Sunday, October 28, 2007

Time, time, time, see what's become of me

To say it's been a strange year would be an understatement.

On the one hand, it's without a doubt been the happiest year of my life: The year I fell in love.

On the other hand, to say I've been in something of a funk this fall would be an understatement.

You name it, it's been an issue.

From the dog's neuroses to problems at work to just about everything, it sometimes feels like it's been every bit as bad as it has been good.

That's got very little to do with Marisa, who has been, as one of my friends put it, the silver lining to my dark cloud.

And yet, in a way, it's got everything to do with her.

You see, I was alone, for so long, in many ways, I let myself go.

Not in the sense of weight (though I gained some) or hygiene (though grooming isn't exactly a strong suit) or anything like that.

Just in the sense of a lonely man trying to fill his days with whatever struck his fancy.

Which is to say, I got in a rut. A comfortable rut, but I suppose, looking back, a rut all the same.

The problem is, getting out of it.

Or rather, getting out of it all at once.

I was, as I said, comfortable. I filled my days. Writing reviews. Covering football games. Watching movies, playing Strat-O-Matic, whatever.

I was my own man, doing what I wanted, when I wanted. I went to work, I slept, I screwed around - in the metaphorical sense.

Then everything happened at once.

And my safe, comfortable, lonely life went to pieces. In a good way, and yet, in a very frustrating one.

I fell in love.

I got promoted.

We moved.

And the damnedest thing is, it feels like, since we moved, nothing's gone right. Money's tight and the house buy/sell mating ritual is stressful. The shit hit the fan at work, and if my performance is better, my morale is not. The dog, of course, has been berserk.

And in a way, I don't blame him. I don't feel comfortable here. I guess when someone owns a house for 20 years, from the day it was built, just hanging some shit on the walls doesn't make it yours and stop making it theirs, in some ways.

But it still doesn't feel like home.

Even though the happiest part of my day is here, when I curl up in bed by her side.

Hillsborough felt like home. It's not so much that I miss it, as I just know how this feels different. It takes getting used to. The whole thing - living with someone, for the first time in God knows how long, living with her pets, too - everything.

The hardest part is trying to find time anymore. We had a nice, relaxing day, ironically enough because the game I was supposed to cover didn't pan out, so we had nothing planned.

But it was just sort of the last straw toward this blog post I've been kicking around for a while in my head.

How I don't understand how I can be so happy, and yet so unhappy.

Maybe I should go back on the drugs. But I don't like how they make me feel in some ways. I don't have the lows, but I don't get the highs, either.

And now that I have her, I'd rather have the highs.

But that doesn't make the lows any easier.

And it feels like it's been a low since September, when Marisa went back to school so I never see her, since everything went to shit at work all at once, just elevating my blood pressure through the roof as if I didn't have enough crap to worry about but some peoples' neuroses.

The thing about integrating two lives is that, suddenly, you go from having one busy weekend and one free to relax or do fun stuff, to having someone else's plans on that "off weekend."

Which only adds to my stress and guilt, because suddenly, I can't get anything done. Because there's always something else to do.

I've been trying to extricate myself from my commitments. I resigned from one Strat hockey league. Another became a disaster of late scores somewhere amid the rubble of that wall. I haven't written a review in months, and I don't know if I ever will again. I spend more time editing the new Raiderfans magazine than I do writing my column. Because it feels like I can't even follow the Raiders as obsessively as I did.

Don't get me started on keeping up with my blog.

And screw work and my professional commitments. One more blockage for the arteries.

The thing is, there's a part of me that just wants to be able to do nothing. Work, sleep, spend time with M, maybe read a book or watch a movie now and then. Hell, do things for the sheer joy of it.

And there's the part of me that's screaming at the rest of me to get off my ass and do the things I love. Like write. Cover the Raiders. Play hockey.

I just don't have the goddamn time. And that turns love into hate - turns fun into guilt. And it sucks.

There's so much I want to do. But I work so hard, and spend so much time at it. And it wears on me. The good part, the good stress. The bad part, the bullshit, the bad stress.

I hate having to choose between things I love. I didn't have to before. Because my life was so full - when it was so empty.

Above all, I don't want to resent Marisa. She's the best thing in my life, the best thing that's ever happened to me. And I've seen people give things up for their spouse, and hate them forever because of it.

But I'm having such a hard time adjusting. I was alone too long. Like that guy in Shawshank who gets out and just can't cope.

It's like I can't cope with happiness. With sharing my life, which is all I ever wanted.

But I don't want to fight every time she asks me to do something around the house. I don't want to feel guilty every time I do one thing I want, because I should be doing something else.

I traded a life alone for the chance to indulge in everything I love.

And I traded that indulgence for a wonderful life with a wonderful girl.

And when I'm not starry-eyed, I'm despondent.

Because there's always something else to do. Whether it's a night I don't do something I should so I can sleep by her side, or a night I don't sleep by her side, so I can stay up and do what needs to be done.

I'm damned if I do, damned if I don't.

And lately, I've just felt damned.

That's a long, frustrated, venting way of saying don't be surprised if the blog eventually gets to the front of the "fuck it, who has the time" line. Fair warning. I started this thing vowing to write daily. Now I'm thinking monthly.

Besides, it's almost November, and in a fit of idiocy, I'm going to try National Novel Writing Month again. Which pushes the blog even farther down the list of "things I should be doing."

It sounds stupid, I know, but if I'm going to stick with one kind of writing, it's going to be the one I love the most - even if it's not the one I'm best at - and it's going to be creative writing. Not journalism. It's one thing to be a Raiders beat writer. That's a dream come true. But it's not happening this year, and much like a movie review career, I'm starting to doubt it ever will, even as Raiderfans thrives. (It's not them. It's me. Yeah, my freelance career has reached that cliche.)

But hey, I wrote a movie, didn't I? So I figure, why not try to write this novel?

Yeah, I'm picking up right where I left off last year. Which probably doesn't help my chances of success - 30,000 words in 30 days ain't easy - but might give me 25,000 good words out of 60,000, and that might be enough to turn it into something good.

(One random fantasy: Since my novel's episodic, make a blog out of it. Chapter a day for 50 days or however long. Self-publish at the end. What the hell, right?)

And maybe that'll make a million bucks, and I can have my early-retirement cake, and eat it, too. It's that, or keep blowing my spare change on lottery tickets.

Review again. Cover every Raiders game. Get my damn hockey team into the playoffs next year. Dog days of summer have killed my Earthquakes two seasons in a row.

Or just stop feeling like a little munkee in a maze of obligations, scared and frustrated and missing my love all the day long.

Friday, October 19, 2007

A survey to get back in the swing of things

My buddy and regular reader Phil, from the Jack Adams Memorial Hockey League, sent me this. And since he's in the playoffs and I'm not, the lucky bast... he named me (or someone with the same name) most likely to fill this out, here goes!

Little known facts about Eric

Four things about me that you may or may not have known in no particular order. The directions are at the end.

A) Four jobs I have had in my life:
1. Sportswriter
2. Copy editor
3. Copy editor
4. Um... copy editor
Boy, that's depressing, isn't it?

B) Four movies I would watch over and over:
1. "Aliens"
2. "The Princess Bride"
3. "Star Wars"
4. "Dead Hunt"
OK, that last one's kinda vain, I know. Sue me.

C) Four places I have lived:
1. Bloomsburg, Pa.
2. Pittsburgh, Pa.
3. Forks Township, Pa.
4. Byram Township, N.J.
Not the only places I've lived, but, sadly, most of them.

D) Four shows that I watch:
1. "The Contender"
2. "Law & Order: SVU"
3. "Cold Case"
4. "Life"
Three regular favorites and the "show of the moment."

E) Four places I have been: (besides the places I have lived)
1. England
2. Denmark
3. Iceland
4. France
I'm lucky. My parents are travelers.

F) Four people who e-mail me (regularly):
1. Stewie
2. Ed
3. My parents
4. And Marisa, of course
I'm not including my co-workers, with whom I regularly communicate by e-mail.

G) Four of my favorite foods:
1. Pizza
2. Buffalo wings
3. Cheesesteaks
4. Marisa's cooking
Yeah, trying to cut back on the red meat is killing me on No. 3 there.

H) Four places I would rather be right now:
1. On vacation
2. In bed
3. At a hockey game
4. At a Raiders game
This is a bit of a tough one, since I'm sitting at home "right now" and I rather like it here.

I) Four folks I think will respond:
1. Marisa
2. Stewie
3. Jin
4. Freak
That should probably be "the only four folks who might even think about responding."

J) Things I am looking forward to this year:
1. Selling my old house.
2. Raiders victories!
3. Hanukkah presents, maybe?
4. Quiet time with M. (That's not a euphemism.)
It's mid-October. Not a lot of "this year" left. Ask me what I'm looking forward to next year...


Now, here's what you're supposed to do. Copy the text of the email into a new email, delete my answers and type in your answers. Then send

this to a whole bunch of people you know INCLUDING the person who sent it to you. The theory is that you will learn a lot of little known facts about those who know you. Remember to send it back to the person who sent it to you.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Obviously, I didn't follow the directions quite right, but since I've spammed everyone a ton and a half about "Dead Hunt" lately, I figured this would be better. Consider yourself tagged, if you're reading this, and pop a comment in with the URL if you put it up.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Infinite humor possibilities

There's a punchline somewhere in this phrase, if you say it aloud:

Today, I hurt my shoulder playing with my fiancee's Wii.

Yeah, I know. The blogging cupboard is bare, so this a lame excuse for a post.

But it kind of struck me funny. And I could use the laugh.

If you've been reading Marisa's blog, you know some of the problems we've been having with poor Norton.

That's just the tip of the iceberg for me right now, as far as emotional and psychological turmoil. I want to write a nice long post, but I'm not sure if it'll be pointless and unpleasant venting, pointless and unpleasant whining, or pointless and unpleasant what.

But if I can work up the initiative, maybe I'll write it up. For your entertainment, of course.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

"Dead Hunt" on IMDB!

Updating my recent post, and answering a co-worker's question, yes!

"Dead Hunt" now has its very own Internet Movie Database page.

My delight at this is mildly tempered by the fact that the "Eric Strauss" credited with writing the movie is...

Some other guy.

But never fear. After a brief mental battle between ego, guilt, obsessiveness with accuracy, and the dream of making my mother proud, I've submitted a correction for approval.

Before the producer/cinematographer for "National Geographic Explorer," one of my favorite shows, wonders what the hell this movie is he's credited with writing.

And my mother wonders if I've been secretly involved in TV all these years.

Oh, and we got another review! See the link at the top of the page to the short writeup at Horror-Web!