Wednesday, October 27, 2010

What have I been up to?

Good grief, nearly three months since my last post. As reboots go, this is turning into more Rob Zombie's "Halloween" and less Platinum Dunes' "Friday the 13th". Sigh.

Like I said, I've been busy. Since my last post in August...

That's my daughter. Literally licking the plate clean.
 Emma turned 1. Complete with her first piece of ice-cream cake. Yay!

And, I must say, I did write a blog post earlier this week. It's just that it was over at Granola Crunchiness, Marisa's (new-ish) blog.

Meanwhile, I'm slogging away at work and class, both of which keep me busy.

And did I mention we switched to a Service Electric cable modem at home because our Verizon Internet managed to not work at night for more than a month during September? That sure didn't help.

So enough with the excuses, on with the blogging.

One of the nice things in my life recently was that Marisa went to the Freedom for Family Wellness Summit in Virginia. So I got to spend the better part of three days with my baby girl, toting her around the area and trying to keep her entertained.

To the west, and Ox Hill, plus a museum!
Manassas, hoping for two Bull Run battles, but only having time for one.
  • Manassas and the Bull Run I tour: One adult thumb up, one baby thumb up, too.
  • Dinner with M's family: Thumbs-up all around.
Bonus theme song (if it works):

If not, click here! Or here.

Shopping in Chantilly:
  • C&W Used Books: Much, much better than the previous one. Mixed baby reviews. 
  • Piper Hobby shop: Not enough trains. Again, mixed baby reviews.
  • Game Parlor: One adult thumb up - I could've stayed for hours. Also, one baby thumb up - and one escape attempt. 
  • Lotus vegetarian restaurant: Excellent adult reviews. Mixed baby reviews.
I apologize for the lack of pictures. I still have to get them off M's fancy camera. So, to appease you in the meanwhile...
Bonus Emma!

Yes, she's riding a Lightning McQueen car. Em loves it, even if her mother snagged it somewhere in blatant violation of her personal no-plastic-toys policy.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Perspective with a crunch

A Britax car seat, in "Cowmooflage": It died, so that my baby might live.

So, the other day over on Facebook, I posted a status that "Perspective had slapped me in the face, and I kind of liked it."

I got a frantic call back on the 28th from Marisa. The first thing she said was "Everyone's alright." That's never followed by good news. In this case, the bad news was that there was one casualty: her car.

Apparently a school bus (!) changed lanes without signaling, cutting off a driver, who then was involved in a bit of a fender-bender with M (well, more of a fender-destroyer in M's case). This literally ended her day down the Jersey Shore with Em with a bang. And set off a round of frantic phone calls to insurers and the like. (Not to mention a rather stern conversation with the good folks at the bus company after the other driver made it clear to all involved that this was the fault of the bus driver, who proceeded to go on his merry way without so much as slowing down at the sound of a crash less than 10 feet behind his bus. There are words that come to mind. Most start with F.)

That's really not the point. The point is, my hour-plus frantic drive down to the accident scene (in rush hour traffic, no less) left me plenty of time for thinking. Overactive imagination and all.

A 2005 Toyota Matrix. Believe it or not, insurance repaired it.

And what really occurred to me, in addition to:

A) How grateful I was no one was hurt;
B) How this sort of thing only happens when you've nearly paid off the car;


C) Just how important M&Em are to me.

Not that I had any doubts before, but it's one thing to love your wife and daughter with all your heart; it's another to suddenly, involuntarily imagine life without them.

Honestly, I haven't really been depressed (much) since. I'm too busy feeling lucky.

Lucky they weren't hurt. Lucky I have them to begin with. Funny how these things work.

Random trivia: Oddly enough, it turns out I know the cop who responded to the accident and was so very nice to M&Em - she is one of my old bartenders from the late, lamented Sun Tavern Mountainside, back then a Criminal Justice student.

And remember, folks: A baby seat involved in a car accident of any severity should be destroyed as unsafe!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The bees! The bees!

Ever have one of those moments where you feel like you're in a movie?

This happened to me once before. So let's set the Wayback Machine for 2007.

I had just moved up to Sussex County and I was driving down a highway I thought was 65 mph. It wasn't. It was 55 mph, as I discovered when one of Sussex County's finest pulled me over. So I'm sitting there while he looks at my license and registration, talking about my knowledge of the speed limit or lack thereof, when...

His radio goes off: "All personnel, we have a multivehicle incident..."

He clicks his radio, says he's on it, literally tosses my license and paperwork back at me, hollers, "Slow down, sir," over his shoulder, jumps in the car, pops the lights and siren and tears off.

I was that guy. That guy at the beginning of the movie who is pulled over for some minor offense when the real villains go zipping by at 100 mph and the cop blows off the first guy to join the chase.

Pretty cool.

I was reminded of that this morning. Why?

Well, yesterday, Marisa texted me to tell me we had bees under our kitchen deck, and they had chased Norton the Dog and Oreo Cookie Kitten back into the house from where they were sunning themselves. So when I get home, she shows me the little hive under the left side of the deck, and I blast it with my trusty Raid anti-bee spray. There were also a bunch of bees around the light we put on to see the hive, so I blasted them, too. (I should mention it did occur to me that there were a lot of bees for a tiny lil' hive.)

This morning, she tells me the bees are back, worse than ever.

So thinking maybe I missed the hive in the dark, I go down to the garage (under the deck) to investigate. Nope. That is one dead little hive. So where are the bees coming from?

Then I turned around and looked up at the right side of the deck.

You know that scene in a movie where the hero kills some monster, and he's all proud of himself, and then he turns around and the monster's Mommy is standing right there, towering over him.

I felt Just. Like. That. Because the second hive was about the size of a football and swarming in bees.

Ho. Lee. Sugar.

So later tonight, when they are (hopefully) in their state of torpor, I'm going back out with my Raid...

Let's hope I don't end up like Nic Cage at the end of this little gem:

"The bees! Not the bees!"

Monday, July 26, 2010

I was impressed, for a moment

Something strange happened the other day. As you may have guessed from my rantings, I am on the moderate-to-left of the political spectrum, depending on the issue. But through work, I had the chance to meet my (current) state's governor, who is a conservative Republican.

No, he's not the governor of the State of Confusion. Quiet back there in the Peanut Gallery.

Where was I? Oh, yes, shaking hands with the governor. (As I said to the folks on Facebook, no, that's not a euphemism.)

He was shorter than I expected, actually.

Here's the thing. No matter what I felt about him before he walked into the lobby of the building (where we had our photo op set up) and no matter what I felt about him after he went on his way (into the meeting room for his event)...
In that one moment when he strode into the room with his staffers and bodyguards...

I was impressed.

I think over on Facebook I compared it to being in a professional sports locker room for the first time.

The first time I covered the Pittsburgh Penguins, I was dazzled. Wow! There's Mario Lemieux! There's Jaromir Jagr! Ron Francis! Etc. The second time, it was like, excuse me Mario, I'll just get out of your way because I have to interview Tomas Sandstrom and I'm on deadline. It's a job and you're kind of used to it.

Right up until the moment the governor walked through the doors, I was like, "whatever." This is the guy whose budget decisions threatened my wife's job and many of her friends'. Once he was gone, it was like, well, on a professional level, glad that's over with.

But that photo op... he had an aura. I think it's the aura of the office. The governor is supposed to be a "big man," and while he certainly is barrel-chested and stocky, he's not particularly tall - when I think big, I'm thinking offensive lineman. He's really not much bigger than my best friend, who's about 6-foot, 250-something (and jealous, as he, too is a conservative Republican).

I think it's kind of a (low-rent) version of what people say about meeting the President - you salute the rank, not the man. (Though I wonder if this is still true.) I mean, this is the governor.

I thought after all I've been fortunate enough to have seen and done in my journalism career, and particularly given my political leanings and the fact that I'd worked for a couple of days with his advance team (so it was a job, not a celebration), I wouldn't have been so caught up. And frankly, by the time I shook his hand, some of the magic had gone - particularly because he seemed very nice, in contrast to his reputation.

But in the moment... huh. Nice to know I can still be impressed. Much like faith, I'll take my amazement where I can find it.

Friday, July 09, 2010

The Raiders Research Project

For those of you who are not regular followers of my blogging history and Oakland Raiders fetish, you may not know about my other blog, the Raiders Research Project.

Receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey is one of the candidates for the 2009 "AFR" First-Year Star award, as covered by S&B Report and the Raiders Research Project.

The Project is something I started doing a few years back, a mix of my own obsessive-compulsiveness, love of all things sports-statistic, and the Raiders' notorious lack of disclosure, even to the media and fans.

The Project as a whole is updated yearly, give or take, as most of the various sub-Projects are things like the team's coaching staff, or starting lineup. Of course, with the Raiders having celebrated their 50th anniversary in 2009, that's a lot of information to wade through. Particularly when faced with the NFL's skinniest media guide as a primary source of history.

Nonetheless, although my work for and S&B Report has been extremely limited over the past year (due to Baby Bear and the rest of what cramped this blog, too, among many things), I am not abandoning it entirely.

Thus, I am wading into the yearly update of the Raiders Research Project, which is hosted by S&B Report, and the belated poll for my annual "First-Year Star" award.

Raider fans, enjoy!

Friday, June 25, 2010

You can't take it with you... right?

During this year, as my wife has been on (mostly) unpaid maternity leave and our finances have been stretched to the max, I have often thought about the near-decade I spent in Business journalism.

One of the lessons financial experts stress to people, particularly young(ish) people, is to save as much as you can for retirement. Work hard, live frugally and put the maximum amount away.

I understand it, but that doesn't exactly mean I buy into it.

Here's the thing: The average person lives to be what, about 80-something? Now, admittedly, I'm playing the medical history crapshoot, so I guess I could live longer, or die young. But, hey.

So, I'm expected to work 46 years (from age 21 to 67), all while scrimping and saving, so I can enjoy the last 10 to 15 or so years of my life?

That makes no sense to me.

When I'm a senior citizen, my knees are shot, Emma (hopefully) has grown up, gotten a job, moved out (it's Jersey, you never know) and made us grandparents, then I'm supposed to finally enjoy life?

As much as I love Scandinavia... when my time comes, put me in my Raiders jersey and call it a day.

Not a chance. I mean, it's not like they're going to bury me in a coffin lined with $20 bills, or with all my worldly possessions, Viking-style. Like I keep telling Marisa, as long as, at the end of the day, when they sell all my stuff and pay all my bills, if I end up on the plus side, it all worked out.

Don't get me wrong. I'm saving for retirement and planning for the worst-case scenarios (I have extra life insurance!). When I finally leave the office for the last time, I don't need a gold watch or nice memo. I just want to leave vertical.

But I'm not skipping out on 40 years of family trips or buying nice things for Emma and Marisa (and yeah, me, too) for two-thirds of my life, just so I can really go wild in the last fifth or so.

A gold coffin might work for Michael Jackson, but not for me. Eh, I don't like gloves, either.

Someone once asked me how I wanted to be buried. I said, skip the suit, put me in my best Oakland Raiders jersey, forget the fancy funeral and just throw a nice party. Or maybe just cremate me, and scatter my ashes over somebody I really, really don't like. Like the Denver Broncos bench. In mid-game.

So they asked if I wanted to be buried with anything. And I said, sure: A crowbar, flashlight and shovel.

Just in case they're wrong.

But seriously, we had a choice: M could stay home with Em for a year and we could skin the bank account to the bone, or she could go back in a few months and we could carry a little less credit-card debt. Like our rabbi told us, nobody ever says, "Boy, I wish I'd gone back to work sooner so I could have spent less time at home with the kids."

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Has Facebook killed the casual blog?

I was thinking about the purpose of my renewed blogging recently, and I was considering a little post sharing a cool website I found. That's something I used to do occasionally before the reboot, so why not now?

And I realized: Facebook. See, nowadays, when I want to share a cool link, I just hit the little "F" button and it appears on my profile, where my 400 friends and "friends" can see it if they want.

Facebook: Fun for social networking, or the scourge of Blogger?
As opposed to here, where who knows how few readers I have by this point. When I was working on the reboot, I noticed two other things:

1. Some of my blogroll folks had shut down certain of their blogs, or shut down entirely.
2. I haven't kept up with many of them over the time I was "on hiatus," either.

To quote Norman:
So...not too sure who is still out there in bloggerland since I made the jump to that addictive hellhole they call FaceBook, but hey - I'm alive.

I'm reluctant to cancel this blog or delete it. I was just going thru some of my old posts and had to wipe a tear.. *sniff sniff*
It makes me wonder: Are other blogs falling victim to this pattern? Not the big ones, like The Huffington Post or what-have-you, but the little ol' regular blogs, like mine or the ones I used to follow daily.

I don't know. But it still begs the question: Where do I share fun stuff like...

Monotheism ... ... fail.

Do I bang out a blog post? Or just click a button or two and share it with the FB world? Time will tell...

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Opposites attract

If you know my wife, Marisa, you know she and I are not always, shall we say, compatible.

Our wedding was the happiest day of my life... until Emma!

That doesn't mean we're not deeply in love. It just means... well... we are probably a textbook example of the theory that opposites attract.

You know you've married a crunchy one when her joy 
at meeting enviro-activist Ed Begley Jr. is topped only by...
... Her joy at meeting fellow Holistic Mom Mayim Bialik.

But that is part of the reason I love her: She is the kindest, most positive person I know. Her smile can light up a room, and there's not a living thing she doesn't care for. She is a child at heart, and a dreamer. A vegetarian, holistic, environmental. Loving, fascinated by new places and things, just the sort of person who radiates positive energy. In short, "crunchy."

For those who know me, you know that... well... I'm pretty different.

You might think Mom is having more fun on Em's first carousel ride...

I always like to joke that our baby, Emma, should be a smiling, laughing, squealing little chatterbox. After all, I say, I spent nine months praying every day that she would get her Mom's personality. (Hey, it worked! See previous post.)

I guess what I'm trying to do here is explain how I knew in just a few weeks that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with this woman so different from me. It wasn't the great conversation. It wasn't the pretty face.

Not that those weren't factors...

But I guess when you've struggled with darkness as much as I have, whether justified or just a self-defeating trick of my own mind, when you find someone who loves you so much, and treats you so well, and cares for you in your times of need, and above all reminds you that no matter the demons in your mind, there is reason for joy...

Well, you hang on to her. Even if you have to check menus before you go to a restaurant to see if they are vegetarian-friendly. Even if she insists on "rescuing" the scary, scary spider you just want to vacuum from a safe distance. Even when, excited as a little kid at holiday-gift time, she wakes you up from a perfectly good nap to show you the fawn that wandered into the yard. Even if she insists some weird herb you've never heard of is better for the baby than good-old fashioned Tylenol. And then says "I told you so" when she's right.

My enviro-friendly Sigg water bottle: Yin/Yang, like us.

Interestingly, as time goes on, not only do I find my happiness grows (despite the occasional hiccup), but I find her eccentricities less eye-rollingly confusing, and more endearing.

I can't say if I've become a better person, but I know she has made me want to try.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Take your peace where you can find it

My apologies for the lack of posts lately. Sometimes, I'm busy; sometimes, just not inspired to write anything.

But today, I have some thoughts. Maybe "religion" is a hot-button topic, but it's not that kind of discussion.

Stained glass is a beautiful thing, isn't it?

What I want to talk about is something interesting I've noticed over the past year-plus at my new job. The College I work at is a Methodist-affiliated school, and there is a chapel in the main administrative building. In fact, the chapel just so happens to be next to my office. So, since it is not in regular use during the day, I often find myself wandering through on the way to various meetings or errands.

And over the course of time, I have found that it is a very special place, a place where I often feel at peace, no matter the stresses of the day; a place where I really do feel a connection to God.

Those of you who know me know I am not a particularly religious man. I identify culturally and religiously as a Jew, but I am neither particularly well versed in religion, nor particularly interested. Marisa is the more religious of the two of us, and even so, we are not regular Temple-goers. And I am certainly not a Methodist, even if my Cub Scout troop used to meet in a Methodist church back home.

But during the time when M was pregnant with Emma, I think I prayed in the Chapel just about every day. On the move, maybe, on the way to the men's room or something else mundane, but I would say a semi-silent prayer for my little girl. I still do, every day.

I am probably something of a glass-is-three-quarters-empty kind of guy, but I suspect that underneath it all, the good fortune I have experienced in my life leaves me with a secret expectation that things will turn out for the best. In the Chapel, I often find myself hoping and (literally) praying for such outcomes.

For my baby. For my wife. For my family and friends. Even for myself, though I try to be careful and ask only for what I deserve.

Funny how things work sometimes, in the peace and quiet of God's house. I may be considering reading The Bible merely "as literature," but that doesn't mean I am not a person of faith. I hope I'm right to believe. And I hope I'm right to believe God listens to a struggling man's humble prayer for a long, healthy and above all happy life for his little girl.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Em and the art of genetic engineering

One of the most fascinating aspects of fatherhood is not just watching Emma grow, but seeing how she looks and acts relative to her parents.

As an adopted only child of different racial heritage from my parents, I stick out like a sore thumb in family photos. When you have a group of Eastern European Jews and one little semi-Vietnamese teen, it looks like the waiter snuck into the family photo.

"Hahaha... Um. Hey, wait a second... that's not funny!"

When Emma was born, possibly even before she was completely out of Marisa, I took one look at her nose and said, "Well, there's no doubt she's mine." Even Marisa (later) pointed out how it must be interesting to finally have someone in the family who looks like me — and some people who see Emma would say exactly like me.

Once upon a time, I was fascinated with biology, to the point I even considered trying to minor in college. Those ideas were quashed in Bio 101, which I dropped the first time around because a monotone professor plus an 8:30 a.m. class is a recipe for naptime, and which was ruined the second time by a bad allergic reaction that cost me a quarter of the semester. I took that as a bad omen and stuck with Creative Writing.

My favorite part of Biology was genetics. Those Punnett Squares fascinated me. Needless to say, the joy of fatherhood had a certain clinical interest as a sidebar. I have often read that darker characteristics — skin color, hair color, eye color, etc. — are the dominant traits. Likewise, I have often wondered if I was partly white, or at least not entirely Asian — for a Vietnamese man, I am tall and broadly built; I had a fraternity brother once tell me I was about the third-biggest Asian he'd ever seen, and I was all of 5-foot-9 and (then) 175 pounds. Needless to say, now that I'm on the wrong side of 200 — hey, some of that is muscle! — I'm probably the second-biggest Asian in the known world.

Throw in that I married a 5-foot-8 fair-skinned blonde (talk about not looking like your heritage! she's a Jew!) and I was very curious to see how Emma would turn out, physically.

That's me on the top left, Marisa on the bottom right. Who does Em look like more?

Interesting, if Em proved anything, it's that I must not be entirely Vietnamese, because she didn't get the dark coloring we expected at all.

She is darker complected than Marisa (not difficult), but certainly lighter than me. Likewise, her eyes are darker than M's hazel on the blue-green side, but they are certainly lighter than my brown. Call them hazel on the brown-green side. Her hair? Dirty blonde, just like Mom's. She also got Mommy's red cheeks.

On the other hand, it's my nose, like I mentioned, and my thick (is that the right way to describe them?) lips, too. The eye shape is a mix, and we have no idea where the itty-bitty cleft in her chin came from.

Funny thing is, when she's with me, people always remark how she looks just like me. But when she's with Marisa, people think she looks like her. And sometimes, it works the other way — people see Em with M and contrast them, saying Em looks like me then!

There were other surprises — Marisa was a bald baby, and I arrived in America at 10 weeks only with only a bit of peachfuzz on top; but when our midwife checked the baby, she remarked about how she could feel the hair, and we both blurted out, "Hair?!"

But as she's grown and changed through her first nine months, it's not just her looks that remind me of myself, or her mother — it's her personality, too.

Believe me, the Chapel at College is next door to my office, and I spent nine months praying my baby would end up with M's personality. After all, part of what I love about her is that she is the most positive person I know, not to mention the kindest and most giving. Those of you who know me, well, you know I tend toward the darker, less-pleasant side of the spectrum.

And all that praying must have worked, because my Baby Bear is one cheerful little bugger. She's always laughing and smiling... except when she shows flashes of Daddy's quick temper.

See what I mean?

I like to joke that she got my appetite — we practice baby-led weaning, and she eats just about anything you put in front of her, and keeps on eating it. On the other hand, she got her mother's eating skills — which means she wears almost as much as she swallows.

The doctor says she's going to be taller than both of us, though! He's saying 5-foot-10, 5-11, with a shot at 6 feet. That's what I get for marrying an Amazon. I do hope she avoids her parents' predilection for being, to paraphrase the late Douglas Adams, a little stout about the tum. Right now, although she's still in a 90-plus percentile for height, she's down to the 70s for weight, so here's hoping.

All I ever prayed for, besides Mom's personality, was healthy and happy. I still do. But seeing a little bit of myself in her... that's a nice fringe benefit, to go with that smile that always brightens my day.

We even sleep alike... right arm up!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Fatherhood and literature

He's taller, but I'm wider! (I said "wider," not "whiter.")

One of the interesting things about the past nine months or so is the effect the combination of having a baby and studying graduate English Lit is having on my relationship with my father.

It's not that we ever had a bad relationship; I think we have a very good one. It's just that, sometimes, it's hard to relate to problems you don't understand, or hard to discuss issues if one party isn't that knowledgeable about them. That was sometimes the case, and usually my fault, through a general ignorance of youth.

Now, with Baby Bear's arrival, I find myself turning to my father and mother for a different kind of advice sometimes, and, well, feeling bad about what these two loving people had to put up with from the time I was about 13 until I was... um... about 35?

(Not to mention turning to them for baby-sitting! One of the great joys of my life is seeing them react to their first grandchild, which I suppose I made them wait far too long for. Though Emma Claire's worth the wait, methinks.)

More interestingly, from an intellectual point of view, is that my father and I now have a common interest: English literature. My slowly growing knowledge-base has led to some truly fascinating conversations, and I find myself more interested in my father's work - he is a retired English professor, I should probably mention - and better able to learn from him.

As I've mentioned, I studied Creative Writing in college. Despite Dad telling me you have to read before you can write, what I wanted to do was write, and not read. Don't get me wrong, I read plenty. Just not the type of stuff you learn from. More like the type of stuff you read at the beach in the summer. I wasn't interested in English lit. Honestly, I didn't want to follow in my father's footsteps. I was a stubborn teenager, for one, and they're big footsteps to try to fill, for another (to mix a metaphor rather nicely).

But now, even though I still have almost no interest in teaching, I really do find myself enjoying learning. It's been a long time since I sat in a classroom (13 years between courses), and I didn't know what to expect. What I found was a stimulation of my mind that I haven't had since... well, maybe ever. As much as I've loved journalism and so forth, there is a rush, an immediacy to it. To give a text a close reading is something different. Something that stretches me, whether because of lack of experience, academic rustiness, or both.

It's fun to learn.

And it's more fun to really be able to talk with Dad about some of the nuances of literature. Sometimes, I feel like it's a conversation he's been waiting 35 years for. I still remember the day I came home from college at the end of a semester in which I'd taken Shakespeare. My Dad asked me about the final, and we had an intelligent conversation about literature. It was a first. It was like a bar mitzvah of the mind. I'll never forget it. It was one of the happiest days of my life, knowing I'd earned a small measure of intellectual respect.

Imagine how I feel talking with him about "City Comedies," a subgenre I'd never even heard of until this past semester. When I asked him about his doctoral dissertation (on Elizabethan Domestic Tragedy, another subgenre), for the first time, I actually understood exactly what he was talking about. As much fun as our yearly pilgrimage to see the New York Yankees is, this year's was even more fun, because it wasn't just talking baseball. It was talking baseball and talking literature.

It may have taken me 35 years to get to this point in my father-son relationship, but I am so very glad, every single conversation, that I have. I can only pray it doesn't take 35 years for me to be able to talk with Emma this way.

Of course, first Emma has to learn to talk...

Thursday, May 27, 2010

What ever happened to that novel, anyway?

Perhaps you may recall the novel I started way back in November of 2006 for National Novel Writing Month. Tentatively called "Throne of the Living Dead," and later "Gun Dead," it was subtitled "A High-Firepower Melodrama in XX Parts" (with "XX" a number dependant sheerly on how many chapters I had written), and well on its way to living up to the name. Guns, zombies, gore, cheesy action... and just a hint of cheesy romance.

That was then. And, really, that is now, too.

See, I encountered a problem. The zombies ate my brain. Well, not really, though you might debate the point. It wasn't even that, three months after I started, I fell in love. You always hear about how artists and writers must suffer in order to achieve true greatness. And, of course, my suffering (more or less) ended when I met Marisa.

Still, I don't think that accounts for what is now going on two and a half years of what amounts to writer's block.

Much like her, I've hit a wall.

I just can't write. Not fiction. Not screenplays. Nothing. I can get my work done, throw together the occasional bit for a freelance gig, but basically, when it comes to my Creative Writing side, I'm just plain stumped. I've tried new novel-centric software, since Final Draft always helped my screenwriting. I've tried rethinking the novel into a script - movie or graphic novel, take your pick - I've tried just plain picking up what I have written and staring at it.


It's killing me. I want to write. I want to edit. I want to finish a first draft and move on to rewriting. I still fantasize that someday it might become one of those limited edition horror novels I collect.

But I can't do it.

I think my mistake was leaving the structure open-ended. If I felt like writing a new chapter, I could just change the number (see "XX," above) of parts in the melodrama. But as you might expect, I had good parts, bad parts, some plain awesome stuff and some stuff not worth the paper it was inkjetted on.

So I kept having ideas, and I think somewhere along the way, the law of diminishing returns kicked in.

Add to that my dubious skill, plus the various time constraints of the past couple of years (see previous post), and you have a recipe for writing disaster. No time to pick up the laptop and start writing, and on the rare occasions I do have time, I just come up empty. It's all in my head, I know it. I just can't do anything about it.

Long story short (too late, I know), that's what happened to the novel. I always gave some thought to turning it into an online novel, posting a chapter at a time on a blog. I have the sad feeling that, despite my success with Dead Hunt, this thing is going to end up unpublished even if I do finish.

But I think it has some entertainment value, if not much literary value, so I keep hoping. And staring at the screen.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Life on the Rim reboot

You may have noticed it's been a long time since I posted anything.

What can I say? I've been busy.

"Why haven't you posted about me?"

For starters, of course, there's Emma Claire ("Baby Bear"), who is now nearly 9 months old - which probably says something about how long it's been since I posted.

Second, there's the matter of my quasi-new job, which has been an ongoing 18-month transition from the world of journalism to the world of academic communications.

"I may be dead, but I'm still torturing grad students."

Third, one of the perks of working in academia is nearly-free tuition. So, despite many of my wiser instincts saying, "Hey, isn't the baby enough in the way of extracurriculars?" I am studying for my Master of Arts in English Literature.

"Emma's first carousel ride: Whee!"

And, given that Marisa is on maternity leave, I've finally taken the "free" out of my freelancing, and picked up a part-time gig doing some copy editing.

"Because where else can you shoot someone in Bangkok? Besides Bangkok."

Needless to say, between all of that and my minor Mafia Wars addiction over on Facebook, I haven't had a lot of time to blog.

But the other night, on a rare occasion when Small Bear went to sleep and stayed that way, Marisa and I got the chance to actually sit down and watch a movie together. After much debate between a chick-flick-loving wife and her horror/action/sci-fi-loving husband, we settled on Julie & Julia. Which is, of course, about blogging. (And food.)

And, as usual, that got me thinking that I should find the time to do more here. I've been tweaking the layout and stuff, as you might notice, and hoping that's the first step in a reboot.

I guess we'll see how that turns out. Wish me luck!