Thursday, December 31, 2009

Remembering the Ohs

I wanted to do a best list for the decade. You know, my picks for best movies and books and short stories and music and, I dunno, food trends. But I don’t really remember a lot of that – or at least I don’t remember it in any quantifiable way, in a way I can sort and post in a pithy list form.

So this is what I’m going to do. I’m posting my most memorable moments of the decade. Those personal moments that have stuck with me. Because, hell, it’s my blog. So, here we go:

I remember meeting my wife. A wine tasting. Too much wine but not so much as to dull. Not so much as to make that first kiss anything less than spinning, lost, thrown through time. I remember sitting on my stoop a week later and looking at her beside me and knowing I loved her. Knowing. Knowing, knowing.

I remember the births of both my children. The first long and fogged. Everything torn from me except love. The second like completion. Like fate.

I remember 9/11. I remember crouching in the bathroom at my office and crying because I could think of nothing else to do. I remember walking down 17th Street in DC that night and seeing all the bars full. I remember being able to talk about nothing else for weeks and singing the national anthem alone in my car.

I remember moving back to Texas. I remember my son, a toddler then, running circles in the empty living room and realizing this would be the first home he’ll ever know.

I remember poker. Which poker? I don’t remember. But I remember a lot of pocket aces and pocket seven twos off. I remember my heart beating my ribs as I waited on a stranger to call or fold. I remember the pride of a big stack. And the hollowness of a short one.

I remember a perfect double rainbow seen while in a traffic jam on I-95.

I remember my son reaching up and wiping a tear from my cheek as we laid my grandfather to rest.

I remember my dog falling through the ice in the middle of a lake and somehow living.

I remember a single bite of transcendent sushi from Bar Charlie.

I remember a lot more. New friends. Travels. All those kisses from my kids. All those walks. And all those nights spent awake into the wee hours as I tried to find that perfect word for that ultimately failed story. Hell, there is so much to remember. Just the other day I was joking with my wife that it’s a shame we didn’t do anything this decade. Really, I’m not sure we could’ve done more. Despite the troubles the world faced these past ten years, I’ll remember the ohs (the aughts?) for so many good things. So many personal things. Things that seem much more lasting than any movies or books or albums. As great as some of them were. As much as they deserve lists of their own.

Monday, December 28, 2009

20,000 Words

That's the length of my novel as of today. My goal is to have the first draft complete by the end of April. This would be so much easier if I'd come up with a small idea. As it is, I'm negotiating the fate of an entire city. Good thing I'm still having fun writing the beast.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Do Not Hit Delete

I used to write a lot of political commentary that appeared on various blogs of various acclaim. I did this for around four years before giving it up so I could focus more time on my fiction. But here’s the thing: if you looked at my opinions circa 2005 and then looked at my opinions circa 2009, you’d find a few inconsistencies. O.k., a lot of inconsistencies. That doesn’t bother me because those inconsistencies are really just a record of my political evolution. I like that I can trace my growth in knowledge and shifts in philosophy. So why do I sometimes feel different about my published fiction? Why do I occasionally want to delete the links to some of my older stories?

Here’s the truth: anytime anyone mentions they liked one of my stories and say they’re going to read all the stories I link to here, I get a palpitation. Seriously. What if they don’t like anything else I’ve written? What if they decide the first story of mine they read is the only worthwhile thing I’ve ever written?

But that’s stupid. And I know it. First of all, I’ve never submitted to a journal I don’t respect. So, if they published a story of mine (even five years ago), I gotta respect their decision. Sure, maybe I don’t write in that style that anymore. Maybe I think I write better now. Maybe a few of my stories now represent everything I’m trying to get away from in my fiction. Maybe, maybe, maybe. What’s the point of fretting? I wrote it. Someone I respect published it. Let it live as a record of my writerly evolution, right?

And that’s why every story I’ve ever published is linked to here. Because, after those palpitations recede, I really do want to keep that record.

Saturday, December 19, 2009


Spent the last week and a few out in L.A. for my fourth MFA residency at the Antioch L.A. low-res program. I gotta say, there was a time in my life that I thought MFAs were pointless. But that's hardly been the case. Flat out, this program has made me a far better writer. I don't even know how to measure it.

Thought I'd put that out there.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

No Good, Very Bad ...

I want to walk to the store to buy bread. And milk. But it's raining and cold. And in a couple of hours I have to go get a flu shot. Why do I feel like I'm in a children's picture book and should now threaten to go live in Australia?