All posts filed under: Journal

Complaining

I’d like to complain less. Well, it might not be that I want to complain less so much as I want to have less to complain about… But, seriously, I think there are two kinds of complaining. One is completely pointless–just a way for the complainer to vent. But there is another way to look at complaining. Especially when it might lead to positive change. Think about Henry Ford’s first car. If no one had said, “This thing’s kinda slow, Hank,” then he may not have pushed to give the Model T a little more giddy-up. So, if I do choose to complain I want to complain… effectively. For example, I was recently griping to a supervisor about an inefficiency in our system. After the meeting, I went and fixed it. I could’ve just fixed it quietly but sometimes stating the problem helps me see the solution. It’s good to have a team that allows this kind of exploration but I would prefer to think through the issues that arise and find the solutions quietly …

Bye Day

Working out four to five times per week over the course of six to eight weeks amounts to about 40 workouts. Sometimes I find that pace–combined with everything else I have to do–to be exhausting. So, from time to time I grant myself a bit of a reprieve by allowing one pass or bye day per six to eight week series. A good workout routine should be about six to eight weeks followed by a few days off. (According to what I’ve read, this is also a good time to change up what you’re doing in the gym.) I said “a few off days” but I’ll take as much as a week. So, I cash in a bye day when I’m too busy or too tired to make it to the gym. My workouts are either cardio or sessions of weights. So, on a week with a bye day I do at least a day or two of lifting and/ or cardio and make an attempt at an alternative workout (e.g. a trip to the …

Competition

A friend of mine and I run together a couple times per week. Right now, he’s training for a ten-mile race. Together, we run a fraction of that amount because three miles is just about my limit. I’ve done four but regretted it later. Obviously, he’s the better runner. He’s less winded than I am when we hit the three-mile mark and can usually outrun me in the final sprint. But this doesn’t bother me and there’s a reason. I lift weights and he doesn’t. Pull-ups? Push-ups? I’ve got him beat. When it comes to competition, we often neglect to think about our other skills. That may not be the point in a direct heat but it’s important. Not being able to run faster or lift more than someone else doesn’t mean we’re a loser. It could mean we’re winning at something else. I’ve never been particularly competitive. I wasn’t athletic (or maybe coordinated) when I was young. But I could probably make an argument that I have become extremely competitive with age–at least with …

Coffee

I drink coffee to stimulate, inspire, or to soothe. On occasion, I use it like many others–while socializing in coffee shops. What might be different about my use of coffee is that I see it as a tool. It’s not just a routine Starbucks order. I try to consume it thoughtfully. When I drink cold coffee right before a workout, it’s a stimulant. It acts to decreases muscle pain and increases my performance. This is especially beneficial for early morning workouts. Coffee is my constant companion when I write. I find that it helps focus when I’m creating. I frequently write early so I’ll prepare my coffee maker the night before. In the morning, I just flip the switch and brew. I use coffee to soothe when I need to warm up or relax. I drink a hot cup of decaf on evenings when I want to do some reading or to set the mood for a little downtime. Black coffee is fine by me. In fact, I prefer it that way when it’s cold …

Jump Rope

I haven’t been able to figure out why but, for some reason, jumping rope comes pretty easily to me. Granted, I’m not jumping for excessive amounts of time (e.g. an hour) but I consider a session of 20 minutes to be fairly significant. Contrast this with my ability–or lack thereof–to jog. I’ve worked up to being able to run as much as three or four miles but I never really enjoy it. Maybe I shouldn’t say that. If I hated it, I wouldn’t keep doing it and I run a couple times each week. A better way to describe my views on running would be to say that it causes me a lot more strain than jumping rope. When I first started with a jump rope, I went at it with gusto. I was jumping 20 straight minutes and only stopping when the rope got caught up in my feet, which happened less often as I began to jump consistently. But because jumping rope burns so many calories, I don’t feel the need to avoid …

Film

I spent about ten years trying to make a film that would get noticed by Hollywood-types. I got so far as to have a short featured on the IFC Channel’s Media Lab Shorts Uploaded before realizing that the novel suited me better. That doesn’t mean that I’ve lost all interest in film. And it may be no surprise that my focus was on the writing previously, but I’m currently working on learning a bit more about cinematography. It’s possible that filmmaking is as important to me as it ever was because one of the driving forces behind my writing is the possibility of seeing a novel adapted into a film. In fact, the last novel I submitted to agents was written as a screenplay first. I used it as a kind of outline. I’d like to see the writing I do as cinematic. I think it is, in part, because I write by watching the film version in my head, transcribing what I see. I’m not sure if that’s unusual and needs unpacking but that’s …

Missing Keys

I’m not someone who loses his keys often, but it’s happened enough that I’ve decided to settle on one place to keep them. A hook in my kitchen, to be specific. If I’m being completely honest, I’d say that I like having a specific place for all my possessions. And this notion brings to mind a familiar saying of Benjamin Franklin: “A place for everything, everything in its place.” (Speaking of Franklin, he was an early influence on my writing.) Whereas being tidy is important, I believe there’s other reasons to keep things in their place. Having a place for my keys, tools, or just a roll of masking tape, leads to efficiency in terms of putting these items to use. It might seem a little obsessive-compulsive but for me it’s more a type of situational awareness. The main difference is that I’m not aiming to survive an emergency. Instead, I’m just trying to be a successful decision maker. There are reasons I wouldn’t want to fail, right? And decision fatigue can happen, especially after …

Water

There are plenty of reasons to drink a glass of water first thing in the morning. It’s been to shown to help regulate appetite, moderate the metabolism, keep you hydrated, and, generally flush and replinish the system. That’s great if you can remember to actually fill the glass and drink it. Once I decided I was going to have a glass of water every morning, I started thinking of ways to make it a routine or habit. This may sound simple, but it wasn’t for me. Mornings can get busy and I found that I was often out of the house having forgotten to drink any water. So, I took what might not be considered drastic action. I set a reminder of the voice-enabled device in my home. At 7 AM a soft, soothing voice alerts me to the fact that it was time to drink a glass. My device pings before it speaks, so I’m surprised it hasn’t had a kind of Pavlovian effect. When I hear a ping of a chime, I go …

Rejection

Between novels, short stories, and, now, a mini-documentary, I find myself submitting to agents, journals, and festivals almost continuously. This means that rejection is a constant companion. And it can be difficult to deal with. When I’m faced with a barrage of “Not for us,” or “No thanks,” it’s important that I keep a level head. Especially because rejection has several meanings, which tend to fall into one of the following categories: Insufficient Quality Excessive Quantity Lack of Compatibility Extreme Exclusivity Admittedly, quality is a depressing reason to be rejected but it’s not the most frustrating. If the work isn’t of a high enough quality it can be improved, so there’s hope. All that’s necessary is more work. Sometimes years of work. When it comes to issues of quantity, we may find that our work has been edged out by similar writing or a piece that has been written by someone of greater stature. In other words, the market is flooded. If work is sent into an agent or journal (or any other entity calling …

Joy

I experienced wide-eyed wonder in my late teens and early twenties while traveling to other contries, but I think the first time I experienced actual joy was when my child was born. This may seem cliché, but I hope the same for you if you’ve not yet had children. And if you’ve been lucky enough to experience joy before the birth of your child, then I would posit that you are indeed a lucky individual. And probably not nearly as jaded as me. Having a daughter has been the most significant event in my life. I was warned I was going “to fall madly in love” and, subsequently, accused of being “over the moon.” I can’t stress enough the amount of happiness that becoming a parent has brought me. Granted, it’s early and it’s already been difficult, at times. I haven’t always gotten the sleep I needed and being unable to console a weeping infant has not necessarily been fun but the joy remains. This is fairly significant considering I may or may not have …