The Sprint to 50

crumpled paper

Once again, not an age-related thing. I’m okay taking my time with that.

It’s this damn full-length-play-writing workshop. The full draft is due on Monday and I’m not happy where I am so I’m trying to speed-rewrite the whole stupid thing in two days.

As of 8am today, I was on page 4. I’d like to get to 50 pages (at least) to feel like I’ve got something substantive.

And go…


11:42am: page 6

1:05pm: page 10

This is gonna be tough. Go for a run, think about what Becky and Rick are going to talk about after she spots the body.

3:02pm: page 15

Okay, run helped solidify a few things, helped to get out there and jog the old noggin. Weather so much better than yesterday. Now go out and see some old friends, maybe meet an African cat and a south-Texan dog. Try to do a couple more pages in the evening.

7:26pm: page 17

Friends good. Now off to see a play. Can’t believe Teresa had 13 dogs living with her at one point. That is some Crazy. Can you use that in the play? The scene with CC and Tricky is coming up next; that’ll be a tough one to sustain. Don’t forget to keep it funny!

11:08pm: page 21

Had hoped to get to 25 by end of day, but this is close. Still have crucial, difficult scenes ahead. See if you can get to 25 by noon or so Sunday. Can still do it…


11:59pm: page 25

Phew. Take a breather, read it all over, see how it’s going…

2:13pm: page 30

Time for tacos. Think about how Rebecca, Becky and CC are going to interrupt, k?

5:19pm: page 36

This is hard. Go see a movie or something, have a beer, get to 40 or so by bedtime, then see if you can get anything else done tomorrow midday or afternoon. Need a solid ending too; take notes!

9:59pm: page 40

Really racing through this stuff now. The big scene with CC, Becky and Rebecca is going faster than I expected. Grabbing a glass of wine and an ice cream bar and gonna see how much more of this bad boy I can power through in the next hour or so. Won’t have much time tomorrow.

11:32pm: page 44

That’s it. Best I could do. Will see if I can add anything else tomorrow and then send to Caridad. Then in the evening our softball team has a game against these kids. Kind of nervous and excited about that one! (will ask them to never play a song by Bush again) Hopefully can fit in a bit more polishing after that…


10:13pm: page 45

Another hour or so in me. Let’s see what you can do. Then hit send.

11:43pm: page 50

Kinda. More like page 49.3. Not bad. But it’s really not about the page count, is it? Duh. I think there’s a lot of good stuff in there, and the characters have potential. Will see what she says and take it from there. Maybe I can use some of it. Never would have gone  through all this without the class. And send…

Listening Room Gig on July 8th


A couple of months ago at Testify I met a funny, nice guy named Joey Zimmerman who runs a monthly show and podcast called The Listening Room. And he recently asked if I’d be willing to tell a story on the show on July 8th.

A listing on Do512 about the show says “Join us for tales told by Austin’s finest comedians and special guests.”

Unless I’ve somehow become one of Austin’s finest comedians without knowing about it (which I’d be totally okay with, btw) I suppose that means I’m a special guest.

Anyway, I get to tell any story I want. I’m thinking maybe I’ll tell this one, but I’m open to suggestions.

Note to self: sometime soon you gotta do that story about your dad’s cell phone going off over and over and over again at The Marsh in San Francisco where the star of the show broke from character and confronted us directly (“Is there something about technology you don’t understand???”). Maybe in another couple of months it will seem funny. Right now it’s still a nightmare that haunts me every time I go and see a show and have my cell phone in my pocket.

Anyway, come see me in a couple of weeks if you can! If you don’t, I’ll miss you!

Adult Education

place to live one day

So I signed up for a five-week playwriting course with Caridad Svich which coincides with the father-son vacation I’m currently taking in Italy. I initially hesitated to enroll because I felt like it’d be yet another obligation at a time I wanted to relax and focus on the trip.

But I ended up doing it anyway, giving myself an excuse to back out or not complete the play if it was too much work or stress.

I’ve still got that deal with myself, and I still may not complete the play (we’re in the middle of the workshop now so there’s plenty of time to crash and burn).

But I wanted to jot down a few thoughts I had about the course, along with some of the reasons I almost didn’t do it. Here’s an edited version of what I sent to the ScriptWorks Board:

Continue reading

The Third Mosquito*

small canal with boats

I’m in this beautiful place now, but had a couple of rough nights battling a small army of mosquitoes. The insidious buzzing of these insects in my ear can keep me up for hours. As I hear that high-pitched whiny zzzzzzzzzzz approaching I feel my blood pressure rise and my visceral instinct for destruction take over.

I’m sleeping in the same room as my dad on this vacation so I can’t just turn on the lights and start smacking the walls randomly with magazines like I do when I’m alone. Instead I tried to stealthily use the light from my phone in one hand to view the silhouette of the little beast as it approached, and then nab it with my other hand.

This worked once. I captured her. But then as I opened my head to see if I’d squashed her, she flew out and away, only to come back a few minutes later and find a way to draw blood.

I tried to revert to Zen status and accept the fact that I’d get bites on my shoulders and back. But then I wondered how many bites I might get, so I looked it up.

Oh my God, it’s so complicated!

Another factor may be the mosquito’s search for an accessible vein near the skin surface, much like that of a nurse trying multiple sites to take a blood sample.        

Continue reading

Flirting with Cats

an old kiddo drawing on my wall--a cat, I think??

an old kiddo drawing on my wall–a cat, I think??

I’ve had a few proposals this year to either adopt a lone cat who needed a home, or take care of one for some time in a foster care-like situation. I like the idea of having a pet, but I worry a lot about times that I travel, coordinating pet care, etc. I kind of feel like it could turn into an additional complication when there’s plenty of other stuff going on.

And yet…

Animals are cute.

Anyway, the latest proposal is to take care of my friend Robert’s cat who will have traveled all the way from the Congo. It’s a 4-week deal in June and July. To try things out.

We’ll see how it goes.


Addio per ora!

The Intricacies of Middle School

Middle School Popularity

Some of my favorite parenting moments are those I get to spend with one kid while the other one is away at camp or a friend’s house.

Today I got to hang out with the older one (he’s so much more down-to-earth when his brother’s not around) and asked him about middle school. I was curious what he thought of it now that he’s three days from moving on to ninth grade.

Thankfully, he was able to put the existing social groupings into graph format for me. According to him (and he acknowledges that girls might have their own segmentation) there are just six groups (as outlined in the graphic above).

Everyone’s either smart or stupid to start, and then it’s just gradations of popularity to consider after that.

Got it.

And there’s a stronger inclination and internal drive to move from unpopular to popular than there is from stupid to smart.

Makes sense, of course.

I asked if the stupid unpopular kids are the most difficult (I mean duh, right?) and he pointed out it was a close contest with the dumb, popular kids. Which, yeah, of course to that too…

Anyway, the dude is doing okay and made it through a period I remember as one of the roughest of my life. So…. Way to go, big fella. Let’s keep these good times rolling and the helpful graphs continuing.

(and yes, I’m procrastinating from my 5-week playwriting class; more on that later…)

It’s like Ireland Around Here

hidden path between a tire shop and a pharmacy on new route

hidden path between a tire shop and a pharmacy on new route

So I biked to my new office today for the first time. I’ve biked to other offsite meetings, but the new building I work in is surrounded by freeways and frontage roads and hasn’t seemed very appealing to get to until now.

I just want to say that it was awesome and full of discovery. I noticed houses and construction and details and neighborhoods and intricacies that I never would have otherwise.  And biking down the first few streets (especially early in the morning) reminded me of my first morning in Ireland.

It’s just like Wow, there’s so much stuff to see and check out, with the wind on your cheeks.

That’s all. This is earnest. I loved it. And had a much better day because of it.

Recommended. 4 stars.

(there’s also a shower at work I just discovered; how much of my life can I port over to this new place?…)

Fixing the Roof While the Sun…

Siding RotSo I’ve got these rotting boards on the outside of my house that have been making me nervous. They leave the house exposed, and I’m imagining mold and insects and all kinds of other stuff coming in. I want to fix it.

But they don’t make these boards anymore so I’d have to switch to something that doesn’t look the same. And if I do that, I can’t really just patch it cleanly. I should really do the whole back wall. And if I do the whole back wall, I should really do the whole house. And if I do the whole house…

That’s right, I’ll have to do ALL THE HOUSES IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD.

And then ALL THE HOUSES IN THE WORLD. (except maybe yours…)

Anyway, this led me on kind of a goose chase (is there a goose chase when the goose isn’t wild?) because I thought I remembered Al Gore in the 2000 debates talking about fixing the roof while the sun is still shining. But I looked it up and I found the quote from Bill Bradley instead. Is this really true? It’s such an Al Gore thing to say!

We should be fixing our roof while the sun is shining. We should now be passing national health insurance. We should now be making major investments in our urban schools and schools across this country. And we should commit, as I have, to reduce child poverty by 4 million in the first four years, and eliminate child poverty in 10 years.

Oh my God, yes we should be doing all those things! And we’ll finish them by 2010! Wait, ugh… Continue reading

Oh, Death…

Julie early 20sMy friend Brendan is featured in just about every story I’ve told in public. So many wacky adventures we’ve had together.

I just got the news that his mom, who I always considered kind of a second, cooler mother to me, died on Thursday. I’m so glad that I was able to see her just a couple of weeks ago in Seattle. She was a shadow of her former self, but still projected her enthusiasm and contagious sense of humor, at least for the short time she let me stay.

I always thought that I wanted to be the kind of parent she was: funny, easy-going, invested in what her kid was doing, but sort of hands-off too, respecting his independence and decisions. She was a very different parent than anyone else I knew. She had a big impact on my teenage years, encouraging my wild and creative side. I’ll miss her a lot.

Brendan is remarkable with his memory of dates. This is a snippet of what he wrote about her today: Continue reading

Good at Life?

Enchanted Rock December 2014

My 11-yo son said to me the other afternoon, “Why are you so good at life?”

I was like “What? What does that even mean?”

He was like “I don’t know. You’re just really good at life.”

I’m pretty sure I was making mac & cheese and talking about car repairs at the time.

Now, here I am at four in the morning, wrestling with anxiety and sleeplessness, thinking If only he knew…

Still, I’ll take it when I can.

Thanks, buddy old pal. You inspire me.