To space camp and beyond

Me and team Atlantis in 1999. We were so cool. You have no idea.

Me and team Atlantis in 1999. We were so cool. You have no idea.

When I was in the fifth grade, I won a scholarship to attend a space camp in Ogden, Utah.

I was skinny, awkward and terrified of everything. It was the same year I started wearing glasses and getting boobies. It was terrifying. Personally I’ve always believed I was the epitome of awkward pre-teen in every single possible way. There just wasn’t much I liked about myself or the world around me.

Astro Camp changed that. A little bit. It was a week of hanging out with other kids who were equally intrigued by Newton’s Laws, engineering, space and the possibilities of the universe. I loved it.

I loved it so much I even managed to raise enough money to go again the following year.

It was the one week in 52 where I felt like me. I wasn’t ugly, friendless and strange at Astro Camp. I was smart, funny, pretty, likable and the best co-pilot on team. (No really, I actually won a blue ribbon for that one.) It was an intense week for a socially awkward loner of kid who was deeply homesick most of the time. I had to swim and even worse wear a swimming suit in front of boys. I had to wear my glasses all the time because there’s no landing a simulated spacecraft without sight. I had my first kiss. I cried a little for my family. But mostly I found my place, a tiny little corner of the universe where I could be excited about gravity and stars. A place where everyone was cool with me excitedly blurting out the story of Andromeda in a home-made planetarium.

It was awesome!

I miss the care free kind of way summer slips by in childhood, especially at space camp.

BTW as an adult, I love dropping the “space camp twice” bomb on anyone who thinks I’m not nerdy enough to love astronomy. Boom! Yeah, I know who Neil deGrasse Tyson is and I understand why we’re “all made of stardust.” I only wish I was as bad ass as Astronaut Abby.

One year

Zed and me at a Jazz game.Last summer I went to a party for a friend who was leaving town for a bit. I wasn’t planning on staying long. I just wanted to pop by say, “hey” and get home.

I walked in, said my hellos and was handed a beer. As I was catching up with Jess on all the gossip I had missed, this guy in black t-shirt kept interrupting us. I was kind of annoyed, but intrigued by this guy who could hold the attention of an entire room while making fun of himself. He was making jokes and taking the piss out of everyone.

I couldn’t stop laughing.

Without even noticing how it happened, he introduced himself, sat down and we suddenly we were bitching about Asian beer. I found out he taught English in China for a year or so, then he owned a bar, then he went sailing. We swapped travel stories for a bit. Then moved on to some more heavy stuff like God and religion. Despite the subject, we kept laughing. I thought he was the funniest, sweetest guy I had met in a long, long time. I couldn’t stop staring at his upper arm/chest area. (This is a seriously under-appreciated part of male anatomy.) He apparently also found me hilarious and likable. We talked so long every one else managed to make their way inside. The host had even gone to bed.

Finally I had to go home; it was way too late.

I was shocked he hadn’t asked for my number in the three hours we had been cracking each other up. So I told him my name again and asked him to find me. He said he would.

The next day he did.

It’s been a year now since that first beer and first laugh. He still makes me laugh every day; and I know a helluva lot more about beer now. 

All the right ways

I hate myself for wishing for change, or at least, I regret it…a little.

There it is.

It comes like night. I could see the dusky light, I could feel it coming, the wind a little cooler as we waited, breath held, for that change.

It’s here now, an emotional shift brought on my physical pains. Nothing will be the same. Growing comes with changing, but does it have to hurt?

I’d like an easy challenge next, please. Maybe one with a definitive set of instructions, a map and a guide. Just one of those things would be awfully nice. I no longer know which way to go. The life map lines drifted into “there be monsters” territory ages ago. I need a new one.

The compass stopped working long ago; sometimes I forget it exists. In the rare moments I remember the magnetic direction, it pricks my heart. It hurts.

I hurt, too.

Perhaps I can find another.

I can’t look to the stars anymore: blotted out by city lights, smeared across the sky, coated in the gray skies of pollution. They might still be there. My memory can’t be just a myth, can it? I need to get out of this place.

I need the map, the compass, the skies, all of it–the toolkit to bring me back to life.

I’m drifting along in this raft, and sometimes you drift with me. But still I feel lonely. Alone.

I can’t swim yet. I keep trying. You’re pulling me along. Not always as patient as either of us might wish. I pant and writhe in the water. I’m scared of drowning. I concentrate so hard on staying alive I forget to move forward. Fear pushes into my mind slowly at first like a black dawn then it takes over rushing into every part of my functionality filling me with blackness. I stop thinking; I’m reacting, trying to keep my head up.

If I can just breathe, this will soon be over.

You watch me struggle again and again. I can see the love turning into loathing. It must be hard to see someone work so hard at failure. Eventually you will turn away from me. It’s a pattern. You won’t be the first person to give up on me and probably not the last.

The last will be me when I’ve had enough, when I’m ready to go. Maybe by then, I’ll know how to swim. I’ll be brave enough to go on without the tools I’m waiting for. Maybe by then, I’ll build them myself.

At least, I have a pen. Now where the fuck is that paper?

Clean up, clean up, turn the TV on

I’m slightly embarrassed by how excited I am to clean my house today.

But seriously, I get to scrub the floors! And wash the dishes! And do laundry! I will feel so much better when all this is done. I just know it. It’s like an itch I can’t wait to scratch when I finally have the time to clean the apartment.

Ever since I let a live animal move in here, it’s been tough keeping the place up to standards, you know? Dog fur, puppy paw prints and the whole mess just don’t go away forever after a good scrubbing. The pup is at the vet today for his grown-up surgery; and this is an excellent opportunity to put on some jams and clean to my heart’s happiness.

I’m thrilled! (And a little nervous for the puppy. This is the first night he wasn’t at home, too.)

It’s also a great chance to catch up on my Hulu queue as well. So much Modern Family, The Neighbors and Nashville to watch. (Not that I forgot about CommunityThe Mindy ProjectRaising HopeNew Normal, Daily Show or Colbret Report.)

Heck, I may even have to give myself a pedicure just so I have an excuse to keep the TV shows rolling.

Oh, the places you’ll go

Perhaps I’m a bit late to the Dr. Seuss party, but lately I’ve been thinking about opportunities.

It’s tough this writing thing. Sometimes people pay me, other times people don’t want to pay me and most the time they don’t want to pay me very much for my work. Even long-time journalists like Nate Thayer have this problem. Seriously, world, can we please agree that some words have more value than others? Especially the ones that require research and rewrites before they get published?

The research, interviews, rewrites and edits are just one piece of the writing process. There’s another side I think of it as hustle and wait. It starts with the first cup of coffee, the troll through all the job leads for the day, next it’s time to make the pitch carefully crafting emails and ledes for possible stories, then its the wait. Waiting for approval. Waiting for payment. Waiting for someone somewhere to say, “yes.”

It’s a helluva a lot more nerve-wracking than the writing part of my day.

There are days full of rejections. More noes than yeses by such a wide margin, it makes me want to give up. But every so often a yes comes along. And those yeses the opportunities they represent the growth, paychecks and work they represent make all the noes worth it.

The hustle, the wait, the writing, it’s tough work. I have to fight myself somedays just to type out another pitch that may be rejected. But man, I love those yeses.

It seems to me there is a constant confluences where one day is awful. Truly terrible. Enough to make me almost call the nearest restaurant for a bartending gig and leave the words to a better smith. But lately the difficult days have been followed by a surprising number of chances for hope that maybe there’s is room for one more freelance journalist in this world. Thankfully those opportunities are lining up and giving hope that maybe I will get to live my dream of writing everyday and paying all the bills.

Here’s to the next opportunity!

Final Destination: Boring

“Thanks for being boring with me,” I said. Zed and I were snuggled on the couch, watching “Bob’s Burgers” as Archer stretched and curled next to me in sleep.

It was about 9 o’clock on a Friday night. We are officially one of the most boring couples you will ever read about.

That’s just where I am now, I suppose. Staying in, watching TV, playing with a puppy and talking to about three people outside of my family. It’s a little embarrassing to admit that I love going to bed by 11 regardless of the day of the week now. It makes me wonder if I’m throwing away the last half of my 20s by putting myself on a relatively nine to fiver schedule.

It’s boring.

And it’s nice. Structure was one of the reasons I’ve been thinking about dog ownership, a way to force myself to stick to a slightly healthier lifestyle because it’s good for me and necessary for the pup. Having a little thing around that needs food, water and walks preferably at the same time each day has forced me to be on a schedule. It’s been just a week of early nights and mornings, and I love it. It disgusts me to admit it, but I feel better. I get more done. My writing productivity is much higher than it was before Archer came home.

The day-to-day seems far less exciting when I know exactly what’s going to happen when, but I’ve learned there’s a kind of solace in that surety.

No more last-minute drinks, no more last-minute trips to wherever, no more interviews on the fly and no more unexpected adventures.

Or at least less of them.

And for now that’s okay, I’m a little excited to be a little bit boring, to write, cook at home, watch TV and fall asleep at the same time everyday.

Not that every moment is the exact same as the day before, but it’s nice knowing that the moments won’t vary so much. The chaos is temporarily, at least, calmed. Maybe in six months or so I’ll be ready for another big adventure, but for now I’m super excited that it’s almost nap time for the pup and snack time for me.

Create more, consume less

For anyone who follows me around the internets you saw “create more, consume less” pop up on Monday as my new life mantra.

Admittedly, it’s more of a work mantra.

I find myself in this constant cocoon of internet “read this, watch this, click here, share here.” And I love it. But it also prevents me from accomplishing much in a day. I certainly need to do more to accomplish both short-term and long-term career goals.

To that end, I’ve decided to minimize the amount of time I spend reading email, Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other lovely social media, webby places that I adore. I’m also cutting down TV watching, book reading time and whatnot as these activities probably shouldn’t be done while simultaneously sending out pitch emails.

The point is to stop trying so hard to multi-task and refocus on accomplishing one task well instead of dividing my attention between two places. I’ve never multi-tasked well, and I don’t know why I started getting into this habit of keeping five million tabs open while I’m researching. It isn’t effective. It’s hurtful.

This constant consumption of other creator’s words, artwork passively prevents me from creating my own works.

I still love finding cool new reads and videos online. I can’t help it. I need to find and share things now in a way I don’t think I ever would without the existence of Facebook.

That’s fine, there’s certainly a place for that kind of sharing and communication. At the moment, I’m exhausted by it. I want to stop long enough to finish a sentence, an article, a piece, to create something in its entirety without interruption.

It’s on me to stop opening those tabs, to stop clicking play, to create. I’m not sure how I’ll do it just yet beyond self-discipline. I suppose we’ll all see how this life experiment goes. Hopefully we’ll get to read my name in print, not self-published, a bit more frequently.