Saturday, April 5, 2014

Confessional

Note – This is a first draft (slightly edited before posting) of a writing challenge. ...under the gun, 1000 words max. The prompt was 'forbidden fruit.'




Confessional


The Bishop stood to the side of the open cathedral doors, nodding curt greetings to the early morning worshipers as they passed through the doors. Once again, he looked inside at the slowly filling pews, but did not yet see Rene. Nor did he see Rene amongst those gathered in the square outside.

The Bishop slowly, if loudly, pushed his breath out through pursed lips; a mix of both prayer and frustration with the boy. He felt a man’s presence at his back, dropping his head to listen.

“Deacon Rene is not at the seminary, either,” Deacon Michael said.

The Bishop nodded slowly, but did not turn. “Perhaps he forgets what today is,” he said, continuing to acknowledge the worshipers who passed by him into the church.

“For Rene, all days are the same beautiful day,” Michael said. “Prayer, breakfast, Mass... You know what he says.”

“Yes, yes. All days are beautiful days,” the Bishop said, impatiently.

“…only more so,” Michael finished.

“Yes, well today isn’t just any beautiful day,” the Bishop said, interrupting. He turned to Michael. “Go. Take your place.”


§


A light breeze blew the gauzy white curtains until they just brushed the bare skin of the man on the bed.

The pure white sheets were tangled about him from rolling in his sleep, likely from an attempt to escape the sun that danced through the curtains and was starting to warm his feet. He was asleep, alone, in the very large bed, but there were enough pillows and indentations in the mattress to see that two had slept there until just moments before.

Even in his lite sleep, he felt the change of temperature on his uncovered foot; the window shutters were closing, and the sun no longer warmed him.

He stirred. He rolled onto his back (exposing more than feet), and opened his eyes.

The woman was nude, and facing away from him. The light through the slits in the shutters cast her in silhouette; he could see her drawing the sheer curtains closed across the window. She turned to him; his eyes adjusting to the new light, and he could see she was as beautiful as he’d remembered, all golden hair, white skin (untouched by sun), and impossibly ruby lips. She had green eyes that should be impossible to see from this far away, especially in backlight. But there they are.

She smiled impurely, turning once again away from him. She stretched her arms wide, and pulled the set of heavy, royal purple drapes clothes with pure drama, and the room went dark. She remained facing the closed window as she spoke.

“My love, let us shut out the day and let this night never end.”

She turned to face him in the now darker room, smiling in a way that the young Deacon knew meant his life had completely changed, and approached the bed.

Behind her, the shutters, impossibly, blew open; a great gust of wind parted the dark drapery, and the morning sun exploded into the room. Her lithe body was bathed in light from behind, and then the sun overwhelmed and blinded him.

He sat bolt upright, startled out of his dream. She was gone.

The drapes did billow in the wind. The shutters were wide open. He was alone in the large bed, still wrapped in the white sheets, but they were wet with sweat; his own, he thought.

The bell from the clock tower rang seven o’clock, and he looked toward the window. It looked to be a beautiful morning outside. A beautiful day like any other.”
“God!” he said, jumping out of bed, leaving the damp bed linens behind him. He looked this way and that until I saw his clothes, a Deacon’s robes, laid out carefully on a chair next to the door.


§


Rene stood at the back of the cathedral, as he often did before a mass.

He was frozen in place, eyes fixed on the closed door of a confessional – The same confessional that the woman had entered just a moment ago.

The morning sun was shining through a great window onto his legs and feet, heating his shiny black shoes to an uncomfortable temperature.

Not just a woman, but the woman from this morning. …or last night?

Rene was sweating underneath his vestments, and he could feel the sweat running down his chest and back; the cloth clung to his skin, and he pulled at it for relief.

How long, he wondered, had the booth’s door been closed? How long have I been here?

Then the door opened, a lithe, impossibly long leg swung out as the woman stood up to exit the confessional. The leg has exposed in a way that a leg would never be exposed; as a woman’s clothing will simply not allow it. Nevertheless, there was the bare leg, just as it was when she had entered the little room.

She stood, and strode two steps into the sunlight streaming from the window, and stopped. She faced Rene from a distance; her white skin shone with such light, and he could see nothing but her shape. He saw green eyes that should be impossible to see from this far away, in that light. But there they are.

“You’re late,” the Bishop said, surprising Rene as he suddenly stepped between Rene and the woman.

“I’ve been here,” Rene said, startled, “in the back, like every day.”

The Bishop frowned, and looked closer at Rene. “You’re sick? You’re sweating.”

“I walked quickly, and the sun…” Rene said. “Like every day.”

“Take your place, Rene,” the Bishop said, gesturing to the line of Deacons near the front of the cathedral; each waiting to be ordained.

Rene looked at them; each dressed in the same robes that he sweated beneath now. Rene didn’t move.

The Bishop looked concerned. “Are you nervous?”

Rene looked confused, but whether at the question or something else, even he wasn’t sure. He didn’t answer, or even respond.

“Rene, it’s just a day…” the Bishop began. “Like any other.”


Rene nodded. “Only more so.”

§


Confessional – Roland Denzel, March 4th, 2014

Image by scarbe84 on freeimages.com.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Saints Alive!

I know that a lot of my readers are mutual friends of Lou Schuler, so I wanted to announce Lou's latest book, which is a slight deviation from his normal (fitness) books.


Saints Alive - Lou Schuler


Saints Alive is Lou's first published fiction book, and having it read it already, I highly recommend it. The book really touched me, in ways I didn't expect, and it's spurred on my own writing in new ways.

Here's what I wrote on Amazon.com


Good, evil, soccer, coming of age, and immortality! 

Sebastian is a young man, going on immortal, when he's thrust into something much bigger than all of us; is it spy vs spy, good vs evil, or Good vs Evil? Suddenly, he's being asked to step into the role of a hero, and he's not quite ready for that. He's bad at sports, especially soccer ...all he's good at is math! Not exactly a super power. 
I found a lot to like about Sebastian, and 'enjoyed' feeling a lot of MY old feelings again; I guess Sebastian and I shared a lot back when I was that age, and I get the feeling that we were not the only ones. We felt excluded, even if we weren't avoided or shunned, we were passionate about things we weren't great at, we felt disconnected from family, even though we loved them. We wanted something bigger, but didn't know what. We wanted a fresh start, even though we never dreamed what it might be or entail.
This is a great young adult story about a young boy who's trying to find himself and fit in, all while avoiding the bullies around him. Something a lot of us can identify with that. 
I actually know Lou Schuler, and he's [kinda] funny, but this book literally (like literally literally) made me laugh out loud several times. The dialog is seamless, and once you're into this book, you're lost in the story. 
Lou has written many, many non-fiction books and articles, so we have no doubts that he can write, but this book shows that the man can really, really write.

I hope you'll buy Lou's book. I know you'll enjoy it. 


...then, please give it a review on Amazon. Reviews help readers find great books, and every author needs help in that department.

Roland



Wednesday, March 5, 2014

I'll take the next one

I know I've admitted this before, but where and to whom, I don't know.

In 2008, when I missed my plane leaving Little Rock, I didn't actually miss my plane.

Sure, they did run out of seats and ask for volunteers to stay behind, and I did put up my hand, but after a while, they came up with a seat for me. ...but I didn't want to leave.


"Sir, we have a seat for you," the ticket agent said.


"What? I thought the plane was overbooked."

"It is, but we have a seat for you."

"You can give it to someone else," I said.

"No no," she said, "we have a seat for you."

"I already have someone coming to pick me up." I don't want to leave.

"Sir, you can keep the coupon," she explained. (I had been offered a free flight for volunteering to stay behind.)

"It's not that," I said. I looked around. There was a lady. ...with a kid. "Give it to her."

"We have to go in order," she said, "but I'm sure we'll have a seat for her later."

I was about ready to give up, and I guess my gate attendant friend saw it. "Is there something wrong?"

I took a deep breath. "There's a girl here."

My new friend winced.

"I'd rather stay another day," I said.

She put up her hand. She shook her head. "We have to go in order," she said. "I can't bypass you. The computer..."

I nodded.

"I'm sorry," she said.

I nodded again.

"Who is she?" she asked.

"She is 'it,' but she doesn't know it."

She smiled.

I went on.

"She dropped me off at the curb and I kissed her goodbye."

She smiled. I continued.

"She wasn't expecting it. The kiss." I paused. "The kiss wasn't really appropriate, but I wanted her to know. Then she left."

She was still sort of smiling.

I sighed. "She obviously wasn't expecting it."

"I'm really sorry," she said.

I stood there in silence for what seemed like forever, but couldn't have been more than a few seconds.

"Isn't there something you can do?" I asked.

"Sir, the rules..." she said. "I'm sorry."

I nodded and tried to smile at her so she'd know I understood her position.

"I understand."

I stood there at the desk, waiting for my boarding pass. After a minute of tapping and typing, she handed me a printout. "Here's your coupon. Make sure to hang onto it. It's like cash."

"I thought..."

"I'm sorry you missed your flight," she said, interrupting. She gave me a look that said 'ask no questions.'

I asked no questions. She handed me a plane ticket.

"You're rebooked for tomorrow at 3:15. The same flight."

"Thank you..."

"You're sure about this?" she asked. "About her?"

"I am. Very."

She looked back at her computer screen, then up at me once more. "Go, before there's another seat."

"Thank you."

She nodded and smiled, then looked toward the woman with the child. "Mrs. Davis, we have seats for you and your daughter."

She looked at me one last time, urging me away, and then back at the young woman.

"You're in luck," the ticket agent said to her. "I guess someone thought something else was more important."

 .

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The fitness world lives in a perpetual state of wishful thinking

I know I moved all of my fitness talk over to TheFitInk.com, but can I rant about fitness here? Thanks.

1. Exercise vs life

Exercise is a supplement to movement, work, and activity (e.g., life), and just like a nutrition supplement, it's NOT as good as the original.

A treadmill isn't a substitute for walking or running on ground. The belt moves, and you move your legs to keep from falling. It's falling under control, and does a number on the pelvic floor because you do not walk correctly.



A treadmill desk is an abomination to good movement quality. Treadmill bad, treadmill desk worse. You can't swing your arms, and the concentration makes you walk funny. Yes, you burn calories, but at what cost. Erectile dysfunction, maybe.

Kettlebells are cool, but they aren't a 'functional tool' unless your job in life is the snatch or jerk a kettlebell. I, of course, still recommend them (or things like dumbbells) for resistance training, but swinging, squatting, snatching, and jerking is not a substitute for walking and other real life movements. It's a supplement to the work you're NOT doing in life.

I love the gym, and I love being strong, but there's simply no reason to believe that a man is better off if he can squat with his body weight on his back or deadlift 405 pounds from the ground. Are there advantages to being strong? Absolutely, but you don't need a squat rack or full barbell set to be fit, healthy, or strong.


2. Nutrition - I'm doing fine

There's a nutrition trend affectionately called IIFYMs, or If It Fits Your Macros. This is the idea that your calories, protein, fat, and carb levels are what's important for your 'gains' in the gym or losses on the scale. Mostly true, but it discounts health; especially long term health.

Yes, I know, I heard you, you said "I'm doing fine." But how do you know you're doing fine Mr. 20 Year Old Gym Guy? I can point out plenty of people who likely feel that they are 'doing fine' right now, but aren't. Besides, how do you know you couldn't be doing better?



Food matters, and if you don't believe that the grandparents felt fine, and maybe looked just fine, for the many years leading up to Type 2 Diabetes, you're kidding yourself. Yes, with some people it's obvious; they are overweight and eating nothing but crap, but many people 'do just fine' for years, when obviously they weren't.


3. A sport is not the way to get fit. 

Can you be fit and be in a sport? Sure, but who joins a rugby league to lose weight? No one, really. However, people decide to run a marathon (once an elite level activity) to lose weight, train for an extreme race, and even take up Olympic Weightlifting or Kettlebell Sport to get in shape.

These are sports, not fitness programs; Training for a marathon requires that you also increase your eating to sustain that level of training program, which might just set you up more bad habits once you injure yourself stop running marathons.

Should you take a kettlebell class? Sure, but a kettlebell fitness class, not Kettlebell Sport. Kettlebell Sport is about the sport, not weight loss, and it actually requires that you put yourself in positions that aren't particularly healthy for long term health. It's called Posterior Pelvic Tilt, and it's not only not pretty, but can lead to pelvic floor disorder or erectile dysfunction if you don't counteract this position.


4. We're not you, Mr Trainer

Just because you can stretch that way doesn't mean we can or even should. - you are awesome.

Just because you can squat that way doesn't mean we can or should. - you are awesome.

Just because you train like that doesn't mean we should. ...or that you should for that matter.

Just because you're awesome doesn't mean that your program got you that way. Many people are awesome despite their program. If you don't believe me, go to 24 Hour Fitness with me and I'll point them out.


Ok. Done. That felt pretty good.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

enough already, catharsis!

A while back I told you that I was writing some sort of romance? 


About a chick named Kate? Didn't I?

It's really worse than that. It's more like 'New Adult' romance, which is like the tv show Beverly Hills 90210 (the old one; the new one is boring).

New Adult is like regular romance, but even more tragic.


..and always with tons of angst on the way to inevitable true love.


Not to mention regularly scheduled erections on top of all the kissing.

It may or may not have vampires.

It's basically the written version of what a 20-something girl would watch on tv every week. ...although mine does NOT have vampires. Sorry.

What the f*** was I thinking? I don't have time for this shit.


I know, but when I don't write it, it's right there, not written. How long can something not be written? It's philosophical, I know, but come on. I mean 12 years is long enough. If it goes 13, I'm going to check myself into a hospital. The One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest kind.

I'm almost done, but only because it won't stop calling to me. I hear catharsis is a good thing; it had better be good.

It's not that the story is not good; it might be someday, after it sits in a drawer for a while and gets a 'fresh' set of eyes one day, but what started off as a script/screenplay that I wrote 12 years ago (on my drive home from Montana after my mother died), turned into a wannabe novel turned novella that should have been a short story. It's almost as if I looked for a way to shrink this work of girly art down to 20k words of flash fiction just to get it done.

Now, what I have is basically the pilot to a teen angst television show that will never, ever air, plus the raw stories for episodes 2-6, 11, and the two hour season finale. If there are any tv producers reading...

Anyhow, it seems this post was cathartic, in and of itself. 


While this post sat there as a draft, I was able to write quite a bit of Kate's story, and it seems to have given me the drive to FINISH and move on to my next story, which will always have a girl and a guy, romance and angst, love, but also a hero, a villain or two, and either a castle or a space ship, and maybe even a cowboy hat. ...but not all three.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Home sick with a cold

Let's start with something Richard Curtis and see how we feel after that...

Friday, January 17, 2014

We'll always have Anaheim

I should have been writing, but instead, I got sucked into the vortex of 'which ____ are you?' quizzes, which was fine when I ended up Han Solo or Aragorn, but it got weird with Anchorman. Who cares which newscaster I am?

Then came the question with which we will all one day be faced: "What Princess are you?"

No surprise, here, I'm Aurora!


...although I actually DO have trouble meeting men. Go figure.

I just don't know how accurate the quiz really is. My heart has always been split between Aurora's and Mulan's, but Aurora and I have a special bond from our meeting back in '03.

We'll always have Anaheim

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2014 - Here we go...

Happy New Year, everybody!

Some stuff for 2014, not in any order of significance:

1

Christine Henderson interviewed me on her site. She interviews writers, so in this case the interview was more than fitness and nutrition, which was fun! An Interview with Roland Denzel

2

I've got two non-fiction books in the works, one with Gal and one on my own. I think one (the one with Gal, and mostly her brainchild) will be our best work yet.

Gal came up with a great idea that we are both really excited about. It combines our belief that you can rarely just jump into a new diet, or whole new lifestyle, whole hog, and make a success out of it, long term. Add one new habit at a time, see how it goes, then add another. And never, never, never give up the plan until you have a new plan.

We've had good success using this method with clients, and it's built into Man on Top, but now we've come up with a great way to do it on grander scale. In a perfect world, this would be a great book for next Christmas and New Year! That might be too aggressive.

I've been wanting to write a book that people (and I) can give for Christmas without the recipient thinking "So, you're saying I'm fat?" Gal's book idea fits that bill perfectly, so bonus!

3

The other book is more of a 'bathroom reader' book, but it leaves me with a dilemma. It needs illustrations, and I cannot draw. On a positive note, I think it would also be a good stocking stuffer. It's fitness related, but it's not a book that says 'you're fat, so you should read this book.'

4

As much as I'd love to publish some fiction this year, I don't know if it's in the cards. Too much to do, but I have to find an outlet. It's not motivating to write 2,000 fiction words a week without a [self] publishing end in site.

I do have some short story ideas, so you might see them here. I've never been good at short stories, but mostly because short stories in school were short short. When I started to think about it, some of my favorite authors have written books of short stories that were almost a novel when the book was done.

5

I'm really excited about the new direction my own fitness interests are leading me. This year, I'm seeking my certification as a Restorative Exercise™ Specialist (RES). I've learned a lot from Galya and Katy, and the more I learn, the more I feel that fitness is more than getting strong, adding muscle, or going fast or long. ...not that there's anything wrong with that.

Don't get me wrong, I think muscle is important, strength does have value. I love to lift really heavy weights, but not everyone does. You don't have to be strong strong to be fit, but you do need to be strong enough for the quality of life you want to live, and for must people, that doesn't require a barbell or a squat rack.

I also think that people need to be 'conditioned' enough to be able to live life without crapping out. People who love to run should be able to run; Everyone should be able to run. even if they don't want to run for fun. You don't have to run to be fit, and using running to get fit is a bad idea.

If there's a Restorative Exercise™ Specialist reading, I know I'm talking blasphemy with some of my statements, but the truth is that you can't always take running away from a runner or weights away from a lifter, just like you can't take the yoga away from the yogi. Everyone can learn to do what they do better and safer, and hopefully integrating RES will get or keep them healthier, still.

6

Happy New Year!

Roland

Friday, December 27, 2013

In defense of Love Actually

Many of my friends and family LOVE Love Actually. Many of you know that it's a movie that I watch year after year; it's even on my list of favorite Christmas movies and favorite Romance movies.

Billy Mernit gets it
This Love Actually Season, the detractors (movie reviewers more talented than I) came out of the woodwork to try to knock it down, but they just don't get it.

Others DO get it.


Me, I want to love. I look for it. Seek it out. I sought it out, and found it. I want all aspects of it, even the pain of lost love (insert cliche, cliche, blah, blah, blah). What about the pain or angst of a love you think you can't have? it's terrible and good at the same time.

I saw Love Actually, alone. Twice. In the theatre. Plus, countless times on DVD, Netflix, and even on TV whenever it's on. I LOVE it.

Are there movies that show love in it's true light? I don't know, but would it be boring?

Love at first site does exist. Some men DO fall in love with the pretty girl because she's pretty. Men also fall in love with that girl they pretend to hate. It's because they can't have her and it fucking hurts to talk to her. And yes, even with a girl who only speaks Portuguese.

People complain about how unrealistic the loves in LA were, but they are snapshots or exaggerations of loves that many of us have been in. People complain about the Prime Minister and his girl servant. Realistic, thank you. She's pretty, speaks what she thinks, and she's pretty.

Karl and Sarah? Yeah, why didn't Karl try harder when he could see she's just caring for her sick brother? Because she's also sick, and just not sick enough to be institutionalized. Give Karl's writer a break, and good move, Karl. You couldn't win that one.

Does this all paint men in a bad light? Yes, but we are men. We can do better, but we don't always rise up.

I think virtually every little love in LA was realistic (with the exception of Colin and his hot American babes) in a sense. Are they smart? Sensible? Well thought out? No, but such is life and love.

So while the Love Actually haters might be great movie reviewers, they suck at reviewing love.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The next batman

should either go 'light' and be more like the Super Friends Batman that I grew up with


OR get real with a gracefully aging Batman with an actor like Bryan Cranston.


Now that he's no longer seen as Malcolm's Dad, Cranston would make an awesome, grittier Batman. Just make him a little funny, too. Not Adam West funny, but self-deprecating funny.

I never took the Super Friends seriously, but I can't really take the bitter, angry Batman we have today for much longer, either.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

faint heart

"Faint heart never won fair lady" - Robin Hood, 1973

Monday, December 16, 2013

eet

In the olden days there was no true backspacing. Typewriting writers simply kept going. You could go back a character or two and overtype your mistake with Xs or something, but that's about it. Later, someone figured out how to squeeze a ribbon of 'white out' under the hood, but fixing more than a word or two wasn't pretty.

Saturday's blog post was inspired by hearing the following song, Regina Spektor's 'Eet,' which is about a mythical key on a typewriter that allows you to overtype words on page like we wish we could events in our lives.


The mythical key allowed one to backspace, overtyping previous events with new ones, or to simply block them out, leaving a black smudge, but without the words to form a memory or, more importantly, a lesson.



It's like forgetting the words to your favorite song
You can't believe it
You were always singing along
It was so easy and the words so sweet
You can't remember
You try to move your feet
As attractive as forgetting or erasing sounds sometimes (and I do love the song), your memory will still be there in some way. Don't try to erase it; learn from it, and move on.



Instead, focus on the other things in life, like your own endless sheet of paper, and the other keys on your keyboard.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

backspacer

When you flirt over skype, be careful that you turn off the option that shows that you're typing when you're typing something.

If you don't turn that off, the person at the other end knows you're working on something, and if there's a long, long pause and you end up sending something short and sweet, they know you changed your mind.

It means you backspaced. You're a backspacer. "What were you going to say, backspacer?"

Flirting over skype is like an interactive love letter; it's a dialog that falls somewhere between an actual conversation and air mail (for those of you who remember air mail). There's a craft to it, not unlike writing dialog in a story or screenplay. Do you think movie or book characters would be that amazingly sharp, quick,and witty in real life? No, their creator (the author) had the luxury of backspacing.

Wait, this sounds bad. Am I saying that people, conversations, and relationships aren't as good, clever, romantic, or as funny in reality as they are on the screen or in the pages of a book? Absolutely not. I'm saying that there's value in each of these methods of communication.

Love letters are a speech, and are 'heard' by the reader, even if they are read silently. You are your own speechwriter, unless your love interest is named Roxanne, of course.

I'd love to be good at love letters, and every once in a while I try. I won't say 'it's not pretty,' but I will share that it's painful. ...for me. ...to write.

It just doesn't come easy for me. Despite parent and teacher encouragement, letter writing never came easy for me, and I feel bad for my pen pals, who got what amounts to a greeting card in response to their novellas.

Conversations were no better, which long time readers won't be surprised to read. Conversations are right now, and for someone shy (believe me), they can be a miserable experience (trust me). Talk about pressure. Enough pressure that most potential conversations never happened.

I'm a guy who scripts out what could be. In my mind, I play out the scene that should be. It never is. I can count on one hand the number of times I tried to implement a conversation that I'd just scripted in my head. I could never begin to guess the number of times I realized that reality would never stack up to my imagination. ...and I sat back down.

Enter skype

...and it was good.

When I first started skyping with Galya, there was nothing to indicate that the other side was typing; you just waited, and the words appeared when the other party hit <enter>. We typed our conversations, with carefully calculated words back and forth. (This was how I imagined conversations could go!)

Then, one day after a skype upgrade, a little animated pencil made scribbling motions next to the box where her text would soon appear, and things had changed again. I could see when she was typing, and knew to wait (what was taking so long?). She could see me, too, and the pressure was on! I had no choice but to put myself out there, quickly and deliberately, too.

Then, I thought, I would use this to my advantage. Strategic backspacing leaves the other side wondering what was just not said. What the other wanted to say, but didn't. How many unsaid words weren't sent? How many untold "I love yous" were tested out before being replaced with "good nights?" How many many of those secret messages got through to her?

We jokingly called each other out on the backspacing, and we each knew there were unsaid messages removed by that little animated pencil's eraser. I cannot count the unsaid words, but I can count, and do remember, how many times I typed 'I love you' and backspaced, testing the waters, hoping she knew.
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