Monthly Archives: July 2008

Are They Talking To Us?

The whole Unfocused family, I mean. We went to Navy Pier tonight to see Willy Wonka and ride the Ferris wheel. The garages on the Pier were full, so we parked a ways off and took the bus. This ad was right across from where we were sitting:

“Do you or someone in your family experience some or all of the following: * Easily distracted * Forgetful of daily activities * Overly active * Trouble paying attention to detail”


1,423 Words Written, of the Wrong Thing.

I wrote 503 words of Meet the Larssons today, again all on the train to and from the office. I still haven’t gotten through the dreaded scene, although I just learned something interesting connecting one character to another, so that’s fun.

After I put the kids to bed (the Mrs. was out at the house of one of the neighbors for one of those parties where women try to sell each other things; I don’t begin to understand those parties, but that’s off topic; for tonight, I’ll just say that I’m glad the Mrs. got out with some friends, which doesn’t happen much), I sat down to write. Did I open up MTL and start work again, under calmer circumstances than the Metra allows?

I did not. Instead, I started frantically typing up a short horror story I thought of at lunch. I wrote 1,423 words of that story tonight, which is at least half of the entire first draft (I estimate the final story will be 2500-3000 words). It’s sort of a Lovecraftian pastiche.

Yeah, I know: distracted by another shiny object. Sometimes, though, you just have to get the ideas out of your head.


I got 505 words written on Meet the Larssons today, all on the train. One of the things that’s been holding me back is the dread of writing a particular scene, involving a social situation in which I have next to no experience. So I changed the circumstances just enough that while it’s still awkward, I’m better able to put my head into the protagonist’s circumstances and think through his actions and reactions.

I have also finished revising the science fiction story I mentioned in this post, and submitted it to an online market. I caught Mrs. Unfocused chuckling a couple of times while she read it for the first time this evening, so I have some hope after all.

In other news, we did not win the Mega Millions lottery tonight, which means I need to go to work tomorrow.

Summer Sunday Stats #2: Just Walk Away.

Another long silence here at The Unfocused Life. Because, y’know, I lost my focus. My father-in-law had open heart surgery on Wednesday, and it’s been a little chaotic since with that added onto everything else that’s going on. The important thing is that he’s doing fine, out of intensive care, and charming the nurses. The latest word is that he’ll be out of the hospital in a few days, which is when the real recovery begins.

Summer Sunday Stats:

Miles run: 9.97, in 1:24:33. How does the same run vary so widely in distance every week? Bizarre. I was wrong in my post for last Sunday: my time was 1:28:04, so this was a huge improvement. The big difference is the speedwork I did on a treadmill on Thursday at the gym.

Weather: hot and muggy (welcome to Chicago in July), but it was overcast, so I didn’t have the sun beating down on me the whole way (another improvement over last week).

What was playing on my iPod: Phedippidations # 145 (Topic: Running Legend Frank Shorter), and Greatest Hits: Huey Lewis and the News. There are some great running tunes included in the Huey Lewis collection, although for me, the sentimental favorite is still Heart and Soul.

Words written in Meet the Larssons: yeah, well, it’s been a tough week.

Did you at least finish revising the short story you wrote on your Blackberry: shut up.

Time-sucking obsessive Internet search instead of writing: I’m so glad you asked. I’ve had this song going through my head nearly constantly since shortly after it hit the airwaves on WPLJ in 1984 (right before WPLJ betrayed every single one of its listeners and went Top 40, the lousy bastards). It started going through my head last night while I was trying to edit a brief, so I tried hunting it down. The song is Walk Away Renee, the 1984 cover by Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes. I was surprised to see the song has its own Wikipedia entry – fascinating story, none of which I knew before last night. I bought the CD from the Jukes’ website, and downloaded the original by the Left Banke from Amazon. Here’s a link to a video performance of the 1966 hit by the Left Banke:

Don’t ask me why this song has been stuck in my head for 24 years. I have no idea.

Oops. I Finished a Short Story.

I didn’t mean to, honest. A few months ago, I started writing a short story by emailing a few paragraphs to myself on my Blackberry while I waited for my sandwich at Cosi’s. Over the course of a month or two, I emailed half a dozen bits to myself while standing in line to buy lunch or other mundane tasks. Then I lost interest.

Tonight, I opened it up to see where it was. I finished the job of importing the emails into Scrivener, and realized I was just about done. So I took half an hour (hey, it’s my birthday) and finished it.

The first draft of “Dear Mr. President” is 2,080 words long. I’ll try to finish revisions by Sunday night, and submit it Sunday night or Monday morning. There are a few online markets that I think I’ll try; I don’t plan to shoot for the moon with this one, but I won’t consider non-paying markets until I’ve run out of paying options.

Is it my best work? No, probably not. But I think it’s a fun little alternate history story, and there might be a place for it somewhere. I don’t have as much invested in it as I did in “Test Tube Beneficiaries” (no response yet to the second submission, but thanks for asking), which I hope means I won’t need to go through six sets of revisions before I can let it go.

But how about that? When I sat down tonight, I had no plans to work on this story at all, and now I’ve gone and finished the first draft. What the hell, though; it’s my birthday. Yay, me.

I Can Haz Prezentz?!?

Mrs. Unfocused got her supergenius freelance art director and designer friend, Housecat No More, to design a t-shirt for me based on one of my recent blog posts. In the post, it seems I said I was going to get this printed on a t-shirt; the Mrs. beat me to it. Here I am wearing my prize:

I have another one — same message, but the shirt is light blue (so calming!). I also got some other stuff, and very nice cards. My family is wonderful.

Today’s My Birthday.

Today’s my birthday. I’m 39, and I have to leave off harassing Mrs. Unfocused about being the older woman.

We celebrated yesterday with cake and a visit from a college friend and his daughter, which was good fun. On Saturday, we got together with another college friend from out of town, and his wife and daughters, so it was a very collegiate weekend.

I did get my long run in yesterday. I went out late, at about 10:30, so it was already pretty hot, and again, my training fell off in the last couple of weeks, so I wasn’t terribly fast: 9.85 miles in 1:27 and change (don’t have my watch in front of me for the exact time). I’m okay with that, because at least I got it done. I should get a little more running in this week.

Birthday or not, I’ve gotta go to work.