Not because it is easy, but because it is hard.

Doing the reboot check-in a little early this month, because I’m going to be too busy at the end of the month to do it then.

So last time, the big question was:

The real challenge this month, and the 54,000 dollar question is: is it worth it?

Objectively, yes. Yes, it’s worth it. I’ve stopped seeing the significant changes and rewards that were happening in the early months of making these major and fundamental adjustments to my life. That’s to be expected, and it’s important to stay focused on the positive benefits of the long term commitment, even when the short term rewards aren’t as substantial as they were as recently as 60 days ago.

Because I have the delightful bonus of living with mental illness, it’s an additional challenge for me to identify when my Depression is lying to me, and then separate the irrational lies and their related feelings from objective truths. This month, and probably going back into much of last month, my Depression has been a real dick. It’s been taking tiny, unimportant, insignificant things that really shouldn’t matter, and blowing them up into catastrophic things that are totally about me (even when they really aren’t). I’ve been having a super neat existential crisis as a result, and I’ve just now realized — like, literally at this moment (11:25 am on 22 June 2016) — that if I wasn’t taking care of myself with these reboot choices, I would be really messed up and in a very bad place. Having these seven things to focus on and work on has given me a positive way to feel empowered, because I’m doing something about feeling kind of stuck and frustrated.

So before I get into the specific things, let’s do this in a couple of broad strokes.

First, my physical health is great. I’m at my target weight, and I don’t have any chronic aches or pains. My diet is healthy, and even though I’ve definitely developed a whole thing for ice cream, it’s in moderation — in fact, everything in my life is in moderation — so it’s not a problem.

Second, my mental health isn’t as good as it could be, but thanks to the patience, kindness, and advice of some wonderful people in my life, I’ve been able to work through this most recent existential crisis, and while I’m not like, “feeling fine“, I’m getting there. There’s a lot to unpack, and it’s all pretty personal, so that’s about all I’m going to say about it for now.

Finally, since I started making these changes a little over six months ago, and especially since they’ve more or less become routine in the last six to eight weeks, I’ve stumbled into a lot of clarity about the fundamental reasons I was unhappy, frustrated, adrift, unfulfilled, and needing to make big changes to my life in the first place. That clarity has been valuable and super useful, and will ultimately lead me where I want to go … but at this moment, it’s uncovered a lot of pain and sadness that was being covered up by bad habits and all those things I decided to change. This is really, really good, even if the in the immediacy of the moment (exacerbated by depression) it’s making me uncomfortable. Again, it’s a lot of personal stuff, and I’m not going to go into it, but I bring it up because I suspect that someone who is at the same point in their personal reboot is feeling some of the same things, and because it was reassuring to me to know that it’s a normal and healthy part of the process, I’m sharing it.

Okay, so let’s look at the specifics and see how it’s going.

  • Drink less beer.

Crushing this. Not only am I not drinking beer or any alcohol, I’ve completely lost interest in it. I don’t miss it, and I don’t feel like it’s the huge sacrifice that it felt like as recently as three months ago. The only times I miss beer is when I’m at someplace like Stone Brewing Co., and there’s a ton of magnificent and rare and delicious things available to me. I’m not an alcoholic, so I could probably just have a beer and it wouldn’t be a big deal, but there’s something empowering and awesome about just not doing that. I’m going to see how this particular part of my whole thing is after a year, and reassess it then. My suspicion is that I will still not miss it, though I may have a sip here and there. A+

  • Read more (and Reddit does not count as reading).

Not very good this month. I feel like I should be reading at least 50 or 100 pages a day, and I’m not anywhere close to that. Part of that is because I read before bed, and I’ve been so tired that I can only make it ten or so pages before I fall asleep, and part of it is that I’ve been doing other things with my time during the day. I’ve been reading a biography that’s a lot of fun, and I should have finished it by now, but since I only have so much discretionary time in my life, reading has been taking a backseat to watching more movies. I think this is because reading inspires me as a writer, and while I’m definitely feeling inspired to write more, I’m feeling this hunger that has felt like starvation for acting, filmmaking, and performing for an audience recently. Watching movies (good movies, not junkfood movies) and really good television helps me remember why I want to be an actor, and inspires me to do the work I need to do if that’s going to be part of my creative life. I feel like I should get a C on this one, but we’ve all had that one teacher who acted like their class was the only one you were taking, and the reality is that we only have so much of ourselves to go around, so all of our attention sliders can’t be at 100 in each category. I’m not going to be too hard on myself this month, and curve it up to a B.

  • Write more.

I finished the draft of a short story that I was afraid to touch for a long time. I’ve made progress on another thing that I lost interest in because I got work as an actor when I was writing it, immediately followed by three weeks of Tabletop production that took over my life. I want to and should be writing at least 500 words a day, and that’s not hard. This one is all about discipline, and I just haven’t had it. So even though I’ve finished something, and I’ve made minimal progress on one of the seven things on the whiteboard, I’m giving myself a C.

  • Watch more movies.

This was an easy one this month. Between MUBI and Hulu, I’ve been tearing through really great movies, many of them classics, and I’ve been enjoying them so much, I want to take a class on deconstructing and understanding film, because while I have tons of experience with and pretty good instincts for filmmaking, I don’t really have formal education, and therefore don’t know how to talk about and learn from great works of art. I get an A, because the point of this one is to find inspiration, challenge myself, and enrich my artistic side.

  • Get better sleep.

I’m doing what I can do, but I haven’t slept well this month. Marlowe just got clearance yesterday to be off the leash (she had major knee surgery two months ago), so Anne and I have been taking turns sleeping with her in the guest room. The guest room bed fell apart last week, though, and I’ve been on the pull-out sofa in my office with Marlowe for seven days, and oh my god the headaches every morning and the aching back and pain in my hip and I’m too old for this shit. I’m backing off caffeine in the afternoons, though, and drinking tea before bed. I’ve also been taking anti-anxiety meds because holy shit that’s been a huge fucking thing, and they help me sleep more and better. But this isn’t necessarly a grade for the quality of my sleep, as much as it’s a grade for my personal efforts and commitment to getting better sleep. So I’m going to give myself an A.

  • Eat better food.

Our refrigerator shit the bed a week ago, and the repair can’t happen until tomorrow. So we have a powered-off, empty refrigerator, and I didn’t realize how much I take ice for granted. I’m able to have my protein powder and greens every morning, and we have been able to buy stuff to cook for dinner on the same night, so we’re eating surprisingly healthy, all things considered. But lunches haven’t been that great: lots of burgers and deli sandwiches and pizzas that I wouldn’t normally eat every day (more like once a week or so). It’s out of our control, but we’re not doing too badly, but I probably don’t need ice cream every night, so I’m going to give myself a B (even though I haven’t been able to have ice cream every night, because when I go to the ice cream place, I … um … well, I make up for it.).

  • Exercise more.

Oh a big fat F, and that’s just because the F- isn’t real. Yeah, it’s been hot as shit here, and I was working my face off, but if I was committed the way I need to be, I’d be up early in the morning, or walking at night when it cools off. I haven’t run in over a week, and even though my baseline physical health is good, I haven’t even been getting to 5000 steps in a day. So not only is this an F, there’s a note here that says “in danger of failing the course”. F.

So I’m going to total this up now and see … 21 out of 28 points, which gives me about a 2.8. That’s not the worst, but it can be much better.

As I said when I started this, it’s definitely worth it, and I’m thinking about what I can add or modify going forward, to help me achieve my goals. It’s like … well, I’ve gotten this car out of the mud, and it’s mostly cleaned up. Hey! I found a map in the glovebox that I forgot was there! I guess I’ll take out that map and use this clean and functional vehicle to get back on the road, so I can make use of the map that I didn’t realize I had.

The Magician’s Path


I’m taking a little victory lap here, because I just finished the second draft on a short story that I’ve been mucking about with for a long time. It’s no long — just over 3800 words — and it’s called The Magician’s Path.

Here’s a little bit:

The Magician sat alone in his study, and practiced his magic. He conjured small creatures who existed briefly before vanishing in a burst of fragrant smoke. He extinguished the torches with the wave of one hand, then drove the darkness away with the other. His magic was passable, and he was quite good at it, but the Magician wanted to be a true Wizard, and to become a true Wizard, he needed an apprentice to train.

In those days, though, an apprentice could not be recruited or even sought out. In those days, an apprentice had to come to a magician of his own volition, and ask to be trained. It was through the training that the apprentice would become a magician, and the magician a Wizard.

The Magician spent many years perfecting his tricks, and understanding the ways of magic. When a young apprentice finally appeared at his door, the Magician would be ready.

The year was young, though winter was at its deepest and coldest when the boy arrived. He was very young, and though the Magician had waited so very long, he was not sure that one so young could be taught, that one so young would be willing to do the challenging and unrewarding work that went into mastering magics. He told the boy these things, but the boy pleaded with him. “I am very young, but I am honest and dedicated,” the boy said. “I will study and I will learn and I will work as hard as I must.”

My instinct as a blogger (I’ve been at this thing for over 15 years) is to publish the whole thing right now, because I like it, I’m excited about it, and I want to share it. But my instinct as a writer is to sit back on it for a little bit, get into the next thing, and then come back to this for one final pass before I release it.

It isn’t a lot, but it’s something where there wasn’t something before, and it’s something that I started and finished. I’m not gonna lie, Marge: I feel pretty good right now, and I haven’t felt pretty good in a long time.

A ghost in daylight on a crowded street.

“You can’t fake quality any more than you can fake a good meal.” -WSB

I set these very high standards for myself, and constantly struggle to meet my own expectations. In one way, that’s good, because it keeps me motivated and prevents me from getting lazy or complacent. In another way, it makes it really hard for me to ever sit back and go, “Hey, I did a thing. Good for me.”

So looking back on the last week or so …

I’m not as productive as I need to be. I’m sleeping more, but not well. Nightmares are frustratingly common, even if I don’t clearly remember them when I wake up. Lots of snakes and floods. I have developed this generalized anxiety that’s sort of like a background hum in my life, and it’s getting so persistent, just ignoring the hum is starting to become a full-time thing. It’s exhausting. I am watching a lot of movies and TV, but I’m staying up really, really late and I’m not sure that’s particularly good for me. I’m reading every day, but not a whole lot.

I feel like I’m doing a lot of stuff, but I’m not getting anything done.

But I did make this dumb thing in gimp today, that is a thing where there wasn’t a thing before:


I took the source picture at Hollywood Forever Cemetery when Anne and I went to see the premiere of Outcast (it’s great and you should watch it). I was goofing around in gimp and with some filters, and trial and error, ended up with that image. I think it’s neat, like something that would be on a record sleeve, or a 1960s movie poster. If any of you who are clever and creative want to make something with it, I’d love to see what it inspires you to create.

The Niven Jazz Collection at the Internet Archive is phenomenal, and it was my soundtrack while I worked on this thing.

Oh, I had this realization: I’m creatively starving. So I know what the source of my anxiety is, and I know why I feel unhappy and frustrated. Now I just have to figure out what the thing to do is. Part of that incessant background hum is knowing that I can do almost anything, if I just do the fucking work, so I don’t know where to start.

But I have an idea … of sorts. So that’s a start.