Doing Stand Up

A thought just occurred to me. What am I supposed to do about biking when winter comes?

Also, my bike is making a noise dammit. Might need to be oiled somewhere. I should have kept up the maintenance, but you can’t get in to see anyone anymore. Also thinking about ordering new tires, just in case. And new brakes. They work, but they make a noise. I think it’s normal, but I haven’t replaced them in the 13 years I’ve had the bike. Thirteen years sounds like a lot, but in use, it’s much fewer years. What is the average that a person uses a bike in a year? I’m sure I’ve been below it, especially if you exclude people who don’t use their bikes at all and therefore effectively don’t have bikes. “A person who doesn’t read, holds no advantage over one who can’t,” as Mark Twain said.

They maintain airplanes based on miles flown, so how many miles have I flown? That’s what matters. My new app will tell me, at least going forward. My total miles 43.1. My longest single day ride was 10, since measurements began in the 2020s.  And that happened yesterday.

My new stem makes a difference. I still think the crank is too big, but I am able to raise the seat a little. My knees feel a little less strained, though it still feels like that’s where the muscles are that I’m using most. And that doesn’t make sense to me.

Is this really a blog post? Interesting thoughts in it? More like a journal. I don’t want to post things that are boring. On the other hand, I’m not a good judge of that, and I don’t want to give up writing, and no one reads this anyway, so why do I care if it’s good, or how sure I am of it.

Yes, another biking post, three in a row now, that could get old. On the other hand, reasons. I could come up with dozens of reasons to give up writing. Dozens.

Weird way to measure isn’t it? I could give up for multiples of 12 reasons. Is that so many more than multiples of 10? Depends on how many multiples.

Scores of reasons. Are scores more than multiples of 10? Or Dozens? Well, if you know that a score is 20, then you might say yes, but I would argue that they are the same. Infinity plus one is still infinity. Multiples of any amount, if you don’t define the multiple can be anything, and two anythings are always equal. That could have been the thesis for my senior project if I had stayed at Bard College, and stayed in mathematics. It would have been hilarious, if not right. Maybe I would have failed and then gone on to use the story in a lucrative career doing stand up.

Mike Davis

My former teacher, Mike Davis, wants us to get out of our cages.

Another Year Over

I took a couple of courses with Mike Davis, and we were on good terms. I enjoyed our interactions, and I learned a lot. The classes were online, so all of the interactions were online. We kept up for a short while after the classes were over, via facebook, or via the comment section on his blog, and I still read his blog, as you can see.

But I imagine that Mike Davis doesn’t like me. 

More likely, he doesn’t think about me at all, cause I don’t mean anything to him. I’m fine with that.  I know I am irrelevant. I should be. We’re not friends, and I don’t want to be.

I admire the guy.  He taught me, and he was a good teacher.  He was actually the best writing teacher I ever had, which, ok, admittedly, isn’t saying much.  But it’s something. 

And I like what he’s trying to do.

I imagine that he doesn’t like me, only because I am the kind of person, I imagine he doesn’t like.

(Yes, I’m making it all up. That’s what writers do – but it could be true, because we have gifted insight).

A person who won’t get out of his fucking cage.

Why should I bother saying that I want to be a writer, that this is my aspiration, that someday, yes, algun dia, I will visit America. If it’s just a dream that will never happen, then you’re full of shit. You either do it or you don’t. You get no credit for saying you want to.

This is why I think he doesn’t like me. How can I be inspiring, in a cage? Why would you want to surround yourselves with people like that? 

I want to be a writer but I am an accountant. I want to be a writer, but I travel a lot, and have a nice house and cars and fine dining experiences and furniture, and an under-funded pension, and a lot of other expenses. I want to be a writer but I am a husband.

And I eat too much.

You know, whatever.

I am in a cage. 

I can’t make different choices (except maybe that I could eat less).

I can’t sell our house and all our stuff, so I don’t even have to pay to store it, and move only what we need into a cheap apartment. I can’t decide we don’t need cars, because we won’t work, and we can uber if we really need to get somewhere or rent a car twice a year for a trip, and walk everywhere else, or ride a bike.

I can’t live frugally enough to retire, now, or even in three years. I can’t change careers, or move to another country.

I don’t have that freedom.  

Not that I would want any of that.

But I want to be a writer. I’ve pretty much always said, effectively always, that I want to be a writer. And doing some or all of those things would help.

I know I’m not going to do them, but can I write from my prison cell?

That’s a kind of freedom.  To write the truth.  Can I do that? I would need to free myself from another cage.  I have to escape the past. No simpler way to say it. I think that’s what Mike Davis is talking about.

I mean what that means for you, escaping the past, may be different than what it would means to me, but it is a very broad all encompassing statement.  So, probably it’s true for everyone.

Maybe for her it’s a trauma, maybe for him regrets, maybe for me it’s just the expectation that I will stay the same as I have always been. How do I escape from the expectations people have of me that I, myself, have nurtured and established?

I don’t know. But this is why I write now. Whether I post it anywhere or not, writing is, for me, the means by which I am going to attempt an escape from prison. I don’t know if I’ll be successful. We can never know.  But I believe I can prevail. So, I’m working on the locks.

I Don’t Want to Talk About Work

I wrote a poem this morning, inspired by the movie Paterson.  Ron Padgett, who actually wrote the poems for the movie anticipated this. In an interview with the PBS newshour he said, “Maybe a film like Paterson will help some people say, ‘huh, maybe I could write something like this too’.”

But I didn’t know that when I wrote it.

It’s 7AM.
Time to start the routine
The same routine every day

I take a shower
Shave
Brush my teeth

Put work clothes on
And torment myself
Over whether to eat breakfast

But I don’t want to talk about work
I get up at 5 or 6
I stretch or write

Who do I blame?
That’s what I want to know
That’s what I write about

Lately I’ve been having breakfast
And drinking coffee
And liking it

But I’m behind
Always behind
In my tasks

Maybe when I retire
I’ll keep a blog
And ride a bicycle

An Ordinary Life

I think everyone should write their autobiographies. Each person should write everything they can think of about their lives, how they felt about the things that they did and what happened to them, the minutia, and the tragedy and the glory, if there is any, the truth, as they see it when they are writing it, and as they see it later when they write it differently, everything. The length should be unlimited. And then each of these people should edit it down, and edit and edit and edit, until their lives seem worth having lived and maybe worth reading about, but not necessarily.

I forgot to write last Friday.  Just forgot. And I kept blowing off writing for this week, because, I broke my streak.

I went to Bogota, Colombia for business.  Left on Tuesday, came back on Friday, came into the office worked for an hour and then drove to Lake Hartwell, in South Carolina, where I joined some other dads and their sons, mine was already there, for a weekend of tubing, wake surfing, swimming, jet skiing and poker. I won again, but not much, and only at the end.  The trick to poker is to save your winning streak for the end of the night. My friend describes lake Hartwell as the blue collar lake, but to me, it feels like I have friends with money.

I didn’t realize that I had completely forgotten about posting on Friday until Monday when I was back at work.  I could have worked on something in the evenings from Colombia, but I forgot.

So, I’m writing this without any editing, straight into wordpress at the last minute so that I don’t neglect it on purpose this time. I can’t use the same excuse this week. I’ve  been thinking about it every day, but watching TV instead: Turn, which is ok, my wife likes it, and I finished off Merli, that Catalan show about a high school philosophy teacher, which I liked, and an episode of a Colombian telenovela called Without Breasts There is no Paradise (literal translation).  And I slept in, when I might otherwise have been writing.

My daughter wants to collaborate on a screenplay about her grandfather, my dad, who is somewhat famous/infamous in specific circles. I’ve always wanted to collaborate, cause I just can’t get it going on my own, so I am somewhat amenable to being driven by her on it, even if I’m not completely sold on the idea. I told my employee in Colombia that she should meet my daughter, because they are close in age and my daughter has a Latin soul.  “Like you?” she asks.  “More than me,” I said. I’m not sure I really have a Latin soul, but my daughter loves Latin America and actually learned Spanish, unlike the 40 years of my trying that has not born fruit . My employee describes Latinos as very enthusiastic, and that fits my daughter. She can get so excited about something she just makes you want to do it. She can also stress herself out with all of the things she wants to do, but she gets a hell of a lot done. She is driven. She can push you. She wants it all. I encourage her to try. Because I don’t want her to give up, like I do.

Who I Am (Not)

This is why it is so important for me to write. I don’t know if it’s the same for everyone else, but I don’t think well without writing my thoughts down to see how if feels to say them and to check them with their logical implications. I need this to disavow myself of all of my wrong thinking whether it be that I hate myself, my parents, my friends, the Yankees or whoever. There’s enough hate to go around. But I don’t really hate anyone (except the Yankees). I just have to write it down, so that after I die, if I were to die while any of these people are still alive, they could read it and think that I really hated them, when in fact, I just wrote it down so that I can test the thesis, and likely prove it wrong. Start with who I am, and then become someone different. Start with what I think and then change my mind. Start with bias and gain perspective. It’s a process. So don’t believe anything I write, including this.

I write to learn about myself, cause I don’t know that much about me.

My favorite scene in Seinfeld (right at this moment, tomorrow it will be something different) is when George is trying to figure out how to break up with his girlfriend. They are pitching “Seinfeld” to NBC. He finally has a job he can brag about to get girls, except that if he breaks up with his girlfriend, who works for NBC and has influence over the show, he loses the job. So he comes up with this idea.  She loves David Letterman.  Letterman works for NBC, he works for NBC. Maybe he can meet Letterman, introduce him to his girlfriend, she’ll dump him for Letterman, and everyone gets what they want.

“I’m just thinking,” he says.

“I don’t think you are,” Jerry replies.

So, I’m just thinking.

I can’t believe that I ever, like when I was 18 for example, felt intimidated by fellow 18 year olds who thought of themselves as good writers. How could they have been? They were 18. Where are they now? I have no idea. I don’t even remember their names. Statistically they are not famous writers. So no one be discouraged that you are not, at some young age, great. Imagine if I sat here today and was only 20 and had 50 years to perfect my craft.  If I pushed on with persistence, I imagine I would be excelling in the first 10 years, which, if true, suggests that I’ve still got enough time because I have no reason to think that I don’t have 10 years left. I could easily have 20. That’s a lot of time. I could have 30. I could be writing with clarity at 90, or without clarity; which could be just as good if not better. More of a poem than prose, like something that came from a spirit in the sky. It could sound like the bible, or like Jesus actually wrote it and maybe he will have.

Because once your mind is gone, it isn’t you talking, right? Or maybe it never is. If you don’t know yourself, then nothing you say can actually be you. Just let it flow and say whatever flows and then ask yourself, does that sound like me? Yes no maybe so?

I think we need to forget who we think we are, unless we’re really happy with ourselves. I’m not happy with myself. I never particularly wanted to be me. So speak as if it’s someone else. Until it isn’t.

5AM

Her mom didn’t love her, what’s my excuse? I read this and it made me think about the recurring anger I have  towards my parents, yet they aren’t so bad I can actually blame them for anything. And then someone else posted about senior projects at my old school, Bard college, and I actually commented that I wish I had stayed to do a senior project, got a few likes for my failure to achieve that, and thought about how it could have been my first novel, if I had stuck it out in lit, and still I haven’t written that first novel. But at the time I thought it would have to be good. The portent of a senior project, especially with the problems I was having late in my career there choosing a major, probably contributed to my flight. Although mostly it was because the Math department only had two professors and they both left just as I was declaring my major. Was it me? And so again, I feel like a failure, and here I am, so old already, and such a failure and whose fault is it? I guess it doesn’t matter whose fault it is because the consequences are mine and that would have made it my responsibility to do something about it.

I have spent my whole life saying I want to do things and failing at them. I got to go out to LA to  pitch ideas to star trek and then i didn’t keep trying. I may have achieved some other things, I can be proud of myself, but the things I SAY I want to do, the things I have always said are important to me, what I’ve called “dreams,” I’ve failed at them all.  At 52, what am I supposed to do with that?  I’m supposed to get up at 5AM every morning and write and not stop doing that until I am dead, that’s what.  There’s only one way to prove that it’s not too late, and that’s to do it, whether I believe that’s possible or not. Achieve something or die trying. Go out fighting.   

One of the things that bothers me about finally achieving some of these things so late is that the people who saw potential in me as a child might all be dead. These are the people I want to make proud. But I suppose the people who knew me as a child aren’t the only ones I could make proud of me. My kids could be proud of me. My friends. I need to let go of that little child, that young adult, that thirty something kid, like I still want to be that person I never was. I need to stop trying to write like that, hoping people who read me can’t tell that I’m older than that. I need to own my age and write like that’s my stage in life, honestly and authentically. I have to stop being scared that people will be turned off if I admit to them that I’ve gotten this far already and have so little to show for it.

I have lost a little confidence in my ability to write a better story by spending more time on it.  Last week I put more effort into my friday blog, worked on it every day, I even goofed off at work to spend more time on rewrites and edits because I wasn’t getting up at 5AM as consistently as I wanted to. But it got worse and worse, until finally I had to fulfill my commitment to myself to post it regardless, and it was a confusing contradictory rambling mess that I have since edited down, just to make it a bit shorter, so now the food’s no good AND the portion is small. Sometimes that happens. But the truth is that it gets worse before it gets better. Because what happened is that I had started with a conclusion and a point and the more I worked on it the more I realized things about myself that contradicted my original point upending what I thought. I was in the middle of a process in which I was on a path of self-revelation that might have landed me at a conclusion opposite the one I started with, but I was in the middle when Friday came.

A Penny For My Thoughts

If I could make a penny for every post I wrote every time someone read it, I would have to write a lot to make any real money.  But if I knew that I could make, even a tenth of a penny every time anyone read any of my posts, it would  motivate me to think that I could  build this as a business. I need that. I need it to be motivated. A business model of some sort. And it’s not an unrealistic way to look at it, because with advertising or publicity that might not be so conservative an estimate of earning potential.

For example, let me put my accountant hat on for a minute, as much as I hate that hat, it just doesn’t feel right, it doesn’t look good either, it’s just not my style, not who I am, not who I want to be, not how I self-identify (it is, however, how I make money), so, running the numbers, we see that I if could make one tenth of one cent any time someone read a post, then if I wrote regularly and slowly built up to the point at which I had 100,000 readers I could make $100 off of every post.  If I posted every week, I’d make an extra $433.33 a month, on average.

It’s something to shoot for, that’s all I’m saying. It’s money for something I really want to do anyway.

And all I have to do is treat it like a business, like it’s important, like there’s a model that requires me to post something every week.

On Friday.

It’s Obvious

I told a bandmate of mine, when we were rehearsing Sunday night, and it was getting past my bedtime, that I had to get up at 5AM.

“Why?” he asked. I hesitated to say. “Personal reasons?” he asked.

“So… I’m waking up at 5 to write,” I told him.

And he thought that was great, solicited a slap me five for it (up high, down low, too slow), and went on to talk process with me. Now this is the universe conspiring to help me, see? I need to accept that help. Because he talked about the most difficult part for him being the finish (the last 10% is always the hardest – that’s true of tax returns too), and that if he didn’t push through it, he would just start something new, because that’s the easier part. And that is something I struggle with so much that I have been justifying to myself that there is nothing wrong with working on multiple stories at once, but there is, because it enables you to avoid the hardest part of the process by moving on to something easier. That’s why I never finish anything. That’s why, as I always say, I have lots of potential.

So, I think if I follow the signs, then I will go back to working on one particular story that I put down a while ago, even though it’s not the most recent story I’ve worked on (its been so long I’ve forgotten the names of some of my characters) and almost doesn’t feel like the one I should finish because it’s not even the furthest along. But a teacher I had in Jr. High school, my favorite teacher ever, has recently contacted me in response to an old request I made of him to play the Muse. Well, actually it started when he joked that he couldn’t wait to read the book in which I based a character on him. And so it occurred to me that there was a character in a particular story I was working on at the time the lent himself perfectly to that, and I actually changed the name to his, Mr T.

It soon became obvious, however, that I didn’t really know Mr T so well. How much does a teacher really reveal about himself to his 9th graders. So, I asked him if we could get together so that I could get to know him better, for the story. And he said, sure, but then it didn’t happen, and now a year or two later, he emails me to ask how it’s going.

Decisions need to be made, plain and simple and sometimes the choice is obvious. Just like it was ultimately obvious that the only way I was going to find time to write was to wake up at five and the only way I could to do that was to go to sleep at ten. No matter how much I didn’t want to do that it was the obvious answer. Right after that, Mr T emails me, and then my bandmate tells me I need to FINISH SOMETHING. The decision to work on this story – working title: The Immortals – over something else I was working on more recently  – working title: Robert the Robot – also makes sense on so many levels. Because Mr. T has contacted me, and has actually sent me some emails telling me stories about himself that I can work into the character, and so it is time. I must gut it out with this one story, because when it gets difficult, that’s when you have to get mean, and if you just start on a new story, it will be because you are avoiding the difficult not because it’s a good process. You’ll finish nothing. If you want to get to that new story, finish the old one. So obvious I wonder why I didn’t realize it before.

I’m about ready, after only a week, to move on from strictly journal and blogging to a project. Cover me…

Extra Innings

We all need to do a little extra. This is how committed I am. It was an historic moment last night. The Cubs after 108 years finally broke the curse. Teased so many times before, and I was there for some of that. They had some good teams over the years, 1969, 1984, hell last year even. And it looked like they might lose again, but they forced a seventh game.

And I went to bed at 10PM because I had just committed myself to a routine to awake at 5AM to write something everyday. That’s how committed I am to my own extra. Of course I checked the score first thing in the morning to find out that the 5-1 lead that I abandoned for sleep was blown and the game went into extra innings had a rain delay and then the Cubs made history in the 10th. And now Cleveland is the team with the longest drought since winning a World Series.

And I feel pretty good about missing it. Especially since it went really late. Of course, I wouldn’t have missed it if the Mets were playing. So maybe it’s not the sacrifice I claim it to be. Maybe I don’t really care. It’s not like I was following these players all year. I wasn’t invested too much. But I’m happy for them. I’m happy for Cubs fans. They should all take a day off work.

On another note, I had a dream last night that Michael Strahan was playing the drums really well, and I watched him for awhile and was thinking, “this is he way I would play the drums if I practiced more.” The weird thing is that usually the memory of any dreams I have start to fade very quickly after I wake up. If I can’t write them down right away, they’re gone. But this was an early dream. I had it, then went back to sleep, then woke up and remembered it, as if it really happened. Maybe it’s a waking up at 5 thing.