Monday, November 04, 2013, posted by Q6 at 7:20 PM
The thing is, I'm trying to be a writer.  I read stories and novels and I watch movies, all the while deconstructing them.  I read articles and books and blogs on writing.  I discuss writing with (a sparse few) others.  I do everything I should be doing as an aspiring writer except one thing.

Writing.  Lately, I don't really do any writing.

In my defense -- and this is the flimsy justification I often use on myself, with little success -- I have a day job that bleeds away a lot of my energy; and when I have some free time, I find myself using it to relax and recharge my batteries for -- that's right -- another week at work.  Or I spend time with my family, which is something I should not and would not give up.

I've completed one screenplay, and that one went through three drafts.  I've done nothing to try and get it sold.  Nothing.  Zip.  I haven't even spent any time researching HOW to go about selling it.  It just sits there.

I've got two other screenplays:  one on draft two, the other on draft four.  I know what I want D4 to be -- I've watched it in my head a hundred times -- and I know most of what D2 should be, though it's a comedy and will probably be a steeper mountain to climb.

I've got another idea for a screenplay, but all I've done is a mental outline.

I've even got an idea for a ten part Kindle serial, based on a novel idea I've had for almost a decade.  It was originally going to be my first novel, my prize, my magnum opus.

And then, there's the novel I'm currently working on.  Eleven months ago I pledged that I would have this one finished, edited, proofed, and up on Amazon (for Kindle) by Thanksgiving (that's three weeks away).  Most of the 45,000 words I've finished so far spilled out of my head in the first eight weeks; since then, it's been slow going.  Glacial.

What's wrong with me?  Am I not committed?  Do I not care anymore?  It can't be that I care more about the day job (even though it's providing food, clothing, shelter, paying bills, and covering most of my daughter's college tuition), and it can't be that I'm trying to achieve the unachievable.  I'd like to think I have the talent to pull this off, and I'd like to think that I don't need to hole up in some isolated resort somewhere -- away from the world, my family, and Wi-Fi -- to actually get it done.

I'd like to think a lot of things.  In the end, I'd like to think that I can -- no, that I will -- write a book.
Friday, May 31, 2013, posted by Q6 at 9:10 PM
Before I begin, let me preface with this:  I'm fine.  A good deal of my life is in great shape.  My wife is awesome.  My kids are fantastic.  My health is good (despite the fact I'm almost three months overdue for blood work to prove I can, in fact, control my cholesterol levels without the ingestion of synthetic medications or by reducing my diet to nothing but raw lettuce and shredded tree bark).  Mentally, though, I have my moments.

I have quite a few "big" things going on in my life right now:  my daughter attends a university which requires healthy tuition payments; my wife deals with some medical issues which, though by no means terminal, are certainly taking their toll on her; my son's career continues to move in a positive direction -- at a rate that exceeds my expectations -- but is still struggling to deal with financial things like taxes and car repair (and helping him with these is probably, in long run, cheaper than having him move back in).  All of these weigh on me from time to time.

And yet, lately, it seems to be the little things that weigh on me the most.  The other day I took a day off from work (which doesn't happen often, as I do not have one of those jobs where someone fills in, so taking a day off merely means that instead of five days to complete five days worth of work, I have four days to complete five days worth of work; it's like taking time off in dog years, or something) so that I could drive my daughter to the airport -- not the local one, but the one almost an hour away -- for a flight around noon.  It meant she and I could stop for a leisurely breakfast at a little place I know, and then afterward I would have a leisurely afternoon.

I was looking forward to the leisure of my afternoon.  I don't get the chance to do that nearly often enough.  Now I know why.

My brain doesn't do "neutral" well at all.

Upon returning from the airport I found I had something like four hours to myself (I had two early evening events for work).  I could have read.  I could have written.  I could have watched TV.  I could have napped.  So what did I do?

I cleaned up a pile of my stuff on the dining room table.  And in doing so, I discovered another small pile of my junk, so I took care of it, too.  Then I saw something that needed to go to the garage, which reminded me of two other things I had upstairs that needed to go as well, so I took care of that.  Each small project led to another small, meaningless project.  (Before you decide to jump ahead of me, let me make this clear:  this story does NOT end with my house being immaculate and organized in a two hour span of time.  I did a few things I wouldn't ordinarily have time for.  Thank God I stopped myself just as I noticed what a mess my home office desk is.)

The problem was this:  these tasks required almost zero brain activity.  I was doing work that chimpanzees might react to with, "Seriously, they're feeding us just for doing this simple stuff?"  And by doing tasks that required little to no thought, what did my brain default to?

"Why are you doing a job you don't enjoy?  How come there isn't a way to do what makes you happy AND still pay all the bills?  Why do you let your job get you so down?  How come other people don't seem to worry about work as much as you do?  What are you doing with your life, man?"  And so on.  

At the end of it, after all the little tasks were done and several -- but not all (God forbid I actually finish a project I start) -- piles of stuff were either dispensed with or moved to more storage-y locations, my brain had taken me to a place of... of resignation.  (I'm not suicidal, I don't plan on being suicidal, and I'm not really within ten city blocks of thinking such things.  Chill.)  There's a feeling of defeat that comes over me every now and again -- usually in conjunction with thoughts about my career -- that I just can't seem to shake.  And when my brain has nothing to do, for some reason, that's where it goes.

So not only do I find it difficult to quiet my brain down after a long day/week at work, I think I'm afraid to quiet it down... because I know exactly where it's going to go, and it ain't always pretty in there.

I'm looking for diversions.  Reading.  Trying (and usually failing) to find more time to write.  I thought about therapy, but then considered how less expensive alcoholism could be; only to have two bottles of cherry cider (I'm not lying:  it's called "Cherry Bomb") explode in my kitchen, sending sticky alcohol and tiny shards of glass throughout the kitchen.  Message received, Universe.

And, might I add, well played.

Sunday, October 28, 2012, posted by Q6 at 1:26 PM
You hear it all the time in an election year:  "If I were President, I would blah-blah-blah."  And people have their ideas, and some of them are good, and some of them suck.  When it boils right down to it, running for office isn't that difficult.  As I understand it -- and it varies from office to office, state to state, and district to district -- it's just some paperwork and maybe a fee.  Signatures on a petition, too, if the office is powerful enough.  Winning the office and doing the job take a little more expertise and savvy (or not, given how we complain about or elected officials).

I'll be honest:  over the course of time I've considered, several times, running for a local office.  I have no idea what these smaller elected jobs pay (if anything), and I don't know if I'm the sort who would be open to the whole pander-to-the-voters-so-I-can-get-elected scene, but I've thought about it.  And while the idea does seem somewhat appealing to me at times, I can't get away from the fact that one small, local office would logically lead to another, higher office.  A City Councilman is, from my perspective, nothing more than a frustrated Mayor; a Mayor is a frustrated Governor; and so on up the chain, until you're a Presidential Debate meme.

And putting yourself out there at that level will either make you very popular or exactly the opposite.  Given some of my ideas, I fear I'd fall into the latter category, which is why you don't see my name on the ballot (Roseanne Barr's, yes; mine, no).  Here are some of those potentially unpopular ideas:

ECONOMIC REFORM:  My idea isn't well thought out with details, but the concept seems pretty simple:  I propose a "cap" on personal income as well as business profits.  You know those people who make so much money they'd never be able to spend it in one lifetime?  Yeah, that's a bunch of money that could be better used in other areas.  You don't need $10 million a year to live; but just for the sake of argument, let's make that the cap.  Anyone who makes more than $10 million in a year needs to surrender everything over that amount, and that goes back into the state or national (or both) coffers.  Same for businesses:  determine a certain profit cap as a percentage of operating expenses, and anything over the profit cap either needs to be directed into expansion of the business (with a certain amount dedicated to human resources), or surrendered.  It's not a popular idea, I'm sure, and it probably smacks of socialism or communism (or both); but it's one way to bring the 99% and the 1% closer together, or the 47% to the 53%, or just help level the playing field in general.

GASOLINE PRICES:  It's been said that in ten years gasoline will be something like $10 a gallon.  People will have stopped using a lot of it by then, just because it's too expensive; others will stop using it because we will eventually run out of the stuff (finite number of dead dinosaurs = limited resource).  Why wait?  Let's start a clock, and when that clock runs out gasoline will be illegal to refine, sell, and use.  We'll have that long to either (a) make mass transit work better, or (b) finally get these alternative fuel cars in the showrooms.  JFK gave us a decade to get the moon, and we pulled it off.

HEALTH CARE:  I'd like to think that my salary cap idea would make the medical profession less attractive to those who are out for big paychecks, leaving that many more people who get into the field of medicine to help people and not to make money.  That being said, I understand that there are some big costs connected to some ailments, but I'd like to see many more of our resources dedicated to the prevention of certain health problems.  We talk a good game sometimes, but we're not taking care of ourselves the way we should.  I don't know if this would be massive discounts for those who live healthier, or if we throw huge penalties at those who don't.  But prevention isn't difficult, and maybe those who choose to live poorly should be denied treatment for things they could have prevented.

(You're starting to see why I can't run for office, right?)

THE ENVIRONMENT:  The planet is only so big, there are only so many resources to sustain it, and we're not helping.  (I'm sitting here in 90 degree weather in late October.  Don't tell me we're not feeling the effects of this already.  We keep this up and we'll have Thanksgiving dinner at the beach.)  Ultimately, there are just too many people on the planet, and that's the first thing we need to change.  Reducing the size of the population (which we could easily weave into my health care platform) would be a long term goal.  Stepping up efforts in conservation would be short term goals.  This is another area where we all talk a good game but still drive our kids three blocks to school.  That big island of trash out in the Pacific Ocean that's supposedly the size of Texas?  Not a natural phenomenon.

EDUCATION:  This is an interesting one for me because I work in education.  Do I think everyone should go to college?  Hell, no.  (I don't think everyone should go to high school, actually, but don't get me started on my let-Social-Darwinism-have-some-fun-for-a-while rant, because that also makes my Health Care and Environment plans develop in very draconian ways.)  Not everyone should go to college because there isn't enough college in the United States for all of our high school graduates (let alone immigrants, legal and otherwise).  The demand for college and the limited supply of college is what's making the costs impossible to afford for most people, which goes back to the whole economic problem.  Do you run a business in which you require your employees to attend college?  Then send them there yourself.  My father was an engineer; he even supervised the quality control department for a time.  Not a day of college.  Not one.  Most of those guys who worked on the moon shot program?  No.  Back in the day, college was meant for just a few, specialized fields.  It wasn't meant for everyone.  It's still not.  I think we've all lost sight of that a little bit and we need to get a grip.  College is not for everyone, and it should not need to be for everyone.

In the end, there's really only one reason I've convinced myself that running for  any sort of public office would be a bad idea:  I'm twice divorced, and I believe that either or both of my ex-wives might enjoy taking the opportunity to share all kinds of dirty laundry -- real or imagined -- in the hope of derailing my campaign.

I'm not really candidate material, and I'm comfortable with that; I guess what bothers me is that a lot of the citizenry of the United States doesn't seem to think our candidates are "candidate material," either -- nonetheless, one of them is going to win.  It all reminds me of something one of my high school teachers said long ago:

"The only people we want as our elected leaders, the only people we think would do the job right, have no interest in being elected to anything."
Saturday, October 06, 2012, posted by Q6 at 1:09 PM
Man, I thought I'd lost this.  Strange what you find when you clean out your closet.  I found an old high school yearbook, three shirts that aren't in style anymore (and, therefore, won't be back in style for another couple of years, so I put them back), and my blogs.

So, I'm back.  Since I've decided to do more with Twitter than Facebook from now on, I'll need the blog to do the things that require more than 140 characters.  I'll try to be routine in the posting -- I'll do my best, anyway.  Heck, if my wife -- who has thousands of students to teach and millions of papers to grade -- and my daughter -- who has ALL THE COLLEGE to do -- can blog on a somewhat regular basis, so can I.  (Besides, it'll keep my writing chops limber, and I'm trying to get back into some kind of screenwriting routine.)

Sorry I've been away.  I've missed you.

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Sunday, May 22, 2011, posted by Q6 at 6:01 PM
I just turned 42, and I'm working on quite the nifty speech about what that means to me and what the significance of Douglas Adams' infamous number is. At the moment, however, I'm being pulled in several different directions at once, and not in a good way. (In fairness, I must admit that I'm responsible for some of the "not good" pulling, but it's in an ironic attempt to save what little of my foreground sanity is left, so bear with me.)

It's kind of like a screwball comedy without the funny.

I love my life. I hate my job, but I have a kicking home life. Those were oddly reversed several years ago, and it felt a bit strange getting excited to go to work so that I could avoid the hell that was my home life.* On one hand, I like the idea of being back in the mainstream with everyone else who hates their jobs; on the other hand, though, I still find myself working for most of my waking hours, and therefore I'm having all that harder of a time enjoying the home life I'm now deeply in love with. To make matters worse, there are several things I'd like to do in my home life to develop myself personally -- which requires more time I already don't have. One of those, of course, is my writing.

Every so often I will daydream of a time not far off when I will be able to write a screenplay, sell it for enough money to quit my job for two years, spend THAT time writing even more, sell that stuff and buy myself another two or three years, and so on. It's a nifty dream. The problem is that I don't have enough time to get even the first screenplay done (I have three started, and four more as simply ideas; factor in the adage that "90% of what you write is crap," and time becomes an even hotter commodity). It takes me longer and longer these days to even get myself up to speed with my writing, and suddenly time is . . . well, "elusive" seems like an understatement, but I am thesaurus-free at the moment.

And my job DOES suck. It's causing me great stress, physical problems, and taking up entirely too much of those chambers of my brain that are meant for me. Hell, I'm even dreaming about being in the same situations, and my sleep has usually been reserved for creativity and weirdness as recreation. It's not even therapeutic anymore.

So instead of working on the screenplay that has been my joy for a little over a year, I am putting it aside and heading back to my number three script idea (number two isn't going to get anywhere with my head all screwed up, either, so it's off to number three). I'll try that for a while, wait for the school year to end, and then try to get my batteries recharged. Hopefully I'll come out on the other side a better person for the experience, and better prepared to compartmentalize the suck.

If you or someone you know is looking to produce (or even consider producing) a small film, a character-driven piece with little-to-no special effects, let me know. I'm working on it.

*If either of my kids are reading this, they know that this period of hell had nothing to do with them and should not read anything into it. I'm happy to elaborate if they need me to.
Tuesday, April 12, 2011, posted by Q6 at 2:20 PM
Yeah, this is late. And incomplete. I'm just cleaning house on the blog right now, with the hope that I'll manage to get back into it.

Like I don't have enough to do with my time.

Books read in 2010: (* indicates Kindle-read)

  • Pirate Latitudes by Michael Crichton
  • I, Alex Cross by James Patterson
  • Under the Dome by Stephen King
  • Everything Matters by Ron Currie, Jr.*
  • Watchmen and Philosophy by Mark D. White (Ed)
  • Up in the Air by Walter Kirn
  • Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter* by Seth Grahame-Smith
  • Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay*

  • Dexter by Design by Jeff Lindsay*

  • Dearly Devoted Dexter by Jeff Lindsay*

  • Dexter in the Dark by Jeff Lindsay*

  • Dexter is Delicious by Jeff Lindsay*

  • Divine Misfortune by A. Lee Martinez*

  • Everything Matters by Ron Currie, Jr.*

  • The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson*

  • The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson*

  • The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson*

  • Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

  • Stuff by Mary Roach

  • The Book of General Ignorance by John Lloyd and John Mitchinson

  • Always Looking Up by Michael J. Fox

  • Stories Edited by Neil Gaiman and Al Sarrantonio

  • The Confession by John Grisham

  • Columbine by Dave Cullen

  • It's Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzino

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Wednesday, December 01, 2010, posted by Q6 at 2:02 PM
With sadness, we must convey the passing of our beloved dog, Belle.

Last night, after bringing Belle inside to warm up a bit, we noticed that she was limping pretty badly on one of her front legs. This was about ninety minutes after our daily walk, and she's lately been a little worn out after those, but never limping so severely. Also, given a combination of her age, her arthritis, and rugless hardwood floors (from which it would be difficult for any canine, long nails or no, to find traction) she was unsuccessful in even being able to stand up. As late as it was, and the vet's office being closed, we took Belle to a local animal hospital. (It should be noted that although she had to be carried into and out of the car, she seemed to enjoy the car ride; and, true to her typical behavior, she bypassed all the towels I laid out in the back seat and opted for the car's upholstery. Also, I also have no idea what was so fascinating under the passenger seat.)

The emergency vet confirmed that she was, in fact, limping badly; but we learned that this was not her biggest problem. We're not certain over what period of time (it could have been gradual or very recent), but Belle had developed what the doctor called a "significant mass" in the area of her spleen. Without doing extensive bloodwork and scans we could not know if the mass was benign or cancerous, though there were some indications that it was the latter. The options presented to us included scans and surgery, then analysis of the mass to determine if chemotherapy would be warranted. It would be major surgery, requiring recovery; it would have had no impact on her mobility problems; and there's no telling how long her life would have been prolonged (though it's safe to say the recovery would take some time). Dogs of Belle's breed, according to the vet, have a life expectancy of about twelve years; Belle was almost seventeen.

The thing about dogs (or any animal) is that although you get to learn certain signs and signals over time, there's no effective way for them to communicate how they're feeling. We're told that Belle's mass was probably causing her regular discomfort, especially given the size of the mass. We all know that major surgery late in life can be difficult from which to recover, and that full recovery, especially without a spleen, isn't a guarantee of anything. My wife, My son, and I were all there last night, listening to the doctor explain Belle's prognosis and going into detail about the options.

And, in the end, though the decision was difficult (far more difficult that I had expected, and I've been running this scenario over and over in my head for almost a year), we decided that we didn't want to put Belle through it. The idea of major surgery recovery and the possibility of chemotherapy really didn't seem like the kind of thing to put her through for the short period of time it would have extended her life. I don't know how much pain she was in on a daily basis, nor do I know how much of a "brave face" she put on for us (though, knowing Belle, I have my suspicions). We spent some time with her, we took pictures, we held her, and then the vet helped us see things through to the end. It was peaceful, she seemed content, and she passed with her head on my lap.

And we will miss her.

"Good girl. Go on, now; go chase squirrels. You've earned it. We love you. Good puppy."

Goodbye, Belle.
Tuesday, September 21, 2010, posted by Q6 at 10:44 AM
For the last several months, I've had a dream. More of a fantasy, actually, because these last few days I've begun to see this dream shrivel a bit. My concern for my dream's welfare grows as reality, a cursed scourge, a pox rears its head and makes its presence known.

Let me back up a bit.

I have a dream. My dream is to quit a perfectly good job, one that carries with it decent hours, a healthy paycheck, and awesome benefits--to quit, and to get out of the business completely. It's a job I used to love, and I don't love it anymore. I don't even like it a little. I've been in the "industry" for almost twenty years, and I feel like I've had enough.

My dream is to write for a living. I have an idea for a novel, one or two ideas for television series, and several ideas for feature screenplays. I've almost finished the second draft of my first screenplay, a daunting task, a satisfying task, and, in my mind, my ticket outta here. The way it plays out in my head: I write the first screenplay, I sell it for enough money to cover me for a couple of years, and use that time to write and sell even more of them. I don't want to go all big-mansion, fast-car rock-star; I just want to make enough of a nest egg to write from the nest.

My dream includes a vignette in which I resign from my job. People are shocked. No one sees the logic. The staff is flummoxed, the boss is poleaxed. NO ONE saw it coming.

My dream is, of course, the dream of many. And because that dream is so sought after, the percentage of people who fulfill this dream shrinks as the number of people who seek this dream expands; and lately, I've been hit with a few thoughts in opposition to the dream: that the screenplay won't sell for enough to allow me to quit, that I may need to write several screenplays before trying to enter the market (meaning more time in the dreaded day job), or that the screenplay won't sell at all.

And, being who I am, the thoughts of reality--the realization that this mountain I'm attempting to climb looks much steeper up close--impacts my momentum to write during the hours and half-hours in which I can sneak in some writing. I'm not at some "What's the use?" exclamation . . . yet. And I'm trying to keep my momentum up, my writing [as] constant [as possible], and avoid thinking the "What if it doesn't work?" thoughts.

Until then, I will continue to spend 8 hours a day doing shit I don't really wanna do. I will maintain financial stability and I will pay the bills . . . until I can get the screenplays to take over that task.
Thursday, September 09, 2010, posted by Q6 at 10:35 AM
I have reached a point in life I never thought I'd reach: I'm tired of my job. For years, I've enjoyed it, looked forward to it each morning, and tried to do it well. On occasion, I would hit a slump: too much to do, a big matter requiring lots of time, or something else -- temporary -- that would bring me down. This time, however, it feels like a significant portion of my give-a-shit has just shriveled up and died. I really don't care about it anymore.

There are bills to pay, however, so I trudge along. (Is this what all the corproate-cubicle people feel like all the time? How does Dilbert do it?)
Wednesday, April 14, 2010, posted by Q6 at 9:49 AM
Let me start by saying that I've never been a big believer in "diagnosed" states of mind. Things like ADHD and bipolar disorder have always been, to me, solely matters of body chemistry, not classified illnesses ot be documented and accommodated. (Then again, I'm one who thought that "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" was about psychotherapy--most people thought it was about religion.)

So it was something of a surprise to consider the possibility that I might be depressed in a body-chemistry-type of way. That is not to say that I've become a convert in perception of mental illness; in fact, I think my approach has, if anything, helped me to better understand what I may be going through. (I should also point out--to everyone, including the several people I know that work in the field of psychology--that my opinions are in no way meant to belittle, demean, or dismiss the study of psychology; for all I know, I'm unknowingly speaking their language. I haven't done enough research to fully understand what I'm talking about, and I admit that.)

So here's what I got to thinking about this morning: What is the recipe for a healthy human psyche? If my perspective is based on the idea of body chemistry, let's assume that such chemistry is affected by things both tanglible (such as diet and exercise) and intanglible (such as moods). The right items in the right combinations and amounts, as well as the avoidance of other items, result in a happy mind. I compare it to placing ingredients into my breadmaker: the right quantities of the the right things in the right order. (I'm rambling a bit, and I know that, and I'm sorry--I'm trying to get all these thoughts down while they still have enough consistency to be shaped.)

I think that my ingredients may be screwed up.

(a) My diet has always been kinda goofy, and although I don't think it plays a major role here, it's worth mentioning. I don't eat a lot at all--one meal a day, plus a little noshing--and now my mother has planted in my head the idea that my thyroid may be responsible (she's had trouble with hers). Diet as a small possibility, a thyroid gland as a possibility--that's two ingredients right there.

(b) I snore. I don't stop breathing or anything, but I snore. My brother suffers from it worse than I do; he did a sleep study and now uses one of those machines to keep him from snoring. According to him, he sleeps much better and more soundly. His doctor thinks that the lack of good sleep was making him depressed. Lack of good sleep would, therefore, be another ingredient.

(c) I'm dissatisfied with my job. More specifically, I no longer receive any satisfaction from my job. I used to work with and for people who were kind enough to not only provide me with constructive criticism, but also with praise, when warranted. I don't think I'm doing my job any differently, but I'm no longer receiving any praise from anyone around here. That's put me in a different frame of mind, somehow, and I'm counting that as another ingredient here.

(d) I'm finding little things going wrong: simple little things that were never problematic before now seem to slip my mind; I find myself misspelling words more often, inverting the order of the letters; and my speech has developed a weird repetitive stutter over the last year or two. None of these "symptoms" is severe, by any means; in fact, I'd be surprised if anyone noticed them much, if at all. But I know they're there.

I've got a doctor's appointment next week; I guess that's when my amateur opinion gets a professional consult.
Monday, April 12, 2010, posted by Q6 at 7:59 AM
I may be going through something of a mid-life crisis.

You hear a lot about this (or I did, growing up): men who cross the forty or forty-five year old mark, find that they want totally different lives, and do completely irrational things as a result.

Let me be clear: I have NO desire whatsoever to leave my wife for some twenty year old; I'm not in the market for a fast, expensive, red sportscar; and the idea of a toupee or hair job of any kind makes me want to throw up. No, most of my problem right now, the source of my discontent, is professional. (There was a time, not so long ago, when I enjoyed my work. For a time, I enjoyed work more than I enjoyed my home life. Since then, however, my home life has improved dramatically and my work life has declined.)

I spent a good part of Spring Break (I'm in the education biz, remember) lounging about the house, spending time with my wife, and working on my novel/screenplay (more on that later). I've decided that I will someday make a truly excellent retired person, but in the meantime there are bills to pay, college tuitions to save for, and home improvement to be done.

My new fantasy daydream is to sell a novel/screenplay or two, build up enough to comfortably get by, and quit my job. (A close second to that is another daydream in which I merely walk in to work and quit my job with no plan B.) Of course, it's all labeled "fantasy" for a reason: Having no plan B, I wouldn't be able to support the household; there is no real "go-to" profession for people in my line of work, save returning to classroom teaching; and given the economy of late, returning to the classroom would put be back at the bottom of the seniority ladder, only to be kicked from that a year later (at best). At a time where many people my age are out of work--so many, in fact, that my eighteen year old son is having trouble finding a job--it's not right of me to complain. I have a job, and that's a lot more than many can say.

Nonetheless, I find myself wanting something more . . . fulfilling, professionally. And I keep coming back to the conclusion that--for now, at least--there's little to be done about it.

I am at the early part of "mid-life"; my situation is hardly a crisis--there are many things, most of them at home, that I enjoy immensely and consistently--and I can in no way label it as "problematic." If nothing else, I suppose, I am now like so many other people who aren't very happy in their jobs.

What do they do, I wonder?
Tuesday, March 23, 2010, posted by Q6 at 12:28 PM
Although I have much to blog about, I've not made the time to do so. And while I'm on the topic of making time to do things, I want to apologize to my loving wife. Yesterday I was having a bad day, and instead of making the time to let it go and enjoy the late afternoon and evening, I chose to brood, let others share information with me that I didn't need, and spent time for others but very little for myself.

As a result, I'm fully convinced that I allowed my mood to infect those of others, and that was a bad thing. I will endeavor to avoid that kind of thing in the future.
Wednesday, March 03, 2010, posted by Q6 at 5:16 AM
I have been a monthly-fee-paying member of AOL for quite some time now: fourteen years, to be exact. Back in February of 1996, ISPs were few, wi-fi (let alone free wi-fi) was nonexistent, and e-mail accounts had to be paid for. (Cellular phones were the size of briefcases at this time, but that's another story for another time.)

I no longer pay for AOL.

Moving everything over to my new Gmail account was easier than I thought it would be, as was informing everyone of my new address. I had these nightmares about losing fourteen years worth of valuable information* and contact lists created over time . . . as it turns out, I had nothing to fear.

I'm reminded of the first in-car CD player I owned: it was one of the first generation players, and it skipped every time I drove over the slightest bump in the road. A friend of mine told me he would wait a few years for the technology to improve, then get one after all the bugs had been worked out. Free e-mail accounts were like that to me: I wasn't going to jump in on the ground floor, but wait until all the bugs had been worked out and the complaints died down (it didn't hurt that I also waited for Google to get into the game).

As I look through my monthly budget, I see items that are necessary expenses and some payments that reflect temporary situations (I should have my credit card problem in the endzone in 12-18 months), but only one has stood out as "unnecessary." Now that AOL is out of my life and off my computer**, life doesn't seem that much different.

Except, of course, that I'm saving an extra $25.00 per month.

* Valuable information, insomuch as it's information I thought was important to file away; but it's not so important that I felt the need to ignore it after it was filed away.

** There have been horror stories floating around about it being impossible to exorcise AOL from your life; I had to fill out one online form, and then wait until the end of the billing cycle, and it was done. No headache, no problem.
Monday, March 01, 2010, posted by Q6 at 2:45 PM
I love to blog. I love to write. I love to develop ideas and present them artistically. I just never get around to it.

I am making an effort to change this. There will be posts about time management (or a lack of it), about father-son bonding, and about writing skills. There will be questions about changing professions and about parenting, and there will be answers about marriage and family.

My children will hit milestones in the coming weeks, and I will reflect on the father I've been, the husband I am, and the person that I want to be.

My blog is coming out of hibernation a little late, but welcoming of 2010.
Tuesday, January 12, 2010, posted by Q6 at 5:13 PM
It's that time again--to recall my year in books. (Some of these were read on my Kindle, and they are denoted with an asterisk.)

  • Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson
  • Coraline by Neil Gaiman
  • Death With Interruptions by Jose Saramago
  • The Associate by John Grisham
  • Batman #686 by Neil Gaiman and Andy Kubert
  • Star Trek: Countdown #2 by Jones & Johnson
  • Fables 11: War and Pieces by Willingham, et al
  • Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson
  • Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall by Willingham, et al
  • Star Trek: Countdown #3 by Jones & Johnson
  • The Power of Less by Leo Babauta
  • Fool by Christopher Moore
  • Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
  • On Writing by Stephen King
  • Starship Titanic by Terry Jones (Reread)
  • House and Philosophy Edited by W. Irwin & H Jacoby
  • The Firstborn Advantage by Dr. Kevin Leman
  • The Giver by Lois Lowry
  • Enemies & Allies by Kevin J. Anderson*
  • Maximum Ride: The Final Warning by James Patterson
  • In Pursuit of Elegance by Matthew E. May*
  • Star Wars and Philosophy by Kevin S. Decker & Jason T. Eberl
  • Click by Bill Tancer
  • My Man Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse*
  • Sum by David Eagleman*
  • Crazy Busy by Edward Hallowell
  • Spook Country by William Gibson
  • Reset by Kurt Andersen*
  • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  • The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable by Nassim Nicholas Taleb* (DNF)
    Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  • 1984 by George Orwell
  • Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
  • Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher
  • The Road by Cormac McCarthy*
  • The League of the Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy*
  • Free by Chris Anderson*
  • Ford County by John Grisham

I can't recall, exactly, why I post this every year. Probably more for my edification than anything else. (I'm not trying to show off. Honest.)

Tuesday, December 01, 2009, posted by Q6 at 5:30 AM


50,000 words seemed like Mt. Everest a couple of weeks ago. I posted my word count on Facebook every day, and (more importantly) I wrote every single day. Some days were better than others, but each day got me closer to the goal.

Credit must certainly go to the folks over at NaNoWriMo. The idea is to write 50,000 words in the thirty days of November. There's no cash prize, no publication deal, no special accolades. Their method helps writers to set a deadline and meet it. They send out motivational e-mails. They help you track your progress. So many of us are lousy with deadlines--my life is filled with half-completed projects--so having this kind of support was critical in getting this far.

It's by no means complete; it's a first draft. There's a lot more to be written, there are things to be fixed, and I'm sure that others' comments after reading the manuscript will help me to develop it further. My next step, however, thanks to the advice found in On Writing by Stephen King, is to put the manuscript aside for a few weeks, let my writing batteries recharge, and then continue to develop it into a book I can shop around for publication. I hope to be at that point by June.

In the meantime, I can go back to blogging. Sorry I was gone so long.
Saturday, October 17, 2009, posted by Q6 at 5:30 AM
We can eliminate theft if we eliminate ownership; by definition, something that is not owned cannot be stolen. Moreover, I think we're already starting to move in the direction of "mass ownership."

Consider newspapers and magazines, the Internet, iTunes, and bicycles as examples. (Stay with me. It'll make sense.)

I can pay for an individual newspaper (or magazine), or I can subscribe to their services. With a subscription, I [typically] have access to more than just the newsstand issues and receive "member benefits." Newspapers today (yes, I'm looking at you, Internet) may soon have to abandon the price-per-issue system and go subscription only. Why? Because Internet-based newspapers and news services will lose their shirts if they continue to offer their services for free; a simple subscription fee, however, in exchange for complete access to a database of news is a typical explanation of where newspapers will be in ten years (if they're not there already). NOW, let's apply the subscription model to something we're more familiar with.

When a music lover purchases a song on iTunes, there are strings attached to prevent theft: you can only play the songs on authorized computers or devices, you can only make a limited number of "hard copies," and the file cannot [typically] be altered. WHAT IF iTunes moved to a "subscription-only" model? What if, for a monthly fee you had access to everything in the iTunes Library? If they were to make it sensibly priced and available to enough people, Apple would have a steady stream of income and the populus would have access to more music and movies than they could possibly watch in their lifetimes. (I know. It sounds like I'm describing cable or satellite TV.) What if we tried to apply this to something a bit more tangible?

Ever hear of ZotWheels? The concept has been around forever--especially in Europe--and it's now coming to at least three UC campuses in the coming months. It's a bikeshare program: you pay the monthly fee, and you have access to any ZotBike parked near you. They're supposed to be for short, one way trips across campus (you even get a text message when your two hours--or whatever it may be--is up). Some companies do this with cars. Nobody owns the vehicles, but everyone has access.

And if nobody owns them, then no one can steal them. ("Ah," you say, "But what if someone who does not pay for access obtains access? Is that not stealing?" You're right. Let's zoom out even farther.)

I've always loved that aspect of "Star Trek" in which the acquisition of wealth is no longer the driving force of humanity--especially when you consider that the "replicator," the gizmo that makes everything from clothing to starship parts to chocolate sundaes, makes that kind of economy possible (I often wonder what it must have been like for the fictional guy that invented it: "With this device, I will bring the entire economy to a crumbling ruin!"). But what do people in that fictional universe do in order to obtain access to whatever they need, includng food, clothing, and shelter? They particpate in industry, or science, or something. "Star Trek" is like one big floating kibbutz, when you think about it. But could we do that? Could we tell people that when they go to work, instead of a paycheck they will receive access to groceries, a carshare program, a houseshare program, cable TV, and iTunes . . . and if they work for a year they'll receive access to a vacationshare program.

Could we become a collective economy, where everything is shared and therefore NOTHING is owned (or everything is owned by everyone)?

Am I describing a form of Communism? Of course I am (and I'd be foolish not to admit it). I think part of the reason that the concept gets such a bad rap is that people look at it as a kind of "all or nothing" way of life. I, on the other hand, see the possibility of gradations in the economic structure; I'm not the first, and I certainly won't be the last.

Why wouldn't any of this work? I can think of two reasons, and neither of them paint humans in a positive light. The first is that, as a society, we're greedy. We want stuff. We want to own things. For some reason we look more at possession and less at function when it comes to our cars and our music. Does it matter to us who owns the bike if we get to use it as though we owned it? To us, apparently, it does. The second reason is that we're competitive, and many believe that Communism, while a dynamite idea on paper, failed in Russia for exactly this reason. We don't feel good about ourselves unless we surpass our peers. It's not enough that we have what we want; we must have more than others, even in an "equal" society. It's Orwell's Animal Farm. Or, to quote Richard Pryor, as he tried to describe what's wrong with people: "People got this mindset, man, that goes, 'I got mine, f*ck you.' And it ain't right."

Anyway, I just got to thinking about how to reduce theft at the school I work at, and came to the conclusion that if everyone collectively owned everything, no one could steal anything. And it turned into this big, long blog post.

Geez, imagine what I may come up with tomorrow. :)
Saturday, October 10, 2009, posted by Q6 at 8:30 PM
WARNING: This particular blog post contains perspectives and opinions that no one wants to acknowledge. (It's also probably the first in an infrequent series on this topic.)

I consider myself environmentally-minded. I print documents as little as possible. I recycle, both at home and at work (in fact, my recycling bins in both locations are regularly fuller than my trash cans). I drive the cleanest car on the planet, which emits nothing but water from the tailpipe. I turn lights off when I'm not using them. My front lawn is artificial. I use recycled paper products. I firmly believe that if more people did this the planet would be better off.

There is, however, a sad truth to face: it's not going to make a lot of big-picture, long-term difference.

As any scientist or logical person will tell you, the environmental problems facing this planet have largely to do with consumption. The more we consume, the more waste we generate; the more waste we generate, the larger the pile of trash we must deal with. Recycling helps to minimize this waste (and I use the term "minimze" loosely, since most recycling efforts don't put a dent in said trash pile). Even with all the recycling and greening we attempt, the amount of waste is so large that it's difficult with which to contend. Even if we recycled the majority of our waste, the pile of trash would still be huge, and the reason for that is simple:

There are just too many people on the planet.

In the year 1900 the world population was a mere 1.6 billion people, up from 275 million in the year 1000 (it took nine hundred years for the population to multiply to six times its size). By 1990, it rose to 5.3 billion. The curve growing ever steeper, today's population is 6.8 billion. By 2050, the world population is estimated to grow to 9.4 billion. Even if we recycle in every facet of our lives, there's only so much breathable air and drinkable water the planet can provide at a given time; that level is called the planet's "carrying capacity" for humans . . . and for the Earth, scientists calculate that level at 13 to 15 billion (which we could, theoretically, hit by the end of this--or the next--century).

I will, however, continue recycling, driving my clean car, and turning off my lights--I mean, what else can I do?
Thursday, October 08, 2009, posted by Q6 at 2:06 PM
I can't remember the last time I started a book and didn't finish it. Even if a book sucks, I'll plod through to the end (hoping it will make a sudden qualitative upturn, or else to be able to complain about the entire book when I'm done). In this case, though, I couldn't do it.

The risk you take when you read nonfiction: scientific processes may be explain in mind-numbing detail, historical happenings may include painful asides and irrelevant backstories, and opinionated essays sometimes rant for fifty pages to make a ten page argument. Sadly, the book I was reading did all of the above.

That's not to say that Nassim Nicholas Taleb's The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable isn't a good book. The premise--that there are certain things in this world that cannot be predicted at all--is a good one, and there are some great explanations, good points made about how we interpret indicators, and some very simple examples of why we really can't trust a lot of the predictions we tend to make. There are also, however, long-winded rants about philosophical theory, constant references to the author's personal upbringing and former career, and (coming in around the 66% mark--I was reading on the Kindle) a banal narrative about applying his theory to reality . . . one that seemed, when I put the book down, without end. All in all, this book was in deperate need of a red pen and should have been about half its length.

I feel just a little bit like a failure, having put the book down without finishing it. In a way, I feel like the book won. Which is a stupid way to think, really.

What have I learned from reading this book? I've learned two things: (1) we probably never could have predicted 9/11, only reacted in the aftermath, and anyone who had suggested (on 9/10 or before) that we make cockpit doors lockable and bulletproof would have been dismissed as over precautionary; (2) when I decide to put down a book and not finish it, I must not take it as a personal failure and just move on.

So I've picked up Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, and after that I'll read Orwell's 1984. It's been 20+ years since I've read either one, so they'll both seem new to me.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009, posted by Q6 at 11:27 AM
Give 'em a hug today.

This afternoon I'm attending a funeral for my 27-year-old cousin, the youngest of two siblings on that branch of my family tree. (He got frustrated, he got impulsive, and he did himself in.) My heart aches for his family, particularly for his older brother.

I'M an older brother, and I don't want to begin imagining what he must be going through. I will be seeing my brother today, and giving him a hug.

If you have a younger sibling, give 'em a hug.
Monday, September 14, 2009, posted by Q6 at 6:30 AM
So I bought a Kindle. I bought it about a month before they dropped the price sixty bucks, but I bought it. (Those who scrutinize my blog might notice that my reading list to the right now includes asterisks, indicating which books were Kindle-read.) I'm to the point now where I'm reading some titles on the Kindle and the "analog" versions of others.

I gotta say, I went back and forth on this purchase for a while. It wasn't that I didn't have an interest in the latest gadget . . . I did. And although SONY has it's own e-reader on the market (with upgrades coming out all the time), I'm confident that the Kindle isn't going anywhere (I did, however, wait until the second generation was available).

No, it was the idea of not being able to collect books that would go into my extensive and impressive home library that gave me pause. Another reason for my hesitancy was that I didn't want to be a part of that group that began the revolt against published books. And who was it that calmed my fears about all this?

Neil Gaiman, of course.

When my wife and I saw him in Santa Monica (at a reading of The Graveyard Book) he took pre-submitted questions for the Q & A. Mine, asking about the questionable survival of printed books in the digital age, was one of the first questions answered. Not only did he answer the question and calm my nerves--he said he enjoyed reading some books in print, and others on his own Kindle, and didn't worry about the downfall of the printing press in the least--but he backed it up with expert opinion. From who?

Douglas Adams, of course.

Gaiman and Adams were friends, and at one point he asked Adams about the survival of the printed book. Adams explained that:

"Books are sharks. There were sharks before dinosaurs and there are sharks now. And the reason that nothing has actually come along to replace the shark is, nothing is better at being a shark than a shark is. Nothing is better at being a book than a book is, given cost, given size, given what it takes to power it - mostly solar power! You can drop them without causing any major damage. And they're portable. And they're lightweight."

And so I bought a Kindle. I do, maybe, half my reading on it. And it's fine by me.

Oh, and my wife, who has a penchant for naming things, named my Kindle "Kitty." That forced me to change the voice reader on the device to female ("Kitty" is NOT a dude's name), and only later did I discover the second, lesser used definition of the word "kindle": a brood or litter, especially of kittens.
Friday, July 24, 2009, posted by Q6 at 6:21 AM
My wife and I finally made it back to the theater last week; it feels like forever since we've been, and we LOVE to go to the theater, be it local (Orange County Performing Arts Center) or further out (like the Ahmanson in Los Angeles or the Pantages in Hollywood). This time it was back to the Ahmanson--one of my personal favorites--for SPAMALOT.

I'd heard about it's Broadway run, and the Vegas run, and I really wanted to see it--so my wonderful wife bought us tickets. It was a LOT of fun. A few highlights:

--My son opted not to go, claiming he wasn't familiar enough with the source material to justify the cost of the ticket. The thing is, though, that you can easily enjoy this without knowing the movie that well, or at all. It might actually help not knowing the movie at all--you wouldn't be distracted by missing scenes or changes. In the end, you can know the movie or not and still enjoy this musical--so when it comes to Orange County in October my son is going whether he likes it or not. He'll thank me for it later.

--The musical also plays on some other well known Monty Python sketches. I identified three non-Holy-Grail references without even trying. There are probably more.

--One of the actors in the company--his name is Rick Holmes--is HYSTERICAL. He did some ad-libbing during the "Knights who say Ni" number, even referencing South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford's woes. Moreover--and this is what impressed me the most about him--not only did he play multiple characters in the musical, but he played several of the same characters that John Cleese played in the original (this may be the only positive aspect of knowing the source material well): Sir Lancelot, the French Taunter, and Tim the Enchanter. I could have watched him ad-lib the French Taunter all night.

--The female lead, Merle Dandridge, has an amazing pair of lungs. They're both pleasant to listen to and to look at. Her comedic timing is also excellent.

--Before the show I suspected I was missing out by not seeing this with Tim Curry in the lead (Broadway). Turns out I was wrong. John O'Hurley is a laugh riot as King Arthur.

--There's a restaurant about ten blocks from the Ahmanson--Roy's Hawaiian Fusion--that's pricey, but worth it. My wife and I did two appetizers, two entrees, and two rounds of drinks. They make a martini there--"The 1988"--that's now on my favorite-drink-list. The host asked if we wanted to use the free shuttle to the Ahmanson (I could have driven, but what the heck), which ended up being a limousine. That was cool.

We'll take my son (and my daughter, if she's gonna be around) to see SPAMALOT! when it comes to Orange County in October. I'm also interested in seeing Young Frankenstein in September 2010.

Man, I do love the theater--and I love being married to someone who enjoys it, too.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009, posted by Q6 at 9:24 AM
Among the many blogs I check on a daily (or near daily) basis is Neil Gaiman's online journal. He makes a point of responding to fan mail from time to time, and his July 12 post brought to light a similarity he and I share. His post is here, and I explain below.

It's worth mentioning here that I have a great admiration for Neil Gaiman (known as "Nerful" in our household, as that's how his signature appears on the autographed works we own), not only because he's a great writer that my wife introduced me to, but also because he seems so very down to earth for being such a well known person.

So his post is about reading stories aloud (and doing character voices), and it brings to my mind the time I spent reading some (but not all) of J.K Rowling's Harry Potter series to my kids. I didn't start reading to them until the third book in the series, and by then the first film had come out. If memory serves, I think I read books three, four, five, and maybe six. (I'm surprised I don't remember this better; I know I didn't read the last book to them, because I remember going to the local grocery store at midnight--there was a line there, too--then going home and reading until five or six in the morning. Come to think of it, we may have done that with the sixth book as well.)

Being a former public speaking major, I don't know how to read fiction without using multiple voices--even if they're only in my head. I make a point when reading of "casting" the book as I read, if for no other reason to keep the characters straight. One of the best audiobooks I ever heard--The Godfather--used a multivoice cast and completely blew me away. So when it came time to read to my kids, it became a reader's theater project for me (so much so that with one of the books, I had to read a chapter ahead every day so I knew what was coming; the downside is that I read the book twice in the same sitting, but the upside was that such "rehearsal" really nailed it). Another aspect of reading the book this way is discovering just how well Rowling wrote the characters: I didn't use that much inflection change between Ron and Harry, for example, but they speak differently than one another, so there wasn't that much need to change inflection.

Some voices became standards for me (and fun to do). Case in point: Richard Harris is and will always be Dumbledore. Even when Michael Gambon hit the screen in the role, I still read Dumbledore as Richard Harris (this was my daughter's favorite voice). Hagrid was a gruff voice, but I didn't try to do a Robbie Coltrane imitation. There were others, but it was just a matter of "playing the moment" with a lot of it.

This is as good a place as any to make this statement: I think that a serious casting error was made in the fourth and subsequent films. All due respect to Brendan Gleeson, who is a wonderful actor and has mad acting skills in both comedy and drama, but I had a much better pick for the role of Mad-Eye Moody, and one that would have adhered to Rowling's "Brits only" rule: Richard O'Brien. See, I was reading the character to my kids before any on-screen materialization, and when I saw the character's personality and actually read Mad-Eye's lines, all I could hear was Riff-Raff from The Rocky Horror Picture Show. It would have been a great movie, and O'Brien would have brought a lot of dark-and-creepy to the series, which it needed (especially in "Order of the Phoenix"). I'm just sayin', reading in Riff-Raff's voice really made the Mad-Eye Moody character leap from the page.

My kids are seventeen and fifteen now, and while they're not to old to read to, schedules don't make that as possible as it once was. Still, there's the theater inside my head, which I still greatly enjoy--and if you've ever cast a book in your head, or read to your children with a variety of character voices, you know exactly what I mean.
Wednesday, July 08, 2009, posted by Q6 at 5:40 AM
As I've stated before, this transition from analog to digital television was never going to work out perfectly. We tried it in February, and everyone complained that they weren't ready. We did it in June, regardless of who was ready, and now they're just dissatisfied with the result: those who still rely on analog signal, or those with converter boxes, complain of the signal strength problems we knew were going to occur.* My question is this: What do they want us to do about it?

There are people who get along fine without television. There are families that get along fine without it. Hell, there are countries that seem to function without three televisions in every home (not counting my now-defunct Sony Watchman, I have three in my house).

The only hole I can find in my logic here is this: television has become a the primary medium for delivering information, important emergency stuff included. Radio fell by the wayside a long time ago as a dominant medium, and newspapers are dying a steady-paced death. In order to remain a well-informed populace, I suppose we need to make sure that everyone has access to a TV signal. (President Obama made this point not long ago, and thank God it's the only point he's tried to make on the subject.) Then again, if we look at the weekly TV ratings, it's really just the crime dramas and half-hour sitcoms in the top ten--Southern California's ratings show "American Idol" and "So You Think You Can Dance" as the top shows, which just makes my "we don't need TV anymore" argument for me.

Should we worry about those who don't have TV anymore? Are they really missing all that much?

* You know who else really loses in the analog-to-digital switch? SETI. If you've ever seen the opening sequence from the movie Contact, you'll remember that the shot zooms away from Earth as we hear our broadcast history run in reverse, the signal finally dying away as we zoom back further than we've been broadcasting. If there are any little green men out there listening, they may get the idea that we've closed up shop.
Monday, July 06, 2009, posted by Q6 at 5:21 AM
Two years ago I went to my 20 year high school reunion (I posted about that here), and I remember walking away being glad that I went . . . but I didn't walk away with much else. People either looked exactly the same or completely unrecognizable. It was good to attend such a milestone--20 years, after all--but it's not like we still had a lot in common.

Last month I got together with about a dozen people from high school (a "mini-reunion" for a classmate who lives in the Bay area and wasn't in town for the reunion), and it was more of the same: lots of "what have you been doing since then," "what are you doing now," and quite a bit of storytelling of days past. It was nice to see them all, and it was nice to catch up. Most of us had connected on Facebook.

And just like the 20 year reunion, the whole thing felt kinda weird. In the end, I was having dinner with a dozen strangers.

I guess it wasn't that awkward, since it was easy to tell the old stories and get the old laughs, but it still felt odd to act ("act" may not be the right word) chummy with people I no longer see on a day-to-day basis. I think I'm much more comfortable with my present-day life than I am trying to connect, reconnect, or hold on to my past. Given how easy it was to sit and talk with my former schoolmates, I'd probably disagree with the adage "You can't go home again"--you can go home again, but it may not always be the home you remember it being.

If nothing else, the evening reminded me how much I've done and how far I've come in forty years . . . but that's a separate blog post I'm working on.