Catching up

Dear friends,

Hello.  How are you?

I am fine.

Thank you for stopping by today.

What’s going on?  Oh, man!  Where do I start?

Remember this l’il thing?

Headhurts1

Apparently, I should be provide a little more explanation when I post something like that.

Reminds me of the time when I posted this (really bad) poem I wrote as a kind of nod to Pablo Picasso and Surrealism a couple of years back and promptly left town for a week to the lands beyond cell service coverage.  Oh, my…  Can you say voice mail messages?  Took me over a week to convince everyone that I was neither losing it nor suicidal.

Friends and family.  God love ’em, but sometimes it’s hard to be a writer trying to strut his stuff in their line of sight.

Oh, well…occupational hazard.

No one said it was gonna be easy.  Trying to understand a writer guy, yet trying to care about him at the same time, that is.  It requires a whole new compass than most folks are used to.  North doesn’t always point north.  What’s worse is north changes, sometimes shifting unexpectedly and for inexplicable reasons.  So you can’t obtain a compass for the purposes of getting a good read on us writer types.  You gotta build ’em from scratch.

Oh, well…all guys like me can hope is that the rest of you think it’s worth the trouble.

That said, from the "What I really meant" department, comes this:

I had a lot going on.  I tried to write it all out in a sort of "let’s catch up with Bill" missive, but there was so much to say.  It gave me a head ache.  My creative response to said cranial distress was to let the long, rambling post go and simply (and, I thought, humorously) "depict" my feelings over trying to describe the myriad plates I had spinning at the time.  The rest, as they say….

In truth, everything was fine, though I admit that I have been feeling a bit overwhelmed of late.  Hyperactivity, with rarely enough energy to tackle each zone of my crazy/beautiful life with the gusto, creativity, and passion it deserves.  There have been many days, in fact, when I’ve felt like I’m losing ground everywhere.  And even moments when I’ve felt like an utter failure.

Then again…that’s nothing new.

Occupational hazard…of being me.

But the strike is over, and far from my previous fears, Hollywood seems to be welcoming me with reasonably open arms.  Yeah..check this out–

  • It’s not out of the realm of possibility that RUNAWAY could see some sort of distribution in the near future.
  • The management company I would like to work with seems genuinely interested in working with me.
  • I am in very active talks with a very reputable production company to develop a real, live Hollywood movie (a proposed budget in the mid-eight figures was tossed onto the table yesterday).
  • I have a good bead on (and have been highly recommended to) a great agent at a major agency.
  • INCARNATION, all of a sudden, is getting a lot of attention and seems to be taking on a life of its own.
  • As I plan on making a pilgrimage to the Tower of Tinsel in the next few weeks, people seem to really wanna meet with me.  For the first time ever, I think that my dance card will be full–with real and meaningful meetings to show for it.  Yikes!
  • If I play my cards right, I’ll have a first draft new spec script (which already has parties interested in reading it) ready to show the world by the end of March.

Holy crap, right?  Makes my head spin.  Mostly in a good way.

SagePresence is going equally well.  People are really responding to it, and we’re getting opportunities to speak and train all over.  The biggest problem there is there’s only three of us.  At some point in the VERY near future, we will have need to hire someone (or somones) to help us manage this thing.  Especially as word about what we’re doing spreads outside the Twin Cities, as it’s beginning to do so.  It’s quite amazing and scary cool.

Funny how this professional speaking thing so powerfully supports the screenwriting career, and vice versa.  Equally, how much fun I’m having going around and talking to folks.  Having such an immediate, profound, and positive impact for people–seeing it on their faces and hearing their stories of trouble and triumph–really makes my day.

And home…  With respect to that, let me simply say that Georges Seurat would be proud.  As I am proud of us.  All of us.  Yesterday, I noticed a piece of me was calm in the face of an otherwise tubulent day.  That piece was the one associated with home.

It was a bit of a surprise, as honoring this Great Love, this great family, and "putting it together" hasn’t always been the most calm of affairs.  But yesterday’s discovery spoke volumes.  It spoke of healing.  It spoke of health and happiness.  It spoke of peace and prosperity.  It spoke of adventure and accomplishment.  It whispered in my ear, visions of the future that brought a smile to my lips.

Today, my head doesn’t hurt.  Nothing has changed, except for today I feel a little less overwhelmed by this crazy/beautiful life.  That’s all.

Because I know head aches come with the job description.

Husband.

Dad.

Partner.

Speaker.

Friend.

Family.

Screenwriter.

Superhero.

None of ’em easy.  All of ’em worth it.

Dear friend…I hope you are well, too.  I look forward to catching up again in the near future.

Best to you and yours.  Let’s get together soon!

Yours TRUE-ly,

Bill

Two years ago…

We were painting what was then my bedroom.

In a house that must have felt like a ton of bricks on her soul, I was trying to create weight-free oasis.  Someplace that could feel hers.

We’d already moved well beyond talk of "possibly" moving in together.  The "ifs" were long gone.  Our conversations landed solidly in the "whens" column.

Then again, as we were working and dancing and singing and joking and smooching, I knew something she didn’t know.  Or at least I thought I did.  Turns out she knew it was coming, but not quite at that moment.  Come to think of it, I didn’t really know it was coming quite that day, myself.

Yet, it wasn’t a concept to me.  It was a certainty.  And only after all was said and done, could I share with her, for example, why I was so quiet, like "such a freak" all New Years Day, just a month earlier.  It was because, if I opened my mouth, it would spill out.  There simply was no holding it back.

But back to painting.  It was another day like New Years.  Every brush stroke seemed to whisper it to me: "Say it.  Say it…"  As the walls came to life, they called out: "Tell her.  Tell her…"

We were taking a break.  We were tired from going at it (and I don’t mean "in the good way") all day.   Exhausted, in fact.  We were sitting on the couch having one of those intense and yet quiet conversations.  You know…the ones you have with…well…the one.

And I am sitting there, and I am thinking, "Oh, my god…  This is the moment."

Plans be damned!

Hadn’t showered in two days?  Who cares?

Dressed in dirty, smelly painting clothes?  Whatever…

I got down on one knee, and I started talking.  I have no idea what I said.  I am guessing that I was babbling.  I am guessing Robbye thought I was babbling, too.

But I caught her attention when I said this…

"Will you do the honor of marrying me?  Will you be my wife?"

There was about a three second span where I thought she might say, "What the hell are you talking about?!?"

Turns out she was a little stunned.

In the next second, though, I got my relief.

"Of course!  Yes!"

At this point, I would say that the rest is history.  But there is one more movement to the story that not many people know.  Not enough people, anyway.

Robbye, Lucy (her dog), and M.P. (her cat) were staying the weekend at the house.  Kind of a "trial run" for the pets.  See how they would fare in the insanity…not to mention with the three other animals already running the joint.

Robbye didn’t have kids before all this.  For the most part, she’d lived on her own.  Robbye, her dog, and her cat…in a little pink house in St. Paul, in an apartment that was about the size of my living room.   Needless to say, life was a lot quieter.  A lot simpler.

Okay, then…on top of that…add…you know…THE HOUSE.  THE HISTORY…  Ack…

When I talk about our coming together, I tell people that Robbye is the bravest person I know.  Yes, because she said "yes" to the "Will you marry me?" question.  But more significantly to how she answered the next question to tumble out of my mouth that day.

"Now, will you just stay home?"

To which she answered, "I guess I’ll need to get some clothes."

I tell Robbye that the three smartest things I ever did in my life where these:

I called the girl, I asked the girl, I married the girl.

Two years ago today…  Proof positive, Baby.  Proof positive.

Rsy

Cabin Fever

No, it ain’t the 20 below mornings of my youth, where 40 below wind chills were as commonplace as a Britney Spears mental breakdown, but it’s been dang miserable here.

We did have that one anomalous 40 degree day on Sunday, but it doesn’t count.  Whereas I am certain God believes he’s tossing us a mid-winter bone, he ain’t.  Days like that are more pain than pleasure.  They simply serve to remind us of what we will NOT be enjoying for the next 60 days or so.

I am sitting here bundled up in my bathrobe, a space heater running at my feet, trying to keep icicles from forming around my nostrils as I breath.  And earlier, I had to bundle up all Ralphie-like and trudge over to Holiday for half-and-half.  Because…?  Neither car will start in this frozen wasteland.

Somethin’s gotta give.

In my head, the constant sound of Sam Cooke crooning, "It’s been a lo-o-o-o-ong/Long time comin’ but/Change is gonna come/Oh, yes it is."

I’m with you, Sam.

Change is gonna come.  Hell, yes it is.

I am also tired of this strike.  I know, I know…I’m supposed to be all solidarity, fist in the air, Hollywood in flames, and all.  And I am, for the most part.  I’ve been "pencils down", and stayed away from talking to anyone and everyone, out of respect for my WGA bretheren.  (and, admittedly, fear for making the wrong move and being black-balled for the rest of eternity)

And I know that I am a,) not the only person in the world affected by this strike, and b.) many people have it far worse off than I do.

But I’m tired of it.

I haven’t said much (read: anything) about the strike because there’s enough crap flying around about the whole fiasco.  No one needs my two cents, or likely cares to hear it.  And, you know…what I said in parentheses a few paragraphs ago.

But I’m tired of it.

Yes, the writers need to get paid for I’net and other digital media.  Yes, people are being buttheads.  This has dragged on so long, however, and gotten so nasty, I am afraid that real, honest-to-goodness recovery will be years in the future.  That, my friends, I further fear will bode worse for guys like me than it will those already firmly ensconced in the industry.

We’ll see.  I am playing Punxsutawney Bill, and poking my head out of this foxhole (though only in appropriate circles) just a smidgen, over the coming days.  See whether anyone notices or I get my head blown off.  If you read my professional obit. in Variety any time soon, you’ll know it was the latter.

In the meantime (and as usual), no one sums it up better than Jim Henson’s Muppets…

http://www.youtube.com/v/wKhtO8k0ILg&rel=0&color1=0xd6d6d6&color2=0xf0f0f0&border=0

Keep warm, all.  Like my bro-in-law sez, "Think flip-flops and margaritas."  Meanwhile, I will continue to experiment with the power of positive bitching.  How’s it working so far?

A long December….

Yes.

I’m sure.

I would think it, too.

But that ain’t what it is.

Here’s the story.

About a week after my last post, my beloved iBook (or, as Robbye dubbed him, "Lappy"), passed away.  In the end, it was a fried video chip on his logic board that got him.

It took awhile to coordinate with Zvie at Mac-in-the-Box to get Lappy in for a check-up (my delay, not his–Zvie rocks!) and see what we could see.  Then, of course, it was a matter of "What the hell?  I’m completely discombobulated suddenly!"

That went on for about a week.  All the time, we’re, you know, getting ready for Christmas, and I’m also trying to cobble together a podcast for the SagePresence biz using rubber bands and paper clips.

A strange week it was.  Most of the time I walked around in a haze.

When I finally came to, my Lappy was gone.  I was no longer "one droll primate with an iBook."

I don’t know if this makes any sense, but out of respect for Lappy, I took something of a hiatus.  I simply couldn’t bring myself to post here without Lappy.  It seemed…I don’t know…disrespectful?  No, that’s not it, I guess.  Not really.  I suppose, more than anything, it felt…pointless.

I guess I was in mourning.

Silly.

Yet, I have written seven screenplays on that little computer.  Countless other scripts and short stories and the like.  My whole professional writing life is tied up in that little white box.

Although RUNAWAY wasn’t begun on Lappy, it was certainly realized on him.  He took me through the whole revision process.  And through my subsequent screenplays, where I really learned and honed the craft.  I learned to be a screenwriter on Lappy.  I became a professional screenwriter on that damned iBook.

And, of course, Lappy was the impetus for a little thing called TRUE LIFE.  That, in terms of this whole "hiatus"..?  It is significant in the highest.

Now, a month on, I know it’s time to move on.  It’s the way of things, isn’t it?

A few days back, I recovered Lappy’s remains.  Being that the hard drive is still quite intact, I was able to plug him into our aged iMac, which I have commandeered from Zach’s room for the time being.  I spent a couple of days transferring important data to my external hard disk.  Everything is safe and sound.  All is well.

But now he sits on my desk.  Lappy.  Silent.  Dark.  Closed.  Not sleeping.  Dead.  Gone.

Zvie tells me that Apple will charge me $350-$400 to fix Lappy.  For that money, I can buy another computer.

Moreover, everyone’s telling me that it’s probably time to invest in a newer computer.  Ol’ Lappy had just celebrated his 4th birthday before he gave up the ghost.  That’s ancient.  Like…15 in dog years.  He was showing his age, creaking and straining under the weight of these newfangled operating systems and increasingly complex media programs.  He was always happy and willing to perform whatever operation you asked him to, but he was tired.  It was plain to see.

As much as I hate to admit it, it’s time for Lappy and me to day good-bye.

For now, I am double-teaming on the old iMac ("Macky") and Robbye’s former Windows machine ("Wanda").  It’s like working with two cantankerous grammas who rarely agree with each other, much less anyone else.  They’re slow and stubborn, and can be utter crab-apples at times.  We are, however, all learning how to work together and to how get the things done that we need to get done every day.  For the moment, we’re keeping the lights burning on the productivity front.

And it’s time to return to this Life.  That, too, is the way of things, isn’t it?

I don’t know if there’s a Heaven for old laptop computers.  But if there is, I know my Lappy is there.  And I know he’s givin’ ’em hell.

Bon voyage, Lappy.  No matter where you are, I will always embody the spirit of "One droll primate with an iBook."

Ibook

Lappy, in New York, working on revisions for RUNAWAY–July/August 2004

"The Best of Times"

Universe! O! Universe!

Why doth thou taunt me so?

Yesterday afternoon. I’m hanging out at Barnes & Noble, taking a short break from the animal madness of the household (read: Let me out! Feed me kibble! Rub my belly! Give me water! Let me in! Scratch my butt!) and getting some much-needed work done. Two large Diet Pepsis into the experience, and I’m ready to check out the facilities.

I walk in and set myself up in front of the urinal, when what do I hear coming from the damned stall next to me..?

“Uh…yeah.”

Buzz, buzz, jibber, jibber.

“No. I’m at Barnes & Noble. …In the bathroom.”

Jibber, jabber, jibber.

“Yeah. I’m talking to you, and I’m on the toilet.

Jibber, jabber, jabber, jabber.

“Well, you called.”

I ball up my free hand and shake it at the heavens. I finish up, wash, and walk out.

And as I’m leaving, the son of a bitch is still on the freakin’ phone!

Doesn’t he know what can happen?!?

Oh, no. That’s not it. Is it?

It’s cell phone karma. And the Universe? It’s just turning the screws.

In the drink

No two ways about it…Thursday was a shitty day.

Forget what I wrote about last Wednesday. Well, at least the part about answering my phone. The other stuff is still firmly intact.

If you try to call me on my cell, you will be immediately routed to my voice mail. I will not answer. Or, more applicable, CANNOT answer.

Why, you may ask? Because my cell phone is no longer functioning, I say.

OlurrromWhy, you may ask? I hang my head in shame.

Because. I. Dropped. It. In…the…toilet.

Yes. It’s a true story.

Robbye had a chiro appointment Thursday morning. With no coffee in the house, we decided to grab a cuppa joe at a Dunn Bros. near the chiro office. Innocent enough, right?

So Rob heads off to her appointment, and I stick around Dunns to work for awhile. Still fine. And after a hour or so of tapping away, well…nature calls. I know Rob’s due to resurface soon, so I grab my phone and take it with me to the restroom. ‘Cause I’m thinking, what if she needs to get ahold of me. And…you know, er…this could take awhile. ‘Nuff said.

I’m on the throne, and everything’s just hunky-dory. And then I reach over to, uh…obtain a section of tissue. Next thing I know, there’s this sliding feeling against my belly and then a splashy “ploomp!”

I realize exactly what’s happening in real time. Basically, a few days prior, the pocket on the front of my Woodstock Film Festival hoody ripped. When I bent forward, my phone slid around inside of the pocket. With the stitching gone, there was no barrier to stop the thing when it hit the seam. And it just kept on a-sliding.

There’s no time to react. All I can do is groan. My soul deflates.

And my freakin’ cell phone, with every business and personal contact number to my name (I am not very good at backing the information up in, like, a spreadsheet or something…you know, like a responsible person), is submerged. And the lone path to rescuing it is of the Andy Dufresne variety.

Shit. Literally. What am I gonna do?

Well, I certainly can’t flush. That would send the phone on a “let’s clog the Dunn Bros. plumbing and cause hundreds of dollars in damage” journey. I have no choice but to roll up my damned sleeve, reach in, and retrieve the thing. And fast! If there’s any chance of saving it, that is.

So I do it. I will spare you the crappy details, if you will.

I pull it out and it’s dripping wet, but the display’s still working, so I take that as a good sign. Yet, as I hold it, I can just feel the E. Coli running riot over the thing. I gotta, like, rinse it off at least. More appropriately, probably dunk it in bleach. Ack!

I opt for the rinsing. I take the phone over to the sink and, as gingerly as possible, try to rinse it off without causing further damage. Then I remove the back cover, take out the battery, and try to dry off the insides.

When I put the battery back in…nothing. The phone is dead.

All together now…heavy sigh.

I was laid low the rest of the day. Thank God for my wonderful wife. Moved by my dropping countenance, my shuffling step, and my sad puppy eyes, she stopped my the World Market and brought me home a healing surprise. Behold, the power of Skullsplitter.

I don’t know what I’m gonna do now. The phone was acting up, anyway, and I kept saying that one day I was going to return it to Samsung for a replacement. I wonder if they’d accept it now? If not, I suggested to Robbye this morning that it might be a good time for me to consider an iPhone.

That landed like a lead balloon.

All’s Quiet on the Midwestern Front

I posted this over at filmcatcher.com, but realized that it as (if not more) appropriately belongs here. So…here you go–

– – – – – – – – – –

It’s Saturday morning. Robbye and I just got done with morning coffee. She’s in the shower now, getting ready to go to a friend’s jewelry party.

And I am getting ready to write.

Cuppajoe1But as we were talking over coffee, a realization hit both of us. That the AFF this year has proven to be a turning point for me–for us. I don’t know what the difference is exactly. It seems to have something to do with a feeling of viability. Me feeling like I am viable and finally claiming my spot somewhere in the part of movies they call “the industry”.

So when I sit down and write today, “professional screenwriter” doesn’t feel like a suit that I put on over the “real” me. It feels like the real me. And when I talk about myself to other people, I have that same experience.

The other day, I was at a surprise b-day party for a friend of mine. Everyone who interacted with me that day said that something was different. Something intangible…an air about me. In fact, another friend made a point of emailing me later, saying, “The other day I just really noticed a sense of you having arrived.”

Turning a corner. And for the first time in over a year, more excited than afraid to see what lies around it.

Take a breath. Take a step.

Dear anonymous commenter,

I do not who know you are because you didn’t identify yourself. What’s up with that? Just so you know, I deleted your comment for that very reason. No offense. One piece of advice, anonynous..? If you’re gonna try to get through to me..? Have the respect to go through the front door. Please..?

That said, thank you for your comment, because it gives me an opportunity to set the record straight on a couple of things. Gives me a chance to tell the real story.

Here goes.

My family and I–all four of us–have been handed bigger challenges and bigger changes in the past few years than most people get in a lifetime. We have, one and all, met these challenges and changes to the best of our abilities. And every day we’re growing. Every day we’re working to come together. Every day we’re living and loving and walking our paths.

I am proud of all of us…beyond, beyond imagining. My wife, my daughter, my son…they are amazing people. Their capacity to love, to accept, to be resilient, to thrive in the face of adversity that would bury another person. It blows me away.

Every day we’re healing. And we’re figuring stuff out. And we’re putting the pieces of our collective life together…well, together. And that takes time. And effort. And it’s rarely pretty. And, by the way, the people who really know us and really love us..? They know this, and they are bursting with pride on our collective behalf.

And they support us. Which, I have to say, looks nothing like your rather abrasive comment. Ikes.

Put yourself in my shoes, anonymous. How would you like it if your life was public domain like mine has been? How would you like it if one day, through no fault of your own, through nothing you’ve done wrong, you completely lost control of it, and the only way you could keep anything together was through the charity of others? How would you like it if, though you sincerly appreciated everyone and everything, all you wanted was your life-your life, not anyone else’s–back. And how would you like it if, though everyone said they understood your need to get your life back, your every move was, nonetheless, under constant scrutiny? Well, it’s okay if he puts his life together, so long as he does this, this, and this…but not that, that, and that. Why doesn’t he listen to us? Certainly, we know what’s best for him.

I’m sure you’d hate it. I know I have, but for awhile I accepted it as coming with the territory–the path I was called to walk.

But there comes a time, wouldn’t you agree, when everyone–me included–deserves to strike out on a path of our own design?

My family…how we move forward together… How we walk, how we run, how we stumble, how we pick ourselves up again, is none of your damned business. It’s no one’s business, in fact, other than ours. And if I choose to share it–or parts of it–with you or anyone, that’s my call. Not yours. Or anyone’s.

Did you stop to think that, perhaps, stories about my daughter’s graduating and going off to college–though I am proud of her to the absolute extreme–are simply too pregnant with emotion for me to adequately comment? Or similar stories about my son? Did you think, perhaps, that I don’t share every aspect of my life because I am still processing it, and I have a complete right to do that? To talk about it at a time of my own choosing? When I am ready to do so?

Because this is my blog. This is my life. Not yours.

There are tons of stories–about my wife, my son, my daughter, my dogs & cats, my friends–that I could share, but I don’t. Sometimes because I am lazy. Sometime because I don’t have time. Sometimes because they are personal. Sometimes because they are special..they’re my stories, and I wanna keep them to myself. And that, too, is my call.

And, by the way, what’s wrong with talking about my wife, whom I love ferociously, till I’m freakin’ blue in the face, if that’s what I wanna do? It took me 40 years to find her. I’m a little excited. Wouldn’t you be, too? Moreover, in a world where half of first marriages and up to 70% of second marriages end in divorce, don’t you think it’s a good thing for me and our kids that I spend all the time, energy, and effort toward it I can? Makes sense to me.

Judge me if you will. That’s up to you. If I am about to stumble, feel free to point out the pitfall. I really appreciate it when people do that for me, as I know they appreciate it when I do it for them. But this anonymous thing..? As an old boss of mine used to say, “That don’t feed the bulldog.”

At least I have the courage to live and love, to fall and rise, out loud and in the open, and I make no apologies for that. Ever. Because I am all about living the ordinary life in the unordinary way.

It is, I firmly believe, the only way to fly.

Strange Butt True (vol. I)

Here’s an odd little ditty.

Robbye and I were riding in the car someplace the other day. I can’t remember what we were talking about, but somehow this nugget wriggled its way out of memory. I turned to her and said, “I’ll give you three guesses, and the first two don’t count.”

So… What?

Exactly.

Except…

All of a sudden I had this epiphany. All of a sudden I got it.

So, yeah…I know. I feel like an idiot.

I have lived with this statement for as long as I can remember. It’s one of my mom’s little gems–one of her greatest hits. She says it all the time. I’ve certainly caught the gist of it–at least the spirit in which the statement is evoked: the answer is so apparent, you only need one guess to get it. But the logic behind it has always eluded me.

Because that’s not what the statement is really saying. When you take the statement at face value, it seems to be saying that if I give you three guesses, and the first two don’t count, that means you ostensibly have an infinite number of guesses. Right? On the surface, it’s pretty much an invitation to keep guessing until you land on the correct answer. That’s cool, huh?

I mean, it’s not like I’ve spent the last 40 years pouring over the thing, but… Alright, I admit it. I have spent my fair share of time puzzling through it.

It’s like a sliver imbedded under the skin. Or better…recently, I read an article about this 59-year-old German lady who had a pencil removed from her her head. Apparently, she’d fallen on the thing 55 years earlier, when she was four. It went through her skin and right into her brain. She didn’t die, but she did have chronic nosebleeds and headaches all of her life because medical science wasn’t at a point where doctors could safely extract it.

The “three guesses” thing is like that. Lodged in my brain. A lot of headaches. No way to excise it.

And I feel stupid for not getting it all these years. For not figuring out its painfully simplistic logical framework.

I mean, what’s that all about?

One reason I may have stuggled with it is because the logic is inherently flawed. It breaks down and renders the statement utterly useless.

The machinery behind the statement–the inherent assumption–is, in effect, saying that I am attempting to provide you the correct guess, based on a question you’ve posed to me. Presumably, if my first two guesses “don’t count”, that means you leave me infinite leeway to arrive at the correct answer someday without restriction. In this case, presumably on the assumed third guess. You’ll wait there patiently with me, for the rest of eternity, if necessary, until I say the right thing. Stumble all you want, pal. No problem. We’re doin’ just fine. You take all the time you need. You’ll get it one of these tries. The old “put an infinite number of monkeys in a room with typewriters” routine.

And yet, I make a guess, and it’s discounted. I make another guess, and that one’s discounted. I continue making guesses, and they are continually cast aside. Unaccounted for. No tick mark. Nada.

It turns out I never reach my third (and final) guess. If each answer, i.e., guess, that leaves my lips, doesn’t count, I’m snared in some sort of feedback loop. It goes on forever. I’m always stuck at the beginning. I never make it to square two, much less square three.

Because what if I get the right answer the first time around? The statement doesn’t acount for that. If I nail the thing right outta the shoot? Forget it. That guess didn’t count. I can, in fact, say the same thing again, be bang on with the right answer. Nope. Doesn’t count. What about a third time? Umm…you don’t seem to get it. This isn’t the “third time”. Those other two guesses (What other two guesses?) didn’t count. This is still your first guess. And by the way..? It won’t count either.

Here’s the deal: it never counts. You can have the right answer at the get-go, and it makes no difference whatsoever. Because your answer never goes on record. You’re left screaming at the wall.

Go back to Philosophy 101. The statement isn’t just illogical, it’s non-logic.

Fuck. Maybe that’s why I’ve wrestled with it all these years.

It’s a built-in Catch-22. But it’s more insidious than that. It masquarades as a pleasant invitation to take all the time you need to get it right. The pressure’s off. No worries. Except for one small snag. You accept the invitation, all the while thinking, this is great! And then…

BAM! You’re knocked to the ground by a sucker punch of Sisyphusian propoortions. And to add insult to injury, you’re sucked in FOREVER! You can never pass the test! You can never win.

You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.

Yup… That’s what it feels like. Warm smell of colitas rising up in the air, indeed.

Crap.

No wonder I couldn’t make heads or tails of the thing. It’s a metaphor for my life growing up.

What does that mean?

I’ll give you three guesses, and the first two don’t count.