Sunday, August 25, 2013

Red Hook Ramblings

I was feeling all emo, but then I made and drank a Red Hook and now I feel pretty chill. Matt was bored so he took a nap on the couch, and then I drank his cocktail, too. Kitty stares out the window, but it is light inside and dark outside, so what can she see? The new patio table perhaps. I left the light on in the kitchen. Sometimes the neighbor probably wishes I'd turn off my kitchen light like I wish she'd turn off her bathroom light. We should both probably just get curtains.

I'm a really good friend. Know why? Because I can't hardly say no. I want to sometimes, but I usually find a way to say yes. I hope I'm less of a pushover as a parent.

Matt and I worry a lot that we drink too much. I don't think we do, though. Despite drinking on a weekly basis, I get tipsy maybe only once or twice a month. I used to get tipsy faster, but enough craft beer drinking in the last year has really toughened me up. And I've only had a hangover once, when I really didn't expect it. Okay, I've suffered from gluttony a few times, but that was pretty much instantaneous, and there was a lot of food and over-eating involved. I probably should have had a hangover the day after I drank 3 Vangelico Hazes, but I didn't. Those were seriously good. I can't wait to have another sometime. I hope it's as fun as the party for Ross and Pam, and they're there.

I'm a loving drunk. I just want to hug you and then fall asleep on your shoulder, because you're the best, man! I'm so glad we're friends. You should come over and stay awhile so I can make you a Red Hook.


Written tipsily last week from the safety of my couch. No hangover was experienced. Many thanks to Kezia who introduced me to the wonder and delight that is the Red Hook. If I only use 1/4 oz of maraschino liquor for each drink, I'm seriously going to have that bottle forever, so please bring over some rye whiskey and I'll share. Then we can all drink merrily before falling asleep on the ridiculously large and comfortable couch (which I also did shortly after writing this) and play a game to see who wins by waking up with the cat perched on them (Matt and I both won that game at different times today).

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Abstracting Communication

I've realized a concerning pattern in my behavior.

When I'm talking to someone and it becomes apparent that we are not understanding one another, my instinct is to switch over to talking about WHY we aren't understanding each other.

And if we can't get seem to work out why we aren't communicating very well at this time, then I want to talk about our patterns of communication in general, with the hope that we can avoid ending up here again.

And if the person with whom I'm conversing still doesn't understand me and our whole conversation breaks down (probably because I've moved it up two levels of abstraction), I begin to assume that we shouldn't even try to communicate because we clearly don't have anything in common on a basic level.

And since it is nearly impossible to be friends with someone with whom you can't communicate on even a basic level, if I consider this person a friend now I'm worried that this whole friendship to-date has been ill-conceived or a misunderstanding. I assume it's mostly my fault. I must have accidentally misrepresented myself early on, or misunderstood that we were good friends when we weren't. Oh crap, how do I get out of it politely? How do I back away without hurting their feelings or getting hurt more myself? I thought I was cared for and understood so I was putting in all this effort, but I realize now that I was misguided!

My intentions are good—all I want is to understand and be understood—but now I don't know how to get off this ledge onto which I've backed myself. So I guess I'll just be hanging out here for a bit, assuming everything is crap.............until I realize that I like my friend anyway, regardless of why we're friends, or how we communicate. And I miss my friend! It's lonely out here on the ledge—and I keep having panic attacks that I'm going to fall off. I'm going to step down and try again.

It's terrifying how quickly that escalates. And it's unhelpful how upset I get when I feel misunderstood. I guess I have another thing to add to my list of things that stress me right the heck out.

Sorry (again), friend! Can you forgive me my abstraction climb out onto the ledge? And can we try again and anew to find understanding? I truly believe investment in communication infrastructure among friends pays out priceless dividends.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

An Ode to My Notebook on its Last Page

(Written in the notebook, obviously, but transcribed here to spare you the effort of deciphering my nearly illegible scribbles.*)

The last page. The end of an era. This notebook has seen me through the transition from an occasional, haphazard writer, to a more frequent, deliberate one. Purchased on a whim from TJ Maxx or the like roughly 4 years ago, I was drawn to it's funky cover, and the price was right.

My beloved notebook's funky 80s-inspired cover.

I skipped the first page as I often do in a new notebook there's just too much pressure to get it right and started listing NaNoWriMo 2010 ideas on the second. I only had 2, but I ran with the first idea, finishing the required 50,000 words in a personal-best-setting 2 weeks. I have some details of the plot sketched out in the next few pages. Though I hit my word count, I never did write the end of that story, and I look forward to detailing out what I already know happens at the end.

Five pages in records details of the dream I had that inspired my NaNoWriMo 2011 story. I remember writing it down one morning before my visiting houseguests awoke. NaNoWriMo 2011 would mark my first foray into Fantasy writing, which proved so fun at times, but confusing and beleaguered at others. I look forward to returning to that world one day to edit my story.

Next comes a very short story, because I told myself I should sit down and write sometimes, just to write, not for NaNoWriMo or anything. It wasn't terribly good, but it isn't terribly bad either (and does contain the sentence "Paul wasn't about to put the 'budge' in 'budget'.").

Now we get to something pivotal: Right Brain's Manifesto. These statements propelled me into the next phase of writing by recognizing the inner struggle and dysfunctionality between my right and left brains. Until then I had no idea.

Rephotographed with slightly less appalling lighting but same bad focusing.

As I grew more comfortable with my notebook being a safe place, I tried out a little opinion piece about Ann Arbor's crosswalk laws, recorded some story re-write plans, and jotted down a few future story ideas I haven't pursued yet. Then in a journal entry of sorts I even admitted that I really do want to be a writer and I really should take myself seriously.

Here things really started to pick up.

I attended a talk by local, published writers and transcribed their advice in my now trusty notebook. Then I got a book they recommended on writing for Christmas 2011 and used my notebook to do the book's prescribed writing exercises.

That winter, I made the mistake of not taking my notebook with me on my vacation (JCCC2), thinking it would be too heavy and needlessly bulky in my luggage. This would be my last trip without my treasured notebook. The cruise turned out to be wildly inspiring due to the mix of talented creators and highly supportive fans. The Right Brain/Left Brain war flared up to its worst yet when RB got inspired and had ideas but the only paper I'd brought was my small notebook dedicated, per LB's wishes, exclusively to lists. Such drama on the high seas! How many thoughts were needlessly lost in this and other battles between free-form and organized methods of documentation? When I got home, I knew something needed to be done, so I started this blog.

Now that I was drafting blog posts, doing writing exercises, and journaling my reactions to my experiences, the notebook began to fill up quickly. The notebook came with my on all trips short or long, attended writers' conferences, and planned the launch of the PotMC. For the first time, my thoughts were all together in one place. Right Brain had a home, and Left Brain let her be (so long as she generally confined herself to one notebook and wrote front to back without wasting any pages (the first page notwithstanding, of course obviously don't want to mess that up! LB and RB agree on that point, even if for different reasons.).).

Typical notebook page with blog post draft and edits.

In the last year and a half, I have filled the last 95% of the notebook with my various scribbles. What a delight! What a beautiful tidy mess. You won't be far from reach, dear friend, and I will visit you often. Less as time goes on, perhaps, but your duty as keeper of the thoughts, 2010-2013, will always remain, and a noble calling is that. I can't thank you enough for your sturdy and colorful covers, no-nonsense lined pages, and durable spiral binding. I did not know the treasure I had in you until it came time to find your equal!

(*This blog post is admittedly modified from the original text, because the notebook's dying breath reminded me "The notebook serves the writing, not the other way around!" Such a noble notebook!)

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Conversationway Traffic Report

"And now, over to our communications correspondent for breaking news on the latest miscommunications. Jim?"

"Thanks, Hal. We are receiving reports that a tanker of words has overturned on the conversationway causing a major miscommunication. Authorities believe the tanker was on its way from Rachel's Brain to deliver a shipment of thoughts when it started to self-analyze the way it was driving. The tanker driver tried to correct course but was unable to regain control. Emotion-wrought words spilled from the tanker as it began to tip, making the conversationway confusing and incomprehensible. The leaking words are causing quite a backup of conversation now, and it doesn't look like any sense will be coming out of Rachel's Brain tonight.

Meanwhile, police are searching for the cause of the accident. Could a patch of sarcasm or willful misunderstanding on the conversationway be to blame? Or was it careless driving of the word tanker, which some estimate was in violation of the bottled-up thought limit by at least 2,000 words?

The driver of the overturned word tanker could not be reached for comment but the mess of words themselves reveal that they are likely the product of over-thinking. We may never know the intended meaning or destination of this shipment, but if spills like this one are to be avoided in the future, an investigation into the thought factories in Rachel's Brain will be necessary. Back to you, Hal."

"Thanks, Jim. Keep us appraised of the investigation."