Category Archives: Inside

In the Company of Butter

I am here.

I exist right now, in this place.

My hand is guiding my pen across this paper.

This ink is spreading, seeping into the pores of the yellow cellulose, forever staining it in squiggles and slashes.

I am here, and the time is now.

I have a kettle on the stove, fresh-ground coffee in the press, and a loaf of bread cooking in the over.

The sun is rising. My brain is waking up, too.

Here I am, in this chair, with this pen, making these words.

Soon enough, the kettle will whistle its shrill song.

Soon enough, my mouth will pucker and sip at the morning’s first swallow of warm, bitter coffee.

Soon enough, all the other things will happen today, tomorrow, next week.

But for right now, this moment, my left elbow rests firmly on the kitchen table, supporting my forearm, my hand, my head, my thoughts.

For right now, the small of my back has a tiny ache from a deep night’s sleep.

For right now, a block of butter, softening in the morning’s warmth, keeps me company as I hold off all those other things and just exist.

Here.

Now.

Love School

My old friend and college roomie, Jonathan, was up from Atlanta to visit last night. It’s been a decade since our last visit but we immediately went deep with our conversation.

“What’s the point of all this,” he asked, waving his hand around my small kitchen, but including the whole world; our entire existence. “Why are we here? I’ve been thinking a whole lot about this lately.

“I think it’s to learn to love.”

Continue reading Love School

My personal baseline

What’s your personal baseline? What are those things you must have, you must do? Do you know how to find it?

Here’s my process:

I ask myself a bunch of questions like these…

  • Am I happy?
  • Can I do the things I’d like to do? (Can I chase my dreams? Can I see the sunrise from my yard?)
  • What can I do better?
  • How can I make the world a better place?
  • Do I have what I need?

…and I try to listen closely to the answers. Here are this morning’s:

Continue reading My personal baseline

How to write

Going through some older files and found this advice I wrote for someone (me?):

Here’s my advice about writing, distilled just for you from my degree, from my published and unpublished works, and from conversations with other writers about their processes:

1. It’s all about planting your butt in your chair. You show up every fraking day. You write every fraking day. You gladly grab onto the shirtails of your muse when it decides to show up, but you’re at your desk regardless. You turn off your internal editor and spew thousands of words of drek. You stash the drek in a drawer. You come back to it in six months, and sift it, looking for the few nuggets that are sure to be there. Assemble the nuggets. Smelt them. Forge them. Polish them. Sell them. And then do it again.

2. There is no writer’s block. There is only “not writing.” There are plenty of excuses for not writing. There are even good reasons to be not writing (like making dinner for family!). If you find yourself staring at a blank page, simply begin writing. Here’s your first paragraph: “I don’t know what the fuck to write. I’d rather be anywhere else, doing anything else. This sucks. This writing sucks. This story sucks, too. But here we go anyway.” If after writing that first paragraph, you find yourself still not writing, go back and write it again. Do it as many times as it takes for your brain to get bored of it and start writing something else. My personal record is three-and-a-half pages of that garbage. But fuck it; paper’s cheap.

3. If you’re still reading this, you’re not writing. See number two, above

Google Passwords Stolen!

Five million Gmail (and therefore Google Account!) passwords were stolen and posted online yesterday.

Use the site haveibeenpwned.com to check your passwords against this and other major breeches.

Protect yourself

This is a great time to update your password and enable two-factor authentication.

Also, if you don’t already do it, start using a password management system. I like using Keepass with DropBox (aff. link), but the most important thing is to start using long (like more than 17 characters!) passwords.

Or maybe not

I’m such a flip-flopper, I should run for President. A month or two back, I went to taijutsu and I was all fired up for it and all was great. I haven’t been back because I’ve been busy. The Wife’s been slowing down so as to not cause too many Braxton-Hicks contractions, which means that she’s having a harder time keeping up with The Boy. For his part, The Boy has figured out that The Wife can’t really catch him or make him comply, so he’ll occasionally just selectively ignore her when something better comes along. Say, chickens, for example.

So instead of going to taijutsu, I go back to the ranch and try to give The Wife a breather for an hour or two in the evening, and try to give The Boy a chance to either “Climb daddy’s back, please” or “Jump ceiling faster!” I like the idea of going to taijutsu, but the reality is that I don’t see me having the time to go to class for the next year or two. And that’s OK. After all, the beginning of taijutsu was farmers that were banned from having traditional weapons had to figure out creative ways to fight to protect their families and communities. Someday, I’ll most likely get back to class, but for now, I figure I’ll focus on enjoying what we’ve been fighting for over the last 900 years. I’m sure the head of the art, Ol’ Ninja Britches, would understand.

Back in the saddle, again

If you didn’t catch it in the last post, or don’t know what the hell I’m talking about, I went to a taijutsu class Wednesday night. I’m thinking of getting back into it because (sometimes) I miss it.

Just a little background for those of you who are still scratching your heads: taijutsu (the class I attend; maybe the school as a whole is more focused on ninjutsu, but the parts that we study regularly are decidedly taijutsu) is a Japanese combat martial art system that incorporates nine traditional fighting styles, the oldest of which goes back more than 900 years. There are three belt levels that basically indicate the following:

  • white–look out for these beginners; they have no control and will hurt you
  • green–cannon fodder
  • black–these folks have learned enough about the basics of the art that now they can start learning things seriously

I’ve been out of class for almost nine months; I stopped after I let some dude wrench my shoulder . I’ve been feeling really ambivalent about class – particularly about the instructor. I like the guy as a personal friend, but I’ve been having some issues with how his philosophy about the art and the greater organization. Then it struck me, maybe a month ago, that I can still go train with him and learn things and improve personally, but I don’t have to necessarily follow his philosophical path.

And so it was that I was in class Wednesday night. And so it is that I am still sore this morning.