29 October 2010

We've established that I can walk reasonable distances and for long periods of time. but this--


--this is kicking my ass.

The first time out on it I managed 15 minutes before I was sucking wind and feeling like I was going to hurl, and distance wise I only made it .83 miles.

Today I managed 20 minutes--I'm not sure how far because I didn't have my GPS thingy on me--but at least I didn't want to hork up my lunch.

I'm hoping that between it and the Trikke I'll serious up my cardio conditioning, but for now...geeeeeeez.


25 October 2010

“How,” the question was, “do you come to grips with your child having that creative spark that makes you just know the life they're going to pick is going to be hard? When you know that they have the talent, but the odds are stacked so high against them, how do you get past wanting to push them into studying for something stable and going after work that ends up with health benefits and a pension and a real retirement? How do you not discourage them?”

I had that discussion last night, and today ran across someone quoting a speech Stephen King made in 2003 when accepting the National Book Award For Distinguished Contribution to American Letters.

There were some hard, dark years before Carrie. We had two kids and no money. We rotated the bills, paying on different ones each month. I kept our old car, a Buick, going with duct tape and bailing wire. It was a time when my wife might have been expected to say, "Why don't you quit spending three hours a night in the laundry room, Steve, smoking cigarettes and drinking beer we can't afford? Why don't you get an actual job?

Okay, this is the real stuff. If she'd asked me, I almost certainly would have done it [...] One of the few times during the early years of my marriage I saw my wife cry really hard was when I told her the paperback publisher, New American Library, had paid a ton of money for the book she rescued from the trash. I could quit teaching, she could quit pushing crullers at Dunkin' Donuts. She looked almost unbelieving for five seconds and then she put her hands over her face and she wept.

My point is that Tabby always knew what I was supposed to be doing, and she believed I could succeed at it. There is a time in the lives of most authors when they are vulnerable, when the vivid dreams and ambitions of childhood seem to pale in the harsh sunlight of what we call the real world. [...] If my wife had suggested to me, even with love and kindness and gentleness rather than her more common with and good-natured sarcasm, that the time had come for me to put my dreams away and support my family, I would have done that with no complaint. I believe on some level of thought I was expecting to have that conversation. [...] Tabitha has told me since that it never crossed her mind to have such a conversation. You had second job, she said, in the laundry room with my typewriter. I hope you know, Tabby, that they are clapping for you and not me. Stand up so they can see you, please. Thank you. Thank you. I did not let her see this speech, and will hear about this later.

I think when someone you care about has that spark, you know it, whether you're willing to admit that to yourself or not. You can choose to stand in front of them and block the way, because hell, you don't want them to make a mistake that colors their entire life; you can stand beside them and try to guide them off the path but not too far, just in case they have a real shot at their dream; you can stand behind them and push them in the direction you know they need to be going, because you want for them what they want.

You can let the manuscript lie in the trash can to be tossed away, you can pull it out and put it away for later, or you can pull it out and hand it back with the message that this is good, this deserves to be shared.

I threw away a few manuscripts early on because the feedback I got was all right, but not what I expected; I knew I could write, but the vibe was pretty clear: success as a writer was unrealistic, so I better have something to fall back on. The talent was there, sure, but you know only about 5% of published writers make enough to live on, and think of all the unpublished wannabes out there.

Tabitha King certainly could have asked her husband to set the writing aside, even for a little while, for the sake of comfort...but what then? Take a look in the bookstore; how much of it might the rest of us not have if she had done just that? She likely knew what a lot of people don't: writing isn't something you do; a writer is what you are.

You can edit out writer and insert a number of other things: singer, dancer, actor. Chef. Photographer.

How do you come to grips with your child practically having a calling to something that may not pay well, could be a constant race to the next thing that might be “it?” How do you not push them hard to have something else to fall back on?

You just do.

That's not to say you won't screw it up every now and then, because it's your kid. Yeah, you probably will verbalize that wish that they'd study something else as a backup plan. That doesn't mean you have to say it in a way that suggests you want that because you don't think they have what it takes. But when you have your parental wits about you, understand this: they don't really have a choice.

I don't write for the money; I write because that's what I am. Those monthly royalties are nice, but I would write whether I was paid for it or not. The words, the characters, the story lines—those have to get out of my head an onto virtual paper, whether anyone else ever sees them or not.

Maybe that skews my parental perspective a bit, because I come from that place of This is what I am, this is what I have to do. When the Boy took that first acting class, it was to explore his expanding interests; when that interest took fire, it didn't make sense to push him in another direction, because he would know sooner or later whether or not that being an actor was something he wanted to do, or if it was something he was.

In the beginning, it might have been something he wanted to do, but the more he immersed himself in it, the more we realized that it wasn't an interest, it was part of him. Each time we've seen him perform he's gotten better, to the point that watching him as Mercutio this past summer...he wasn't an actor playing a part, he was Mercutio. On stage, he sheds himself and pulls on someone else's skin and personality, and it's an amazing and chilling thing to watch.

During intermission I was on my phone and posting to Facebook: he can't ever not act.

The scope of it is up to him, but there's no denying that he's not a waiter who occasionally acts: he's an actor.

And I think that's how we come to grips with it all: we have to realize that our kids are not just extensions of ourselves, and they're not these fragile things we need to constantly protect. We need to recognize them for what they are, and sometimes what they are is the budding writer, the passionate dancer, or the growing actor.

We might want for them to have something to fall back onto, but then again, if they have something to fall back on, they just might fall back.

So...the answer is to suck it up. Support in ways you can. Let them be who they are. Because frankly, the world needs them every bit as much as the world needs doctors and lawyers and farmers.

Follow your bliss...

Sometimes, your bliss is written as deep as your DNA.

You can empty their life's manuscript from the trash can and make sure they never see it again, or you can rescue it and encourage them to keep at it.

They don't have much choice.

You do.


23 October 2010

You know you're leading a really hard life when the lowlight of your day is that Denny's ran out of chicken noodle soup.


I may never get over it.


18 October 2010

File under Well Duh:

While addressing a stack of envelopes by hand, I inverted a couple of numbers on a street address, and muttered--out loud--"Gotta redo that, can't send it with a typo."

Um. Yeah.



17 October 2010

"Yanno," the text said, "this would be a lot easier if you would just TALK ON THE PHONE."

Well, it would certainly be easier for the other person. At least at first. But after a few "What was that?" and "I can't hear you, sorry," and "Huh? I didn't catch that," anyone would have to agree, talking to me on the phone is not All That.

Combine that with Writer's Brain (or: I really do need to stop to think and edit, then redraft, and think again before putting anything out there) and I'm all kinds of fun to talk to on the phone.

It's not personal, people.

It's simple.


Plus, I'm kinda socially backwards. And phone phobic.

Trust me, texting is the miracle by which you want to communicate with me.


16 October 2010

Overheard in Border's today:

You know, I'm trying to see Dad's point of view, but I just can't shove my head that far up my ass.

Almost choked on my tea...


15 October 2010

In training for the 3 Day, I walked around 600 miles. That's about 60,000 calories burned; most days my caloric intake was 1,500, but on the 12, 15, and 18 miles days it jacked up to 2,000 out of necessity.

You'd think I would have lost weight like crazy, but I didn't lose a damned thing. I haven't lost a damned thing since early January, in spite of carefully counting the calories and increasing my activity level.

Yes, this majorly bums me out.

In any case, I'm thinking that by Monday or Tuesday my feet will be back to 95% normal and I can get back out there to walk and/or Trikke. I was getting a little worried because the re-awakening nerves were getting to be seriously painful and the walking I had to do--shopping, just getting from the living room to the bathroom--was starting to really hurt.

Then someone posted on Facebook about the shoes they'd recently purchased and how soft and comfy they were, and I remembered that before I started the whole training thing that I'd bought a similar pair. And as I recalled, they were awfully cushiony.

I dug them out from under the bed and put them on, and damn...super comfortable and they kept me off the balls of my feet.

Coincidentally or not, the agony of de-feet lessened and now my toes only itch a bit. There are still numbish spots, but I don't notice that unless I rub the toes over the sheets or against each other.

So...a weekend of probably not much other than working, and then back to working out. And while I work out, I'll probably contemplate this as the next new toy:

Street Strider Fusion
Nope, don't need it, but dang I want it.

I know, I know....


14 October 2010

T-shirt spotted in Border's today:

Made me snicker, anyway...


12 October 2010

On the plus side, I think I've got about 85% of the feeling back in my toes.

On the minus side, I realized this at 3 a.m. when the searing pain of waking nerves jolted me from sleep.

Fun times, fun times...


9 October 2010

One of the things that had to fall by the wayside once my training mileage started to pile up was the motorcycle. On days I would normally go out and spend a couple of mindless hours riding for the fun of it, I was out pounding the pavement for multiple hours for the benefit of it.

g8I think between late August and now I've only ridden two or three times, and in total less than 200 miles.

I missed my bike.

Getting back on it was one of the things I was looking forward to; I'd pretty much made up my mind that a couple of days after the end of the 3 Day I'd pull the bike out of the garage, check the tire pressure and oil and other necessary things, and ride.

I hadn't counted on having numbish toes; I should have expected sore feet but that didn't really factor into my personal equation. I was going to be done walking, I was going to ride!

Each day, the feet are getting a little bit better. I can feel my toes, but they have that post-dentist visit feeling, when the anesthetic is mostly worn off but there's still a little residual numbness. And now when I press on the balls of my feet, I can feel the electric nerve sensation shooting into my toes. And yep, they're still a bit sore.

Today I figured I'd be good to go. I can mostly feel my feet, the rest of me feels fine--it's time to ride. So I put on my riding jeans, grabbed my boots and went to put them on...and the boots didn't fit.

Apparently my feet are slightly swollen. My walking shoes are a half size big, so I didn't really notice that. But the boots, they were tight.

In them, I couldn't feel my feet.

Well. Hell.

So apparently my motorcycle is going to remain in the garage for a few more days. I could take the scooter out--I don't need to feel a shifting peg or read brake pedal with that--but the idea of the potential bootless wreck made me think otherwise. I could ride in sneakers...choose not to.

So instead of riding, I did some writing, and am now practicing housework avoidance.

Practice makes perfect, you know...


7 October 2010

They got me through the 3 day walk...

...and they did not blister like I feared, but. But.

My toes went mostly numb on day 3, and they're still mostly numb, and it's starting to drive me a little batshit insane.

No, I don't think it's permanent, but I'd kind of like to get back to working out and I worry that if I jump back into walking several miles a day that it will become permanent.

All in all I'm quite happy with how my feet held up, but really, I would like to have all the feeling back...