I’m A Survivor #JusJoJan

Linda got today’s word, surviving, from Wendy. Thank you, Wendy!

After I had my stroke, a friend of mine, who had had a serious accident on his bicycle and spent months in rehab, told me "John, don’t forget, you aren’t a victim, you’re a survivor." That might have been the best piece of advice I got.

Times are tough enough as it is. My right side is still weak, my knees are arthritic, I have a persistent issue with lymphedema in my right leg, and I spend practically all my time at home. It’d be real easy for me to develop an "oh, woe is me" attitude, but I’ve avoided that. I take the attitude that "any day spent above ground is a good one" (which my friend told me was the way he got through his accident) and do what I can do. I’m surviving the best I can.

#bloganuary: Interview With Blake Stephenson

Blake Stephenson.

The young man you see here is Blake Stephenson. He is the star of a story I’ve been writing for years, and might one day actually finish, Redheaded Stepchild. Blake is a freshman in high school, originally at St. Ignatius College Prep in Chicago. However, his single mother is killed by a hit-and-run driver a week before the start of Christmas vacation, and he has to move to Atlanta to live with his Aunt Betty and Uncle Don (he calls them that, even though they’re no real relation), their two daughters, Rachel, who’s the exact same age (14) as Blake (he’s twenty minutes older) and Chloe, who’s 11 (and hasn’t warmed up to him yet), and their cranky white Persian cat, Snowball (who came with the house and no one has the courage to tell her to leave). Today’s Bloganuary prompt, from corporate headquarters in Lodi, New Jersey, is "Interview a fictional character," and Blake will be my subject.

How is everything going, Blake?

You sure you want to know? Okay…

It’s real different here. I mean, it was just Mom and I, and now I’m living with a whole family, including Aunt Betty, who wants to act like my mother. Even Mom didn’t act like my mother. Mom was real hands-off; Aunt Betty is real hands-on, and she’s driving me nuts. Then you have Rachel, who I’m older than, but she looks 16 and I look 12. She’s always hanging around with her cheerleader friends…

That’s like a dream come true, isn’t it?

(shakes his head) Yeah, they’re cute, but they’re actually pretty obnoxious, and they NEVER. SHUT. UP. Uncle Don is pretty cool, mostly because he doesn’t feel outnumbered by women and girls anymore. He’s actually kind of funny, because he can get away with saying the things I want to. I sorta-kinda get along with Chloe, who hates me…

Aren’t you exaggerating things just a little bit?

John, she actually said "I hate you."

Oh.

Yeah, "oh." At least she doesn’t try to make me over, like Aunt Betty and Rachel. They want me to get contact lenses and braces, and I don’t need braces and I don’t want either…

Oh, and there’s Snowball. My first night here, I woke up and she’s lying on top of me. Uncle Don says that’s because I’m sleeping in "her" bed. She scratched me up pretty bad when I tried to move her. And Chloe, who’s the only person that actually gets along with her, gives me the stink-eye whenever she sees the cat in with me. Like I tell her to get in bed with me…

Have you started school yet?

Yeah. It’s really different than St. Ignatius. They don’t offer Russian, which I was taking, so I have to take French….

Don’t they offer Spanish?

Yeah, and Rachel’s taking it. She’d be in my class if I took it. So I’m taking French. Then, there was this whole mess with Math. Since I took Algebra in eighth grade, St. Ignatius had me taking Algebra II. I get here, and they want me to take Geometry, which I’ve already missed half a year of. We finally got that all hammered out, but I get weird looks from the juniors in Algebra II, mostly because I’m doing better than them.

Are you making any friends?

Sort of. Not that it’s that big a deal.

Well, give it time.

Yeah, okay. I just want to draw, play the guitar, and be left alone, and it’s not like that’s going to happen. I feel like I’m in a fishbowl. I try to practice guitar and I’ve always got an audience, even when I don’t want one. I’ve had to lock up my sketchpads because I keep catching Rchel or Aunt Betty going through them, and I’ve got pictures I’d rather they not see in there…

Oh, all right. Well, thanks for talking with me.

Yeah, OK. (his phone rings, and he looks at it) Ah crap, not her again. They got me a cellphone when I moved here, which I didn’t want, and Rachel gave the number to all her friends, so it’s always ringing, and if I don’t answer, they call Rachel, and she comes down and bitches me out for not answering…

Song Lyric Sunday: Ringo Starr, “Never Without You”

I’ve known for three weeks which song I was going to use for today’s theme, which Jim tells us is "Tribute songs written in memory of someone."

"Never Without You" is Ringo Starr’s tribute to his buddy, George Harrison. It appeared on Ringo’s 2003 album Ringo Rama and was also released as a single. Ringo wrote it with Mark Hudson and Gary Nicholson and Eric Clapton contributes some very "George-like" guitar.

The lyrics, from AZLyrics:

We were young, it was fun
And we couldn’t lose
Times were right, overnight
We were headline news

Crazy days and reckless nights
Limousines and bright spotlights
We were brothers through it all

And your song will play on without you
And this world won’t forget about you
Every part of you was in your song
Now we will carry on
Never without you (without you without you)
Within you without you (within you without you)
“Here Comes the Sun” is about you

Here today, not alone
With my memories
Life is strange how things change
It’s reality

You played a beautiful melody
That keeps on haunting me
I can always feel you by my side

And your song will play on without you
And this world won’t forget about you
Every part of you was in your song
Now we will carry on
Never without you (without you without you)
Within you without you (within you without you)
“Here Comes the Sun” is about you

I know “All Things Must Pass”
And only love will last
I’ll always love the memory
Of you and me
(Take it away, Eric)

And your song will play on without you
And this world won’t forget about you
Every part of you was in your song
Now we will carry on
Never without you (never without you)
Within you without you (within you without you)
We’re never without you (never without you)
Within you without you (within you without you)

We’re never without you (never without you)

We’re never without you (never without you)
Within you without you (within you without you)
“I Dig Love” is about you

And that’s Song Lyric Sunday (and Song of the Day) for January 23, 2022.

BATTLE OF THE BANDS: “Take Me In Your Arms (Rock Me A Little While)” Results

My last battle pitted songwriter and singer Eddie Holland against The Doobie Brothers on the above song (I’m not typing it out again). It was a close battle; here are the results:

Eddie Holland

  • Willow
  • Beth
  • Ed
  • Birgit

Doobie Brothers

  • Maggie
  • Eugenia
  • Arlee
  • Mary B
  • Cathy

Congratulations to The Doobie Brothers for winning an to Eddie Holland for keeping it close.

Our next battle will be on February 1. See you then!