60,000 and Rising

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It was with great joy this morning as I squinted with sleep filled eyes at my stats page and saw I’d finally crossed the 60k mark. With one hand on my ubiquitous coffee mug and the other on my Macbook mousepad, I scrolled down and also saw that my following list had increased.

All was right in the world; God was in his heaven and my blog was continuing to grow.

On a more serious note, I’ve got to say that I am really overjoyed with how things are going with my blog and my writing. On the topic of my blog, I can only say thank you from the deepest part of my repaired heart to all the folks who keep reading and commenting and following my site. You guys really make my day. Nothing is better than waking up in the morning and seeing that my site is continuing to grow while I sip my first of many cups of coffee of the day.

While I still don’t have a huge grasp on what my particular “niche” is, I’m happy with continuing with what I am doing. It seems to be working and I don’t want to rock the boat too much!

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I do need to say that my input will be slowing down. Instead of the 3 to 4 blog posts per day, I will be dropping down to 1 or 2. I will also be using some blog space to promote upcoming Tomorrow Comes Media (TCM) hosting events, which I have just started doing and the first one up will be Michael West’s brilliant anthology Vampires don’t Sparkle on May the 16th.

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I’ll be featuring a guest post from one of the contributors to this brilliant anthology and I’ll have another event on the 19th of May.

I am currently spending a lot of time writing articles for the web magazines Guardian Express and What Culture! Added to that is the review work and interviews for Rogue Cinema and the research I’ve been doing for my book, so my attention is spread pretty thin at the moment.

I am getting requests from new authors to review their newest work and if you know of anyone who exchange a copy of the latest and greatest book for a review let me know!

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So, intense (for me anyway) workload aside, things are going well (knock on wood) and the film Once Bitten, Twice Shy is still on for filming on the 6th of July this year and if you want to know more about this click on the link above and you’ll be redirected to the film’s website.

So before I sign off here today, I will reiterate how pleased and  grateful I am for the time that you lovely folks in the WordPress community spend supporting my blog. While I am not very good at visiting other sites as much as I should, I continue to try to repay the kindness that you’ve shown me.

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I know, I need to update this picture, the chin scruff is gone!

Skoal!

 

 

 

A Pasadena 4th of July or Babe’s in Hollywood-Land Part Two

English: Rose Bowl
English: Rose Bowl (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

**All of the folks I talk about here are, as they say, real people but as I don’t know their whereabouts to ask permission to include them in my little story I’ve changed their names.**

My first wife and I wound up living in the old Pasadena Music Conservatory. This old clapboard house, just one block over from N. Los Robles Avenue on the north side of the Foothill’s Highway, had been turned into a ‘four-plex’ a long time ago. The house itself was large and quite pretty. It had a huge covered veranda that ran all along the front of the house. The apartment next to ours had double French doors that the occupant used as a front door.

Our apartment was a two room affair. It boasted a huge kitchen (it had actually been the kitchen of the original house) a bathroom and the front room, which was huge, had a sofa-bed. Behind the house was a separate little house on the plot. The area between our house and the little one was our communal back yard. It was bare of any grass, mostly dirt with a few weeds here and there to give it a bit of character.

It was a perfect place to start us off. We met all our neighbours within the first few days of living there. The first neighbour we met was Nathan. It was the Fourth of July and we were sitting on the front porch watching the sporadic ‘illegal’ fireworks that dotted the sky. Nathan came wandering down and introducing himself, gave us both a Coors and said, “I’ve got some rockets up stairs, I’ll get em and we’ll celebrate your  first Southern California Fourth of July.”

We sat sipping our beer and waited for Nathan to return. While we were waiting we met Martin, the guy who had the cool French Doors as his entrance, he was only passing by, but he wished us a happy fourth and said that if you went around the back of the block you could see the Rose Bowl fireworks for free. Nathan came back looking a bit dejected. His rockets weren’t there and he decided he’d have to go buy some. With promises of a speedy return he drove off.

We decided to go around the block and see if you really could see the Rose Bowl fireworks. We locked our front door and walked around the corner. The house sat on the front corner of a city block that was divided into two different territories. The ‘top’ of the block was ‘ruled’ by the Diablos and our section by the Bloods. We weren’t aware of this quaint little gang custom until later. But appearances to the contrary, this was one rough neighbourhood.

There were a few other people out and about when we walked to find a good Rose Bowl viewpoint. They all spoke and we sort of meandered up the sidewalk. We kept stopping and looking at the occasional sky rocket and talking excitedly about our first ‘Fourth’ away from home. We kept an eye out for a new apartment complex on the corner. That building was our cue to turn right and start looking for the free fireworks.

We stopped just before we reached the corner. We could see what we thought might be the Rose Bowl display and we talked about how cool it was that we could see it for free. While we were talking, two little old ladies chattering like magpies passed us and went around the corner we were about to turn down. Seconds after they turned up the road and out of sight, we heard screams.

My wife and I stood frozen for what seemed like ages. We then bolted around the corner. One of the ‘little old ladies’ was lying on the sidewalk blood streaming from her forehead. Her friend was anxiously darting around her as one or two  people came running our of their houses.  As I ran up to the little group, one of the men looked at me suspiciously. “Did you see anything?”  This was asked as he advanced menacingly towards us.

“No, no. They were around the corner. They didn’t do anything.” This was from the friend of the unconscious lady. After giving me a look of disdain the man went back to the ladies and said he was going to call the police. We stood there feeling helpless. This was outside of our limited experience. We did find out that as the two old dears turned the corner a man jumped out of the dark and smacked one of the ladies in the forehead with a brick. He then grabbed both their purses and ran.

While we stood waiting for Pasadena‘s finest to arrive, we realised that if we had not stopped when we did, we would have gone around the corner before the little old ladies. We both went a little shaky at that thought. It should have been one of us lying on the ground and bleeding. After talking to the police just long enough for them to realise that we would be no help. We walked back home.

The lovely glow of the place we’d just walked up had changed. We walked slowly and looked carefully at the shadowy areas by the path. When we got back to our little apartment, we wondered what we had gotten ourselves into. It would be another two weeks before my brush with the gentleman with the black robes and scythe. He was very interested in me on that night, offering me two chances to take a trip with him.

Reborn on the Fourth of July

RAF Mildenhall
RAF Mildenhall (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The USAF sent me to the United Kingdom in 1982. It was not problem, I had volunteered to go. My first marriage had died a pretty messy death and the airbase I was at held too many harsh memories. My unit commander had suggested I put in a transfer request. He said that he happened to know there was still a place or two left open in England.

Alamogordo Air Force Base in New Mexico was my first assignment in the Air Force. I had just changed jobs and my new commander was a “re-tread” an officer who had been promoted from the enlisted ranks. He was one hell of a guy.

He had been stationed at RAF Mildenhall years before and had loved it. His idea was to get me away from the memories that were making my life a misery. I put in for a transfer and got it. We were a small career field  so it was a bit easier to get ‘choice’ assignments.

I drove my immediate superior’s car to Dover AFB. She was being reassigned to Germany and wanted to ship her car. On my way I stopped by and visited with my son, my parents and the rest of my family. Sad, bitter thoughts kept me from enjoying anyone’s company too much and I was anxious to “get going” and start forgetting.

I flew into England via the “Freedom Bird.” The Freedom Bird was usually a stretched commercial aircraft, stretched meant that it had moved the seats closer together so they could fit more military personnel on the flights. It was cramped and uncomfortable. This commercial aircraft was dubbed the Freedom Bird because it, or another one like it, would be the aircraft that would take us back to the USA when our assignment was over.

The minute my feet hit the tarmac in England I fell in love. Instinctively I felt that I this was the place I had always been looking for. I had conflicting emotions running through my head. I was excited, relieved, expectant, and sad all at the same time.

I was also jet lagged.

England was a welcome change for me. I got the chance to ‘live’ my life again. After a few years I fell in love with a girl from Cambridge. We tied the knot and we moved to The Netherlands for four and a half years. While we were there she gave birth to our beautiful daughter. And we made plans to move back to England when our stint in Holland was over.

Then I got out of the Air Force in 1993 (under the downsizing drill in 1992) and made England my home. I became a British citizen and my visits home had to stop due to lack of funds.

Fast forward to 2011. My second marriage was over. Thankfully for different reasons than my first one, I’d learned that much at least, but it lasted a lot longer than my first marriage. The first thing I knew I had to do was to go home and visit.

My daughter and I flew over for a two week ‘rest period’ and as luck would have it, we would be in the USA over the Fourth of July.

English: Downtown Miami on July 4, 2007
English: Downtown Miami on July 4, 2007 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We spent the holiday at my brother’s house with his family. He went all out for my daughter’s first 4th of July in America. She saw her first baseball game and saw her first firework display at the ripe old age of 21. She fell in love with ‘live’ baseball and America. She will be coming back to live and work there.

She also saw her first Rodeo and got to see a lot of the places I’d lived and visited when I was a whole world younger. She also got to visit family she’d either never met before or she’d only met when she was too little to really remember.

Something else happened on that flight home. Something important.

It started on the flight over. I sat (watching one of the in-flight movies) and my eyes started watering and I got a lump in my throat. I was going home. I hadn’t been there since 1990. It was a little overwhelming. The culmination of this feeling came on the 4th itself.

As we sat watching the brilliant firework display put on by the town of Coppell, Texas tears ran down my face as I ‘taped’ the colourful explosions. I suddenly remembered that I was an American.

It was like being reborn.

I had spent so many years ‘overseas’ that I had forgotten what I was, where I was from, and who I was deep down. I had begun to think of myself as a citizen to of world and of course I was an British citizen as well.  I think that visit helped both my daughter and me a great deal.

We still live and work  in England but life has changed. We both discovered our ‘roots’ last year. My daughter for the first time and I got back in touch with mine. So while I’m setting here writing this, I am reliving last years 4th of July celebrations. The smell of the popcorn and other delicious foods at the ballgame and the sounds and smells of the fireworks.

So even though I was born in September, I was reborn on the 4th of July.

English: A chocolate cake during the 4th of July
English: A chocolate cake during the 4th of July (Photo credit: Wikipedia)