REBLOG: Yes, Person who Sees Sharp Theets: You ARE an Alien.

Good times.

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One of the more enjoyable features of the WordPress stats page is the “Search Terms” section, where you can see what search engine terms brought people to your site. It’s obviously a highly useful feature in regard to tagging posts, but it’s also a lot of fun: some rather bizarre searches have brought people to my page.

Recently, I was scanning the Search Terms box, and perhaps the oddest search  yet appeared there — a dark, desperate plea from the anonymous abyss, from a person whom no doubt was scouring the internet to answer questions beyond the capability of man.

Yes, somehow, the following search term brought this curious unknown person to my page:

“why can i see sharp theets am i a alien”

After seeing this, I knew that I had to respond. To not respond to such a unique question would be immoral, thoughtless. And so to you, person who sees these “sharp theets,” I…

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Sedona Arizona Nicholas Conley

Sedona, AZ: Traveling Back Through Time

Whenever someone asks me where I’m “from,” there’s no easy answer to that question. While many people grew up in one location, I moved around a lot throughout my early years. Do I say California, the place I was born — and where I traveled back to when I became an adult? That one does make sense. But there’s also North Carolina, where I went to high school. Or what about New Hampshire, where I live today? On top of that, all of the travels I’ve been on as an adult have left their mark on me, as I always carry a little bit of Morocco, Thailand, Laos, and other places with me everywhere I go.

All of those journeys form a part of my history, each location a shimmering strand on the spiderweb that is my life. But none of them are really where I’m “from.”

But then again, maybe I’m needlessly complicating things. Because when it comes down to it, the place I’m truly “from,” the place where my roots really go back to, is the town of Sedona, Arizona.

 

Nicholas Conley Sedona Arizona

Sedona, a town famous for Red Rocks, vortexes, adobe houses, and breathtaking views, is probably my favorite place in the world. There’s something special about it, something indescribably magical. Maybe it’s the scenery. Maybe it’s the history, or maybe the vortexes. But it’s something.

Either way, when I think about the concept of “home,” at least in the way that others seem to mean it, I think of Sedona. I lived in Sedona throughout almost all my childhood, up until I was nearly a teenager, and the little red town left its imprint on me in a big way. Going back there, I’m always surprised by how much I connect to Sedona — by how many little elements, features, and aspects of my personality seem directly rooted in that one place, nestled between ruddy, rocky guardians.

Sedona Arizona Nicholas Conley Airport Mesa

The last few weeks, Veronica and I took a chance to go back and explore it — me, for the first time in almost a decade. Her, for the first time ever. Coming back to Sedona is always a major moment in my life, and it was truly breathtaking to go back there, to look up and see Bell Rock, Cathedral Rock, and all of the other old “friends” again.

Sedona Arizona Bell Rock

Whenever I’m leaving Sedona, I feel like I’m leaving a piece of myself behind with it. It’s always so weird, feeling so far away from the one place where all my childhood memories go back to. In many ways, it always feels like going back into a dream I experienced one night, a dream that felt real… except in this case, the dream really does exist. But I also feel like every time I go back, it marks some kind of major event. That I’ve passed through another threshold in life, and the next one is coming up.

I’ll always come back. I’ll always remember. And I have a feeling that the next time I make it out there won’t be so long, this time.

Sedona Arizona Nicholas Conley

Why I Wear Hawaiian Shirts

Really, if there’s one comment I hear more often than anything else, it tends to be, “Wow, man. You wear a lot of Hawaiian shirts.”

This habit has, whether fortunately or unfortunately, been one I’ve engaged in for most of my life. It seems like my tendency to wear these bright and colorful shirts is a source of curiosity, since it often elicits comments, both positive and negative — but always entertaining. I’ve received many questions about why I wear them: if there’s a deeper reason, a cause, a role, whether I lost a lifetime bet, and so on. You get the idea.

Well, actually, there is a deeper reason. A few, actually. So, why? Well…

Reason #1: Sentimental Reasons

Nicholas Conley

Basically, when I was a kid, my father often wore Hawaiian shirts. He enjoyed the look and feel of them, and like most sons, I liked the idea of being a little more like him, so I picked up the habit.

As longtime readers know, he died when I was 17; though I was already wearing Hawaiian shirts by that time, after his death, they took on a new significance for me. Continuing to wear them felt like a way of celebrating his legacy, a tribute to who he was.

Reason #2: Catharsis

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When I was younger, I had a lot of social anxiety, difficulty fitting in; you know the story, and many of you experienced your own version of it. Anyway, this all came to a head in high school, where at first, all I wanted to do was disappear into the background. I wanted to seem normal. Quiet. Nondescript. I felt horribly eccentric, incredibly weird, like I couldn’t fit in anywhere.

Then, I changed my mind about trying to fit in, and instead, I decided to wear my eccentricity on my sleeve.

During the summer, like many teenagers in the past and many teenagers in the future, I grew my hair out long. I grew a beard. And, of course, I decided to ditch the bland, basic, flat-colored t-shirts of the past, and make Hawaiian shirts my personal trademark.

Immediately, I started feeling more comfortable socially. I grew out of my shell. I became more confident. I started walking out there a bit more boldly, stating my thoughts aloud, openly being who I was on the outside as well as the inside. Ever since those days, I’ve never stopped wearing the shirts, nor would I ever want to.

Reason #3: Because Yeah, You Know What? Hawaiian Shirts Are Awesome

Nicholas Conley Sahara

Honestly? Hawaiian shirts are just really fucking cool.

Seriously. It’s not always easy to wear something so bright and colorful everyday, turning yourself into a walking billboard for a Caribbean vacation company. But Hawaiian shirts are fun, enjoyable, and people who wear them tend to make great company. A good aloha shirt is comfortable, iconic, timeless. They look great, and feel great. Why would I not want to wear them?

Nicholas Conley Bangkok Thailand

Really, this is probably what it comes down to, in the end: I just like Hawaiian shirts.

I like the way they look, and how they feel. I like the fact that they instill an automatic trust in a person, a sense that no matter how serious that person is, they know how to enjoy life and see the good in things, at least on some level. I have yet to meet a bad person wearing a Hawaiian shirt, and I hope I never do.

REBLOG: Why the United States Should Have Universal Healthcare

I originally wrote this last year, but still relevant today:

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(Note: I originally posted this on Medium)
In the United States, healthcare has been one of the biggest political battles of the decade. As a healthcare worker myself, it’s an issue that strikes close to home. My years of experience caring for people with dementia, traumatic brain injuries, tetraplegia, cancer, and more has given me a firsthand look into what our healthcare system is like at the ground level, and it’s a different world from the vague concepts that politicians volley back and forth at each other.
Healthcare shouldn’t be a messy political fight to begin with: it’s an issue of basic human rights. And what all too often gets lost in these scuffles are the people most in need.
Our police forces, fire departments, libraries, and even our military are all socialist institutions. Few people would argue for the idea of a private fire department that refuses to…

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Nicholas Conley radio WSCA True Tales Alzheimer's audience

True Tales: Past the Horizon Line

Back in February of 2016, I was honored to have the opportunity to share a true story on the radio station WSCA 106.1 FM, and in front of a live studio audience.

That story, which I called “Past the Horizon Line,” was about my real life experiences working in a nursing home, and how my friendship with one particularly amazing Alzheimer’s patient had a profound impact on my life.

As longtime readers know, much of my writing — including my novel Pale Highway (which deals with Alzheimer’s), as well as Clay Tongue: A Novelette (which deals with post-stroke aphasia) and my upcoming book, Intraterrestrial (which deals with traumatic brain injuries) — has been based on my experiences working in healthcare, but it’s not often that I get to share too much about what those real experiences were like, and how they shaped the person I am today. For that reason, I’d like the share this clip with you all, where I tell my story, “Past the Horizon Line.” Thank you for watching.

 

 

Intraterrestrial Nicholas Conley sci-fi book aliens tbi brain injury

Cover Reveal: INTRATERRESTRIAL

It’s here. Yes, this is it. I’ve been dropping little hints about Novel #3 for a long time, but up until now, the time hasn’t been right to pull back the curtain and reveal what the book is about. Well, I’m insanely excited to announce that the time has finally come.

Here it is, everyone! I’m finally ready to introduce you to my next novel, Novel #3, the book I’ve been working on all this time: Intraterrestrial.

Intraterrestrial

Intraterrestrial Nicholas Conley sci-fi book

Adam Helios is a bully magnet without many friends. When he starts hearing a voice that claims to come from the stars, he fears he’s losing his mind, so he withdraws even further. On the way home from a meeting at the school, he and his parents are involved in a horrible car crash. With his skull cracked open, Adam’s consciousness is abducted by the alien who has been speaking to him for months.

After surviving the wreck with only minor scratches, Camille Helios must deal with her guilt over the accident that left her husband badly injured and her son in a coma. When the doctor suggests letting Adam go, Camille refuses to stop fighting for her son’s life.

Lost among galaxies, Adam must use his imagination to forge a path home before his body dies on the operating table. But even if he does return to Earth, he may end up locked inside a damaged brain forever.

space

Just as with Pale Highway, the plot of Intraterrestrial is informed by my real life experiences working in healthcare. It’s a story about the reality of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), about the nature of consciousness, about what medical tragedy does to a family… but it’s also a story about hope, finding oneself, and the utmost importance of imagination.

I’ve been officially working on Intraterrestrial ever since I wrapped up work on Pale Highway, but the base concept behind this story has been following me for many, many years, tugging at me, itching for release. As always, it feels surreal to finally put it out there, this experience that has been with me for so long, this story that I’ve been thinking about for so long — and I seriously can’t wait for you all to read it. Seriously, I can’t wait!

In the meantime, stay tuned and I’ll be posting updates. Oh yeah, and as far as a release date? How does this sound:

Winter 2017