Toe Hold

•March 12, 2019 • Leave a Comment

I made myself a list. It’s been a while since I’ve done this- the major tasks of my life have been urgent enough lately that they have been taking all my focus and there seemed to be little risk of forgetting to do them, but yesterday things slowed down enough that I began to dwell on The Small Stuff that had gotten neglected. None of these tasks were huge: getting a birthday card in the mail, changing the litter in the cat box, clearing my drawing board, etc. But there were enough of them that I was feeling overwhelmed.

The list is three columns long on a sheet of legal paper, if that gives you any indication of the volume.

I told myself I’d make an effort to cross one thing off each evening, and so far so good: I felt motivated enough last night to grind a task or two off the list and I already feel a sense of relief. Sometimes just getting that first toe hold is the most difficult part.


Day of Gray

•March 7, 2019 • Leave a Comment

It was a gray morning. The rains had stopped and to the east, the sun rose in an aura of golden light that ought to have made me feel hopeful, but I was having a low moment and I just felt frustrated and lost.

I felt like I’d lost my direction in life. Maybe I’d never had it to begin with. I usually take comfort in the structure of my daily routine: get up, go to work, spend my commute writing, take a walk. Maybe make some plans for the weekend. I like structure. I like the reassurance of the familiar. I like being able to break up my overlarge projects into small daily doses.

But lately it has all felt futile. I work and I work and I never seem to make progress. I walk and I walk and I never seem to get anywhere. I write and I write and never seem to have anything to show for it. I’ve completed rewrites on three feature scripts in the past two months: a considerable amount of work, which I’m proud of, but nothing much to show for it.

Over the weekend, we were in Hollywood looking down from the hilltop at celebrity mansions. “Which one will be ours?” I asked the Curmudgeonly Lion. He wanted one with a pool. I said that would be fine as long as it had lights so I could use it at night. Later, during the week, I saw the listing for a friend’s house (which looks amazing, by the way) and a price tag of three-quarters of a million dollars. I was struck with a sudden stabbing sense of helplessness knowing that I couldn’t afford even a fraction of that and probably wouldn’t be able to for a long time. All the glamour of Hollywood seemed to be laughing at me: you’ll never belong here- you’re not good enough. It was the same feeling I got every time I went to Malibu, you’re an idiot for thinking you’ll ever be one of us, and everyone knows it but you.

And before you ask, Mom and Friends, yes I’m OK: I know the voice is a liar. It doesn’t care about what’s true, only about what makes the fear light up my brain.

The hardest part about creative work isn’t learning the craft: anybody can learn how to put words on paper or pictures on film or music on tape. The really hard part of creative work is learning how to fight off the faithlessness that comes with not knowing whether it will ever amount to anything. That said, though, I had coffee with my Dad not long ago and he reminded me that the satisfaction was in the striving more than in the accomplishment. I believe this to be true, but I wouldn’t mind just a little more assurance that something will come of all this struggle. I don’t need it to be easy, but I’d like to know that it’s worth it.

At any rate, this was the mood in which I arrived at the office this morning. I was an hour early believing there was a lot of work to be done, but the first one there by almost forty minutes. By the time enough of my co-workers had arrived to form a quorum, I had twisted myself into an emotional knot that was going to require something extraordinarily sweet and pure to unravel. Something like a puppy.

And just like that, a puppy arrived.

One of my co-workers had found a tiny lost puppy one her porch. Another one of my co-workers had been considering getting a second dog to keep her old one company. She wanted a long haired Chihuahua. A long haired Chihuahua had appeared. The office happened to be the crossroads where Wants and Has finally crossed. And like magic, the gloom lifted. Never underestimate the power of small animals.

So it’s been a day of ups and downs: a day of gray- after the rain but before the dawn. But maybe there’s hope.


•March 6, 2019 • Leave a Comment

Not my photo, just my mood.

I awoke at four in the morning to the sound of fat, heavy raindrops hitting the roof overhead followed by a crack and roll of thunder. I resolved to drive to work. The thought of standing at the bus stop in the pouring rain was one thing. The thought of standing at the bus stop in an electrical storm was something else. Lightning had been lighting up the sky in huge blue/violet bolts since the night before. I’d counted off the distance on my walk home: eighteen counts from crack to roll, however much distance that equated to. Four miles? Five? It still felt too close. I still sent up a silent prayer that I would not new struck by lightning.

Better than my chances of winning the lottery.

So I elected to drive. I had to go in early anyway, maybe stay late too. The roads were going to be wet. The bus was going to be slow. And leaky. And what if I had to walk again? It would mean giving up my writing time and my daily exercise, but on the whole I decided it was worth it.

This is my life now.

•March 5, 2019 • Leave a Comment

The transit gods have not been with me lately. I say this as I stand at the bus stop having just watched the bus that I’d hoped to catch go by. I say this, after having to walk two miles to arrive an hour late to work this morning. I say this after standing at the bus stop yesterday morning for a full forty minutes before finally catching an express bus.

And the week is only two days old.

Yesterday’s bus boondoggle was my own damn fault: I’d been standing at the bus stop for twenty minutes, which was an unusual amount of time and usually meant that one of the usual buses wasn’t running for some reason. Typically this results in a bus so full that I end up standing for the whole ride and I don’t get any work done. And I needed to get work done: I have a deadline looming. I looked up the expected arrival time of the following bus on a bus tracker app, which told me the following bus would be along only ten minutes later.

So I decided to wait.

Time passed. I watched the bus tracker count down the minutes: eight minutes. Five minutes. Three minutes, two…

The last two mommies seemed to take forever. I refreshed the app.

Twelve minutes.

Wait, what? I refreshed it again.

Twelve minutes.

Well, shit.

So I waited another twelve minutes before catching the bus and arrived to the office, unsurprisingly, twenty minutes late. But I guess I shouldn’t have worried: even twenty minutes late I was still literally the first employee through the doors.

Today, by contrast, the bus came and I, no dummy, got on. I settled in to work. The commute progressed as normal. I became aware at a certain point that we had been stationary for some time. Glancing out the window I pinpointed our location as being somewhere along the exit ramp for Wilshire. We sat there for nearly forty minute. When the bus reached the bottom of the ramp that driver let people get off so I decided to walk the rest of the way. The distance wasn’t impossible: about two miles, but I was annoyed at being late and the route took me past some unkind memories that got under my skin for the rest of the day.

But at least I got my exercise in.

Tomorrow they’ve asked me to come in early, but rains are expected to arrive tonight so I’m wondering if I should just head to the office right now in order to get there in time. Le sigh. Maybe the transit gods will be feeling more well disposed towards me by the morning. One can hope.

Last Straw

•March 4, 2019 • Leave a Comment

The Curmudgeonly Lion and I hiked Runyon Canyon for the first time yesterday. For the uninitiated, this is a popular hiking park in the Hollywood Hills where you can get some good views of Hollywood, the Hollywood sign, and sometimes maybe even see someone famous. (For the record we didn’t see anybody we recognized). The path is wide and well trafficked, and *mostly* well maintained. But it’s quite steep in places. The Lion labored up the incline, while I struggled in the descent. A muscle in my left thigh knotted up quite severely and I can still feel it today, but all in all the outing was a success.

Afterwards, to completely undo any exercise we might have gotten, we wentfor breakfast at The Griddle Cafe. The wait was nearly an hour long, but we were already in the area so we dug in and waited it out. The restaurant itself was mobbed, as usual. A server brought us drinks and took our order, but failed to leave a straw (because environment, hellooo.) Which, fine, but she was so busy we couldn’t seem to flag her down to ask for one. Finally she was taking the order of the table just behind me so I reached over my shoulder and filched one out of her apron. She caught me doing it (pickpocket fail) and I guess it shook her because she gave or table to another server and refused to look at me the rest of the time we were there.

I felt bad.

I apologized when we left: it was such a big reaction to such a small thing that I couldn’t help but think I’d touched a nerve. The Last Straw, if you will. I wanted to at least be “that crazy patron who stole a straw… But also apologized”. I still feel a little bad. I guess I learned my lesson.

New Page

•March 1, 2019 • Leave a Comment

Having the first day of the month fall on a Friday feels like a whammy: it’s easy to procrastinate on whatever noble goals I might have in mind for the month. “I’ll start over the weekend” I tell myself, but I never do. “I’ll start on Monday.” I amend after two days get whittled away by laundry and housekeeping. Monday comes and already three days have gone by and now the whole work week is ahead of me. Maybe I’ll make progress, maybe I won’t, but time has already been wasted and now I’m spending more time figuring out how to make it up than actually getting to work.

So it’s a vicious cycle.

At any rate, I wrote down my goals for the month. Already the days are beginning to fill up with plans. I’m hoping that I can find enough balance to make progress and still enjoy myself a little bit.

Twenty Eighth

•February 28, 2019 • Leave a Comment

I glanced down at my to do list for the month and realized oh shit, it’s the twenty eighth: the last day of the month. For a short month, it sure took forever, and for a month that dragged so much it sure was over quickly.

Looking at my list of unfinished goals, I felt a sense of disorientation, wondering what I’d done with all that time. Mostly, the answer was Work, which has been busy thanks to awards season. Early mornings. Late nights. Short lunches. The endless tedium of paperwork and tax forms. It’s easy to see why the days have been blurring together.

But it hasn’t all been drudgery: the month started off with beer and sausages for a friend’s birthday, followed by a visit from my sister, Filbert, and a weekend of Groundlings shows and thrift shopping. There were coffee visits with friends and a Valentine’s masquerade. There was a housewarming party for an old friend, and a pleasant morning hike up to a scenic overlook with a new one. I completed the rewrite on one of my screenplays and I’m three quarters of the way through a rewrite on a second one. And I got my taxes done.

So February had plenty going on.

If I have one hope for March, it is that I will begin to find some balance in all this chaos. It’s already gearing up to be a busy month, including a short roadtrip getaway towards the end to look forward to. So hopefully the rough seas will begin to calm now for some smoother sailing.

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