How the ending of The Good Place helped me deal with the loss of my father.
SPOILERS HEREIN for the first half of the second season of Hulu’s Runaways, but even bigger spoilers for the original comic it’s based on. Beware.
Holy shit, would ya lookit that – it’s 2019 all of a sudden. I have to say, I’m really not a tremendous fan of this whole “perceived perception of the passage of time gaining speed exponentially” thing that’s going on as I get older.
In which I apologize to, well, everybody... but maybe not for the reasons one might think.
I’d like to start by apologizing to everyone up front for the fact that I’ve been even more socially absent and inept than usual this year (which I know is saying rather a lot). I’ve had a lot of chaos going on in my head, noise that dates back in one form or another to when I was four years old. I’ve faced a lot of ideas and emotions that were new to me and have had to re-conceptualize events from my past and my identity as a whole.
One of the ways in which I’ve come to recognize that I am transgender is by seeing myself in other trans people. Sometimes it’s bits and pieces of stories that sound familiar, but other times I see accounts that, but for a few details, feel as if I could’ve written them.
In 1996, as part of a Feature Writing class I took to fill my journalism minor, I drove to Mobile, Alabama and interviewed a local legend named Eugene Walter. Eugene was one of the most fascinating personalities I’ve ever talked to – certainly he was the person who’d accomplished the most, or at least the most varied. The article he inspired helped me get an A in that class.
On Saturday afternoon, after taking the better part of four years to work up the courage for it, I finally shaved my head.
Ah, vacation! After a ridiculously hard month or so that featured a whole lot of sixty-plus hour work weeks interleaved with multiple familial tragedies, it’s time to take a week off from work to get my head back on straight so I can stop making ridiculous coding errors and find wherever it is my creative mojo disappeared off to.
I’ve never made any bones about the fact that I was (I guess I should say am) a big fan of 1980s hair metal. I’ve written before about my five favorite metal concerts; I wrote an entire post about Bon Jovi action figures and another about the utterly talentless and justifiably forgotten Britny Fox, of all things. I’m now on my third trip through Chuck Klosterman’s Fargo Rock City, a book in which he puts way more thought into the history and cultural meaning of eighties’ metal than any sane person should do.
About five years ago, flooding in the basement of our home in Rhode Island wiped out a significant portion of my comic book collection. I had to throw out thousands of dollars worth of soggy, ruined comics. I made the determination then that I needed to get rid of most of the comics I had left and just keep the ones that were special to me.
I recently sought out suggestions on subjects I could write about that I don’t normally, and my friend Kate suggested I should write more about tiny slice-of-life sorts of things — which I think is a fine idea, and one I shall try to implement — but also noted that I don’t much talk about my work. She’s right, and I find it funny that I don’t, given how much of my time is spent here and thinking about my job and my career. So Kate, thanks for the suggestion! Here, have a blog post…
What do I love about my work?
Honestly, I love the where I am more than the what I do right now. I’m feeling fairly seriously burnt out on the what — I’ve been doing essentially the same thing (though with increasing degrees of competence and difficulty) for the last decade, and I’d like to expand into something new. I have to fight though boredom (even when really busy) more often than I might like.
For the past year or so, I’ve been getting emails from various gaming sites telling me I’ve signed up for accounts with them. Funny, thinks I, I don’t recall signing up to play games on (for example) Cartoon Network’s site. Every few weeks, and sometimes more frequently, I get notification from some site with details about some account I didn’t sign up for using one of my many Gmail accounts. These sites are always gaming-related, and they almost always seem as if they’re geared toward boys between the ages of twelve and fifteen.
After a year-and-a-half at Harmonix, I finally had my first real tiff with a co-worker today — worse, one I actually like quite a bit. Well, even the fairly mild “tiff” may be too strong a word; basically, I unknowingly acted kind of like a schmuck, and my friend/co-worker took the “unknowingly” part of that situation away from me.
Kelsey had been upstairs in the bathroom by herself for quite awhile – probably fifteen minutes or so. It’s not unusual for her to spend that much time in the bathroom, and I wouldn’t have thought much about it if we’d been at home. But we were at her grandmother’s house, and I decided she’s been in there long enough.
I still like action figures. I admit it. Yes, dammit, I’m a 36-year-old man who still digs action figures. My favorite present I got for Christmas last year was the two-pack of Superman and Batman figures based on the artwork of Ed McGuinness – of all the Superman figures I’ve ever owned, and that’s a decently high number, this one’s by far the coolest.
I don’t get into discussing politics very much, especially in public forums like this site. Sure, I’ve occasionally posted a pro-Obama video or link, but I stay away from the details of exactly what it is I believe, or why I believe it, or why I support the issues or politicians I do.
OK, let me start this off by saying: Kelsey and I are both just fine.
A few nights ago, we TiVoed Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas for the girls. Not the old Chuck Jones animated version – which is, of course, awesome merely because of the direction of Mr. Jones himself – but the “live action” (and I use the term somewhat loosely) version from 2000 starring Jim Carrey.
One of my heroes inspires me by taking inspiration from another one of my heroes:
The evening was warm for late March, but we knew it wouldn’t last much longer; the weather was due to take a turn for the much worse that night. We sat outside on the patio on the plastic furniture we’d borrowed for our daughter’s birthday party, and we talked about the kids and my career and where we saw ourselves in five years, where we thought we’d be once we’d made it past the financial disaster we were facing thanks to the implosion of the real estate market. Both of us sat with our backs to the house, facing west and our large, empty backyard and the copse of trees and the large pond beyond. The muted oranges and reds of the sunset in the western sky bled into a purplish-gray bruise of thick cloud cover rolling in to the north. As we talked, the wind started to pick up and we felt that first sharp, sudden drop in temperature that signaled the leading edge of the storm.
Time now to play a fun little game I call “Going Through My Referrer Logs To See Which Search Engine Phrases Brought Users To My Site In The Last Week.” Honestly, though? I think I need to come up with a better name for the game than that. I like to feel that I’m doing a public service here, providing answers to those questions that Google seems to think I’m uniquely capable of answering. It’s a responsibility I take very seriously, and I’ll do my best to help soothe the mental anguish and sleepless nights these answerless questions must be causing to the questioners.
This weekend was Get The House Ready For Sale Weekend at Chez Holt, with lots of minor improvements to the house made to enhance its saleability and curb appeal. My father’s visiting from Florida this week just for this purpose, for helping us do all those little things we’ve never quite gotten around to doing during our two years in the house: repainting the trim on the front porch, re-screeing the front windows, replacing the rotting fascia boards on the shed, fixing the electrical outlets in the master bedroom. That kind of thing.
Last October, I wrote a simply fantastic article about the flooding in my basement and the damage to my comic book collection. If you haven’t read it or don’t remember it, you should go read that post before reading this one. It’s OK, I’ll wait.
Rolling Stone has just published a compelling, massive article on the alleged Ohio vote fraud in the 2004 Presidential election. This thing is really long (and extensively annotated), but it’s well worth reading if you’ve got the time. If the Republicans in Ohio (especially Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell, the Katherine Harris of 2004) and their supporters actually pulled even a quarter of the shenanigans detailed in this article, the implications are both staggering and maddening. If the allegations in this article are true — and a great many of them certainly seem at best plausible, at worst likely — John Kerry should be coming up on the end of the first half of his first term as President of the United States right now.
Brian sits down at his desk, turns toward me and looks me in the eye: “Holt,” he says. “I’ve got a bone to pick with you.”
My boy Timmy B has come to one of those conclusions that a great many of us who’ve tried to write any fiction have come to at one time or another: eventually, you’ve got to stop all of the pre-writing, get past all of that “planning” you think you’re doing, quit futzing around and dive into the real writing.
I’ve never been good at role-playing games. Scratch that — I’ve never had much interest in role-playing games. Wait, scratch that, too — I’ve had interest in role-playing games, but not so much with the role playing itself.
The rational part of my brain by far dwarves that part of my brain which is open to things-not-easily-explained. I’m far more Scully than Mulder: my first reaction to hearing stories about phenomena which fall outside of the realm of the basic laws of the universe as laid down in high-school science textbooks is to scoff dismissvely at whatever out-there bit of New Age hooey is under discussion. I reailze that this isn’t the most open-minded attitude I could have (I attribute said attitude to my apparently very sheltered upbringing), and I’m working on being more open to that which isn’t considered part of “normal” science, especially since so many of my friends — incredibly intelligent people I admire and respect quite a bit — believe so strongly in some of this stuff. If these folks believe in $x, I say to myself, then there’s got to be something to it.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how much of my writing I would consider “art” versus how much I would consider “craft.” How, I wonder to myself, do my percentages of inspiration versus perspiration play out? (And yes, these are the kinds of things I set my brain working on so that I don’t have to actually, y’know, write anything.)
So I’m 35 today. I have to say that so far, 35 doesn’t feel all that different from 34, but then again, it really doesn’t feel all that much different from 27.
My head, it is filled with cotton balls. Too many different thinkies battling brutally for supremacy in my brainspace. So in an effort to give the ol’ noggin some semblance of direction, I now present a slightly modified version of The Meme of Sevens, which I promised Michelle I’d do a couple of weeks back.
As I’ve been predicting since early in the negotiations, Disney and Pixar are nearing a deal to re-up their distribution deal, which was set to expire after the release of Cars next year. I can’t honestly see how anyone might have believed this deal wasn’t going to happen–both companies stood to lose way, way too much if they parted ways: too much money for Disney, too much caché for Pixar.
Though John Scalzi’s list of fifteen observations about his relationship to his writing features a number of points that had me nodding my head in recognition, one in particular stuck a bit of a familiar chord with me:
Seven years ago today, Terry and I were supposed to get our marriage license. Instead, we got married.
I was reading “Curious George Goes to the Hospital” to my older daughter last night, doing the thing I normally do when reading interminably long books to her–speaking the words while letting my mind wander off to something more interesting. (Yes, I know that probably loses me Good Daddy Points, but c’mon, man, that book is long.)
I’ve never had a basement before. Never, not once in my entire life. So when we got all the rain that pounded the Northeast over the last ten days or so–apparently several months’ worth of rain compressed into a week-and-a-half, or so I hear–it never once occurred to me to go down into the basement to see how everything down there was faring.
Originally published October 2, 2005; update originally posted June 8, 2009. Yes, that means this is the third time I’ve published this article in the last seven years, yet still I seem to forget the point.
Have I mentioned recently how much I love the Webbernet? ‘Cause I do. Pure technological wizardry aside, the kinds of worldwide communication that are now possible absolutely blow my mind. Case in point for this evening: the whole meme thing.
I feel like I should be working on the book tonight, but I’ve been having trouble getting back into the swing of things after everything going down the last week or so. Fret not–I still intend to be done with the first draft of the book by the end of October, though I most certainly realize that every night I don’t work on the thing is more work I have to put into it later.
“The results are not acceptable.” – The President of the United States
I mentioned in a post a couple of weeks back that I tend to self-identify far, far too much based on what it is I do for a living. And I’m starting to realize that that self-identification is neither accurate nor particularly good for me.
I don’t think I’ve ever in my life played a good game of Truth or Dare.
Yesterday, the family and I found ourselves spontaneously gripped by the spirit of Fourth of July weekend and wound up driving out to historic Plymouth, Massachusetts, about an hour from where we live. Terry wanted to see the ocean, and I was certainly fine with that; I hadn’t realized lately just how much I missed seeing gigantic bodies of water on a regular basis (I’ve lived on the coast almost my entire life, and am hoping to do so again at some point).
Okay, any of you who haven’t seen Serenity yet — and that’s probably most of you, honestly — stay the hell away from this post if you have any intention of seeing the movie. I mean it. Don’t read any further. Well, OK, you can go a little further, but when you come to the SPOILER WARNING, know that I’m serious about that and you should move along to whatever’s next on your daily reading list. I’m going to talk about things you really, really shouldn’t know about in advance of seeing the movie.
My CD player was stolen from my car last night. From right out in front of my house. (My most-excellent guard dog remained quiet thoughout the heist.)
We took the kids to The Circus yesterday–and I feel safe in capitalizing “The Circus” like that because it was the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus; if anyone has the right to be known as just “The Circus” in the U.S., it’s certainly Ringling. Kelsey had an absolute blast watching all of the animals and acrobats and clowns, and dancing in the aisles; Laurel simply went into Stimulation Overload Mode and tried to pass out in my lap.
Last October, I tried running on a treadmill at the gym for the first time. After two minutes of jogging at a moderate speed, I felt mere heartbeats away from collapse and certain death. I hadn’t run with any sort of consistency since I was a freshman in high school (which was a lot longer ago than I’d care to admit) and was forced to do so as part of Florida’s tortuous “Personal Fitness” regimen. But I was determined to try jogging because I know I need to lose weight and I need to improve the strength of my heart (physically, not metaphorically), and I knew that running was a great way to go about it.
While I certainly don’t consider myself an anarchist–it’s entirely possible that I’m the least anarchic person I know–I found this Flash presentation (via BoingBoing) to have a number of good ideas I can apply to my life.
I don’t frequently take the goofy tests that proliferate online…and even when I do take them, I certainly don’t put much stock in them since most were more likely written by bored 20-year-olds–there’s not a lot of scientific data to back up the findings that the Muppet to which I’m most akin is Scooter. (SCOOTER!! Please.) But scientifically accurate or no, this one on OKCupid caught me off guard in the effect it had on my always-delicate psyche.