Archive for category Life Events

NaNoWriMo and the aftermath thereof

So I “won” NaNoWriMo 2012 and have a nearly-good-enough-to-pass-as-mediocre-if-not-inspected-thoroughly novel to show for it. Now what?

National Novel Writing Month is an annual event that aims to convert an otherwise unextraordinary November into a stressful and anxiety-inducing 30 day separation from family and night night time. It’s considered a competition by many, but the real goal is to have no losers. There’s a loose support system in place, what with the non-stop pep talks and local NaNo groups that have cropped up in most “civilized” areas, but the good people behind it have yet to develop a remedy for life. Stuff happens and priorities shift. People get sick and die. Work stuff builds up and drags you into its malevolent grasp, seeking to syphon away any vitality you might miraculously still retain. So… there are lots and lots and lots of losers, and I guess that’s where the competitive spirit kicks in: I was a winner, and my smug bastardness proclaimed that fact all December long.

So I won. My new friend, Nate, in Chile, won. My old friend, Jed, who introduced me to Nate, lost like a stinking awful loser. And all of those things made me really happy.

Winning NaNoWriMo guarantees you end up with a short novel, and that’s exactly what I have (Inis Ealga is 50,009 words long, which is WAAAAAAAAAAAY more than NaNo’s 50k minimum. Can you say, “Overachiever?”). Unfortunately, as Jed Fecker the Loser points out, the quality of the finished work isn’t emphasized. That means that my book isn’t a book at all, but rather an extremely rough draft. But–!–it has accomplished the task all real books must: it’s been read. Twice! And not by me!

So, the excitement being as long over as it possibly can at this point, I’m back to my original question: “Now what?”

Editing, that’s what.

Euch. Gross. Sounds like a whole lot of work. Is it even worth it? Can this mess of a novella even be salvaged? Do I even want to pencil monkeying-with-it time into my busy schedule when, honestly, the only thing that could possibly give is my veg-out-and-recover-from-working-a-job-that’s-not-quite-awful-but-far-from-gratifying time? What about that hysterectomy Lynn’s about to have? I’m going to be one busy motherscratcher for the next six weeks or so! So… isn’t fooling around with a potentially irreparable piece of trash a really, really, really bad idea?

Yes, it is. The end.

But hang on–dammit, why do I always do this?–I’m going to finish my book, bad idea or not.

I enjoy writing. Editing, not so much. But, since my story is going to have to double or triple in size before it’s really done, I’m looking at the editing process as more of a scoping-out of the cool stuff I’m going to have to write later. Plus, fun as Skyrim is to play, I think there’s a far better story line waiting to be pulled from the muck that Inis Ealga currently is… and the fruits of laboring in the real world will always far exceed in value those produced in any imaginary one, regardless of the level of effort expended in either case. So, in a short time I could become the hero of an imaginary land (or, more likely, given the immense replayability of Bethesda’s ridiculously good game, I could have beaten the game as three or four different characters). Or I could be the proud author of a much-improved draft and the keeper of the hopes of a fully de-loused book and of the dreams of what such an eventuality could mean. I’m not supposed to have such dreams, apparently, but I do. I’ve wanted to be a writer most of my life… and as one former friend (whose pseudonym here escapes me at the moment) put it, “Real writers write.” So I write. And then I keep doing it. And when I’m done doing it I do it again and again until, dying, I abruptly stop doing it.

Will Inis Ealga ever be finished? I don’t know. But that’s my goal. Will it ever be a “real” book, bound with glue and paper and sold to unsuspecting dupes all over the world? That crosses into the territory of stuff I shouldn’t really think about too much. But it would be pretty dadgum awesome, I reckon.

I do know this for a fact, though: October is going to suck. Why? Because I plan to do NaNoWriMo again this year, and Lynn now knows exactly what I won’t be able to do for her in November.

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Whose Face Is It Anyway?

My mom always tried her best to make sure I absorbed advice about the stuff she learned hard. I appreciate her persistence now, but of course a lot of it didn’t make much sense when I was younger. It mostly just irritated me, especially the things that seemed to contradict themselves. I discovered the magical grayscale between black and white pretty early on in life, but for a long time I clung to a polar mindset when it came to the really big issues like morality and faith and cola preference and stuff like that. At the time it seemed there could be no room for compromise in those areas, but then I also had no concept whatsoever of the fluidity of context and human perception or the way the two bent reality like the mirrors at a Floyd laser show. I don’t know when exactly it was that I started sensing the outer reaches of my understanding, but I do have distinct memories of being overwhelmed by the complexity of certain problems that had been so dadgum obvious just a short time earlier.

Anyway, rambling story unrambled (and many relevant parts skipped), I better understand some of those contradictions now. Like this: it’s important to both care about and ignore the perceptions others have of you.

And here’s where this post actually starts.

I recently ran across the blog of a guy I worked with a few years ago. Ernie (his actual name, believe it or not) thinks it’s funny to have sexy pictures of David Hasselhoff scattered all over his blog. I happen to agree wholeheartedly, even if I would pick a completely different kind of dude if I ever lied about my team affiliation. Folks who know Ernie also know that he’s married, has a kid, and is very much full of crap. Of course, other folks might come across the images of a be-thonged Hasselhoff and think that Ernie’s a twink… or worse. Is there anything wrong with that? Maybe not. Will it ever cause problems for him? Chances are slim. But things like that have a way of biting a fool square in the glutes when said fool least expects it. As far as I know Ernie hasn’t had to buff any tooth marks out of his nethernethers (and he certainly isn’t a fool), but he did admit that he took down the blog a while back when he was interviewing for a job for fear that its discovery might complicate his chances of landing the position. While Ernie’s perceived enjoyment of looking at Michael Knight’s “lance” wouldn’t have really been a legal basis for not offering him the job, it’s easy to imagine an offended interviewer coming up with a host of other invalid but unquestionable reasons to pass on him. “Gut feelings” are handy things when deciding on something as important as hiring somebody, but are even handier as covers for prejudice, fear and just plain old bigotry.

Everything worked out for Ernie, but his funny little story (and also, oddly, an episode of The Sopranos), reminded me of one of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s best quotes:

No man for any considerable period can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true.

I like it, and for the most part I agree.

I quit improv years ago because a) I wasn’t funny and b) the only thing anybody ever saw was the bad me. It was easy to take the low road with vulgarity and drug references and unkind imitation, and I got more and more comfortable doing just those things. It was my fault to a degree because it was an easy way out of most situations, and most folks thought it was funny the first coupla-thousand times. I never really offended anybody at first–or at least I was never confronted–but I eventually wound up playing it gay in most of my sketches, and things started to change. There were always the fratboy/dirty girl elements who loved the homo games and always wanted me to portray a gay golfer with Tourette’s or whatever, but I also realized there were a fair number of people who just weren’t comfortable with it. I never wondered if I might really be a screaming, divoting gay boy at heart, but I know for a fact that my spot-on (and sometimes even hilarious) gay humor sometimes led to tension off-stage. Judge all you want about folks who can’t handle the queer concept, but I guarantee at least one of your self-righteous “open-minded” friends is really a raging homophobe on the inside. Besides (and back on topic [sorry]), these were people I didn’t want to distance myself from and their personal boundaries were their business alone.

My cousin, Stuffy, went through a phase as a kid where’d he’d always ask, “What’s your point?” whenever you said something to him. It was infuriating, especially when it was shortened to just, “Point?”

So. Point?

My point is this: I’m a well-practiced liar. I did it on stage. I do it at work. I even do it at home. While I’ve always been compatible with a broad range of people, regardless of how wrong they are politically or how different socio-economically, in the end it’s almost always been because I’m a freaking Floyd mix tape that needs lasers to sound cool. OK, bad example, because the lasers aren’t actually necessary… so I guess I’m still just saying I’m a liar. My behavior over the past few decades has changed more quickly than can be explained by the maturation of my sensibilities, too, and in a lot of ways it actually belies the emotional maturity you’d expect from a body of my physical age. For that reason I often have trouble relating to people I considered good friends even just a few years ago. I can’t remember now what particular set of personality modifications I emulated for each set of friends or, in some cases, why I even pretended to want to hang out with them. And am I just effecting another personality now? Maybe one that conforms more to the cognitive and moral patterns I think more people should have? Maybe this isn’t really me at all. Old Nate was right: I’m plum cornfused.

Point?

My point is this: I’m a lying sack of crap and you might not even really know me. But I’m working on dropping the pretense and the drama and the dickweedery, and maybe we’ll still be friends after I’ve accomplished all that.

As if I can really change.

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Tapping in?

So… I haven’t been around here for ages upon bloomin’ ages, but maybe I’m sort of kind of back. I’ve had several moments of near-clarity regarding my future and the whole writing dream recently and, while it’s not really that important what ran through my seldom-used noggin, the result is that I’m hyped like I haven’t been in years (wow – literally).

I haven’t completely worked out what all will be changing or how… but you, my long forgotten three followers, will know my plans almost as soon as I do. Or within a month or two, or something.

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Five years without my biggest fan

Today is the fifth anniversary of my mom’s death. She was the biggest, proudest and most outspoken fan I’ve ever had, and it’s been tough generating all my own enthusiasm all this time without her. It’s a hurt that hasn’t gone away after all these years, but distance from the day my grandfather called with all his bluntness has sure helped with the perspective and the healing and all the good emotional stuff that’s supposed to dull the edges of such a traumatic, horrible thing.

I miss her dearly, and it’s not fair that she won’t be here to celebrate her favorite holiday with her little grandson, but she’s celebrating Christmas with our King this year. She’s okay now.

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A very happy birthday

I took a vacation day to celebrate Mom’s 62nd birthday today. 62 isn’t much of a milestone in the books of most, but to me it sort of was: it was the 5th one to come round since I lost her.

It was a good day, and was the first really warm, beautiful one we’ve had in a long time. I made a new arrangement for her stone with some of her favorite spring flowers, and in the back I added three peace lilies. It probably didn’t turn out as well as something a professional might have put together, but I thought it was appropriate. Besides, she always preferred homemade birthday cards and gifts and whatnot. I forgot my camera, of course, but my creative failures and/or bouts of anti-masculine-traditionalism probably shouldn’t be documented anyway. Since I hadn’t really felt like visiting her for a few years my grandfather, Tuck, had been maintaining her flowers for me. He passed away last December, though, and handed that particular responsibility back down to me. I think the arrangement already there might have been from him, and since it was still in pretty good shape I didn’t have the heart to pitch it; I gave it to my great uncle Teddy (and Mom’s favorite uncle ever), who is also buried in the same cemetery.

Afterward I took myself for lunch at Kublai Kebab, which is sort of a raw bar/hibachi kind of thing, and to a showing of Taken. It was between that and a Wes Craven remake, but since a) Mom wouldn’t have ever wanted to see a horror flick on her birthday and b) I was afraid Jonathan Craven might be as talentless as his father, the Liam Neeson movie won. And honestly, except for the anti-climactic and unsatisfying ending, it was a pretty good movie.

And of course after that I helped myself to the birthday doughnut I always got for Mom.

In all, it was really a great day of celebration. It’s the first time I’ve been able to enjoy the memories of her without being overtaken by the sense of loss. That element is still present, of course, but time and distance do wonders for those wounds that never heal. And I’m finally in the place I need to be.

So happy birthday, Ma! :)

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Mama

Mom has been gone exactly four years, and I’ve really missed her today. She used to drive me nuts singing Christmas hymns and carols, but it was her favorite time of year and I forgave her her jubilation. She was a sucker for the lights and ornaments and the carolers and the sugar cookies, but at her core was a love for Christ that she couldn’t have hidden had she wanted to.

This one’s for you, Mom.

Joy to the world! the Lord is come;
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare him room,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven, and heaven, and nature sing.

Joy to the world! the Saviour reigns;
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat the sounding joy.

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders, of His love.

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Paintswappers

I’ve a quick scenario for you. And, no, I’m not describing something I’ve done.

While exiting a co-worker’s vehicle, you manage to smack the next car in the lot with your door. It’s not a huge dent, but there’s definitely a dimple. You’ve left paint, too, and unfortunately it constrasts with the flat gray/silver of the other guy’s finish. The car in question is dirty but it’s not a junker by any stretch of the imagination, and there are no other visible dents or dings. As you eat your lunch you discover the car’s owner is an employee of the establishment you’re presently patronizing, so it would be easy to confess your minor sin and even make amends if that’s what you’re about.

So, what would you do? Is something so minor even worth considering? And if not, how much damage would have been required to make it a non-event?

I know you can’t be arsed to leave your reply here, but it’s something to think about. I did watch all this unfold today at lunch, and it was really fascinating to watch my protagonist (or was he really the antagonist, since he ultimately left his “crime” [your call] unconfessed?) as he slowly rationalized away any responsibility he may or may not have been liable for. Fun times, and nobody died completely dead.

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Somebody Told Me Again (AKA Going Legit, Part 3)

Preface: it’s not necessary to review my earlier posts to understand tonight’s spew, but parts 1 and 2 are here and here if you’re so inclined to trudge through them.

A while back I decided to give up a life of petty theft and electronic burglary and behave like a respectable young(ish) man. I had amassed thousands of dollars’ worth of illegal software, operating systems, games, music and movies, and had downloaded enough patches and cracks to start my own plumbing company. Think I’m exaggerating? Think again. I was a web developer, so I had the entire suite of Adobe products installed, plus the (then separate) Macromedia line, plus the commercial modelers and raytracers and development studios, plus all the operating systems my junk was running on, plus whatever else my greedy little heart desired.

But now I have a friend in Obama (he walks with me and he talks with me and he tells me how little I own), and I’ve Changed.

OK, scratch that last. I gave up improv long ago, so there’s no longer any reason for me to pretend to be gay and/or socialist in public (or semi-public, as this blog seems to be). But forgive me, my three faithful readers and half dozen stumblers-upon, for I tend to wander. I did eventually amend my habits, though, and I’m happy to report that I’m in my 20th month of keeping them amended!

Anyway, so I’ve always been interested in the concepts of piracy, DRM, copyright law, etc., and because I’ve participated actively on both sides of the central issue, it’s something I’ve often given thought to. I came across something yesterday that piqued the interest of my inner technowonk, and I want to share it here: perspective and counter-perspective on the theft of music.

Essentially, what happened was that some dude blawged about music piracy a while back, and then someone else chimed in with some actual sense, and then the original dude posted a new entry about that, and then things started really getting out of hand. OK, actually he argued in his original post that there was a big difference between piracy and unauthorized duplication, and that, while one was big and bad and evil, the other other wasn’t so much a deal. To that I say, “Fart sandwiches.” Degrees of theft can’t be quantified, and no amount of rationalization can justify taking something from someone else without their permission. He argues that it’s going to be taken anyway, so nobody should fret over it too much. He argues that it spreads the artist’s notoriety, but doesn’t explain how popularizing a particular theft and encouraging more and more folks to steal from someone will help them pay the rent. Then (my favorite part!) he speculates that maybe, just maybe, people shouldn’t be forced to actually pay for things they can’t afford.

I was waiting for his logic to start expanding like J-Lo’s butt and encompass all things in life that aren’t free but might should be, but he disappointed me by not going there. Just think: if music is necessary to life, how much more so must the Big Mac be? What right does McDonald’s have to charge actual money for their stuff anyway, when there are people who can’t afford it? I think I should steal about 20,000 fish sandwiches and share them with friends and perfect strangers alike. Wouldn’t that expand their fan base? It would be fantastic for everybody, wouldn’t it? To be fair, though, that’s not a perfect analog since it takes actual effort to create each sandwich while music can just be copied. A better example might be sex, but I won’t really explore that option in depth. The saner of you get my meaning, though, so I can probably just wrap up this paragraph with my trademark lack of conclusion.

I’ve been following Worldwide Groove Corporation for a while, and it’s actually Ellen Tift, the mom of that particular mom-and-pop, that stoked the fires with her passionate rebuttal to the dude’s original post. I’m a huge fan of chillout (and have really always been an electronica kiddy at heart), and I’m currently head over heels in love with Chillodesiac Lounge (vol. 1). I hadn’t actually been on their site much before the butt hit the scuttle, but one of the comments on the dude’s entry mentioned a Killers remix that I had to go check out there. And… wow. What can I say? Other than that I’m now the proud owner of a kickin’ version of Somebody Told Me? You really, really should go check these folks out.

I have lots of music bidness friends and contacts, and most of them are quite outspoken with their anti-music-piracy messages. They know first-hand how damaging minor theft on a grand scale can be, and they wholeheartedly support the artists and authors in question. What’s interesting, though, is that several of them do trade unauthorized copies of other things – movies, video games, etc., and I always wonder how their rationalization process works when they do things like that. Oh well, at least they’re not stealing fish sandwiches…

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Crazy bleedin' edger

Yes, I do – I live a CRAZY life. Clubbing til 3am most mornings would be enough for most folks, but not for me. There’s a quick 90 minute power nap after that, and at 5:00 I’m showered and refreshed and out on the racquetball court with my sophisticated Puerto Rican friend Eduardo. I think he’s gay, but that doesn’t bother me because the gay bars are the best for my mid-morning appletini breaks. By noon I’ve wrapped up at work and am hanging out with my girlfriend who always takes some “us” lunch time between the studio sessions for her new album and all the photo shoots. After that there are always two or three early-starting (or late-ending) parties to hit, and in the evening it’s backstage passes for any of a number of sold out performances given by my girlfriend’s showbiz buddies or a few contemplative hours in my private box at the symphony. There’s dinner somewhere in there, prepared as usual by my Vietnamese chef/chauffeur and finished up with a Gurkha and some Louis XIII Cognac, and before you know it it’s time to hit the clubs again. Oh, and I make it to church every Sunday to make up for the 11 hours of debauchery I manage every Saturday.

True story, every word.

But maybe with just a few slight embellishments.

OK, not a bit of it’s true. My idea of a big night on the town these days is seeing Max Payne with Big Carter and then sitting in a Megalomart parking lot for a half hour while my bladder repeatedly expires, revives and clenches up again from the 96 ounce Dr. Pee I drank at the theater. I couldn’t have planned a more boring life for myself given any amount of time, but I love it, every minute. Most of my friends are on different paths now, but the few that remain are good ones. I have my family, and Little Carter is more important to me than I ever thought possible. Rico Suave I may not be, but I wouldn’t trade a minute I’ve had with my son for all the partyboy sophistication in the world.

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Going into rehab

After experiencing hideous caffeine withdrawal symptoms yet again yesterday, and after finally realizing that splitting headaches have been a Monday morning tradition for months and months, I’ve decided it’s time to get my addiction under control.

So, for the remainder of this week and probably next week, too, I’m limiting myself to 4 cups of coffee a day.

That sounds like a lot, and it really is, but after being accustomed to 5 to 10 cups a day during the week and 2 or 3 colas on Saturdays, cold turkey isn’t even on the menu. I’ve been through withdrawal many, many times before, and to borrow the punchline from a classic American feminine product spot, I haven’t got time for the pain. No, I had never heard of Carly Simon when that commercial started slowly but indelibly imprinting itself onto my brain.

Anyway, so I’ve had my first cup today: Folger’s in a tea bag. It really wasn’t bad, especially considering it’s 3 years out of date. I don’t really remember buying it; it was just a nugget I scavenged during Operation Basement Storm, which began whole-heartedly yesterday. The other nuggets down there shan’t be discussed, especially in as semi-pubic a place as this.

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