Month: December 2013
Aside Posted on Updated on
My writing space isn’t typical. Not a lot of things in my life are, but that’s another post altogether.
I live in a decent two-bedroom apartment in a so-so decent city. Its set-up is practical; living and dining rooms up front, bathroom and laundry room in the hall, two bedrooms in the back. For two people – a couple, no less – this is an ideal arrangement. One bedroom is used for, well, the bedroom, where the other is designated as a special kind of limbo for all the flotsam in our lives. Or, as Keith and I call it, the computer room.
I don’t like the computer room. Let me tell you why.
Our little four-unit apartment building is quaint, and I like that. Do I want to live here forever? No, but that’s beside the point. What isn’t so quaint is the 300-unit condominium complex that wraps around the east and south side of our cozy little building. Mind you, it’s not on top of us (a large parking lot separates us), but Mary Mother of God and All Things Holy, that is one of the noisiest damned set of condos I’ve ever heard. People, cars, music, you name it. And don’t get me started on the dogs. All those barking dogs; you’d think there was a kennel over there. From the crack of dawn until Letterman comes on.
My point is this: the window of our computer room faces those condos, and its freeway-like parking lot (honestly, you’d be amazed at the frequency of comings and goings). It had, for years, made a chore of writing. I was unable to focus. My frustration was volcanic. What’s worse? Of our two desks, mine is nearest the window. Lucky me.
I bet you’re wondering if this blog post is going anywhere. Don’t worry, it is.
You see, several months ago we were not wireless. Yes, Keith and I were living in the Stone Age, attached to technology by cables and plugs. But, with the power of a wireless modem came the power to take control. When we were able to use our computers without a tether, I was able to haul my computer to the dining room. I mean, we don’t eat in here anyway, so why not adopt it as my own? The table became my desk (the other desk sits abandoned, like something from Pripyat), the dining room my office.
This suits me. On one side I have the blinds and sliding glass door to our balcony – this provides plenty of light with which to work. On the other side, I have the fridge – cold beer is within arm’s reach. My chair, too, has wheels on it, making maneuverability easy-peezy! When I’m thinking, or in a daze, or maybe a drunken stupor, I have a lovely view I can gaze toward (if I look past our parking lot and the main thoroughfare of our bustling little town).
I am pleased with the arrangement. It’s surprising how going 40 feet from one end of the apartment to the other could make all the difference in the world. Night and Day. Now if I could just get those damned birds in the tree outside to shut the hell up, I’d be in worker-bee heaven.
This leads me to ask: What writing conditions are ideal for you? What gets your gears moving? Must it be neat and tidy? Or are you like me, papers, notes, and bottles of beer on your work space? Do you need absolute silence? Or do you prefer some background noise, like music or screaming children? Comment, share, be candid. I’d love to hear from you!
Ah, Christmas Eve. Colorful lights are twinkling. Stockings are hung with care. Carolers are making their way from door to door. A light, fluttery haze of snow is falling from the crisp, white sky while angelic ballerinas twirl magically through the air…
I’m kidding. This isn’t The Nutcracker, for Christ’s sake.
Christmas, clearly, throws me off sometimes. It took me a long while to come to the realization that Christmas, every few years or so, just isn’t my thing. Maybe it’s the sociopath in me. Maybe it was my poor upbringing. Maybe I’m just doomed to be a pessimist. Who knows. All I know is that this particular year I’m lacking Christmas Spirit.
I assure you, I’m hardly Ebenezer Scrooge. Or the Grinch.
I seem to have foregone Christmas this year altogether. It’s been, for the most part, sobering. It’s been alarming as well. I hadn’t actually come to the understanding that I’d made such a decision until recently, when a friend asked me what I wanted for Christmas. “Nothing,” I said. And, faster than I could envision dancing sugarplums, it dawned on me that I was being honest. I couldn’t even muster up the fortitude to say, “I suppose a gift card would be nice.” No. Instead I walked off in an incredulous stupor. Nothing for Christmas? Blasphemy!!
But it’s true.
Don’t worry, we won’t be needing Kleenex for this foray into the Special Hallmark Episode of my life. Quite the contrary. I’ve been given a perspective on the Holidays I hadn’t quite expected and I’m pleased with this.
There’s a sense of guilt in not doing anything for Christmas. No tree, no lights. No gift exchanges. No parties or gatherings. No jaunty Santa hat on common errands. No Charlie Brown, Rudolph or Frosty. No Christmas cards. There was a part of me that had worried, in the beginning, whether I should send out a bulletin to my friends and family that my participation in Christmas this year would be zip. Do I write a firm but eloquent Facebook status? Do I take to Twitter? Do I send a blast email to my Contacts List?
I needled myself with one particular question: How do I genuinely validate giving up on the holiday of Holidays, even if it is for just one year? And then it struck me, like reindeer antlers to my rear end: the decision to be a Christmas Grouch is my own, and there’s no one who can take responsibility for it except me.
But with that epiphany comes an even Greater Responsibility: Get the Fuck Over Myself.
Next year will be different, and now I have this blog post to hold me accountable. My friends and family don’t deserve to be dismissed because I’m feeling Bad About Myself, or because I can’t manage to rustle up an ounce of Christmas Spirit. Has “A Christmas Story” taught me nothing? It’s like I’m willing to shoot my eye out to spite myself!
Alas, Christmas Day is right around the corner. Even in southern California, where the closest we get to snow is a powdery line on a mirror, family and friends will come together for a festive Holiday. Eggnog will be had. Fights will be broken up. And grandmas everywhere will be having One Too Many, breaking their hips and blaming their daughters-in-law.
Have faith in me. There are shoddy parts of my psyche that still need a good dusting. It’ll happen, but Christmas wasn’t built in a day. Just ask Wal-Mart.
I’m here, at my computer, dressed and ready for work. Miraculously I have 20 minutes to kill. This almost never happens. I’m horrible at getting ready in the morning. I will push sleep until the last possible minute, and sometimes further. This does not often work in my favor.
So the question I’ve posed myself is this: Can I write a decent blog post in that time? Or, better yet: Can I not bore you to tears rattling on about something trivial like how cold it is, or why I was a dummy and forgot to put my load of laundry in the dryer before I went to bed? That tends to be my downfall with blogging – I’m struck with something I want to share that I believe to be profound, then suddenly I’m toiling away about dishes or grocery shopping.
See? I did it again.
The truth is sometimes I’ll have nonsense to share. And I think that’s okay. It took several years and many a cocktail to come to that conclusion. I accept this – it’s who I am. Nonsense is my middle name! Okay, it isn’t really. In fact, I’m a bit ashamed I even wrote that. But I’ll leave it, as a future reminder, when I’m scrolling through Posts From Blogging Past. We all change as time marches on, but I think it’s important to be confronted with shady tokens of our past.
Humility, I firmly believe, is a virtue.
And I’ll leave it at that. Amazingly only ten of those golden twenty minutes has gone by. And – give me a second – in having reread this post, I can see that ten minutes doesn’t really offer much, does it?
In ten years I’ve written very little, not nearly as much as I should have. Yet I call myself an aspiring writer. But it says so on my Twitter profile! After all, if it says so on Twitter, then is must be true.
Ten years is a long, long time. Ten years is a childhood. It’s the length of time you might cherish a family pet, or own a reliable car. Ten years gave us Central Perk, The Rachel haircut, and all the other shenanigans on ‘Friends.’ Ten years is a good, hearty, old-fashioned DECADE.
Ten years that I really have to look back and reflect on all the writing I haven’t written.
At my age, Mortality has gently – but freakishly! – rested its hand on my shoulder. “Yo, buddy, I’m right behind you,” It whispers like a mob boss, “just so you know.” I should be scared shitless by this, but I know it’s nothing more than a nudge. A friendly reminder, if you will. This isn’t The Reaper, merely his Messenger. Your time is limited, make your mark while you still can.
I shouldn’t feel old at 38. I’m sure there are 50, 60 and 80-year olds who would be tickled to backhand me senseless, give me a firm what-for, then send me off with a piece of hard candy. Honestly, I don’t feel old (though my gout might disagree), but rather I feel I’ve…wasted a lot of time.
Here we are again, back to time. Ten years to be precise. Where are my novels? My files and files of short stories? Where’s the large, southern mahogany desk piled high to the ceiling with dusty galleys and hiding cats? How could I have been so careless as to let grand expanses of days, weeks, months and years go by without producing a shred of anything I might be happy with? I know writers who would have maimed small animals for even just a sliver of the time I wasted.
I was explaining this to my partner, Keith. He laughed at me. That doesn’t happen often; he’s usually laughing with me. “Just shut up and write. That simple.” Bitch. And not just that, but this post is beginning to reek of woe-is-me. That was so not my intent.
The past ten years has definitely taught me a lesson or two. I came to realize, with relief, that I’m not a great writer. By no means! But I’m a good writer, a fair writer. I’ve learned there’s more to just writing than typing. I learned a story should have a purpose. I learned writing a novel I’m happy with is mind-numbing work. And I’ve learned patience.
DUH! That’s what the past ten years has been all about – PATIENCE! And here it is I thought I’d been wasting time. Silly, Sean, self-doubt is for teenagers!
It’s time to start blogging again. The decision has been made. It’s final. Unless, of course, I decide not to. Like an ornery teenage girl, I tend to change my mind a lot.
I will try to make my posts brief. Why? Because there’s nothing worse than a long-winded diatribe about politics, or religion, or how to bake perfect cookies, or where I went to buy a new pair of shoes. That’s what Facebook is for. If you have to scroll down a War & Peace length blog post, then there’s something wrong. I think it’s perfectly acceptable to be entertaining, intelligent, profound, humorous, and interesting in several short paragraphs.
But again, being like that ornery teenage girl, I might just say “fuck it” one day and write as much as I damn well please.
The problem I’ve had with blogging in the past has been a theme. Apparently a theme is like the brick-and-mortar of blogging. I get it, I really do. As humans we crave structure. We want things to be simple and easy. I think this is important, but I don’t think it’s always necessary. Sometimes it’s just as crucial to step outside the box (or, in some cases, jump). For example, Beyonce just released a new album out of nowhere. No promotion, no advertising, no pre-release single. Talk about shaking things up. Well played, Beyonce, well played.
So here I am, no theme. I’m themeless. Without theme. And, if you say theme over and over again, it starts to sound totally ridiculous. Like a speech impediment. And now you’re trying it, and you’re ticked off because I manipulated you into it. But it was all in good fun.
That’s what I’ll go with for now: all in good fun. Does that mean I have a theme now?
Oh, and here’s a kitten.