#SelfDoubt vs #SelfConsciousness

There’s this actor, maybe you’ve heard of him, a fella by the name of Tom Hanks.

Mr. Hanks has been in a fair number of films, he’s produced some, he’s directed some. My personal favorite of his movies is the one pictured above, Cast Away, and it was my favorite movie of all time for a long time. I still watch it about once a month; it helps me process loneliness back in solitude and gratitude when I need to.

Cast Away did not make Tom look glamorous. Hanks’s character (and to play the character you have to look the part) started off the story overweight and a control freak of time (which he tries to explain to the Russians, if you want irony in 2017); by the end of the story he is shaggy and rail thin, no longer a lover of seafood, grateful for something as small as a Swiss Army knife, and someone in awe of time and fate. There are now a lot of photos and memes of this film on the web and social media of Hanks looking nearly gross; ain’t nothing gorgeous in it.

For the past three years Hanks has also been working on a collection of short fiction for publication. The work isn’t necessarily Pulitzer-worthy, but it’s entertaining and touching in some places; one short story is so funny it took me about two hours to read it. Shortly after I finished the book I looked for media supplements on the book; this task was a bit of a struggle because the book was released right before the release of Hanks in the film The Post, and most interviews involve the book for about 30 seconds and the film for about 12 minutes. But there was an interview filmed for The New York Times, on their program Times Talks, where Hanks was interviewed primarily about the book and answered questions from social media and the audience.

One question asked Hanks how he overcomes self-doubt. The question was ambiguous enough to apply to any career in creative work, and Hanks answered as though it applied to his acting, since that was the creative work most folks knew him for. His belief is that self-doubt is the same as self-consciousness; get rid of both and you can create. Sometimes the role requires that you look ridiculous or that you do something you don’t want to do to play the role because there might be a picture of it later…you have dispense of that. You have to make the mistakes and trust the process, he explained.

Just before I read the Hanks book I read another book, Sourdough, by Robin Sloan, that took me to the same place as Hanks’s thoughts on creative process. In the book the main character of Lois has to deal with Silicon Valley hipsters who are too cool for school in product development and nutrition; she also has to deal with analog purist foodies who think that anything high-tech is a fad or corruption. Lois, from the Midwest and feeling far from cosmopolitan, finds joy from simple food and makes mistakes in learning to cook and bake, not to mention making lots of mistakes in marrying tech and life hacks in that cooking and baking. Lois looks silly a lot. Lois is nowhere near glamorous.

Yet, in the reading of Sloan’s book and Hanks’s book and his interview, I feel like I’ve got a standard to move toward. Make mistakes, Jo; so I go back to cooking myself, making messes. I pull out the baseball novel I was working on and botch it up or improve it for one of my writing sessions; I do the same with sessions devoted to other writings. I very well may be making all kinds of mistakes right now in this blog post. I think that’s the place where the best stuff comes from, and I’ll continue to do so. ✨

#NightstandChronicles #Continue #EightSecondsLeftInOvertime

Here, hold my spot.

June’s gonna get away from me and then I’m going to feel the failure more, so here’s a blog post in recap, a replay of a little ditty I like to call “So This is How We Treat Each Other Now.”

The ditty with verses about how during and after the election the catfish walked off wearing a red trucker’s hat, and you miss that catfish, but maybe them dumping you like a school lunch was the final indicator that maybe you shouldn’t have spent so much time getting attached to start with.

Not great timing, though.

So the introvert spends some time alone, finding out more about humanity in fiction than in people.  I hate doing that.  But I’m alone a lot anyway, alone in passions and in person, so might as well disappear into empathy:

I miss compassion.  And if you don’t think it’s possible to learn humanity from a novel, then may I present Exhibit A, which I am reading right now:

This book, like many others, utilizes a wild animal to demonstrate kindness.  One of the characters gets it.  The rest would rather not go there.  While I don’t advocate befriending foxes in order to have companionship, I am encouraged by the fact that foxes or rabbits or squirrels or seagulls don’t use social media.

Yep, it’s a blog…online, nonetheless…and I’ll drop the subject there.

It turns out that my friends can be found in the following pools:

  • People I work with
  • People I worked with
  • People I used to write with (2)
  • People I buy stuff from

Not a great pool.  Some great people in it, but they are busy, and most don’t read. The danger is, the ones who have the most time for me are the first group and the last.

Which means I’m working too much and I’m spending too much and I have no boundaries.  Alone time, then.  With foxes.  Not so much social media.  I don’t want to see who else has walked away because I’m me, and not, instead, loved me because I’m me.

On to what I have been doing lately, as Jamaica would start.  ✨

What I Have Been Reading Lately:  The afore-mentioned fox fable, written by a lovely Brit from the Guardian.  Between this lady, Jeanette Winterson, JoJo Moyes, and JK Rowling, the UK seems to have my ears these days.  I am still working on the Chabon book, though (Moonglow)…more like lingering in it.  Today’s library visit will hopefully include a book on Islamic issues and an old Edward Abbey favorite my brother got me hooked on about six years ago.

What I Have Been Watching Lately:  Still watching Last Week Tonight, still working my way through the entire series of West Wing (again; I usually do this about once a year), still watching a LOT of baseball.  I say “watching” but most of it is the free MLB game of the day playing on my phone and I glance at it if I need a distraction from another work nightmare.  The broadcasts are a boys club of guys trying to crack each other up and sometimes they succeed in getting me to do that.  The free game is rarely the Giants, which is probably a good thing; I still bleed black and orange, but years like this means I get back to the passion of the game in general…and other players in their glory.  Also, I am hooked to the footage of the Flash and the exciting installments of his wins and losses.

I’m also still watching Real Time.  Judge away, America; while you’re at it, I also like other stuff I’m not supposed to, like Hemingway’s fiction and Woody Allen films.  The floor is yours to throw stones.  Yes, Bill Maher does offend me from time to time.  But he wakes me up, too, like Friday’s opening segment with Maajid Nawaz.  Some of my teachers in university angered me beyond measure and got me thinking in the same semester, and I’m used to be offended in otherwise productive discussions.

What I’m Watching On Film:  Last weekend was The Edge of Seventeen–dark, but I love the actors, so that one’s a keeper.  (Pro tip:  I have to dock all movies with puke scenes as 4 instead of 5 stars, so this film had a blemish in case you are also of the nature that you don’t feel you should have to pay any kind of admission price for pieces where someone pukes/pees/poops/etc.). On the rental list is The United Kingdom (David Oyelowo strikes again) and I Am Not Your Negro, which I saw at an indie theatre here in San Diego but which I loved enough to watch again.  Also, I have been rewatching, over and over, the movie Paterson with Adam Driver and Moonlight.  They soothe me.  When movies about verse-writing bus drivers and violence soothe you something’s probably not right in Denmark, but that’s my inclination these days.

What I’m Listening To:  for starters, today with the current social situation, this.  That song is a recurring theme in my life, and I take full responsibility.  Also, a band called First Aid Kit has a lovely song called “I Found A Way” that paints me over so that I can sit in a shadow and nod my head to the beat and agreement.  Also, the remastered Sgt Pepper’s, and the solo album by Dan Auerbach (don’t strain yourself; if you are trying to place that name then here’s a hint–Black Keys).  I have got a dosage of country from the latest season of The Ranch on Netflix, a wonderfully senseless show that I can also play while working to keep from getting spooked (like cattle might), and danced a little in my living room with Garth Brooks’s “Friends in Low Places.”

I do get out, too…dancing on Friday night to a jazz band by the harbor…walks down the jacaranda lane of Kettner…fireworks…cattle drives to promote the local county fair.

Still looking for humanity, after all.  ♥️

#NightstandChronicle #Eighteen #Chided

Seems like I’ve used that picture before, but, what the hell, let’s do it again.

What a week for the Internet, which I originally typed in lower case because you’re supposed to now, and that my phone auto-corrected to capitals, because it doesn’t get the memos from time to time.  Heck, I’ll Capitalize The Whole Damn Sentence To Make Up For E.E. Cummings If You Want, Phone.  The lectures abound.  Every day since the tragedy in Orlando (the acerbic person would ask “Which one?”–that town has had a bad time of it) there’s been a lot of heavy-handed shoulds bandied about, but I’ve heard a lot of those without current events lately, too.  I’m not supposed to care what other people think but I am supposed to be a citizen of the world.  I’m supposed to be me but no one can physically stomach the me that I am right now (including me).

What is a girl to do?

Well, for starters, I am not going to advise.  I’m in no position to do that, and…I’m also in no mood to take advice.  I still think the sexiest thing anyone can do is admit vulnerability, or, if they possess complete command of the universe, ask what they can do to help.  I’m alone in that thought, though, I reckon.  So I’ve reached back into the past for a little help to stand alone and like everyone wants everyone to do.

When was I invincible?  When did I not give a flip if I failed because I never thought I could?  High school.  University.  I don’t think it was a youth thing–I was most confident at university because the topic of conversation was Literature with a capital L, and the folks I was talking about it with didn’t put on obscurity like a double-stitched suit of pretension or didn’t return my side of the conversation with a blank stare of “Wait…are you talking about a book?”  I have five stacks of books in this room waiting to be read because I’m trying to understand folks “not like me” and watching all the hip stuff on Netflix and HBO Go and iTunes and I get lost when I do that.  At university the hip thing was reading the novel and being able to gush on it like it was a prehistoric Orange Is The New Black (which started as a book, if I’m not mistaken).  No -isms, just, “I had a girlfriend like Miss Havisham once.  Discuss.”

Walking away from readers ain’t the answer.  I think the chiding of “find someone not like you” needs to stop benefitting anyone if one person is doing all the adapting.


The personals ad/Tinder profile would read like this:

  • Reader/writer looking for another reader/writer;
  • Preferably someone who reads/writes in a different voice than me;
  • (Should be pretty easy, right, since I’m supposed to listen to my own voice);
  • Wish list:  curious, doesn’t mansplain, good listener, has an unabusive sense of humor.

Too much?

What do I care?  That person would be the rainmaker.


What have I been trying to read lately?

  • Still catching up on the fiction issue of The New Yorker;
  • “The Mare” by Mary Gaitskill;
  • “A Brief History of Seven Killings,” the Bob Marley novel by Marlon James.  Damn thing’s like trying to read Junot Diaz, but I love it;
  • “Hamilton” by Ron Cherow (there’s a reason Lin-Manuel Miranda was inspired, I found out quick).

What am I listening to with it?

  • Hozier’s “Better Love” from “The Legend of Tarzan” soundtrack;
  • Paul Simon’s latest album;
  • Muse, just all over the place;
  • Ages and Ages, “They Want More”;
  • A Jamaican remix of Cyndi Lauper’s “I Drove All Night” (Marlon James in bleeding into other areas).

And…writing…always writing. ❤️

It’s A Slow Night, and Here’s An Extra Letter Back To You

There’s an extra post this month because I was feeling a weight on my chest, a play I have to call, a calling I probably should take.

Liz Gilbert had a journey to countries that started with I’s.  Cheryl Strayed had a 1,000 mile walk.  Helen Macdonald tamed a hawk, kinda.  I sit on social media cheerleading the stories of everyone else’s life, when I can catch them.  Thanks to the algorithms and analysts (I can say that; I’m an analyst) it takes a lot of detective work to find your stories, read you all like a puddle of tea leaves, wonder what I can do to help, to connect…

It appears I can’t connect.

Not right now, actually.  

On a repeated collection of not right now’s, actually.

The majority of my days are spent watching everyone else’s life like a stalker or a cat-lady in hair rollers with her “stories” on the tv, or picking up the phone and pressing the power button to see if folks who don’t remember me miss me, or hoping to make my life hip enough one day a week (yeah, Instagram, that day is Saturday and you know it), or finding a way to bond with yet more technology that will be passé tomorrow to everyone but me.  Why?  Is it just a dry spell?  Or is this nature’s/God’s/the muses’ little way of saying, “Quick, while no one is watching, let’s go kill some time until they return.”

There’s something that doesn’t settle well in that, though.


When I was at Missouri State and minoring in history my women’s history professor assigned us some unconventional activities in addition to the stacks of books we had to read.  We had to attend a political event in the city, and at one point we had to write a paper about a female community leader that inspired us.  The leader could be dead or alive, but the assignment required sitting down and interviewing someone who was or knew about that person, so that we didn’t keep our heads stuck in books.

I chose my mother.  She was influential in her community, and she inspired me.  I carefully formulated some questions and new a couple of them would be controversial:  Mom’s family (including me) was never enthusiastic about her having a business out of her home.  We touched on that (that’s for another blog), but there was one answer to another question that blind-sighted me and I didn’t expect it to.  I asked my mother why she started her business; was it because she loved people and/or loved farming so much?


She started her business because she didn’t want to be one of those moms that guilts their kids to come home or visit more often, and the business would be where she could put all of that passion.  (My father should have come up with a similar plan, just saying.)  I stopped short when she gave me that answer, and I think of that answer when I feel alienated in my life, wondering if the lonely times are a good time to walk away from what the rest of the world thinks is brilliant so that I can have a place to put my passion, too.  Problem is, that approach only solves half the problem.  What about the next friend or lover that walks into my life?  Do I just wait for them to leave?  Is it the life of a monk or recluse that I have no choice but to have?

Last year a friend of mine pointed out to me that the things I like tend to feed my loneliness.  “You have to admit that writing and reading are group stuff.”  And when they are group stuff, they have disappointed, with some rare but not consistent exceptions.  Here’s the rub:  give up the reading and writing for bars, coffee shops, parties, clubs if you want to avoid being lonely.  Find friends.  Seek out group stuff to do.

I try.  And then I realize that it ain’t me, babe, and I’m lonely in a room full of people.  I’m lonely wanting someone to read with, cozy up with on the phone or on a couch:  “Listen to this” and no one wants to do that.  I’m lonelier at parties.  I’m an introvert:  one person at a time, please.  I’m an introvert that tried to grow and include a bunch of people in my life and now have to heal when none of them want to talk.

I thought social media would cure that.

It’s made it worse.

And going back to writing to kill time until either the previous crowd returns or a new crowd shows up is slowly killing me.  I keep coming up with plans for social media to play nice, but then I realize the playing nice is to make the rest of the world more comfortable and hopefully draw them to me.

The plan shouldn’t be “in the meantime.”  The plan shouldn’t be a “fix.”  The plan should be to remember who I am, to remember the people and passions I love, without apology.  The world is too cool for that.  The world doesn’t stare at its phone waiting for text messages, notifications, Snaps.  The world has a life.  I don’t have one of those.

I have things that I love and people that I love but I don’t have a life.

Pardon me, then, if I put the phone away.  Pardon me for posting less…we, you and I, have hit an impasse where I’m sure a show that’s streaming on Netflix or a term that I don’t understand on a hashtag is better than my re-tweet or share.  I’m fine with that.  You have your passions and I have watched them and had them too for a while and now I have to go back to mine…not until you remember me, but permanently.  I need to read a book without guilt, and I need to write a book and about 50 short stories that I have ideas for just to see if they are viable.  I need to stop pressing the power button on my phone in hopes of seeing something besides the lock wallpaper:

(An example of the current wallpaper.  And he’s getting old fast.)

I’m not curling up in a cave somewhere.  I’m not closing my accounts, or ignoring communication.  But there’ll be less checking.  I’m connecting in the way that I had hoped I would.  I just wanted connection.  I’m going to try reading a while, now, on sites like GoodReads and WordPress and magazines.  If you want to talk, I still have that fancy email feature all the kids rave about, and if you’re lucky enough to have my cell number and it’s an emergency, call me and leave a voice mail.  If it’s not, text.  Comment.  Message.  I’ll still check all of this stuff, but not nearly as often as folks have grown accustomed to or…enjoyed.  I gotta have a break if you’re gonna take one from me.  I love you all, but I gotta find me again, so I stop losing myself to keep people who don’t stay.

Be well, and find your passion.  ❤️ I will see you here again as soon progress is made.

#NightstandChronicleEleven #WhyIWrite

I returned last night from what is apparently (as long as I am employed and can afford it) a yearly pilgrimage to San Francisco to attend events at Litquake.  If you don’t know Litquake, allow me to explain:  it’s a week-long festival celebrating books and writing across the City and sometimes even bleeding out beyond to the Bay Area in general.  It’s a chance to talk shop for those of us who don’t have folks to talk shop with in our places of literary exhile, and it’s a chance to hear how we could leap across the chasm and maybe get published like the fine folks on the stage.  There’s also lessons that branch out beyond writing, the addresses to aspects of humanity, and I’m patient with those ideas and connections, but I have to admit that I am selfishly there for the writing.

Sadly, I’m selfish in other ways as well; with my living situation I do my best to have four to five days of privacy.  I tried to break the rules on that this time by trying out a hostel (it was on the bucket list), but that didn’t work out for reasons too long to go into here, so I found a cheap but air conditioned chain hotel to stay in on 5th and Mission, directly across the street from the San Francisco Chronicle.  The hotel balanced between the neighborhoods of Union Square and the Tenderloin, but I found that more inspiring than frightening.  I would go out in the mornings and sit in the window bar of Blue Bottle Coffee and people-watch.  Not all of the people were beautiful.  That was a relief.

Why would I not meet or talk with other writers while I am circulating a writing and reading festival?  Keep in mind, I was not a monk; one of the attendees to the reading/panel I attended on Thursday night visited with me briefly outside of the Contemporary Jewish Museum.  It bears repeating:  I went to listen, and I went to write.  If I ever publish a book my publisher will probably hate me, for I will be the wallflower scribbling off to the side instead of attending the book launch party.  I have the desire to write, not to talk and socialize, and if there is to be talking and socializing involved, someone else will be sharing (not utilizing me as a therapist, but sharing), and not me.  I share by asking questions and seeking to know more.

Today I’m re-assembling myself from the trip:  doing laundry, taking care of tasks, finding places to put the books that I bought while I was in a nest of independent bookstores.  I’m also processing things on paper, sorting my notes from the trip and adding more thoughts.  I happened to hop on social media for a little social time and found today to be a day where everyone is stating why they write.  I write because writing is the way I best connect with the world, writing is the medium that I find the most comforting.  I write because I know that my social skills aren’t great, and that I am tired of trying to fit in.  As a writer, I can create a world in my genre, which is described by the world outside as snooty literary but described by me in this world I’ve created as the stuff that strives to go one layer deeper.

I write to know that I’m not alone…even if I’m the only person in the room.


Dani Shapiro explains in her writing memoir “Still Writing” that she found it best to move out of New York City so that she didn’t use the distractions of the city to keep from writing.  

I think about that here a lot, as kind of a pacifier; if you live in Carlsbad, California and you don’t have a car and are nowhere close to the village, then your distractions are limited to the following:

  • The beach (a mile walk away in no shade);
  • A cafe (Starbucks only, a mile walk away in no shade);
  • Spending money on something I don’t need in a chain store (a mile walk away in no shade).

You’d think I’d be a prolific writer at this point.

Problem is, the only thing priming the pump is any book I can snatch and bring home and the web.  Not that those aren’t good sources; I just feel like I’m getting life third-hand with this method.  It’s a constant stretch of trying not to panic, and trying not to panic very much alone, as everyone’s solution is, “Why don’t you just get a car?”  My thoughts in answer to that question is, “You WANT one more car to log-jam the freeway?”  And my out-loud answer is, “I guess to fit in I’ll have to.”

I’ll have to pay for three to five years on a depreciating big-ticket item that I have to feed with high-dollar gas and achieve a top speed of 40 mph to fit in.

Somehow, it isn’t a sell.  But walking miles between destinations isn’t much of a sell, either.

But I don’t make the sustaining bucks or have the employer buy-in of the culture that I want to live in (San Francisco or New York City or any other city developing a pedestrian-friendly culture), so here I stay.  I’m trying to find a way to guild the lining of it with shiny silver, but sometimes I drift to anger and struggle to dig out of that ditch.

The Shapiro reasoning helps.  So I turn back to my notebook and mount my noise-cancelling headphones on my ears (even desolation has noise) and come back to the my stack of notebooks and hope for a tidal change while I try to change my own current.