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Chris Brewster

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  1. It’s been a minute … sorry about that. Life, you know? We’ve been dealing with some family stuff, work stuff. No different than anyone else, but unfortunately it manifests itself for me in neglecting my writing. Or at least my “unpaid” writing, since writing is what I’m doing full-time right now. Without anything much but lament to share personally, I wanted to share a piece of fiction I did for a writing contest. By way of background, this particular one is a flash fiction contest (1,000 words or less) and gives a genre, location and item that need to be incorporated into the story. This was romance, bonfire and eyeglasses. Random, yes, but at worst it makes for an interesting exercise. I’m pleased with how it came out, and the judges scored it pretty highly in my group. I’d love and appreciate any feedback. So, here you go … Dog’s Best Friend I saw her across the crowded yard full of humans, laying next to a bonfire while her person was shouting about some music she thought was really cool. I didn’t like her but I could tell right away that Guy – that’s what I can my human – really liked her. Like, REALLY liked her. That was a problem, because Guy had the worst taste in human women. I tried not to think about that because of her – the most beautiful long golden hair, the shiny beaded collar, her giant brown eyes … she was the prettiest thing I’d ever seen. And she was chewing on Loud Girl’s glasses, which had fallen to the ground without anyone but the two of us noticing. Slowly, I walked to where she was laying, busily slobbering all over those bright red glasses, and sniffed behind her. What a smell! And when she turned around, her brown eyes looked like two juicy treats in the reflection of the fire. But a second later, she was back at those glasses. How do I get her attention, I wondered, then I did the first thing that popped into my brain – I barked! Not a mean, “go away, mailman!” bark, but the soft one I use when I want to come inside but Guy’s not waiting right there for me. It worked, but not how I thought it would. She dropped the glasses, but Loud Girl looked down and saw how they’d been chewed on and yelled at my would-be love. “Skye! Bad girl!” she shouted, and the poor girl lowered her head with the saddest expression. Here’s my chance, I thought, as I laid beside her to console her. Guy made his move too, fumbling for a napkin to wipe the glasses off. His move was much better received than mine, as the woman smiled and took the napkin. My girl just kept her head down, looking broken. “She didn’t mean it,” I whispered as I leaned my head closer. “They just can’t tell when we’re making something better for them.” Finally, she lifted her head with a smile and touched her nose to mine. At the same time, Loud Girl had her head resting on Guy’s shoulder. So it was a happy bonfire for both of us. Guy made plans to return to the bonfire the next weekend but he got sick and we couldn’t go, so we planned to go the following Friday. I hoped that Skye hadn’t forgotten me. Two weeks can be a long time to remember someone you just met. On that Friday, I could tell Guy was excited because he put on that smelly cologne he only wore when trying to impress a human girl. I could smell it from the backyard while he was splashing it on in the bathroom. Yuck. “Now Chester,” he said as he put my best harness on me and attached the leash, “please try to be cool tonight. I really like this girl and I want her to like you too. OK?” I smiled – there’s no other way for them to understand us – and let him scratch my neck. What I wanted to say was, “I’ve got as much riding on this as you do, buddy. Don’t blow it for me.” The 10-minute drive seemed like hours but we finally arrived at the bonfire. During the drive, I learned the human girl’s name was Chloe, which is an OK name. I was rooting for Guy … his luck with human girls was really bad, and he deserved to find a good one who likes him as much as he likes them. As we walked to where the people were, Chloe was again talking loudly and waving her arms around, going on about something she just saw on the TV, which I found out is that weird window where human watch things and yell while other humans play games. When she saw us, she stopped for a second, smiled and waved, then went right back to talking again. I didn’t see Skye anywhere, which made me sad until I smelled the same smell from two weeks earlier and I knew she was close by. Sometime between the first time and then, she had a bath and it made her smell very sweet. She smiled when she saw me, walked over and touched our noses again, which made me very happy. I think Guy and Chloe were very happy too, because after that night she and Skye were around a lot. The humans talked about living together, and we got excited about that, but it didn’t last very long. Guy’s taste in human women was, again, not very good. But Chloe was nice enough to let Skye live with Guy and me when she left, and that makes her a good human in my eyes. She did take one of our puppies though, one of them lives on the farm where the bonfires happen, and one stayed home to live with us. When I think about how sad Guy was when Chloe left, it hurts my heart. But it didn’t last too long. We have a new human with us, and when they talking about something called a wedding they get very excited, so I think she’ll be here with us for a while. Skye gets sad about Chloe sometimes. It’s hard when your human goes away. But when she feels bad, she goes to our crate and pulls out something she hides under the blankets in the back – Chloe’s old glasses, which are covered with chew marks. Seeing those gives me a warm feeling, like when we first met. Chris Brewster writes from his home in Waverly, New York. You can see more of his writing here. Chris also recently released his first book, A Lab in The Lab, which you can find here. This column originally appeared on Chris's website in August 2022
  2. From as early as I can remember, I wanted to play center field for the Mets. Any time anyone asked the typical, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” - whether it was a teacher, or my grandma, or one of my friends - that was always the answer. And yeah, it’s more realistic than John C. Reilly’s doctor father wanting to be a dinosaur in “Step Brothers,” but not by much. I was blessed with enough athletic talent to be good at most sports but not enough to be great at any of them. And what I lacked in talent, I made up for in not being willing to work hard enough to see if it was an attainable goal. I still lack that drive from time to time, unfortunately, which brings me to why this particular question is on my mind today. The dream of being a professional athlete has long since passed, but we all still have things we’d love to spend our time doing if we could. Maybe you love to garden, or bake and decorate, or paint. And you’d like nothing more than to spend your time doing that thing you love and being paid for it. That’s where I’m currently at. I’d love to get paid to write, and I’m taking slow tentative steps in that direction, but I find myself solidly where I’ve spent most of my professional life - doing something I’m good at but not what I prefer or would most enjoy. I saw a great illustration yesterday that is for the moment motivating me to push ahead a little more. It was on a really cool site called socurious and accompanies an article called “How to find your purpose.” Not sure what the rules are about posting links without permission, so Google it … you won’t be sorry. For someone who lacks motivation as a regular state of being, anything that can get me thinking positively is a gift from the universe, and I plan to try and treat it as such. Hopefully, the end result is a better answer to “what do you want to be when you grow up?’ than the one I’ve been gjving. *** Shoutout to my talented and incredible wife, who took the same illustration as an opportunity to tell the social media world about her latest venture. I couldn’t be prouder of her for taking such a scary step. Chris Brewster writes from his home in Waverly, New York. You can see more of his writing here. Chris also recently released his first book, A Lab in The Lab, which you can find here.
  3. I love to write. I need to write. But when? First, thanks to everyone who read my first post. I thought it would be fun to throw some thoughts down and see if anyone paid attention, and while it’s not massive numbers - yet - it was more than I expected, so thank you. That leads directly to my latest frustration. I feel strongly that writing is what I’m meant to do when I grow up - I enjoy it, I have an aptitude for it, so why not do something you love and make a living at it, right? I guess it depends on how you define that exactly. When I spent 20 years in newspapers, I certainly made a living at it. I didn’t get rich, but it paid the bills and gave me some money to play with. In every non-newspaper job I’ve had, writing is a major component. The how comes in when considering what “making a living” looks like. I always envision this artistic version where I retreat to my study every day and the creativity flows through my fingers until I end up with a novel, then send it to my agent and publisher, and wait for the royalty checks to pour in. That’s so far from where I am that I can’t even see that world through the most powerful telescope. Does it mean I can’t, or won’t, get there? I don’t think so. It just means adjusting my expectations to what works in my current version of the real world. Opportunities to write, and write for money, are out there for the taking. So why aren’t I taking them? Like all of us, I can whip out a great list of reasons - work, family, a million other distractions real and imaginary … we’ll cover many of these as we journey ahead - but the actual why is that I haven’t made it a priority. We can all find so many other things that keep us from what we want to do, but if it’s important, if it’s a priority, we figure out how to make it happen. And that is one of the purposes behind this thing you’re reading right now. In theory, if I have time to do this a couple times a week, it’s not a long leap to finding daily time to write other stuff. So, subscribe, indulge me these exercises for my brain and forming better habits, and I’ll put you at the top of the list when I mail out my first book! Chris Brewster writes from his home in Waverly, New York. You can see more of his writing here. Chris also recently released his first book, A Lab in The Lab, which you can find here.
  4. And no, it's not about that song. I’ve been writing for decades, professionally and otherwise, but this is the first time I’ve decided to write about myself. That’s because - as every writer learns - you write what you know, and after all these years, I don’t think I know myself at all. I’ve tried a lot of things to introduce myself to myself, and I feel like I’m getting closer. That’s all we can do, right? Meditation is probably the best, but also the scariest because it almost forces you to be alone with your thoughts. That terrifies me because I honestly avoid my thoughts 90% of the time. Another trick that can’t work for everyone is meet, and somehow convince her to marry you, the most amazingly generous and caring human on the planet. Oh, and have her be not only a reiki master but a pet psychic. If you can’t share most of your truth with someone like that, just give up. So, we try. We try to open up and talk about the weird shit in our brains, and the screwed-up things we’ve done in our pasts, and be thankful our audience is a person who judges everything from a place of love and tolerance. That certainly makes it easier to share when there’s stuff you’ve hidden in the corners for decades. We’ll try this as well. Assuming an audience of (mostly) strangers won’t judge as harshly because they don’t know my family. It’s like therapy you not only don’t have to pay for, but will - hopefully - at some point pay you to share your weird shit. In the meantime, let’s have some fun. Let’s share some stories, indulge me in my brain dumps, laugh a little (I hope). Thanks. Chris Brewster writes from his home in Waverly, New York. You can see more of his writing here. Chris also recently released his first book, A Lab in The Lab, which you can find here.
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