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Fiction, Release, Writing

Release: Take Five: A Short Crime Story

December 7, 2016
Take Five Short Story

My short story is now available on Kindle!

 

Meet bank teller, Jonathan Perez. He’s a musician, a part-time grad student, and still trying to figure out life. When Rickmand City Bank is held up by robbers, Jonathan finds himself tied up with a time bomb counting down in front of him. When his coworker comes to his rescue, he’s faced with a life changing ultimatum.

Enjoy this short story about crime, love, a bank robbery, and time bombs by Alexander P. Garza.

Career, Personal Development, Theatre, Writing

Just Keep Writing

September 18, 2016
just keep writing

Sometimes, the world doesn’t seem to leave you alone, doesn’t seem to allow any time for you to pursue the things you want. Even though it happens from time to time, and although it can be emotionally and physically draining, your ability to bounce back is what counts.

So, when it feels like you’ve fallen, and the weight of the world is on your shoulders, and those around you aren’t giving you what you need, then gently ask that world to shove off for a while, lift yourself up, dust yourself off, and just keep going. Just keep writing. Get out the negative aspects, and focus on the positive. Try to squeeze in a full night of sleep every now and again too.

Getting Punched in the Head

About a week and a half ago, I got punched in the head. About three times. In the side of my head. It hurt like a bitch. I got caught in the middle of a student fight at my teaching job at the high school. It happened at the beginning of class.

Apparently, some of the students caught in on video with their cell phones, but I refuse to watch it. I don’t want to relive it, and I’d be spared from seeing how awkward and helpless I probably looked. I couldn’t fight back, can’t punch, grab, or push, because I want to keep my job. The two students were girls, and it seems when I say that, people automatically assume they were tiny little adolescents swinging feathery slaps. But no. One of them was six feet tall, and both of them were full grown and eager to get in anyone’s face.

I was sent to the clinic, then to an urgent care, just as a precaution. Headaches and an uneasiness sent me back to the urgent care again, where they prescribed me pain meds. Those pain meds made me ill, and I nearly passed out at work on Friday. I went and had a CT Scan just as an extra precaution, waiting for the results now. On the way home, I pulled over and threw up. I know. Disgusting. The side effects didn’t wear off until later that night. An entire week and a half was sabotaged by this incident. Did I mention the car I was using broke down on the way to work in the middle of this past week? My father in-law and I spent an entire day (a work day) replacing parts on cars, getting tow trucks, and getting said cars to the repair shop.

Finally, this past Friday night I had to forgo seeing my cousin who was here for the weekend from Mexico.

Quit Your Bitching

It’s so easy to bitch, whine, and moan. Anyone can do it. Toddlers do it well. Some teenagers too. You and I, however, don’t have to wallow in self-pity. It’s harder to focus on the good. And I had a lot of good things happen recently. I wrote a monologue that got accepted to be performed in the 26th Annual 10×10 Scriptwriters Houston Showcase.

I have been so excited since receiving that acceptance email. For weeks, I have been talking about it, and I invited a bunch of close friends and family to the performance.

But my plans to attend this past Friday were cancelled due to being ill. My cousin came into town, my brother was going to go, possibly others. I even told the Artistic Director Nicholas Garelick that I’d be there that night. But nope. Just wasn’t possible. I will however be going this coming weekend. I’m grateful that there is another weekend of performances. It is going to be bad ass! The monologue will be performed by Robert Jacobs.

The monologue comes from early drafts of my novel, and I’m excited that this piece was able to be transferred to the stage. I am looking forward to writing more stage pieces in the future. For right now, I’ve turned my focus to the first part of my novel and a book of poetry which will follow. Yes, that’s something else that’s freakin’ awesome. I’m so close to publishing my first book.

Staying Focused

This is definitely one of the hardest things for me to do. I’ve gotten side tracked on a million things since starting this blog post. Last night, it took me three hours to pay bills. Not because of how many bills we have, mind you, but because I took a break to paint with my son, I sent direct deposit information to my employer, and other little things. With a whirlwind of events like getting punched in the head, having vehicles breakdown, getting sick on pain meds, all with a pregnant wife and a toddler at home, it can get tough to keep writing.

I have to forgive myself, and try to squeeze in even a minute of writing whether its in my journal, on my phone, or on the computer. I’ve got to be like Dory. I am focused on the positive. I am focused on my family. I am focused on my writing. I am wondering what time the book store opens. I am wondering if Noah could sit through a movie at the theater. I am thinking I should check Facebook. I am- NO! Reign it in, Alex. Reign it in.

Hope to see you at Pearl Theater this weekend!

Map:

14803 Park Almeda Dr.
Houston, TX 77047

Business, Career, Uncategorized, Writing

Procrastination and Time Management

June 4, 2014

“The art of Time Management.” *Gong Bang* Sounds like some lost form of martial arts only know to the ghosts of some outcast ninja from Feudal Japan. Got time to read this post? Sure you don’t! So, why are you here? Today’s adults and parents have no time for anything. NO TIME. Let’s list out some of the possible things you may be involved in. Full time job, school (undergrad, graduate, or doctorate), parenting, keeping your marriage alive, trying to write that book you’ve always talked about writing, trying to find a new job, trying to learn new skills, trying to take up new hobbies, trying to keep up with old hobbies, trying to maintain relationships with your extended family, trying to maintain relationships with your in-laws, building and nurturing your network of friends and professional relationships, keeping up with your reading list, keeping up with your movie watching list, keeping up with your professional development, chores, chores, and bills, and finances. Everything else. I’ve been trying to find the time to re-string my guitar for over a year now. Poor guitar.

How do you get things done?

Prioritize. Plan. Procrastinate.

Prioritize

Prioritization will get you ahead. You are not going to be able to do everything at once. So, you’re going to have to pick a few key things to focus on. For some of us, that means forgoing as much sleep or exercise as we used to get. Now, I’m not saying you should forgo exercise. Especially if you know you need it. You should prioritize your needs first. For example, as much as I would like to think that I don’t need sleep- and often times I go with less than seven hours, my body has begun forcing me to stay asleep for eight hours. I’ll unwillingly sleep through all my alarms until I get it. There are some days I can wake up after only 4 hours, and oh, how I wish I could go on only 4 hours of sleep. But this is a need that I need to work into my schedule.

Do your chores. For God’s sake, take out the garbage, and wash some clothes. Clean out that darn cat litter box, and give the dog a bath. Give yourself one while you’re at it. These are priorities. Get them out of the way. No need to procrastinate on these items.

Plan

Use an agenda book, a calendar notebook, or an electronic calendar to set reminders and important dates. I prefer to use Google Calendar. This is easier said than done. There are so many things that I’d like to put into my calendar.

I wish it would look like this: 4am get up, 4:10 Make Coffee,  4:15 Read, 5:00am Write, 7am Shower get ready for Work, 7:30am Kiss the Wife and Kid and leave for work, 7:30-9am sit in traffic, 9-5 Work, 5-630 sit in more traffic, 630-800 change, visit with family, eat dinner. 8-9, do homework or read, 9pm go to bed.

Instead it looks more like this: Stumble out of bed at 745am and yell “Shit.” Toss myself in the shower and out the door by 815am. Explain to boss that sitting in hour and a half of traffic made you late at like 915am. Work from 9-5pm. Sit in traffic til 6:30pm, then told that you need to meet your wife at so and so’s house for dinner, then told you need to pick up groceries, and finally get home by 915pm. Then by the time you’ve cleaned up, gotten the kid(s) ready for bed, and gotten yourself ready for bed, it’s 10 or 1015pm. Then lay in bed reading for 20-30 minutes until you kind of fall asleep. Then woken up at 11pm, 1 or 2 am by a hungry crying yet precious baby, and then woken again by your alarm at 4am. Snoozing it while still half asleep.

SO! To reiterate. Put IMPORTANT DATES ONLY in your calendar. These include deadlines, holidays, birthdays, events you have to attend, and things of that nature. Leave out the small tasks like brushing your teeth.

Procrastinate

This is a great strategy to use SOMETIMES. You have to be careful with this one, because it can cause problems when used for the wrong situation. For example, you probably wouldn’t want to put off building that rocket ship for NASA, if that’s the sort of thing you’re into. You probably don’t want to wait nine months to tell that guy you’re pregnant with his baby. You would, however, might want to procrastinate on a college paper until a couple of weeks before it’s due. You will feel highly motivated to complete it if there is a deadline looming. Also, if you’re the type of person who does well under pressure, then this might be a great way to get you results.

When working in theatre and music, there was always a pressure from the deadline. If you weren’t fully prepared by showtime, you were screwed. In the countless productions I have been a part of, there was never one that was cancelled because we weren’t ready. Somehow, it always came together in the end.

Matt Stone and Trey Parker talked about the use of deadlines when writing when they visited NYU on the television show mtvU.

Inevitably

You’re going to have to be flexible with your schedule and with life. Because you never know what life will throw at you, a wreck blocking all lanes of traffic, a hurricane, a job change, a loss of a job, a baby, a change in plans. No matter what it is- be ready to accept the change, and move forward. If you don’t get to get up and jog or write or whatever, then try again the next day. Keep trying, keep adjusting. And live life.

Be sure to subscribe to my blog for FREE solutions on everything.  😛

Peace out.

Alexander

Business, Writing

Selling Your Soul With a Smile: Ethics at Work

June 2, 2014

Here’s the thing. When you’re faced with a situation at work or anywhere, when your values are compromised due to poor leadership or poor leadership ethics, what do you do?

Now, I’m sure your thinking, ‘If my boss or CEO makes me do some illegal stuff, I’m gonna tell him “Hell, no! You can take this job and shove it up your (expletive)”.’ However, what if you quit your job, but you have debt collectors swarming your ass with swat teams, because you can’t cough up one or two thousand bucks per month in credit card, student loan, medical, and other bills? What if the only thing keeping you and your family afloat is the very thing you demonize?

Stand up to the “Man”

Stand up to the “Man”, they say. Oh, the platitudes that once motivated you to take on the world in teenage and college years no longer bear any influence when one “Man” enslaves you with debt and another “Man” pays you for services that disrupt your personal values. Simply put. If you stand up to your boss/CEO, then you WILL get fired. This is especially true for low to mid-level managers that don’t have a strong relationship built with your superiors. I have known some people to stand up to their boss or CEO, and get away with it, some are even respected for it! But these people usually have decades of some kind of working relationship with their superior, and in some cases are family.

But they say “CEOs and bosses want you to give your opinion”. Maybe some of them do. But many also only want to give the illusion that they “listen” to their employees. At the end of the day, they will do what they want. Many also only want your opinion if it aligns with theirs. You can tell this is the case when they start their sentences and questions with  “Don’t you think that…” or “I think that (fill in the blank), and that this needs to go much faster, and (insert mid level manager name) needs to be responsible for (list tasks or goals here)……. What do YOU think?”

Your response: “Well, that sounds very logical. I will contact (mid-level manager) and get that going right away.”

Your internal response: “It doesn’t matter what I think, because you just told me what you want me to do, instead of stating the goal, and allowing me time to come up with solutions.”

Shoot the Messenger

So, let’s say your boss or CEO does give you the opportunity to provide solutions. So you do. The only problem is that the solution is one that he doesn’t want to hear. He doesn’t want to hear that what is really lacking is the establishment of proper processes and procedures that will provide optimal goods and services, he wants to hear the shortcuts and methods to gaining the most money as fast as possible.

But you say, “this will yield better results in the long run” and he says “there won’t be a long run if we do that”. Or he cusses up a storm, slams his fist on the table, and tells you that you don’t know what you’re talking about.

Well, if all you’re focused on is short term profit, maybe you shouldn’t have opened a business in the first place, dude. Go back and take some basic business or economics classes. (Wish you could tell him that, don’t you?).

Get a New Job

They say. Like you can just walk down the street and have your pick. Let me reiterate that unless your making more than $60,000 a year, you’re not going to be able to pay all your bills (if you have credit cards, student loans, and outstanding medical bills). There’s just no way. If you have a mortgage and car payments too, forget about it. So, sure- keep looking. It doesn’t hurt to apply. And you need to be staying active in your networking. Let your friends and family know that you’re looking. Reach out to acquaintances who might be able to help. Reach to those who might not be able to help- hey, you never know.

The job market sucks. Most of us get it. It always sucks. The days of applying for two or three jobs and landing one are looooooooong gone. Try more like 300 applications, 4-5 interviews, and zero offers. Yes, my friends, that is the reality of the job market, especially if you come from a liberal arts background.

Go Back to School

Three points here. One. Go back to school as quickly as humanly possible. Stay there forever if you can. Two. Get scholarships, get a company to pay for it, or go to a cheap public university and take out loans. Three. Study something that will actually yield job offers. Look up careers at the Bureau of Labor Statistics website. Sorry to tell you that getting your MFA in anything is not likely to get you out of debt, but if it’s not gonna cost you that much, knock yourself out. I myself still plan on one day going back to get an MFA, but I most definitely don’t expect to get any exciting job offers from it! Go into an MFA for self-enrichment, not to “get a better job”.

Surviving the Day-to-Day

So, finally- what you’ve been waiting for. Surviving the daily grind. Your going to have to suck it up, right? Your going to have to set aside your dignity and values so that you can keep your shitty job just until something else turns up. Well, friends, there is no magic answer for this. The only things you have to remember is to be careful when you get a job offer, because the grass is always greener on the other side. Don’t let your current situation change you. You are still you! You still have wants, dreams, desires, and you still have hobbies, passions, and skills. Disrupt your routine. Take on new challenges at home and at work. Learn new skills and take on new hobbies. Learn to be present when you spend time with family and friends. Because at the end of the day, this is what its all about. This is why you drag yourself to work everyday. So you can love and be loved. Do your best to always disrupt your personal status quo.

Peace out.

Alexander