week 4/52 — there goes my compassion, hurtling off into the aether

Is it gauche to frame a paycheck and hang it on one’s wall?  Possibly — but I’m doing it anyways.

My hope is that putting this check up on the wall next to my desk will help combat  the impostor syndrome that plagues me at times.  If nothing else, it serves as a visual reminder that I am a decent enough writer that someone once paid me a not insignificant amount of money for my fiction.  And that if I was able to do it once, I can probably make it happen a second time — if I’m willing to put in the work.

This is why I have made Put In the Work and Be Intentional With My Time my personal themes this year, especially when it comes to writing.  Writing is a very easy thing to put off until some later, fabled “perfect time” to do it.  The perfect time looks different for everyone; for me it, might be three or four uninterrupted hours in a coffee shop.  But what do you do if and when the perfect time never seems to quite materialize?  Waiting for the perfect time to appear can feel a bit like waiting for King Arthur to return and save England — i.e. impossible, especially when one has a dayjob, children and dogs to care of, meals to make, a house to be maintained, going to the gym, and spending time with one’s partner.  All are important and necessary to, you know, functioning and live one’s life.  But they can certainly throw up obstacles in trying to find the perfect time to write.  So, for me, it’s less about finding the perfect time to write, and more about finding a good enough time to do it.  Grabbing thirty minutes here, squeezing in an hour there.  Doing it during my lunchbreak or for a bit before bed.  Just put in the work, whenever and wherever I can.

Of course, once I do finally sit down at the computer with an intention to write, I am ridiculously good at using that time to do anything but write.  Not when I can endlessly revise the in-progress thing I’m currently working on instead of writing more of it.  Or catch up on the growing army of newsletters in my email box.

Write?  Sorry friend, I need to go doomscroll Twitter right now.

This is where being intentional with my time comes into play.  For me it means when I catch myself not writing, it’s pausing and acknowledging the fact that, yes, I am procrastinating, and asking myself, “Would I rather be doing the thing I am currently doing, or would I rather be writing?”  And then hopefully convincing myself that, yes, really, we should probably be writing.

None of this comes easily or naturally to me.  I am a professional procrastinator.  I am going to have to actively and mindfully work on this stuff and will no doubt fall short many times.  But hopefully I will also become a little bit better at it.

And speaking of being intentional with one’s time, I am going to hit publish on this post now and go work on that other thing for a while.

Flocking Birds

Was outside earlier, snow flurries falling around me. I watched Fozzie tentatively sniff at a pile of frozen poop (his own, from earlier in the day), trying to decide if he wanted to eat it. (He did, but I ran over and cleaned it up first, stealing his “treat” from him.) I looked up and saw a flock of birds moving southwards across the gray sky.

Birds making me jealous by getting the flock out of Ohio.

Gray and cold, cold and gray. This time of year in Ohio is my least favorite. Dark by 5pm and, if you’re lucky, maybe a few errant rays of sunshine during the day. Here in the midwest, a sense of gloom haunts the landscape like the world’s most depressed ghost. Even my SAD lamp seems like it would prefer to hibernate until it’s time to go on spring break. There’s a reason why — at least in pre-pandemic times — I travel to San Diego every March, so that I have something to look forward to, to motivate me to just get through January and February.

I thought a return to San Diego might be in the cards this spring, but with Robert Ludlum’s The Omicron Variant still wending its way through the world, that seems less and less likely. So since I can’t change the fact that I am cursed to be living in interesting times, I’m instead working on changing the things I do have control over — like my mindset when it comes to the winter months. To accept them for what they are — just a season — and perhaps even try to find some joy in them. I turn 40 in a few months, and while I don’t feel old — hell, I barely feel like a grown-up (whatever that is) most days — I am becoming increasingly aware that the desire to skip ahead of the coming days, weeks, months and arrive at some vague, future endpoint, where things may not necessarily be better, and could possibly be worse, is maybe not how I should want to spend my life. And that means focusing more on the here and now, even if I really don’t feel like it some days.

So how’s all that going, you, my imaginary interlocutor, might ask? It remains a work in progress — but it’s going.

(003/365)

Okay By Me in America

First Monday of the new year. For me, the end of a four-day weekend. As my sister texted to me earlier, I always want to have the first Monday of the year off. I’ve only worked a few days the past several weeks, which has been pretty fantastic. Always nice to have the opportunity to pause, take stock, and rest and recharge. I have a good job with a good company, and my colleagues are all good people, so I try to never take these good things for granted.

Last night I saw the new WEST SIDE STORY. I can’t say if the 2021 version is better or worse than the original film or any of the Broadway productions, since I’ve never seen them. It means I also didn’t come in with any sort of preformed emotional attachment to those earlier incarnations. What I can say, however, is I enjoyed it immensely, and will probably be singing the seven or eight words that I know of “America” to myself over and over the next several days.

In other news, I think it’s time to toss out my pumpkins.

Beginnings of a pumpkin wasteland.

(002/365)

NIGHTMARE ALLEY

Yesterday we ventured out into the world to see the new Guillermo Del Toro film, NIGHTMARE ALLEY, at the Neon. I was really excited going in. GDT is one of the most interesting directors working today, and I am a sucker for a good film noir. It boasted an all-star cast and was gorgeous to look at, but it went on for too long (2 hours 30 minutes) and felt tonally… evil? It’s the best way I can think to describe it. I didn’t find myself sympathizing with any of the characters or caring about their fates.

I’m glad I saw NIGHTMARE ALLEY, but I wouldn’t say I enjoyed it.

We rang in the new year last night as we do every year — like motherfucking sorcerers.

(001/365)