My Deep, Dark, Secret Fear of Winning the Lottery

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It was a normal morning, as far as February mornings went this year, traveling down the highway to meet with a tutoring student. Despite the normal presence of a mental screen saver that occupies my thoughts on such drives, something switched my brain on as a sudden fear swept over me, a fear that I, myself, might win the lottery.

It is, as with most fears, completely unfounded, for certain effects must have a specific cause, and to win the lottery, one must have a ticket. The fact that I do not own, nor now plan to own, such a ticket – excepting, of course, the three I bought the day I turned 18, just because I could – should have swallowed up this sudden fear with contempt. But what if, I persisted, as we all do with things we should leave well enough alone, what if someone gives me a ticket? What if I find one on the ground? What if someday I break down and buy one, just for fun?

The possibility – however remote – of winning the lottery cannot be completely ruled out, so the dark rabbit trails of tragic reasoning must follow. More

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On Choosing Defeat

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Well friends, I did not Win.

I did not cross the finish line. I did not write 50,000 words in 30 days.

“BUT WAIT!” the hoard of supporters, eggers-on, and blind followers cry, “There are still over TWENTY-FOUR HOURS left!”

But, fair followers, I have chosen defeat. I have chosen to not pursue a valiant effort to its bitterest end, which, most likely, would mean anxiety, depression, bad nutrition, headaches, and eye strain. I could still win, but I can no longer succeed.

For if I insist on forcing my entire life into the obtuse and arbitrary timeline of an inherently good motivational event, then I will ruin the experience. I will not feel good about writing a (very, very drafty) novel, I will feel briefly exhilarated about throwing my good sense to the wind and getting a gold star from a computer program.

That brief exhilaration would then be overpowered by the repercussions of spending 24 hours practically killing myself not over a story worth writing but a word count. That 24 (or even 48) hour period would leave me (and not only me, but my family and employer as well) out of sorts and recovering for at least of week. All so I can say, “I did it!”?

But I did do it. I did not write 50,000 words in 30 days, but I wrote 39,303. And you know what? If I only count the days I actually wrote, I wrote 39,303 words in only *17* days. Ka-POW.

You know what else? I still feel like writing (well, writing more of) my novel. And I feel like I want to do this again next year. Had I been pushing to the finish line right now instead of writing this very post (current word count: 285), I guarantee you I wouldn’t want to look at this novel again for a year, and I definitely would be having second thoughts about next year.

Because I am choosing defeat, I will have the energy and sanity to pursue the discovery I made in my final push last Saturday (this being Monday, future readers), which is that if I wrote 2,000 words a day (which takes 2-3 hours), I would write 600,000 words in a year (assuming I skipped 65¼ of them). Do you know how many novels that is? 8-10. Eight to ten novels in one year.

Friends, if I finished this month in a flurry of agony, of pushing myself to the limit in order to not finish a novel but a quota, of putting my family through Really Bad Mood Noël and (perhaps) not even “winning,” do you think I could look at that discovery in December and say, “Why don’t I spend an hour and write!”?

In case any of you are wondering, I really do want to win. I want to have a bright green full word-count-progress bar that turns purple with WINNER! in big fat letters so all your friends can see it. Maybe that can be me next year.

But maybe next year I might also have full word-count-progress bars on one or two, or even five or six other novels! Think about it! The excitement is so titillating, it makes me want to start right now!

But for this year, this month, I choose defeat. Therefore, I will succeed.

I would also like to share with you my favorite pep talk of the month which I shall re-read year after year from Lemony Snicket. Please enjoy.

The Weight of Talent

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Among all my friends’ discussions on stumbling through the overcrowded job market these days, one of the constant complaints is the inability to apply natural talents in the workplace, or at least demonstrate the availability of talents to potential employers.

The word talent comes from the Latin talentum, from the Greek τάλαντον “scale, balance”. It was used in the ancient world as a large denomination of money based on its unit of measure. It first began to adopt new meaning after the dissemination of the Parable of the Talents in the New Testament book of Matthew: More

A Note on Play: Observations on Improv

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♦ A note I wrote on Facebook in early January, re-posted for your viewing pleasure. ♦

I always labor under the suspicion that there is a great deal of our brains that we don’t in fact use. Many scientists concur, but I don’t think much of scientists. I do think a lot of play, however.

Many of you have witnessed the giddy glee that overcomes me when presented with a game, especially a silly one. While some may dismiss the silly, I embrace it as an opportunity to prove once again that there is no box.

We are constantly exhorted to “think outside the box,” which only reinforces the parameters of unproductive thinking. We are encouraged to see the real possibilities outside of this box, which always makes me ask, “What box? Who put it there? What makes you think we are outside of it now?”

If you want to see, really see, reality and all of its great, glorious, dark, and dire possibilities, you must play.
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Soft We Mosey in the Night

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Today is, besides from Thursday, a prime number, and purple, my father’s birthday. I can’t help but combine this happy occurrence with a revelation to you of one of my most treasured adventures with him.

It started out as a cool evening walk in the summer (or one of the seasons that wasn’t winter; though of course, now that I think of it, it could have been winter, but that’s not important). It ended into a bubbling foray into comparative linguistics.

Of course, comparative linguistics may not be the correct term, but it remains a fact that we were closely examining English, which is a language — allegedly — and so falls into “linguistics”, and we were comparing words within the language, so hence, comparative linguistics.

The conversation probably began with a comment about how nice it was to be out for a walk. Then, as those brains born into Scrabble-playing, dictionary-using families are apt to do, a brief list of synonyms was put forth.

Perhaps we were not out for a walk. Would it be more correct to say we were out for a stroll? Or indeed, a ramble? A deep and thorough look into each synonym followed, complete with well-argued stances over the exact implication of each term.

The rest of the walk turned into a great fishing expedition, wherein we netted over 100 Terms Used for Various Methods of Self-Powered Bi-Pedal Locomotion (as my father put it), or 100 Ways to Cross a Room (as I did). Our late-night venture proved profitable for the entire family, who joined in to help fill out the ever-growing list once we returned home.

Here follows this annotated, still-incomplete list with an open invitation to help expand it. I end this post with an ebullient outpouring of effervescence in wishing my father many happy returns of the day. More

A Beginning, or at least, A Preparation

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It’s a most ridiculous thing, having so many interesting things to write about but not writing anything because I don’t know what the first post should be about. So here it is, a first post about a first post. How often I pause at making a journey because I don’t want the first steps to go awry! I suppose that’s why I prefer leaping.

I promise things will get a bit more interesting.