#Weeknotes S01 E11

Relatively short one this week, only because things have been busy at the dayjob since the holidays. It’s always a busy time of the year right as people are scrambling to get everything wrapped up between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I spent most of this weekend just taking it as easy as possible and fighting my tendency to make every second of it productive, at least this once.

But you know, just thinking about it now tickles my anxiety a little; like, “You still got time between now and Monday, get on the stick!” Especially since I’ve really let my progress slip on the MOOC I’m doing. And it doesn’t help that I learned that being a professional dungeon master is a thing. Makes me feel like I missed a calling in life.

I just need to get comfortable with just chilling the fuck out between things. I think that’s a 2020 goal.

IRON IN THE FIRE. So yesterday I had an interview for a new position at my dayjob. Things look good; then again, I’ve thought that before. But I’m one of two final candidates so my odds are 50/50 at this point. I should hear in the next couple of weeks, so I’m either going to have an awesome holiday or, well, an okay one. Y’all will know as soon as I do!

FEEDING MY EYES. Would you believe that yesterday I came across another episode of THE TWILIGHT ZONE — “The Fear” — that I’ve never seen before?

FEEDING MY EARS. It only took me 30 years to figure this out…

IN THE WILD. This was the week that Asher finally ventured out of the bedroom (under his sister’s watchful eye, of course). Monday, he made it out of the hallway, and spends longer and longer out in the living room before being startled by something and scurrying back to his hidey hole. And just now, for the first time, he jumped up onto the living room furniture. He’s come a long way!!

THOUGHT OF THE WEEK

#Weeknotes S01 E10

I remember a time when a winter storm warning wouldn’t be enough to keep me inside if I didn’t want to be. As long as at least the cafe within walking distance was open, I’d always have a Third Space to take advantage of. But in my old age, I’m starting to like my First Space a little more. Plus, I just got word that the Barnes and Noble that usually hosts my writing group on Sundays is closing up early today.

IRON IN THE FIRE. Given that the next step in the process is on Friday, I probably won’t have anything substantive to report by next Sunday. I’ll keep you all posted, though!

FEEDING MY EYES

FEEDING MY EARS. With another episode of the Ezra Klein Show podcast that was so dense, I had to listen to it twice: “How Whole Foods, yoga, and NPR became hallmarks of the elite.”

IN THE WILD. It’s been a month since our little buddy passed away. He left behind a pretty lonely sister, so we decided to get another friend a couple of weeks ago.

Say hi to Asher, formerly known as “Chomp Nomz,” which is the name he earned in lockup (i.e. at the local SPCA). They say his first act after rescue was to lightly bite on someone’s finger, probably because he thought it was food and he was even smaller than he is now. But we believe in second chances in this household! He also answers to “Lil’ Guy,” “Criminal Kitten,” “Meatball,” and “Lil’ Purr Monster.” Seriously, his purrs sound like he’s got a little plastic toy motor in him!

He and Mazikeen have been slowly (like, very slowly) getting acclimated to each other, but things are moving in the right direction!

THOUGHT OF THE WEEK

#Weeknotes S01 E09

This may be the very first time in over 10 years when I didn’t face a Thanksgiving holiday feeling so exhausted that the thought of the holidays would fill me with dread and the indignation of, “More shit to do when I really need a fucking break.” I guess that’s what happens when I actually get the help I need. Not that I don’t need a break, though.

IRON IN THE FIRE. Still waiting on the one remaining prospect. Signs are positive but we all know we can’t count our chickens, &c. And then you know what, I’m going to ride out 2019 on a relatively high note compared to this time last year.

FEEDING MY HEAD. I mentioned last week starting another Iowa Writing Program MOOC, “Hidden Meanings: Creative Fiction, Non-fiction, and Facts.” I’m already behind, but that’s pretty par for the course. But already in the first module, I came away with a tool I know I can use in the future, which led me to the Vivian Gornick book I got…

FEEDING MY EYES. Yes, I know I have a backlog, but Comixology was having a sale on Humanoids books, so I picked up a Metal Hurlant Collection AND I REGRET NOTHING!

I’m glad I didn’t completely miss the party on another Humanoids book, The Twilight Man, a graphic biography of Rod Serling. And we all know how I loves me some Serling! Again, I regret nothing.

The purchase of the week though is Gornick’s THE SITUATION AND THE STORY: THE ART OF PERSONAL NARRATIVE.

IN THE WILD. “Good… goooooood!”

THOUGHT OF THE WEEK

#Weeknotes S01 E08

I’m writing this from one of my usual haunts, a deli/cafe within walking distance of my place. My heart jumped when I saw my favorite soup was being served today, and was immediately crushed a moment later when I saw the empty pot indicating it was all gone. But my second-favorite soup was available and it was tasty! That’s just a perfect metaphor for this past week. Why?

IRON IN THE FIRE. Because as I found out, the irons I had in the fire aren’t plural anymore. One of them, an application to a grad school program, was rejected. Disappointing to be sure, but if there was one thing that came out of it, it was the outpouring of support from people who believed along with me that I at least deserved the shot.

The other iron, though? Well, the needle’s still moving in the right direction so we’ll just have to see. Not that it’s somehow a second, or lesser choice! No, the truth is if I’d scored even one of these things, it would make life better in the long run. This iron working out wouldn’t be a consolation prize, but a key step! It does mean I’m down to my last bet, though. If this other prospect doesn’t pan out… well, then I’m certainly no worse off than I am today. Would just have to look for the next thing, is all.

MOOC. In the meantime, I need to jump start my creativity a bit. Luckily, another University of Iowa writing MOOC has opened up on the topic of “Hidden Meanings: Creative Fiction, Non-fiction, and Facts.” I don’t always finish them, but I almost always come away with a useful tidbit or ten.

FEEDING MY EYES. I keep telling myself I need to increase my fiction consumption to balance off the non-fic. And then something like this essay collection by Lydia Davis comes along, and blows my resolve out of the water.

IN THE WILD. Who’s daddy’s little girl? You are, Mazikeen! Yes, you are!!

THOUGHT OF THE WEEK…

Here’s hoping I have something good to report in the next Weeknotes!

#Weeknotes S01 E07

Another short one, since I haven’t been feeling great this weekend.

IRONS IN THE FIRE. I’m not really trying to be coy by not explicitly naming online the things I’m waiting on. Just superstitious. And while the needle moved on one of these irons a couple of weeks ago, last week it was the other iron’s turn. And now I’m in that “hurry up and wait” phase of things. Frustrating but at least the odds are (the way I see them, anyway) at least one out of these two things will go my way.

WORKFLOW EXPERIMENTATION. This is the time of year when I usually field test some kind of personal workflow change so I can start the new year off with new systems in place. Last year, it was Weeknotes (which didn’t work out so well, but that was for reasons) and keeping everything in the Google ecosystem (which worked too well). This year, I know I don’t have all the necessary information to know what changes I might need to make — it kind of depends on how the two irons I have in the fire turn out.

IN THE WILD. I guess there’s no point complaining about holiday merch in stores anymore this year.

THOUGHT OF THE WEEK

#Weeknotes S01 E06

Sad news and not-so-bad news this week. I had to say goodbye to one of the best cats in existence last Wednesday.

Two days after though, I went to a Visit Day event run by the graduate program I applied to. It was a little weird for me, because the visit was geared toward the resident students; however I applied for the Executive program (i.e. mostly online classes geared for people who are already professionals in my field). But I figured if there was ever a time to shove my natural shyness aside, it was Friday, and it paid off. Made some cool connections with current students, alums, prospective students for the residency program and, like me, another “Executive” prospect who’s also looking to take advantage of this as a university employee.

The event did what it was supposed to do–make the program appealing to prospective students. I’m still waiting to hear whether I got in, but I have to admit, I want it more than ever now. Which isn’t a feeling I revel in particularly but hey, it’s not the worst thing.

Of course, this is going to be murder on the fiction writing. Maybe. I’m just not going to stress about that now. Only thing I’m worried about–even over the other iron I currently have in the fire that I’m not quite ready to talk about yet–is getting into this program! And besides, I’m not ready to give up on the writing just yet, as you might be able to tell from what I’ve started reading last week.

FEEDING MY EYES. With two books to add to the creativity section of my library along with Lynda Barry’s SYLLABUS and WHAT IT IS…

  • EMBRACE YOUR WEIRD by Felicia Day
  • IMPROV FOR WRITERS by Jorjeanna Marie

These books brought Barry’s books to mind because Day’s and Marie’s books have similar themes around why and how to get out of your own creative way. The root of all my creative problems is staying stuck in my head. Okay, creative problems and maybe more than a few life problems, if I was being perfectly honest.

FEEDING MY EARS. As if I don’t have enough of a podcast backlog…

  • In SCENE BY SCENE WITH JOSH & DEAN, cartoonists Josh Neufeld and Dean Haspiel break down, scene by scene, the 2003 film AMERICAN SPLENDOR. And we all know how I loves me some Harvey Pekar, right kids? That was reason enough to check this out but what’s even better is that Neufeld and Haspiel have several pieces each in the AMERICAN SPLENDOR comic. I didn’t even know this podcast existed until it’s second to last episode. Actually, I don’t know if Episode 30 is the last one, but it’s the one about the End Credits. Either way, I’ve started at Episode 1 and it’s just awesome.
  • The HEALTH CONSCIOUS podcast is run by a group of students in the field of Health Administration, discussing the state of the U.S. healthcare industry, how it works, some key challenges, and what can we do about them.

THOUGHT OF THE WEEK

IN THE WILD. Big mood this week…

Goodbye, Little Buddy

I’m having a harder time with having to let him go yesterday than I thought I would. It still feels like I took picture the other day.

Goodbye, Duma. I wouldn’t trade the last four months with you for anything. You’ll always be our Little Buddy, our Chonky Boy, our Absolute Unit, and our Sweetums.

[Edited to add: background for anyone who didn’t know]

#Weeknotes S01 E05

Short and sweet, because I’m not in the mood to get bogged down sticking to a structure right now.

IRONS IN THE FIRE. One of the irons in the fire I mentioned last week was this: I was offered an interview for the graduate program I applied to. Yes, I’m finally taking advantage of a dayjob benefit. Look, I even wore a jacket and commandeered a conference room for it!

It’s been a long time coming–maybe too long–but I decided to shoot my shot anyway. Truthfully, I don’t know what I’m more scared of: not getting in or actually getting in.

I’m still waiting on the other iron in the fire I mentioned; I don’t want to mention it yet for fear of jinxing it.

NEW HOTNESS. I couldn’t really afford to upgrade my old Google Pixel, but with the deals going on right now for the Pixel 4, I couldn’t really afford not to. So I went for it!

View this post on Instagram

Fal-tor-pan is in progress!

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My old man critique centers mostly around a lack of headphone jack and the removal of a fingerprint scanner. In the end, though, so what? I’ve got Bluetooth headphones and all things considered, it still does everything I need my smartphone to do in 2019. I even went back to the XL size phone because of my nostalgia for my old Nexus 6. That might’ve been a mistake, but I’ll deal.

FEEDING MY EARS. I’ve listened to this episode of the Ezra Klein Show podcast, “Neoliberalism and its discontents.” It’s so dense (or, I’m so dense?), that I couldn’t absorb it after one listen.

THOUGHT OF THE WEEK

Catch you all next week!

#Weeknotes S01 E04

I know this should be entry number 40something by now. What can I tell ya, it’s got a “4” in it at least.

You know how it is when you’re away from your blog for a while. You spend too much time thinking about how to make your next post something with a bang in it. But I have to give myself permission to just ramble if I feel like it. It is my fucking space after all.

It’s been a trying couple of months for me emotionally and as usual, I didn’t notice just how hard I get hit until the fog started to lift. You know, the fog of, “Wow, not only have you not made much writing progress for the past few weeks, you really haven’t felt much like making progress at all at… life in general.”

I could rehash it all but if you skip the #GhostHunters tweets on my feed, you can pretty much figure it out: sick feline family members, absent friends, new medication, etc. On top of that, I’ve got a couple of non-writing career-related irons in the fire–I feel like I’ve already jinxed them by saying even that much.

DAYJOB. As I write this, 2019’s Viable Paradise is happening right now. Also I have friends talking about World Fantasy Con next week. It’s a little bittersweet because if the irons I have in the fire right now pan out, I don’t know when I’ll be at an SFFH event or con again in the near future. So, I’ll either make some potentially career-altering moves in a positive direction at the (further) expense of my writing and involvement in the writing community or… well, maybe see you at Boskone or 4th Street Fantasy next year!

Yeah, as worst case scenarios go, I’m doing pretty well, I’d say.

WRITING PROGRESS. The longest Writing Chain I’ve had for the past couple of months hasn’t gone past 3 days at the best of times. I’m cutting myself some slack, though.

FEEDING MY EYES. I haven’t been doing much of that either until the past couple of weeks. Since then, I’ve added to my overlong reading queue:

  • ECHOES: THE SAGA ANTHOLOGY OF GHOST STORIES by Ellen Datlow (ed.) because as we all know, I’ll buy anything sight unseen with new M. Rickert in it.
  • FLY ALREADY by Etgar Keret, because what applies to Rickert applies to him, too.
  • THE ANTIDOTE: HAPPINESS FOR PEOPLE WHO CAN’T STAND POSITIVE THINKING by Oliver Burkeman
  • Tim Alberta’s, AMERICAN CARNAGE
  • Judith Hannan’s THE WRITE PRESCRIPTION, which I got after taking an impromptu writing workshop that referenced it.
  • Steven Pressfield’s THE WAR OF ART — can’t remember where I got it in my head that I needed to read this. From the workshop maybe? It’s not in my notes, though. Oh well.

FEEDING MY EARS. Aside from the audiobook for John Waters’ MR. KNOW-IT-ALL: THE TARNISHED WISDOM OF A FILTH ELDER, I’m burning through the usual spate of podcasts on my commute to and from the dayjob. The thing that’s stuck out lately is Marc Maron’s WTF podcast interview with Rachel Maddow (which I think will expire after a bit if you’re not a subscriber). At about 1:09:10, they start talking about their experiences with depression and I’ll be damned if a lot of my internal self-talk sounds like what they say goes through their minds sometimes. Things like…

Anytime I’ve ever felt joy, I’ve been misled.

or,

Remember that nice thing I once said to you? I didn’t mean that. I was trying to be apologetic.

I swear, from now on I’m going to hear all my negative self talk in Maron’s and Maddow’s voices.

IN THE WILD. Happy Halloween, folks!

Quickie Review: SWORD OF TRUST (2019)

B for effort, B- for execution. It met my barest expectations, namely watching Marc Maron play a version of himself as he did on his IFC show and on GLOW. And while the Maron snark shown in the trailer might’ve been my primary draw, SWORD OF TRUST teases me with the unspoken parts of his character Mel’s story. Of course, his story wasn’t the film’s story.

Writers Lynn Shelton (also the director) and Mike O’Brien compensate for what was lacking in Mel’s story by fleshing out almost every other character. Not completely, but enough for the story’s purposes. And I think the improvisational aspect of the film elevated the them above what could’ve been an utter trainwreck of southern stereotypes. SWORD OF TRUST’s biggest positive, I think, is how it (thankfully) baited and switched on anyone looking for a lazy, self-congratulatory endorsement of those stereotypes. Don’t bother seeing it if you’re expecting to just laugh at “dumb Southerners.”