Dead But Not Gone

I haven’t had any memorable “horror” type nightmares in recent years. I can tell you a few I had when I was a kid but let’s stick to a recent one. I did have a nightmare recently that I came into my house and found a strange man hanging out with my kids. They seemed to adore him. Apparently, he had thought I was dead and so was rekindling a friendship he had with my wife. I empathize with guys who go through divorce and face this scenario. It was horrible! I felt “absent.” My wife was away at work or something and this guy seemed very inquisitive as to whether I would be back in the picture or not. I did not like the “vibe” of the conversation. Odd might be a step toward describing how it felt.

It wasn’t jealousy per se but rather that left behind feeling. My kids were laughing so hard playing with him and they even recognized I was their dad but they kept playing with this new guy. I remember when I woke up I felt really strange. I didn’t even tell my wife about it because it felt so real. We did have a hypothetical discussion that day about what would happen if I ever died, would she remarry. I would absolutely expect her to, no one should go through life alone unless she/he wants to. That’s what she told me though, she’d stay a single mom and would have no desire to date if I died. What would it matter to me, I told her. I’d be dead. I think having the dream was weirder than it happening in real life. What a trip to get a glimpse into a what-if scenario. Dreams are gold for that.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Nightmares.”

Only an Act of God Could Stop Them

121342Three guys walk into a bar, one pulls a gun on the other two and they follow suit, “What do you think you’re doing clearing out of town with my money!” One of them says with gun drawn.

“What the heck do you mean, you took the money sack in the last town, and I aim to get it back!” A second one says. The third is the deputy and he is obviously alarmed by what is transpiring so he orders both of them to drop their weapons. They of course do not.

“Throw down your weapons I tell you in the name of the law!” The deputy by now is pretty visibly upset. The two men explain with the whole bar watching stunned that they aim to kill each other if they have to but one is lying. They say they’re gonna have a draw at noon, when the cuckoo clock strikes. After a long long shouting match, the bartender walked out and said,

“Okay, so you’re gonna kill each other … fine. Before you do it, let me get the crucifix statue off this here shelf so the Lord can maybe throw a miracle down here. He lifted the heavy statue off the shelf next to the clock. The story ends with the two men witnessing what they thought was a miracle. They put their guns away and walk out dazed by what they feel is the Lord’s hand. This is loosely based on an Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode I watched yesterday. You’ll have to check it out yourself to see how it ends. It’s streaming on Netflix. Thanks to John Holton for reminding me of this Hitchcock show. In some ways I like it better than the Twilight Zone.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Fill In the Blank.”

Life Of Riley Playlist

hatspringbreak2015-150x150Today’s prompt is: Put together a a musical playlist of songs that describe your life, including what you hope your future entails.

It’s a good start. These say a lot without even including lyrics. How can one possibly include them all?

If the House is Rockin Don’t Bother Knockin – Stevie Ray Vaughn
I Go On – Kyle Adem
Our Lady of the Well – Jackson Browne
Strength – The Alarm
These Days- Jakson Browne
The Difference – The Wallflowers
Not Dark Yet – Bob Dylan
Just the Way You Are – Billy Joel
Cruel to Be Kind – Nick Lowe
The Boxer – Simon and Garfunkel
Fatal Hesitation – Chris Deburgh
Amor – Cristian Castro
Wonderful World – Louie Armstrong
Moon River – Henry Mancini
See Me Through – Rascal Flatts
Too Late to Apologize – One Republic
When the Rain Comes – Third Day
Losing my Religion – REM
War of my Life – John Mayer

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Mix Tape.”

Half-Popped Kernels

IMG_4747.JPGKernels at the bottom of a popcorn bowl taste better than the popcorn itself. I’ve often thought about enterprising a product that is them alone, no regular popcorn. Perhaps it’s the truth they are the origin of popcorn goodness that resonates with me as I eat them. Maybe it’s the crunchy texture I feel when I bite into them. Then again, there is the danger factor. There’s that possibilty I will break off a tooth. I’m not, by the way, talking about unpopped kernels. Eating those would be tooth suicide.

These are the ones that are half-popped. You can see the white yellow softness pushing out the prison bars of the kernel skin. I’ve loved these ever since I was a child. They are truly an amazing snack from nature. It’s weird though, some popcorn bags don’t produce them. In fact I have found the machines and stove methods will produce more of these half-popped kernels than microwave. Kernels are the start of things, sometimes halfway there is tastier.

This post is in response to the prompt at Stream of Consciousness Saturday.

My Starbucks “Blog Office”

online-diarist-at-starbucks-150x150I make sure I have everything I need in my satchel before I head to my Starbucks blogging office. It’s my blogging couch away from couch and I love the atmosphere so it gets me inspired to blog. Of course, the Cafe Misto does the muse good as well. I have all sorts of blogging tools I use there to help me get “in the zone.” I can choose from 4 input sources: my iphone and a folding keyboard, my Windows 8 tablet using their free wifi. Be careful because not all Starbucks have working wifi. Having a bluetooth keyboard for your iphone is essential to avoid a buzzkill. I was using the wifi at the Adelanto Starbucks for the longest time when one day they just decided to let it lapse and I was left with no way to blog that morning. They still haven’t fixed it, now weeks later.

image5-320x214I have a large bulky laptop I can use but it won’t fit in my satchel. I rarely use it at Starbucks. The last thing I can use is an iphone 6 keyboard. I use the iphone 6 plus which is about 1/3 the size of an ipad. I love it! It’s a must for a blogger in the field. It can be used on my lap if that’s more comfortable or if tables aren’t available. I recommend at least 4 options like these. One day they may figure out a way for me to blog while driving with Google Glass. I’ll be right there to buy it when that happens! I told d_at_starbucks-320x320my daughter, who is big into writing stories, that one day when she is in her 20’s or 30’s they may have a way to read my thoughts onto WordPress. When that happens, I hope I’m still around to try it! You might think it wouldn’t take that much time to blog. Trust me, I waste all sorts of valuable time doing it. It’s wonderful. You’ll see me searching ideas, cropping photos, using photoshop, taking photos, paper and pen journaling, etc. So there you have the technical blueprints of blogging from the field. Now for the aesthetic appeal.

17100500711_5465efa782_k-150x150Entering “my Starbucks office” I take a deep breath of that coffee aroma. It’s corporate but still a local “coffee house” like Ben Franklin wrote about. I feel historical inspiration from that. It’s an earthy place where big thoughts are fleshed out into sentences and semicolons. I find a seat I like and set up my blogging writing business. These days I average about $150/month but there was a time when I used to do sponsored posts that I made as much as $500/month. I like how I do it now: I write whatever I want and get paid for it. It took me a lot of years to operate that way but it’s the best situation I’ve had since starting in December 2005. relaxation beach hutThat is the place I get lost, in a good way. An hour, 2 hours, half the day will pass as I am composing across three blogs. Recently I have syndicated all of them into this blog called “Riley Central.” It’s where all my online stuff comes together. For those who don’t know, my blogs are related to teaching, diary keeping, a Tumblr, and prose (like this). In addition, you’ll find my statuses, photostatuses, link statuses, and flickr photos here. Updating this blog at Starbucks is one way I get lost and caught up in bliss. This Summer I’ll be blogging from the beach as well.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “The Zone.”

Empty Classroom Lingering

Damien Riley classroom setupI’m a teacher and that’s unfortunate as a blogger because sometimes the experiences I find commonplace, the general public doesn’t really understand. Setting up a new room each year is one of those events. When I come back from my summer, tanned and rested, I get my keys from the school secretary and enter my room for the start of a new year. It always has a dank but glorious smell. It’s like a blank slate in the form of a scent. It represents a building foundation upon which I can create a successful year, no matter what odds may be stacked against me. If the rich school down the street has all the latest laptops and devices and my school has left-overs and hand me downs, it doesn’t matter. If we didn’t quite get the book adoption I wanted, it doesn’t matter. This is where I work with what I have.

The off-white fabric walls call to me and I let my mind run wild with them. Will I have a sound/spelling cards wall or a bigger writing wall. Usually I set up my desk and some music first. Then I make myself a cup of coffee in my Melitta pour-through, a great way for teachers to make coffee. Then I sit back and just linger over my coffee. I doodle in my diary creating and innovating the new school year fantastic. I love having a clipboard with quality grain lined college-rule paper and a soft lead #2 pencil to draw my ideas with. I think way out of the box when I do this. In the same way, I carry a leather journal everywhere I go and I love a Uniball black pen for making tasks and doodling ideas. These tasks and doodle become innovation and most of hem come from lingering. I love lingering in a new year’s classroom because it allows possibilities to fly through my mind.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Linger.”

Sleep Rejuvenates the Brain

600x600brainlogoEverybody thinks about sleep but it’s rarely talked about. When I went in to see a therapist a long time ago, he was always asking at the onset of every meeting about my sleep patterns: ie; how much was I sleeping. was I having trouble sleeping. I think that’s because good sleep habits are helpful to a positive outlook and good mental health. I do pay attention to my sleep patterns. I used to have insomnia all the time. It was rare I went to bed and didn’t get up and go downstairs. Luckily for Sarah she got used to it but there was a stretch of time where it woke her up and then she couldn’t get back to sleep. The perfect couple right? It made for some nice talks in the early am hours but she didn’t like them as much as I did. All in all, I prefer sleeping through the night and I do now most every night. If I don’t I’ve learned some techniques to get me in the direction of sleep.

Breathing is so very important to getting sleepy and falling asleep. Deep breaths are really good for you. I’ve also found if I count my own pulse I trail off into slumber land. There is a lot of information online. I try and avoid sleeping pills. I’m not judging people who use them because I used to pop one or two every night years ago. They mess with you body and I think they should be used only in extreme situations. A final issue I’ll note is dreams. I don’t remember dreams like I used to as a kid and young adult but when I do remember them, they are vivid just like back then. I can remember a really vivid dream I had in my childhood where my mom was walking around a corner in a dark ornate house, kind of like the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland. I tried to run and catch up but she kept eluding me, even though she was moving slowly. This was an odd one. To close, sleep is magical when you do it right. It’s the time we can truly relax and rebuild ourselves. Once the brain is rejuvenated, we can wake up to the creative and innovative life we were meant to live and Go.For.It!

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “To Sleep, Perchance to Dream.”

Windshield Wipers Talking

I love a rainy night, the windshield wipers almost speak. I’ve been thinking about life. They say: Set priorities in direction of goals. 
If you want to be a model, don’t prioritize food and living. If you want to be a podcaster, prioritize time to do it. Commit time to doing it. Nothing is automatic in life, except growing old.

As you spend time in the direction of goals they will appear ever increasingly larger in your windshield view.