Celebrate TRUE LIFE

IMG_1486My awesome wife.

For the past I-can’t-remember-how-many weeks now, my wife’s and my prevailing description for life has been “weird.” At times, we’ve worried calling our life at the moment that would manifest even more weirdness, but we couldn’t help it. Because “weird” is just plain the most apropos word.

Yet, not weird as in “bad.” Just strange. Odd.

The biggest factor in all this has been that my professional life recently has been a study in waiting. And patience. I’ve pretty much clammed up about the happenings in my writing life because a.) nothing’s officially “happened,” and b.) it’s all stuff that people involved really don’t want me talking about until, you know…something “happens.” Yet, there are some really cool things that are right at the finish line, just waiting for someone to say “Yes.” To give the nod to cross the line.

For those of you who know me, “waiting” and “patience” are not strong suits for me. I have, however, done my level best to rise to the occasion. And. Do. Nothing. Allow the process to unfold without mucking around in it. Well…mostly. I’ve mucked a couple of times, but I’m learning to pick my battles better.

Okay…what does all this have to do with my awesome wife and the bottle of sparkling wine in the picture?

Anyone who’s ventured onto the “entertainment industry as career” path knows that it’s a marathon. There are false starts. Setbacks. And mostly being “in the business” feels like nothing happens and nothing happens and nothing happens until…something happens. I’ve told people for years that despair has got to be the number one reason why people quit the business. It’s hard to stay positive a lot of the time, and unless you’re complete bonkers, pretty much every day you’re asking yourself, “Do I keep going? Can I keep going?” You get frustrated. You get tired. Well…I guess I can only speak for me.  I certainly do.

And after running so long on this marathon path, it’s difficult to gauge whether or not you’re “winning” anymore.

That’s been the weirdness for me lately. I just didn’t know.

The further weird thing is that, if you ask the people around me, they would all cry out in unison, “Hell, yes! You’re winning!” My manger, producers with whom I’m working, friends, people I talk to on the street. They all tell me, “You’re right there, buddy!”

Logically, I know they’re right. I’m in a good space. I’m having a good Hollywood moment that seems like it’s gonna translate into propelling my career to the next big level. I see it, and I am grateful for everyone that has helped me get here. And everything that has happened to put me in this space.

But I wasn’t feeling it. In fact, the “weirdness” was really getting to me. Dragging me down. And it’s odd…I’ve thought more about quitting in the past couple of months than I have in a long time. My friend, Karl, keeps telling me that every other pal of his who’s “made it” has said the exact same thing to him right before they rocketed into the stratosphere. That’s helped. But all I can do is pray he’s right about me. That, in this case, I’m not the exception. Because right now I certainly don’t feel like part of the rule. Ack!

And then…enter my awesome wife.

We’ve made this pact. Don’t over-celebrate. On this path, you can easily do that. There are a lot of little wins along the way that are cool, but they aren’t really real. No one’s written you a check yet, and nothing’s gone into production. They’re hopeful moments…and represent potential and opportunity and forward movement. But they’re not the finish line. One can get caught up, though, in making too much of these incremental steps and start to mistake them for the finish line. That’s the danger of over-celebrating. It can give you a false sense of security, and it can stall you. So we tend to acknowledge hopeful moments but keep our excitement in check…and I keep my ass up and my beak down and keep moving forward.

But, of course, we keep a couple of bottles of sparkling wine in the fridge just in case. For that moment when the call comes in.

When my beloved got in the door from work last night, however, she made an announcement: “We’re gonna open one of our bottles of champagne.”

“Why? Nothing’s happened.”

“That’s not true,” she said as she grabbed the bubbly and started opening it. “I was driving home tonight and thinking about all of this ‘weirdness.’ I think a lot of it is there because we’re not acknowledging what has already happened. Look at where you are, Bill. Look at what you’re doing. Look at what’s happening. You’ve done it. You’ve won, and all that’s left is the living into it.”

She got out two champagne flutes and poured. Then she handed me a glass…and raised her own.

“And tonight I want to toast my amazing husband and all of his success.”

After a speechless moment, I was finally able to raise me own glass.

“Our success.”

“Yes,” she agreed. “Our success.” Then she smiled. “Because you can’t do it without me.”

I smiled back. “I know. Nor would I ever want to.”

Then we toasted. And celebrated.

It taught us something. You can’t always wait to celebrate only at the end. Sometimes you have to celebrate the process. And the progress. Not all the time, but sometimes.

To remind yourself. Not your head. To remind your heart.

Life is good.

And it really is the journey that matters. And a great journey is, itself, cause for celebration.

After last night, the weirdness is all gone. We went for a walk this morning in the beautiful sunshine, and all we felt was free. And ready to take on anything.

Here’s to whatever comes next. Cheers!

Diamonds are a blog’s best friend

This little orphan of a blog turns 10 years old this year.

We’ve been through a lot together, TRUE LIFE and me. Life and death (literally).  Ups and downs. And more downs. And finally ups. Re-birth and re-re-birth.

Betrayal and forgiveness.

The betrayal is perennially courtesy of me. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve abandon TRUE LIFE. And yet, this little blog always seems to forgive me. Always welcomes me back.

I’ve beat myself up over this plenty over the years. I mean, come on! Why wouldn’t I? I am, after all, a freakin’ champ in the guilt Olympics. I can find a reason to feel bad about something I’ve done with mind-boggling ease whether it’s warranted  or not. And I’ve spent more hours than I care to admit feeling terrible about how I’ve treated TRUE LIFE.

And because I am also a gold medal-level performer in avoidance behavior, my subsequent reaction is pure poetry: I simply pretend the blog isn’t there.

Of course, avoidance doesn’t work. Not forever. Slowly, but surely, I am learning that in life. When I avoid things, they don’t really go away like I wish they would. Most of the time, they fester and get much, much worse. And bigger. Then they come back and bite me right on the ass. I’ve lost so many pounds of flesh over the years that it’s a wonder I don’t need a prosthetic ass.

Okay…TMI. You didn’t need that visual. Sorry. Besides, this isn’t about my ass, anyway. And it’s not a pity party.

It is, in fact, a celebration.

Because it only took me 10 years to figure out why this little blog exists. Not bad, eh?

It’s about the learning.

Turns out my brother, Action Jackson, is one clever mo-fo. He’s the one who deserves credit for tricking me into embarking on this clandestine voyage of self-discovery in the first place. And just how did he trick me? The sneaky S.O.B. hid the lesson precisely where he knew it would be most difficult for me to see–right out in the open.

“This’ll be a really great writing exercise,” he said with all his murky clarity. “It’s gonna help you find your authentic voice.”

Huh? It’s…going…to..?

FLASH FOWARD TEN YEARS (Well, nine years and one and one-quarter months, but who’s counting?).


I always thought running away from TRUE LIFE, coming back to it in fits and starts, changing its poor little name, and ultimately abandoning it was a problem. Now I see that could not be further from the truth. It was all part of the learning. This whole thing–the entire blogging experience–has been an…exercise.

My fav part of one of my fav movies, THE COMMITMENTS, is when Jimmy Rabbitte and Joey “The Lips” Fagan see each other for the last time. It’s the middle of the night, and Jimmy’s walking home, dejected. Wilson Pickett didn’t show up for their show like Joey promised, and the band just imploded. When Joey buzzes up on his scooter, Jimmy lets him have it. To which Joey responds in all his cool, hip and Buddha-like wisdom:

Joey: Look, I know you’re hurtin’ now, but in time you’ll realize what you’ve achieved. 

Jimmy: I’ve achieved nothing! 

Joey: You’re missin’ the point. The success of the band was irrelevant – you raised their expectations of life, you lifted their horizons. Sure we could have been famous and made albums and stuff, but that would have been predictable. This way it’s poetry.

I got wrapped up in TRUE LIFE kinda the same way Jimmy got wrapped up in the band. What I thought I was ultimately gonna get out of the experience, namely, (don’t laugh) recognition and fame was soooooo off the mark. But I also wasn’t wrong to dive into the blog with that expectation because there was no right or wrong in the equation. There was only the experience and how it formed me. As a writer. As a person.

There was only the real poetry of TRUE LIFE, and in the end I cannot put a value on its contribution to raising my expectations in my own life, nor on how it helped to lift my own horizons. How it helped me to temper my expectations.  How it helped me to realize audiences come and go and come back again. How it helped me feel not so desperate all the time. How it helped me to modulate my message without sacrificing my voice. How it helped me learn it’s okay to figure things out along the way, even if you’re doing it in public where it feels like one of those dreams where you show up at school or work or on stage buck naked and you worry you’ve made a first class fool/ass of yourself. How it’s okay even if that happens because you live to see another day, anyway.  How there truly is no failure if you’re honestly learning a lesson in the process. How it helped me understand why I write in the first place.

I am not satisfied with where I am as a writer (and I hope I never am), but I am today a working writer in no small part because of TRUE LIFE…and, of course, that tricksy Action Jackson.

So…dear TRUE LIFE…thank you. Thank you for being there for me. Thank for loving me enough to (paraphrasing the most excellent Jason Mraz here) allow me to do some navigating and waiting patiently to see what I’d find.

I found it, thanks to you.

Now…some of you are looking up at the blog banner (look up…yeah, that one) and scratching your heads. A few of you might be smiling in recognition. To those of you smiling…yes, that’s a resurrection of the original TRUE LIFE blog banner from 2003. To the rest of you, feel free to dig back into the TRUE LIFE archives to figure out what the hell that strange tag line is all about. Hint: look early (2003-2004) and look for references to Wil Wheaton. You’ll eventually get it.

I plan on keeping this banner for awhile, and I plan on hanging around my TRUE LIFE again. After all, there are more exercises. More lessons to learn. And more tricks up Action Jackson’s sleeve…I’m sure of it.

Here’s to TRUE LIFE! And here’s to you. Happy New Year, TRUE LIFERS!


Big things, small packages

Is it age or experience?  I don't know if I am willing to go so far as to claim "wisdom".  But what is the catalyst for the realization that the biggest things in life–the most important ones, at least–happen in the smallest and quietest ways?

In spite of knowing for the last 24 years that "Success is not a destination' it's a journey," I've continued to pursue the moment.  That thing out there, presumably that tells me that I've arrived.  Personal, professional.  What have you.  And when this arrival happened, there must be some sort of ticker tape parade or something.  Right?  And the feeling–man, oh man!–the feeling of the moment would linger.  I could hold onto it for the rest of my life, knowing.  Content in that knowing.  Complete.

Uh huh.  Sure.

Because that's not the way it works, is it?  Moments don't linger.  They come and go.  When they're gone, that's it.  Onto the next thing.  Makes chasing that moment a little silly, huh?  Because what is it?  It's a myth, that's what it is.

Success can't be a destination because destinations are kinda nothings.

I went to the Grand Canyon this past October.  I hiked out to the rim and stood there for, like, 10 minutes.  That was my arrival.  And then I hiked back to camp.  Yes..it was a great 10 minutes–one that I'd looked forward to since I was a kid.  But the moment, itself, was small. Just Lori and me standing there.  A couple of "Wows" and a picture or two on my iPhone.  No big deal.  And then it was done.

Yet, it was somehow greatly satisfying.

That's because getting to the Grand Canyon, I think, was the big deal.  Everything around it.  And the small moment at the canyon's edge was really special in terms of how it related to all the other stuff.  The getting there, which was far more than half the fun.  I mean, on one hand, it was a moment 25 years in the making.  That's a journey of the "holy crap!" magnitude.

Standing there at the edge of the canyon together, we looked at each other.  We knew we'd arrived, figuratively as well as literally.  Finally.  That was…huge.

I guess my point is that I am realizing every time I have pushed for the big moment, the big deal, and held that moment on a pedestal, I've been disappointed.  The moment never seemed as important as I'd made it out to be.  And I'd have it, go to bed, and wake up the next morning and I'd still have to pee and put my clothes on and brush my damned teeth and let the dog out and get the kids up and off to school and do my day just like I always have to.  There is no moment in life that transcends all that.

At this point in my life, I am finally waking up to that.  I'm seeing why it's the journey that's so important, and why the most important moments in life are so small.  It's because the moment is nothing without the rest of life–real life–alongside it.  If I work toward a moment to escape life or distract myself from my life, I'm on the wrong track.  The moment isn't self-referential.  It doesn't celebrate itself in a vacuum.  It's sole purpose and reason for existence is to acknowledge a point along the journey.

It's the moment's relationship to peeing and putting on my clothes and brushing my damned teeth and letting the dog out and getting the kids up and off to school and doing my day like I always do that makes it special.  That makes it outstanding.

Fitting is the word, therefore, I would use for this, my favorite picture of last week, courtesy of my beloved and her wonderful "to do" board.  On Tuesday the 8th, RUNAWAY was finally released on DVD.  It seems to be doing quite nicely in terms of sales and rentals, and I am grateful for that.  After the long and–god, what do I say?  Arduous?  Difficult?  Overwhelming?  I dunno.  What I can say it that after 10 years (I wrote the original short story in 1999), it all came down to this.

Rboard RUNAWAY released.  And we still needed a pooper scooper.  And jeans for
Indi.  And gloves for Jonah to go on his school trip.  It happened in
the midst of life.  The fact that she put it on the board was a loving
recognition of something in life that day, not above it or beyond it. 
Part of it.

I don't know if I am making any sense.  This is all kind of stream
of consciousness here.  My first attempt at trying to put this into
words.  Having it on the board, and not doing much (although Lori and I did steal away for a quick celebratory toast later that night) other than the stuff I needed to get accomplished that day seemed to honor the RUNAWAY journey more than any ticker tape parade ever could.  The quietness of the moment gave deeper meaning to everything that went into arriving at this particular destination.

Not to get all Christmassy on y'all (though it does seem appropriate), but the whole conversation brings to mind this passage in the second chapter of Luke:

"So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart."

That Mary…she had the right idea, I think.

Big journeys.  Small moments.  Pondering.  Life.


Here's to you and all your small moments this season, TRUE LIFERS.

Finnigin, Begin-igin

Here's the deal.  When the going gets tough, Bill gets silent.

I know this about me, but I haven't clued you in.  Well, you probably got the idea, anyway.

IMG_0284 This causes a host of issues.  I stop calling friends and family.  I pull into myself and disconnect.  People get hurt–and often angry at me.  They just wanna know what's up.  They worry.  They wanna help.  But I don't let them.

I don't know why this is my way.  Most times I wish it wasn't.  But over the course of my life, I have come to accept it as my process and due to my introverted nature.  It's not that I don't try to change it (for those of you who know me, think of how much MORE communicative I have become in tumultuous times!), but it's a slow turning at best.  I don't know that I will ever be anything other than what I am today.

And, to my great comfort, I am finally okay with that.

So…to all of you that worry, to all of you that mutter, I am great.

You see, my life took a sudden turn this past summer.  With the 20/20 vision of hindsight, I see exactly how and why it happened.  I can track it back–back and further back, even.  But in the moment, it–all of it…meaning the really, really good and the really, really bad–threw me for a loop.  Kicked me in the ass, in fact.

My hindsight, though, has also shown me this: that it's all good.  I've lived long enough to know that no matter what you think you're gonna do, sometimes the Universe has other plans.  Bigger, better plans, in fact, but it means that big and bold things are going to cross your path.  You have to make choices, and you have to act.

Over the past few years, folks might get the idea that I am an impetuous person.  I do make decisions boldly, and I do make bold decisions.  True.  But I honestly wouldn't qualify myself as impetuous.

I think things out.  When I do that, like all writers, I suppose, I look at the end first.  What is the end I am looking for, and what end do I think is most likely as a result of this course of action?  I assume–again, probably because of my writerly nature–that there will be a certain amount of drama and conflict in the middle.  Assuming the end result is worth it–I make the leap.  I trust that everything is going to work out in the end.

The trick is that my process is faster because it takes into account that there will be fallout.  I don't require everything to be sewn up nice and neat-like in order for me to act.  I don't know whether very many people make decisions that way.

Sometimes I've been right, and sometimes Ive been wrong.  To my credit, more right than wrong, I believe.

Over the past several months, as life has handed me a gigantic bowl of lemons, it magically turned to lemonade right before my eyes.  I didn't ask for it.  The Universe put it there.  With hindsight again, of course I can tell you exactly why it's there now and how it got there.  That it was always meant to be there, but that's a much longer conversation.  And probably requires a lot of beer.

The upshot is that it required me to make a choice and then act.  And…I did.  On the surface, this choice and action could look like something controversial.  To some it could look that way, and I wouldn't blame then for thinking it.  Those who know me, however, know controversy has nothing to do with it.  And those who take a moment to look just below the surface nod their heads and go, "Ohhh…  I get it."  And it all makes sense to them.

Okay…all obliqueness aside, if you have been following me at all you know that there have been changes in my life.  800 lb. gorilla changes.  Half of these changes I simply don't want to talk about.  Not that I don't love y'all, but it's the kind of stuff that is best to simply let be.  On the other side of things, I am glad to talk your ear off…and I probably will.

Life has shifted for me…fresh and forward, and yet back to where it really all began in the first place.  Funny.  Most days I just smile and shake my head.  Huh…

I do not live in Minnesota anymore.  I left it.  Quickly, yes…but for Zach's sake as well as mine I think it was one of the best decisions I've ever made.  I have gone west, toward my destiny–personal and professional.  And I am done with anything other than keeping my eye on the prize–personal and professional–every day.

More later.  Because now I wanna talk.  Now I need to talk…to share.  There's so much!  Yet, there's been this awkward "thing" hanging out there.  That gorilla.  I am wondering if we can all just nod at it and move past it?  That's what I'm doing here–acknowledging and moving on, because I don't want to do the silent treatment thing anymore.  Not with you, TRUE LIFERS (ah..!  How long has it been since I wrote that?!?  Feels good).

Alas, here's to the end of silence.  Here's to welcome back.  To the past, to the present, and to the future.  To True Life.

New beginnings and coming home

RunawaypostersmallLook up..!

You see it, huh?

Yeah.  I know.  It's been a long time, hasn't it?

Look right.

See that, too?

A long road, to say the very least.

Today, both are stretching, blinking in the sunlight.

Today, both are coming back.  Back where they belong.

They stand at each of my shoulders, keeping me company and keeping me focused and on the right path as I, too, stretch, blinking in the sunlight.  As I, too, am coming back.  Back to where I belong.

Today, TRUE LIFE returns.  Welcome back, old friend.  Maybe now we can get back to business, eh?

And today, I have official written permission to announce that RUNAWAY will be released on DVD on Tuesday, December 8.  Just in time for Christmas!!!  Remember that when the time comes!

As soon as all the marketing and publicity stuff starts rolling in, I will, of course, keep all of you in the loop.

Right now, my compadres and I are going to enjoy this bright, sunny day.  Feel free to join us!

The Gift of Exhaling

I have been holding my breath since I was 12.  For those of you in the studio audience who are counting, that's 31 years.  Three decades.  And [read with sarcastic tone] thanks for counting in the first place.

Whether you're counting or not, it's a helluva long time to wait to exhale.

One day when I was 12, my mom asked me to grab something out of her dresser drawer.  There, I found a picture: the smiling faces of three of my siblings as children–ages ranging from about 12 down to about four.  But there was a fourth child in the picture–a beautiful little girl about age 10.  She was smiling like the rest of them.

What struck me, though, was that she looked so much like my siblings.  Like she belonged.  Part of a set.

When I asked my mom about the little girl in the picture, she broke down in tears.  Over the next four hours, I heard a story that my 12 year-old brain could barely wrap itself around.  By the time my mom stopped talking, we were both exhausted.  And all cried out.

The little girl in the picture was my sister.

I won't go into all the details around her departure from my immediate family.  The past deserves to stay in the past.

But she was gone.  Strangely enough, adopted by the brother of my mom's first husband and his wife, which legally made her a cousin to my three other siblings in the picture.  Sometimes God has a wicked sense of humor.

Occasionally, I would hear reports about her from my siblings, who would see her at family gatherings of the "Mom's 1st husband's family" variety.  But I had never met her, never seen another picture.

Late last fall, one of my other sibling's called me and told me that she and my sister had not only been in contact, but had experienced a full-fledged reuniting.  They got each other back.  The four children in the picture were back in the picture again.

Then came the best part of the news: that my sister had expressed a wish for me to be in the picture, too.

The upshot of all this is tomorrow, after 31 years, I get to join my siblings–my sister included–at a family gathering.  Robbye, Zach, and I are going to my sister's cabin to meet her and her husband and all their kids for a day of fun and (apparently) of devouring every type of barbecued meat imaginable.

I am a little nervous, but in a good way.  To think of it brings to mind the final scenes of THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION.  The ones where Red is heading across the border to meet Andy Dufresne in Mexico.

"I hope to see my friend," Red says.  "I hope the Pacific is as blue as it has been in my dreams."

I hope, too.  And I am hopeful.

More than anything, I am grateful.  Finally…to exhale.

Relax… It’s good for you?

I've been in a funk lately.  And not the cute sitcom kind where I sit on the couch for a day or so and fire pithy quips at the boob tube or whomever blocks my view during Oprah.

No…this has been a bonafide funk.  The real deal.

I've lived my life, sure.  Every day, though, has felt like slogging through mud.  Every action requires five times the energy.  And everything that comes out of my mouth seems lame.  Probably is lame, as the dead space between me and whatever thought I'm searching for, much less the right word, can be measured in astronomical units, and then there’s no guarantee that whatever I latch onto is right or appropriate or even coherent.

It’s really bugged me because I am at a “feet don’t fail me now” point in my life.  It’s not simply that there are a lot of things I want to accomplish; there are myriad things I need to get done.  You know…keep life integral stuff.

I make lists and then sit down in front of my computer (through which most of said work must be done)…and nothing.  Well, not if you count reading Yahoo! News or thumbing through my iTunes library.  I excel at those lately.

What gives?  It’s not only that I have to get these things done…I want to.  There’s so many things I want to do, and this goddamned funk—it’s mucking it all up.

For every day the list is swelling with the things I didn’t get done the day before.  Things small and large.  Overflowing.  Dropping onto the floor around my feet.  In pieces.  Which leaves another, more complicated and troublesome task to heap atop everything else: picking up the pieces and trying to put them back together.

And trying to keep forward movement—hell! ANY movement—going.

So far, I’ve been able to keep things reasonably together.  Things are fine.  The speaking has been going well, and things have been moving forward with INCARNATION.  But I know.  Inside I now that my performance is sub-par.  And there have been outward signs lately—the orbital decay has become apparent to others.

That sucks.

I am tired of hearing the whys and the well-meaning hypotheses, from me as much as anyone else.  I just want my energy back.  I just want me back.

The silver lining in this dark cloud is that when the world is quiet (or I succeed in simply ignoring it), I am experiencing some of the most creative journeys ever through my inner space.  The result is that the MANIACAL ENGINEERING story I’ve landed on is, I believe, pretty good.  It feels fresh and inspired.  As I work to put it together, I am realizing that it represents a real evolution in not just my storytelling ability, but in my story generating ability as well.

And then there’s the matter of the other thing that’s cooking in my head all of a sudden.  The stuff that Facebook entries like “Bill had an interesting creative realization Monday that set his mind a-whirring. Me thinks…it just might work” are made of.  I don’t wanna say too much about it.  I’ve bounced it off a couple of people in my inner sanctum and gotten the wide-eyed, smiling nods that tell me I am on the trail of something worthy of pursuit.

It’s important for now that I keep the idea close to my chest.  Not that I think it’s gonna get stolen or anything like that.  At the moment, it’s simply delicate, fragile.  It’s going to require a lot of TLC to grow into a strong and full-fledged concept, much less a great script.

But for the first time since the germ of this idea popped into being (which was a few years ago), scenes are playing in my head.  I am hearing characters talk, seeing them interact.  Dots are being connected between them.  The world and the path through it are revealing themselves to me.  That feels good.

And it’s a TV idea.  I’ve been wanting to come back to TV for over a decade now.  Even gooder.

Which leads me inevitably to this: do I just relax?

All the billboards along the Interstate warning us about the dangers of depression aside, everyone gets the blues, right?  I mean, please don’t misunderstand—I’m not demeaning the seriousness of depression.  I know it’s real.  I know it’s devastating.  I know it’s a killer.

Trust me.  I know.

My statement isn’t one of denigration or denial, it’s one of recognition, yet trying to get a handle on type and severity.  Of trying to identify whether or not I am on well-trodden common ground or somewhere else…somewhere lost and needing to call for help.

It’s not like I’ve never been in a funk before.  It’s not like I have never been flat-out depressed before.  And though this funk has felt more acute than others in the past, I sort of understand how I got here.  Take everything that’s happened in the last several years and line it up, and it makes sense that I would feel tired.  Yet, I don’t want to make the mistake of dismissing it out of hand because I know how slippery a slope these funky things can be.

Hmmm…  Well, I guess here’s where I stand (hence my “do I just relax?” comment)…I know that over the course of the past couple of weeks I've been feeling incrementally better.  I feel a little lighter. I know that through sheer force of will I am kick-starting myself and attending to a number of things that have been screaming for my attention.   These are good signs, adding up to a feeling of “I’m on the upswing.”

I know that all of a sudden I am writing again. That’s a good sign, too.

And there’s the rub.  I am writing again.  Harvesting ideas fertilized and cultivated in the manure pile of this funk.

I remember telling a psychologist once that I wanted to be happy in my life, “but not too happy.”  I worried that through the course of therapy I would lose a grip on my underlying angst.  That it might dissipate and be gone forever.  That would be a bad thing, I thought.  Tantamount to a creative lobotomy.

Well, fear not, self.  You have nothing to worry about.  Through thick and thin, your beloved angst hasn’t gone anywhere.  I doubt it ever will.  Then again, you know now what you knew then, huh?  It’s par for the course.  An occupational hazard, if you will.

Laborers have back injuries.  Typists have carpel tunnel and eye-strain.  Miners have black lung.

Writers…we have our angst.  Our funks.  In the end, I suppose it’s a good thing.  It is, after all, as much a source of our inspiration—maybe even more so—than our elation.  And, I must admit, there is an odd comfort in that.

Keeping it in check.  Keeping perspective.  Only heading so far down the rabbit hole.  Now that’s the trick, ain’t it?

I ):-( Dream Bill

It’s early.  It’ll be a little while till Robbye wakes up.  Anyone that follows her blog knows she’s been a bit of an insomniac of late.  My snoring contributes to that, and I am trying to get that under control.  It’s a difficult fight to fight, much less win, as I’m lightyears away when it’s happening.

That’s not the only reason she’s having difficulty sleeping, though.

Life, with all its promise and possibility, is a tenuous affair.  The phrase “passing through the eye of the needle” makes its way out of our mouths with notable frequency.  When all is said and done, we will be great.  In fact, despite a few nuts and bolts that need tightening, everything is great now.

But it—life itself—is a stressor…on myriad levels and in numerous forms.  Hell, for my own part, living right now feels more like the storming the beach at Normandy scene in SAVING PRIVATE RYAN than anything else.  I’m relieved simply to exit the day intact.  Taking the bunker isn’t even a consideration.

I know that this life—for all its positives—has proven to be a rough road for my beloved.  Rougher than I think was expected.  Definitely more bumpy than she deserves.

Which, of course, makes me love her all the more.  I often tell people that Robbye is the bravest person I know because she stepped into all this—the somewhat psychotic tempest that frames my existence—and she did so without hesitation.  And she stays here.  The fact that this wonderful woman doesn’t run screaming from the house on any given day amazes me.  The fact that she’s still here and that she loves me as she does lays me low.  It awes me.

Because I know that the pressure cooker of our life leaves her feeling blistered and burned at times.  I know she worries.  I understand she has fears.

Of course, she talks about them.  That’s good.  But the bigger, deeper worries and fears come out another way.  In an altogether more insidious manner.

Enter my new nemesis: Dream Bill.

Sleep is a precious commodity right now.  I am trying work the mornings to give her all she can get.  Thank heavens Boy and the dogs have been cooperating lately.  That’s the difference sometimes between 2-3 hours of sleep and 5-6 for her.  Every hour counts.  Because she not only loves sleep (as is well documented), but she needs it.  And she deserves the rest.

When Robbye wakes up, she likes to share her dreams with me.  She has about he most vivid and exciting dream life of anyone I’ve met.  Since I’m a person that rarely dreams, it fascinates me (and tires me out a little) to recount the excitement that unfolds as she slumbers.  Usually it’s fun to listen.  It’s a lot like Cute Overload…on psychedelics.

Then there are the other times.  When he shows up, and the party’s over.

Dream Bill does all sorts of raunchy and terrible things.  He disappears.  He runs off, even.  He says bad things and does even worse ones.  He’s an ass of unspeakable magnitude.  And when Robbye awakens, Dream Bill haunts her.  Casts shadows over her thoughts and a shroud over our morning.

It’s not as difficult as it used to be.  In past days we’ve logged serious time helping her see that Dream Bill and Real-Live Bill are two very different guys.  That I would never do the things Dream Bill does.

As we move farther along in our relationship, she’s more trusting this as opposed to intellectualizing it.  We find ourselves laughing about it more often than not.

Yet, occasionally, Dream Bill does something so deplorable that Real-Live Bill needs to answer for it.  Like last night.

There are times when I wish Dream Bill would take his own heat.  That I wasn’t taken to task for his crappy faults just because we share the same face and name.  He makes his bed, but I gotta sleep in it.  Which used to make me a little grumpy.

I’m learning something about Dream Bill, though, that lately has me appreciating the guy..if only a little.

Dream Bill represents—of course—my beloved’s deeper fears.  You don’t live 30+ years without gathering up more than a few of those babies, right?  And the scars we carry are, I believe, the windows to said fears.  They speak to their presence and validity.

Hell, I got ‘em.  We all do.  I think it’s part of what makes us, you know, human.  They’re part of the journey, and I’ve come to think of them more as badges of honor than baggage.

I know talking about Dream Bill’s shenanigans provides her a venue to talk about her fears and address the scars in a tangible way.  And a way to meet the fears head-on.  I realize if Dream Bill didn’t exist, we might not ever get a chance to talk about them, and our relationship would suffer for it.

So…Dream Bill.  I don’t like you, man.  You are—to put it mildy—an absolute dick.

But thank you.  I don’t know whether you mean to do this or not, but thank you for the light you shed on our relationship.  Thank you for giving us an opportunity to talk out some very important and foundational issues, which is making our life together better and our bond even stronger.

And thank you, Baby.  For your courage and for walking beside me every day.

And for your love.

The devil’s in the details

Okay…here’s the thing.  My friend, Mike, knows I hate these things.  Oh yeah…and I know he hates them.

Why…then why would he fall prey to one of these insipid Internet lists?  And why…tell me, God, why would he not only inflict it upon me, his supposed friend, but then announce to the world that I was one of the most likely candidates to respond to the f@cking thing!

Because he knows me better than I know myself.

And he knows that as the thing sat in my inbox, it would eat at me like acid, eventually exposing my guilt-ridden underbelly.

He knew I would cry uncle.  It was only a matter of time.

Michael…you devil, you.


Okay…no more drama.  Vote Obama.

Here’s the deal.  You don’t gotta send this thing to anyone.  If you’re up for it, though, show yourself, OLU readers (both of you!).  Cut and paste the questions below, delete my answers, and put in your own.

We wanna get to know you!  According to my friend’s email, "The theory is that you will learn a lot of little known facts about those who know you."

For now, here’s my answers.

Four jobs I have had in my life

1. Grill Master and Drive-thru Wizard at Wendy’s Old Fashioned Burgers
2. City Maintenance Worker, where I painted all the fire hydrants and babysat the city sewage plant in Isanti, MN one summer
3. Salesperson and Store Manager at Radio Shack
4. General Manager for a chain of Black Hills Gold jewelry stores (even though I have never been to the Black Hills)

Four movies I’ve watched more than once

1.  Planet of the Apes (the real one)
2   The Commitments
3.  The Dukes of Hazzard (against my will)
4.  The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari

Four places I have lived

1.  Los Angeles, CA
2.  Las Cruces, NM
3   Sierra Vista, AZ
4.  In my car

Four places I’d like to live

1. St. Petersburg, FL
2. Loreto, Mexico
3. New York, NY (Manhattan or Brooklyn)
4. Moonbase Alpha before the big, nasty explosion that sent it hurtling away from Earth at apparent FTL speed

Four places I have been

1. La Paz, Mexico, gawking at a too-fresh-for-comfort skeletal arm that washed up on the beach
2. On a late-night Central Park carriage ride with my baby
3. Hanging in a near-deserted pub with my Canuck "brother", Pigger, in Thunder Bay, ON, unexpectedly tossing back more Labatts than we could count with The Beautiful Girls
4. Perched in scaffolding, 10 feet directly above Prince’s head for two hours (I coulda hocked a loogey, but I demonstrated incredible restraint)

People who e-mail me

1. Dean Hyers
2. Pete Machalek
3. Robbye
4. Scores of people who are quite concerned about my penis size and sexual endurance

Favorite foods

1. Eggs–especially my pickled ones…  Mmmm..!
2. Chipotle burritos
3. Robbye’s lentil spaghetti
4. Peanut butter slathered on pretty much anything

Four places I’d rather be right now

1. The Madeira Beach cottage
2. London, England
3. An eco-resort on the Virgin Islands
4. Snuggling in bed with my wife

Four friends I think will respond

1. Robbye
2. Diana
3. Colin
4. Barack

Four things I am looking forward to this year

1. A week off bumming around somewhere with Robbye
2. Selling another script
3. FINALLY, MAYBE getting to see Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse
4. Speaking in Seattle later this month and in LA in June

Four T.V. Shows that I watch

1. Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations
2. Medium
3. Battlestar Galactica (the new one)
4. ("Who wants a..!") Clean House (Official Member, Miss Niece Fan Club.  Mmmm Hmmm!)

Now, do you know me better?

And…are ya satisfied, Mike? [wink]


Remember this?

No longer will I call thee "Poop Phone".

From here to eternity, I dub thee "Lazarus".

Turns out the phone, itself, was fine.  When it went in the drink, it was only the battery that shorted out. 

Don’t know why it took me so long to check that out.  Well, for one, I am not the sharpest knife in the drawer.  Second, when I fished the thing outta the pot and rinsed it off, it seemed as though the screen was shot.  Oh yeah…and none of the keys worked either.

It’s been sitting in my desk for months.

Being forced to use the Ancient Phone I HATE has been absolutely grating on me.  I mean, let’s get this straight…ol’ Lazarus mighta taken a poop bath, but APIH was and always will be, quite simply, a shitty phone.  I don’t wanna piss off any cell manufacturers, so I won’t mention the brand.  All I can say is using the thing wears my nerves RAZR thin.

To top it off APIH hasn’t been doin’ to well lately.  Feeling it’s age.  So it’s old and shitty.  Ack!

Facing the prospect of having to sling significant jing at a new phone, I decided to see–just see–what would happen if I put Robbye’s battery (it’s the same model) in my phone.  And, well…lo and behold…  Hot damn.

Next thing I know, I am running out to my local ATT store for a new battery.  $23.00 later, I slip that bad boy in, and guess what?


Umm…anyone got any Lysol spray?