•January 13, 2019 • Leave a Comment

It was the triumphant return of my writer’s group today. It was a good group too- nine people in total, which feels like a good number for full strength. Most of the members were long-timers who have been reading chapter after chapter after chapter of my novel for the last year, and who have had both node things to say and some excellent notes to solve problems that I hadn’t even seen myself.

Love those guys.

For a holiday gift I offered to write a flash fiction in which my main character attended one of our meetings and described, in his own bitingly incisive way, each of the group members. It was a risk to write: my main character is both sharp and direct and it was one thing to turn this kind of laser focus on another fictional character than to turn it on a real friend. I gained a HUGE amount of respect for Christopher Bueleman- a fellow writer and sometime Professional Insulter at Renaissance Faire’s for his ability to read an audience in real time to know how hard to push on their insecurities.

Truly a master at work.

For an amateur like me I was just hoping to lightly roast everybody for a bit of good fun. It took more than just an afternoon to write so I didn’t send it until after Christmas, but no one seemed to mind and the response was good. This was the first meeting back since the holidays, and everybody was still willingly making light of their new nicknames as delivered by the character: this character is one of those people who bestows nicknames with a kind of backhanded flourish that makes them stick, and ironically it’s not a skill that I myself possess. (I can come up with nicknames, but they don’t often stick).

So everybody now has a new nickname. And everybody seems to love it. It’s my secret hope that all the folks in this group will someday become an Inklings group of famous writers so that future readers will read this little piece of flash fiction and try to guess what famous writer is being lampooned.

It’s good to dream big.


Cat On Lap

•January 12, 2019 • Leave a Comment

I’m supposed to be doing the dishes right now, but I have a cat on my lap which means I have to stay in my chair until she decides to get up or I die of starvation. And she’s so very comfortable right now.

It’s been nice knowing y’all.

Tell Yourself

•January 12, 2019 • Leave a Comment

Given the opportunity to go back and relive one day of your life, would you relive your best day or your worst day?

It’s a question that I’ve been ruminating on for a while. It’s deceptively complicated to answer: for me, at least. For one thing, it’s a lot easier for me to pick a day as my worst day- the one concrete thing that I wish I could do differently in order to undo an endless trail of ripples that continue to bend my reality even today. It’s more difficult to pick a best day. Or rather, it’s such a painfully obvious choice (my wedding) that it almost doesn’t bear mentioning.

I guess the real question is: are you the kind of person who would try to change things? Or are you the kind of person who would try to keep everything the same? My instinct is to want to change things- to undo the ripples from a bad memory or a missed opportunity or a wrong choice- but then who would I become? Without the ripples, what would be the shape of my life? Would I be any better off or would I just be differently warped?

I finally came to the conclusion that I wouldn’t want to try and change anything, although if I could go back and talk to my adolescent self long enough to say: “you got some rough times ahead of you, and it’s going to suck, but it’s gotta happen- the suck is what turns you into me and it’s all going to be ok.”

I imagine myself telling my adolescent self this, and then I imagine growing up and struggling and making the same choices as before, but maybe this time with just slightly less fear and doubt and anxiety and depression and just a little bit more warmth and joy.

Assuming that I trust myself, of course.

And then I think about my future self looking back on my present self with the same message: there’s rough roads ahead, but it’s gotta happen and it will all be ok. I try to trust my future self as much as I hope my past will trust my present, but knowing me I’ll probably just dig my heels in and refuse to be told what to do out of spite. And things will suck and the way will be rough and I’ll feel the ripples for the rest of my life.

Which is just how it has to happen.

Sips of Satisfaction

•January 10, 2019 • Leave a Comment

I’m standing at the bus stop waiting for my bus, and my knees are a little bit weak, and the world feels like it is ‘jittering’ a little bit, so my blood sugar is low, but I’m eating this apple that tastes like THE BEST apple I’ve ever eaten. Life feels pretty ok right now in the moment, as while I’m not prepared to make sweeping statements about This Being The Life, I’m at least pleased and relieved that things feel good for right now.

Yesterday, I got together with a new acquaintance for drinks. We had a beer and a flight of whiskeys (turns out that I find Knob Creek to be quite delightful) while we asked one another the kind of deep philosophical questions that turn acquaintances into friends. What is the common theme in your top favorite movies? What do you think about god and the wider universe? If you could go back and relive your best day or your worst day, which would you pick?

And afterwards I went home feeling better than I had all week. The scales of my life which so often seems to have the thumb of my anxiety pressing down on the side of all the things that make me unhappy were suddenly balanced out thanks to a little sip of satisfaction. It was a relief to not have to solve all my problems to feel a little bit right with the world.

If I can express a hope without jinxing myself, I’d like to hope that this can be a year full of little sips of satisfaction. I think more than any personal goal or career benchmark, what I really want is to learn how to live a better life with more satisfaction. More philosophical flights. More delicious apples. More acquaintances transforming into friends. More stories worth telling.

One can hope.

It Begins

•January 9, 2019 • Leave a Comment

“It’s All Good” seems like a rather out-of-touch sentiment for the current zeitgeist, so I amended it to be more appropriate.

My boss asked if I could work weekend overtime over the next few weekends. And I said yes, because I pretty much always say yes to overtime. Because I pretty much always need the money.

I knew the first quarter was going to be busy, thanks to awards season, but I wasn’t expecting to dive into overtime in the second week. This was clearly evident by the fact that my calendar already had several obligations penciled in: babysitting, a Google hangout with some bassists, and the victorious return of my weekly writer’s group. So already my weekend was shaping up to be a busy one. Now that the holidays are over, I’m eager to reconnect with all my friends. I put off a lot of socializing due to the general chaos of year-end festivities, and now I’m feeling the burden of the neglect. Suddenly the back of my mind has become a holding pattern of little flapping IOUs reminding me about the promises I made about brunches, lunches, drinks, coffees, circle-backs, reconnects, touch-bases, hang-outs, stay-ins, and everything in between.

The best/worst part is that they are all things I want to do, and look forward to eagerly. I find myself impatient with the fact that I can’t do all of them right now at once. And I’m doubly impatient with the fact that now work is horning in on my fun. And most of all I’m impatient with the fact that I simply don’t have unlimited bandwidth when it comes to socializing. As much as I want to DO ALL THE THINGS, I know that I’m going to reach a point of catastrophic burnout if I don’t pace myself.

Because, oh yes, I also have two script rewrites and a novel to write.

I might have a problem with overcommitting.

So I’m going to have to do what I do best: I’m going to have to make a list and prioritize it. I’m going to need to figure out a system.

All in all, I’m pleased to be busy. January tends to be a bland month, and if this year it abounds with opportunity then I’m eager to fill my days with as much adventure as I can. That, I think, would be a worthy start to an new year.


•January 8, 2019 • Leave a Comment

It was my first professional haircut in twenty four years. I needed a change so I arranged to get a trim and to have some long layers put in. I’m still processing the results: I don’t hate it, but I’m not in love with it either. At least, not yet- but then again it’s so clean that it’s busy doing its own thing: I might like it just fine in a day or two when the curl tames down.

The stylist was very enthusiastic about the curl. She spread product through the stands and crunched them up to make curls, but all I could remember was my most awkward of teenage years trying and failing and trying and failing and trying and failing to get beautiful ringlet curls like Nicole Kidman and ending up instead with a head that looked like it was covered in crunchy, tangled string.

The stylist’s version of curls was slightly more successful, but I still couldn’t shake my self-consciousness. I didn’t really want curl at all: I wanted, maybe at best, a smooth wave. So I’m waiting to see how it smooths out.

But again: I don’t hate it. It’s fine. My head is a lot lighter, and I’ve definitely got more body going on up around my face which is nice. And it still seems cooperative when I need to twist it up in a bun.

It’s remarkable to realize how much personal narrative is tangled up in hair. There’s this battle of identity and control growing out of my scalp. My hair has written a lot of rules for my life: redheads can’t go in the sun. Redheads are feisty and high tempered. Red hair is so beautiful! Never change it! Your hair’s so long, you look like a princess! Your hair is so long, you look like a hippie. Comb your hair or it’s getting cut off! Never cut your hair! We’ll just take off an inch- just to trim the ends. Don’t worry, it’ll grow back.

I suppose it’s no surprise that I’m feeling so agitated about my hair in particular right now considering how much it is tied up in identity and how much my identity has changed lately. A little voice in my head keeps saying: “I’m tired of being me. I want to be someone else for a while.” It’s a new refrain and I’m not entirely sure where it’s coming from, but it’s quite strong right now.

At any rate, I’m hopeful that the new haircut will help me recognize and let go of some of the extra baggage I’ve been carrying around on the top of my head. Already I’ve made a big step, just in trusting a hairstylist to get near my head with scissors again- just getting the haircut was a big step. So at least there’s progress.


•January 6, 2019 • Leave a Comment

I drove to the airport to pick up my sister Bean and her family. The city was rainwashed and the air was clear and the morning light was low, and all in all everything was very beautiful from a distance. The drive through the Sepulveda pass was swift and scenic.

The entrance to the airport was a nightmare snarl of traffic congestion. It took me as long to get to the terminal as it had for me to get all the way across town. Bean & Co had been up in the early dawn and required sustenance so we stopped by the In N Out for a pick me up before driving home.

By the time I got back to the house, I was exhausted, and my mood was sinking fast. Suddenly I was faced with a dirty house, with Christmas to put away, with dishes to wash, with a script to revise, and I needed needed to go for a run. And suddenly I couldn’t do any of it.

While waiting for Bean & Co to let me know that they’d landed, I found myself reading an article on Millennial Burnout- described as being trapped in the ongoing state of working yourself to exhaustion and then working some more until even small tasks become too much to handle. And now here I was faced with just that: the to do list that was never done. The house that was never clean. The money that was never enough. The job that was never a career.

I did the only thing I could think of: I laid down for a rest.

It didn’t *really* help, but afterwards I was able to get up and put the Christmas decorations away, so that counts for something. I was still teary and moody, but at least I was upright and I’d (mostly) cleared the decorations away. (The cat refused to get up off the Christmas tree skirt, so that still needs to get squared away).

Then I went for a run, and my mood rebounded nicely.

In the evening, I went to get ramen and vegan desserts with a new lady acquaintance (I don’t have a nickname for her yet), which was perfectly lovely. So I guess all’s well that ends well.

%d bloggers like this: