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creativity

I Have a Need for Solitude

I’ve been in an odd mood lately.

Aside from the time spent with our family, which I love, I’m finding it hard to be positive or upbeat these days, which is just not like me.  I tend to let things roll right off my back, but am finding this funk hard to shake.

I notice it most when I’m alone, whether in the car, running errands, or just hanging out.  It hovers, enveloping, and at times grows so strong it makes my heart race.

Partly this feeling is caused by economics.  It’s hard to be enthusiastic about work — or anything else — when you’re getting paid a whole lot less than you’re used to and, indeed, far less than you are worth.  Especially when finances are tight, prices are skyrocketing, and you have that added pressure of trying to stretch your money to the next paycheck.

Part of this is impatience.  After 10 years spent writing my novel, I want it to be published and in people’s hand right now.  And yet with agents and publishers having 3-month turnarounds, there is nothing remotely expedient about this process.

Part of this is political.  When I voted for Obama, I voted for change — and leadership.  While I like some of what he has done, I was hoping for more.  I wanted to see him dismantle the big behemoths — education, healthcare, defense, environment — and start from scratch.  Put together blue ribbon panels and have the experts — not politicians or lobbyists — tell us how we can do things better.  We need to start again, from the ground up, and actually solve problems — no more patches. (more…)


30 Years of AIDS

As we note the 30-year mark in the ongoing battle against HIV/AIDS, it seemed an appropriate time to publish this short story.  I dedicate this to all of my friends, gone, but not forgotten, as well as those still fighting.

HOLES
A short story by Kergan Edwards-Stout

Jeffrey gazed up at the ceiling and, again, he began to count.  It didn’t matter that he’d counted them before, or that he knew the number of holes by heart — 3,016.  It also didn’t matter that he always counted the same square, never changing.  The number of holes was constant; as constant as his mother sitting numbly in her chair, stumbling through her crossword.  What mattered most to Jeffrey was that he knew it.  And since he knew it, it could never be taken away.

He sighed, though no one heard it, and thought of Kevin.  Blond, handsome, studly Kevin.  How had everything gone so wrong?  Jeffrey’s mind raced over the details of their relationship, sifting through the rubble for clues.  The beginning, middle, end.

No one thing stood out as wrong or imminent or foreboding.  When Jeffrey’s suspicions were confirmed and it did end, there were the expected rows, and tearful apologies, and scenes in restaurants.  But no one could have foreseen the agonizing pain that would come to Jeffrey.  He’d gotten through it, eventually, and now Jeffrey was alone.  Sadly alone.

He filled his time well, though.  Going through his Rolodex and renewing friendships.  Making dinner plans, and festive theatre outings, and endless gym workouts–anything to stay away from that apartment.  The reminders.  The memories. (more…)


Gratitude

Too often in life, we forget to give thanks.  While we may offer up a quick word to our party hosts on our way out the door, or send a prayer up to God, thanking the big guy for some request we’ve made that he actually delivered on, how often do we show gratitude for the simple act of existing?

Taught by her mother at an early age to write Thank You notes, Leah Dieterich does just that — for everything.  With humor and affection, she is able to give thanks for things both big and small, positive and negative, in the most unexpected and thought-provoking ways.  Whether it is in thanking the days of the week, or finding praise for a 1983 Shalamar record, Leah manages to see the good, even in the thick of bad.

On her blog thxthxthx, browse her notes and you’ll quickly discover how she reaches past herself,maintaining perspective by focusing on the bigger picture.  In a thank you note to Melancholy, for example, Leah points out that she is most productive during such states, and “always ends up making something.  You’re a better house-guest than sadness,” she notes, “because you leave gifts.”  Looking beyond her own emotions and insecurities, she allows herself to give thanks for such “negatives” as the breakup of a relationship, or her anger, or even for her period.

Quick and easy reads, the brevity of space forces her to distill her thoughts to their essence, and her take on life is well-worth sharing. 

And, to help you do just that,  200 of her notes havebeen released as a book, and having even more of Leah’s Thank You notes to read is something we can all be grateful for…

Brian Lane Green, singing John Bucchino’s “Grateful”: http://tinyurl.com/3pem6a6

 

 


Swedish. Meat. Balls.

When I picture the Nordic landscape, a place I’ve longed to visit, I envision long streaks of grays, blues, greens, and browns, interrupted with flurries of brilliant color, as in the many fishing villages which dot the coastline.  And in my mind, these magnificent splashes juxtapose perfectly against the coolness of the countryside.  The counterbalance of the two is what gives each its power.

Here in America, we seldom consider balance.  If something is good, our thought is to then accentuate it, and make it even “better.”  The mantra of America seems to be “show more, do more, bigger, higher, louder, faster.”  Our films, for example, are big, over-sensory experiences where there is no such thing as “too much.”  But focusing on the easily exploitable is not a very difficult bulls-eye to hit.  What takes real artistry — balls, even — is to present life in a fully-nuanced and realistic manner, in all its complexity, and doing so is much harder than it would appear.

When I was younger, I knew little of Sweden, aside from IKEA.  And while I appreciated all-things-lingonberry and the clean design aesthetic the big blue store presented, I was always disappointed to get the products home and discover that, as pretty as they had appeared, they rarely stood up in terms of quality.  Whereas the stores themselves had no problem serving up heaping piles of meatballs, their poorly-made products clearly lacked “the meat.” (more…)


Where to Get Great Soul Food

For me, I am all about the rich and nuanced experience. Whether it be food, wine, writing, or conversation, the richer it is, the better. Cookie-cutter, big box chains drive me crazy. I’d much rather discover some unique and offbeat place, where I can linger for hours, senses fully enveloped.

After a visit to Feeding Andrew, I find myself having experienced the best, and fully nourished. No, it’s not some cool new restaurant, although it could be one day, but — rather — it is the blog of my longtime friend Don Wilson.

Don unexpectedly became both an accidental and purposeful father, and his tale of parenting is inspirational, to say the least.  Fully worth the read, his posts revolve around his relationship with his son, Andrew, as they forge a new family and life together.  He has a great writing style, is smart and insightful, and — better yet — each post is accompanied by a wonderful recipe.  (Just look at those pop tarts!)

So whether you’re looking for true “soul” food, or merely good food, at Feeding Andrew, you’ll find both, and never walk away hungry.  Check it out and share with your friends today!