Words and Words and Words and Words and Words and Words and Words and Words

You ever find yourself in the middle of too many things at once? I’m there. I’m right there. Right in the middle of a hurricane.

I’m reading (actually reading with my eyeballs) 3 or 4 books at the moment. I’m listening (with my earballs) to another 4 or 5. When none of those hold my interest in the moment, I’m scouring the podcast realm for distraction or I’m watching Baskets and wandering if Louis CK will just be a behind the scenes guy from now on, or if his career is actually over, or…

And this is the rub. I’m enjoying the hell out of all of these random avenues of thought, but I’m also letting them lead me astray. I’m getting further and further away from finishing all of these dozen or so stories that I’ve started and stopped and started and stopped again. It’s a shame, too, because as I go back and read some of the stuff I’ve written, I’m thinking, “Damn, I’d love to see where that goes!” but then I’m off to something else.

I may have an attention deficit disorder.

The more I read, the more the ideas come a’flowin. The more ideas I have, the more my attention seems to split and converge in strange new ways. The ideas I thought were so fantastic suddenly seem like they’re missing something, and if I can just read or listen to or watch or speak to just one more book or podcast or tv show or person, then I’ll find that missing puzzle piece that lets everything fall right into place.

It’s why I like writing songs. Why I let writing songs distract me so thoroughly from everything else. It’s a direct line to one specific thought or feeling I’m having. It’s a moment. A flash of love or pain or discontent or hunger and desire. It’s 3-5 minutes of “LALALALALA!” and then it’s over. I write a bunch of songs. I sing them a dozen times, just enough to record them, and then I never look at them again. The moment’s over. If I want to relive that moment, I have to spend a couple of hours relearning how to play it all over again. Maybe in 20 years or so, I’ll have them all memorized and I’ll put on a little concert in the middle of a busy street. Maybe that’s my retirement plan.

Whatcha Reading?

I just finished a couple of Robert Greene books: The Art of Seduction and The 48 Laws of Power. I’m still reading Catcher in the Rye, of course. Yesterday, I flew through John Eldredge’s EPIC because I’m getting ready to fly off to Montana, and it’s required reading. I’m skimming through a book by a psychic PhD lady from New York who’s teaching me all about Personal Resonance (I forget the name of the book, but look up that personal resonance thing if you’re curious, and you should find it). I’m reading The Obstacle Is The Way, a how-to guide on living stoically. I’ve got Dale Carnegie’s updated-for-the-information-age How to Win Friends all cued up for tonight’s listening pleasure, and if that doesn’t cream my twinkie, then I’ll be downloading The Road to Jonestown or The Will to Power, all of which I’ll probably listen to at 2x speed while I work so that my brain doesn’t have a chance to rest (I get sleepy when I start daydreaming).

And what is all of this leading to? Ya know, I don’t know. I’m probably going to start working on Echo again. I might tear apart On Fire and shrink it back down to the 30 or so pages it was before I convinced myself that it deserved to be longer. I have another couple that I haven’t posted excerpts from that deserve some love, but again, I’m thinking I’ll probably shorten them up. I want to see my work completed, damn it, so I think I’m going to take a step back from novelizing my dreams and flights of fancy in favor of capsulizing the core ideas. I can always go back and add to them later, but I think having the sense of completion, one after another after another… I think it’ll feed this monkey on my back really well.

I should find a writing partner. What are you doing for the next ten years or so?


Ackley vs Stradlater

Turns out, I’m taking notes on this book the way that I take notes on anything. I got swept away with the grand idea, and then it fizzled, and now I’m trudging. Now I’m slogging. Now I’m shuffling my feet down this hallway that’s a lot damn longer than I thought it was.


I’m not gonna go all 2000 words for every 15 of Salinger. For one thing, hardly anybody really wants to read that shit. For another, I just don’t have time, my friends. I have so much stuff to do. I have lists and post-its and an app that keeps dinging to tell me I’m supposed to have been doing something for the last 15 minutes, only now it’s time to do something else, and there’s no time to play catch up. You just gotta move one.

You just gotta.

Chapter three… I’m a fan of how Holden hates Ackley. I like Holden’s cap. I like how he says “you either freeze to death or die from the heat.” It’s something like that. You’re either left to feel too alone, or you’re smothered by people you’d rather not talk to.

Only… Holden secretly enjoys plenty of things he pretends are just the worst. He doesn’t like movies, but he loves acting them out (that’s in Chapter 4). He hates Ackley in chapter 3, but in chapter 4, as soon as Stradlater mentions Jane, Holden starts exhibiting all the same annoying characteristics he was just complaining about a few minutes prior.

And Jane… Oh boy, does this kid have it bad for Jane. I mean, if you’ve read the book, you know this already, but reading it through again… Absolutely fucking smitten he is with the very idea of her. But he doesn’t want to talk to her. He’s too nervous or… He says he isn’t in the mood. Mhm. Been there, pal. And now he’s all glad to see Ackley. He’s glad to have a distraction, as annoying as it is.

None too much depth in my analysis here. I could mention something about Stradlater stretching out Holden’s jacket. I could talk about someone being so put together while also being a secret snob. I could talk about the irony of a flunkee being conscripted to write a descriptive essay, but I think I’ll let it stew a bit. That damn app of mine says I’m supposed to be doing something I must have thought was a good idea a few days ago, only now I’m sort of annoyed at past me for having the audacity to try to tell me what to do.

No wonder I’m singing

She called me at work. It was 1am and she had to work the next morning, get up and get her son moving, get to school in time to grade the last of the final essays. She woke up from a happy dream she couldn’t remember and thought, “Hey, I’ll call Justin.” And she was just in time.

We were on the phone for less than five minutes when a cardinal flew by, swooping in to within an arm’s reach. I called it a sparrow as I reported it to her because I couldn’t think of the name, but it doesn’t matter. Cardinal, sparrow, whatever it was, zooming by at breakneck speed in the middle of a balmy / breezy night seemed odd. It flew past once, twice more before coming to settle on a branch about 20 paces away.

It isn’t something that happens every day.

I looked it up, because that’s what I do. Something happens, something odd with a dreamlike quality, and I start thinking about what it could mean. Especially now, talking with her as I do, how we’re falling into something that feels like a story someone wrote a thousand years ago. I look up “cardinal omen” and discover it to be an ancient messenger of Spirit. Strength and stability. Cardinals live out their days in their one territory, no matter the weather. They team up to raise their young. They show you the way home.

And, of course, it had me thinking about other birds and other portents floating about on the wind, and I realized that this very same day, as I stepped out onto my porch upon waking, there were two finches fluttering their wings in an attempt to flee the screened in area before I could settle. One flew out the way they came in (I leave the door open for Dagny the dog), but the other seemed convinced that flying through the screen was its only escape. Lucky there are two doors to my porch, and as soon as I propped open the second, my little avian pal found its way to freedom, and I went about my day thinking nothing of it.

Until that cardinal attempted its dive bombing, anyway.

Finches, as it turns out, are a sure sign of high energy and ebullient times to come! Of course, this information was gleaned from a superstitious source, but I’m feeling awfully superstitious lately, and the signs all point toward the good. Who am I to deny myself the pleasure of such a beautiful daydream?

There is something in the air both literally and figuratively for yours truly, my friends, and I’m excited to see what comes around the corner. I hope your day is going well. Keep an eye out for the unusual happenings.

PS- I looked up sparrows while I was at it. I couldn’t resist. How interesting that I would mistake my cardinal for the lustiest bird around…