“Writing, to me, is simply thinking through my fingers.” – Isaac Asimov
Couldn’t have said it better Isaac, I think I’m going to use that as the mission statement for this Journal. About ten years ago I feared (in a real way) that my imagination was “broken” for lack of a better term, so I set out to prove it wasn’t by undertaking significant project in the form of novels.
The first novel led to a second, and a slew of story treatments that – even if I’m currently my only audience – it proved to my satisfaction that my imagination is in good working order. But my brain is ever restless, and novels take time, so this journal let’s me noodle through ideas, converse with you, and document ephemeral ideas that so often go forgotten.
I was raised a Catholic, though my family was slowly losing interest – like an inner-tube with a pinhole leak. I think I checked out around the age of 14, when as an altar boy I got yelled at by a priest channeling Bobby Knight, my performance schlepping wine and crackers not being up to his standards. I didn’t see a lot of Jesus in that Jesuit. But I always enjoyed the iconography, the theater of the church, along with the message of (to quote Bill & Ted) “be excellent to each other”.
As the belief in the technical veracity of the church subsided, I began to recast the meanings of things. Christmas became a meditation on community, birth and potential. And Easter, once so fraught with confusion over the relationship between bloody executions, giant bunnies and revivified corpses became a reminder of rebirth – of embracing change that’s going to happen whether I like it or not.
More than my birthday, Easter reminds me to think about the year that has passed and what kind of year I want to create, how I want to live and who I want to be. That this Easter falls in the middle of me struggling with my current goals is a blessing, struggle happens when commitment is weak, and while I don’t need an excuse to do the right thing, Easter is as good a day as any to rise to a new level.
The old adage is “do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life” – while I believe this to be true, it’s a little binary. As in, you either love or hate your work. I’m currently employed by fine people, doing useful work for a client who whether they like it or not can use the help. Were this a minimum wage job, I’d probably quit, its not “bad” but it ain’t love either. But it’s more like a maximum wage job, and every month I work buys me ½ a month of future freedom. I’ve got about 12 months of freedom in the bank, and it’s making me itchy to take another sabbatical.
I bring this up to illustrate the kind of things that distract me. I’m well aware that the majority of people don’t have the luxury to think “hmm, think I’ll quit today and take a year off”, however I architected this life (via significant sacrifices) following major stumbles early on, with the intent of returning to a life centered on creation and generativity. My gut tells me its too early to cut the income and benefits – but the boy in me wants to write, and paint, and draw and workout twice a day.
For now, my decision is to stay the course, cultivate gratitude for my situation and work twice as hard to fill my free moments with imagination and curiosity.
My frequent bouts of poverty (both the unintended and self-inflicted kinds) instilled a sense that things like premium cable services are wild extravagances. The advent of Netflix offered a middle ground I could live with, the upshot being I could enjoy things like the Sopranos, Deadwood, Rome, Game of Thrones, Dexter, Californication and Boardwalk Empire – with the caveat that I’d always be watching them at least six months after everyone else. (Turning me into one of those Gollem-like people forever trying to escape spoilers.) I mention this to explain why I’m writing this love note seven months after the final episode aired – I just saw it.
Young Enoch “Nucky” Thompson is told by the young girl he’s about to hideously betray that he’s a man who “tries to be good, but doesn’t know how”. It’s as good a nutshell as any, this is a vast drama of good people doing monstrous things, and monsters with good intentions. A good story well told is still a high compliment, the vast majority of attempts fall short, if you haven’t had the pleasure of viewing “Boardwalk Empire” – do it.
I loved a lot about this show, but had a particular soft spot for Kelly Macdonald’s Margaret Thompson (been a sucker for her since “Trainspotting”). Her character arc was complex, mixing naivete, animal cunning and the complexity of navigating America in the 20’s as a women. In the fourth episode, a crisis brings she and Nucky together after 7 years of estrangement, what follows is a bittersweet meditation on what was, what wasn’t and what could be, and what can never be between people who have been down a hard road of their own making. These scenes had such an impact on me that they led to…
A Very Sad Dream
Dreams (for me at least) come in a variety of flavors, some a mad jumble of nonsense, some veiled commentary on current circumstance, visionary dreamscapes or explorations of inner darkness.
Other times my dream-box gets lazy and simply plagiarizes things, which happened the other night. As I was dreaming, it felt profound – a woman I’d nearly married was back in my life, we rekindled the romance so long dead and as we neared a decision to commit the ghosts of the past drove us apart again. The sense of sadness was so profound that I woke up, lying in the dark with a palpable sense of loss.
Slowly it dawned on me that my shiftless subconscious had simply stolen the Nucky/Margaret plot from Episode 4 “Cuanto” – just recasting with me and an old flame. The emotions it evoked were still with me as I fell back to sleep, wary now I knew my brain wasn’t above playing such a cheap trick.
The least it could have done is given me Kelly Macdonald!