Tag Archives: paul grignon

There, but for the Grace of…

Buddha, Beelzebub, God, Allah, or whatever you call your higher power, it remains the power of an instant to realize the true importance of what matters in life and in your own individual existence on this spinning blue orb.

Yesterday I had to suffer through a dilemma of sorts, something that has plagued my mind for months now, something that gnawed at me during the night, eating away the hours of slumber; wide-eyed at 1am, then 2:20, then 3:45, then…well, you get the gist.

It was something that I do not care to go into any detail. Suffice it to say it played a huge part in our financial situation, something that should not have played out as it did at all.

There. I will leave it at that. I will add, though, that whatever ‘it’ was—and is—still preys upon my mind, at times oppressive and consuming, and all thoughts eventually lead to my sense of self-worth, my self-esteem, my own existence here and now, wondering what in hell to do. The mental anguish, the myriad of unanswered questions, the inner turmoil, the sense of hopelessness that, at times, rears its unwanted and hideous visage into my consciousness.

All this was renting space in my head as I returned from this ordeal in western Mass, heading east to home. But before ensconcing myself in my house, errands remained essential. After a bout of dodging ponderous pachyderms as they plodded along the corridors of Walmart, hunched over squeaky-wheeled carriages, I had to pop into the supermarket for a few items.

It was there that I witnessed humanity, how grand life is outside your own self-pity, your own self-wallowing, beyond what you perceive as life itself massed against you.

I got my groceries and, normally, I go to the self check-out lane, not wishing to spend an inordinate amount of time waiting for a bona fide human to ring me up.

But this time, given my trials out west, I opted to stay in line and wait for the cashier. I placed my groceries on the belt, and waited for the couple in front of me to finish with their purchase.

It was then that I noticed for the first time who the cashier was, someone that I knew from being a customer at the place I worked at, a kind older woman who, in the past, had confided to me her own financial difficulties.

My immediate thought was to collect my items and go to the self check-out registers. But I hesitated. I told myself, no, I’m going to stay right here and talk with this kind woman.

When the customers in front left, I chatted with her, asking how she was doing. She hesitated, with tears in her eyes, and proceeded to tell me how drained she was: physically, mentally, spiritually. I inquired as to what was wrong. She said that her son, 47 years old, had lost everything and she was sure he was about to commit suicide.

It seems he had indulged in drugs and alcohol, was now behind bars, his wife was leaving him after almost 20 years together, that he has nothing left to his name, is hooked up to a house monitor and, as she said, was sure he had nothing to live for and will soon take his own life.

During all this outpouring, I stood there and listened and thought about how utterly trivial my own plight was, how minuscule it was compared to her own story, of many stories out there; the horrific hurricane that decimated Puerto Rico, the conflagration in California, the myriad of problems all over the United States—the entire world.

What right did I have feeling sorry for myself, how pathetic it was in the grand scheme of human suffering? Jesus. After she rung me up, I walked around the register and gave her a long, lingering hug, wishing her well, sending both her and her son white light for healing as she trembled within my embrace.

Before I left, I told her there must have been a reason why I was in her line, instead of the self check- out, and I believe that. It was to make me realize that, despite my inward worry and stress, there are always many more worse off than me. That is what I told her; there was that reason I was there, at that moment in time, to give her a semblance of comfort, to perhaps provide a tiny portion of calm to a soul so troubled.

I left the store with my groceries, made my way to my truck, and thought how lucky I was—am—to not have to go through such anguish. It put things in perspective.

There are—always—others who suffer more in ways we cannot possibly fathom. The experience taught me a lesson.

I thought I’d share this with you.

 

©Paul Grignon – 2017

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A Gem from a Gentleman…

Once again my dear friend from across the miles has generated yet another wonderful, insightful haiku, a thought-provoking poem that perhaps will intrigue you to compose one of your own. Here is the link to his wonderful site, and here is a link to the comment page.

Eric Alagan is a prolific writer and possesses a most generous soul, always regarding his followers with poise, grace, and gracious comments. Take the time to peruse his excellent site and may his own musings provide a spark for your own artistic soul.

Take care and enjoy your writing!

Paul

Together but Separate…

Sometimes, my Love catches me staring at her. I cannot help it. I am mesmerized—still—by her infinite beauty.

“Stop it,” she protests, always possessing that sixth sense (only inherent in women?), knowing that someone is looking at them.

I tell her I am intrigued by her loveliness. She smiles and says, “Rub my feet.”

We are on the sofa, at the end of the day, watching some show on Netflix, or Hulu, or Amazon, I don’t know. There are so many shows out there. But it’s not only when we sit mere feet apart on the couch; we could be in the car, and I’d glance over at her, sneaking a peek once more.

“Stop it,” she’ll say again, not even looking at me but knowing. Or we could be lying in bed, our respective books in hand, and I’ll steal a glimpse of her, lingering in my stare, marveling at her angelic radiance.

‘What?” she’ll say. “What are you looking at?”

“You. How truly beautiful you are.”

“Rub my feet.”

And I would, or rub her back. She is afflicted with chronic back pain that no doctor or surgeon can seem to remedy. Sometimes I get a little perturbed, of massaging her back once again. But what right do I have, being the supreme wastrel, not doing much but flailing at my writing.

She is, as I’ve said, a Saint. And I suppose the reason I mention any of these sideways glances at my Beloved, the purpose of this post is this: of all the days, of all the years together, spending every day with each other, how much time is spent not looking at each other?

Perhaps it is only on the rare occasion when we go out to eat, sitting opposite each other, that eye contact is made for any length of time. It is probably the only time that two people so united sit in such a way. Unless you’re the sort who actually sits down at the dinner table, in the oft-maligned, rarely-used dining room, where family gathers for a repast and repartee. But that doesn’t happen too often.

Every night we eat in the living room, curled up on the couch, watching something or other, and have our dinner. There are not a lot of moments where you can simply peer over at your significant other. Because as you know, she’ll develop that sixth sense, suddenly look at me, and say, “Rub my feet.”

And I do.

 

Copyright, Paul Grignon-2017

Writer’s Digest Conference-2017

Quite unexpectedly, and certainly out of the azure, my lovely wife Julie surprised me with a 50-‘ish’ birthday present: a full ticket to attend the writer’s conference in New York come August! Here’s the link.

I was wholly surprised, elated–and nervous. She also included the feverish ‘Pitch-Slam’ event where, for a full 90 seconds you can pitch your book to various agents. Imagine that; a minute-and-a-half to encapsulate your entire novel, something akin to the ol’ elevator pitch.

I am very excited and grateful for this opportunity and, as stated above, just a little nervous. Well, a lot. What this has taught me is that I better get my buttocks in gear and really develop that pitch, as well as a slew of other things necessary in order to be prepared for this event.

I have been reading a welter of information about attending conferences, what to expect, making sure to be early at all the sessions, a myriad of things to focus on prior to August 18th.

If anyone out there has attended any writing conferences, please do drop me a few helpful hints. Thank you. In the mean time, I will fine-tune my delivery and make sure my manuscript is polished and ready.

A lot ahead in the coming months. I look forward to being prepared and having a good time in New York that weekend.

Perhaps I shall see you there!

 

Happy Birthday, Dad!

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Eighty-four years ago a man was born in Flushing, New York. He married young, at age 22, fresh out of the Air Force, with a promising career as a civil engineer. But with the first child born, and then twins right after, that dream was dashed.

This man was my father, who died six years ago today. Six long years. And yet every morning I still say hi to him, wish him well, hoping that he’s doing okay in whatever dimension he resides, smoking a cigar right down to its wet spinach stub and cradling a glass of chardonnay.

My Dad’s passing was the first time in my life I experienced a close death. I guess I was lucky over the years, through my thirties and forties, never witnessing a death, never having been to a wake or funeral.

That all changed six years ago, when my dear Dad died from—what was assumed—a massive heart attack. Who knows? There was no autopsy. Christ, there wasn’t even a wake or funeral. It was as though this man who lived and breathed on this beautiful blue planet suddenly vanished, with no fanfare at all.

He was whisked away, only to be subsequently burnt to ashes in a matter of days, still wearing the golf shirt, overly long shorts, and tennis shoes he wore when he died. I never did give him a proper good-bye. I tried, but when I called the funeral home, the woman informed me that “I’m sorry, Honey. He’s on his way to the crematorium.”

I remember that day, six years ago on August 10th, when my brother from Florida called me and told me that Dad had died.

I was floored. I didn’t believe it. I was pissed, angry, confused, bewildered. I ran into the backyard, bent to the ground on both knees, and wept, big, wet wracking sobs.

To this day I still cannot fathom that he is…gone.

Dad, even though some family members have said in the past for me to get over it, I still greet you every single morning with a hearty hello and plant a kiss on the portrait I did of you. The picture above was taken a day before he died, on Friday the 13th, 2010.

Or who really knows? It could have been August 14th, the morning my Mum returned from vacationing in Maine, where my Dad was just there the day before. She found him lying face up, his legs resting on a chair in the living room, as though he was doing sit-ups, lying there staring at the ceiling, his last gaze probably looking at the years-old resin stain from countless Christmas trees dragged and hoisted into the room. Maybe he thought, with his last dying breath, he wondered how he could get rid of that stain, having not seen it from this angle lying on the floor.

And then he released his last breath.

How do I feel on this momentous day, the sixth anniversary of my father’s death? I am still angry. I still miss him. Terribly.

I love you, Dad, and wish you much comfort. Know that at least this offspring, one of seven, still think of you—every single day.

Happy 84th Birthday, Pops!

With much love,

Paul Harry

 

© Paul Grignon – 2016

All Rights Reserved

A Therouxly good read…

My favorite author just released a new book, his tenth travel tome. I just picked it up from the local library and cannot wait to relish his words.

I wholly recommend any book by Paul Theroux, be it one of his travels or his fiction, it doesn’t matter. He IS that good.

The book in question is ‘Deep South’, all about spending four seasons in various parts of the southern United States. The jacket blurb alone welcomes the reader into Theroux’s special insights into the traveling world.

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A note on other fine books I have recently read and recommend:

Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Road’, an astounding apocalyptic novel and spare in its prose. I am currently reading it for the 5th time, gleaning insights into his particular writing style, lean and tight. It helps me as I edit my own MS, an erotic dystopian love story set in the very near future. Reading McCarthy’s book makes one pause, to linger over his sentences, to embrace his choice of words.

Anything by Annie Proulx, another of my favorite authors. She has a writing style all her own, and her word play is astonishing. Just grab any book of hers off the shelf and immerse yourself in her world.

Any book by Russell Banks. I’ve read ‘Continental Drift’ and ‘Affliction’four times each, and his style and nuance never ceases to amaze, allowing me to pluck nuggets from his paragraphs.

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Getting back to Paul Theroux, though, do purchase or borrow a few of his books. From ‘Dark Star Safari’, to ‘The Lower River’, to ‘Hotel Honolulu’, all exceptional reads.

Please do let me know what authors you enjoy as well. One can never tire of reading worthy prose, and I am certainly open to welcome another author into my library.

Thank you.

 

Rendered Speechless…

Sometimes I have to travel more than thirty miles in my car, for my other part-time job. Usually I deign to take back roads as I’m never quite sure if my car will explode.

I had bought this car, a 1995 Pontiac Grand Am from a colleague at work, for $375. She had inherited a newer car and graciously allowed me to pay such a paltry sum for the vehicle. I was grateful to have it.

But soon a few problems became apparent; the car would suddenly red-line, the temperature gauge rocketing into the red zone, and it began to leak copious amounts of coolant. For some unfathomable reason, these two problems ‘sometimes’ presented themselves and other times, nothing. Perplexing to say the least.

So that was why I fretted whether it would simply disintegrate en route to wherever I was heading. In fact, the car was old enough that when I went shopping anywhere, I could remove the key while it was still running, get out, lock the door, and go shopping. Sometimes I’d go to several stores, performing the exact scenario. It consumed a lot of gas, but I didn’t want to chance the car venturing into the red zone after starting it

This went on for months, never quite sure what to expect when I turned the well-worn key. It became nerve-racking. Which brings me to the speechless part.

My wife, Julie, totaled her car, a Pontiac Torrent (maybe that’s why they don’t make Pontiacs any more) and needed a new car. She had been driving a rental but found a good deal on a Toyota Rav 4; 2011 with 64,000 miles. Not bad at all.

She opted to sign the papers herself and said that I did not have to go. Why didn’t I just stay home and write instead, she said? And that’s what I did.

Hours later she called me, saying that I needed to come in to sign a few papers, sorry that she had to bother me, especially when I was wary of my own quirky car. Reluctantly I drove to the dealership, parked my car—left it still running, mind you—and found Julie. We walked to her car, with the dealer in tow, and a wonderful man named Dave Brown, Julie’s ‘auto advisor’.

I looked at the Rav, impressed by it’s clean, sharp design. The dealer, Tomi, I think his name was, then turned to me and said, “And that is for you.” He was pointing at a sparkling white Nissan Frontier, a beautiful little pickup.

As any reasonably incredulous person would say I said, “What?!”

He replied, “It’s yours, here’s the keys.”

I was astonished, unbelieving. “Come on,” I said. “This is a joke, right?” Julie and Dave were laughing nearby. Tomi again said, “No joke. It’s yours. Take it for a ride.”

I looked from him to Julie to Dave and back at the Frontier. I was, indeed, rendered speechless. Julie had, for the past week or so, been dealing with Dave, not only for her car but to find me something that was safe and reliable.

I could not believe it. “How? What? How can we afford it?”

But Julie said she had worked out all the financing with Dave and yes, it was true, that that was to be my next vehicle.

I remained stunned, unmoving, astounded by this sudden, unexpected, wonderful gift.

“Happy birthday and Valentine’s,” she said.

I am a very lucky man. It was an incredible act of kindness and concern and love, and that is why I am truly married to the most amazing woman I have ever known. Besides having the gift of my Beloved, the Frontier was the second best gift I have ever received.

It has been two days now since we both have the newer cars parked in the back lot. I am still dumbfounded by the whole affair; her traveling for miles to different destinations, working in tandem with Mr. Brown to hammer out the details, all the while it was eating her up, finding it distasteful to keep this subterfuge in play. It worked. I was clueless

I remain speechless by the incredible selflessness of both Julie and Dave, the latter working tirelessly to put the deals together, for going above and beyond his duties, and presenting us with the best possible solution to our vexing transportation problems. I salute you, Mr. Brown!

I am still rendered speechless by the magnanimity of my Beloved, of her immensely beautiful heart, her love and support for me. I am one incredibly lucky man. Julie is…is a gift to me from the universe, a wonderful soul who gives me so much love, comfort, and happiness.

This is just one (albeit huge!) example of her generosity and genuine spirit.  For that am I exceedingly grateful and continue to marvel at my good fortune in life.

I am truly blessed to have Julie as my bride, to wake every morning with her by my side, and gaze into the visage of heaven.

Thank you so much, Julie. You are truly my Beloved, and I love you..infinitely.

©Paul Grignon, 2016, All Rights Reserved.