So…I’m gently easing myself back into the blog thing. I think taking it slowly has been to everyone’s benefit, as I would have likely been a terrific bore these last couple of weeks and my focus here has always been to lift and stimulate others with similar interests. As it was, I was making people cry, and shoot, who needs that in the dead of winter, eh?
But for all of you who have shared your comforting thoughts here and elsewhere, I really can’t thank you enough. I saw my last entry as an explanation of sorts, and it turned out to be more of a eulogy. I probably had it in mind all along, and I’m glad it turned out like it did. If it did happen accidentally, at least in part, it turned out to be well worth it. There was an outpouring of support that propped me up long enough to take nourishment and an expression of deep appreciation is definitely in order.
In the downtime, I worked very hard on two things: one, querying sWitch, from which I received a request for a full manuscript (hurrah!), and two, mastering the art of distraction. Now, before you shrug that off as the collective habits of unproductive losers, hear me out. This won’t take long for reasons that will soon become very apparent.
What You’ll Need:
A television – any will do unless it has rabbit ears. Access to hundreds of cable channels is preferred, but if you’re on a basic tier, no worries. This part will only be cut shorter, with time lost to be made up later during other activities.
A computer – any variety, as long as you have Internet access. I suppose serious gamers need not worry about that, but you’re the exception here and I don’t play games anymore. Bonus points if you have a) a wireless router, b) a laptop, c) a 17 inch screen or bigger.
Speakers – these can be hooked up to your computer or to a nearby stereo, but having access to music through your desktop is preferable because it decreases the need for you to break stride. More on that in a moment.
Alcohol – teetotalers, skip this section and move on. The rest of you, listen up. Sure, you could substitute booze for another vice, but there’s nothing like a steady introduction of your favorite spirit(s) to move the night along. Those who have told their spouses or significant others that they’ll be home in an hour and end up being dumped out of a car the next morning know what the fuck I’m talking about.
Fancy lights – these are not essential, but if you have lots of cool glowing things around you, or at least a glut of gorgeously ridiculous artwork, they can come in handy not only to set the mood, but when you need something to ogle for a few.
Comfy clothes – again, another element that I wouldn’t qualify as critical, but if you don’t want to stand out as a rookie, a pair of broken-in sweats and a snug skully keeps you from needing to–ahem–adjust or be mindful of your appearance or posture. The point is to resemble a happy human slug by the night’s end, so we don’t need to be fretting over wrinkling anything but our lazy derrieres.
Okay, once all these elements are in place, lock the door, put the ringer on vibrate or turn it off entirely, and do as follows:
1) Turn on the TV. Pick something that you kind of want to watch, but preferably something that updates frequently like sports, an old movie that you’ve seen a bunch of times that you can sample from, or even a cable news network that will keep you informed through a bottom line. The point is to check on it when you need a stretch, not let it play you. You’re in control here, and for fuck’s sake nothing with subtitles.
2) Start the tunes. Assuming most of us listen through our computers, pick shuffle or a playlist that will keep the vibe alive for at least 45 minutes. Lately, because I’ve needed an extra lift, I’ve been going to the well for my favorite songs from English Beat and General Public. Which is all of them. That’s good, because the playlist will take a while and I don’t have to think about it again for a good long stretch of unadulterated, magnificent distracting.
3) Get your drink on. I like to crack open a beer (Guinness or Miller Lite–the libation equivalent of Rich Man, Poor Man) and prepare a shot. I’ve been on a tequila kick lately for it’s smooth, grinny buzz, but I’ll do a nice whiskey or vodka if changing it up sounds like fun. See, that’s the key: changing it up. It’s all about constant variety in stimulation, and just like our favorite physical act–that’s right, dancing–doing the same thing ad nauseam will put your ass back into your head and we do NOT want that. Remember: reality is the enemy.
4) Once you’ve got your shot ready, grab it and your drink and decide what it is you think could use a toast. I have several options: Arsenal Football Club (since this is mostly a Friday routine, they usually play the following day), my girlfriend (we’ve been known to do this via phone, which is an excellent way to keep in touch), my dearly departed Lucy which necessitates a visit to her mini-shrine in the back room, and any combination of friends, family, ideology, or, obviously, your own fine self.
5) Do the shot. Chase it. Good pupil.
6) Return to “home base”, which is at the computer but near enough to a TV where you can either look up and see it or a minimum of movement can put it’s wisdom at your disposal. That’s why you get bonus points for being wireless and portable, cause it’s easier to move around to make this so. Once you’re settled, again, it’s all about mixing it up.
Lately, I’ve been hitting writers forums and sharing pointers and opinions. Sometimes I go to my football blog and say obnoxious things that are hilarious to me at the time, and embarrassingly excellent to read back later. And like most people, I am frequently called to Ye Olde Book of Fayce for an update or to make fun of something someone just said. To make this easier, my 17 inch screen lets me have several windows/applications open at once, facilitating distracting maneuvers. Whatever you do, and I can’t stress this enough, keep the act moving and do not force yourself to be “responsible”. Serious is for another time, so wrap serious in a serious blanket and deposit it into the serious drawer. This is about following your muse/buzz/whims, not solving any of life’s great mysteries. That’s what college was for. We know better, now.
But that’s not to say it must be all play. Many times I’ll get some great ideas for my stories and jot them down. But notice I said “jot”. Do not confuse this with “draft”, or “compose”. You cannot take a long time to “jot”. By definition, to jot means to get the fuck out with it and then get the fuck on with it. And by “it” I mean mastering hardcore distraction. So put the pen down, Skankespeare, and get another shot. And make it quick before you miss that part in Sixteen Candles where Anthony Michael Hall is found trapped under the coffee table after everyone has left the party.
At any time in the above steps, please feel free to improvise. That’s an important part of escaping: escaping the escaping. Let your soul dictate where you go next. And don’t apply too many restrictions. Okay, streaking around the block may sound like a great idea but would your 90 year-old neighbor really appreciate it? To be safe, keep it inside. That’s why I had you lock the door. It wasn’t just so no one would come in unannounced to catch you bare-ass naked in the downward facing dog position.
At some point, you’ll forget everything. In fact, “you” will disappear entirely if you do it right. You’ll transform into a conduit of positivity and groovy sensation. Just be careful not to overdo it. You don’t want to end up a conduit of anything else. Will you fuck it up? Probably. But don’t give up. The mastering of hardcore distraction takes practice, but with a few tweaks here and there depending on your personal constitution, you’ll get it. And you won’t miss a thing but a chicken wing and an onion ring (this will make sense when you’re doing it right, so jot it down).
Oh, one last point: be sure to go to bed with a glass of water and a couple of aspirin. You may not need either, but why take the chance? Okay, that’s all for now. I need to do something else.
And hey…you’re all stars, those of you who came when I called. Bright, beautiful stars.
Fantastic. And here I thought it all came so naturally to you. I have heeded the call of distraction and shall follow your instructions to the letter – just as soon as I get home. The boss hates the staff doing shots in the office, sadly.
No, no…it’s a discipline of the highest order. Some of us are better at it than others, and possibly have better toys (I left out long periods of guitar playing), but for the most part it requires dedicated application and enthusiasm.
I’ll report later.
This post made me smile. I escape in a different way. I have three acres that need constant attention all year round. Leaves start in October and don’t stop until mid-December. This winter, with all the wind, it’s been branches and twigs (my branches are more like trees; they fall like spears). In the summer it’s pachysandra…I have an acre of it already and just keep planting more because it’s the only thing the deer won’t eat and you don’t have to mow it every week. It’s all mindless and helps me disappear.
But your way of escaping sounds like a lot more fun 🙂
Well, your method is probably a lot healthier. 🙂
Unless there are, like, wild animals in that pachysandra. It sounds pretty Jurassic.
Snakes and mice and other creatures. But mostly snakes, and I like them 🙂
Me too! I had a few as pets, actually. All caught in the wild. A beautiful eastern hognose, a gardener snake, and this dwarf albino boa type thing I caught one day looking for worms. Swear to gods. It had little red eyes and would squeeze my finger. Have no idea where he got to. 😀
In fact, where I work we get snakes coming in all the time and I have to fish them out. Most are common black snakes about three feet long. They’re probably the most gentle snakes around here.
I remember the black snakes in Salem County. On a hot summer night the big ones would be in the middle of the back roads, crossing between the farms. You had to dodge them like you dodge deer where I live now.