Tag Archives: unfocused life

Giving New Meaning to the Word “Interminable”

Like the mighty Mississippi, this never-ending trial just keeps rolling along, overwhelming everything in its path — other cases, any shred of a personal life, family vacations, you name it. It looks like both sides won’t be done putting on witnesses until sometime the week of August 22, probably Wednesday or Thursday. None of the lawyers on either side has been very good at predicting how long things take, but the judge has made it clear he wants to hold us to these dates, so maybe this time the schedule will stick. It wouldn’t be fair to say he’s losing patience, but he has indicated a couple of times — more in response to opposing counsel’s questioning than ours, I should note — that he doesn’t need to hear things more than three or four times. I can’t blame him.

So three more weeks of traveling west for trial testimony, then two weeks for each side to prepare closing briefs before the Junior Associate and I fly back for closing arguments in mid-September. Doing a brief before the closing isn’t the usual practice — just like on TV, you usually do closings right after the evidence is all in — but this isn’t a jury trial, and there’s a fair amount of law to consider in addition to the 25 years of history that both sides have presented through  their witnesses and hundreds of documents since trial began in May.

We arranged weeks ago to postpone our usual August trip to the beach by a week, and today the Siren and I need to sit down with a calendar and figure out whether to postpone it again — if that’s even possible, given the schedules of the other family members who use the house — or if we should just give up on the 813-mile road trip this year and spend the limited time we’ll have between the close of the evidence and the start of school closer to home. Maybe we’ll rent a place on the Michigan shore for a week instead. I’ll have to work on the brief wherever we go, so we need reasonable internet and cell service (no camping this summer, apparently), but we need to do something and go somewhere for at least a week where the Siren, the Unfocused Kids, and I can all be together uninterrupted for a while. We’ll all be disappointed not to go to the beach together, if that’s the decision — the Siren took the kids and her mother out for a week in June, so at least they’ve been, but the August trip has been our family time since before Junior was born, and even considering letting it go feels like opening a door we had taken great pains to board up.

Meanwhile, I need to pull out the copies of Yoga for Runners and Martial Arts Over 40 that the Siren gave me a while ago. Between sitting on my tuchus all day in court, sleeping on hotel beds (“Heavenly” or otherwise), then strapping myself into a tin can for hours on end twice a week, I’m slowly twisting into a pretzel.

Signing out, once again. I’ll try to check back around Labor Day.

Advertisements

Trying Times.

I was reminded a few weeks ago by Jeanne that I haven’t posted in a while. Of course, I hadn’t posted for a while before then, so what else is new?

The current excuse is that I’m on trial on the West Coast. That is to say, I am trying a case on the West Coast, as an attorney, not as a defendant. We started three weeks ago, took a two week break (long story) and are starting back up again tomorrow. The forecast calls for me to be out here for the entire month of June. It’s going to be a grueling month, unless something changes. Something can always change — things change all the time in this business (like any other), but not always for the better.

A little travel every couple of weeks — like a day or two — adds spice to the same-old same-old; day after interminable day in the office makes me want to hurl myself onto sharp objects. But week after week, coming home only on weekends, if then? Been there, done that, the first year the Siren and I were married. It wasn’t, to be blunt, any fun. I get twitchy without her after all these years, and while Skype video calls make being away from the kids slightly less unbearable, the time difference makes it hard to connect before their bedtime. We are less than 25 pages from the end of The Hobbit, with Bilbo, the dwarves, the wood elves, and the men of Lake-Town about to plunge into the Battle of the Five Armies along with the goblins, orcs, wolves, and eagles (sounds like more than five, doesn’t it?), and we probably won’t be able to finish it until Saturday. I have a copy on the Kindle app for my iph0ne, so I can read it to them over Skype, but it’s complicated to set up in their room and time it correctly, and I have only managed it once in the last several weeks.

We’ve also had some personal/family issues. At the top of the list, my stepmother of 35 years died last week, just 5 weeks after her cancer diagnosis. I’m not going to go into detail here — wrong forum, wrong time — but let’s just say that I’ve been doing a fair amount of compartmentalizing.

Not only do I not have the mental energy to work on my novel, but I’m not even going on F2ceb00k during the week until this is over. That’s just how little free mental RAM I’ve got.

Don’t get me wrong: I’ve been working on this case for 4 years now, and we’re finally reaching the denouement — I’m glad to be able to see it to the end. But I’d sure as hell rather be at home.

Whoops! It’s January!

Happy New Year! Have you stopped writing 2010 on your checks yet?

Things I’ve done since my last blog post:

  • upgrade the RAM on my MacBook;
  • upgrade the OS on the MacBook to Snow Leopard;
  • team up with the Siren and the Unfocused Kids to break into the Top 25 players in our ocean in Grepolis (we control 5 ancient Greek city-states);
  • start watching Torchwood, Series 1 on Netfl1x streaming, once I moved my weekday runs inside to the treadmill;
  • work;
  • read Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld (highly recommended);
  • read Consider Phlebas, by Iain Banks (also highly recommended);
  • read Cognitive Surplus, by Clay Shirky (again, highly recommended — it’s not that I’m an easy grader, it’s that these days, if it isn’t engaging, I don’t finish it);
  • start converting our power-sucking recessed ceiling lights to LEDs that we won’t need to change until we’re at retirement age, at which point the Unfocused Kids can change them for us;
  • work;
  • run 16 times (90 miles total — I screwed up my left calf and ran almost not at all for two weeks in December);
  • travel to San Diego (for work);
  • travel to New York (for work);
  • attend my childrens’ performances in their school holiday concerts;
  • enjoy a rare public performance by the Siren, singing Christmas songs with a pick up band (piano, drums, accordion, and 10-15 people trying to keep time with egg shakers or other little kid instruments) at a holiday party thrown by talented friends;
  • work; and
  • screw around on the internet.

Things I didn’t do since my last blog post:

  • finish the first draft of Breezeway;
  • get to my November word count goal;
  • get to my year-end word count goal;
  • post on this blog; and
  • respond to comments on this blog.

Yeah, sorry about that last one.

I’ve been reading through the archives at Merlin Mann’s 43Folders lately. Merlin is one of my blog idols (despite his hair) for a lot of reasons, but the direction he’s taken the blog in the last couple of years has been very interesting. He’s focusing on how you focus your attention on the creative work you want to be doing. And as we all know, focus is not my strong suit (I picked this name for a reason, people). Merlin’s first post in this series is here. I just reread it; frankly, need the inspiration.

When I first started this blog, it was to start myself back in the habit of writing again after decades off. It worked; I started writing fiction again almost immediately. On the other hand, I can’t begin to count how many posts I’ve started with something on the order of: “So I didn’t get any work done on the novel this week [or month, or season] because…” and posting on the blog itself has dropped off to somewhere between “infrequent” and “clear, high-definition video of bigfoot.”

Work is what work is: that thing they pay you to do so that you do it every day whether you feel like it or not. Everything else, I have to pay myself if I’m going to manage enough focus to accomplish anything that requires more than a few hours in a single afternoon. I just haven’t figured out the currency yet. What’s yours?

Namedropping My Imaginary Friends, Because I Have Nothing to Report Myself.

First, let me freely admit that all that rah-rah bullshit in my last couple of posts about getting back into working on Breezeway has turned out to have been pure gasbaggery. Predictably, work has completely kicked my ass over the last three weeks, with extensive travel and days spent in conference rooms straining my meager faculties. On top of that, I’ve got some personal stuff I’m working through — nothing too serious, but it’s occupying a lot of mental space. I’m not quite ready to discuss it here, but I probably will at some point.

Enough about me, I want to tell you about two of my imaginary friends. I’ve never met either of these guys, so for all I know either or both of them could be a Russian mobster, Paris Hilton, or a dog. Those disturbing possibilities aside, they seem real enough to me — a significant step above the voices in my head, for example — that I’m going to take them at face value. After competing with them all through November for NaNoWriMo word count, frankly, they’d better be real.

In addition, each has recently demonstrated independent third-party verification of their existence. California writer Chad Grayson‘s story “Jadeflower” is part of the recently-released Destination: Future (amazon.com, Barnes & Noble). I got to know Chad through WordPress — either he stumbled across my blog, or I stumbled across his.  He’s a great guy, and based on his blog he’s a damn fine writer.  Trying to keep up with his NaNo output was both inspiring and frustrating. I’m looking forward to my copy of Destination: Future arriving in the mail.

Canadian writer and podcaster John Mierau has been giving away his genre-crossing short fiction for over a year on his Serving Worlds podcast. I first encountered John on Twitter when he insulted my entire profession, so I immediately started following him there and listening to his podcast. Last week he was the guest interview on Episode 119 of the Dead Robots’ Society podcast (I’ve mentioned DRS before, and again, it’s well worth listening to in its own right), talking about Serving Worlds and his NaNoWriMo novel.

Both of these guys helped me get through NaNoWriMo, and John’s podcast has carried me through many a run and long drive. Their creative output is well worth checking out.

Time to Kick Ass and Post on My Blog.

And I’m all out of blog posty-stuff.

It’s been a busy few weeks. Here’s a quick rundown, the good and the bad:

  • A mentally ill parishoner burned down the church my wife and children attend, doing millions of dollars in damage and forcing them to seek temporary space for the next 9-12 months.
  • My wife got swine flu and, mostly, recovered.
  • My father came for a visit!
  • Junior spent the first night of my father’s visit throwing up.
  • I had to go to Austin for a few days while the Siren was sick. The Lass and I tried to work out a meeting in the holographic projection we call the real world, but our schedules didn’t mesh.
  • A case that was going to have me in Peoria for a week and a half straight for an arbitration settled at the last minute.
  • I wore my Vibram FiveFingers for a half-hour treadmill run shortly after my last post, and they chafed in a couple of spots badly enough that my feet bled. I’ll try them again to see if I can break them in a little, but I think they’re just a size or two too small.

Well, enough of that. We’re all in reasonable good health, I’ve started to get some more work done on Breezeway, despite having a busy time at work (I can’t recommend Merlin Mann’s recent post, “First, Care,” highly enough to assist you in getting off your personal stick, by the way). My running is off and on but I’m registered for the Shamrock Shuffle and getting ready for the start of the racing season in less than two months.

Unfocused Girl and I are testing for our high green belts in taekwondo next week, so today was board-breaking practice ahead of the test. Witness the Unfocused Family’s destructive might:

That’s five boards: Unfocused Girl and I each broke two, and Junior broke one. After TKD, Unfocused Girl and I take a marital arts weapons class. We recently moved from nunchaka to bo sticks, and our new bo sticks arrived today:

Don’t let the smile fool you — we Unfocuseds are totally badass.

NaNoWriMo Day 29, 50,570 Words and Post-NaNoWrimo Victory Update.

The first thing I did this morning was 15 minutes of Write or Die Desktop Edition, and quickly knocked out 448 words for the novel.  I added a sentence here or there later in the morning, for a total of 535 more words for the novel.  Since I WON NANOWRIMO YESTERDAY, the pressure is off, and I had a bunch of other things I wanted/needed to do today.  Here, in no particular order, are some of the things that occupied my time today besides working on my novel:

  • Ran 6.39 miles very slowly (1:04:04).  It was my first run since Nov. 17, and my longest since Oct. 25. I lost a lot of speed (and muscle) in the month spent in front of the computer every waking moment, and it will take a little while to get it back.
  • Read a little of the Sunday New York Times for the first time in mumble mumble.
  • Worked. I’ve got a lot going on at the office (and out of town) between now and Christmas.
  • Went to lunch with the Siren and the kids at the diner for the first time in weeks.
  • Played Sorry with the kids while the Siren went to the supermarket to buy more butter, flour, and sugar for NaCoBakMo.
  • Went to the supermarket after the Sorry game to pick up the dishwasher detergent that the Siren forgot so she could focus on baking cookies.
  • Worked some more.
  • Listened to Christmas music. The Hanukkah music comes later, closer to the holiday itself, because there isn’t as much of it that I like.
  • Ate some cookies before dinner.
  • Listened to the first episode of The Cinnamon Bear with the family during dinner.
  • Ate some more cookies for dessert.
  • Got the kids to bed.
  • Worked more.
  • Had one last cookie.
  • Paid our property taxes.
  • Told the kids to go back to bed.

As much as I enjoyed NaNoWriMo, and I did, it’s good to be able to do a few other things, too.

IMPORTANT: You may have noticed my references to NaCoBakMo and eating cookies, lots of delicious cookies.  The love of my life, the Green-Eyed Siren, has started the first ever National Cookie Baking Month to raise money for our neighborhood anti-hunger charity, the Irving Park Community Food Pantry.  You can read about Day 1 here, and Day 2 here.  She’s baking cookies every day from now through Christmas Eve, and will send a batch to everyone who donates $25 to the IPCFP before then and emails her the receipt. Please participate so that I don’t end up eating all of these cookies myself.  To encourage you further (although if you’ve ever tasted the Siren’s cooking, you would need no further incentive), we’ll match the first $500 in donations.  Get off my blog and over to hers to read the details and see pictures of the delectable dainties as she makes them.

FINALLY, I leave you with The NaNoWriMo Song, because it’s awesome:

The Goddamn Thing Is Goddamn Done.

I sent The Chapter off to the publisher a few minutes ago.  Now I’m sipping a bit of Scotch and trying to decide how bad it would be, really, to simply collapse on the floor when the last of the adrenaline wears off in about … now.

Ninety pages — 90 — and 17,839 words.  I think I wrote 10,000 words since last Friday night.  My Scrivener file for the project, which contains the draft and all of the research, is a whopping 178 MB. The last couple of weeks have been a little challenging, to say the least.  If the Siren hadn’t stepped up and just handled everything (even more than she usually does) I’d have fallen apart days ago.

Unless you’re an estate planner in Illinois, or (like me) a litigator with a quirky niche practice, you’d fall asleep by page 2.  But for that narrow audience, I think this treatise is going to be really useful, and I’m glad to be a part of it.  It’s not a novel, but it’s major work and it’s going to be published with my name in big bold type on the cover sheet for the chapter.  It may not be the same as seeing something I wrote on display at airport bookstores nationwide, but it feels pretty damn good.

I did learn a couple of important lessons in the last few months of working on The Chapter, mostly in the last few weeks.  Here’s a short list before I pass out from exhaustion:

  • The process was educational; I’ve learned some substantive law in subjects I didn’t know much about.
  • Now that the hard work is over (until they send it back for revisions), I’m really glad I volunteered.
  • It’s amazing how quickly I can type when I need to.
  • It is possible to do a massive research project without wasting truckloads of paper.
  • I also learned an important lessons about starting big projects on time and working consistently, so that I can finish them on time without unnecessary stress and drama.

Bwahahahaha.

OK, seriously, time for bed.