So Long, Peter

A week before the seventh anniversary of Davy Jones’s death and just a little over a week after his own birthday, Peter Tork passed away.

I’m heartbroken.

I wrote about my attachment to The Monkees when I remembered Davy after his passing. Losing the guys is something I’ve dreaded for a long time. Losing Davy hurt badly. Losing Peter doesn’t hurt any less.

He was a brilliant musician and a gifted songwriter, something that goes terribly overlooked just because he was part of a band initially created for a TV show. He played a slew of instruments. He just had that natural talent for understanding them and playing them. I always felt that he was underused as a vocalist and songwriter in the band, as well. The other guys had songs that were catered to their voices and styles. Peter should have had more of that treatment. Maybe he wasn’t the strongest vocalists, but he had a sound that should have been heard more.

I have a lot of his solo and non-Monkees work. I adore Shoe Suede Blues. I love the stuff he did with James Lee Stanley.

And of course I’m forever grateful for the role he played in The Monkees as an actor and a musician and as one of the architects of the happy place that I started constructing back in 1986.

Blessings to you, Peter. Safe trip beyond the horizon.

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Just Let Me Have This Tantrum and Then I’ll Do It

A favorite story about me (stop me if you’ve heard it) is about the time when I was three years old and they found me crying in the closet at my grandparents’ house with a huge book open on my lap. The problem? I was mad at myself because I couldn’t read it.

And that pretty much sums up a big part of my personality.

I operate under the delusion that I should be able to do anything whether I know how to do it or not. Running tangent to this delusion is my bad habit of doing everything the hard way. Throw in my inability to ask for help and my overwhelming stubborn streak, and I am a recipe for minor explosions. And being the creative type, they occur more frequently than I’d like.

My most recent tantrum was about Book ’em, Danno, the podcast that is yet to be. I attempted some recordings for it one night and was so dissatisfied with what I had done that I went on Twitter to declare myself a failure as a podcaster and effectively cancelled the project.

And then two days later, I decided to try again.

That’s the usual outcome of my tantrums. I get frustrated, I get fed up, I chuck it in the fuck it bucket, and then end up digging it back out again.

Believe me. It’s just as annoying to me as it is to you.

But for whatever reason, it’s the way I work. It’s not very efficient. Laws knows that it’s not good for my blood pressure or my sanity. I don’t care to count how many projects I’ve rage-quit and then come back to and successfully finished. I do my best to keep these tantrums to myself because I know how likely it is that I’ll change my mind.

However, sometimes…

Yeah. If you see me having a bit of a meltdown about something I’m working on, just give me a little sympathy, pat me on the back, and rest assured that I’ll get it done in the end.

Fat Girl in the New Year

The new year is ripe for weight-loss related resolutions. Not for me. My commitment issues only allow for me to have half-assed resolutions. My weight requires my whole ass.

Lots of people make weight-loss related resolutions and that’s fine. Some people need that fresh new year to help motivate them in their health goals. I can relate. I always have to start a goal on a Monday. It feels wrong to me to start in the middle of the week.

For me, though, my weight isn’t a resolution. It informs too much of my existence, too much of how society treats me to consider it so casually. And let’s face it. Most people take their resolutions casually, like champagne bubbles made to broken.

It just so happens that I am trying to lose some weight this year and it just so happens that it looks like I started around the first of the year. But this is not a resolution.

It’s like this. In the last couple of years, due to a delightful combination of illness and injury, sprinkled generously throughout with some mild depression, I’ve gained some weight on top of the weight that I’ve already been lugging around and frankly, it doesn’t thrill me.

Now, I’ve tried to get this weight gain under control, but it seemed like every time I started to get back into the swing of taking better care of myself, something would come along and derail it. And then I’d have to go through the struggle of starting all over.

Last month, I put it to my mind that I was going to get back into the habit of exercising regularly. I started around the beginning of the month (on a Monday, of course) and I was doing well with it. And then I hurt myself. Leave it to me to suffer a devastating knee injury while doing holiday baking.

My knee healed enough that I could start doing modified workouts the week of the first (I started on Monday the 31st, of course). And I’ve continued doing them on a daily basis, wearing a brace and increasing the length and difficulty, using modifications when I need them as my knee continues to heal. This regular exercise should help me feel better and help me lose some of the weight that I gained in the last couple of years.

This is a goal. Not a resolution.

When you’re fat, it’s easy for people to assume that when you’re eating a salad, you’re on a diet. They can’t fathom that you might always eat a salad or that you prefer a salad or hell, you were craving a salad (it happens to me rarely and usually in the summer).

When you’re fat and committing to an exercise plan at the beginning of any given year, it’s easy for people to assume that you’ve made a resolution. And resolutions are famous for being quickly disregarded and therefore, aren’t taken seriously. Which is what compels me to clarify my particular position.

This is not a resolution. This is a goal. A goal with the purpose of creating a lifestyle change. A lifestyle change which should help me feel better.

As much as I struggle, I am taking this seriously.

And, weight-loss related or not, casual or not, I’m wishing you well on your resolutions, too.

Turning 39: The Last of My Thirties

I have once again completed a trip around the sun and once again I find myself looking around thinking, “Holy shit. I’m not dead yet. That’s wild. I probably should have planned this better.”

Since this is the last year of my thirties, I figure it to be a sort of a victory lap. I went into my thirties thinking that I’d have a good time and it’d be my decade. And though I did have a few good years, it was really hard in a lot of ways. I went through some shit. I’m actually looking forward to getting into my forties.

I suppose I should be disappointed. I’m 39 and I haven’t checked off a whole lot of things on society’s To Do List. Hell, I haven’t checked off a bunch of things on my own To Do List. I’m kind of a failure.

Oh, well. Too late to do anything about it now.

So this year I send off my thirties and prepare myself for my forties. I have no idea what that’s going to entail. Ideally, there will be more success than I’ve had. More fun. More good times with people I adore. Ideally, I’ll get to meet new people and see new places because ideally I’ll make more money and therefore be able to afford that. Maybe I’ll even get an idea of what I should do with my forties.

But for now I’ll leave it loose. No need to put high expectations on 39. After all, I haven’t really plotted anything so far. Why start now?

Should be a real swingin’ time.

The Results of My 2018 Experiments

In this post, I declared 2018 my experimental year, or more accurately, gave myself three challenges for the year. The results of the first challenge, exercising for 100 days in a row, was documented in this post, however, at the time that I did the challenge and reported back I didn’t realize that I was suffering from anemia that was causing debilitating fatigue. So, keep that in mind if you decide to check it out.

The other two challenges ran the course of the year: writing a page a day on a project and writing a sentence in each of the languages I’m studying every day. I’m happy to report that I did both.

The point of doing the language challenge was two-fold. First, it meant to help me be consistent with my language practice because sometimes I’d flake off and only practice one of them instead of all four. Because I had to write a sentence in each language, I needed to practice all of them. Second, I thought by writing out the sentences it would help with the learning part.

The first part was definitely successful. I have a notebook full of random sentences from my lessons and I never missed a day no matter how busy or tired or unenthusiastic I was. The second part is a little harder to gauge. I can say that my Russian handwriting improved greatly, but French still confounds the hell out of me and I still screw up my Czech grammar and my pronunciation in all of those languages isn’t great. I am reading all of them easier, though. I’ll take the small victories where I can.

Writing a page a day was a simple enough writing exercise. It guaranteed that I wrote something every day and it acted as a nice warm-up on the days when I was having trouble getting started. I had an idea of what the story was and where it was going when I started, but it ended up being something else entirely by the end (though the ending is pretty close to what I had envisioned when I wrote the first page).

I honestly didn’t know whether or not I had enough story to make it all the way through the year, but it turns out I did. I ended up with 365 (double-spaced) pages and 101,493 words of a messy first draft of story. It’s the longest thing I’ve ever written and likely will be the longest thing I ever write, but I’m so glad I did it. And honestly, I’m kind of lost not having it waiting for me every day.

So, it is with these results that I declare the experimental part of 2018 a success.

Man, I love me some good science.

2019 Half-Assed Resolutions

Only one of my 2018 half-assed resolutions was a total fail and that was working on my blanket-in-progress. Having a good time wasn’t executed as well as I would have liked. This year was kind of garbage in many ways. But! I did successfully art every month and I wrote a Rerun Junkie post nearly every month. Oh, and I didn’t get dead.

So, here are my half-assed resolutions for 2019.

1. Have a good time.

2. Don’t get dead.

3. Clean out my craft drawer, which has become more like a junk drawer and it’s getting unruly. There’s crafting stuff I can get rid of and crafting stuff that I’m not using in the foreseeable future which can be put away upstairs. I need to do that.

4. Do something with my art. I spent 2018 making art once a month. There’s only a couple of pieces that didn’t really turn out the way I wanted. I should really do something with the pieces that I think turned out reasonably well.

5. Podcast. Yes, I’ve been working on the research and whatnot for Book ’em Danno, and it’s been in my brain for months and I said I’m going to do it, but I am remarkable at talking myself out of doing things like this because I won’t do it well enough or I won’t do it right. Maybe if I make it a half-assed resolution, it will help my resolve.

Bring it on, 2019.

2018: The Writing Year That Wasn’t

To help me keep my shit straight, every year I create a writing calendar. I fill in each month with the projects I’m going to work on. This gives me an easy way to look at what I’ve been working on, what I need to work on, and the progress I’ve made throughout the year. Sometimes I’ve got months planned well in advance. Sometimes I’m filling out the month as I’m writing up the blog post about what I plan to work on for the given month.

On this calendar, at the beginning of the year, I make a list of projects, the big things I want to work on during the course of the next twelve months. These projects range from things I absolutely must get done to things I would ideally like to get done to things that are just wishful thinking, but hey, I might get bored.

My projects list for 2018 was more than reasonable, I felt, and I thought that I’d easily get four of my top 5 done this year.

I did two and that’s because I’m counting two items as half-done and/or attempted.

Between the fatigue issues caused by the anemia the first part of the year and the summer lost to the crash and burn of the day job, shit did not get done.

And I’m feeling pretty down about that.

It’s easy to say that I faced some challenges this year; that it’s understandable. The problem with that is that I didn’t really overcome any of those challenges, now did I?

It took me the better part of six months to complete one project that in the previous year took me maybe two all together. It’s very hard to look at that, challenges included, and not feel like I biffed it big time. I’m looking back at that wondering why I couldn’t push through, why I didn’t work harder, why I didn’t find a way.

It does me no good to do this, I know. I’m not going to find any satisfactory answers there.

But I do find some lessons.

There are times that I don’t push myself as hard as I could. I get lazy. I give up too easily on the days that I struggle to focus. I don’t adapt and adjust to changes and challenges as well as I’d like to. I have a tendency to be too bullheaded when it would be in my best interest not to be.

These are the things that I’ll be working on in 2019.

Along with another list of projects.