Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Another Milestone!!

So today marks three years, seven months of sobriety. Thank God for another sober day!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Imagine This!

So, 38 1/2 hours ago I had sinus surgery. I was put under MAC (Monitored Anesthesia Control), so I was fully awake, just sedated. The surgeon used local anesthetic to numb the nasal and sinus passages, so all I felt most of the time was pressure. There were two times he had to administer more numbie-meds, all-in-all, it wasn't too bad. The freaky part was the noise. He was also fixing my septum, which was deviated on the left side. When the first administered the MAC, I was unconscious for maybe ten minutes. I woke to cutting and snipping. Then I heard the doc say, "Tap, tap." The nurse tapped on a chisel-like instrument the doc held, presumably to break up the septum. They did this four or five times. I kept thinking, "That thing is going to go right into my brain!" My bones are weak from osteoperosis, and I couldn't help imagining the base of my skull, under my brain, just cracking.

"That's loud in here," I said.

"It's just sound effects so you think you're really getting your money's worth," the nurse answered.

We joked around like that alot for the rest of the procedure. Once they were done chiseling, I wasn't too nervous anymore. I had a covering over my eyes, and around my mouth, over my chin. When the doc would move sometimes I could see the surgical spotlights through the covering. I kept saying, "No, Steve, don't head into the light!"

They had a problem with the camera and monitor, so the doc was "flying blind," he joked. Almost at the end of the surgery the technician got there to fix the resolution. The problem was that everything had a green tint. They could see what they were doing, just not as clearly as they should have been able to. The tech fixed it, and they marvelled about the new HD software. I was his first patient to have the surgery done where they could see what they were doing in High Definition, and the damn thing wasn't working properly for 7/8ths of the operation. Oh, well. There were no complications, so I'm not complaining.

I can already breathe better. I didn't think I would notice a change this fast. I was able to stop wearing the drip pad already, there is no bruising, and very little swelling. Considering all the work he did up in there, I'm shocked at that. The doc said all my sinus cavities were completely blocked off. Lately I've been using my asthma inhaler many times a day--today I used it three times. And only one puff each time, whereas usually I use two or three puffs.

So I'm glad I had the surgery; maybe I won't go to the ER so much now. Since November I've been to the ER and Urgent Care at least ten times, and admitted to the hospital twice, most recently Easter weekend. Here's to my doc, may I never need your services again--at least not for surgery.

Friday, April 24, 2009

C.I.A: Contrary-Intelligence Allen
By Steven Michael Sarber

I was faithfully following my daily routine; walking around the fountain in the town square. It was the one thing I could rely on to keep them out of my head. Then I realized that was exactly what they wanted me to believe. There was no freedom for Allen, for Allen knows too much! I have heard their plans. It may be time for another move.

I came here to Tipton’s Meadow, New Hampshire because it was quiet. It was an old small town, and one could seemingly be safe here. Maybe not.

I heard the splashing even before I felt the cold fountain water seep into my shoes. Damn! They would stop at nothing. Keeping my mind occupied long enough to steer me straight into the fountain. That was their great joy, making me look a fool, and right in the middle of lunch hour. I saw the cute girl from the University campus library laughing along with everyone else.

Yes, it was time for another move. But how to get away without setting off the alarms?

An idea struck! I would write down the name of every state on separate pieces of paper, then mix them up and pick one at random. Then write down the names of every city in the state I picked, mix them and draw again. They couldn’t track me if I wasn’t making any conscious decisions, right?

The following week I was in Butte, Montana. This had to be better, far away from the source of their power. The Washington Monument. It was really just a huge antennae. Most of us never even notice its presence; don’t fool yourself- it is there. Probing. But the signal has to be weaker two-thirds of the way across the country.

I was walking around the town proper when I happened on some disturbing news. This had been a great mining area. There were massive amounts of copper in the ground here. Another conductor. That was when I heard the voices again. It may be time for another move. Maybe the noise of Las Vegas can drown out their voices. Maybe not.

I had a feeling the only way to truly escape would be to destroy them all. If I only knew how.

END... or is it?

This was a little something I wrote a while back, it took 3rd place in a contest. Won a book of urban legends--pretty cool!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Oh Boy, Surgery Tomorrow

Listening to- Judas Priest: Defenders of the Faith

Fear not; it's only sinus surgery. The good doc will fix my sinuses and deviated septum--didn't even know I had one--and I get to be conscious for it. Or at least somewhat so. I am excited at the prospect of the proposed benefits of the procedure. I was told that my chronic sinus infections are very likely a main cause of my asthma problems. I know this is true. When I was 11, and again when I was 13 I had sinus operations, and they did greatly improve my asthma. But the benifits were short lived. Now they have a better understanding of these things, however, so it should prove to have a better effect. That's the hope, anyway. So, if you want, say a little prayer for me at 10:30 Thursday morning.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Teaser Tuesday (flash fiction story, all dialogue)


“Dude! Driving gloves?”

“They add to the whole Corvette experience.”

“Well, the car’s red--shouldn’t you have Prince on the radio, too?”

“It’s not a car, Jerry, it’s a Corvette.”

“Yeah, well you look like a dickhead.”

“But a dickhead driving a Corvette!”

“Why’d you get it in red anyway? You know how cops love to pull over red sports cars.”

“Red pulls in the Pussy. Capital ‘P’.”

“Okay, you got me there.”

“And we’re going to go test that out, Jer.”

“What? The pussy-magnetism of this ride?”

“Hey, you didn’t capitalize the ‘P’. I could hear it in your voice.”


“We’re here.”

“Oh, boy, Roxy’s. You know I’m allergic to the perfume strippers use.”

“Come on… you’ll be fine.”


“Hey! Where’s my car?”

“Dude, it isn’t a car--it’s a Corvette!”

“No--it’s gone!”

“Well, look at that, Rick--they left your driving gloves, right there in the parking lot.”


Sunday, April 19, 2009

What I'm reading now: Ghost Story by Peter Straub

What I just finished reading: Grim Light by Kristin Baxter

What do you mean, you've never heard of it? It's a helluva good read! Not available for public consumption, yet, though. But watch for it... it will be, I am sure. I was thrilled when she agreed to let me read it so I could give her my insights. I'm no technical-critiquer, but I think I can give good opinions on a story from a reader's perspective. Sometimes as writers we forget what it's like to just read and enjoy a book. We want to pick it apart. Grim Light is an engrossing story, filled with humor, suspense, good vs. evil, a strong female lead--all good things. Kudos to Kristin, keep it up, girl, you have a lot of talent!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

I'm Mr. Mom

So I'm Mr. Mom. Since I'm disabled, and my wife works full-time, I take care of the household chores. The cooking (which I'm exceptional at), the dishes, the laundry, dusting and cleaning. These, besides cooking, are all things I used to really hate. Now I don't mind as much. But because of the nature of my disability, it's still hard. I have to do things in spurts. If I'm folding clothes, or doing dishes, I absolutely have to stop when I feel my back start to lock up, or I'm out of commission. One time, last fall, I was taking a handful of my son's clothes on hangers into his room. I was holding out the hangers with my left hand, and I coughed, hard. Cracked a rib. The osteoperosis has weakened my bones considerably. Big bummer of that night... our son was camping with my parents. My wife and I had the apartment to ourselves, and big plans for a romantic evening. But what are you gonna do, right? Things happen, and we have to let the unpleasant things strengthen us. The life I've lived has been full, to say the least.

I hope that will make me a good writer. I have a lot to draw upon.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Teaser Tuesday Excerpt (extreme language)

The latest rewritten opening to A Birthday Suicide. See what you think.

A Birthday Suicide
By Steven Michael Sarber

Part One
Choosing a Path
“I am a man who walks alone, and when I'm walking a dark road, at night, or strolling through the park...” -Iron Maiden; “Fear of the Dark”


So where do I begin? At the beginning, I guess. I was pretty much an average teenage boy. I had the usual interests, I had good friends, I had no money. Nothing in my life was exactly remarkable, yet nothing unremarkable, either. My friends and I didn't run in any particular social circles at school, we just hung out with anybody who wanted to hang out with us. At least until my junior year in high school.

That was the year I met Willis Jefferson.

Willis became my mentor, my boss, and my friend. To put it mildly, he changed the course of my life.

I was sixteen years old the summer of 1995. St. Louis summers are, simply put, hot and humid. One August afternoon I was playing guitar in a band at my friend Danny Johns' house, sweating so badly I could barely hold the pick in my hand. It was a sweltering ninety-eight degrees, and probably a hundred twenty in the garage where we were practicing. We didn't really care, just hanging out and jamming made us feel like we were on top of the world.

Danny's parents had a refrigerator in the garage stocked with Busch beer, and they didn't mind if we helped ourselves to a few cold brews on a hot day. At least they never seemed to notice any missing. So when we finished our practice we popped the top on a few beers, toasted ourselves, and began discussing ways to get some money.

I was splayed out on the well-worn love seat against the far wall of the garage and Danny was in a lawn chair tossing darts at the dartboard on the wall about four feet to the left of my head.

“You could miss and put out my eye,” I said. “Then I could sue your parents. I'll split the money with you.”

“Yeah,” he answered, aiming up his next throw. “But my parents don't have anything. Plus, you wouldn't like being called 'Patchy.'”

“How do you know? I could be like that dude on that soap opera. That patch gets him laid.”

“But you'd have no depth perception with only one eye. How would you be able to jerk off? You wouldn't be able to locate your tiny pecker!”

That sent us laughing hysterically, even at my expense. That's what was great about Danny, he could bust my chops and it never mattered.

Before long we got serious. “I've been dealing for a guy,” Danny said. “I'm pulling in some good money, man; I'll be buying a Monte Carlo tomorrow. I'm sure I can get you in on the gig.”

“But I don't even do drugs,” I said.

“That's what makes it perfect for you,” Danny punctuated this point with a bulls-eye. “If you don't use you get more profit.”

That made sense. “Fuck-a-duck... all right, set it up. I'll meet with the guy. “But what are we talking here?”

“Coke or pot. He doesn't deal in heroin. Occasionally a little Ecstasy.”

“So where's the best money?” I asked.

“Pot's pretty cheap, but everybody has it. So coke is the way to go. I can help you get set up, and we can partner up to keep from stepping on each other's toes.”

Mike Burne and Pete Van Allen, our drummer and singer, had been smoking a joint, giggling at our exchange. Mike stood and walked over to me, holding the roach pinched between his thumb and forefinger.

“Here, Dex. Get yourself some firsthand job experience.”

The skin on my fingers was calloused from holding down my guitar strings, so I didn't feel the sting as I inhaled from the roach, but I heard the skin sizzle as it singed. Two more drags and there was nothing left but a bit of charred paper.

I didn't feel anything. Not high, not goofy or giggly, nothing except a scratchy, dry throat. I started sucking down beer but it didn't help. The more I drank the thirstier I became.

“Hey, take it easy there, you fucking lush,” said Danny.

It wasn't even funny, but I just couldn't help myself. I laughed so hard I got a stitch in my side, and that just made it all the funnier.

I imagine that's how it begins for a lot of people... a little discomfort, a little laughter, and suddenly drugs are a part of your life. I didn't really care for pot, though. After smoking the roach I spent the rest of that afternoon searching to put coherent thoughts together, and felt as if I couldn't make complete sentences. I still can't figure out why anybody would want to intentionally make themselves stupid. But I won't preach. As you read my story you'll see I have no right to.

Monday, April 13, 2009

So who knew that Hugh Laurie (tv's "House") is also an author? In 1996 he released The Gun Seller, a comedy/crime thriller, and appearantly is coming out with Paper Soldiers. I'm actually interested to read one of his books. He is a brilliant man. And, for any enquiring minds, he really is playing the guitar and piano on the tv show. As a guitarist it has always bothered me to see someone "play" on tv and in movies when they have no idea what they are doing. I mean, it wouldn't be that hard to fake it properly. And these people get paid a lot of money to act well, so they should learn to mimic the proper guitar technique. So kudos to Hugh Laurie for being multi-talented, and damn good at it.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

So Many Ideas, So Little Time

I have so many ideas floating through my head right now it's not even funny. Problem--they're distracting me from finishing the two novels I have going. The good point is that I want to keep writing the short stories so I can try to get some more publishing credits under my belt. Right now the only story I have published was an autobiographical essay titled The Path was Rocky, but Worth It, in "Voices of Alcoholism." I have submitted a short story to nine markets, with one rejection, eight still pending. It's a good story, so I'm very hopeful it will be in print soon.

Then I have a horror story with a new take on werewolves about 2/3 of the way finished. But I wonder if horror is really my niche at all. I mean, the first novel I wrote is more of crime drama, and the story I have submitted is a mainstream story chronicling the last moments of an elderly woman's life through her memories. I lean towards horror because it what I've always read, most movies I watch are horror, so I guess it's my comfort zone.

But does it being a main area of interest mean it is the best genre for me to write in? Probably not, but it's still where I feel comfortable. I just have problems with being too mean. I want to make my characters deep and likeable, so sometimes it's hard to do outrageous things to them.

Oh, well... I'll figure it out.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Ultra-Flash Fiction

I wrote this a couple of years ago as an assignment. The requirement was to write a story in exactly one-hundred words. This was what I came up with.

The Chase

Donald ran, pausing only once to look over his shoulder. Mordecai was ten yards back, huffing and puffing. Donald turned back ahead, and saw that the perp had gained some distance. He holstered his service pistol and tucked his head down. He closed in on the perp quickly, and tackled him like a linebacker. Both of them tumbled across the vacant gravel lot in front of the now empty bait shop. Donald's arms were cut and bleeding, but the perp looked much worse for the wear. Mordecai caught up, panting, and wheezing. "All this over a stolen pack of gum?"

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Just Rambling

Well, my birthday was yesterday. Thirty-three years old now. But I don't feel a day over sixty. Anyone who has combed through the rest of this blog understands why I say that. For the benifit of any new readers, In 2007 I had a thoracotomy to remove scar tissue from my right lung. I crashed and spent three weeks in a coma. I had to have a surgical wound put in my back to promote good tissue growth, the cut a couple inches out of three ribs--right next to where I broke my back in '95. I also broke my neck in that accident. I have osteoperosis, severe asthma, eczema, chronic sinusitis, I've broken close to forty bones, ripped the tip off my right middle finger--in short, I'm falling apart.

But I'm a recovering alcoholic with three years, six months and nine days of sobriety. And compaired to all my ailments, that makes me a very joyful person.

That may be hard to believe, since I write horror, and suspense/thriller type stuff generally. But I'm really a nice guy, and moderately laid-back. I haven't killed anybody in over a week *wink*. Truth be told, I'm still learning to have patience. It doesn't come naturally for me, but for the most part I'm doing good. I lack patience with my son and his friends when they're being noisy and hyper, but I'm tryin, Ringo. I'm tryin real hard to be the shepherd. (Sorry, channeling Jules from Pulp Fiction there.)

Back when I was drinking I had no patience-- I was the ultimate asshole. It reminds me of a line from Robin Williams 1986 Live at the Metropolitan Opera House cassette I used to have: "I realized when I quit drinking, I'm the same asshole, I just have fewer dents in my car."

So here's to fewer dents in my car, and better relationships with my family and friends.

Friday, April 3, 2009

This Game is Tough!

The writing game is no game, really. Many of us, I'm sure, when we were younger, reading a good book, said; I can do this! It has to be the easiest job in the world! And for a precious few, it very well may be easy. But not for the majority of us. A friend just reminded me of a Hawthorne quote: Easy reading is damn hard writing. No arguments here.

You create this work from your mind, then you have to go and tear it apart and rewrite it, and rewrite it, and rewrite it, until it might not even resemble what you ever imagined it to be in the first place. I have started out with an idea for a horror story that ended up a drama piece, and with suspense that wound up more comedy.

I've learned that you have to be a receptacle for what the story wants to tell you, the writer. I'm learning to be open to suggestion from collegues. Now that's a tough one for me. I'm used to being able to stand on my own, with little outside help. Writing doesn't work that way. Not if you want to be successful. So take what you need from every story you read, from conversations you listen to while in line at the supermarket. Be a sponge for the advice of your friends and writers, because this is a tough game, and we need all the help we can get.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Copse

The Copse
I look into this thicket of trees
I see squirrels, chipmunks, pine cones and bees
This whole little universe, in such a small space
And it was all put there by God's loving grace
Lush green grass, growing up down below
Then covered in leaves, then covered in snow
On warm sunny days the jackrabbits bounce
The sqirrels play, the chipmunks trounce
The butterflies flutter, the honeysuckle smells sweet
An old hollow log is a raccoon's retreat
As I watch this happen before my very eys
I realize it's our world, wears a disguise
They say men are animals, and that's a disgrace
The animals aren't uncivilized- only the human race.