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I Give Up!

There are certain versions of myself that live only in my head and have no connection to reality. I have discovered as I get older, that more and more of these things are just not going to become things for me. And I need to let them go. It’s just too much pressure! So here are a few of them, in no particular order:

1. I am never going to be a runner.

I’ve run before, a lot. I have bought new running shoes, a treadmill, scheduled time in the early morning (ha!), gotten myself really psyched up. And every time I quit after a few days. I just have to admit to myself that I hate it. I don’t get a runner’s high, I don’t feel good after doing it (it actually once made me vomit into the neighbor’s rosebushes). A run starts out badly and gets worse. My asthma kicks in. I roll an ankle. But it’s always been something I wanted to do. The truth is, I mainly want to be able to tell people I run, and post nike updates to twitter (and seriously, if you’re doing this, I’m impressed but it really bums me out). These are not good reasons to nearly kill yourself.

I love walking. I love hiking. So from now on I’m going to do that. I can set the treadmill on an incline and watch Buffy while I walk. It’s better for everyone this way.

2. I am never going to learn how to play guitar.

I have a guitar. I have taken lessons. I have payed around and even learned a song, but what all of this has told me is that I have a spectacular lack of talent. I lack physical coordination, finger strength, and rhythm. I also lack the discipline to practice. So for this … it’s not happening. I’ll give my guitar to my daughter and hope she has more talent than I do (from what I’ve seen of her dancing, rhythm might prove a hurdle for her as well).

I realize this seriously affects my chances at winning American Idol, but I’m just going to have to live with that.

3. I am never going to become a Neil Gaiman Fanboy.

I like Neil Gaiman. He seems incredible witty and big-hearted and like an overall exemplary human being, but something about his work just leaves me cold. For a long time, I’ve felt bad about this, that this is some indication of a defect within my own character. And I do like certain things that he’s done. I loved Stardust (the movie is one of my favorites) and American Gods stayed with me for a long time. I understand the quality of the craft in his work. It’s just not my thing I guess. Our story sensibilities are just a little far apart.

I hope he can forgive me. I suspect he’ll lose little sleep.

4. I am never going to be the cool parent.

Let’s face it: my kids think I’m a dork. Let’s face it: I am a dork. I’m clumsy and mumble-mouthed. I say the wrong things. I do the wrong things. I come out when they’re playing with their friends to make them take their medications. I am hopeless about sports, only barely registering some feeling when the SF Giants have made it to the playoffs (that’s a baseball team, right?) I don’t understand the positions on the soccer team. When the parents played the kids I had a handball twice (twice!) (for my fellow non-athletes, a handball is a term in soccer when the let the ball touch you on the arms. I forgot about this and unwisely used an elbow to keep the ball from hitting me in the face. Apparently you’re supposed to let it hit you in the face) I get waaaaaay too excited about books and tv shows, but when I play video games I am the one who gets stuck in a corner and can’t figure out how to turn around..

So I may be a dork, I just hope that I’m a lovable dork and that they forgive me.

So these are the things I am letting go of today. I already feel better and now I can shift that mental energy into accomplishing goals that really are important to me, like becoming a champion line dancer.

OK, not really (my daughter just squeed in horror, if that’s a thing you can do).

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Posted by on May 31, 2013 in culture, life

 

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What’s Happening (now)

It has been so long since I posted that I was afraid that I had forgotten the password to log in and was going to have to start a new blog entirely. But I remembered, obviously, which means I am reusing passwords and will soon be hacked at all sites I log into.

I probably shouldn’t have typed that out loud. Just…a…sec…Never mind, I have changed all of my passwords.

The last year has been a strange one, lots of standing in place while events move around me, like I’m the main character in a badly plotted novel.

I put my writing on hold for a while, not on purpose but because I just wasn’t in the headspace to do it. The novel is still there, between drafts, waiting for me to come back to it. I have the characters and the setting, but the plot needs work. And the plot is kind of an important element here.

I have worked on a couple of short stories. I actually have three of them sitting around right now, and one that’s almost ready. Two of these have been sent out and rejected once without being sent out again. I am bad at submitting and that’s kind of an important step in all of this, I know. It’s not that I’m afraid of rejection, per se. I know I’m going to get rejected. lots. It’s more like I have trouble letting the stories be what they are and go out there into the world without feeling the need to tweak them just one more time. 

My mental state has been mixed. I’ve had no major mixed episodes, a few minor ones. I had a few days last week where all I wanted to do was sleep and brood, and the brooding was related to nothing that was actually going on. But there’s been nothing like the incident two years ago when I had to be babysat to avoid being hospitalized.

This year has been really hard financially, but things are looking up in that department, freeing me to treat writing like it’s an actual job, which is what I intend to do going forward.

But that’s what’s happening now. I plan to blog more, aiming for two posts a week, depending on if I have something to say or not. I imagine I will, if twitter is any indication.

 
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Posted by on May 29, 2013 in life, writing

 

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Ringing in the new year with legos and vomit


For Christmas this year, my wife and I made the executive decision that instead of presents, we would take a family vacation. And since the kids are really into them right now, we chose lego-land. Long car trips are doubleplus unfun with the various personalities involved (yes, mine too), so we flew down from Sacramento to San Diego. Somewhere through the years I forgot my son hadn’t flown on a plane in his own memory (he was 2 the last time), and some child in his class had him freaked out about plane crashes and whatnot, but he pulled through like a trooper. The return flight, he even wanted the window seat.

But Lego-land was fun, if a lot less lego-y than I had expected. It’s not like I expected the rides to actually be made out of legos, but still. There were some cool things there, and the kids had a lot of fun. My favorite thing was the place where you could build lego vehicles and then race them against each other on this cool sloping racetrack. I immediately started making plans to build one and install it in the living room, but this was voted down, so I contented myself with the lesson that winning at lego car racing is all about weight and balance. Maybe the ramp will go in the backyard, but then you have wind resistance to deal with.

ok, so maybe it’s not just the kids that are into legos. I am getting to make a corner where we can take all the legos and put them in the middle of a big table so we can keep them there all the time, because as you all know, it’s frustrating to get started on a big lego project and have to move it, because the sections always come apart and by the time you’re done getting it back together, you’ve lost a couple of crucial pieces and maybe even the entire design plan anyway. so …. win!

We’d planned to hit the SD Zoo as well, but on New Year’s eve, the drewnami got really sick (all over the rental car too) so we took it easy and just went to the beach. And once he was done being sick, it hit my poor wife at the exact worst possible moment. We can wholeheartedly recommend the kindness and helpfulness of Southwest Airlines flight attendants.

So that was how the West Coast branch of the Grayson family spent New Year’s. And I feel sorry for my poor wife and son who had to endure it, even as I kind of don’t even mind. It’s a longstanding family tradition for there be at least one hospital visit per holiday. We stayed out of the hospital this time, but I already had New Year’s covered from an incident ten years ago. My son helpfully launched himself over a barbecue grill last year (freak not, it was off) on Groundhog’s day.

And during all this, while standing in a stealth long-ass line at the Bionicle roller coaster, a story I’ve been knocking around inside my head sort of woke up and told me what it was and how to write it. And it was then I realized that if I’d only had my phone with me (it was in the backpack) I would have been able to jot it all down right there. Turns out Kate is right, I SHOULD have my cell phone on me at all times. Who knew?

So happy New Year to you all. 2009 sucked. There were like, one or two good things that happened, but the rest of 2009 can go do unnatural things to itself. 2010 — the bar’s pretty low, so no pressure, m’kay?

 
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Posted by on January 3, 2010 in life

 

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A rant (probably only slightly paranoid)

My son is a first grader. He’s very bright. Independent observers have confirmed this and, anyway, I can’t take credit for it because I did my best to teach him how to rot his brain with cartoons and comic books. He had a great year in kindergarten, but toward the end of the year started to get in trouble, mostly because he’s smart and charming and had a group of littre smart and charming friends who all decided they would see what they could get away with. It got handled very well by his teacher and his principal.

His kindergarten teacher was wonderful. She was whip-smart and had this really effective mix of warmth and firmness.

Enter first grade. Full stop. He basically has not been able to do anything right the entire year. My wife and I have tried to be really supportive of the school, and his teacher has tried to work on being more positive with him, but it’s getting a little ridiculous.

Case in point: He has math work he does at home and in class. Maybe this is the way they’re teaching it now, but with almost every math problem they have to draw a little picture. 5 apples + 3 apples = 8 apples (someone should probably check my math there just to be sure). They’re supposed to draw and color the apples as well as write out the “number sentence” (an aside: why are we not teaching kids the actual math terms and using fuzzy stuff like this?) Well, Drew looks at this and immediately says 5 + 3 = 8, and writes out the number sentence. He grasps the concept. Why does he need to take an extra five minutes and draw the apples? It just frustrates him.

So, the next night, the homework comes home for corrections which are all, basically, DRAW THE PICTURE. This is stupid. He does not need to draw the picture. He needs to move on to other things so he does not get bored.

I know elementary school math programs now are all about this kind of stuff, making it more “arty,” and supposedly “fun.” But for kids who get it, its just frustrating, and reinforces the whole, “Can’t do anything right.” thing. My daughter’s fifth grade math text was all about little pictures and tricks and listing and she could do all of that but didn’t have a grasp of the fundementals, so we switched to Saxon, a math program with no frills, all fundamentals.

At the beginning of this year we wanted to be so supportive of our son’s teacher that we unwittingly sent him the message that we were not on his side, we were on hers. Well, fuck that! I’m on his side, and he needs to know that. And if my kids teacher starts to think I’m a little bit of an asshole because I’m going to the mat on this stuff, well, fine. Kids need what they need and he needs something different. I’m not asking the school to provide that something different, just to get out of my way.

And don’t even get me started on the yard duties who let the boys be teased and tormented by the girls but don’t hesitate to bust a boy who steps out of line, because anyone who’s ever worked around kids knows that totally happens.

Anyway, i’ve been thinking a lot about this kid lately after the months of sturm and drang regarding the other. It’s the opposite problem, really, but just as important mostly because he is really smart and if he gets frustrated and decides to devote his powers to evil in revenge for his unhappy primary school experience we are all screwed.

 
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Posted by on October 21, 2009 in life

 

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2008: a post-mortem

As a new year starts, I think it’s a good idea to look at the last year, and see what happned. Sure, there were problems, but I don’t want to dwell on them, so, for a change, I’m going to talk about things I accomplished this year.

I published my first short story. In a paying market, which felt really good, especially since it was a story I rather liked. Now, of course, I can see flaws, but it’s still my story and it’s out there for the world.  Shameless plug time: you can get it in the Barren Worlds anthology published by Hadley-Rille Books. “This Abandoned Sky” is on page 63.

Additionally, I finished two other short stories and submitted them to markets. One rejection, but one is still out there. Who knows? I also got a good start on my next novel, and hopefully will finish that sometime this year.

I spent the year back in school, training for an entirely new career (a daunting task when you’re in your 30’s). This, plus the writing, makes me feel like I’m starting two new careers at once.  But they’re both things I love.  My grandpa’s advice remains true: Find something you love, find a way to make a living at it, and you will never work a day in your life. So far, the “make a living” part remains elusive, but I’m on track. At any rate, I am a much more useful human being than I was before, able to actually help people, not just critique their grammar. Don’t worry, I can still do that too.

I finally got my head balanced out, by the grace of God, Dr. Kinney,  and the pharmaceutical industry. Sometimes you don’t realize you’ve gone off the rails until you get back on them. I have no desire to be a normal person, so to speak, but I would like to be in charge of the abnormality. Now I feel like I am.

for 2009: continue the work, become employed, remain balanced, find a way to keep the house cleaned and the laundry done, try not to fall to pieces during the last few eps of Battlestar Galactica (which starts again on my birthday).

And as I was wring this, the song that came up on my ipod? Beautiful Dawn by the Wailing Jennies. Hope that’s an omen.

 
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Posted by on January 1, 2009 in life, writing

 

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Catching up …

Just a few notes to play catch-up.

The work continues. My new Novel, The New Maps of Hell (working title, no one freak out, although I rather like it. Yes, I know it’s borrowed from one of the early works of science fiction criticism, but it works for the situation. And I should end these parentheses before the entire post is all parentheses and no content.) now has a word count posted at the bottom of the page. That’s why I changed themes, to be able to use widgets, although I really liked the black and white Hemingway. I may get into the html and change it around later if I get the time.

And I can do that now. My tech classes are over for the semester and I’m ready to take the certification exam in January. This will, hopefully, lead to gainful employment in the field I love, and my teaching career can become a distant, unpleasant memory.

And I’m undergoing a little bit of a spiritual renaissance, thanks to podcasts from Jay Bakker’s Revolution Church in NYC. I won’t get into this a lot, but I was raised in a really strict religious tradition, became Catholic as an adult, and still love Catholic forms of worship even if I’m kind of parting ways with some of that dogma, specifically the church’s belief in it’s own infallibility, their stand against Gay Marriage, and the apocalyptic way the priest pederasty was handled. It’s nice to feel like this can be a part of my life again in some way, though I am, if still a christian to any degree, one of those liberal, out there christians, and that’s just fine with me.

Just don’t call me religious, those are fighting words.

And in the middle of several household crises this week, I received a rejection notice. It was one I expected, because it would have been just an amazing thing to have won WOTF the first time I entered, and now I can shop the story around some more. And, hey, they sent me a cool bookmark, so … win?

So as the year winds down, things are looking up, at least a little. I feel like my time in the wilderness may be ending, or at least transitioning into something else, a place where I might be able to start doing real  people some actual good. It’s been a hard journey, and I don’t want to get into specifics too much, but I’ve battled something for years and finally been diagnosed and properly treated. It feels good to be in control of how I’m feeling.

Screw it. I wouldn’t want anyone else in my position to feel ashamed, so I’m not going to either. I’ve battled bipolar disorder without knowing what it was, exactly, for about eight years. Now I know. Now I’m me again. I’m not the me I was before because that person hadn’t gone through what I’ve gone through. And, you know, to steal the old quote, “I wouldn’t take nothing for my journey now.”

I’d better wind this up because, as I was writing, I think my kids put the cat in the bathtub. Tiberius = not happy.

 
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Posted by on December 20, 2008 in life, writing

 

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I don’t mind if it rains, but does it have to rain snot?

Sorry for the gross title. That’s the kind of mood I’m in today, but I promise this won’t be a whining post. It’s been one of those weeks where I start off with good intention and a brilliantly thought-out to-do list that, if followed properly, would have resulted in all my homework done, my story out the door, and the house being spotless. You can guess what happened next.

Virtually every single day had an atomic-sized disaster in the middle of it that necessitated all plans being dropped immediately and emergency positions taken (why do so many of my emergency posistions require me to be on the telephone or in the car, also on the telephone?).

Things seemed to be settled down now, mostly, but I am behind on all kinds of work and I was trying to get all of it done last week so the week ahead, which has long loomed in red letters on the calendar as THE WEEK FROM HELL would not have to be so bad. 

So, in short, I am screwed. But since I am am on all kinds of cold meds to combat the summer-cold-which-is-also-from-hell-possibly-sent-ahead-as-a-herald-sort-of-like-the-silver-surfer that arrived on Thursday, I don’t even care. 

I have spared you all the story of the snot and glitter disaster that necessitated the shaving of all my facial hair. You’re welcome. 

Carry on.

 
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Posted by on September 21, 2008 in Uncategorized

 

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