Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

Many of you know that I hold a Bachelor of Arts in English/Creative Writing. And that I do nothing with it… as I work in Higher Education.

Well that is about to change… In a couple of weeks, I am headed back to graduate school.

I am enrolled in a course to put together a writing sample for a graduate level program in English. The goal is to go for a PHd in English, and take these college student development skills and combine them with a passion for writing. While I have largely neglected that passion in my life, I have a really strong desire to get back in touch with it.

Those that cannot do, teach… right? If only I could find a way to work in fly-fishing to all of this as well… hmmm.

In the meantime, I have to fill out a pre-course survey about what kind of writer I am. Contemplating my “quirks or idiosyncrasies as a writer” is one of the most exciting things I have done all summer. And yes, that does include a trip to India.

I guess that makes me a bit odd…

But then again, most of you already knew that.

See you on the banks as I “fight” writers block,

E

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One of the unfortunate facts of living on the great plains is that we live in Tornado Alley… where the largest number of tornados form in the world. If you have been following the news, I am sure you have heard of the tornados in Oklahoma City this year…

Growing up and living in the Great Plains, you grow used to tornados being a part of your life. In the spring and early summer, you learn to remain vigilant to the weather.

A few times a year, there are tornado outbreaks in my area; which produces tense moments…

This poem is about those tense moments.

As Distant Thunder Rolls

We sit and wait in silence
As distant thunder rolls.
The weatherman on our TV
Interrupts the show.
He points to red spots on his map
Not very far away.
No one says a single thing;
We hang on every word.

We sit and wait in silence
As he talks of tornados.
The rain outside begins to fall
And patters on the ground.
Humid air blows in the house
From a restless night.
The neighbor’s wind chime sings outside;
Rings out a haunting hymn.

We sit and wait in silence
And think of our close calls.
The time with mom on Highway 10
We raced a twister home;
The night a cyclone jumped my town;
Cleaning branches from the street;
Or how in Moore the EF-5
Just missed my sister’s home.

We sit and wait in silence
Like so many nights;
The thunder rolls and hail falls down;
Wind howls in the night.
The warnings and the weather
Do their best to scare.
Not with bang but with a whimper
Storms fade into the night.

We sit and wait in silence;
Lighting flickers bright outside.
“Tornado warning ‘til 10 o’clock
Get underground right now!”
The weatherman points to a town
Below us on the map.
The thunder heard not far away
Threatens all their lives.

We sit and wait and wonder
Will we be next this time?
Run down the stairs in shaking fear
To cower for our lives.
Splitting wood and cracking glass
As home falls in on us.
Pray and scream with all our might
Storm spares us all inside.

We sit and wait in silence
As distant thunder rolls…

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Memorial Day Weekend. One of the best times to get out on the water. For many, it is the start of their fishing season.

How did mine start? See the photo above…

A true Flies Over trophy… Read the blog’s very first post to see why.

Not a lot of time to write today; but I have been working on professionalizing the blog a bit in my spear time. (Hah!) One of my goals in life is to become a published writer; and I started this blog to get back into the writing/creative state of mind. As such, I have been working on updating my “About” page. It has been redone to better reflect the mission of the blog; and give all of you, my loyal readers, a connection to the man behind the scenes.

That, and I have come to grips with people identifying me from the blog. At first I didn’t use my name on the blog at all, and over time I have become comfortable with it…

Plus, if I have do become published, it is something I will have to get used to. I even wrote the “About Me” as I would imagine it would appear on the dust jacket of a book someday.

Late edit: I started professionalizing the blog after reading a couple of posts on a “The Artist’s Road”; a blog written by Patrick Ross. The author of that blog referred me to this post: http://artistsroad.wordpress.com/2013/04/23/own-your-identity-as-an-artist/

I have the feeling I will be spending a lot of time hanging around his blog in the future (Consider the identity “owned” Patrick!). I believe in giving credit where credit is due, so the links were added late…

Below is the text from the updated “About Me” page. Hope you enjoy reading about me as much as my narcissistic self likes to write about my favorite subject… me.

See you dodging the thunderstorms on the water this long weekend.

E

Eric Einspahr is a fly fisherman, writer, poet, and higher education professional from Lincoln, Nebraska.

A lifelong outdoor enthusiast, Eric discovered fly fishing in the summer of 2010. This experience was transformational for him as he found himself more deeply emerged in the sport. Fly fish is an activity that is deeply sentimental for the angler; and this is no exception for him.

Fly fishing is not a common activity in Nebraska; nor is Nebraska a blue ribbon destination for fly fishing enthusiasts. Fly fishing for warm water fish, and in Nebraska, is counter to the larger angling culture; true to the “punk rock” roots that Eric developed as a teenager.

Flies Over Nebraska is written not as a “how to fly fish” blog, but a blog about how the world looks through a fly fisherman’s life; to connect the lessons Eric has learned from fly fishing to larger universal themes in life. Fly fishing is not about the fish. It is about the pursuit of the elusive, but attainable; whatever that might be. Eric hopes that readers of this blog will be able to share in the magic of fly fishing even if they don’t have the ability and/or interest to fly fish/fish themselves. And that his readers find their own “fly fishing” and share it with the world.

He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English with a concentration in Creative Writing, and a minor in History; and will receive a Masters of Education in Higher Education Administration with a specialization in Student Affairs in August of 2013, both from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln.

Eric currently works as an Academic Adviser for the College of Business Administration at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln; with professional interests in holistic advising, transfer students and related issues, and freshmen experiences.

A lifelong Nebraska Cornhuskers fan; when not on campus for athletic events or work, you can find him at his writing desk or chasing fish with a fly across the waters of Nebraska.

He lives with his wife, two year old daughter Little E, and their pet bluegill Spot.

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Sometimes fly fishing can be a profoundly existential experience… whether the fish are biting or not.

Yesterday, the fish were not biting.

As I roamed the banks of East Twin Lake, I noticed a sign… this same sign can be found at lakes across North American. There was nothing special about the sign itself. Sadly this sign is often ignored…

As I passed this sign, I got to thinking about it’s message… what do we leave behind?

At first, my thoughts were drawn to the surface message itself… “No trash pick up”. Walking down the beach, this was painfully obvious. In fact, it almost hurts to see the years of beer bottles and cans, fast food containers, empty worm bowls, among many other things, that litter the beach itself. The sign began to read less as a statement and a call to action; and more like an eerie prophecy.

How careless some people can be.

But as I wandered further down the beach, the amount of trash decreased; even though the paths were still well beaten into the ground. As I slowly reached where I wanted to fish, I was struck by my first epiphany of the day… yes there are a few bad apples in the crowd. But I shouldn’t let this ruin the experience for me. I believe that we as humanity our inherently good; even if a few people can occasionally cast the rest in a bad light. The type of people who are lazy enough to carelessly cast their waste upon the ground are also to lazy to move very far from the comfort of their cars in the parking lot. The worst litter by far was within a very short walk of the parking lot, and within a couple short minutes I had out walked it…

And in this realization was a tinge of sorrow. There is great reward for venturing further into nature… and it is clear that this type of person will never know the nirvana it brings.

As I walked further down the beach, different words from the sign cried out into my head… “Please leave nothing but your tracks. Will you help?”

Leave nothing but your tracks…

Leave nothing but your tracks…

“Of course,” I thought to myself. I consider myself in high regard when it comes to outdoor ethics. I never leave trash behind, always release my fish, and do everything I can to leave nothing but my tracks. I even take the small snips of tippet material from tying flies onto my line and shove them into my pocket. Of course I only leave my tracks…

Then, as I waded into the icy water and began what would be come a fruitless task of casting, I reached my second epiphany…

I worked my way around brush piles hoping to hook up with a largemouth, white bass, or crappie; and as I did so, I found another reminder of what we leave behind hanging from a branch and dancing in the wind. A single spinner bait…

I don’t mind wading into the water while fly fishing; in fact it is often necessary to provide enough space to backcast and avoid hanging up in trees. But this is not something that all anglers like to do. And every angler will let loose that one poorly timed cast that drifts from control… and hangs up on a snag.

I believe most anglers will do everything they can to remove their tackle from a snag. But sometimes it is not practical, or even safe to retrieve the tackle. And we leave something behind… like this spinner bait swaying in the wind.

I waded over to the brush pile and cut the spinner bait free from it’s tangle. Even though I rarely fish with a spinning rod, I am building quite an impressive tackle box for my spinning rod on gear that I have rescued from the water. On this same day, I also recovered a Rapala crack bait, and a foam grasshopper fly. All good signs that I am fishing a spot where others at least think they will find fish as well. And each reminds me of all the flies that I have lost to snags and fish.

I consider losing fishing tackle a forgivable sin. Like I said, I believe that most anglers do everything that can to avoid losing tackle… replacement costs can add up fast. But it is a part of fishing. I would rather find a 1000 spinnerbaits and Rapalas in the lake then a single piece of trash on the beach.

Losing a fly does not bother me; even if I spent a lot of time on the tying vise creating it. It is just a part of the experience. I am only bothered losing a fly when one breaks off in a fish. A fish with a fly is stuck in its mouth is at a higher risk for mortality; and one that I always feel I could prevent if I was a better fisherman: if I had tied a better knot, if I had set the hook sooner, if I had done more to turn the fish from the snag…

This feeling does much to drive me to become a better fisherman…

After a few hours of casting and no bites, I decided to pack it in. I hiked back around the lake… over my footprints, and footprints of anglers who had came hours before me; past the brush that I had rescued tackle from; past the trash on the beach; past the entire world of nature…

As I reached my car, I stopped and took one final gaze back toward the lake…

Again, I thought of the sign I passed on my way to the water; and its words screamed out in the silence…

“Leave nothing but your tracks.

Leave nothing but your tracks.

Leave nothing but your tracks.

Will you help?”

As I looked down the gravel to the boat ramp, I had my final epiphany…

I did not think about the trash that I passed but did not pick up; the flies I had lost in this lake in trips past and could not recover; the footsteps on the beach that I had left; or about the fishing tackle I had saved that day.

I thought about myself. My soul. And why I come to the lake in the first place.

And with apologizes to the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, the order is too tall to fill. I always leave something behind at the lake…

With every cast, every fish caught or escaped with my fly, with every moment caught breathless looking out of the water, I leave something behind…

Sometimes it falls out of me effortlessly. And sometimes I have to fling it away with every cast… as if I am somehow trying to flick a piece of myself off the end of the line; off of the fly; and into the depths of the water.

Physically, I try my best to leave only my tracks.

But I always leave something behind…

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That’s right folks… you read that correctly. It snowed on May 1st in Lincoln.

Gotta love that Nebraska weather… 80 degrees one day, snow the next.

So what’s a fly fisherman/writer to do on a night like tonight? Well…

Last night I already reloaded the fly boxes on the tying vise. So I guess I will crank the punk rock and work on some writing projects. Here’s to a night of Jawbreaker albums (“You’re not punk / and I’m telling everyone!” / Save your breath / I never was one!)…

Saving Your Generation…

E

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I want to take a moment to thank everyone who read my post the day before yesterday. Now that I have had some time to further think about the topic, I have some final thoughts, and a big thank you…

When I first received those comments, I really did laugh myself off the chair; then as the words sank in the thoughts of my post really started to get to me… Like I said, it was not that I was offended, but I know that there are plenty of others that would not be. I have seen first hand how painful thoughtless comments can be.

One problem that I think our society has today is a lack of shame… Things like respect for our fellow-man or responsiblity for our actions don’t seem to matter to some people anymore. Not all people, of course. But I think there is a certain segment of our population that is so caught up in the “fast-forward” nature of modern society, that it seems to have taken an almost video game like feel to it. That others around us in the world are no more real than the images on our TV and computer screens; so it doesn’t matter what we say about them. Modern celebrities are an excellent example of this; look at all the trivial and sometimes down right hateful things that we say about these people; because often they don’t seem like you or me. The “wall” (with apologies to Pink Floyd) that is built between us makes it seem like there are no consequences for our actions.

And this wall can extend to our everyday lives. When we stop seeing others as real people just like us, it opens the door to neglectful things. The internet acts as a catalyst for this behavior, as the sense anonymity it provides is a comforting blanket for those who seek to make painful comments; the “I can see them, but they can’t do anything to me” feeling… more on this in a moment…

I myself am a humanist, and believe that all people are good at heart.

Including those who may sometimes say or do hurtful things.

When I said we must drag this issue out of the darkness and into the light, part of that is to reestablish that since of shame, to say to the person involved and everyone else that this is not okay. And also to use it as a teaching moment to show why it is not alright and correct the behavior.

Meeting hate with more hate is not the answer. To truly stop the problem, we must also educate.

This part of my message was missing in my original post.

A BIG THANK YOU…

…to The Cheeky Diva, a fellow Nebraska blogger who helped to spread the word about my previous post. I reached out to her first to help spread my previous post. Most of you came to me via her, but if you did not, make sure to check out and follow her blog. Together, and with many other Nebraska bloggers, we are showing why Nebraska really is “the Good Life”.

Yes, Cheeky, us “hicks” must stick together!

And a big thank you to everyone who came to Flies Over to read the previous post. I picked up a ton of supportive comments and “Likes”; and that means a lot to me. I also picked up a ton of new followers. My goal was not for personal publicity, although I hope that you stick around for the ride.

Yes, this is a fishing themed blog… but my hope is to make this about what fishing brings to my life. The joy, the experiences, and the understanding that fishing helps to provide me on life over all. There will be a little “how to fish” for those of you looking for it. But my goal is for this to be about more than just the fish…

Little E and I hope you enjoy the ride as much as we do.

And One Final Thought To The Anonymous Poster (Or, The Fight Just Became Fair…)

In the movie “The Matrix”, Moebius describes the purpose of their fight for the humans… that they are trying to “free the minds” of those trapped by the Matrix. But that some of those people are so engrained, so reliant on the system, that they could never be “unplugged”…

The same is true in real life.

And one thing I learned early in life was to never back down from a fight.

I was extremely impressed by what came to be known as the “Arab Spring”. People all over the world showed what organized and non-violent people can do. But as we have also seen, sometimes we must be willing to fight for what we believe…

I will always believe that nonviolence and diplomacy are the right answers. Everything must be done to avoid a fight; in international politics as well as life.

But we must also have the will to do what is necessary if all else fails…

I hope the anonymous poster reads these two posts and takes this a teaching moment. If not…

Here is a lesson for everyone… the internet only gives the appearance of anonymity…

It is actually not very hard to track anything anyone does on the internet… As such, I managed to locate the IP address of my anonymous poster. For those of you who are not tech savvy, everyone on the internet has an IP address. It is the internet equivalent to a mailing address. And just like a mailing address, it pin points your exact location in the world. Right down to your block, your house, and even the exact computer you used.

I said I wasn’t going to publish anything else about the poster, but just to prove I am not lying…

You live in Omaha, Nebraska. And your internet is provided through Cox Communications.

You should never insult a writer… you should also never insult anyone who is really, really smart…

Your move, formerly anonymous…

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“Never insult a writer. You may find yourself immortalized in ways you may not appreciate.”

-Garrison Keillor

Update: Make sure to read my follow up post of final thoughts too.

Today, I received perhaps the funniest comment on an article I have ever received. Two, actually; both by the same anonymous author. They were:

“douchebag”

-“Please do us all a favor and just post pictures of the fish, you look like a douchebag”

I have to admit, that I almost fell out of my chair laughing when I saw these! I am sure that this person really was out to draw blood; which is a lovely thing to do the day after Christmas… but stuff like this I just find hilarious. I am also surprised it hasn’t happened to my blog earlier…

However, it didn’t hurt at all… to the contrary…

I spent the first 12 years of my life with an abusive parent. When we moved out, I started my first job washing dishes in a bar for the man I that I now call “Dad”, simply so I could have a little bit of money to spend on myself. I spent my teenage years as a “bar hound”. Later, I was in fraternity in college.

Nothing anyone can do, or say, will ever offend me.

In the course of my experiences in life; be it the parent I have disowned, in the bar where I was pretty much raised, my fraternity, etc.; I have heard every manner of comment; some that has been directed at me. What I have learned over the course of my life is that these comments say much more about the person saying them then they ever will about the target they are directed at…

These comments are funny to me for that exact reason… You think you left an anonymous comment on some strangers blog. True, I have no idea who you are. But from the 19 words you left in my comments, I already know more about you then you can possibly imagine.

But here is why I am singling you out:

Bullying is a huge and serious problem in this country. It happens most commonly in schools; but can happen at every level of society. Often it happens in quiet dark places that no one sees; and often those affected are too ashamed to bring it to light.

Not me.

My life experiences helped me to develop a tough skin, so stuff like this doesn’t bother me. Not everyone who is bullied is so lucky… I have seen just how much bullying can hurt in the faces of friends and family.

I am not going to post anymore information about this anonymous poster; only his words. Heck, the email address they left is most likely fake anyways. And judging by their comments, they hated my blog and will never come back anyways. It doesn’t even matter to me that this person will never read this post.

Here is the point:

We as a society cannot allow behavior like this to exist. When we see it, no matter how big or small, we must bring it out of the darkness and into the light. Only when we pull back the curtains of anonymity will we be able to expose these people for what they are…

And only then, in front of our society as a whole, be able to start to teach the lessons that will finally rout out this behavior once and for all.

I am able to shrug off these comments. Not everyone is so strong. We must not allow comments like this or any other type of bullying to be tolerated; and we must stand up in the name of those affected by bullying who are not able to stand up themselves. This is true for comments that are racist, sexist, homophobic, or any other type…

I don’t care if the person who left these comments ever sees this post. No comments like this are okay…

Ever.

That is why we must speak up when we see actions like this, in whatever form they take. We must remove the vail of secrecy so it is not the bullied that is ashamed; but the bully.

This comment is small in the grand scheme of things, but many like it are not.

Oh, and to the person who left those comments…

I am not going to respond to your comment about my looks. Your words speak for themself.

I am only going to say thanks for the good hardy laugh!

But…

If you are only concerned with the pictures of fish, you have clearly missed the entire point of fishing (and this blog)… Henry David Thoreau said it best…

“Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing it is not the fish they are after.”

Fishing is an experience; and yes, catching fish is part of that experience. But is not the only part. Heck, it is not even the focus. For me, fishing is about spending time with myself, Little E, and mother nature. It has taken on a meaning in my life that is spiritual.

The best fishing trip I had all year was a trip to Grove Lake and Verdigre Creek Nebraska to go trout fishing… and I didn’t catch a single trout. I caught one tiny bluegill, and a largemouth bass that was an inch and a half long. Despite the failure of the actual fishing, the trip was a success because I spent the whole day around this…

That picture is clearly better than any picture of a fish I have caught… So go get your “fish porn” somewhere else.

Oh… and enjoy the picture of ME and a largemouth I caught at the top of this post…

And if you don’t like my blog, start your own, use your REAL contact info, and tell me why I am wrong. Hell, I will even follow you…

To everyone else:

Join me in standing up for what is right; and in helping to rout out bullying, in whatever form it may take. Not everyone has the power to brush it off, or even stand up for themselves.

Merry Christmas,

E

Update: Make sure to read my follow up post of final thoughts too.

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