Amazing new discovery: My childhood!

Well, ok – I admit, that headline is a bit misleading. As someone who spent 25 years in radio and now writes for children, one could make a case that I never really left my childhood.

Matt lunchbox
The only lunchbox I ever owned. Alas, it’s missing the special “silo”-themed Thermos! Ahhh, memories of lukewarm milk and room-temperature Beefaroni. It’s a miracle I lived through all the potential food poisoning.

However, as I mentioned this past Friday, I recently came upon a huge stash of papers and memorabilia from my school days, while cleaning out my parents’ house. Their attic has been a treasure trove of nostalgia, where I have discovered old school tests and projects, several of my old journals, and even my elementary school lunchbox!

The journals – portions of which I’ll be sharing throughout the summer – were only part of the story.

The folks saved darned near everything

If the strength of a mother and father’s pride in their only child can be measured in the number of school papers and knick knacks they save, my parents are superhuman. Among the additional artifacts unearthed:

  • Poems by Emily Dickenson, Alfred, Lord Tennyson, and others that I was required to memorize in high school.
  • A printout of my senior-year computer class project:  a program I designed using BASIC (any geeks remember that??) to keep track of a basketball team’s stats. I actually went back to school the Monday AFTER I graduated to try to fix a bug in the program. I wasn’t going to get any extra credit for it, but it was one of those things that kept annoying me and I had to fix. Never did. >sigh<typewriter 1
  • The first typewriter I ever owned! Yes, we all have to start somewhere.
  • Copies of the high school newspaper, of which I was a staff member and editor-in-chief my senior year. (see below!)
  • A big, pink, construction-paper heart envelope filled with 2 or 3 years’ worth of elementary school Valentine’s Day cards. You know those cheap, dozen-for-a-dollar cards they sell every year? Mom kept them all.
IMG_1259
My mug shows up twice on these front pages…score extra points if you can find me! (click to enlarge)

I still have wonderful memories of working on the student newspaper:  spending days after school typing stories on the old word-processors; cutting and pasting the stories, artwork, and photos together; and being embarrassed during journalism class when our teacher, Mrs. Jencks, told everyone her two younger daughters liked visiting us after school because they thought I looked like Remington Steele.

Not sure why Pierce Brosnan gets to keep his hair these days and I don’t…but I suppose that’s just more proof that life really is not fair.

IMG_1260  IMG_1263

When I first joined the newspaper staff, I started out entering news stories on our clunky Apple II computers. (MS DOS, anyone?)  I also created word puzzles, which I absolutely loved to do. During my senior year, I was not only editor, but also provided some of the cartoons. The school faced serious overcrowding issues; hence, the cover art on the left! (click to enlarge)

When you suddenly realize none of the kids you knew…are kids

A very sobering aspect of these discoveries is that I look at names and faces and need to come to grips with the fact that none of these children knew what was in store for them.

The kids whose names fill that Valentine heart, in particular – barely older than my 6-year-old son – give me pause to reflect on life, death, and fate. April, who went on to marry her childhood sweetheart. Karen, who became our senior class Salutatorian when I became Valedictorian. Chris, who committed suicide before he had a chance to graduate. Eric, who, a mere 2 months after high school graduation, died in a terrible car crash that should never have happened.

I think about Chris and Eric, and I so desperately wish I could somehow go back in time and wrap my arms around them, these little 7-year-old boys, and protect them the same way I would protect my own little dude.

Hold them. Shield them.

Warn them.

But they grew up, as we all do, and made choices they should not have made…and there’s nothing anyone can do to change that.

typewriter 2So I’ll continue sifting through my memories, sharing them here, and hopefully creating new ones, as long as God or Fate allow me to do so. And as I watch my son tap excitedly on my old typewriter, making up stories in much the same way I did – albeit with a dry, 40-year-old ribbon – I pray that he, and all my children, and everyone’s children, may live to see their dreams come true.

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Poetry Friday: “At the End of Her Ninth”

We said goodbye to my cat, Cleo, last week. She was 17 1/2 years old – so it really felt like losing a big part of the family. She was like my daughter, my wife, my grandmother, and my angry next door neighbor all rolled into one.

At the End of her Ninth

Cleo - 17 years oldThe click of claws, wail
unmistakable,
proclivity for curiosity
unshakeable,
feline force of will
unbreakable…
mouths one last, silent
meow.

– © 2015, Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved

Please be sure to visit Tara Smith at A Teaching Life for today’s complete Poetry Friday roundup!

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Did you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it with your friends and followers!
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To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week – on Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)Cybils-Logo-2015-Web-Sm
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Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: “Goodbye”

Poetry_Friday logoI mentioned this past Tuesday I’ve been rather busy lately, but I couldn’t let Poetry Friday slip past without sharing something! This is my newest poem; I hope you like it.

Goodbye

The cupboards, bare.
The counters, clean.
The table…gone.
……….The floor
is worn from years
of paws and soles
that scuttled through the door.
.
Boxes, packed.
……….Papers, tossed.
No food, no clothes;
……………no spouse.
With one small word
the home I loved
…..goes back
……………to just
…………………….a house.

© 2015, Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved

My folks, who are both in their 80’s, are at a crossroads, trying to decide what to do with their home and property. Mom is in a nursing home, so dad needs to sell the home I grew up in so he’ll have the money to afford her care…but, as you might imagine, he’s having a difficult time making that decision. I wrote this last night, after visiting with each of them.

On a lighter note, Keri is hosting Poetry Friday today (in-between egg-gatherings and honeybee-swarms) at Keri Recommends – and shares a poem Irene Latham wrote about Keri’s “little” farm that is growing, growing, growing!

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SCVBWI_Member-badge (5 years)Did you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it with your friends and followers!
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To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week – on Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day) Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: “Candle at Midnight”

Candle at Midnight

ID-10020422 (candle)I light a candle at midnight.
Why?
Now, you can see
a radiant glow –
the smallest of blazes –
deep within
suffocating darkness.
Beyond the
shadows, beyond death,
what remains are
gifts of life:
extinguish the flame,
the scent lingers…
it becomes part of you
with one single breath.
Breathe.
Carry it with you,
your candle at midnight.
Carry it with you.
Breathe.
With one single breath,
it becomes part of you;
the scent lingers.
Extinguish the flame –
gifts of life –
what remains are
shadows. Beyond death,
beyond the
suffocating darkness,
deep within
the smallest of blazes…
a radiant glow.
Now you can see
why
I light a candle at midnight.

© 2014, Matt Forrest Esenwine

Buffy Silverman is hosting Poetry Friday…and also has candles on her mind! Visit her blog for all of today’s poetry links.

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Cybils-Logo-2014-Rnd2Did you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it with your friends and followers!

PoetsGarage-badgeTo keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week – on Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)  Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: “Revenge”

Poetry_Friday logoI don’t think I’ve ever used the word “spree” before in my life.

Why is this worth mentioning? Because “spree” was the Word of the Month over at poet/author David L. Harrison’s blog this past October.

I enjoy challenges, but have not been able to participate in the “WOM” for the past several months due to my hectic schedule. But since October marked the 5th anniversary of the “WOM” challenge, I really wanted to write something to share.

As it turned out, I didn’t get the poem completed until October 30 – which meant it only stayed posted for a couple of days before it disappeared to make room for the November Word of the Month, “brew!” So in order to keep the poem alive a little longer, I thought I’d share it here.

But be forewarned:  while most of the WOM poems are fun, children’s poems, this is…not. But I hope you like it! And for all of today’s Poetry Friday links – along with a perfect November poem by John Freeman – please visit Diane Mayr at Random Noodling!

Revenge

I hadn’t seen the hornet, hiding
under the lip
of our watering can. Unaware, I was,
of paper wasps waiting
for someone like me
to open that old, weathered shed door
behind the woodpile.
Shaken, stung, yet
resolute and undaunted, I
set about to exact
vengeance.

Armed with hubris
and two giant cans of propellant-poison,
my killing spree began
under eaves,
behind shutters, beneath deck
and stairs – my hands
like machines, I
spared no mercy
on every wood-pulp nest,
every mud-dauber domicile,
every honeycombed bell
brimming with yellow-striped clappers
ready to ring.
.
I must have slain hundreds –
laying waste to their homes and families
in liquid immolation
to save my own
from the threat of pain
and fear
and anaphylaxis.
Proud Conqueror of Nature, I
smiled in satisfaction
when, turning to the back door,
one lone, weary hornet –
in a feeble attempt to fly,
only half-alive
but with double the fury –
came out from that old woodpile
and in an instant
was barely more than an arm’s length
from my face.

With one last drop of death
remaining, I finished off
the final can, spraying furiously, franticly
determined
to not let this lowliest of creatures
have the better of me.
I no sooner heard the hollow sound
of air discharging from the muzzle
when I felt a bullet – hard and organic –
slam into my temple
with a ferocious heat.
Brushing the enemy away, I
watched a spent casing
fall to the lawn,
destined for compost.

I stepped forward
and faltering, fell to one knee, ignorant
of my circumstance
as my vision became blurred,
my muscles, weak;
breathing, labored.
Sinking to the grass, I
wished I could call out
to my wife,
my son,
someone, anyone,
but all I could do
was watch my world darken
while beside me,
the wing of one lone, weary hornet
twitched.

© 2014, Matt Forrest Esenwine

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Cybils-Logo-2014-Rnd2Did you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it with your friends and followers!
PoetsGarage-badgeTo keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week – on Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)  Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

On life, death, and all that stuff in-between

It’s interesting how some things come full-circle.

I attended the funeral for the father of my best friend in college this weekend. As I sat there in the very last church pew, I listened as the priest spoke about all the things this father, grandfather, husband, and friend would never do again: tend to his garden, prune his fruit trees, play with his grandchildren.

A sad occasion, obviously…so I surprised myself when this :15 TV commercial featuring The Most Interesting Man in the World popped into my head:

There really is no better time than now to start beefing up your obituary – and as this concept settled into my brain, I began thinking of all the things I’d like to accomplish before I pass.

Not a “bucket list” of what I want to do, necessarily, but what I want to accomplish. And to me, those are two different things.

How will I be remembered? Will I even be?

There are plenty of things I’d like to do: visit a foreign country, sing in a band, resume playing with my indoor soccer league. Things I’d like to accomplish are a bit more difficult, because they require more time and effort and are harder to define in concrete terms: be a good father and husband, make a positive difference to someone through my poetry, land a national animation voiceover gig my kids would be proud of.

These kinds of accomplishments are not the kinds of things you go out and just do, and check off your list. They require time, patience, and wisdom…and although I have plenty of the first two, that last one I have found to be the most elusive.

I try to be a good father and hubby – spending time with the kids, teaching them, supporting them, supporting and loving their mom. I keep working to make inroads to get my children’s writing published, not just because it’s my vocation and I’d like it to be a career, but because I genuinely feel that someone, somewhere might benefit from it. Perhaps that’s unrealistic, perhaps that’s egotistical…I don’t think it is, but it’s what I feel nonetheless.

Working hard and taking chances

My baby!As for that voiceover gig, I’ll keep plugging away with that, too. I’ve voiced enough commercials, corporate videos, and other random projects…so a national animated voiceover project – while still a longshot – is an attainable goal if I don’t give up.

And I don’t!

If I come across an audition for a project that is not right for me (deep movie-trailer voice guy is one of ’em!), I skip it. But if I see something that I’m not sure if I’m right for – but could be – I’ll probably go for it and see how it sounds. How else does one grow and develop their skills if one doesn’t take chances?

How does one “beef up the obituary” – or the resume, for that matter – without a little extra perspiration?

Whatever you do in life, you’re not going to get any better or go any further if you don’t push yourself. Even if there are a hundred other voice actors competing for the gig, what have you got to lose? Even if your manuscript has received 50 rejection slips from agents and editors, the next one you send to might be the one who loves it! Whether I succeed or fail depends entirely on whether or not I give up, and believe me…I’ve failed so much that success just has to be around the corner!

(At least, that’s what I tell myself.)

TMIMITW took a chance!

Well, actually it wasn’t The Most Interesting Man in the World who took a chance – it was Jonathan Goldsmith, the Jewish, Bronx-raised actor who portrays him.

As I mentioned early in this post, things have a way of coming full-circle sometimes, and this is one of them. As I searched for the commercial online, thinking about those 15 seconds of wisdom the Dos Equis’ copywriters had shared about beefing up one’s obituary, I stumbled upon a recent blog post about how Goldsmith was cast as the company’s Latino pitchman.

If you don’t think you have a chance of scoring a big sale, nailing a big gig, or even winning a lottery…think about the odds that Goldsmith faced as a new York City Jew auditioning against 499 Latinos!

That’s right – out of 500 actors, he was chosen. And if the casting director had picked anyone else, The Most Interesting Man in the World would not be the man we know today.

It pays to take chances. And you only have NOW to take them. Tomorrow might not get here.

Better get busy.

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Did you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it with your friends and followers!

PoetsGarage-badgeTo keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week – on Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)  Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!