44 out of 50

I'm not going to lie. Well, I mean, I might. I'm a writer. It's kind of my thing. Let's just say that if I do lie, it will be all in the interest of telling a good story. Good. Glad we got that settled.

Where was I? Oh, that's right. The not lying.

No, wait. That's not it. I mean, it was, but that's not....phhh.

Let's try this again.

Hi. I'm Todd. I'm a writer. And this is the obligatory what the fuck happened in 2018 and what am I going to differently in 2019 post that I know you have all been waiting for.

And by all, I mean maybe like 2 of you that were wondering if I would ever dust off this blog and throw some words up here.

To be honest, I wasn't sure I would. Not just the blog, though, I mean the whole wording thing at all.

Jeesh, Todd, that's a bit dramatic, don't you think?

Well, yeah. Maybe. But haven't you heard? Drama makes for great stories.

OK. Not really. But what does make for great stories is people who are struggling. And their challenges and missteps and little victories all on the way to solving and conquering those challenges. Right? Sure. We'll go with that.

Admittedly, this is all pretty much self-inflicted, but that's mostly beside the point. Mostly.

Riding the high from a really good writer's retreat, I was pumped for National Novel Writing Month. I had a new direction for my book and I was feeling good about it. I attended a pretty kick-ass kick off event and even managed to get some words in the first few days.

And then I stalled.

Seriously stalled.  I don't know really what else to call it. I found myself coming up with some really good reasons why I just couldn't make the 60+ minute drive to attend the write-ins hosted by my base writing group. It became easier to convince myself that it didn't make sense to sacrifice 2 hours of drive time that I could be writing. And so I did. I convinced myself that the time would be better spent writing.

Only I didn't write.

I caught up on some reading. And cleared a lot of things out of my Netflix queue. And did some things around the house.  All of these were, in my mind, important things. Roadblocks that needed to be dealt with so I could get down to writing. To being a writer. You know, that thing I convinced a few of you I was way back in 2017.

Yeah. That thing.

Along around the same time, I was becoming seriously disenchanted with social media. Well, not all of it, just the book of Face, to be specific. I figured out why I left it some years back, and started to low-key loathe myself for coming back. So, add a failed  NaNo, and a dislike for the book of Face, and there's a few more steps down the spiral.

I deactivated my Facebook account sometime in December. I did it rather quietly. A week beforehand, I posted something about making sure if you wanted to stay in touch, we had a way to do so. And then I did an Irish exit and just deactivated my account. I had about 5 people reach out to me to see what happened. I had a few more than that sitting there and stewing about the fact that I didn't say goodbye personally or tell them what was going on.

And to be honest, I just couldn't. I needed to leave when I did the way that I did. I needed to do it to stay on this side of sanity and strike at least one solid blow back at the heavy, wet, wool blanket of depression that was pretending to offer me warmth, but slowly suffocating me. Whether or not you believe me, or are mad at me, or are OK with the way it went down--it's done. I can't change it. And even still, I think it was the right move for where my headspace was at the time.

So, yeah. That's a thing. Depression. I haven't really danced with depression in quite a few years. Not like this. When I would get up, go to work, zombie through the day, and do as little as possible before going to bed--not even talking more than a few sentences to my roommate, I knew there was an issue.

I still haven't talked to my doctor about going on anti-depressants. I have an appointment in February. That gives me one month to turn things around on my own. And by 'on my own' I mean that I'm not living in the bubble of 'everything in my life is great' any more. Somethings are wonderful, don't get me wrong, they are. I just need to get back to doing the things I know worked before when I was off the anti-depressants the first time.

I'm going to pause here and just mention that I was on anti-depressants for nearly 15 years. Many different ones through the course of that decade and a half. I know how my body responds to them and I know what they do to my sense of self. The last thing I want to do is to go back on them. That is not saying that I'm against them. I just don't want to be back on them. It's a very personal decision. So, I'm going to do everything I need to do before I open that door back up.

Which leads me to 2019.

There's a thing going around where you pick a word, and that's your word for the year. It's supposed to be in line with your goals and who you want to be or become in the year to come.

It's a wonderful idea, but I honestly couldn't think of a word. Which really is just more proof that I need to get back to meditation and finding my center with more of a concerted effort.

Anyway...the hunt for the magic word that is going to make 2019 awesome.

Nothing. Zip. Zilch. Nada.

And then I got an email from a kickstarter project I backed. The project was to help build a story-building/world-building system for gaming/story-telling based on using Tarot spreads. Today they drew a card for me.  And it went a little something like this:

There it was. Restoration.

Everything clicked into place.  So, my friends, my 2019 journey is about restoration. Restoring the Todd that I know I am. The man, the friend, the father, the writer, the lover (ok, ok, but I had to at least put it on the list--you never know!) that I know in my heart I am. The true me.

One of the things I did today was to reconfigure my writing desk. It was spread out on a table in my bedroom and it just was...bleh. I moved in a dresser that had been sitting in the garage since I moved in and set up my computer on top of the dresser. I saw a movie depicting a madly drunk Hemingway pacing in front of a typewriter on a dresser in a Spanish hotel. And he was moving around and he'd come back, type some pages and move around. He did this weird dance with the story as he typed. And in those frames I saw the truth of it, much of writing is a full-body, full-contact experience. So, yeah, standing desk of sorts. It looks a little like this:

So, the cool thing about this, other than taking up less space and the fact that I no longer have to use the annoyingly squeaky but cool vintage office chair, is the fact that this dresser was my dresser all through childhood. Before that, I am pretty sure it was my big brother's dresser, and my mother's dresser when she was growing up before that. So, it's got family energy. It just feels right.

And if you're wondering, the painting above it was there before I figured out what I needed to do in 2019, but it so fits. Man does it fit!

Things are truly coming together the way I always knew they could. The way I always knew they would. I guess, for the most part, I just needed to get out of my own head. And out of my own way.

And so the restoration begins.



44 out of 50.

I set a goal at the beginning of 2018 to read 100 books from my Goodreads list by year's end. About a week into the year, I realized that was just ridiculous and recognized my own limitations in that arena. A goal of 50 seemed more reasonable, but will still be a stretch as it had been some time since I had read a book a week.

But here we sit on December 30th...er...December 31st now and I have read 44 books toward that 50 book goal.

And I'm going to take that as a win. Because it's a lot closer than I really thought I could hit. 2019's reading goal will be 75. It's ambitious, but I think it's doable.

Ambitious, but doable. I guess most things are if you get off your ass, eh Skaggs?


Have a wonderful day my friends. I'll catch you sometime in the coming days, weeks, months...we'll get together, have a drink and catch up. I'd love to hear all about the latest crafting thing you found on Pinterest.



Digital Detox

Sorry if this is starting to sound a bit like a broken record, but as it's on my mind and as my words are my way of clearing through some thoughts, I don't really see a way around it.

I saw a friend tonight I haven't seen in a good little while. Since at least before the move back in March. It's cool. I got a batch of homemade Christmas cards. Like the batch of homemade cards I got last year and the year before, they will likely sit in a stack in the same place until about February when I will put them in the box with the other unsent cards.

Maybe this year will be different. I say that every year. Maybe this is the year it will be true.

I say that every year, too.

Anyway, in the course of conversation, I let slip that I wasn't on Facebook. Her husband said, "Again?!" and she said, "You'll be back."  Both were said in jest, I know.

Still. It got me thinking.

It's been about a week.  Just one week. There have been a few moments where I have really been tempted, but not because I wanted to see what was going on, but because I was bored and my default action when I was bored was to get on fakebook and scroll until I was not only bored, but I was bored, numb, and generally thinking most people were terrible at humaning.  So, it wasn't that I missed it per se. And I realized that tonight, rather than agree, I just smiled and said, "I don't think I will."

And I was good with that.

It's just kind of a weird headspace to be in right now.

I know I'll be past this stumbling block of obsessiveness, but for now, I'm just working through it.

But on a positive note...the Christmas lights are up outside, so that's a good thing.

And with that I bid you goodnight. Yup. Short and sweet.

Except I'm not short.

And not always sweet.

Have a good rest of your evening.



You Stole From The Crippled Kids Jar!?

There's a scene in Office Space  where the efficiency experts, The Bobs, are reading the names of people they are going to fire to Peter and they get to Samir's file. "And this guy...Na-een...Na...Not gonna be working here"

That only comes to mind because it is 2 days after NaNoWriMo is officially over for the year.  For me, it was probably over before it began. I didn't really have a clear plan and didn't really account for well, life, to be honest. As with all things NaNo, there is no one to blame for it but me. And that's OK.

I can't say that I wrote every single day of the month. I didn't. I can't say that I hit fifty-thousand works at the miraculous 11th hour. My logged seven-thousand words clearly indicate that didn't happen.

But, I did have something of a breakthrough this year that I didn't have in years prior. A couple of them, actually.

The first is something I've seen at other points in my life. I need to be around people. Not really to compete against, but to draw inspiration from. The number of actual write-ins I attended this year was less than 3. My word count shows that. There were times I felt fairly isolated this month. I don't put that on anyone but me. I had a calendar of events I could have attended. I had the NaNo calendar of events close by--hell, less than 2 miles, but I didn't. Don't know why. I may dissect that later, next year when it gets closer to NaNo. I may not. Which leads to the second epiphany of sorts.

The only person putting pressure on me to "win" NaNo was...you guessed it. Me. I didn't quite have a breakdown this month, but I had a few near misses that would qualify as mini-anxiety attacks, I'm sure. I was certain that I would be letting this person down or that person would be pissed if I didn't do this thing or that in November. And in the end, I shut down. On my birthday I woke up and decided that I was doing something for me. And I did.

And it was rather liberating, if I'm being honest.

I'm going to pause here. I know that I have some friends who, like me, sometimes internalize and overthink things. I want to be very clear about why I 'failed' (and ultimately won) the whole NaNo thing this month. It had nothing to do with anyone but me. I applied the pressure. The voices I was guided (and/or misled) by were the ones in my head. No one else. Me.

That simple fact is also the reason that I won, if you will.

The ultimate epiphany was that I am traveling this writer's path for me. For the stories I have to tell. For the songs I have to write. For the pictures I have yet to pen. Don't get me wrong, I hope you'll share that with me. And if you like the yarns I'm spinning, awesome. If you don't, that's OK, too.

I think the real goal of NaNo, albeit not explicitly stated anywhere that I've seen, is that participants come away from the month feeling like, thinking like, and believing themselves to be real writers.

And I did. Because I am. I am a writer. I went through the real writer shit of getting so hyperfocused on the minutia of life that I forgot that my shield, my armor, my weapons against the mediocrity of life are the words I put to page. My way to escape this world is to create my own and play around in them for a while.

So, in that sense, NaNo succeeded. And did I win? Yes. And No. It really just depends on who's definition you're using.

If it's OK with you, I'll use mine. Well...I guess if I'm paying attention to my own epiphanies, the fact is, it doesn't matter if it's ok with you or not. I need to do the thing my way.

I didn't quite catch it happening as quickly this time, but I do seem to have something of a chrysalis forming around me. I didn't notice it, but standing outside myself, looking down, I do see that it's there. I'm usually pretty good about identifying and embracing the moments in my life when these kinds of things happen...ok. No, I'm not. Normally I think something feels 'off' and I write some blog posts where I say that I feel like I'm on the verge of something big happening. And if something big happens, I write a 'see how cool that was' post. If it doesn't, I distract you with a post on the futility of trying to compare Chicago to New York style pizzas to one another (seriously, just don't. Nobody wins if you exclude either of these pieces of heaven from your pizza repertoire).

So, here's the prediction. The change that I feel like I'm on the cusp of is the same one that's always been there. The one that is finally me embracing this life and my role in it. The scales finally falling away from my eyes, if you will. Embracing the gifts and the path and the...

Fuck it. Honestly, I have no idea.

I just know I love to write. I need to write.

So I'm going to keep doing that and let's just see where this thing goes.


So Long, Ass Grape

I am a writer. You can tell by my fancy blog. No, but seriously. I am.  I don't know if I've always been keen on using analogies because I'm a writer or if I'm a writer because I've always been keen on using analogies. I'm not sure which, if either of those, is actually relevant to the rest of this post except for the fact that this post is probably going to be riddled with them. I mean, it's what I do.

Now, if you're sitting there asking yourself what an ass grape is, you're in luck. You'll probably know what it is both literally and figuratively by the end of this post. Now I have to warn you, I am prone to oversharing. My roommate's daughter things that means being too nice, but in my world it means that I'll probably tell you more than you want to really want to know. If you're not keen on knowing the medical procedure associated with removing an ass-grape, you should skip ahead.

So, apparently there are a few types of hemorrhoids (look, I warned you)--one of them is external. I guess at one point, I had one. And when it went away I was left with a skin tag. And without getting too graphic (I know, too late), I'll let you draw your own conclusion why I call it an ass-grape.

Anyway...I got sick of rocking the docked tail look, so Friday I had it taken off. The crew at the Taylor Station Surgical center was amazing.  I can't tell you a time I actually enjoyed going in for a surgical procedure.  Remind me to tell you about it next time you're around. It's kind of a funny story. I've never had anyone ask me to name something they were cutting off before.

*Post-Medical Ass-Grape Removal stuff a.k.a. The Metaphorical and Allegorical Shit Starts Here*

If you skipped ahead, I'm pretty sure you made the right choice. One of the things that the nurse asked, was if I took my little tail home, what would I name it? Someone in the room suggested Quentin. This made everyone laugh and for a good few minutes took my mind off of the fact that there were no less than seven people looking at my bare backside.

I can confirm, though, that I now have sound medical verification that despite what you may have heard from anyone I've ever dated or been married to, my head is no longer up my ass.

Oh...the name I chose for the ass-grape?  And yes, I did get them to commit to at least try to get 'ass-grape' used as the new official medical term (at the very least, I'm sure they all got a good laugh from it for the rest of the day).  But yes, I did come up with a name for it.


You see, as a writer and all-around creative type, naming it Doubt was really the logical choice. I mean, Doubt was constantly riding my ass. And while it didn't always cause physical pain, it was always there as a reminder. And true or not, it was never a far thought from me that no matter what I did to cover it up, sooner or later someone would see. They would see that Doubt was right there. It was a part of me, no matter what. Attached, grown out of me.

No more.

After a couple of very painful, burning shots to numb my buttocks, Doubt was removed with surgical precision. The physical piece is gone. Send off somewhere to be tested to make sure the Doubt wasn't cancerous. Something I've lived with away too long

As weird as it sounds, I felt a sense of relief wash over me once it was gone. Oh, I know there will still be some figurative residual left, but I know now that Doubt has been removed to the best of the surgeon's ability.

The rest is up to me.

And with that, I'm off to bed.

Have a wonderful evening and rest of your weekend my friends.


Failing NaNo - 4 Years and Counting

I looked, Dear Readers, and noted that the last time I saw fit to let the words fall from my brain bucket and onto these virtual pages was o...