Author: Justin Meckes

Resolutions

Believe it or not, I didn’t always believe in self-improvement. But that may have been because I didn’t realize the concept existed. For a long time, I spent my time in the moment. That may sound Zen, but it isn’t. Any given moment was chaos–usually brought on by the aftermath of some kind of self-destruction. There was no peace. Instead, there were brief moments of ecstasy, or what some would call delusions of grandeur, followed by a swift downfall. Those times are behind me now, for the most part. Since chaos was my state, there wasn’t a good deal of planning that went into the future. There were a few exceptions. For example, I had some investments. And I was able to outline and produce an occasional screenplay and make a short film. Things finally changed when I chose to become serious about my passion. This effort required (and forcefully dragged me into) organization and near compulsive-levels of commitment to the craft of writing. This commitment, combined with a deep dive into minimalism, may explain …

Christmas

My family and I tend to have a pretty minimal Christmas. At least, in regards to decorations. This may misrepresent how important the holiday is for me. But this importance only sprang up a few years ago. I’m not sure if age brings about a desire for tradition or if it was one singular event that spurred a change in me. But I do recall a particular Christmas that seemed to come and go a little too quickly. Before I realized it, I was back at work after New Year’s. This seemed to spin me around from a bit of a Scrooge to more of a Clark Griswald. Because the very next Christmas, I decided to create some traditions of my own so I could mark the holiday. Some of them included: listening to holiday music and putting out decorations the Sunday after Thanksgiving, watching select Christmas movies throughout the month of December (just to amp up that good ol’ Christmas feeling), and listening to David Sedaris’ “Santaland Diaries” on Christmas morning. Now that I’m …

Crichton

Words like “clean” and “concise” come to mind when I think of Michael Crichton’s writing, but I’d go further and say that his prose displays almost surgical-like precision. It makes sense: He was a medical student and the creator of the television show ER. Jurassic Park was first published when I was twelve years old, but I don’t think I read it until after the movie came out a few years later. I’ve read a few novels that feature dinosaurs since then, and it’s still one of my favorite sci-fi reads. I’ve read most but not all of Crichton’s work (several copies sit on my bookshelf), and it’s all expertly crafted. And whereas I wouldn’t say there’s anything glamorous about his writing, there doesn’t need to be. Maybe his involvement with Hollywood was the flashy part of his work because his books seem to come from a genuine fascination with science. Of course, he told stories and created suspense incredibly effectively. He was also known to do a great deal of research. I read that …

One-Quarter

Most of the time, I listen to NPR while driving around town or going to work. On rare occasions, I might get fed up with the news and listen to our local classical station. It tends to soothe the savage beast, or so I hear. Other times, I’ll roll the windows down and blare Iggy Pop, David Bowie, The Rolling Stones, or any number of other bands I have on CD. Yeah, I still listen to CDs. But only in my car. It helps me feel like it’s 1996, and I’m in high school. Back then, I thought I was a pretty cool dude. Things have changed a little bit. I was fortunate enough to welcome a healthy baby girl into my life about half a year ago. It’s been great. I’ve loved it, even though I’m getting a little less sleep and my free time has taken a definitive hit. Now, in addition to music and talk radio, I’m driving around with a baby seat in the back seat. We’ve set it up with …

Phone

My phone had fewer pictures on it before my daughter was born. If I took a photo, I typically uploaded it to the cloud later that day. But for the first few months of my child’s life, I was taking pictures every day. So, I needed to have an organization method for my images. I decided I’d upload to the cloud every few months and remove all but the photos I’d selected as favorites. That way, I’d have pictures to show someone who feigns interest and is willing to humor a new dad… or genuinely loves babies. My phone has plenty of space, but I tend to treat it like my computer. I don’t want it to be cluttered. So, I view my apps through this lens. Periodically, I’ll go through them and delete the ones I’m not using anymore. I also avoid keeping apps on my phone’s background. Instead, I put them all in a folder beside my calendar, the call button, and my text app at the bottom of the screen. The most …

Debt

It took years, but I’ve finally worked my way out of student debt. The way I went about it was by paying a little more than 200% of what was due each month. I would have paid more if I could’ve afforded it. While I was doing this, I was working on saving for a home. The student debt was impeding my progress, but that seems to be unavoidable without a socialist in the White House. (And if we do get a socialist in the White House, I’m banking on tax breaks for paying my loans off early.) Either way, it appears that I’ll be going from one debt to another, which makes me feel a lot more like a debtor than an owner. Speaking of ownership, I’m the proud owner of a Toyota Corolla named Dorian Gray (because it’s Slate Gray.) But we’re saving for the family’s next car, and we won’t be able to afford to buy it outright. And we’ll most likely also have a mortgage by then. The problem with debt …

Books

Books are essential to me for the reason that I sometimes prefer to read a physical book over the digital version on an e-reader. But sometimes I don’t. So, the question I’ve had recently is whether or not a collection of physical books is necessary. At present, I have a collection of works by Michael Chrichton, Anthony Bourdain, Haruki Murakami, and a few by Aldous Huxley. I also have a smattering of books by other authors. But I tend to return those books for store credit. Earlier this year, I had my heart set on an Everyman’s Library set for display in a glass case. For the most part, this collection would have included books I’ve read and want to read again. But there were several others I was planning to read. At this point, it’s hard for me to foresee what I’m going to want. It might be made more apparent when I land in a home… with a library. Either way, I know I’ll continue to want some books in my office in …

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a great warm-up for Christmas. Don’t get me wrong, I believe in giving thanks. It’s just that Thanksgiving sort of feels like preparation for the main event. Fall is in swing, winter is coming, and there’s pumpkin pie. In an effort to maximize this holiday the way I have tried to do with Christmas, I’ve made the following itinerary: Wednesday: I’ll spend this day taking long walks through the neighborhood, drinking warm coffee (Irish coffee?), and relaxing with a good book. Then, in the evening, I’ll watch a Thanksgiving movie. There are surprisingly few, but Planes, Trains & Automobiles is a good one. Thursday (AM): I’ll wake up late, eat a light breakfast, and listen to The Big Chill soundtrack. That’s technically a Thanksgiving movie. However, the Thanksgiving dinner scene was cut. The edit took Kevin Costner out of the picture. But Jeff Goldblum is in the whole thing. Thursday (PM): Thursday afternoon is reserved for feasting. But I’ll be watching A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving with my infant daughter later that evening. And …

Social Media

I have mixed feelings when it comes to social media. I’m not interested in most of the tweets or posts that appear on these platforms. There are exceptions, but for the most part, I think it’s a waste of time, and I find myself perusing social media sites only when I’m too brain dead to do anything else. So, maybe it’s not a total waste of time. It’s a numbing agent. When it comes down to it, the notion that a writer should create a social media platform before publishing a book seems a little bit absurd. Some people create social media platforms with blogs, but I’m not particularly interested in any of those. (That may sound hypocritical since this is a blog, but I’m primarily writing this for me. If other people take notice, that’s great, but that’s not necessarily the aim.) I tend to pay more attention to the social media accounts of individuals who’ve already written books (primarily the ones I’ve read) or of those who have performed in films I’ve seen …

Filmmaker

For most of my twenties, I actively pursued film directing as a vocation. I wrote several full-length screenplays. And I wrote and directed a number of short films that debuted in festivals. One of those shorts was even promoted on an IFC program titled Media Lab Shorts Uploaded. But after one particularly disastrous shoot, in which the film I was working on wasn’t even finished, I began to think I’d left my true vocation behind. I wanted to be a novelist, and that seemed to be showing in the stress I felt on set as well as an increasing lackluster when it came to corralling actors. Before that shoot, I bought a Krasnogorsk-3 so I could try shooting 16mm film. It was shipped in via eBay from Ukraine. And it’s the same camera I believed was used by undergraduates at USC film school. That camera is still sitting on my bookshelf. And I’ve kept it there over the past decade for good reason. My dream of becoming a filmmaker is bound up inside of it. …