Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Z is for Zealot

“Phil might have remained an eccentric and disagreeable neighbor but David had turned him into an enemy, and Julia might have been a breath a fresh air which blew into his life for a couple of hours once a week to teach him about how to be a better communicator. Instead, he had transformed her into an object of desire and stupidly pursued her.”

-          Loathe Your Neighbour ch.26

Zeal is a good thing, and if someone describes you as being zealous, you would accept the compliment unless it was delivered with a side order of sarcasm. Why then, I wonder, is it that the word zealot has such negative connotations? There appears to be one of those invisible lines drawn somewhere between being zealous and being overzealous, and if you cross that line you become a zealot and as such, no longer the object of admiration, but of scorn. David Lavender took the passion and protectiveness he had for his family and transformed it into a crusade against his neighbor. He became a zealot, and in so doing, he further antagonized that neighbor, aggravated the police and annoyed his wife. He took a healthy interest in women, an appreciation of them, and turned it into a hunt for something to satisfy his lust. On neither occasion did he realize he was taking things too far, that he was becoming extreme in his thinking and subsequent behavior, until it was too late to avoid the inevitable consequences of his actions. Have you ever crossed the line between passion and zealotry, or are they the same thing?

Zeal you later, everyone. It’s been a pleasure.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Y is for Yellow

“One day, he was home from work early. Lilijana had taken the children and would be gone for more than an hour, so David picked some lemons from the tree in their backyard, put them in a plastic bag, and took them next door to 1008. It seemed an innocent enough gesture at the time.”

-          Loathe Your Neigbor ch. 10

Although I have referred to and quoted from my novel, Loathe Your Neighbor, in every post, this is the only time in the challenge that I have brazenly and directly tried to sell it. As part of the promotional parade for LYN, I am offering readers a chance to enter the draw to win a brand new, still-in-the-box genuine Renovator multi-purpose power tool. Simply read the book and answer the question, “What is the significance of lemons in LYN?” The draw will be held on May 25 so if you want this awesome piece of hardware, buy the book, read it and drop me a line at devolution_dacairns@hotmail.com  As a special offer for visitors to this site, I will throw in a free digital version of my debut novel, Devolution, for everyone who buys LYN and enters the competition. Make haste my friends.

Lemons are yellow, and with that I end my penultimate, and clearly most loosely, alphabetically speaking, connected post in the challenge.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

X is for Xerarch

“Now there were two catalysts…The second denied his need for satisfaction and excitement. His wife from Heaven bored him. He winced. The thought was repugnant yet true. Lilijana bored him often, and annoyed him even more. He could imagine life without her.”

-          Loathe Your Neighbor ch.2

Hopefully during the A-Z Challenge I have given you something to think about and some new words to play with. The letter X had me wracking my brains and running for my dictionary. Now I have learned a new word. Xerarch. I have a Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary which was a gift from my grandparents for achieving Dux (top student) of my primary school. It’s a bit old school, and I do often use online dictionaries, but my Websters is one of my favourite books: in my collection for over thirty years now. That’s enough padding…onto xerarch. It means originating in a dry habitat, like a cliff face or a desert. This clearly refers to plant species and ecological stages of development,  which takes me way outside my limited areas of expertise. However, if I may be permitted a little artistic license, I would like to suggest that certain human behaviours originate in dry emotional places. For example, loneliness might be described as withered emotional state in which a person is not watered by the richness of human company, and which therefore leads to eccentricity or anti socialism. Sexual promiscuity may derive from the inability, or unwillingness to be vulnerable and thus experience emotional intimacy. There may be a disconnect between the fertile fields of the spiritual aspect of sexuality and the physical actions. I’m thinking out loud here, so to speak. Would a person thus described be considered to be xerarch or would their behavior bear that label?


Friday, April 26, 2013

W is for Womanizer

“Whether it was the company, the food or the alcohol he drank, he enjoyed himself. Lilijana had some extraordinary female friends and David delighted in their company. Although it attracted the ire of the men at these parties, it was harmless fun in David’s eyes. The ladies did not seem to mind.”

-          Loathe Your Neighbor ch.2

I am about to fly in the face of danger by suggesting that David Lavender is not a womanizer. Despite his unabashed interest in, and frequent flirtations with women, he does not disrespect them. He is brimming with admiration, in awe of the opposite sex. He has overcome the intimidation he felt as a younger man and figured out that flirting is fun, and most women are flattered by the attention. David himself likes the attention. It’s not all about sex. He’s somewhat selfish and enjoys being the object of desire. He thinks women, likewise appreciate being complimented and entertained. David thinks he knows where the lines are drawn and he doesn’t intentionally cross them. He’s not a sleaze. He’s not trying to offend anyone. He thinks he’s harmless. What do you think?

Thursday, April 25, 2013

V is for Vicarious

“His bizarre fascination with Phil and Naydine mystified David. There really was no reason for his intense curiosity, nor any justification for such an unhealthy interest in other people’s business. He enjoyed it. Why? Was it the same vicarious thrill women derived from reading New Idea or watching Desperate Housewives? Was it that his own life, had settled into the rut of domestic routine, and he needed something else? Some spark. Some passion.”

-       Loathe Your Neighbor ch. 6

What makes us so interested in other people’s business? Why do women’s magazines and celebrity gossip magazines sell in the quintillions? Books, movies, television shows, especially reality TV programs are hugely popular all over the world. Why? Other places, other worlds, other people’s lives are irresistibly attractive? Why? The majority of us are prisoners of the mundane: spending huge amounts of our time on activities we would not necessarily choose if we had a choice. Let’s face it, choice itself is a luxury precious few can afford. We sample the insipid staples of regular life while dreaming of wild adventures. We eat beans as we dream of baked dinners. We cannot escape our lives, nor run from ourselves. Many of our problems cannot be solved, and those that can, often require pain and sacrifice. The slick salesman in Total Recall asked Arnie’s character what was the one thing that was the same about every holiday he had ever taken. He didn’t know the answer. Do you? Owing to the limitations of our mortal bodies we have but one life here on Earth, and we choose to spend much of it entertaining ourselves by living through the experiences and imaginations of others. This is vicarious living. I don’t actually want to do that, or go there, or suffer that so I will read about it or watch it. I don’t have a problem with such escapism. Do you?

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

U is for Opposite

“Are we okay?”

“What do you mean?” she asked without taking her eyes off the dishes.

“I don’t feel like we talk to each other anymore. Not properly. We say stuff in passing and throw words and sentences like a food fight at a birthday party. There’s no real connection.”

“’No connection,’ that’s an interesting phrase.”

Lilijana was a true champion of the put down, shutdown comment. Disturbingly unsympathetic.”

-          Loathe Your Neighbor ch.10

It would have been so easy to write about the ubiquity of umbrellas but I decided to sing the praises of a powerful prefix instead. Two letters which, when applied to the front of a word, turn the whole world upside down. Two letters that take what is good and make it bad. This deadly combination can make something useable into something unuseable, something wanted into something unwanted. That which is lovely, kind, righteous, or peaceful may be transformed in a flash. In spite of its reputation as a negative prefix it can also be a force for good. A humble person may consider themselves unworthy or undeserving while others deem them unselfish. Although it is not unnatural for writers to be unknown it is unquestionably uncomfortable for them to remain so. Alas the world is unfair and unwarranted actions undo the unassimilated and uninitiated. Unbeknownst to me this post has fallen into an unhealthy and unattractive assortment of unplanned dribble. Unfortunately, once begun an odyssey is not easily abandoned, and it would be unreasonable of you, the reader, to expect it of me. It may be unrealistic and unimaginably unwise, and calling a blog post an odyssey may be unadulterated hyperbole, but I beg your indulgence for I am not unaware that you are not uncaring souls, and you understand that un at the beginning of a word is not always a prefix. I am unfinished. What's your favourite un word?

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

T is for Tomo (the challenges of step parenting)

“No matter how he tried, David never broke through. Tomo put up with his presence and was pleased to cooperate and be nice when it suited: if there was, in his eyes, sufficient return on his investment. To purchase something for him, he would happily go to the mall.  He refused to go grocery or clothes shopping, but, when he did, he showed the enthusiasm of a dog asleep in the shade on a hot day.

Though David was no psychologist, he knew at least this much: Tomo blamed the world and everyone in it for taking away his father. The chip on his shoulder was more like a sack of potatoes.”

-          Loathe Your Neighbor ch. 6

I think one of the reasons The Brady Brunch was so popular is because it presented such an idyllic view of what has become known as the blended family. The Brady family had their problems of course, but nothing that could not be sorted out in a 30 minute episode. Reality is not quite so cut and dried. My comments here are based on observation not experience. Roughly 50% of marriages fail. Many people remarry and so we have many families where two worlds have collided, or are colliding. Step parenting throws up many challenges but they seem to fit into two, not unrelated categories: discipline and acceptance. (There is a third category which covers sexual abuse but I find that too distasteful to write about.) I cannot deal in any depth with these issues, but if you have been a part of a blended family, either as a child or a parent, then you know what I’m talking about and I would be interested in hearing your views. In Loathe Your Neighbor, David feels that his stepson, Tomo, tolerated his presence and used David’s goodwill to his advantage. As soon as Tomo could leave home, he did. His attitude towards David can be summed up by “You’re not my father, you can’t tell me what to do!” Does that sound familiar? Parenting requires, hard work, love and grace. How much harder is step parenting? Is it harder? What has been, or is your experience?


Monday, April 22, 2013

S is for Sex

““Would you like a written invitation?”

David smiled and pulled her close. “Can you feel my acceptance?”
Julia nodded then led David to the master bedroom. They stood at the foot of the bed and kissed until everything blurred. There was heavy breathing, buttons and zippers opening. It was wet and hot. It was soft. He was hard. They fell onto the bed and grappled, feeding on each other’s flesh. There was moaning and sighing. Julia’s hair swept his face followed by her breasts. She was on top of him, then underneath, then beside him. It was quick, hurried and desperate. She whispered his name. He shuddered and then it was over.”

-Loathe Your Neighbor ch. 17

I was surprised when I re read some of the scenes in Loathe Your Neighbor. I was amazed at how graphic they were. Keep your pants on, I’m not talking 50 Shades here, or anything which would even remotely qualify as erotica, but I do describe sexual activity. In my first novel, I only made allusions to sex. I’ll be honest and say that writing the sex scenes in Loathe Your Neighbor was enjoyable even though I would much rather have sex than write about it, or even watch if for that matter. I have been married for 20 years, and suffice to say, the bedroom action at my place has waned a little over the years, courtesy mainly of my wife’s lack of interest. Don’t get upset. She would readily admit to that. It’s a shame but it happens. I don’t really see why a person’s libido should falter as they age as it seems to, and for women more often, generally speaking, than for men. And with that I conclude my little ramble about me writing sex scenes whilst wishing I was having sex instead. Nothing wrong with that, is there?


Saturday, April 20, 2013

R is for Rugby League

“David was a rugby league man through and through. Having played rugby league as a youth, then coached and refereed, it was disappointing that Tomo showed no interest. It seemed certain ethnic backgrounds virtually guaranteed a football career.”

-          Loathe Your Neighbor ch. 6

This is a bit of stretch in terms of being connected to my novel, Loathe Your Neighbor, which is my theme for the A-Z Blogging Challenge, but last night I went to a rugby league match. Those of you unfamiliar with this fast and brutal sport should think in terms of American Football without all the padding and helmets, less players and few breaks in play. Rugby league is 80 minutes of skillful gladiatorial combat. So here I am in a hotel room, the morning after the game, in Canberra which is not only our national capital but is also celebrating its 100th birthday. As part of the celebrations, it hosted last night’s match at Canberra Stadium. Just over 25, 000 people, of which I was one, watched the first rugby league test match between Australia and New Zealand to be played in Canberra. It was an historic night. It was also an historic night for two of my guests. My niece and nephew are visiting from Thailand, and I felt obliged to share this wonderful facet of Australian culture with them. They were exposed to some of what is good and bad about living in Australia.

The free bus, which was to take us to the ground from where we parked our car and had an awesome Italian meal, was late. When we got to the ground, there was a massive queue of ticket holders like us, who were being slowly corralled through just four ticket gates. The teams came on to the field while we were outside. The national anthems were sung, the haka performed and the game commenced all before we made it in. We were then directed by stadium staff to the wrong end of the ground, and by the time we walked to the other end, found our seats, ejected the people who were sitting in our seats and finally sat to watch the game, twenty minutes had elapsed. It was very cold but we cheered with vigour as our boys finished strongly in what had been a tight contest. With a victory under our belts we left the ground in high spirits, and went to join the crowd of people waiting for buses. It was long wait. I thought my niece and nephew, unaccustomed to cold weather, might die from exposure. The crowd jeered the stadium staff as they apologized for the lack of buses as we stood and made the best of our plight.

Last night was one of those nights which will be talked about for as long as we live. A great victory by a great team with great support from patient and generally good humoured fans. I love my footy. What sports are you crazy about? What lengths have you gone to see a match?

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Q is for Questions

““Option three?” pleaded David as he watched the congregation break into conversation cliques.
 “Option three,” said John with a disturbing tone of reluctance, “is the worst option.” “Uh-huh,” said David with half an eye on the people pushing through the doors into the foyer. If anyone recognized him they would come straight over and he would have to wait to hear about option three. He hoped John could hear the urgency in his voice. “What is it?”

-          Loathe Your Neighbor ch.8

Some questions should never be asked because the answers will not be pleasant for, or even acceptable to the asker. Some questions should not be asked because they cannot be answered. Some questions should not be asked because the questions themselves may cause embarrassment. Some questions should not be answered truthfully for the same reason, and not only because of embarrassment but also potential hurt, emotional pain. You seriously have to challenge the adage honesty is the best policy, or at least modify it by adding the words in most circumstances. If you’ve seen the film The Invention of Lying or even Liar, Liar (an admittedly less profound example), or if you have been alive for at least 12 years or so, then you know how damaging the truth can be, and how unloving it can be. I used to hate the term white lie when I saw the world in more black and white terms. It seemed like a cop out: another example of the relative morality so prevalent in the world today. The truth is that love is more important than honesty, and wise people do not ask questions when they are not fully prepared for the answers. The answer to the question, “Do I look fat in this?” is always an emphatic no regardless of the truth. The answer to the question “Are you having an affair?” is up to you. How honest are you? How loving are you?

P is for Police

““Mr. Valentine next door has lodged a complaint against you,” said the female officer.

David thought he was already white. Apparently there were different shades. As he stood in stunned silence, the cute police officer stepped closer and took his arm.

“Please sit down, Mr. Lavender. Before you fall down.””

- Loathe Your Neighbor ch. 5

Police are often called in to settle domestic disturbances, either between family members or neighbours. Alcohol is usually involved, and danger is ever present. I recall the story from last year in which a police officer was shot through the head with an arrow while attending a dispute between neighbors. He died as a result of his injuries. Those of us who live relatively trouble free lives tend to take the police for granted. We only talk about them in relation to the sneaky speed traps they set up on highways. We are aware of crime and although we may know victims of crime, it is rare that we ourselves are victims. That kind of thing always happens to someone else. There was a shooting recently in western Sydney which the victim’s boyfriend, who brought her to the hospital, alleged was random. I thought it was interesting that the police spokesman said that random shootings almost never happen. I only know one person who owns a gun. Anyway, I digress. I like seeing the police walking around. I like seeing them driving around. I like knowing they are there and that the reason they are there is to keep the peace. To protect us, and to get the bad guys. I feel safe and that’s because we are a lawful society and we have a strong agency of government to enforce the law. We must remember that the police themselves are also subject to the law. This means that can’t just do anything they want. Accountability is attached to their authority. That also makes me feel safe. In Loathe Your Neighbor, David Lavender brought trouble on himself. When the police came knocking on his door it was because his conduct had arrested their attention. Has your behaviour ever excited the interest of the police?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

O is for Oprobrium

“Back in the car, Lilijana broke the silence. “Are you going to say anything?”

“Kelvin says I’m a model citizen. He’ll have both of the charges dismissed.”

“Dismissed. You’re going to say you didn’t do it?”

“I didn’t try to crack onto Naydine.”

She stared. David was about to tell her to watch the road when she turned away and said, “But you thought about it, didn’t you?”


-          Loathe Your Neighbor ch. 19

I am indebted to Mary Shelley for introducing me to this word. I love it. It means public disgrace. Shelley used it to describe Victor Frankenstein’s plight but many real life public figures, people with huge profiles, like movie stars, sportstars and politicians have tumbled embarrassingly out of favour. Plummeted from the heights of adulation and respect into the mire of opobrium. Regular folk, like you and I, also crash and burn sometimes but we do it within the relative safety of obscurity. Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone has things they are not proud of, things which they hope will never come to anyone’s attention. Present or past actions which we hope will not have negative consequences despite their perilous and perhaps foolish nature. Sometimes we blindly stumble down the wide road which leads to destruction. Other times we choose it. The narrow path is much harder to find and much more difficult to continue along. Ironically choosing the right path can lead to public disgrace. I’m thinking about Jesus: his public trail and execution, despite his innocence.

As we stand behind the crash barrier and watch the carnage of another’s opobrium, we may be tempted to say “I told you so”, or to revel in their demise. We may take vicarious pleasure in their pain, or at the very least thank God that it was not us who suffered, that we are not like them. We may be like the Pharisee Jesus talked about, who entered the temple and thanked God that he was not like the tax collector who was there with him. We would do well to consider Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 10:12 “Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands, take heed lest he fall.”
P.S. This post comes to you from a flash hotel in the heart of Sydney where we are celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary, and where we are being charged $14.95 for the privilege of using the hotel's wireless network...did I hear someone say "rip off"? Did I hear someone else say why are you on the computer when you are in a fancy hotel room with your wife?

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

N is for Neighbors

“As the smile broke across his face, David hoped it would not be misinterpreted. The situation was not amusing, but the language these cops used was hilarious. The preposterous understatement that Phil and Naydine had a bit of an argument was funny in itself but undertakings and utmost tranquilities? Was that part of their training?
“That’s all very well for them to say,” said David, “but if that shit fight was a bit of an argument, I’m going to need police protection if they ever have a real barney. And let’s face it, that’s pretty likely. I mean this isn’t the first time they’ve had a blue, but it’s for sure the worst. That’s why I called.””

-          Loathe Your Neighbor ch.1

Even if they don’t have an adjoining wall or fence, we all have neighbors. We’ve all had good neighbors, and probably a few pretty ordinary ones. You may even have had both. Ideally, we have good relationships with our neighbors which means we are friendly and help each other out: watching the house, collecting the mail, and feeding the animals while they are away. If only just to wave and say G’day, a minimum level of civility, we hope to be on good terms with those living beside, behind, above or below us. But what do you do when your neighbors are ratbags? Noisy, dirty, dodgy and just plain rude.


Deal with them yourself like a true diplomat, or like a local security guard? The kindness of cakes, or fruit from your yard, or stern warnings with appropriate gesticulations? With subtlety by prank calling them or with audacity by blowing up their letterbox and blaming it on local rabble rousers? Maybe you’d call the police, and risk possible repercussions Maybe you’d suffer in silence. Maybe you’d move. In Loathe Your Neighbor, David Lavender’s response to his bothersome neighbor has very dramatic consequences. What about you? Do you have a bad neighbor story to share?

Monday, April 15, 2013

M is for Marketing and Lawnmowers

“The only sounds were of whirring steel blades and plastic cords as locals attacked the fast growing Buffalo grass on their lots in Chinaman’s Hollow. Victa lawn mowers and Stihl line trimmers were the weapons of choice in the war against the humidity-fuelled growth in the yards of suburbia.”

-          Loathe Your Neighbor ch. 1
Okay, this is bit of a cheat. I really wanted to write about lawnmowers and mowing lawns and how I love it: the process, the finished product, the smell of cut grass, the 75 Db rumble of the 4 stroke engine. What’s not to love? I love doing laundry too. Especially folding and putting away clothes. So satisfying. My question: what household chores do you love?

Now, if you want some tips on marketing your book, read on. Let me begin by saying I don’t really like marketing. In fact, there are times when I loathe it. However, I understand that as a relatively obscure (I’m being very generous to myself here) writer, I need to sell myself and my work. Boy, is it a hard sell! Can I get an “amen’?


-          Work social media like a, well not exactly like a demon, but you know what I mean. Remember it’s all about relationships so try not to cross the vague line which makes you a spammer.

-          Natural relationship to a product? Sell to a retailer offer who can then offer free copies with a purchase of something. For example, a book about driving available in an auto parts store.

-          Free speeches to local clubs, libraries, schools and businesses

-          Reach those who can reach others. Everyone you connect with can reach people you can’t.

-          Learn the 10 second brag to answer the inevitable question, “What’s your book about?”

-          Expand your blog to include stories/reviews/bios/tips etc

-          Portion of sales to charity

-          Flyer/business card. Business cards work well when they follow a conversation.

-          Press releases

-          Visit other blogs and comment (there’s this thing called the A-Z blogging challenge. Have you heard of it? J Apparently it’s a pretty good way to increase visitors to your website and thereby increase your exposure. It’s also a lot of fun.)

-          Don’t ask people to buy your book just tell them about it. Or tell them to buy it…just kidding.

-          Ask readers to write and post reviews. I’m told that nothing sells a book like a personal recommendation.

-          Contact local newspaper (feature article)

-          Instore appearances/book signing at book shop. I recently contacted 11 book stores and only 3 replies. 2 were flat no, and 1 was a maybe.

-          contact local radio

-          sell at the market. In 6 hours, I sold 2 books which thankfully covered the cost of the stall.

-          ask readers to send pics of themselves reading your work

-          giveaways. I have an author page on Goodreads and the giveaway to launch Loathe Your Neighbor generated a lot of interest

-          contact reviewers

-          guest blog/host bloggers


Does any of it work? I’ve done almost everything on the list, but do you know who I am? Have you read Loathe Your Neighbor?. My best advice is to try everything, and keep trying. Be inventive and never forget that we write because we love it writing.



Saturday, April 13, 2013

L is for Lascivious

“David watched Lilijana slip out of her party dress and admired her figure. She had given birth to three children and you could tell. It was not the body of the Lilijana he had married ten years ago, but it was a beautiful body nonetheless.

“Stop staring at me,” she protested.

“You’re beautiful.”

“You’re drunk and I’m tired.”

There it was: the phrase of death for his exasperated libido.” 

-          Loathe Your Neighbor ch.2

L is also for Lilijana Lavender, married to David in Loathe Your Neighbor and only infrequently interested in sex. David on the other hand, like many men, is almost always interested in sex. He would prefer to make love with Liijana but due to her lack of desire he finds himself typically in a state of non reciprocated arousal. What is a man to do with an unsated appetite? His mind wanders and if it wanders often enough, and far enough away then more than likely his body will follow. When he sees an attractive woman and imagines having sex with her, is it lust? Are his lascivious thoughts a violation of the woman? Is he simply unable to control the urge to satisfy himself? Yes, yes, and yes. Does he wish more than anything else that his wife was meeting this need that he has? Does every woman whom he objectifies represent a cheap substitute? Does he feel guilty for using women this way? Yes, yes, and yes.

I remember the first time I heard the word lascivious. It was used in conjunction with another excellent word: concupiscence. The context was a lecture about sexuality and sexual purity. Both of the words carry very negative connotations. In fact the lecturer added to the dictionary definition of lascivious by saying that it was the stirring of a strong desire which could not be satisfied in a moral way. The only means by which a man can righteously dispose of his seed and slake his sexual thirst, is with his wife. I think that is an excellent ideal. A noble assertion. A worthy pursuit. However, sex has become so distorted, so twisted away from the beautiful intentions of its inventor, it is rare for such purity to be maintained. Should we then abandon the pursuit of what is good and right because it is difficult or costly? Of course not. Sex is a good thing which we #@*$ up, pardon the pun.

Friday, April 12, 2013

K is for Kiss, Kiss

““It feels a bit dangerous,” she said, with a kiss. “But I like talking to you as well.” The reference to danger acknowledged his arousal. David smiled. “The thing is, I can’t think of anything to say.”

“That’s okay. Neither can I.””

 - Loathe Your Neighbor ch. 2

I remember my first kiss. I think it was my mum kissing my forehead when she first met me, ex utero. I got lots of those kisses…you thought I was going to say something else didn’t you? My first kiss with a member of the opposite sex? Oh, that first kiss. A girl I went to school with took the opportunity of a birthday party at my place to introduce a small group of us, three guys and three girls to a game she knew. I still think 11 year old girls and boys should not only not be playing such games, but should not even know about them. Interestingly, I don’t recall being especially aroused by that game. It was weird. I was curious and frightened at the same time. My heart was threatening to rip a hole in my chest and start bouncing on the floor. Sexual? Not really. It was more experimental. Puberty, at that time, was only a theory lurking around the corner. Later, kissing girls became something much more erotically charged, and later still, was always a part of foreplay: the usually hasty race towards…well, I don’t need to spell it out for you, do I?

There are lots of different types of kiss. Light affectionate pecks. Perfunctory air kiss greetings. One cheek. Two cheeks. Longer, more deeply felt lip to cheek or forehead action. The fluffy quick butterfly kiss on the nose. The pash. The I-want-more-than-just-a-kiss liplock. Tongues., Biting. Eeewww! Too much. A deep lip kiss is considered an act of intimacy which is why, I presume, prostitutes don’t do it, or maybe it’s just a saliva phobia. A deep lip kiss indicates intent which may account for why, when you do it to someone other than your partner, it is labeled, betrayal. The offender, says, it was just a kiss, but is it ever “just a kiss”? What do you think?


Thursday, April 11, 2013

J is for John

“There was no way David could allow this new neighbor into the fraternity of good Johns. So he decided to call him Phil. One he remembered from his school days, called Phil Lewis, was a funny bloke. He pretended he was about to take a bite of an open jam sandwich and ploughed it into his cheek when someone called his name. That was his best party trick. Phil was a shifty sort of bloke, a bit too crafty and a real attention seeker.”
-          Loathe Your Neighbor ch.1

John is a good solid name. Common but solid. In Loathe Your Neighbour, David Lavender knows lots of Johns at the church he half heartedly and inconsistently attends. He thinks that they are good men. Dependable, morally strong men. Men of integrity. When he meets his new neighbor and an instant dislike arises, he decides to call him Phil because to call him John would be to tarnish the reputation of the Johns that he knows. It seems petty but how many times have you met someone who shares a name with someone else you know, and marveled to yourself about how different the two were. We make associations in our minds between names and characteristics of people with those names. When we meet someone who’s quite different we do a double take. It can be hard to accept them with that name. They don’t fit the mould. We are always trying to get people to fit our preconceived ideas. We need to categorize them and box them up. It makes it easier for us to deal with them. I won’t mention the name, but all the  _______ I know are sweet natured, friendly ladies who are…well rounded of body shape. If I met an _______ who was not like the ________ I know, I would be thrown right off. I probably would not be able to call them ________. People are funny. They have strange ides and get stuck on weird thoughts. Often the associations we make between names and people go back to our first encounters. I can’t meet a Theo without thinking of the kid I went to school with who became the subject of my puerile taunts because I was trying to big note myself by making fun of him. I feel like apologizing to every Theo I meet now. The toughest concretized connection of name and character to shake is that of our loved ones. We know a person so well, and love them because of who they are, it’s natural to measure everyone else with that same name against the standard set. Does this kind of thing happen to anybody else? Or am I bit loopy?

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

I is for Me

““I had to call the police again. About next door.”

Lilijana stared at him, waiting for explanation.

He paused, realizing how daft he’d probably sound. “I’m going to show them where the trouble is.”

A heavy sigh preceded her reply. “Leave it to the police. Can’t you mind your own business?”

“Can’t you mind yours?””

-Loathe Your Neighbor ch. 2

I is the only letter in English which gets capitalized regardless of where it appears in a sentence. I wonder what’s so special about it. I can’t help feeling that the architects of modern English were trying to say something about themselves, and therefore, by extension, about us all. There’s a song by Hoobastank called All About You. Thinking about it reminds me of the insurance company ad from many years ago which told us that the most important person in the world is you. We do have a bit of a propensity to be overly interested in ourselves. How we speak to other people, how we treat them, how we behave generally, can sometimes give the strong impression that we think we are more important than other people. Check yourself, next time you are chatting with someone. Pay attention to how closely you actually listen to them rather than nod or shake your head while planning what you are going to say. It is not easy in individualistic societies to quell the voice of self, the demands of the I. I think we are all basically selfish. Not that we do not have the capacity and the willingness to act selflessly, we do. It’s just that we don’t always have the power to do the right thing that we know we should do, and it’s because we have been trained to be selfish. I could be way off here. I could be speaking gibberish. I, I , I…. One of the main reasons I struggle with marketing as an author, is that I feel uncomfortable talking about myself all the time. The paradox is that we are all important, but not more important than anyone else. Or are we?
P.S. I only used the word I eleven times.