All posts filed under: Journal

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 …

The Lesson of the Stolen Flip Flops

My family goes to the same beach every summer, and we stay in a house that is located one block from the ocean. We walk across the street to the sand, often leaving our flip flops at the end of the boardwalk rather than carry them as we go on a walk. It’s been commonly accepted that no one is going to steal them. The beach access is public but generally we’re in a safe area. But this last visit, I took my flip flops off at the foot of the stairs only to have them stolen. My feet are pretty big, so it’s unlikely someone took them to wear. As a matter of fact, I checked the dunes beside the boardwalk just to see if they’d been cast off as a prank. However, I didn’t look long. I’d purchased these flip flops four years earlier and they were pretty cheap. In fact, they couldn’t have cost me more than $10, which may be why I shrugged when they were gone. Another member of my …

Gin

I can recall having a really good time with a few gin and tonics at a reception after a beach wedding. That event may be the reason I associate gin with the summer. But it could also be just because it’s a clear liquor, and I tend to think of bourbon as my go-to winter beverage. More recently, I had a few gin and tonics over the 4th of July weekend. I mixed the drinks, cut some lime wedges, and added a slice as a garnish. I had a number of mixed drinks that night, but I never became inebriated and enjoyed little more than what I’d refer to as a smooth flush. I’d been looking forward to having that drink for a few weeks before the holiday. So much so that I may have snuck a gin and tonic into a Sunday a few weeks before, which wound up being fine because July 4th wasn’t much different than any day for us. It was rainy and the fireworks were cancelled. There are other times …

Road Rage

In the past week, I’ve been caught in a traffic jam, cut off, and made to wait behind someone just a little too long after the light turned green. In all likelihood, the traffic jam caused my blood pressure to go up the most. I honked at the stoplight because I figured the driver was texting. I didn’t lay on the horn or anything, just tried to get the traffic flow moving again. I shook my head when I was cut off but none of these things alleviated my aggravation. Therefore, it might be better if I learned to accept the travails of the road with a little more grace–if that’s possible. But, seriously, I’d like to reach a point when these minor inconviences don’t agitate me so easily. The best way to do this, I think, is first to recognize when I’m becoming aggravated. Then, redirect my behavior and turn my attention to something else. Finally, I want to recover by obtaining balance in my overall emotional state. If this were an actual system, …

Español

I feel like learning Spanish is my responsibility. Where I live there is a significant Hispanic population, and I’ve encountered at least a few occasions in which being able to converse would have been beneficial–not so much for communication as hospitality. I took a few semesters of the foreign language in college and high school. I’ve been to Guatemala and Peru but my grasp of Spanish is still pretty minimal. Of course, some people say the only real way to learn a language is immersion. But I’ve seen someone living in-country using flash cards. We share a hemisphere with South America, and Mexico is one of our closest neighbors. Español should be taught in every elementary school. After five years old, language acquisition can be difficult. I’ve tried apps and websites as well as a CD that I sometimes play on the way to work. I probably need to start using flashcards (digital or physical). However, I believe in limiting how much I take on at once, so my lessons in Español are currently on …

Galaxie 500

I have a dream where I’m driving around in an early 1960s Galaxie 500 (or Dodge Dart of a similar year). And I’m just cruising. Now, when I say dream, I don’t necessarily mean that it’s happening at night. It’s very much a daydream. I hate to sound like someone who says, “They don’t make ’em like they used to,” but that is kind of what I’m saying. I imagine myself wearing a straw fedora with a black band and a pair of Ray Bans. All the windows are down and I’m listening to Dick Dale play surf guitar… It’s a daydream. The reality of this dream is constant break downs and frustration. Sure, if I loved cars enough to spend every weekend working on one, it might be worth it. Perhaps one day I’ll be willing to do that. But then there’s the gas mileage. That’s the troubling part about dreams. When you wake up, you start to see that the impossibilities. Don’t get me wrong, I consider myself to be a dreamer. But …

Hydrotherapy

Taking cold showers is something I’ve been trying to incorporate into my routine for a while. Because it’s summer, I thought it would be a good time to give it another try. If you do a quick Google search you’ll find that there are many benefits to taking cold showers, including: Increased vitality Decreased muscle soreness Stress management Enhanced weight loss I think I read a James Bond novel that described the famed spy getting up in the morning and starting out the day with an ice cold shower. It purportedly increased his alertness, which would be important for someone who is trying to achieve situational awareness. I may not be worried about Goldfinger or Dr. No, but I definitely want to reap the benefits of taking cold showers. But, to be honest, it’s been something that continues to be more or less out of reach. Maybe because it’s summer, I found out my water temperature won’t go below 70 degrees. And true hydrotherapy starts there, but this could be okay. I’ve found that 80 …