Musings

The Brood Grows

October 4, 2017

I have no children, nor do I ever intend on having any. Since I am now well into my thirties, and married, that is a little unusual. There are people who choose not to have children, for various reasons, but to be a male married to a female, with both of us capable of procreating, but for us to make the conscious decision not to do so, we are in the minority in American society. Many people don’t actually make the choice at all. The woman will accidently get knocked up, if either one of the partners is careless with whatever birth control method they were using, and they’ll decide to go through with the pregnancy. There are still some people who are old fashioned, or their parents are, and that accidental pregnancy will lead to the two of them marrying. Getting married because the woman got pregnant is usually a horrible idea, and leads to divorce down the line more often than not. Luckily, societal mores have changed to the point that a woman getting pregnant doesn’t necessarily mean that marriage follows, or even having the child, for that matter. It’s great that abortion remains a legal option in this country, and let’s hope it stays that way, though the G.O.P. is always trying to take away a woman’s reproductive rights.

I don’t have any friends, at this point, but I still have family, and my wife has friends. Some of her friends have children; my sister Ann has her son, Ezra, and my stepsister, Joie, is pregnant at the moment with her sixth child by her husband, Alex. I’m glad that my sister had Ezra. Since my wife and I don’t plan on ever having children, my sister having a kid gave my parents a biological grandchild, which I know made my mother very happy. It made my father happy too, but he also has Joie’s five kids he can play with if he ever wants his grandfather fix, with yet another on the way. I can’t help but think sometimes about how different my life would be if I’d decided to have children. We had reasons for deciding not to become parents, and I think that, overall, we’re happy with the choice that we made. Joie and Alex are an interesting case, to me, because they seem to be at the exact opposite end of the spectrum.

There’s no doubt that having children changes one’s life dramatically. Those who choose to have that first kid are sacrificing tremendous amounts of time, energy, money, and sleep. I’m not suggesting that having a kid isn’t worth it. It’s just that you must accept certain realities, as a parent. You’re legally responsible, now, for the life that you created. You must keep this child alive, nurture and care for them. Your existence becomes wrapped up in child rearing. You must evolve as a person, because, if you don’t, chances are, you’re neglecting your child. It therefore follows, then, that even more effort, money, etcetera, is required if you have a second child, and a third, and so on. What Joie and Alex did, and continue to do, strikes me as a mild, or perhaps even severe, form of insanity. I can’t claim to know the reason they wanted such a large family, or even if it’s something they truly wanted…for all I know, they might just be really careless. If I shudder when I think of being the father to one child, I have literal nightmares about what it would be like to sire a brood like what the two of them have going. I don’t think they plan on stopping until they have enough to field an entire baseball team.

For all I know, Joie and Alex are loving life, and the family they created. I hope that’s the case. They’re not my blood relations, but I wish them well, and I hope they never regret the choice to have such a large household. But surely I wouldn’t be wrong in saying that it must be difficult to take care of so many young dependents. The stresses put on them, lack of sleep, having to cook for such a clan, cleaning up after them, driving them to soccer practice and dance recitals, kissing their boo-boos when they fall down, just the general tumult such a group creates…it must be exhausting. How could it be otherwise? My life is difficult sometimes. Everyone’s is. We all deal with problems, but it seems as though, being responsible only for myself, it’s only my problems with which I have to deal, and sometimes Megan’s, as well, since I share my life with her. My life seems simple, as compared to that of Joie and Alex. So while I wish them the best, I wouldn’t ever, ever want to go through what they are.

These are all choices that we make. I wonder what it was that made my wishes so much different than theirs. They wanted to be surrounded with children, to have the little buggers crawling all over them, while I’ve been waiting years for what I consider the right moment just to get a dog. We’re all different people, and perhaps it was some biological imperative that made them want they wanted, while I wanted something completely different. In any case, I haven’t regretted the choice I made, along with Megan, to not become parents. God knows I’ve made more than my share of bad decisions in my life, but I’ve never even entertained the notion of that being one of them.

Musings

Another Adult Milestone

September 27, 2017

When I was young, I was a huge fan of Halloween, as I think many children are. There was the theatricality of the event, for one thing. Whatever I was most into that year, I could buy or fashion a costume that reflected that. I remember being a big fan of ninjas for two or three years. I used to rent the American Ninja movie series on V.H.S. from Blockbuster, and practice my moves in the backyard. There are pictures of me in my black pajama-like outfit in martial arts poses, brandishing my plastic katana.

Even more so, the holiday provided an opportunity to collect candy, which might have been a cause for joy with some children, but which took on a much greater significance for my sister and I. We weren’t allowed to have candy normally, so the idea that we were about to be gifted with this veritable smorgasbord of Twizzlers and Snicker’s bars was like some sugar-blasted dream come true. We were allowed two pieces of candy per day, and because of this restriction, it wasn’t uncommon for us to still have a few pieces remaining well into December. The last to go were usually things like Sugar Daddies, which no one really liked anyway. I vividly remember trying to surreptitiously gobble as much down on Halloween night as I could…sneaking candy out of its wrapper and stuffing it into my ravenous gob while my parents were preoccupied.

I also remember being very young, five or six years old, and getting back from trick-or-treating and being sent to bed. My teeth were brushed, and there would be no more glorious sugar till the following day. But I wanted more…I went back downstairs, and told my mom I wanted to “look at” my haul one more time. I snatched a box of jelly beans, and brought them back upstairs with me. Suspicious, my mother followed me, and asked if I had taken any of the candy with me. Naturally, bad little child that I was, I lied to her and told her that I hadn’t. She believed me, or seemed to, and went back downstairs. I’d stashed the candy in my favorite hiding spot, one of the cubbies formed by the cinder blocks which had been used to prop up a sort of shelf along one of the walls of my room. We were quite poor, at this point, and much of my furniture was makeshift or secondhand. I took the jellybeans out, opened the box, and gleefully ate them one by one, savoring the intensity of the sugar high. I was also sick with guilt and adrenaline, however, and got a stomachache.

Now, at thirty-six, I’m an adult by any rubric you’d care to judge such things. My trick-or-treating days are long over. Having moved out of New York, and being the owner of my very own house for the first time, it’s put me in a position to have to do things that I’ve never had to before. I need to pay property taxes and school taxes, for instance. I need to fix things around the house…or call professionals to do the job, where in the past, when I was renting apartments, I’d just need to contact the super, or the landlord. Another thing that I have the option to do, if not the requirement, is decorate the house, with Halloween a few weeks away, and pass out candy to the kids. I live in an actual neighborhood these days, and there are plenty of youngsters about. I have no doubt that there will be plenty of little ghosts and goblins and princesses dropping by, or whatever the hell it is that kids are into these days. The tables have turned. I’ll be the one distributing the sweet treats, and exclaiming how this one looks so adorable, that one so terrifying.

I can’t eat candy anymore. My gums are receding, probably from brushing too hard when I was younger, and I no longer enjoy the sugar. Even cold drinks are starting to bother me. About the best I can do is decorate the house, have a beer, and keep a watchful eye to make sure no one’s idea of a rocking Halloween night is lobbing eggs or toilet paper at the front windows. I was guilty of those things when I was younger, but what goes around comes around, etcetera. I guess the only reason this difference, this change, is going to hit me so hard this year is because, again, this is the first time I’ve been a homeowner, and it’s a different experience than apartment living. In New York, there was no point in putting a carved jack o’lantern in front of my apartment door. No little kids were getting in.

Doubtless, it’s going to feel strange. I don’t know how many of these kids are being deprived of sugar, as my health-conscious parents once did to us, but to see them taking such glee in the holiday…because Halloween is a holiday for children, much more than adults…will probably be bittersweet. Middle age is ahead of me, bearing down like a freight train, and childhood keeps slipping further away. A lot of the time, I don’t miss it. There are pleasures of adulthood, just as there are pleasures of childhood, and those suffice; they sustain me. Halloween, however, might be one night that I envy the young again. They have their whole lives ahead of them. As the guy passing out the candy, I’ve been relegated to the sidelines. At least I get to pay those property taxes and school taxes, though. That’s way more satisfying than all the jelly beans in the world.

Musings

The Loss of Our Dignity

September 20, 2017

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been rereading and revising essays, deciding which ones I wanted to include in the collection. As I mentioned last week, it’s now available on Amazon, for Kindle. It was interesting to go back over ten years of material, seeing what I thought about political, societal, and personal matters when I was in different living and working situations.

I don’t think my politics have changed much in the past decade. I’m still liberal on most issues, though I still have plenty of beefs with the Democratic party. I certainly tore into former President Obama here on the site over the years, though not nearly as much as I did the Republicans for various reasons. I haven’t spoken out about Donald Trump here on the site recently, for two reasons. The first is that a couple of years ago, I determined that I wasn’t going to be doing the weekly blogs anymore, for the simple fact that I wasn’t being paid for them. The effort no longer seemed worth it, and I felt like my creative energies were better spent being focused elsewhere. The other reason I haven’t bad-mouth Trump is that he’s too easy of a target. The man’s flaws are self-evident, and my pointing them out wouldn’t have made any difference. Today, however, I thought I’d break my silence. Why not? It’s not likely to make any difference in my personal life, nor is it going to get the Orange-in-Chief ushered out the door any faster, but it will allow me to blow off some steam.

Trump has been president now for about eight months. He’s weathered numerous mini-scandals while in office, but I thought some of the ones he faced before he was even elected would be enough to swamp his campaign, and it never happened. The whole “grab them by the pussy” business, a couple of decades ago, seems like it would have been enough to derail him, but it didn’t happen. Likewise, his handling of the woman’s death in Charlottesville recently, where she was run down by a white supremacist, seems like it might have been sufficient to get him impeached. It didn’t happen, nor have any of the allegations so far about his campaign colluding with Russia during the election. I suppose it’s still possible that a smoking gun could be discovered so dramatic that it can no longer be ignored, even by the G.O.P., but if you want my opinion, I think we’re probably stuck with this guy till at least 2020.

The argument has been made that Trump being elected was a market correction for eight years of an Obama presidency, and maybe that’s true. It has also been suggested that this correction is at least partially due to racial motives. Maybe the people who supported Trump did so because they believed in what this conman was saying. They believed he’d build a wall on the Mexican border, they believed he’d save jobs in the coal industry…but I sincerely believe that some of them voted for him because regardless of what he said or did, they would have voted for any white male, just because they felt it would be going back to the status quo. They surely weren’t going to vote for Hillary. Sexism is just as much alive as is racism, in this country.

My problems with Trump run deeper the more I learn about the man, and I knew plenty about him already. I never watched The Apprentice, but I’ve sure watched professional wrestling over the years, and I know all about Trump’s association with Vince McMahon and the W.W.E. I knew Trump to be a bloviating blowhard, a puffed-up caricature of what he envisioned a New York billionaire should be. He always made much of his success, but his track record in business stated otherwise. I recall going to Atlantic City and seeing his casino abandoned, a rotting eyesore jutting out from the shoreline, letters hanging off the façade. It looked like a set piece from The Walking Dead. I was just as surprised as all the pundits when his candidacy did as well as it did, but, like the rest of them, I never believed he could actually be elected. It was inconceivable…and then it happened.

The people who voted for Trump wanted someone who “wasn’t a politician,” and that’s what they got. They got a man who had no previous political experience at all, had never held an elected office at any level. They got a reality T.V. star, and they got a presidency unlike anything ever before seen. It’s been a rollercoaster ride, watching this guy, and we’re only eight months in. Yesterday, Trump addressed the United Nations for the first time. Maybe, with his ego, he expected it to be like one of his victory rallies in Bum-Fuck, Idaho, with people cheering his greatest hits, “Lock her up!” “Build the wall!” He started riffing on Kim Jong Un, calling him by the pet name he’d devised, “Rocket Man.” There was no laughter, and there was no applause. The delegates of dozens of countries had never seen anything like this guy in the flesh. I think most of them were shocked, appalled. They’d heard and seen how much of an ass the American president was, but it was something else to see it in person. Here was what America had become; this is what we elected.

That’s what I think bothers me the most about this guy. Yes, his policies are awful, just as much they are arbitrary. What would it actually accomplish to ban transsexual service members from the armed forces? What would it actually accomplish, building that wall on the Mexican border? How can these be anyone’s priorities? But, while all of that is cause for alarm, I think it hurts me the most when I see how much shame and embarrassment it brings to this nation that this guy represents us on the world stage. Say what you want about Obama, or Clinton, or even George Bush, either version. At least they were all politicians; they sounded somewhat presidential, although W’s mangling of the English language was a trial. He at least attempted to retain some measure of dignity; Trump doesn’t know the meaning of the word. He feuds with celebrities on Twitter, he mocks disabled people, he shouts down any dissention, determined to have the last word, like a petulant toddler. His supporters don’t care. This is what they wanted…it’s the Mean Girl presidency.

As I said, I believe we’re stuck with Trump till 2020. How much damage he’s going to do in the meantime is anybody’s guess. Perhaps he’ll actually antagonize North Korea to the point that they back up some of the rhetoric they’ve been spitting at us for decades. But one thing is undeniable: America is a laughingstock right now. There were times in the past when I found it hard to be an American, because I disagreed so vehemently with governmental policy. It’s never been anything like this before. This is an unprecedented time in American and world history, and I don’t think that’s an exaggeration. We’re living in the era where the president goes on unhinged Twitter sprees in the middle of the night, and continues denying climate change while Houston and parts of Florida are underwater. Perhaps this is what we deserved, as a nation; we deserved to learn some humility. One can only hope that the Democrats can come up with somebody in 2020 who can play by the rules of the new political gamesmanship of this modern era, which is to say, no rules at all. In the wild west of a Trump presidency, there is no over the top. There is no lowest common denominator. No matter how tasteless, no matter how repellent a thought or action, it could be coming our way at any moment. This guy is capable of anything. Hold onto your hats with one hand, America…and hold your nose with the other.

Publication News

Essay Collection Now Available on Amazon

September 14, 2017

Hello folks. After a hiatus, I’m back, and I hope you’re all enjoying the onset of the fall season. I’ve been hard at work on a number of projects, and hopefully I’ll have updates on some of them soon. For now, I wanted to announce that my new essay collection, Driving Fast in the Slow Lane, is available for Kindle on Amazon. It costs $4.99, and you can find it at the following link: https://www.amazon.com/Driving-Fast-Slow-Steven-Finkelstein-ebook/dp/B075LXGN5X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1505425184&sr=8-1&keywords=steven+finkelstein

I’m tremendously proud of this collection, which features dozens of essays written over a ten-year period, some of them deeply personal. I hope you’ll check it out, but if you’re one of those folks that prefers a print version, one should be available soon. More to come, true believers. Peace and love to all.

Publication News

Memoir Now Available In Print

August 2, 2017

Hello my friends, I hope you’re all enjoying your summer. I just wanted to mention that my memoir, “You Never Know Who’s Crazy,” is now available in print-on-demand format, for the price of $9.99. You can find it on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1548294640/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1501675657&sr=8-5&keywords=steven+finkelstein

It’s been fun for me to revise this manuscript that was written several years ago, and get it out there on the market. It provides some insight, I think, into where my mind was during the move to New York and my first year there…it’s a fun snapshot of who I was seven/eight years ago, and it also serves well as a cautionary tale for anyone who’s thinking about challenging the crucible of New York City with a shoestring budget. I hope you’ll all pick up this rare foray of mine into the realm of nonfiction. More soon, true believers.

Publication News

Memoir Now Available on Kindle

June 17, 2017

Hello all. I’m happy to announce that my memoir, You Never Know Who’s Crazy, is now available on Amazon, for Kindle, for the price of $4.99. Here is the link to it: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B072KWRM3D/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1497739117&sr=8-4&keywords=steven+finkelstein

This is a nonfiction account of parts of 2009 and 2010. It was written several years ago, but it’s newly revised, and is now for sale for the first time anywhere. It covers stories from both my personal and professional life, detailing the move from Myrtle Beach to Brooklyn, the death of my step-grandfather, David Gresky, my marriage to my wife, Megan, and many more incidents and anecdotes. Although I believe fiction to be more my forte than nonfiction, I’m thrilled for this manuscript to have finally joined my other novels and collections on Kindle. If reading on phone, tablet, desktop, etc., isn’t your flavor, never fear…a print-on-demand version should also be available soon. I’ll post news on the site when that happens. Check out the memoir, and I hope everyone is enjoying their summer. More soon…

Musings

Rough Draft of New Novel Finished

May 9, 2017

It has been some time since I resolved to stop posting as regularly here on the blog, as I have been busy with a plethora of endeavors. However, I wanted to take a moment to update my readers as to when new material from me can be expected. I just finished the rough draft of the novel Diminishing Returns, which is the sequel to Transitional Period, the first novel I ever wrote. It again features the protagonist Anthony Rizzo, who, when we last saw him, in the years 2000-2001, was trying to graduate from college, and was grappling with an overly-stimulated id, and a group of nihilistic friends. I envisioned Transitional Period as somewhat of a cautionary tale, and the sequel follows in that same vein. It is set in the years 2016-2017, deals with some of the issues of the day, and is again written in first person-present tense. In this novel, Anthony is approaching middle age, living on the streets of New York, and has spent time in prison for a crime committed toward the end of the first novel. Like the last one, this novel is not for the faint of heart. It has yet to be determined by what method this latest opus will be published. Self-publishing on Amazon again seems the most likely. Frankly, this novel is of such repellent content that I don’t even know how I would pitch it to any literary agents.

It has been difficult for me to get back into the mindset of this protagonist. He is a thoroughly contemptible person, and I felt that his life and situation, taken up again fifteen years following the conclusion of the first story, should reflect that. Ultimately, the reason I felt compelled to go back to this character is because I felt that he had another story in him. I feel quite strongly now this may turn out to be the middle chapter of a trilogy. Whether that proves to be the case or not, only time will tell.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank all of my readers who have discovered my work via print-on-demand from Amazon, and also through Kindle and other platforms. I was reluctant earlier in my career to self-publish, but I’ve been very pleased with the outcome after having overcome that particular phobia. To my fellow authors, I advise you, if you haven’t been having the success for which you are looking through “traditional” avenues, think about self-publishing with Create Space. Gone are the days when you have to go begging to literary agents and publishing companies. You can do it yourself now; if you strongly enough about your work, let the world see it. The gatekeepers don’t get to tell you “no” anymore. I will be back shortly with more information on the new novel, and when and where it will be available. Till next time, happy reading, my Fellowship of the Page!

Publication News

New Novel Now Available For Kindle

January 16, 2017

I’m pleased to announce that my new fantasy novel, Rogue: Time Out of Mind, the first of the Rogue series, is now available for Kindle on Amazon. It sells for $4.99. You can find it at the following link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MY8PXG8

I’m also in the process of formatting the novel for print publication, and it should be available in paperback form in the next few weeks. I’m very excited to be getting this project out there to you, the readers. Please tell your friends, and check out my latest effort on Kindle now!

Musings

Best Of The New York Pics Part 5

January 11, 2017

Here’s the last round of my favorite New York photos.

In 2009, not long after arriving in New York, I spotted this display in the window of a comic book store off of Union Square. Both the young woman and the zombie feeding on her were real live models. The zombie would stop snacking periodically to snarl at the crowd.

 

 

 

 

Spring of 2013 saw the global phenomenon of Wrestlemania come to New York, or technically New Jersey, since Metlife Stadium is in the Meadowlands, about a twenty minute bus ride from the city. Since I’m a big wrestling fan, it was a no-brainer I’d be in attendance. Wrestlemania is the biggest wrestling show of the year, bar none, and there was a huge, incredibly elaborate set over and around the ring.

 

 

This subway ad depicts a woman being upset with her small breast size in the first picture, and happy in the second picture when she gets an enlargement. Someone took exception to the message, and added a sticker emphasizing their views.

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of my all-time favorite pics, and the very definition of the word “irony.” This was an intensely gross-looking guy sitting passed out on a park bench in Madison Square Park, in the Flatiron District. If you can’t read it, his shirt says “Pussy Lover.”

 

 

 

That’s it, everybody. I hope you enjoyed this trip down memory lane. More soon.