Tag Archives: Me

Decrepitude Has Crept Up on Me.

I will no longer be able to quote the line from “When Harry Met Sally” — “and I’m going to be 40… someday!” — with any sense of irony at all.  I am 40 today, and so far I am totally nonplussed, mainly because I went to bed too late and now I’m sleepy.

Where did the time go?  How is it possible I’ve reached this age without having more answers?  Without being further along?

And where’s my goddamn jetpack?

Gaaa. I’m going for a run.



Here’s my response to the one-word meme.  Freshhell tagged me by implication.  You’ll catch on.

Where is your cell phone: hallway.
Your hair: messy
Your significant other: siren
Your mother: displaced
Your father: urban
Your favorite thing: books
Your dream last night: none
Your favorite drink: coffee
Your dream/goal: publication
The room you are in: kitchen
Your fear: dementia
Where do you want to be in 6 years: published
Muffins: eggless
One of your wish list items: time
Where you grew up: Brooklyn
The last thing you did: drank
What are you wearing: pajamas
Your TV: Sony
Your pets: robotic
Your computer: macalicious
Missing someone: no
Your life: packed
Your mood: foul
Your car: old
Favorite store: Strand
Your summer: distant
Your favorite color: black
When is the last time you laughed: Monday
Last time you cried: 2001
Where were you last night: home
Something that you are not: focused

Tag.  You.  Are.  It.

16/25 Completely Non-Random Things About Me.

Jason at All the Billion Other Moments just tagged me to post 16 things about myself.  Having just done the same thing on Facebook but with 25 things, I figured I’d just copy the post, and let you, the reader, choose which 16 of the 25 you consider worthy of your attention.  Since you have to read all 25 in order to select the best 16 things, however, the savings of time may be limited.  I may have posted about some of these things before, in which case, disregard them in determining your 16 favorite things about me.

1. I like barbecue-flavored potato chips to an unreasonable degree, and therefore almost never eat them.
2. I’m not terribly introspective (thus opening this list with an item about chips), but I do enjoy talking about myself. Just in a very superficial way.
3. I hope that if/when the singularity comes, it at least comes at a time when it gets me out of having to do something unpleasant.
4. I’d really like some chocolate chip cookies right about now.
5. Please walk faster and talk faster, because you’re making me crazy.
6. I’ve been blogging for over a year.
7. I started blogging to ease myself back into writing for pleasure. I started a novel two weeks later, and finished the 500-page first draft in October. So much for easing into it.
8. I started the rewrite in December, and so far, it’s much harder.
9. I was never much of a cook, and have not improved with age.
10. When I was a kid, I was convinced New York City was going to get nuked by the Russians, and researched a plan to use the basement as a shelter.
11. Part of me has continued to be that pessimistic all along.
12. The last time I can remember crying was in April, 2001, when Unfocused Girl was about six weeks old. I was in the Tampa airport, called home from the road, and the Siren told me that UG’s blood test had come back and her liver was starting to work. There would be no bypass surgery, no transplant, just six more months of regular checkups until the liver specialist at Children’s finally told her not to come back until she graduated from medical school.
13. The time before that was during the movie Armageddon. The Siren and I were flying home from Paris, and I’d had a lot of champagne.
14. In the four months after Junior was born, I was hardly ever home, either working late or out of town. Unfocused Girl was so mad at me that she didn’t call me “Daddy” for months. Instead, she called me “Rusty.”
15. I haven’t had a rum and Coke in more than 20 years, and that isn’t going to change.
16. As the clients were dropping the Senior Partner and me off at the airport earlier this week, I accidentally quoted The Rocky Horror Picture Show (“Say good-bye to all this, and say hello to oblivion.”), which I believe I saw 14 times at the 8th Street Playhouse during high school, plus a couple of times in Chicago during college. Nobody caught the reference.
17. I have no vocal talent whatsoever. Despite that (or perhaps because of it), I *really* enjoy karaoke, and I had solos in two musicals while in college, plus a duet as a mad scientist with a six foot tall redheaded fembot.
18. For another (non-singing) role my senior year of college, I lost 25 pounds in two months to play a homeless guy.
19. I always wanted to be a math geek, but it was too much work. Instead, I was just a regular geek.
20. My FB friends include one person I went to school with from nursery school through eighth grade, two people I went to school with from kindergarten through eighth grade, including the best man at my wedding, one person I went to school with from kindergarten through high school, as well as more than one person I know only over teh intertubes.
21. The Siren and I named Junior after our favorite author.
22. I have started the Chicago Marathon five times, and finished it four times. I finished it in 1998, 1999, 2000, and 2003. In 2006, I had knee problems that stopped me running at my 19 and stopped me walking at mile 21. I had never had knee pain before that day, and I have had it off and on ever since. I have run five half marathons and numerous shorter races since, but haven’t tried another marathon.
23. I have read more books about Theodore Roosevelt than any other non-fiction subject, all as the result of being assigned an excerpt from his autobiography in American Civilization in college.
24. I read Thomas Pynchon’s V. in 1992, and five minutes after I finished it could hardly have told you anything about it. Seventeen years later, I don’t remember anything about it at all.
25. I read 1984, Animal Farm, Brave New World, and We in middle school. *Those* made an impression.

I’m not going to tag 16 people — if you’re interested in talking about yourself, consider yourself tagged.  Please leave a link in the comments if you tag yourself.

Winter Sunday Stats #6: Breaking Through 200 Two Times.

As you all know, it has been a pretty eventful week.  I’m not going to spend a lot of time dwelling on it since I’ve already posted about it, but — just in case you’ve been living under a rock or something — I’ll give it a quick mention:  I posted my two-hundredth entry on this blog on Thursday.  Not too shabby, I should think.

There was that big thing in Washington, too, but that’s over and wasn’t about me.

On to the stats:

On Writing:  The writing stat for the week is 62, which is the number of pages of Meet the Larssons I have revised since last week’s post.  I have revised 204 pages so far, which is the second milestone “200” I broke through this week.  I just hope I can get through page 300 before blog post #300.

The price of burning through 62 pages of revisions is that I didn’t do anything on the outline for Project Hometown or to finish the draft of “Jamie’s Story.”  I’m going to be traveling most of this week for work (someplace warm!), but I may have a little time to write in the evenings.  If I do, I’ll probably work on “Jamie’s Story,” although I may just bring pages of MTL to mark up.

On Running: Today wasn’t bad.  It was 4 degrees (F) when I started my run at 11am (it’s up to 7 as I write this), so once again I was on the treadmill.  I ran 7.37 miles in an hour even (8:08 m/m), which is pretty good.  I got a couple of short runs in during the week, including my first hill workout in over a month.  I didn’t make 20 miles for the week, but I’m definitely getting back into running shape.

The only hitch is that my knee did something odd and painful last night.  I’m not even sure what I was doing — possibly standing up from putting in the DVD for family movie night (Harry Potter & the Prisoner of Azkaban, if you’re wondering) — but nothing memorable.  The pain lasted a little while, fading over about 15 minutes, and felt like it was possibly a pulled tendon or ligament on the inside of the leg, just below the joint.  It didn’t bother me during my run this morning, but it felt very stiff when I was done.  Stretching helped, and I’ll ice it tonight.  But the long plane ride tomorrow makes me a little nervous.

On the iPod: I liked Scott Sigler’s Earthcore so much I downloaded his next book, Ancestor, this week and started listening to it, and I’m already sucked in.  Scott’s entertained me enough already for free, so when I get back from my trip I’m going to pick up copies of Infected and Contagious at the bookstore.  I also listened to I Should Be Writing #109 (interview with Scott Sigler — these new media types are everywhere when they’ve got a new book out), Writing Excuses, Season 2, Episode 15 (Knowing When to Begin), and Phedippidations #170 (Thoughts from the Road).  I also downloaded a boatload of 80s music the other night, because I was in a discussion with the Siren about a Facebook quiz about the 1980s and realized I didn’t have “I’ll Melt With You” in iTunes.  As it turns out, the 80s music is excellent to write to, because it’s so familiar it doesn’t require any processing power.

Things are getting a little chaotic here.  We’re all in the basement right now.  Unfocused Girl is playing some kind of game on the Warriors website — it looks like a variation on original Adventure — and cackling like a madwoman.  Junior suddenly decided that his old train table — which we stood on end and moved against the wall months ago because he wasn’t playing with his Thomas trains anymore — was the most precious thing in the world, and got hysterical at the thought that we might give it away (in reality, the Siren just planned to break it down and put it in the crawl space until he was really done with it); he’s only just calmed down.  Time to wrap this up.

Do Not Annoy Happy Fun Ball.

Ralfast of Neither Here Nor There has tagged me with directions to identify six things that make me happy.  Never one to pass up an opportunity to talk about myself, I am happy to comply.

Two caveats, before I start:

1.  You’ll note sex isn’t on the list.  This is not because sex does not make me happy; to the contrary.  But everyone I’ve seen do this meme has listed sex, and it seems a little like a cop-out at this point for me to include it, too.  Or I could include breathing on the list as well, and only have to think of four things.

Also, my mother occasionally reads this blog.

2.  The list is not in any kind of order.  I’m even going to mix it up when I’m done so it isn’t in the order I think of things.  Because I detest prioritizing.


G.  Running.  I like to run.  I like running long distances in particular.  I like running in lousy weather, I even like running on a treadmill if that’s my only option.  I get very, very unhappy when I can’t run.

π.  Climbing walls.  I’ve only done it a few times, but there’s something indescribably wonderful about climbing a thirty-foot climbing wall, muscles screaming, hands scrabbling for purchase…

57.  My family.  The Green Eyed Siren and I have been together for more than 20 years, and we can still surprise and delight each other.  Our kids are genuinely nice, compassionate people who are interesting to talk to.  Is it any wonder that my first instinct when I get invited out for drinks after work is to say no?

AAA.  Apocolyptic science fiction.  Give me a good end of the world (or end of the world as we know it) story — zombies, the singularity, gray goo, whatever — and I’m engrossed.  I suspect it comes from growing up in the shadow of Teh Bomb (and within the probable kill zone from an H-bomb strike on Kennedy Airport).

¥. France.  The nation of France makes me happy.  I’ve been through most of it, and I love the towns, I love the cities, I love the food.  I don’t love the bathrooms at the youth hostel in Cassis, but the little canyons and secluded beaches make up for it.

6.  The beach.  Every summer, the Unfocused family packs up and heads for the beach for a week or two.  It is always the highlight of our year.

Now I’m supposed to tag six of you, but I’m just going to let you tag yourselves (Mike, this means you).  If you do, please leave a link in the comments.

It’s My Blogiversary! Special Yearly Stats!

As I start this post, there are 43 minutes left in the one-year anniversary of this blog.  This is because I’m a dipshit, and I forgot.

And I was busy.  I was in court for a while, then had some meetings, y’know, stuff.  But still, no excuse.  So let’s go straight to the recap.

A year ago, I started this blog to try and develop some discipline for writing.  I had always wanted to be a writer, from when I first started typing stories on my father’s Royal typewriter and when I got my own first typewriter — an old one of my mother’s, I think — in roughly 1980.  I wrote a number of science fiction stories in high school and college, none of which (thank goodness) were ever published.

I also wrote a couple of “literary” stories while in college.  None of these went anywhere, either, except the one I read over the air on WHPK because a friend of mine who worked at the station had decided to fill some open time with student-authors reading their work aloud.  I understand that they recovered their lost listeners in a couple of years.

I started a novel after graduating college, and worked on it off and on into law school.  It was about 75 pages when I gave up on it.

And that, ladies and germs, was it.  In my head, I still thought of myself as a writer.  When being a junior litigation associate sucked or I got bored because I didn’t have any new cases, I bought a copy of Writer’s Digest.  But then I’d get busy or something new would come in the door, and the magazine would get recycled and I wouldn’t write anything.  When I got passed over for partner at my old firm, I stalked out of the building, walked over to Borders, and bought a copy of Writers Market.  Then my boss called my cell, and she and her boss met me for lunch, and promised I’d make it next year.  So the next day I went back to work, and the next year I made partner, and I didn’t write anything.

A couple of years later, I changed firms.  And I still didn’t write anything.

Then last year, in mid-December, I burned out.  I’d been working my ass off, and I was bored out of my skull.  I had interesting cases, terrific clients, senior partners I respected and could learn from and people junior to me who I wasn’t afraid to delegate to, and I could barely drag myself out of bed in the morning.

An old friend had recently suggested that the Mrs. and I start up a joint blog to post our every day witty banter for others’ enjoyment — it’s like a frakking sitcom around here, all the time (and yes, I do play the clueless dad, thanks for asking) — but the Mrs. declined.  I got a kick out of the idea, so without having any idea what I was getting into, I registered half a dozen domains and settled on this one.

Four days later, on Dec. 21, 2007, I came home from work and didn’t go back to work until Jan. 2.  I worked from home, hung out with the Mrs. and kids, and thought about what I wanted to do.  The goal, I decided would be to get in the habit of writing with the blog, write one short story and maybe an article in my field, and then do NaNoWriMo in November.

Then I started writing.

And writing.

And writing.

This has been a lot of fun.  The biggest surprise has been meeting people through the intertubes — you’re all on the blogroll on the sidebar, you know who you are — which has been a lot of fun.  I think this blog has served its original purpose, too, which was to force me into the habit of writing regularly, which it has done with the blog entries themselves and with my constant public posting about word and page counts, did I write today, didn’t I write, yadda yadda yadda.  It may be boring you, but it’s keeping my ass planted in my chair and forcing me to write because I hate the posts where all I can say is “Today I sat on the sofa and ate Ho-Hos and watched Stupid Pet Tricks.  Damn, those pets say some wacky stuff!”

16 minutes until it’s over.

So thank you for being out there.  Thank you for reading my occasionally coherent ramblings.  Thank you for commenting, for applauding my rare successes and my more frequent defeats, and for shaming me back to my desk when I need a good shaming.

And now (14 minutes to go) for some stats:

Writing:  153,000 words of fiction, which includes one complete first draft of a novel (104,000 words, 500 printed pages), one 13,000-word novelette (drafted, multiple revisions, submitted to multiple markets), two short stories (revised and out on submission), one short story (first draft completed), and two flash pieces (one posted here, one accepted and published at 365tomorrows.com), plus innumerable drafts and projects started that will probably never see the light of day.

Plus 178 blog posts.

So now I’m a writer, for real, not just in my head.  Now when I read books on writing, or even Writers Market, I’m not just daydreaming.  This is a good thing.

I used to say that I could get back into writing when I was older and had more flexibility, or retired.  All I did was put off doing what I wanted to do, which means that I’ll simply do less of it than if I’d started 10 years ago.  But at least I’ll do more of it than if I had waited another 10 years.

Happy blogiversary to me.  It’s past midnight.  Time to blow out the candles and go to bed.

Things I’ve Done. Or Not.

I need a distraction from preparing for Thanksgiving like I need a hole in my head, so I’m stealing this list (with a minor modification at the end) from Fresh Hell and Harriet.  Items in bold, I’ve done; items in plain text, I haven’t.

1. Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang a solo
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma

65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check (to the IRS, no less!)
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar

72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating (assuming fish are included)
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life

90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous

92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby (although I was involved in the process a couple of times, both of which seem to have worked out pretty well so far)
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit (occupational hazard, since involving myself in lawsuits is how I make a living)
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee

100. Read an entire book in one day.
101. Lied once on this list.

It’s Up!

Here’s the link to my story, “On the Job Training,” on 365 Tomorrows.  Enjoy!

Another Meme About Me.

Well, I’ve taken my sweet time on this post. I got tagged by Freshhell a week and a half ago to talk about myself. I like talking about myself, so I’m happy to play along. Since Freshhell is a rebel (and she never ever does… what she should), she didn’t post the rules for the meme. As an attorney, this type of anarchistic adhocracy makes me nervous and insecure, but I’ll do my best to work with what I’ve been able to deduce from Freshhell’s entry.

What was I doing ten years ago?

In 1998, I was a third year litigation associate at my old firm, one of the oldest large law firms in town. Mrs. Unfocused and I had been married, but there were no little Unfocuseds on the scene yet. I traveled a lot that summer for work, mostly to Los Angeles (fun!) and Dallas (kill me!). Along with a number of my colleagues, I reviewed documents under the watchful — and heavily armed — guard of a rotating crew of FBI agents in an shuttered post office. Not the worst place I’ve ever reviewed documents (that would be at a shuttered mine, where I had to watch out for snakes and armed poachers), but the latex gloves we had to wear added a special layer of indignity to an already awful project.

The Mrs. and I also went to Paris that November, and spent the entire week NOT going to museums or monuments. We ate in wonderful restaurants, and looked for vintage posters. It was a fantastic week, despite the freezing weather.

Five things on my to do list today.

Since it’s 11pm, and “flossing” does not an interesting blog post make, I’ll give you five things on my to do list for tomorrow.

  1. Go for a run in the morning.
  2. Submit TTB to another magazine (snail mail again).
  3. Take my glasses to the optometrist to have new lenses installed.
  4. Make significant progress on a couple of briefs I need to get through by the end of the week.
  5. Write 500 words — just 500 lousy words! — of Meet the Larssons.

I’ll post tomorrow night or Wednesday to let you know how I did.

Snacks I enjoy.

My kryptonite: barbecue-flavored potato chips.

Things I’d do if I were a billionaire (in no particular order).

  1. Put almost all of the money in really easy investments, so that I wouldn’t have to spend all my time thinking about my money. Better still, hire a bank to deal with it for me.
  2. Set up a private foundation to give some of it away. Hire someone to manage that, too, so that I would only have to get involved with projects that interested me.
  3. Get my damn 5K time below 20 minutes. Even if I have to buy new knees to do it.
  4. Buy an apartment in Paris. The Mrs. always said she was a Rive Gauche kind of gal, she should have the chance to prove it.
  5. Also buy homes in London, Toronto, Sydney, Buenos Aires, Tokyo, Mumbai, and Johannesburg. Diversification is important.
  6. Space Camp for the whole family.
  7. Make the time to finish the damn novel.
  8. Buy any domain name I think of.

Places I’ve lived.

  1. New York City (Manhattan) (July 1969-1970).
  2. New York City (Brooklyn) (1970-October 1987).
  3. Chicago (Hyde Park) (October 1987-August 1995, except as noted below).
  4. New York City (Brooklyn) (summers 1988, 1989).
  5. Lisieux, Normandy, France (March-June 1989).
  6. Washington D.C. (June-August 1990).
  7. Chapel Hill, North Carolina (August 1992-June 1993).
  8. Chicago (Budlong Woods) (June-September 1993, June-September 1994).
  9. Chicago (Andersonville) (August 1995-November 1996).
  10. Chicago (Edgewater) (November 1996-July 2002).
  11. Chicago (Old Irving Park) (July 2002-present)

Who I want to know more about.

Why, you, of course. Do your own post and leave a link here in the comments.

I’m It.

At least, I assume I’m It, because that’s what usually happens when I get tagged. Mada tagged me for the dreaded “Six Things About Me” blog meme, and now I have to come up with six things about myself and tag six other bloggers.

Before I forget, I need to post the rules. The rules are:

  1. Link to the person who tagged you.
  2. Post the rules.
  3. Write six things about yourself.
  4. Tag six people at the end of your post by linking to their blogs.
  5. Let them know they’ve been tagged by leaving a comment on their sites.
  6. Let your tagger know when your entry is up.

Without further ado, here are six things about my favorite subject, me

  1. I picked “The Unfocused Life” as my domain name because I’m, y’know, kind of unfocused. I can focus; it’s not like I have adult ADHD or anything. I think. Several of my coworkers over the years have suggested that I might, but what do they … hey, what’s that shiny thing?
  2. In college, I went through three majors before I settled on Political Science. The other two were Physics and Philosophy, so at least I stuck to the P section of the course catalog. Before you ask, there was no Psychology major until my third or fourth year; until then, it was called Behavioral Science.
  3. I hate doing little fussy projects with my hands. When I was around 8, my mother gave me a chemistry set for my birthday, after I begged her and begged her and begged her and begged her for it. I did one experiment: I made invisible ink, which, unsurprisingly, I couldn’t read, and then I was done. I started a couple of others, but getting these teeny-tiny amounts of chemicals into the teenier, tinier test tubes made me INSANE. In high school, I got a crystal radio kit; the instructions said you must coil the wire around the tube carefully and neatly, without any twists in the wire. I screwed it up on the second turn of the wire around the tube, and I was done. This afternoon, I helped Unfocused Girl make a set of pentominoes (we’re taking turns reading Chasing Vermeer to each other before she goes to bed, and they play a major role in the book), and I wanted to stab myself with the scissors. Not because I objected to doing a project with UG — far from it, which is why I was able to stick it out — but because drawing the grid on the cardboard, and then cutting out the shapes … made … me … all … twitchy … arg! I’m perfectly happy doing big things with my hands, however; a few years ago, my father-in-law and I spent the weekend building an enormous playset in the backyard for the kids — no problem.
  4. If I go more than a few days without running, I have dreams that I’m smoking. I quit smoking in 1992.
  5. Last movie that made me cry? Armageddon. Not the ending — it was the scene where [SPOILER ALERT] the young son of one of the crew members who didn’t know his father at all is watching the crew board the shuttle and says to his mother, “Look, that salesman’s on TV,” and his mother says, “That’s not a salesman, that’s your daddy.” [END SPOILER] My only excuse that I was watching it on an Air France flight home from Paris, and I drank a LOT of Veuve Cliquot before the movie started.
  6. My least favorite chore before going to bed is feeding Big Pink Fishie. I have no idea why; it’s the easiest thing in the world.

Enough about me; let’s talk about you talking about me. Or about you, if you must. I hereby tag:


Everything Under the Sun

Orbis Writings


Spontaneous Derivation

Life in Scribbletown