Community Subsidized Fear of Commitment

A few months ago, the girlfriend and I were on a date at San Diego’s version of Coney Island. We sat on the boardwalk, drinking overpriced beers and started talking about ways we could save a bit of money by cooking meals at home more.

I brought this up not because I’m struggling financially, but because it’s been mystifying to me to see how in the past few years I’ve gone from getting by okay on a graduate student salary, to racking up a bit of credit card debt this year making a TOTALLY ADULT salary. I eventually got up the courage to sit down and figure out where the hell all of the money had been going. I found there were two areas of spending that stood out – eating out and books/media.

I blinked twice at the books/media number, but that was about as far as that went.

But the eating out one really made everything else pale in comparison.

HOW could I spend that much money every year on eating out? WHAT THE HELL HAVE I BEEN EATING?!?

Then I remember how I occasionally like to pick up the entire check at a nice restaurant. Or have an extravagant evening with my witches with really expensive beer or bourbon and a Postmates delivery. And how delicious beer is. And how much I like the coffee shop down the street from me. And oh, hey, cafeteria pizza.

I mean, I’m not sad about spending money on those things. Since the c diff infections have been defeated, I’ve been ecstatic about being able to eat things other than rice, toast and pedialyte.

So we agreed, it would probably be a good idea to cook more meals at home.

I suggested the brilliant-in-a-way-that’s-indistinguishable-from-insanity idea of getting a CSA box.

The GF likes cooking. I don’t mind cooking. I’m vegetarian and she’s mostly vegetarian. Vegetables are fucking rad. Seemed like a good idea.

And anyone who has ever gotten a CSA box before knows where this story is going.

I feel bad about wasting food. It’s why I would only usually buy things at the grocery store that could sit around neglected for a bit before I decided to do something with them. If I bought a zucchini because I vaguely thought that zucchini is a vegetable I enjoy when I was wandering through the produce section, that zucchini would go bad. So I only bought vegetables when I had a plan for cooking with them in the immediate future.

And for some reason I thought that having a shitload of vegetables delivered every two weeks would change those habits.

As a result, the last six weeks of our lives has been marked by a swath of rotten/forgotten vegetables. But I have learned some valuable lessons from all of this:

  • Google, garlic, onions and olive oil are my dearest friends.
  • Homemade balsamic vinagrette is cheap and fucking delicious.
  • Tomatoes go with everything. EVERYTHING.
  • Recipe times are a fucking sham.
  • Suggested amounts of garlic are woefully inadequate.

I also have to say, going an entire week without spending any money because you finally have the basic cooking staples around the house is a really fucking good feeling.

And homemade pumpkin soup will make EVERYTHING YOU HAVE EVER LOVED FILTHY. But it will be the best soup you have ever put in your mouth.

We’re getting some kind of weird mutant squash tomorrow. I’ve already got the recipe picked out, and we’ve already got nearly everything to make with it.

Now I just have to figure out how the hell to open a pomegranate.

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Definition and Overture

I learned the definition of the word “ennui” when I was pretty young, and when I became an angsty teenager I thought I had finally and viscerally understood it.

But ennui has so many facets beyond the shallow understanding of a selfishly bored youth. There’s boredom, sure. But also tedium. Weariness. Privilege. Decadence. It’s meaning shifts, connotations changing with culture and time.

As such, my feelings around it as a concept have shifted. I stopped tagging my existential frustrations with its name. It became a concept reserved to shade a particular kind of hopelessness – the antithesis to the kind of optimism that I’ve cultivated and clung to for most of my adult life.

Last night I got hit hard with a wave of ennui in a way I hadn’t experienced in a long while. Part of it due to what happened in Paris. Part of it due to the same kind of bigoted outrage that popped up around the retirement of the Lovecraft head as the World Fantasy award. Part of it due to the reappearance of well-worn trains of thought.

Hopelessness. Despair. Defeat. Pointlessness.

It made me tired. It made me weary.

There’s a certain point that can be reached where optimism and foolishness begin to feel like the same thing.

* * *

So I’m reading Sandman Overture this morning as the sun fades in and out behind the clouds through my bedroom window.

To my inspiration, it feels like coming home. The light brushstrokes of beauty, the allusions to the rise and fall of entire worlds of dream, the feeling of a deeper connection between all things – time, love, death, hope, despair – where everything can and does mean everything else. It cultivates a “floating leaf” headspace (as Patrick Rothfuss puts it in the Kingkiller Chronicles books), one where the semantic barriers between concept and thought and feeling becomes porous. Where everything bleeds into everything else.

It’s a place where optimism and foolishness are the same thing. Where inspiration grows from ennui, and melancholy is a sweetness on the tongue.

And for a moment, it makes me glad this is a story that does not end.

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Three Stooges Syndrome

There’s this scene in the Simpsons where Mr. Burns goes to the doctor and the doctor informs him that he has every disease imaginable. They call it Three Stooges Syndrome. Mr. Burns mistakingly believes this as evidence of being indestructible.

After this past year I have to say, I’m starting to feel a little bit like Mr. Burns in that regard.

* * *

I made a weird art project for Youtopia this year.

I started going to this festival a few years ago with my circus family. They told me it involved camping and was awesome and that I had no choice and I was coming. They have never steered me wrong when it comes to awesome things, so I went.

And it was, as promised, fucking awesome. Full of so many strange and wonderful art projects and people, it feels like wandering into another reality where everything hopes to catch you flat-footed in awe.

This year we all decided to make a theme camp and give back. I was totally on board with this. We got our art grant applications funded and managed to build a camp that delighted, challenged, educated and entertained people. It was a complete success, considering we pulled the whole thing together in three months after deciding last minute to do it.

Since we had a camp this year, I had always wanted to do some kind of weird art project that might evoke in others that same feeling of delight the art at Youtopia evokes in me.

So I bought a shitload of crappy bulk stuffed animals and some embroidery thread, cut the animals into pieces and sewed them back together in creepy mutant arrangements, then stuck them in a cheap birdcage and hung it from a tree. I called it the Nightmare Menagerie and attached a bunch of index cards and a sharpie to the cage. The rules were to take a card, write a childhood nightmare on the card, put the card back in the cage, take any animal they’d like, sleep like a baby.

I didn’t know if anyone was going to even look at it, but a steady stream of people would wonder what the hell a birdcage was doing hanging from a tree, walk over to investigate, then spend  time writing nightmares, comparing different mutant animals, then walk away with their weird prizes.

It really made me think about how those folks were interacting with it. What they initially thought it was. The first thoughts they had after reading the instructions. The conversations sparked by those memories. Their reactions to the different animals, and why they picked the one they picked.

And man are the nightmares weird and diverse and wonderfully strange and idiosyncratic.

I am planning on doing something with them at some point in the future. And I’ll probably make another menagerie for next year.

* * *

I got to go to therapy and for once talk about how everything is actually totally fine at the moment.

And while it was a bit awkward to not have anything in particular to talk about, it felt really fucking nice.

Nothing is really bothering me at the moment. I’m healthy (thank you, poop transplant). My friendships and relationships are totally fine and I feel close to everyone that I care deeply about. I’m not really anxious or teetering on the brink of depression anymore. Day job’s great. Writing is actually going (thank you very much NaNo), and I have fun and exciting band stuff coming up.

This year has been so unbelievably fucking stupid at times, I really didn’t think I would make it to this kind of emotional place for a while. But I’m here, thanks to the stupid amount of work I’ve been doing to try and figure out how to human better over the past few years.

I feel like I’ve ALMOST got this how-to-life thing finally figured out. For now at least.

* * *

As I said above, I’m doing NaNo again this year. I love NaNo. I try to do it every year and I’ve lost more times than I’ve won, but for me the benefits of making myself sit down every day to write outweigh the total words I wind up producing.

I spent a good deal of time both last year and this year re-outlining this thing to get it ready for when I was ready to sit down and sacrifice three months of free time, and I’m happy to say because of that, the writing is actually going. And since I decided to add a second POV character, I actually reclaimed some of the joy of drafting this time around too.

Coupled with the aforementioned feeling of everything being fine, I’m letting myself be cautiously optimistic the NaNo habit might actually stick around for more than a few months after November’s over.

I’ve got to take advantage while everything is still fine. Because, y’know. Three Stooges Syndrome. Temporary indestructibleness is about the best you can hope for, after all.

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House of Cards

I hurt my shoulder the other week by being exceedingly lazy.

We’ve been having a heat wave off and on the past few weeks here in SoCal. It promised rain a few times and even delivered once. They promised again tonight so I’m sitting around waiting for it to rain so I can then sit around in my apartment listening to Radiohead and typing while it’s raining.

I’ve been playing this game on my phone lately. It’s like guitar hero, except instead of pre-chosen songs, it digs through your entire music library on your phone, analyzes the sound waves in it, then spits out a friggin’ ribbon of hypnosis. I get so sucked into it, not because, oh hey sensory overload-graphics, but also because I have SO MUCH music on my phone. In fact, even my computer hard drive is mostly made out of music.

I just start clicking the random song button until I find something that makes me squee or raise an eyebrow. The patterns the game produces are 90% well-synced, with a bit of wobbly bits in each. For an on-the-fly kind of thing, I’m actually pretty impressed with it. And you can up the number of keys, the speed of the notes as they’re falling and the difficulty of the patterns. The levels are mostly meaningless. Normal is the one that most feels like you’re drumming your fingers along with the music on your pant leg or the drivers wheel, so that’s the one I stick to.

So I’ll find a song like House of Cards off of Radiohead’s In Rainbows and I get swept up in all kinds of memories around that song – like finally fucking seeing Radiohead at Sleep Train back in 2007 and how my friends sat with me in the parking lot after the show for approximately forever because the guy you were seeing at the time was making you feel like shit for having gone to the show and you didn’t want to go home.

Or how on Easter when you were 11, your dad gave you Pablo Honey, which was the very first CD you ever owned (and how you always forget to mention he gave you Live’s Throwing Copper that day too).

Then you remember you’re playing a game and find you didn’t really miss any notes while you were off thinking about other stuff.

This then makes you wonder if you’re playing too much of this game.

* * *

So yeah, my shoulder kinda hurts from laying around hypnotizing myself.

* * *

I also started reading Clive Barker’s The Great and Secret Show. It’s been a while since I’ve read a Clive Barker book. My dad gave me his collection when I moved away to college. He’d been reading them for years before giving me The Thief of Always. That was also when I was 11.

I adore Clive Barker books. I always have. Because of that I’ve been a bit afraid to read them since there are only so many of them (he took a long break from writing new fiction). So when I was hanging out with John and Stef the other night, watching a bunch of Woody Allen movies, John and I got to talking about Clive Barker. He mentioned that The Great and Secret Show was his favorite Barker novel. I had never read that one, despite having read Everville, its sequel, back when I was 12. Of course, I own a nice hardcover copy of it that still smells kind of like my dad’s cigarettes.

I’ve been reading that lately and enjoying the ways in which it slowly digs into you and startles you with moments of deeply sad beauty.

I was trying to describe Clive Barker to a friend of mine the other day. It’s kind of like reading Gaiman, except instead of walking away from it with a feeling like the world is a fundamentally good place, you feel like the world is full of pain, but that pain can be beautiful.

* * *

My friend Fran was in town at the end of last week for a pit stop at Mysterious Galaxy on the book tour for her first book, Updraft (go buy it – seriously). I was delighted to take her around to some of my regular spots and introduce her to a lot of my favorite people (not to mention I got to point her in the direction of the pool at the Lafayette).

I’ll say this: I never get tired of being proud of my friends. This feeling is only augmented when I get to be proud at them in person while dragging them from one shenanigan to another.

* * *

It’s still not raining. In fact I just had to go murder a cricket that decided the shower had the best acoustics in the house for its chirping. It’s chirping didn’t keep the same beat as House of Cards on the stereo and the sound of the absence of rain.

Now I’m wondering if that dead cricket did actually know that.

* * *

These are distinctly wonderful things.


Go check out the artist’s site and check out the rest of the drawings.

* * *

Maybe it’ll rain tomorrow.

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Video Games and a Dash of Weird

I’ve been playing a lot of Guacamelee lately. It’s a brilliantly designed game as far as game mechanics go. It’s really rare to get a game where the levels are a perfect balance between fun and challenging, so that you are required to develop a certain level of badass competency in order to continue on in it.

And because the game mechanics are so well-designed and intuitive, becoming a badass is inevitable. The fighting system is fast, responsive and enables creative combos. It’s a platformer that focuses on the really well-developed fighting system so that periodically throughout levels you’re stuck in a room with a series of onslaughts of enemies that you must defeat to move on. And they’re fucking hard progressions – VERY cleverly done in a lot of cases.

The levels themselves are like that too – forcing you to use ALL of your available arsenal to accomplish things that seem impossible. You have to use your chicken power, ability to shift between worlds and fight combos just to get across a room with no enemies in it. And forget about the infuriatingly simple treasure rooms where it’s you, a puzzle of obstacles and a treasure chest.

Not to mention the ridiculous storyline, the humor, the constant nods to the world of Metroid.

It is an absolute joy to play.

* * *

I am a total sucker for the Metroidvania style of games. My absolute favorite game from growing up was Super Metroid. It’s still one of my happy places. I downloaded a copy onto my borrowed Wii and got a shitty knock off SNES controller that plugs into the Wiimote so that if I wanted to spend an afternoon totally dominating at a video game, I could.

I love video games. I’ve got so many fond memories growing up that revolved around one of our game systems (we had a BUNCH). Getting up early one Saturday because my brother and I were determined to beat Bubble Bobble on two player. Figuring out glitches in the battle mode of the original Mario Kart so you could drive around once a match was completed wreaking mayhem. Memorizing the head-to-head maps in Goldeneye from too many hours playing it at friends’ houses. Learning to play the Mario 3 songs on the guitar because I was just laying in bed playing my guitar and my brother was sitting on the floor playing Mario. Beating Super Contra two player (with the Game Genie – but that counts because FUCK CONTRA – seriously with the severely limited lives??).

Despite all of that, I don’t play video games all that much. I have a short attention span and go through periods of feast and famine of interest. I’ll pick up games that I think I’ll like, or I’ll download things that sound promising, but I lose interest pretty quickly and any game that takes more than 10-15 hours of gameplay is gonna get dropped.

It’s also hard to find really good games that don’t integrate some element of first or third person shooting. Those games are really stressful for me because I’ve got fat fingers. I will almost ALWAYS fuck SOMETHING up when I’m trying to do something precise in a game. In a platformer, whatever. I’ve got infinite lives and continues. I will beat my head against a wall until I get my fingers to do the thing I know they should be doing. In a first person shooter, though, I panic, make more mistakes, then have to start the level over.

It makes me sad because it leaves games like BioShock, or Dead Space, or Fallout out of my reach.

But man, when I find a game that I click with… I had that with the two Portal games, Jak and Daxter, Arkham Asylum, the Stick of Truth, Shadow Complex, and now Guacamelee.

So I’m pretty happy right now.

* * *

I’ve been finally making some progress on a short story I’ve been putzing around with for a few months. I got the first scene done, which had been my sticking point. I couldn’t get past it until I had the right pieces in place, but I kept not being able to figure out what all those pieces were. Now I do and they’re (for the most part) there.

Now I can finally move on and write this as the kind of story I want to write it as.

* * *

That’s one thing about writing that has gotten really frustrating lately. I’ve always known what kind of emotional tone I want a story to have at the beginning and the end. That’s always the first step in building a story for me. The bitch of it when I was starting out was how the fuck story worked. Now I feel like I know enough about how stories work, how they do the things that they do, that I can actually SEE the nuanced emotional path that weaves through the story, and how that is reflected in the characters, plot, setting, and themes. But because I can see the nuance of it, I’m pushing myself outside of  the comfort zone of what skill I’ve acquired so far. And I’m trying to do it all at once.

What this has meant lately is that I am totally in love with a short story idea, but when I sit down to write it, I’ll get maybe 500-700 words in before realizing that I’m not hitting the notes I want to be hitting. So I scrap it, go back to chew on it for a while, have an epiphany, sit down, write, realize it’s not doing what I want it to do, wash, rinse, repeat.

I’ve maybe written 5000-7000 words on this story, but I just couldn’t get it to go.

But now it’s going. So yay.

If this is whatever my process is turning into, I think I’ll be okay with that.


* * *

Also: watch the movie Frank if you haven’t already. Jeebus what a deeply weird and despairingly hopeful movie. It is skillfully done and the tone it strikes is so novel and brilliant. And to top it off, they’ve done a rare thing and captures the entire feeling of the movie perfectly with this song from the end (no spoilers):

* * *

Also, maybe use today to go and find out just how talented all your friends are.

I love you all.

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The tumblers are drained and then flooded, again and again

I had a dream the other night. All my friends were angry with me. I kept trying to fix things, but just made everything worse.

No place feels like home lately except being alone on my couch. Everywhere is empty. I don’t want to be here, so I go out. I don’t want to be there, so I go home. I feel trapped in a perpetual state of flight.

I keep asking the question, “What’s wrong with me?”

“Nothing is wrong with you,” my friends say.

“Nothing is wrong with you,” my therapist says.

This is normal.

This is not normal. Everything doesn’t have to feel like it’s falling apart. Everything doesn’t have to feel like it’s broken.

Two steps forward. Two steps back. They’re the only dance steps I seem to know anymore.

“This place is a prison. These people aren’t your friends.” It feels true and then it doesn’t. I trust nothing. Love has become a vapor, subliming from my skin.

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A bundle of nerves in the fire

I hate this. I feel alone and afraid and on edge. It makes me want to be with people and avoid everyone. I hate staying home. I hate going out. I seek distractions, but when those run out I get sucked down again almost immediately.

I can see the fractures in everything. There is no aspect of my life that isn’t exceedingly fragile.

I don’t know how to ask for help because everything hurts in some way. I cry. It doesn’t help. I try to ignore it, I get panic attacks.

I just got home from Chicago and CONvergence. The con was great. I was able to catch up with people who are very dear to me.

But there was another voice running in the background: give up. You are not a part of this community anymore.

In Chicago I didn’t tell anyone I was coming home except my family. I couldn’t do it. I just wanted to read. And I did. I read five books in a week, which is excessive even for me.

And when I came back home to San Diego, it finally hit me that I’m never going to see or talk to my dad ever again. He didn’t want me to come see him while I was in town (he hasn’t been answering messages from me or my mom), so I figured that would be that.

But it’s just hitting me harder now.

I am not okay and I don’t know how to fix this.

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Thirty-Three, Four, and Forever

I’m 33 now. I’ve been waiting to be 33 since I was 15, when I decided that 33 was going to be a magical age. There was no good reason for it. It just seemed like a good number.

Of course at the time, I never felt like I was ever going to be 33. Time moved so achingly slowly at that age that even hours were an eternity.

But now time slips by so damn quickly. Years pass without me even really noticing, and all the time behind me that was so full of agonized waiting is compressed into an instant, ready to reflect on whenever I please.

No one ever mentioned your relationship to time changes as you get older. That daydreaming about the things you might one day become slips over into reminiscing about all of the stupid things you’ve done or wish you’d done. Or maybe that’s just me. The looking back versus forward shift is subtle, but persistent. It been making me both happy in sad in very peculiar ways.

Regardless, 33 is off to a good start. We recreated my 11th birthday by eating pizza and going to see Jurassic Park, then some friends and I went up to LA where we all got to dress up. Stef and I went as Jane and Daria. We saw the sun come up and all was right with the world.

* * *

It’s been four years since I graduate from the Viable Paradise Workshop. They just announced the new incoming class and I’m filled with an excitement for them.

It changed everything for me, I can’t even begin to describe the web of ripple effects that cascaded from me being accepted and attending this workshop. I couldn’t imagine my life without the lessons and people it brought into my life.

* * *

My dad’s dying. This is complicated and difficult to write about or even think about. Since finding out I feel like my emotions have become more unpredictable and close to the surface. I don’t like being this volatile. It makes me feel like I’m losing control of everything.

We hadn’t spoken in five years for reasons I won’t go into here. I knew this was going to happen eventually and I didn’t know what I was expecting to feel.

Not this.

Some days are okay – the days I can pack with distractions.

Some days I cry while I’m reading something neutral. Everything reminds me of him. The grief comes in waves, sometimes small, sometimes in swells, sometimes cripplingly sudden.

I don’t know how to do this.

I’m scared for him.

I’m scared for me.

I’m just scared.

I don’t know what I would do without my girlfriend, secular sea witch coven, friends and art. I really don’t. It makes me grateful every day, which helps.

* * *

Here’s to thirty-three.

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Art, Guilt, and Motivation

I consider myself to be pretty good at dealing with rejection. It’s something that, as a writer, is as commonplace as breathing or chocolate or bourbon.

But sometimes, when you get a bunch all at once, it brings up the old weasels that whisper things like, “What the hell do you think you’re doing? Is your opinion of yourself so skewed from the reality of your skill level that you think someone’s actually gonna buy that crap?”

It’s like all of your carefully managed and long-suppressed neuroses bubble up to the surface.

When you’re starting out, you hear the advice that you shouldn’t take rejections personally. Everyone gets them. Even the pros. Yes, the story may be broken, or it may just not be to the taste of the editor. Send it out. And as VP reinforced, keep sending it out until hell won’t have it.

But writing can be a very emotional thing. If you’re doing it right, you’re pouring bits and pieces of yourself into a story, so when you get that note back that it wasn’t what they’re looking for, it hurts. It feels like the judgment is being passed on you, not the story.

And when you’re starting out, the rejection feels like it’s rejection your dreams – you want to be a writer? HA! Nice try!

But when you’ve been doing it for a while, the personal edge to a rejection is not about you being a writer. You’re still writing, so you ARE a writer. It instead can become an indirect critique of your process, which is something that you DO have control over. If a story failed in a certain vain, it’s because maybe you haven’t failed in that way before and you needed to learn that approach won’t work. Or maybe it just wasn’t to the taste of the editor, but even so, there are the weasels there, endlessly extrapolating.

Why, then? Why do we keep doing it?

I have a lot of arguments with my therapist about the role of guilt in art. She argues that it’s counterproductive – that it distracts from the sitting down and doing of the thing. I argue that the magnitude of the guilt corresponds to the magnitude of desire. It’s an emergent property of motivation.

I think we’re both right to a certain degree. Guilt flows easily from the feeling that you should be doing more, which is tied into deeper motivations for wanting to do whatever it is that’s making you feel guilty.

I know I could be doing more. I sometimes have escapist fantasies about what being able to write full time would be like – the eschew all social obligations and just come home, sit down and write until I’m too tired or braindead to keep going. But I don’t even do that when I get home from work because sitting down to write is fucking hard. It’s emotional, full of equal parts self-criticism and delight. When it’s going, oh man, it’s the best feeling in the world. When it’s not, the questions turn inward:

Why can’t I do this right now? Isn’t this what you WANT to be doing?

And it is. But that new story idea gets you so excited to sit down to write comes out different than you expected once it’s written. It’s broken and weird and overstuffed. Then you’re left wrestling with a broken thing, trying to make it work and do the thing you wanted it to  do. But it won’t. It’ll become its own thing. And after reading it over and over again, and tweaking it and obsessing over it, you are no longer able to see it for what it is. Eventually you get comments on it, wonder what it is that other people are seeing in it. You get it as done as it’s gonna get and you send it out, unsure it does the thing you wanted it to do, but hoping that it does.

And then you get the rejections and you have a decision to make: is this really done? Should I send it back out or agonize over it and re-edit it, suspecting it’s broken in some way you can’t put your finger on.

Do this enough times and when you sit down to write, you remember all of this, know that whatever this new story becomes, you’ll go through the same thing. So the rejections become as much a critique of the story as they are of you and your process. Maybe if you’d done more, been more thoughtful, more diligent, that story wouldn’t have been such a mess.

But you keep doing it anyway because when you don’t you feel guilty. If you felt nothing, you wouldn’t keep doing this to yourself, because your art is too important to you to not do it.

And that’s the thing that on mornings like this, where I’ve got a whole damn day to write. I need to give my guilt some chocolate, Tom Waits, kind words from friends, and a hug from my girlfriend, to get over itself.

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Everything reminds me of everything else

A while back I got the Postal Service’s Everything Will Change Live DVD. I’ve never seen Postal Service before. I had seen Death Cab for Cutie at an outdoor show in Chicago in 2004 when they released Transatlanticism. I still wear that t-shirt, but it wasn’t the same.

I mainlined Give Up after a college breakup, and I stuffed Ben Gibbard’s voice* into my head the entire summer between college and grad school.

I adored both of those albums. I still do.

I love the way they can both still reach straight down into me and pull new shit out. There’s comfort in albums like that.

I just put it on to watch again and, understandably, it’s amplifying all the good stuff in my life.

* * *

I got a poop transplant. The third c. diff infection made me fail the prednisone, which technically meant my colitis was being classified as having failed traditional therapies and therefore the next step was immunosuppressant therapy. My doctor and I brought up the poop transplant idea simultaneously, then she talked to a few people, made a few calls and three weeks later I was up on the table being introduced to a bottle of poop from MIT’s OpenBiome project.

Go over there and read about it. And here. I am so grateful for what they’re doing because it seems to have worked. And no surprises there.** This treatment has over a 90% success rate.

They knocked me out, repoopulated me and sent me home with no antibiotics and no steroids. It’s been three weeks and no sign of further infection. No flare up symptoms. Things are even better than they had been before I got the colitis diagnosis.

The only thing I’m disappointed about is that my superpowers haven’t emerged.


But seriously. This has been such a fucking relief. I’m slowly starting to relax and I’m starting to think I might actually be back to having a relatively normal life again.

* * *

Which also means that I’ve been getting some writing done. Rainforest Writer’s Retreat came and went again this year. Despite getting some pretty awful news right before heading up to Seattle, I got to see lots of people I care deeply about and writer friends I don’t see often enough and quietly type beside them for five days.

I finished edits on a story I’m actually pretty proud of about cognitive neuroscience in an homage to Hitchcock thrillers.

I wrote a mash note to my partner for her birthday.

I reworked the outline for the novel, which fixed some problems with the opening third of the book, and rewrote the opening scene (and actually wound up making me really excited about the book again).

Since then, I sent that thriller short story out and wrote a flash piece about antibiotic resistance and sushi. I sent that one out too.

Now I’m working on a love story about death. You can probably guess what’s been on my mind lately. It’s weird to be neck deep in both at the same time. I really like this story idea and I don’t want to fuck it up.

* * *

I hope there comes a day with writing when I don’t fuck up the thing that exists in my head by putting it down on paper. I wonder if that’s even possible.

I am getting a little bit better at focusing my first drafts. Before I would throw everything that I could possibly think of that was thematically or emotionally or intellectually related to the general feeling I was trying to capture with the story.

I think that’s where the impossible comes in. You can never capture the full beauty of an amorphous emotional state. It’s layers upon layers of memories, hopes, fears, feelings. Stacks of different versions of yourself, superimposed into a single blurred form. Once you start teasing it out and making it linear, you lose it.

* * *

Thankfully we’ve still got music for that.

*And Morrissey. SO. MUCH. MORRISSEY.
**I even found recently out that it wasn’t as much money as I had originally been told by the dude checking me in for the procedure. It’s still a lot, but not a scary lot.
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