Tag Archives: Michael Ian Black

November in Review

Can I start you off with the best thing?  I dare you not to smile.

You guys, I’m tired. I’m on doggy hospice duty these days, and the ol’ Fuzzball has been needing a lot of middle-of-the-night tending for weeks now. But it’s the greatest gift I can give him these final days. It does make me foggy the rest of the day, though. We push through, don’t we?

It’s also been a month of tremendous work output – I somehow finished NaNoWriMo in eleven days – and now I am retreating a little to take stock and refocus on next steps.

I rarely wait for New Year’s to start a new goal. Heck, I won’t even wait for a Monday. I’m finalizing some plans and will share here when ready. I also have some very exciting news to announce shortly.

I do know that I want to write one essay a week starting this week. I have no end point, no plans. There is no “1 Essay a Week for the Next 100 Weeks” type thing. But if NaNo taught me anything, it’s that I like being motivated by a goal that has a tight timeline.

I had a semi-momentous birthday in November, which may be contributing to this deep-seeded need to get grossly introspective. I feel sometimes like I’m Konmari-ing my own damned mind and life. All good. All good.

I’m not sure what it was about late October through November, but I sure pulled some great reads off my shelf.

Beth Ann Fennelly’s Heating and Cooling packs a lot of emotion in  a slim volume. Outrageous, hilarious, painful, and poignant.

Chelsey Clammer’s Circadian is a breathtaking and bold piece of art that merges and weaves together various forms and styles to try to arrive at understanding what may never be understood fully and to stumble upon truths that are often hard to accept.

Maggie Smith’s Good Bones. Breathtaking poetry about motherhood and middle years with strong, hearty through lines and themes.

I posted this review of Michael Ian Black’s Navel Gazing: True Tales of Bodies, Mostly Mine (but also my mom’s, which I know sounds weird):

Reading Navel Gazing was like discovering an up-and-coming band on a college radio station that you want to run around and tell everyone about and force them to listen. Not in a hispter way, really, but more in a "This guy gets it" way that made me go back through old yearbooks and double-check that we hadn't gone to school together back in Jersey.

Michael Ian Black packs a lot into this book -- health, aging, relationships, genetics, ancestry, mortality. It's surprisingly existential at times, rich, full, and just snarky enough to avoid being saccharine.

And funny. Did I mention funny? I literally was chasing people down to read them quotes from the book. And they don't hate me for it!

Highly recommended and truly appreciated.

Here are some fun things I ran across on the Internet this past month.

Here’s why you’re bored after you accomplish something.

Speaking of Konmari, can watching Groundhog Day make you a better artist?

Always time, always hope.

And now? I read, write, and figure things out. It’s a good end-of-year task. Something about low light and angles of things. Asking and truly answering “What do I want?” is an act of courage…and a lot of fun!

Month in Review: July Inside of July

“My life, I realize suddenly, is July. Childhood is June, and old age is August, but here it is, July, and my life, this year, is July inside of July.”
– Rick Bass

This is my place now.July within July. Lots of soul-searching and reflection while trying to find ways to contribute to society that are fulfilling and whole.

No big whoop.

Of course, all that mid-life reflection is wedged in between summer’s full-frontal parenting. I can dive deeper once the house is a little more quiet and a lot less fun in a few weeks.

July was a month of exploration and the thrilling reminder that spending time with true friends is easy and honest. Don’t you just love it when spending time with people is untangled and so full of laughter that the joy is like another guest? Cheers all around – I am raising a nice glass of harmless, sexy rosé.

Finished the Blanket of Neverending Cussing for my daughter, who is thrilled with it. I started a shawl using this fabulous yarn. I’m using the Boneyard Shawl pattern, which seems appropriate if not a little too on the (rotted) nose.

Other than that, it’s been a lot of staying in the moment except when children or dental pain  act up. Then I try to stay in any other moment but THE moment. More on that another time.

Here are some things I enjoyed in July:

I like the process of cooking much more now that I have time and energy due to some volunteering positions coming to an end. I have a subscription to Cook’s Country, which has led to nothing but clean plates at the table, which is honestly a little surprising considering that I have one child who spent several years only eating beige foods with the occasional not-found-in-nature neon orange food. May I recommend the bacon-wrapped chicken?

I’m likely having some sort of midlife crisis presenting itself as a combination of severe writer’s block (meaning I have no engaging ideas) and the ticking clock that, as Lin-Manuel Miranda put it makes me at least want to write like I’m “running out of time.” I will never be a young writer at this point. In many ways I’m 20 years behind, and my life has been a collection of minutia and silly nonsense and time sucks that I don’t have a lot of great stories to tell at this point. But I do have a good sense of the mundane, a fairly good voice, and am ready for some adventures. All the right ingredients for something. Perhaps bacon-wrapped chicken.

Is it possible that Lin-Manuel Miranda is my patronus? Am I doing that wrong? I’m fascinated by intensity and giftedness and I like how it’s presented as a design feature here.

My heart pounded when I stumbled on this article on creativity and “fitting in.” For me, the urge to create is sometimes in a war with the sense of feeling alien. When I was younger, an author told me that writers often feel like they see the world differently than most people. That kept me writing and kept me from feeling like a complete freak. Now I embrace the complete freak I am and worry very little about fitting in while handling the extra-terrestrial bass line of my days.

I had the privilege of reading books written by acquaintances this past month. There’s something about reading pieces by writers I know that reminds me of the sheer act of bravery it takes to put out one’s writing out into the hands of others – especially fiction, the genre I believe renders the author most naked and vulnerable. To Christy and Helen, so much applause and thank you for the words you both put out into the world. Beautiful work!

Speaking of beautiful work, there’s this poem. I want to rip it open and crawl into it and zip it back up so that it cradles me against a cold night.

Then, on a somewhat lighter note, if you have 10 seconds, you may like this blackout poem by Austin Kleon.

I’m on a poetry kick these days. They are watercolor and they are anchors and they are glorious economy.

Glorious and terrifying and not poetry was Sinclair Lewis’s It Can’t Happen Here. Hits a little too close to home these days.

I finished the second season of Liz Gilbert’s Magic Lessons podcast. I particularly loved Michael Ian Black taking no bullshit from an improv artist and producer. It seemed reasonable to try out Black’s How to Be Amazing and now, just like that, I have new favorite podcast. M.I.B. is charming, bright, and four episodes in I’m finding him to be an excellent interviewer.

Game of Thrones returned and we actually sprung for HBO because I got tired of waiting months and then binge watching. Doing it that way feels like scarfing down an entire bag of Doritos. By the end of it, you’re a little queasy and yet you feel like you’re still missing something (in the case of Doritos, it’s probably your sense self-worth.)

HBO also gives John Oliver (thank goodness) and The Defiant Ones. Fascinating stories, with a hefty dose of misogeny in Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre’s life stories. People aren’t all one thing or the other, are they? Yet, sometimes we want them to be all one thing — John Oliver.

@Midnight is going off the air this week. This is one show that almost always makes me giggle in that “ooh, that’s naughty” kind of way. It’s the same sort of giddiness that all 13-year-olds feel when they hear their first silly parody song. So I thank @Midnight for being the Weird Al of late night television. And I mean that in the best way possible.