Friday, February 09, 2007

Africa: Day 15 (Curse You Tom)

It is with great resignation and few hours of sleep, even that interrupted by dreams, that I title this posting such. If there were a grand bell tolling the hour, it would just be finishing the last of its six clangs as I start this post to all of you. Trying in vain to go to sleep at 3 AM, I lie there and drifted off sometime before four, but I’m not sure how long before. At 5:15 I was again awoken from the midst of quite an interesting dream by an incessant toothache, of which I am oft plagued lately.

So good in fact was the dream that I lie there consciously attempting to re-enter to see how it would have concluded In my dream reality I was still myself, though encased in the physical characteristics of Marshall Flinkman, a character you will only recognize if you are a fan of the TV series Alias. I have no clue as to why I manifested in my dream as this guy, but it was my brain inside his body throughout which I enacted my REM saga. I was in Los Angeles, working as technical coordinator for a man whose name I can not remember now, the detail having faded as dreams often do upon waking. My counterpart in this dream was a lovely young blonde woman, bearing a tight-pulled executive ponytail and sharp, yet narrowly chiseled features. Her eyes were ocean blue; Caribbean ocean, not that of the Atlantic or pacific, with their darker overtones.

In my dream, we had only two days with which to prepare what must have been a press conference for the unnamed senator. The dream picked up in the office where we work, dark mahogany paneling suffacing every available panel and the scent of lemon air-freshener, reminiscent of a cheap laywer’s office, not that of a senator-to-be. I remember offering to help Lauren coordinate the events’ technical aspects over dinner. It’s funny now to remember. If you know the character of Marshall, you would understand, but basically you have to implant my attitude and flair for the dramatic into a man little over five feet in height and who is a complete and total techno-weenie in every sense of the term. Anyway, most of the dream has faded from me now, but I remember leaning across the desk and offering to take her to dinner to discuss the event, and then running all around LA in my Jeep (which ironically I still drove in my dream) trying to find a car wash that would do a quick laser-wash before I picked her up. I arrived at her apartment, walked in the door, and then I woke up. I’m not sure where the dream came from, why I was in Los Angeles, nor why I was working for a senator.

Quite frankly I blame it all on Tom, who has put me in this creative writing mood lately. Upon waking, I tried to lure myself back to sleep after taking a vigorous dose of darvocet, only to find myself trying to distract myself with thoughts of what I would write, if I were indeed to take on this challenge to try to write something worth publishing.

At first, I simply lie there trying to think of a way to start. Do I write a crime thriller, a police investigative story, a profiler serial killer novel? Deciding to further investigate alternative methods of originating at a plot, I started seeking other plot devices to help me solidify something in this that would allow me to gain a foothold.

Following that line of thought I left my main plot filed under the to-be-determined-later section of my brain and focused instead on the where’s and why’s that would provide the back story of my story. Do I write about places that I know and am familiar with or do I extend myself fictionally to upstate New York or California, about which I know little to nothing? While I few ideas appealed to me, this area of though left me just as undecided. I henceforth moved into character development. Every good novel needs a hero, supporting characters, and of course a villain or multiple villains.

Again… I say with the most deadpan voice I can summon… “Thanks Tom…”

At 5:30, now fevered even more by hunger than I had realized, I got up and made myself a six egg omelette while I allowed my brain to churn out whatever it would. Apparently all this mental straining was quite the work out, leaving me exceedingly hungry at a time when the house is mostly bare of stock with which to make a proper breakfast. Hence, the enormous omelette I concocted in the kitchen.

It is now almost 6:30 and I sit here to document what I have been able to come up with so far, and YOU (pointing out at you, Tom) had better be reading this, for you are now my chief editor. I hope you’re happy. I’m sorry to appoint you to such a post, but Tim isn’t exactly the bastion of literary embodiment I need as a sounding board. In fact, I don’t think I’ve seen him read one book in the three years I’ve known him. I did try to use April for advice and ideology considering her love for similar literary works a boon to my newfound creativity, but when trying to explain my concerns about writing to her I was rewarded with, and I quote, “Just shut up and do it.”

So, what do I have you ask? Well, so far I have a main character with no definition. His name is one he hates, one he has had to grow up with, been teased about, and is now old enough to accept it with the dignity in which it was meant. Something like Maximus comes to mind, providing me with plenty of easy-to-imagine literary license for childhood horror stories. Is he FBI, DEA, Secret Service, police investigator, CIA, homicide detective, local pharmacist, rugby recruiter? I haven’t any idea. I only know that he’s at least 40 years old, and has only been in his job for a few years, after retiring from some government career that will leave him with a decent pension and good connections in the world in which he will be created.

I do have my supporting character imagined fairly well for someone starting out in this novel-creating concept. Angus Johnson is a mid forties black man of immense physical proportions, robust without being even slightly considered fat by any stretch of the imagination. Angus Johnson is a medical examiner currently, though that may change as time goes on. Coming from a small town in southern America, he was your atypical high-school jock, athletic but possessing a softer personality, making him friends with those from all walks of life. Possessing a natural skill for football, Angus played defensive end for his high school football team, moving on to play through college on a sports scholarship, but devoting all his spare time to his studies, eventually leading him to his desire to work in the medical profession. Having been lean throughout his younger days, Angus took his football seriously, working out in the gym religiously and at home when time allowed. Over two years his physique grew to match the proportions he thought God intended for a man who has to go through life towering over others at 6’5” tall. Seen through the guise of his helmet in his youth, the only visible aspect of his face was an exceptionally broad forehead, wrinkled with determination as he faced his opponents on the field. Coupled with the intense determination seen by his opposing teammates in his deep brown eyes, he somewhere gained the moniker “Black Angus”, a name that came to be feared by whoever was unlucky enough to sense the presence of the thundering mass of this bull of a man charging towards them on the field.

Suffering a devastating injury to his left shoulder and rotator cuff during his junior year left his dreams of professional football unrealized, and he then applied all his time to his studies, both in criminal law and medicine.

A grown man now, Angus works for the coroner’s office as a medical examiner. A fan of browns and tans, he is most often comfortable in thick tweed jackets, button-down collared shirts of various shades of yellow, green, or similar patterned material, and crisply pressed slacks that come to rest just precisely on his comfortable, yet stylish brown loafers, which he swears aren’t orthopedically resplendent, just trendy. And there we have what I have so far…. not much I know.

Lacking any further information, yet being unable to seek the solace of sleep, I shall now regale you with my tales of the past week while I let my imagination work quietly in the background. It seems lately that I have a guilt complex when I go too long without composing this journal. Often in the middle of the day, my fingers itch to be working at this keyboard, even when my mind has yet to render anything for them to type. It is those times that I find myself getting up to go search out something worth writing about.

This was originally continued but I chose to edit and end it here to begin the new post with a new topic.

Sorry for the discontinuity.

To Be Continued…

Tommy 0705HRS 020907


  1. You didn't ask for my insight-but here goes.I definitely read as much as you do and considering our ages - most definitely more in my lifetime. Not all "girly mushy" stuff. I like the police thriller, FBI,etc. blood and guts as much as the next person. The only thing I ask of you is that you don't get bogged down with description. That has always been the quickest way to lose me in a book. I love dialogue and description when necessary to keep the story going. I know you are capable of this. Also, remember to keep your words simple - not super simple - but simple enough that you don't need a dictionary to read the book. I love you and know that you can do whatever you set your mind too. Remember, I read the Star Trek novella you wrote - Steve Vohs did too - it was great. Hang in there.
    Love you. Mom

  2. You make it sound like I was trying to be harsh, and I wasn't.... I just don't want to hear a laundry list of excuses when I have full faith in your ability. Everyone of your long posts here describing Tripoli, or even your feelings, are so well written I feel as if I'm there, seeing and experiencing everything you are, it takes remarkable talent to write that way.

    I have NEVER had any doubt in you, or in anything you set your mind to, I just want you to go for it, if this is something you choose to pursue... You've always told me that I can't complain about something unless I'm doing something about it.... so I send that advice back to you.... What are you going to do?

    I love you baby, more than you'll ever know! I miss you!


  3. Hey, I saw you yesterday (Friday the 9th) sitting at the Corinthia with another guy, both of you with laptops! It's funny that I stumbled onto your blog and saw your picture and I was like, Hey...I just saw that dude yesterday!

  4. LMAO!! No matter where they go, they always stand out!! :)

    It's amazing how being such a techno-weenie makes you noticeable... ;) Love ya honey!


    Thanks for stopping by! Where are you from? Do you live in Tripoli?

  5. Yep, I live here, almost two years now! I'm from Albuquerque, drive my jeep, wear double h packers, wear wranglers and a resistol almost everyday! I figure it's my job to culturally sensitize the Libyans to American culture! I didn't have my hat on when I say yer buddies but I did have boots on! My husband and I were sitting about two tables away but when they ordered I could hear they were yanks... And when they whipped out their laptops and began typing away I knew they were dorks in another land! LOL!

  6. My friend KhadijaTeri just told me that she met April, and dressed her all up in the Libyan Wedding garb! It's such a small world! She said you were great April! I should have said hello to the two dorks! Anyhow, I hope your dork gets home safe and sound! Did KhadijaTeri send you the stages of CULTURE SHOCK yet? I swear, that pretty well sums up what it's like to live here! I thankfully have made it to the bicultural stage. But there was a time about six months ago where I wanted to mount a machine gun to the roll bar of my jeep! And now, I get it. I don't know what It is but I love the people, the sand, the garbage, the whole experience. I'm even a Taliban! I go to Arabic school in the biggest Mosque in Tripoli! And I sometimes cycle there, wearing cycling clothing! Team Discovery..wOOt! When I'm not on my GaryFisher, I'm in my Jeep and I wear what I call my HijHat...LOL! At first I got some strange looks and one guy who spoke English said, "here in Libya, only children ride bicycles and women don't wear hats....and I said, well where I'm from women ride bikes and wear all kinds of hats and Only children play soccer and only women wear dresses! And he laughed!

  7. That's awesome! Yes, I had an amazing time playing dress up with KhadijaTeri and her family, they were so gracious to invite me in! I did receive the email, and I have to say, even though I was only there a short time, I really felt like I was leaving my home to come back to the States. Maybe one day when I'm extremely fortunate I'll be able to return for a visit, I would have love to have met you!

    Next time you see the two guys, definitely introduce yourself... they've been jealous of me making friends there. :)

  8. My email is Now you have another friend in Tripoli! If you ever come back make sure to email me because we have a huge house and tell yer future hubby..a vsat internet connection...otherwise know as...grounds for divorce if I dont have it...LOL! Our roof looks like NASA but that's another story! In fact I have lots of stories of being an American woman in Libya! I need to start a blog.

  9. I just have to add that yer fella is going to come home to his best friends like I did after I'd been here for six months. And he's going to get stupid drunk like I did! But he's going realize that many of the friends he thought were 'his buddies' are simply stupid and he's not going to know how to deal with that fact. I've been home four times in almost two years and guess what...ya don't have too much in common with the average Amercian who hasn't spent any time in a Muslim Country, much less Africa. Yep, it's my belief that you CANNOT get ANY UNDERGRADUATE DEGREE without spending three months in ANY African country. ANY AFRICAN COUNTRY. I go home to my friends who are all lawyers and professors and accountants...biggest dope smokers in school.. and I'm like, you have no fucking idea what you are talking about! My friends are all from Grad school and I'm appalled at their limited scope of knowledge. It's impossible to convey how important it is is for college students to spend some time in ANY part of Africa. It's hard to feel any sense of whatever it means when you are friends with someone when they don't have a friggin clue as to what you are talking about. I've lost friends who I thought were friends for life as a result of this assignment! I simply have nothing in common with them. They go on about the war in Iraq, the Palestinians, and I'm no longer the ignorant passenger on the americanpropoganda airline! I see the other side now! And I'm so excited to see the BO is running in 2008..give props to Bill Richardson too..Gov of NM..he taught me how to cut, light, and smoke a cigar. I love him!

  10. I'm here. Sorry I did not post sooner. The weekend was spent obsessing on the gym and taking care of the way too many responsibilities I have. I really need a roomate, lover, soul-mate, helper, maid, something.

    Anyway, it sounds like you're off to a good start. I'm no expert on writing, I can hardly get this out, but I would say not to start out trying to write a novel, but start out just writing something fun. Sounds like that is what you have done. I like the development so far. See, it amazes me that someone can even come up with character descriptions. Why not start out with some kind of homocide (but is it really??) The coroner cannot determine the cause of death. Then another body, then another body. None of the bodies is traceable back to anyone living. The bodies seem to just appear without a trace, and just as easily, they die with no justifiable cause... Sci fi? Perhaps..... Or is it something obvious that only people living outside the box would understand? I always like those stories that challenge my traditional ways of thinking.

    So, anyway, sounds like you're not thinking as much about your leg injury now. Maybe you should put the writing aside for a few days and go back to whining about your hurt foot!

    Oh, drugs are bad. Don't write on drugs.

    l8tr bro.


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