#Weeknotes S02 E03

Not a great writing week for 2020. Catching up with the dayjob after a week of illness/self-care took a bit out of me. I wasn’t 100% this week; more like 85-90%. It was enough. My therapist would be proud of the reduction in the amount of self-criticism.

My back and neck feel progressively better. The chiropractor is covered by my insurance so at this point, I really don’t care if it’s placebo or not. So there!

Still, this week went by quick. And because tomorrow’s a holiday, next week will be a short one. Will it go by faster? I’ll let you know.

WRITING PROGRESS. It took a lot for me to get into the writing chair this week… but I did it!

Longest Writing Chain This Week: 1 day; but 2 writing days overall!

Revisions on Short Story 01 continue.

ROTTING MY BRAIN. No time for writing meant no time for THE EXPANSE or HARLEY QUINN. It’s all in queue, though. But we did make time for KNIVES OUT yesterday. I’ll do a write-up soon but in short: believe all the good things people have said about it!

FEEDING MY EARS. I finally caught the episode of WTF WITH MARC MARON with Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio. It was uncomfortable for me to listen to, but only because I was projecting my own issues. The tone of the interview — filtered through my own experiences — reminded me of the insecurity I can sometimes feel when I’m hanging out with people who are way cooler than I am, who seem to enjoy my company but are really tolerating or condescend to my presence. I think this is one of those times when I can safely say, “it’s just me.”

FEEDING MY EYES. Because I recommended it to a co-worker recently, I decided it was a good time to re-read my updated edition of David Allen’s GETTING THINGS DONE: THE ART OF STRESS-FREE PRODUCTIVITY. Hey, anything to get myself back on track.

Got through a couple of sections of Lydia Davis’s ESSAYS ONE, as well.

THOUGHT OF THE WEEK

I’m not sure at what point my reaction to these sorts of advances went from “That’s so fucking cool!” to “Fuck. Fuck. FUCK, we’re doomed!”

ULTRAPORTABLE EDC-IN-EXILE. My usual EDC bag — a Filson 258 briefcase — is basically a portable office with every basic analog and electronic tool I could possibly need to conduct my writing life and personal admin. I carry it with me almost daily when I leave the house. Yes, I’m that guy who just refuses to leave his damn bag at home. Luckily, I’m have the perfect camouflage for this behavior, living in a college town.

But on occassion, even I have to acknowledge there are rare instances where I don’t want to carry everything; that I probably don’t need to be carrying anything aside from my wallet, keys, and my phone. Still, I refuse to go completely without some tools that that would enable me, if I really had to, to get some thoughts down.

It’s for those times that I have my ultraportable “EDC-in-exile” setup, which is an old STM bag with just enough room for the tablet/keyboard combination that’s become my daily driver, AC adapter/2-port USB battery with 2 cords, a microfiber cloth, and the meds I carry around with me “just in case.” I didn’t take it out, but there are a couple of pens and a Field Notes notebook in the bag. Phone goes in my pocket and my Bluetooth earphones are on my head or hanging on my neck.

Why do I feel the need to always have something with me? Etgar Keret put my mindset into words nicely in his story “What Do We Have in Our Pockets?”

The fact is that everything I have in my pockets is carefully chosen so I’ll always be prepared. Everything is there so I can be at an advantage at the moment of truth. Actually, that’s not accurate. Everything’s there so I won’t be at a disadvantage at the moment of truth.

#Weeknotes S02E02

I didn’t slack this week. I got sick. And up until very recently, I didn’t see a practical difference between the two. The voices in my head say, (a) okay fine, “sick” is a reason but you’re still as behind as you would be if you just fucked off and (b) no one wants to hear you whinging.

Luckily, therapy has been good for me. So yes, I can acknowledge that I didn’t keep up with my daily diary (a la Barry) or drawing exercises (a la Brunetti). But I did take care of myself, and that was the important thing. Staying home from work, seeing a doctor, getting my back adjusted — all important things. Right? Right.

(And if repeating that to myself over and over really keeps the demons at bay, well that’s fine too.)

WRITING PROGRESS. So, then how’d my first week of 2020 go?

Longest Writing Chain This Week: 2 days. But I did have 3 writing days altogether.

I suck at coming up with interesting code names, so I’ll continue calling what I’m working on right now Short Story 01. Same “Short Story 01” I was working on this time last year, but I made some decent progress on its rewrite by experimenting with Oblique Strategies (I have an app) to get me through problem areas. The results are interesting, even if I decide not to keep them.

ROTTING MY BRAIN. Still working my way through THE EXPANSE but I’ve been seeing what the animated HARLEY QUINN is all about. Well, it’s now overtaken AGGRETSUKO as my favorite cartoon. HARLEY feels like it has everything I love about old Adult Swim shows but without the “Jokes for you and your stoner buds who’re up too late” vibe.

THOUGHT OF THE WEEK

Seriously, printing and scanning over WiFi with my tablet has actually made my life better twice this week.

IN THE WILD. Trying to address just one of the various and sundry ways I’ve neglected myself lately.

I know, but it helps my back, shut up. And, no jokes about “Now, why don’t you get your attitude adjusted?” My inner voices beat you to it!

#Weeknotes S02 E01

In 2019 I put a lot of work primarily into my personal life: my mental/emotional/physical health, family, friends. That work goes on, but in 2020 it’s time to invest some of the energy I got back last year into getting more words out into the world.

I’m taking my time deciding what projects I want to continue with or whether I want to start fresh with something new. Both routes appeal to me. I’m bound to pick something in the next couple of days and will go back to tracking and posting about how well I did or didn’t generate a writing chain this week.

I also plan to get through my reading backlog with three things in mind this year:

  • If I’m ever going to conquer my reading backlog, I need to do it in a systematic manner.
  • It might help if I read with an eye toward blogging my thoughts whenever I come across something that especially strikes me. I’m told people actually like my Quickie Reviews.
  • If I find myself slogging through a book, then I just need to just give it the fuck up and move on to the next thing.

Welcome to Donfoolery in 2020!

FEEDING MY EYES. Lynda Barry never disappoints. I’ve occasionally had to stop and put down MAKING COMICS because it’s so dense and full of more good stuff to absorb into my writing practice than I can ever try in a year, I think.

That’s not going to stop me from trying, though!

I’ve also pulled out something I bought but shelved last March, Ivan Brunetti’s CARTOONING: PHILOSOPHY AND PRACTICE, a book Barry mentions all the time. I know it was March when I opened it up last because I dug up a sketchbook I bought myself at the time dated “March 2019” before abandoning it. There was a lot going on at that time. Anyway, I’m not out to be any kind of cartoonist as a goal, but I’ve looked to exercises and ideas from both these books to keep the artistic juices flowing.

ROTTING MY BRAIN. Another item on this year’s to do list is re-establishing my geek cred. I’m a little out of touch with some things, but I’m catching up!

I don’t know how my geek card didn’t get revoked having missed the boat on THE EXPANSE. I can tell it’s leaving an impression on me, because things that do tend to keep my subconscious mind on the lookout for anything even tangentially related…

Getting through Season 1, I realized I’d actually seen a couple of episodes here and there. Guess it just got lost in the shuffle. Anyway, I’m on it now and yes, it’s every bit as good as everyone says it is. The main draw for me so far is Shohreh Aghdashloo, better known to me as Lakshmi-2 of the Future War Cult. I have to say, I can’t remember the last time I saw as compelling a character on sci-fi TV as Chrisjen Avasarala.

What impresses me most of all is how smoothly all the moving parts of the narrative revolve around each other in almost perfect, overlapping orbits. I’m through the first few episodes of Season 2. I’m sure I’ll be back with more to say!

THOUGHT OF THE WEEK

But you’re doing well
I mean, you’re not dead
So let’s celebrate while we still can

#Weeknotes: Please Stand By

I wrapped up this year’s Weeknotes last week, but I did promise a follow-up if I had news. That job I applied for? Didn’t get it. It was the theme of the year, the standard “You were very competitive, we just decided to go in another direction but if another opening comes up, you will be the first person I call.” 0 for 3 this year. Yeah, I’m down but not out. This hasn’t ruined my holidays or anything; I’ve never been much of a holiday person to begin with.

In fact, all in all, this is the most relaxed I’ve felt heading into a holiday in years. Which is good, because I’m just as exhausted. But at least there’s some hope that while things have burned down, other things are getting rebuilt simultaneously, just like this portion of my apartment complex.

What things? I’ll put a list together between now and New Year’s!

THOUGHT OF THE WEEK. It’s all in your perspective…

#Weeknotes S01 E12

I’ve managed 12 of these Weeknotes entries this year. 3 months’ worth — roughly 25% of the amount I’d planned to do. But I’ll take it!

My 2019 didn’t start the way I’d hoped; more accurately, the last part of 2018 messed me up. In the end, it was all in the name of changes I needed to make, even if I hadn’t planned on making them. Some changes even panned out over the last year! Whatever happens, I know I’m heading into 2020 in a much better state than this time a year ago.

I think I’m going to take a Weeknotes hiatus until after the New Year. But expect an occasional post or two, year end rants and raves and such. And hopefully some news about that last iron in the fire.

IRON IN THE FIRE. I should know next week, just in time to either make my holidays or put a crimp in them. I’m good no matter what happens, though.

MOOC PROGRESS. Don’t talk to me about MOOC progress…

FEEDING MY EYES. I’m taking a “one bite of the elephant at a time” approach to my backlog. I’ve upgraded my tablet to something more suited to my aging eyes: a Lenovo Tab M10… as in 10″. Man, I just didn’t appreciate how sub-optimal reading comics on my smaller tablet was.

Anyway, the titles will look familiar:

  • MAKING COMICS by Lynda Barry
  • THE SITUATION AND THE STORY by Vivian Gornick
  • ESSAYS ONE by Lydia Davis
  • EMBRACE YOUR WEIRD by Felicia Day
  • IMPROV FOR WRITERS by Jorjeanna Marie

One bite at a time…

ROTTING MY BRAIN. I’ve been keeping up with the newest season of the anime ONE PUNCH MAN. I haven’t related harder to a character since THE IRRESPONSIBLE CAPTAIN TYLOR. It’s taking me awhile to get into this new season though. Man, is it slow-burning. Makes a Brian Michael Bendis comic feel like a flash fiction piece.

This season definitely focuses more on the OPM world, than on Saitama himself. But somehow just as I think I could be losing interest, Caped Baldy manages to show up at just the right time and for just long enough to keep me interested. Well, now I have to know what happens in the rest of the season.

IN THE WILD. Asher watching ONE PUNCH MAN with me last night…

THOUGHT OF THE WEEK

#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