Happy New Fear!
Hello! It’s a New Year. Can I be honest? I’ve spent a couple weeks trying to figure out what to write here. It’s not that there isn’t anything I want to say. If anything, there’s too much. I have started writing—and written paragraphs—and then just keep second guessing what I’ve written. Is this positive enough? Is this too positive? Is this the way I want to start off the year, etc.
There’s a lot swirling in my head. The world presses in. To be honest, my anxiety has spiked somewhat. I’ve felt listless. I’ve had a hard time getting back into my writing groove. But I’m happy to say after a couple off weeks I’m getting back to it. One of the things I’ve learned, as a writer, when I can’t seem to get in the groove and things aren’t flowing, I do what I can. I work on things I need to go back and proof. Or planning documents. It’s worked well. It keeps me moving forward until things loosen up. I’m in this weird place where I have at least three writing projects I really want to work on, and I know I can’t do all three at once. So, at least feeling like I can do ONE of them again is a good feeling.
New Photo, Who Dis?
Look at my moody photo! I took this late at night when I couldn’t sleep. I got up the next day and was looking through my photos, and saw it. I did not immediately remember taking. I kind of laughed at it at first. Why did I take a picture of myself at this moment? Is this like people who watch themselves crying in a mirror? But then, you know, I thought… this actually sort of captures the last couple of weeks pretty well. Life is often a jumble of amazingness, mundanity, sadness, disappointment, and yearning all at once. Well, at least that’s how I experience it. I won’t speak for you.
I think it’s probably healthy to capture that, and share it, with others. We should all allow ourselves to be moody, off-putting, or strange. I’m very bad at this. My main thing is I want people to like me. I’ve spent a decade or more of trying to reprogram my brain from this. To not care so much. To not relive conversations from years or decades ago where I said something stupid or careless and to not feel the guilt anew. I honestly can’t say if I’ve made great strides in this, but I’ve made some.
There’s a new album I’ve been listening to a lot from Orla Gartland, and there’s a track that really speaks to me called “You’re Not Special, Babe.” It feels very much how I approach life. Or, at least, how I try to. It’s so easy to get lost in your own head. It’s good to have people who are there to help, but also knock you out of it. I am lucky to have friends and family who are masters at lifting me up, but also popping my balloon when there’s a little too much hot air in there.
Things I’ve Greatly Enjoyed
I started hearing some hubbub about this online, but my friend Jake watched and gave it a strong recommendation and that pushed me over the edge. I went in knowing very little about it. It’s since gotten a lot more buzz (pun definitely intended) and it’s well worth it. The 90s vibe (and music) is great, including the newly created theme song that feels entirely period appropriate but also fresh. The cast is superb. Christina Ricci, Juliette Lewis, Tawny Cypress, and Melanie Lynskey are all great. Seeing them all together is a treat. But the cast who plays their younger selves is excellent as well. It’s an interesting story, and I like the way it’s unfolded so far over the first season (the finale is going to air this Sunday as I write this) but I am a little worried at whether it’ll be supportable over multiple seasons without becoming another Lost. We’ll see though. So far I’m very excited.
One thing that happens in a lot of post-apocalyptic tales is that it becomes about the apocalypse more than the people. The world building can overshadow the human stories there are to tell. Station Eleven, as a book, was interesting because it was very much about the characters, and the world-building happened in the background, when it happened at all. To an extent, the TV show so far (I’m three episodes in) has mirrored that. There are changes, although it’s too early to say whether they will be minor or major as a lot of things could still play out. But the feel of the show is pretty consistent with the book. Although there is a lot of danger in this post-apocalyptic world, the story is less about the dangers themselves and more about how it’s affected the people living through it. The cast is really strong, and I’m really hoping they can pull it off. I know for some it might hit a little too close to home right now, but it does a great job of balancing things so that there’s some lightness amongst the drama.
I’m a huge Paul Thomas Anderson fan. I don’t even want to think about how many times I’ve watched Magnolia. I’m well past 10 or 12 times. Boogie Nights is another favorite. Punch Drunk Love, There Will Be Blood, and so on. Even when his movies are more challenging and less rewatchable (The Master, Phantom Thread) I still enjoy the experience. But I was excited that Licorice Pizza felt like a return to some of his earlier movies in the feel. I was not disappointed. Haim and Hoffman are such a beautifully paired set of actors playing characters that feel so fucking human. That’s the thing I love most about PTA. He has a way of giving you humans who feel realistic—like they have had a life before and after you see them—but who make surprising choices. Illogical choices, even. But the characters are complex enough that you never question it. Because, hey, “This happens. This is something that happens.”
I’ve been doing some thinking, as well. In particular about this Substack. I dipped my toes in with it last year. I’m still unsure whether to commit more to it or pull back. Just to juggle my writing time for things like novels or other projects I’ve got going on. The wonderful thing is this is all in my control! A couple thoughts have spun out of it:
Reducing the frequency of the Short Fiction Bursts. These sort of got away from me. A lot of time goes into them, partially because I decided to record them as well. They will continue, just not monthly. But my original intention of showcasing my older stories hasn’t really worked out yet. Every time I get ready to prep an old short story I wonder if it represents my writing now. So it’s been more involved writing and recording those every month than I’d originally planned.
I might change it up by putting some non-fiction writing in here, as well. If you have an opinion about that, let me know. I’m still thinking through the concept of having both my journal (on my site) AND this. To be honest, I wouldn’t want to push every little thought I might capture in my journal to your email. Which is why it remains separate.
Considering the launch of my paid section of Substack. One of the fun things about Substack is you can offer up content for a paid subscription. Everything I’ve done so far (this newsletter, the short fiction bursts) would remain free. But I was thinking of experimenting with releasing a book I have written in serialized form.
Let me know if you have any thoughts about any of these changes. Feedback is always helpful.
Scenes from Gay Domesticity
True snippets of my life with my partner.
December 25, 2018
I see Paul is scooping out some of the mashed potatoes I made.
Me: You might need to add a little salt to that.
Paul, tasting it: I do.
Me: I know you like your salt.
Paul: I just like things that taste good.
Me, eyes wide: OUCH. I better go delete that Facebook post about how nice you are!
I’m pretty sure the secret to relationship longevity is being able to laugh with each other a lot. ❤️
A Viking Moment of Zen
If you follow me on my social accounts, especially Twitter, you’ll see I’ve been playing Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla again. After a 9 month break not playing any video games. So glad to get back to it. I’m often struck by the sheer beauty of the game. It’s my first AC game, so maybe a lot more are like this. And I’ve certainly been swept up by other games before. But I have to say none have ever felt quite as alive as this. Maybe it’s the updated PS5 abilities. I’m excited to eventually finish, but in no hurry to be honest. Lots of games to play, but it’s kind of nice just sinking into one for a 100+ hours too.