty

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NaNoWriMo: Greasing the Gears

Every year November happens. So far I’ve no reason to accept this as false. Each November in recent history I’ve been reminded that it’s National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. The goal, in NaNoWriMo, is to complete a 50,000 word novel in thirty (thirty-one?) days. There’s a whole community on the internet for this thing: http://nanowrimo.org/

There are local meetings all over the world, discussion groups, support groups, you name it. The first year I was made aware I pretty much ignored it. The second year I actually signed up and didn’t actually write anything. The third year I thought I had a great idea; I even attended a meeting at a local coffee shop where I ended up hanging back, not talking to anyone, pretending as though I was just there for my extra-large Americano (black). The fourth year I told myself that trying to write a novel was too much pressure and really, the goal is just to get words on paper. It’s all about the word count anyway, that’s why so many of the novels cranked out in those thirty days are absolute trash; the whole thing is less about quality than quantity. It’s about getting writing, not editing and perfecting… That comes in December when people mistakenly assign the increased suicide rates to holiday stress when fact is they’re mostly NaNoWriMo participants locked in the editing cycle.

Point is, the goal was just to write. Short stories, poems, stream of consciousness word-vomit, whatever… Get words on paper. I did exactly none of that.

This year, though. Yes, THIS YEAR is going to be different. Maybe.

50,000 words don’t sound like a lot but it takes, more than anything, discipline; quality in which I’m sorely lacking when it comes to writing. I’ve a nasty tendency to think up ideas and let them stew about in my brain juices until I’ve told myself the story so many time that putting it down on paper become an act of tedium and redundancy. Worse, still, I’ve an endless list of excuses for why I’m not actively writing at any given time.

The room is too noisy. The room is too quiet. I’m hungry. Not enough elbow room. The cat is staring at me. Etc.

So, this year, I’m starting early. This year I’m resolving beginning today, October 1st, 2015 with this very blog post to stop stewing and just write, or SSAJW… I can’t pronounce that. Point is, I want to clean my brain house over the course of the next 31 days through a series of activities.

1st: I will blog often. I will make an effort to get something on this site at least once a week.

2nd: I will write, at least, the rough drafts for a pair of short stories I’ve been kicking down the road for the last six months.

3rd: Any new ideas will be committed to paper at or near the time of conception. No more sitting on them.

4th: I will begin, and hopefully, complete a Chapter outline for my NaNoWriMo effort to begin in November.

In the event all four of these things are successful, I should have a relatively clear braincase with which to work come November 1. A secondary benefit is that perhaps I’ll find some means of conquering my bad habit of boiling everything down until it’s not even appetizing anymore.

If I can teach myself to be less conscious of my surroundings and more conscious of what’s putting on the page; I’ll most certainly be assassinated by ninjas, but I’ll at least have a partially completed novel on my lootable corpse.