Pad Thai Whiskey Farts in a Bathtub Full of Ice (Notes from Readers)

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When I redesigned this site earlier this year, I removed the subscribe tab at the top of the page in favor of direct links and a pop-up. The overall redesign is temporary — I’d like to put a bit more work into a sharper look, eventually — but recently I discovered that something had been lost in making this particular change.

On the old list sign-up, which you can still access here, there was an option to add a note, along with your contact info. The prompt was/is to share your favorite moment from the day of the signup.

In the madness of this last year, I had forgotten about that prompt. This week, though, I rediscovered some of your answers. I thought I would anonymously share a few of my favorites.

These are real answers from real readers.

  • “The moment I realized there was leftover Pad Thai in the fridge.” Legit.
  • “When I learned Michael had an email list.” Teacher’s pet. A+ for you.
  • “Drew a cool robot in the margin of my notes during a morning meaning.” Priorities!
  • “Waking up in a bathtub of ice missing a kidney.” Would not be my favorite moment.
  • “Reading your blog and agreeing with it.” New teacher’s pet. A+ for you, too.
  • “Whiskey neat and a beer back.” Tears of pride from nostalgic Young Michael.
  • “Talking to you on Twitter.” Daww.
  • “Early morning wind.” Early contender for first prize.
  • The Videoblogs.” You sweet.
  • “My black dog covered in white snowflakes.” That does sound nice!
  • (Several nice notes about my talk with Diane Bell on the podcast). Diane is awesome.
  • “Signing up for your email list. It will warm my heart for years to come.” You are warming my pants.
  • “Reheating my leftover black beans for breakfast.” I’m hungry.
  • “Eating cereal.” Okay, now I have to go eat breakfast.

What’s your favorite moment from the day so far? Or what was your favorite moment from yesterday? Why not sign up and let me know? Once a large enough new crop comes in, maybe I’ll share more notes from the readers/listeners.

Subscribers to my list received The Videoblogs for free. Did you know that?

It’s because they’re special. They eat hot and cold breakfasts and love Pad Thai and drink whiskey and fart and draw robots and get themselves involved in shady dealings that result in midnight kidney theft. They’re also sweet and intelligent and very good looking.

So, basically, you already belong. Have a great day!

11903868_10102022863132862_3363202786901023781_n-1My name is Michael. I am a Writer and Filmmaker of hopeful stories for complex people. Lately, I have been sharing some reflections and stories every morning. Once per month, I send a special note to those on my email list. They get exclusive stories and advanced (sometimes free) access to my work. You can join this exclusive group here. Thanks for reading.

Thoughts on Body Heat and Machine Dependency

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Every year, when the fall chill sets in but it’s not yet cold enough for the heat to turn on, we humans in this apartment are swarmed by The Pets. I know they are mostly using us for body heat, but it’s hard not to conflate the reaction with love.

The sharing of body heat is intimate, regardless.

Yesterday, I remarked to my wife that I have come to believe that her love for me increases by about 20% in the fall. She stand, sits closer to me, holds me a little longer when we embrace.

We’re all awakened into a sort of greater, more primal intimacy, when the weather turns — aren’t we? There’s a shift in body language, an uptick, a sharpening of the stride now that the heat of summer has passed. There’s a vitality to it.

In similar fashion, it has occurred to me over time — that I have initiated production of every one of my films in the fall. Every last one of them.

Something thrives in me, at this time of the year. I’m sure it also coincides with how life and business at large tends to pick up, in the months leading up to the holidays and to year-end financial reporting deadlines — but for the sake of beauty let’s stick to a discussion of nature for the moment.

I got a new phone yesterday. The process took two and a half hours. Granted, I switched carriers. Still, it was a long time. Short of actual labor, or watching a movie — I don’t do anything for over two hours straight. Maybe that’s sad, but I think it also might be typical.

With this in mind, at one point during the process, while in conversation with the sales associate and my wife, I only semi-jokingly wondered aloud whether, at this point, we were working for the machines — versus the other way around.

I know I struggle with device-addiction. It’s a real issue, and one exacerbated by big businesses constantly battling for the newest most precious commodity after our labor — as much of our divided attention that they can win, and leverage to their interests.

That’s not entirely a judgement. The battling is necessary, to a point.

But these wars are often bloodless, not in terms of a lack of victimhood (there are certainly victims), but rather the exact primal terms that my dog and cat, and some ancient part of you and me, instinctually turn to and understand.

I worry about this erosion of warmth. This overcrowding of the human by the machine. Science fiction has given us plenty of examples of the singularity apocalypse. They’re big and dramatic, and effective for all their melodrama and loudness.

But the actuality of a loss of humanity is often much less glamorous, slower and more sad. This is what we have to fear, I think. It helps me to remember why I tether myself to my phone — to help keep me productive, moving forward in my vision, and entertained (in moderation) in the meantime.

It also helps to take a moment to allow my animals to crawl over me, despite the fact that the laptop is open and ready. To linger in my wife’s arms as we express love and combat the incremental chill of life — together.

 

11903868_10102022863132862_3363202786901023781_n-1My name is Michael. I am a Writer and Filmmaker of hopeful stories for complex people. Lately, I have been sharing some reflections and stories every morning. Once per month, I send a special note to those on my email list. They get exclusive stories and advanced (sometimes free) access to my work. You can join this exclusive group here. Thanks for reading.

Why It’s Essential To MOVE YOUR DAMN BUS!

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I’m getting a late start this morning, because I couldn’t keep my dog off my lap long enough to replace her with my computer. This task literally took five minutes. I told her to get down. She would get down. Then she would jump back up.

The truth is, though, I cherish my morning pup time. I might have let her hang out for some snuggles, first. That’s between us.

I can’t tell you how different it feels to wake up in the morning knowing that there’s an unreasonably happy furry thing waiting for you to roll out of bed. My wife could probably tell you. Except I don’t usually wake up that happy.

 

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So, tomorrow is the last day of #30DaysBlogging. A list of earlier posts is copied below.

It’s been fun. To be honest, it’s also been a bit difficult. I started strong. There were some other peaks, whether of energy or verve, but I’ve been a bit tired. I want to be careful of that.

I don’t have anything explicit to reflect upon this morning (clearly). It’s cold, which is fine. That’s why the dog is on top of me. I slept last night. There are an awful lot of dirty dishes in the sink, spilling over onto the kitchen counter. A few minutes ago, I fantasized about tossing a few grenades in there — solving the problem for good.

I still might do that. Except it would cut me off from the fridge, and my Diet Cream Soda. I’ll need that later.

Right now, there’s a traffic jam outside my window. People are’t happy about it. I think a bus is waiting for a kid. The reason for this guess — a woman has been leaning on her horn and shouting: “MOVE YOUR DAMN BUS! MOVE YOUR DAMN BUS! MOOOVE YOUR DAMN BUS.”

I don’t know, lady. Sometimes there is a bus. You’re only making it worse for everyone else.

But maybe she’s late for work. Or maybe she’s an angel in disguise, playing chess against a sly demon opponent, and they’re both using the vehicles of Brooklyn as pieces in their cosmic game. Maybe her opponent has been taking a long time. Has his finger on that bus. Keeps rolling it back and forth, in the same spot.

I don’t know. My morning tea is just starting to hit me. I don’t even know why you’re still here. Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice, but you can go. We’re just fooling around this morning.

I wish I had thought to record that woman. I could have set her as the tone for reminders in my phone: “MOVE YOUR DAMN BUS!”

Indeed.

Tomorrow is Friday. MOVE YOUR DAMN BUS, WORKWEEK.

This is part twenty-nine of a thirty day trial, during which I am writing and publishing a post every day. No refunds. Comments welcome and encouraged!

Day 01: Struggles and Wonders and Dying in  Chair

Day 02: Fear, Panic, Identity and Anti-Focus

Day 03: Purple Sky of Towering Clouds Over a Far-off City

Day 04: Circle Up and Laugh

Day 05: On The Future of Labor

Day 06: Appreciating Difficulty, Harnessing its Momentum

Day 07: The Word for World is Earth

Day 08: It’s About The Dreaming, Not The Dream

Day 09: Moments of Presence: CWC Interview (Writer Laura Goode)

Day 10: Simmering Little Wrath of The Annoyed Man

Day 11: Tragedy, Remembrance and Wonder

Day 12: A New Light Borrowed or Discovered

Day 13: Productivity Tips for Anyone Prone to Overwhelm (Like Me)

Day 14: Legitimately Va-goo

Day 15: Sex-Bleating and Cat Vomit

Day 16: The Waiting Place

Day 17: 6 Ways to Bring Balance to the (Artistic) Force

Day 18: How to Decide What to Make Next

Day 19: Take Faith for Yourself, Give Them Skepticism

Day 20: All I Need Is My Lamp and My Dog!

Day 21: Why I’m Writing and Publishing, First Thing Every Morning

Day 22: The Routine Dance: Rewards and Perils

Day 23: How to Be Better: Perspective and Self-Compassion

Day 24: Still The Finger, Silence The Vlog

Day 25: A Light Chill Wind in Early Fall

Day 26: The Case for An Open Heart

Day 27: How Can I Help? CWC Interview (Composer/Producer Simon Taufique)

Day 28: The Dangers of “The Project Wheel”

The Arc of 2015: In Good Time

The following was written a few weeks ago, while I was away for some R&R in the woods. That was the only way this year’s update was going to happen.

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Winter 2015: Just add snow. Also, I’m destined to become a mountain man.

The Setting: New England Winter

I’m sitting, propped up by pillows and legs outstretched, on an old firm couch in a guest house above a garage on a farm in rural Connecticut.

The temperature outside is at freezing point, but it’s warm inside. I woke up just in time to watch the sun finish rising out the three large windows that face the forest that surrounds the properties.

New England winters mean something to me. I grew up with them. Despite the bitter cold and the ice and the snow typical of the season in the region — I usually enjoyed them. Especially  I enjoyed them when sleeping somewhere surrounded by forest.

I’m here with my wife, who’s out running right now. I already made myself breakfast and ate it. I’m on my second cup of tea. This weekend is a necessary time-out, and not the only one I have taken this year.

This house is small but perfectly designed and artfully furnished. The couch I am on runs alongside a set of window perpendicular to those through which I watched the sun rise. Now the sun shines upon the large table where we ate dinner last night.

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I have to say, I aced the cook on this rib-eye.

A pair of blue jays have been fluttering around the giant, stately bushes outside. I can see the main house from here. It’s large and also stately but in an un-obsequious way. The owners seem kind. We’re here, probably, for a few more days.

A fly is buzzing around and I’m pretending not to care. That sort of thing is easier to do here.

I had planned, in view of this setting and circumstance, to continue with the new fiction piece I have been working on. It’s a story that I have been wanting to explore for a long time, but hadn’t up until recently been able to start. Now it’s started. Not only that, I am happy to be engaged with it. I can see, now, why I left it in its prior uninitiated state for years. The time wasn’t right.

No, that’s wrong. It would be more accurate to say that the time hadn’t arrived yet.

Musings on Time

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This book rattled my brain. I like it when that happens.

I have been thinking about time, recently. This is partially a result at having read Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Dispossessed, and also Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman: Overture. Both books, in their ways, jab at popular notions of time.

I worry about time a lot. I used to worry about it a lot more. I would like to worry about it even less.

A good portion of the lessening can probably be attributed to aging. What “they” say, as far as it concerns me personally, at least, appears true. I worry less now than I did in my twenties.

I can see and feel my body aging, now. This has been both a new cause of a concern and, at the same time, an clear indication of my powerlessness against time.

Contrastingly, in career terms, I have lately begun to accept that, at thirty-one, I am mostly still considered young. There are still days when I feel like I should be “further along” by now, or that I “should have” accomplished “x” or “y” — but I try to respond to such ideas with self-compassion and a plea for personal patience.

When I still felt young, which was still going on as recently as three or four years ago, I was, as I have said, much more obsessed with time.

I never felt able to keep up. I never believed I was going to get to where I wanted — had –- to go.

That’s changed. It’s changed for a few reasons.

Withdrawing from Time’s Pull

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This journal has been a great “next best thing” sub-in for morning pages.

First, while it’s still a battle I lose for hours and days and sometimes weeks at a time, I committed some time ago to working towards presence.

Nearly every day, I write this sentence out as an affirmation in my Five Minute Journal:

I am present, mindful, grateful and kind.

Also every day, I second-guess myself, wondering whether it’s “right” to affirm both presence and mindfulness. It could be argued that they’re the same thing. But I still do it, every time. And, today, I think I know why.

My affirmation of presence is a reminder. That, whether I believe it or not, remember it or not –- I am here. This is a fact I have had difficulty believing and facing in the past, despite its more than obvious truth. We are all, always, here, until we’re not.

But do we always feel that way? Do we acknowledge it? I don’t, not always, or often enough.

Sometimes, honestly, it hurts to be here. My own mind, the internet, social media, TV or films or books — even my work — they offer a welcome reprieve from the difficulty of acknowledging the pain that sometimes seizes my heart when I consider the sheer power and responsibility of being here.

And I don’t mean to suggest there’s not joy in that knowledge, too. But, for some (me), the process of courageously pursuing that joy can become a loaded one with its own potential to overwhelm.

Still, presence is truth. As such, it’s impervious to regret. That makes it work fighting for, to me.

Mindfulness, on the other hand, is the path by which I seek and access truth. It’s how I come back to the present, and to myself, when I’m obsessing over the past or worrying about the future.

Worrying about the past and the future is a normal, natural thing. Arguably, these anxieties even hold some utility, when indulged in a balanced way. Even when I’ve found myself worrying too much (and thus slipping from mindfulness) — I try not to judge myself. It’s part of our nature to “leave the planet” in spots.

It’s the coming back that really counts.

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The wife and I went for a hike. Found this. Felt good.

That’s why, I think, I started this post the way that I did. I was settling into life, in the moment.

This can be a delicate process, when writing, or creating. Creators face a difficult balancing act during each engaged act of genesis.

Creativity, unsurprisingly, is much like sex in this way. It’s about both being fully in and outside the moment, extending outside the body through the body.

Acknowledging Time’s Power

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The view from the exact spot wherein this was written. Cozy, right?

Now, obviously, we cannot be creating constantly, just as we cannot be constantly having sex. Reprieve from the realities of friction and fluid depletion, social order and sustained healthy living — these necessities preclude such behavior.

While time conceptually may be much less harsh and villainous than we often consider it to be, in cosmic terms it’s still one of only a few primal ruling elements of our lives.

However, also in cosmic terms (we’re keeping topics small today), time can be viewed simply. It proceeds and we ride its current, unable to do more than pretend at stopping or going (in relative terms) at spots along the way.

This is why, when caught up by concerns of time — I turn to gratitude.

Gratitude as a Perspective on Time

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Cannot begin to express how grateful I am for this little hairy genius.

Gratitude is about perspective — about taking a particular view of one slice of time, at one such stopping point or another, and appreciating it.

I am fortunate to be in this house, at this time, writing this –- to you. I know this. I appreciate it as a captured, treasured moment of grace, an example of the exact relationship I seek in this world that speaks to my needs and wants as a person.

Often, though, in the busyness of trying to do and be more, all the time and in the midst of so many others doing and being their own things…I forget it all. I forget the moments of grace, I forget what I know to be true about time and life and the importance of remaining in the moment with my feet on the ground. I forget it all.

Being an artist, for many of us, is not a choice. Finding an audience, however, is a privilege. One that needs to be cultivated, earned, and sustained.

So, as 2015 gives way to 2016 — I say it again. I am not only grateful for the life I have been given and have built, but also for you. I am grateful for your time, support, and for the occasional commiserating moments we have shared and which I hope we’ll continue to share in the future.

Kindness as The Ultimate Expression of Time Best-Used

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We were able to shoot The Confession due to the kindness of our audience.

Kindness, to wrap up, represents the ideal state I wish to arrive in, on those rare, joyful occasions whereupon I am able to remove myself from time.

It’s the core appreciation of life, and of living, that feeds my beliefs. Probably, it fuels all the work that I do, that I have always viewed not as my own, but as something rooted in more primal, fundamental life-stuff than can be claimed as having originated in a single, struggling human.

Struggle As The Space Between Accomplishments

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I found a kitten this year. Here he is struggling to get away from Rebecca.

Struggle is the final key word, here.

Prior to writing this, I had been struggling to determine the appropriate lens through which to review the prior year.

Two years ago, on the first anniversary of this site, I remarked upon an arc of what I viewed as progress — observable inroads made against the injustices of the day. Last year, on its second anniversary, I celebrated a productive year of movement. Those posts have as much to do with my own natural evolutions through time, and through self-discovery, as they do with the conditions, histories, and developments of which my experiences are but a part.

Now, it’s three years later. The Videoblogs will be coming out (relatively) soon. It’s possible I’ll be compiling my first book of fiction as that happens. The podcast continues to grow. Time moves on and I try to ride its currents and appreciate its mystery, rather than pretend there’s a damn thing I can do to control where it takes me, when or how.

If you had said to me, three or four years ago, that this is where I would be, in this exact place in the woods, settled firmly in this moment, taking some time off with the woman I love in the midst of a years-long pattern of being in constant touch with all of you, who have supported my endeavors for years (via both your attention and your direct patronage), perhaps I would have been pleasantly surprised — but I also would have believed it.

This is because, as I am learning, time is much less measurable than it seems, or than at least I had thought.

It helps to set goals and mark progress, but change more often occurs, I am finding, via a day to day commitment to more courageously pursue those truths which compel us. The pursuit is the important thing. Everything else is at best a nice detour or a short break, but more often an unnecessary distraction.

Time is not containable. That is its beauty and our privilege.

Thank you for your continued readership, listenership and support. You are loved and appreciated. I wish you the best for each of the days that make up the new year.

602066_10100681300095942_1773576913_n (2)Subscribe to my list for exclusive access to posts like this one, and advanced (and free!) access to new (creative) content produced by yours truly. I send one email per month (sometimes less).