A friend recently asked me how I stay inspired to write every day. What keeps my creative mind humming?
The answer is... I have no idea. I don't possess one of those always-inspired, manic brains that simply churns out gem after gem. I have something altogether different.
For me, as a writer, there are two types of days:
Type 1: Ideas come to me, and I feel that they need to play themselves out, through me. These are 'portal' days, where I'm listening to the messages from the great beyond. And they push me into the chair. These are the good days. But they're rare.
Much more common, 98% of the time, it's:
Type 2: I started something yesterday in a fit of creative clarity, but now I don't feel 'inspired'; in fact I'm fairly grumpy, or anxious, or I didn't sleep well, or I have a thousand other things competing for my attention. But I must resume working on it, because that is the only way it will ever be finished. And if I never finish it, I will float down into a spiral of self-loathing and inner cruelty, and wind up alone, herding cats, and calling them my babies. So I push me into the chair.
In other words, I am a hostage to the creative process. Type 1 days lure me in. Type 2 days keep me in bondage.
But I'm lucky. Because there are 3 things that make me perfectly situated to writing:
1. I love making shit up; always have. Writing is an outlet for what would otherwise be known as Pathological Lying... which is kinda nice.
2. I'm prone to a bit of self-loathing. But writing, as it turns out, is the antidote. By writing, I have a real, live, concrete way of 'fighting' those feelings of worthlessness, or smallness, or whatever it is. Writing is my weapon. I keep the demons at bay... by feeling productive.
3. I grew up with three fastidious, Type A people, and at some point they converted me (mostly).I hate a cluttered living room, or not knowing exactly (to the penny) how much money I have. I'm exacting. I want it to be perfect. I have high standards. This is really, really helpful when writing (and editing). There's always something more to do to the stuff I created on that Type 1 day, because it has to be perfect.
On Type 2 days, all 3 of these things help. They assist in the arduous process of applying butt-to-chair.
So ... that's a long answer to the short question of 'how to be creative or inspired every day': I'm not. For me, it's about capitalizing on that 1 day per month where I feel inspired, and then reminding myself how awful I'll feel if I don't apply my fingers to the keyboard on the other 29.
Late last year, our son Avery was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
This did not shock us, other than hearing the actual words being said out loud. No, we knew; he’d been showing various ASD symptoms and behaviors for a few years, and having recently added stimming (pinching his fingers in front of his face while talking) to his long list of quirks, we knew he’d probably have his ADHD diagnosis ‘upgraded’. He has all too many hallmarks of a high-functioning kid on the Spectrum: terribly rigid, too literal, limited interests, social interaction issues, and more. It was clear; we finally had our diagnosis of ASD.
Fast-forward to a month ago: September 12, 2016, the date that (for my family) will live in infamy! (Or, whatever the opposite of infamy is!) We drove down to Des Moines, Iowa to see Dr. Kavalier of Kavalier & Associates, recommended by an old friend of Warren’s. Dr. Kavalier had been using an off-label Alzheimer’s medication on kids (and adults) with ASD for over a decade with remarkable success, so we decided to meet with him.
I was nervous, on two fronts: Part of my feared he’d looked at Avery and say, “Oh, this won’t work for him, he’s too high-functioning”. Another part of me feared he’d fit the profile, but the medication just wouldn’t work.
Neither fear came to fruition.
Dr. Kavalier took Avery’s medical history from us, and observed him as he stimmed quietly, in his chair, and withdrew into his imagination. Then Dr. Kavalier began telling us stories of thousands of patients (literally, over 3,000, to date), 99% of whom had been turned around by this medication called “Namenda” (generic: Memantine Hydrochloride). He told us of non-verbal Autistic kids who suddenly spoke to their parents after being on it for three days. He told us about one, formerly non-verbal patient who waltzed into his office after being on the medication for three weeks, looked him in the eye and exclaimed, “Dr. Kavalier, I’m the smartest one in my class!” Example after example, kid after kid, just like ours. We started to think, “What if this could help Avery?”
We told Dr. Kavalier we wanted to try it.
Three days after Dose #1, when we called Avery upstairs to dinner, he didn’t whine or refuse. Instead, for the first time in recorded history, he replied, “Okay, but first let me put away my toys!” The next day on the way to school, he started a spontaneous discussion with me about whether Dolphins or Humans were smarter; he heard my reasoning, and contributed his own thoughts, in a fully organic, real-live, give-and-take conversation. That afternoon, he addressed a friend’s mom by looking her in the eye and asking his question (no stimming, pacing, or searching for words).
In two weeks’ time, he was starting to turn things around at school, and was more easily engaged in the classroom assignments. He stopped having explosive emotional outbursts when plans changed, or when asked to transition. He began engaging in conversations (both at home, and at school) outside his narrow range of interests, and stopped withdrawing into his imagination so much.
One month in, Avery’s getting A’s and B’s on assignments he’d have gotten F’s on before (because he thought them too ‘boring’ to attempt). No more outbursts, no more disruptions in class, no more refusing to do things, and for the first time seems genuinely engaged in school, and enthusiastic about what he’s learning. Obsessive thoughts/ speech patterns, stimming, and withdrawing from reality have all been reduced by around 85-95%. We are still playing with his dose, and there is still room for improvement (the stimming, some social anxiety)… but the gains we’ve seen make us feel like shouting it from the rooftops:
This stuff is a miracle drug.
This could be a cure for ASD.
This shit WORKS.
Dr. Kavalier tells us there are no side-effects (and we haven’t seen any, either), and there is no reason a person can’t be on Namenda for an extended period of time. His patients who have been on Namenda for 10+ years all are pictures of health. It is unknown if children who have taken Namenda until their 20’s will be able to be weaned off, but he suspects it’s possible. We’ll know in the next few years; that formerly non-verbal little girl who proclaimed she was the smartest one in her class? She’s just started college, and she told us she wants to be a Pediatric Oncologist.
Now… I could get into all the reasons why this medication isn’t FDA approved for kids ... a) few medications actually are, b) now that it’s generic, the companies don’t see any financial incentive for it; c) whatever, life sucks. And just search the interwebs; plenty of people (and the FDA!) warn of the "dangers" of off-label prescribing. However, given the strength of Dr. Kavalier’s own data and experiences, and given our own friend’s daughter’s miraculous recovery… we felt it was a risk worth taking. For, as Dr. Kavalier said of Avery, “Look, if he doesn’t go on the medication, he’ll be okay. He’ll grow up and probably go work with computers; he’ll work in IT, but he won’t interact with people unless someone needs help with their computer. And he won’t go to the Christmas party. But… if you put him on it, he’s clearly very bright, so… the sky’s the limit.”
It’s not that a job in IT would be a fate worse than death or something, but rather it was the Christmas party bit that stung. We want Avery to have a full life, engage with other people, have friends, maybe have his own family one day, and experience all the world has to offer. We didn’t want him stuck in his own imagination, struggling to connect or hang onto a job. Or, worse; sometimes ASD kids turn into very disturbed teens, difficult to control, angry, sometimes even violent. The "risk" was one we were willing to take.
If there are any changes, I'll post about it right away. But... one month in? I'm convinced. I'm shouting it from the rooftops. This shit works.
I know it’s hard. These days, so many of us are so stuck in front of computers, it starts to feel as if our only connections are made via the internet. But it is a false connectedness. An illusion of connectedness. It does not have a pulse. It is pictures and snippets and songs, and sure, a momentary diversion can be nice... but it is not the Real Thing.
The good news is, we don’t have to be satisfied with internet connectedness; we can do better. We can still have the Real Thing, too. I went to breakfast this morning with a dear friend, and after two hours of chatting and laughing and talking about the last few weeks, I could tell we both felt rejuvenated and revitalized. The simple act of connection, and friendship, healed many wounds.
When we stay inside, indoors, keep to ourselves, hole up during the long cold days of winter, or the heat waves of summer, when we do not see friends, or go for walks, when we do not have coffee or set up a play-date… we stew. We stew in our own juices too much, and even if your juices are finer and fresher than most, one’s own juices will always go rancid at some point. You need to add other people’s juices, and other places besides your living room, to to freshen things up.
Have a cup of coffee with a friend; make time for a long walk; look at the sky and clouds, and the stars, and dream. Otherwise, you’ll go numb. Or worse, you’ll fixate on hate. Or hating all the hatred in the world. But the hate of hatred is, let’s face it… just more hate.
All summer, I’ve been waiting for a handful of career-things. Waiting to hear about a couple TV pilots I’m trying to sell; waiting to hear about a start-date on this TV show I’m supposed to be staffed on; waiting to hear if maybe this book I've been writing is worthy of being published. These things are all just waiting, in the wings, with a Curtain refusing to rise. It feels somehow wrong to be waiting because it’s summer, when (supposedly, allegedly) this is the season of blooms, when all things pollinated are now bursting forth, fulfilling their potential. But not me; I’m being asked to wait on blooming, on fulfilling my potential.
But... the result has been that I am forced to be in The Now, not in the future. And what a gift, that has been. Being asked to live in the present, to watch my beautiful child splashing in Lake Michigan with his best friend, to take lazy afternoons walks with him, engaged in nothing more earth-shattering than stopping somewhere for a drippy ice cream cone. And the feeling I get when I have spent my day like this is… I have done it. I have won. I have beaten down the bad guys. I have shut out the Hate in the world by doing simple, loving, pleasurable things. By reveling in my son’s love, and the love of his friends, and the love of my friends.
I find, at the end of such a day, that I am just so grateful. I’m so grateful for that odd, free morning with nothing to do. I’m so grateful for thrift-shopping, I’m so grateful for the beautiful, neighborhood pool where we can swim and sun ourselves; I’m so grateful for Lake Michigan, and that my almost 9-year-old still wants to cuddle. And my gratefulness fills me up, and suddenly I can past November 3rd, and I can see past hatred and ignorance, and I see past the next Supreme Court case, and I can feel (instead of worry, or anger, or frustration or hate) the joy and the harmony of everything.
I cannot control others. I cannot stop others from being hateful, or ignorant. All I can do is be loving, myself, and then take that out into the world. To lead by example. To love.
We fight off the bad-guys with love. It’s that simple. We fight off the bad-guys with love.
We humans are not innately patient, as a species. Patience is something we have to cultivate.
Now, it’s all very well and good to say, “I need to learn to be more patient,” but ...how? Up until a year ago, no one had ever really taught me how. No one had ever given me practical steps.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with waiting for something to happen. We have to wait for things all the time; to check out at the grocery store, for those fun shoes we ordered to come in. But when we are waiting for something big, perhaps even life-changing—say, for an answer from a production company about whether or not they want to option your script – the days can seem to last forever. This kind of waiting can cause anxiety, anger, fear, resentment, self-doubt, even depression. How to wait, when waiting causes these emotions, which then feel as though the process is eating us alive?
Of these side-effects of waiting, Anxiety was my thing. I had to be admitted to the ER (with chest pains) FOUR SEPARATE TIMES before I’d admit that I had a problem with anxiety. Prozac didn’t help; it only made me feel ‘checked out’ and numb. St. John’s Wort sort of helped, but not really, not consistently. Yoga didn’t help because I just didn’t really like it all that much, so I never did enough of it to reap any benefit. Massage helped with the side-effects of anxiety (Fibromyalgia, sore muscles strained to their breaking point from constant fight-or-flight), but never addressed the root of the anxiety. And talk therapy, which I’d done on and off for years, only confirmed that I’d ‘had a tough life’, but did nothing for the gripping and painful spasms in my chest, the sleepless nights, the spiraling negative thoughts, or any of the other nasty little symptoms that come along with anxiety.
When I discovered Wu Ming Qigong, and began practicing (daily) I no longer experienced anxiety. I might feel a feeling like impatience, anger, or frustration – but I was able to feel and process it, so it would pass through my system, and be released... instead of festering and getting ‘trapped’ in my chest or muscles. (These are not technical terms; this is just my experience of what was happening.)
When I am practicing Qigong each day (and a full practice only takes about 25 minutes), I experience patience during the practice itself. Sometimes I am doing one of the movements, and I just want to stop, for no reason (or, in my head, it's "boring"). But if I simply ignore that childish thought, or remind myself of the benefits, I can focus in on the present moment (even if that's just doing the dishes), and complete what I'm working on.
Wu Ming Qigong practice is basically training me to experience patience in my everyday life. Yes, I am waiting for something, but if I focus in on what I am doing in the present moment, the waiting is easier, or temporarily forgotten. And the thoughts around what I’m waiting for are more reasoned, more loving. “I’m waiting because someone is saying ‘yes’; they haven’t yet said, ‘no’, which is good. Saying 'no' is easy, a quick phone call that gets me off their to-do list. So the fact that they haven't yet said 'no' is a very positive thing. So I should continue to wait and see, with optimism. Because something really amazing could very well come out of this situation.”
Why is this? Qigong is based on the basic principle (backed up by discoveries in modern physics) that everything is energy. This energy, in Traditional Chinese thought, is known as Qi (pronounced "chee"). It is thought that Qi moves through certain 'meridians' in the body (this is what an acupuncturist 'taps' with their needles). With Wu Ming Qigong, you become your own doctor, massaging the meridians with simple movements, allowing Qi to flow freely. It is thought that blocked Qi is the cause of most physical or emotional imbalances, and that, by unblocking the Qi, wellness and balance will be restored.
Now, do I know for a fact that this is the case? No. It's rather mysterious, in fact. But I have been able to set aside my Western mindset long enough to practice Wu Ming Qigong, and I have witnessed changes (both mental and emotional) for myself. And when I don’t practice my Qigong every day, let me tell you, the pain, anxiety and depression come back. In the past two weeks, I’ve only managed about 1 or 2 practices and man, do I feel it. Negative thoughts, lack of energy, loss of sleep, tension in my jaw, neck, and upper back muscles. It's not just physical, but mental and emotional. It’s almost like not doing Qigong now is a punishment.
And the same goes for eating healing foods, taking Chinese herbs and tea, and getting enough rest (and not too much alcohol): all of these things make me feel good; not doing them contributes to feeling bad. If I’m not doing these things every day, it bears the question: “Why? Why punish myself? What have I done, to feel (deep down) that I do not deserve to feel healthy, or happy, and at peace?”
Those are hard questions, and I honestly do not always know the answer. Sometimes I’ll remember a snippet of something from my past that makes me feel guilty, or sad, or regretful. So maybe I’m trying to punish myself for those transgressions. Maybe I feel, deep down, unworthy of the feelings of wholeness and contentment that have come with learning Wu Ming Qigong. That could certainly be an old brain habit, as I was taught as a young person (by outside voices) that I was not good enough, not pretty enough, not graceful enough... just not enough.
So the hard work NOW, now that I know the path (for me) to self-healing, wholeness, happiness and contentment, and yes, even patience… is stopping myself when I start to wander off into the tall weeds. As I’m wandering away, training myself to say, “Stop. You can stay on this path of patience, contentment, and health. Because there’s nothing you’ve done that is so bad, that you deserve pain and illness. When you are wrong, you admit it. When you have hurt someone, you apologize. Give yourself the gift of forgiveness and acceptance that you give your own child, your spouse, your loved ones, every single day. Be the friend and mother to yourself, that you are to others. It’s okay to do this. I mean, go on and wander off the path for a day or two, if you must, but remember to come right back to this. Because this is good and kind, it is a way to be loving to yourself, and you need it. What's more, you deserve it. You are enough.”
I think now, the biggest hurdle? Finding the patience to keep working on that last bit.
Dear Rich Old Man,
You keep calling me about your K-1. And no, it is not ready yet. Just like the last sixty-seven times you've called me, it won't be ready for a few more days, until the accountants are finished preparing them. And, again, I'll send it along the moment it is ready. But in the meantime, here's a little tip: your calling me three times a day will not make it materialize any sooner. It'll be ready when it is ready. And not a moment before.
It is especially not ready today, a Sunday*. It will not be ready on a Sunday because nobody works on Sunday. Or, people do, but those people are just sad. The rest of us do not work on Sunday, as we need to take time every so often to have a glass of beer, go to a house of worship, see a play, recover from a hangover, and/or spend time with our children. We cannot service your Old Rich Man needs today, because the Old Rich Men Servicing Department is currently closed. Because it is Sunday.
*NOTE: Typically in the Financial sector, one works when the Banks are open, which means not on Sundays. If you work on Sundays (and/or, you are a whiny little bitch who likes to quibble over semantics), you may want to substitute in your head whatever day of the week it is that you, yourself, do not work, wherever you see the word "Sunday".
Listen. I'm not trying to be rude, but the fact that you are getting a K-1 from our office can mean only one thing:
You are Rich. You have funds at your disposal the likes of which I have only seen in bank heist movies. You could wipe your ass with a $100 bill every day from now until the day you die, and your children would still have enough money to own an island in the Caribbean and me, a middle class American lady with a degree from NYU.
Now, the fact that you are calling on a Sunday indicates to me that you have a great deal of time on your hands. Therefore, I would like to make a suggestion, something you might do with your time, and with your money: Become a Philanthropist. Full time. Seriously. You have everything you need to become a really good one, which is not the same with other pursuits like medicine or physics or philosophy, for which you also needs a few brain cells, and the ability to know when you are being a jackass. No, seriously, philanthropy was made for guys like you. And, here's the kicker: do you know what you'll find out, if you become one? That the People of the World need you! Starving people need food; thirsty people need water; the whole world needs cleaner energy - just start with one of these, open up your checkbook, and give it a whirl. I think you'll be amazed at how truly useful you can be.
But, no, I get it. If becoming a philanthropist doesn't appeal for some reason (it doesn't benefit you directly, it would cost you money, it sounds boring, or distasteful, you're retired, etc.), I do have one other suggestion, then, and that is: Go fuck yourself. Or, rather, go try to fuck yourself, for I hear it is very difficult to get ones own penis in ones own asshole, and I believe you may find the attempt an edifying pursuit.
And by the time you've done it, or at least by the time you've given it the old college try... guess what?
Your K-1 will be ready.
Last night, Mr. Ron Sanborn passed away. Ron was an actor, a man with a big heart, and a friend and mentor to many. Ron was exceedingly good-natured. I, myself, did not know him very well, but nevertheless, here is how I know:
In the summer of 2001, at The New London Barn Playhouse (New London, NH), a group of overworked, under-fed, sleep-deprived summer acting interns discovered a box of head-shots from the 1980's, tucked away in the corner of Norman's office.
How/why this box was uncovered (or what the interns who found it were *supposed* to be doing), is not known to me. What is known, however, is that more than a few of the head-shots were hilarious. Okay, ALL of them were hilarious. 70's and 80's hair/ makeup/ clothing, poses utilizing HANDS, you get the idea.
Among these head-shots was one of none other than a young, unknown actor named Ron Sanborn. Jennifer Blood instantly declared him her 'boyfriend' and kept the head-shot for herself. She put him up next to her makeup mirror. She sang him songs, wrote him sonnets (not really). She blew him kisses, from both on and off stage (maybe, probably, this is very likely). I believe Ron may have been kidnapped once, if memory serves, and held for ransom. (David Cleveland was a suspect, though charges were never formerly filed.) Jen Blood worshiped at the feet (or, rather, at the chin) of Mr. Ron Sanborn; and, in the spirit of youth and solidarity, so did the rest of us.
Mr. Sanborn's face guided us through the rest of the summer, watching over us as we got cast in our dream roles, wrote wacky children's plays, built scenery, sewed costumes until 1AM, and fought amongst ourselves over bit-parts and the last portion of nut-loaf. Ron even appeared on stage, his name mentioned out loud, during one particularly loopy evening performance of SINGING IN THE RAIN, a prank for which we all got in Big Trouble (though Freddie Kimmel, I do recall, bore the brunt). Ron's face was also photocopied literally hundreds of times, so it could be used as wallpaper backstage.
Ron was our hero, our mascot, our guiding light. A reminder of our own willful indentured servitude to the Barn, of our hopes and dreams for the future, a reminder of our own small-ness and anonymity in the vast world of Professional Acting. And while it seemed futile, and silly to the outside world, to act upon the wicked stage... there we all were, doing just that. And loving every second of it. Just like Ron.
At the end of the summer, we used what photocopies we had left to create statues (toilet paper roll statues, with his head on top) for the 1st Annual Ron Sanborn Awards. Sarah Dawber and I, if memory serves, presided over the evening. I still have my Ron Sanborn Award, somewhere.
Fast-forward six months, or so: Jen Hope organized a Barnie Reunion in New York City, and unbeknownst to anyone (but especially J-Blo), J-Ho had managed to somehow track down THE REAL RON SANBORN. She'd researched him, found his phone number, called him, and told him the whole story: about how Jen Blood had fallen in love with his head-shot, and how we'd transformed him into our mascot, how we'd used him, made fun of him, worshiped him, and all the rest. She then she asked him if he would be willing to come to our "reunion", and surprise everyone.
And Ron said YES.
His appearance at the restaurant quite literally raised the roof. Jennifer Blood, if memory serves, was speechless; she hugged him while laughing soundlessly and hysterically, and then cried real tears. JHo looked like a proud mama, showing off her newborn babe. It was as if she'd produced God himself, and delivered him unto us... and then God sat down and helped himself to some Indian food. He was so sweet, and gracious, and funny, and just jumped right in, as if he'd been with us, all summer. It was as if he knew us. Because... he did. Because theater people are the same, no matter where you go. It was sublime, and surreal, and absolutely perfect.
It's been almost 15 years since that summer, and now Mr. Sanborn is no longer with us. I know this will be hard news to hear for us Barnies; and I know, with a heart as large as Ron's, the circle of friends who mourn his passing today, was probably much larger than we'll ever know.
My heart is with you, right now, friends-of-Ron. Because a heart like that one, so large and so welcoming, a big, big heart like Ron's, just doesn't come along every day.
So, here's what's going on:
A production company in LA (who has produced for SyFy and ABC Family, among others) is showing interest in my script, EVOLUTION.
So, here's what happened: my manager sent their Development Exec the script last summer. If you're thinking, "That seems like a long time ago", well, yes, it was. Last summer, the summer of 2015, is an ice age ago, and an entire generation of butterflies and chrysanthemums were born, and have died, in the interim. But I digress; after (or during?) the summer of 2015, this particular DE went on maternity leave, so the script sat in her inbox until just a few weeks ago when she finally opened it, and read it. And as it turns out, she LOVES it.
So the DE emails my manager, to set up a call between the three of us. After a few false starts, and a last-minute snafoo with the phone number, we all get on the phone together. And it's lovely, and the DE asks me some questions about "the show", and I explain as best I can what on Earth I was thinking when I wrote it, and some ideas I've had about the future of "the show", etc. Then the DE says again how much she loves the script, and she's going to go ahead and "pitch" the show to the producers, and we all politely say "thank you" and "goodbye"... and, scene. (Immediately upon hanging up, my manager calls back, brimming with enthusiasm over the call. I told her she deserved a bottle of scotch, or maybe a muffin basket, on me.)
About a week later, my manager gets another call from the DE, just to "check in." The DE says that her pitch to the producers went well, and now the producers are reading the script. And the DE tells my manager that she thinks I'm creative and smart, and someone they'd really like to work with, and this script is right up their alley. "Huh," I think. "How extremely nice. When is the part where she says they're passing?" But that part doesn't come. The DE just wants to keep us in the loop. "Huh," I think again. "How extremely nice."
So ...now we are waiting to hear what the producers think of the script.
Let's hope they think it's "extremely nice." Or, "cool", or whatever.
Now, some of you might be thinking... So? What's so exciting? It's just somebody reading it. It's not like your pilot's been ordered to series, yet.
Okay, fine. If you don't wanna be excited, that's fine. But that just means... you don't understand the statistics, here. THIS IS A STATISTICAL IMPOSSIBILITY. THIS -- what's already happened, thus far, with the script being read, and then liked, and then pitched up the ladder? -- THIS DOES NOT HAPPEN. STATISTICALLY SPEAKING, it literally NEVER happens. Even with lots of TV pilots being scooped up these days, the odds have STILL got to be something like 1 in 10,000, based on this guy's analysis of the film spec market. Which is 0.01% .
And it NEVER, EVER happens to NEWBIE writers like me, and especially not when it's your own idea, and not the regurgitation of someone else's comic book, or novel, or stage-play, or what-not. And it never, EVER, EVER, EVER happens to writers who haven't already been working in the industry for some time, most of whom have already WRITTEN on some TV show, already. THIS JUST DOES NOT HAPPEN.
And yet, it has happened. The door has cracked open a smidge, and I somehow managed to poke my nose in at just the right moment, and instead of slapping it shut and really doing a number on my cute little nose, forever... they opened it a little further, and actually asked me to step inside.
If this is as far as it goes, right now, if nothing else happens with this script... I just have to take a step back, and celebrate this extraordinary statistical anomaly! Because, well, it's basically impossible, and yet… here we are. And, I'm sorry, but from this point, anything that happens now is much LESS amazing; I mean, statistically. They sort of 'know me' now, and if they ever do say ‘yes’ to something of mine in the future, it won’t be quite so surprising, because statistically saying 'yes' to a writer they know and like already, is fairly common. It's way, WAY more common, than THIS.
I know how it is.
You’re dizzy from the fumes of the newly painted nursery, you (or your wife) is about to bust out of those super-super-sized pregnancy jeans, there are exactly zero Shower-thank-you-notes written, and the only foods that sounds good to you all start with “Cool Ranch” and end with “Doritos”.
The due date is right around the corner. You’re under the gun. The Jeopardy theme-song runs non-stop in your head. You know you’re running out of time. But you just can’t crack it…
What the F*** are we gonna NAME our BABY?
It’s okay. We’ve all been there. There’s really nothing to worry about.
You’ve just lost your mind, is all.
But it’s alright, I’ve got this; I'm here to help. Not with any practical advice about what to name your baby, no! No, that would be way too cool of me.
No, I’m here with the honest-to-god TRUTH.
Friend: it doesn’t matter what you name your baby.
So just have fun with it! Free-associate. Go on a road-trip, and just start talking to each other. Wasn’t that how this all started, in the first place?
Fine, if one of you is too big now to get into the car… I’ll get you started. Here’s a list of sure-fire names for you, names that will absolutely catch on like wildfire once this blog post goes viral… (but not before you were there to ‘do it first’):
That wasn’t Kim Basinger, it was Kelly McGillis.
The one from Witness?
Billy Ray Cyprus
Doogie Howser, MD
Tour de France
…yeah, now I’m stuck, too…
(what if it’s twins?)
Yawkey & Van Ness
Addison & Clarke
East 161st Street & River Ave
Ross & Rachel
Ross, Joey & Chandler
(let’s go back to single babies)
(All the single babies,
All the single babies,
Unique New York
Austin, Madison, Brooklyn, Phoenix, Macon, Cody, Cheyenne, Savannah, Bristol, and Charlotte are all taken, so…
No, NO, STOP. STOP. I’ve got it:
I loved him in “Raiders…”.
See? There’s really nothing to it. Just free associate, and the first time you agree ... stop. You're done.
Happy Baby Name Shopping!
PS: All of these exciting possibilities scream “future President of the United States” to me. I say, go for it...
The other day, two men were walking around my neighborhood. They were white males, average height/weight (5'11 or 6', 170+), mid to late 40s; one carried a clipboard.
As Avery and I were walking down Richmond Street to meet up with friends, the men yelled at me from across the street, saying they wanted to "ask me a question" -- something I associate with those infuriating guys who used to ask women if they wanted a free haircut! So... suspicious, hesitant to speak with them, I replied by asking what, specifically, they wanted to talk about (and I slowed down, but kept walking).
Then one of them shouted, FURIOUSLY, "Well, if you'd stop WALKING, we could F***ING ask you!!" -- mind you, Avery is six paces ahead of me.
I was stunned, but then immediately I was afraid. I wanted to yell at him; tell him to go F-himself. But I didn't. He was only a few feet away at this point, outweighed me by 40 lbs, and of course he had a bud', right? Outweighed and outnumbered, I wasn't going to give him a piece of my mind, I wasn't going to do anything; and he knew it. I turned away, and kept walking.
It was not just the use of the F-bomb (which I've been known to drop), but at the aggression directed towards me, that has disturbed me since. Such ANGER -- simply because I wasn't being a "nice girl", stopping what I was doing, to let these guys talk to me.
When I got to Mara's house, I told her what had happened, and she (accompanied by her large German Shepherd, Lucky) ran after them, found out what they were doing (they were "developers, looking for properties to flip") and she gave them a piece of her mind. (Having no large dog, and not being 6'0 and in incredible shape (as Mara is!)... I admit, I was too afraid to do what Mara did, though I'm incredibly grateful that she did it.)
Then, I posted the incident on EveryBlock, to make neighbors aware -- and while 99% of the replies were supportive, one guy piped up to say it was "the most boring post of 2014".
YES. Yes, isn't it BORING? It's SO boring to feel unsafe in your own neighborhood. It's SO AVERAGE to feel that, at any moment, an entitled white guy can treat you like trash, in front of your own child, and you're not supposed to do or say anything in your defense. It's so pedestrian; so banal. And that is the problem. THAT IS THE PROBLEM. It happens every day. To women, everywhere. It's as boring as a cat-call. It's as snoozeville as that singer or football player who hits his girlfriend. It's as work-a-day as the image of the subservient nymph hugging the kneecap of the guy riding the sharks in the SharkWeek ads.
It's totally NORMAL. And that's why it's SO DISTURBING.
To be a woman in our society means you are automatically at a disadvantage, physically -- and that's all that counts, to certain people. Size. Strength. Two of them, one of me, both outweighed me by 30+ pounds -- of course I didn't give them a piece of my mind. I was at risk of violence, in that moment. I didn't want my child be afraid -- for himself, or for me. I didn't want to get hit. I didn't want to be sexually assaulted. IT WAS BROAD DAYLIGHT, IN MY OWN NEIGHBORHOOD.
You'd think, at 39 years of age, something like this would just roll off my back. I have a good life; my body is able, I have a sweet, loving husband and an adorable child, I have a decent job, and a full creative plate, and the best friends; I'm lucky. So why should I care about that moment? Why am I thinking about it, days later? Why, when it's so BORING?
Because, in that moment, I was not being treated as a PERSON. THAT is not banal. It's not boring. It's not work-a-day. I'm a person. Purposeful dehumanization of one another is not okay.
We do not live in a society which values women as people. NOT YET. But by teaching our children better; by speaking out about these kinds of events; by spreading understanding... perhaps one day we will.