Or nickel plate, as the case may be.

I’ve been in the writing game a long time. I have little to show for it, publishing-wise, except good will. Some editor’s choices on workshops, several close calls with agents and editors for my novels (some frustratingly close), some short stories that were praised by editors but “not quite right” for them (with assurances that I would be able to sell them elsewhere). (“Oh yeah, where?” I always want to ask, but one does not engage in that kind of back and forth with editors generous enough to give one a personal reply.) (They mean well, I assure myself.) (And I’m confident they do mean well. They wouldn’t have taken the time otherwise. I am grateful.)

There’s been enough of that kind of thing that I’ve stopped doubting my ability. I may not be a gold star writer, but I know I don’t suck. If I am good, I think I’m just not the right kind of good. My stuff tends to be hard to categorize, or it slips sideways between categories. And here’s the killer: I once submitted one of my stories to an anthology for interstitial fiction. I got a very generous rejection letter on that, assured it was a great story that I should have no trouble selling elsewhere, but it wasn’t interstitial enough. At that point with that particularly story, I’d submitted to just about every periodical in the known universe and although a number of editors had praised it, no one thought it was “quite right.” So, I put it back in the trunk and decided no more submissions on that one.

I’ve hit that particular wall with a number of my stories. I am not a big fan of short stories nor a talented short story writer. It’s not my thing so I don’t bother anymore because I’ve always figured I was more of a novelist. But I do have several stories that went through a process similar to the story mentioned above. Objectively speaking, I know they are not an embarrassment because professional people who had no dog in the hunt said they were good. And I’ve reached a point in my life where they are just sitting in my trunk—or my treasure chest if I’m in an uncharacteristically upbeat frame of euphemism. I’ve decided that maybe I’ll just start posting them. Time is in infinite supply. Maybe it’s time to share my gold (nickel plate) rather than hoarding it like a miser. (Don’t worry. I don’t have an inflated sense of my own worth. It’s more a sense that it will be doing this or nothing at all for these stories and they will disappear forever once I die and my hard drive is reformatted.)

I’m not 100% sure I’ll do this. First, I’d have to get my website in shape. My web designer left the business and I have no way to update my current site. I am not talented in that way myself. I can do basic html but my brain pretty much freezes when I try to do more. So, I’m thinking of scrapping the old website altogether and doing something simpler, like Square Space. I’m thinking my old website—as much as a love the graphics my designer came up with—is part of the past. Maybe the biggest lesson of the past six months of my life is that I have to let go. I’m in a transition these days that has been unexpectedly difficult. I’m having to redefine myself from the ground up. Who knew retirement could be as baffling as puberty?

I’ve lived most of my life having to conform to the schedules imposed on me by the outside world. Now I have the freedom to do what I want, to make myself anew—and it’s fricking terrifying. And exhilarating. And tingly. And overwhelming. And ohmygodwhatdoIdowiththis? You know, like puberty.

So who am I? Not a fricking clue. But I may not be someone who hoards my gold (nickel plate) anymore. Only time will tell. I hope I don’t run out of time before I figure it out.

Every license plate I saw this morning contained a Z. All right, I looked at six and five contained a Z.

You see, I sometimes play a game as I commute to and from work. I make words out of the letters in license plates—only official state license plates count, none of the vanity ones. They also has to be random plates from the road or from cars parked alongside it. The game allows one to scramble the letters in any way that will make a word, with Q and X as optional skips. You can make a word out of them if you wish to try, but no demerits for skipping them, and two points instead of one for using them. Of course, since I’m in the car by myself there really isn’t anyone to keep score or to play against, except some hypothetical opponent who might or might not be me.

I was quite smug yesterday evening when I saw a plate with GQE. It felt like there was a word there but I couldn’t quite suss it out. After I meditated on it for a while, “QUAGMIRE” popped into my brain. That’s when the smugness hit. My hypothetical opponent even gave me kudos.

But Z’s everywhere I looked this morning. I didn’t come up with any good solutions. I couldn’t be arsed to try. I kept thinking that I wouldn’t be moving down these roads, ones I’ve traveled for decades, for much longer. I won’t miss the commute. It’s often brutal these days. But I will miss some of the sights and sounds.

Will I miss the license plate game? There will be other roads and other license plates, although I admit to sometimes playing the game obsessively until I have to force myself to stop or risk my sanity.

Maybe I’ll concentrate on new sights and sounds instead.

16 May
Man, are there a lot of people who are terrified of mature women. If they can’t be sexualized in a cliché way they must be mocked & crushed.

 Mature women: 

16 May
And in other news, Jon Hamm’s camo wad still has the most clicks on my Bitmarks. Although “Kindness” by Naomi Shahib Nye is a close second.

Camo Wad is the name of my next band. That or Ironic Sexualization.

20 May
Ricky Gervais says, “Atheism is a belief system, like ‘OFF’ is a TV Channel.” That’s because he confuses his belief system with fact. He can’t disprove God any more than believers can prove God. When it gets to the point of foaming at the mouth, as it does with Mr. G, then we’re dealing with emotion, not rationality. Emotion is the core of a belief system.

20 May
I try to pretend things aren’t hard on me in order to save Mom from feeling bad, but some days, I’m so tired and it’s so hard the mask slips. And I always feel so much worse when she gets a glimpse and feels bad. Guilt is my constant companion. Not a boon companion, either. Not trying for sainthood, just trying to be humane as much as possible. It’s really hard.

22 May
My friend, M., wonders if insurance companies have special classes for their workers on making well-crafted “mistakes” that delay payouts. I certainly believe JOHN HANCOCK LIFE INSURANCE OF THE BUNGLING IDJITS do. I am informed that this scenario was a plot element in The Rainmaker by John Grisham. Which only tells me there are many people who have had my experiences with insurance companies, alas.

26 May
Life is good. Bird is sitting on my shoulder and hasn’t pooped yet. This will probably change soon.

26 May
“We do not decide to believe or actively change our minds.” —Dennis Gaffin, Running With the Fairies

28 May
Our neighbors in the back have chickens. I find their “bwoks” and “cluck-cluck” oddly soothing. Of course, there’s no rooster.

29 May
Pope Francis: Even atheists can go to Heaven if they do good.

30 May
Just found in Australia—giant, florescent pink slugs:   If you wrote this in a fantasy, people would laugh at you.

31 May
Greenies Pill Pockets saved my life. I have to give Min pills twice a day but she thinks it’s a treat!

31 May
Celebrity gossip makes me so damned weary. It’s all smoke and mirrors.

31 May
In case you missed this Awesome Thing from CC Finlay: “My son sent me this comic about old super-heroes. Read it all the way to the end.” 

2 Jun
I had the weirdest dream about the Magic Castle last night. Instead of being in a large Victorian Mansion it had been Disneyfied into a theme park, so instead of being able to enjoy an intimate exposure to magic and magicians, and those lovely bars, you were lost in cavernous spaces and large groups of people. I got separated from the people I was with and couldn’t contact them because the Magic Castle staff wouldn’t allow cell phones. I spent all my time searching for my companions and feeling left out instead of enjoying the show. 🙁

3 Jun
I wish Google Images had a -no -crappy -pastel -art setting.

3 Jun
Feeling extra glad this week that I didn’t get involved with Game of Thrones.

4 Jun
Another intense dream last night, a thriller: chases, betrayals, assassinations. The details are fuzzy or I might try to write it. Eh. Who am I kidding? Although at least two of my seven completed novels started their lives as dreams. Back when I was still a real writer.

4 Jun
Is it just me or does the Miami Heat’s logo look like a flaming butternut squash?

4 Jun
Reviewing a very old ms. I realized I’d used my least favorite cliché line in all of writerdom: a character not realizing they’d been holding their breath. Curse those double realizations!

5 Jun
Be careful who you diss because you might end up working for them. God help me. I don’t need this crap on top of everything else.

5 Jun
Sequestration sucks, and nobody’s doing anything about it. Everyone says, “It doesn’t affect me. Why should I care?” You know what? It will roll around to you eventually. We need to insist our Congresspersons get off their butts and do something.

5 Jun
I got this from someone on Twitter but can’t remember who. You literally are the stories you tell: 

6 Jun
Never say never. Unless, of course, it’s to say “Never say never.”

7 Jun
In the waiting room while Mom has a routine outpatient procedure. Routine, nothing to worry about, but I still do. She came through just fine. We were home by one.

7 Jun
I picked the right day not to go to work. In Santa Monica. SM College is an alma mater of mine.

11 Jun
Weird: is that memory fragment something I saw on TV or something I dreamed?

19 Jun
Things you have to be really old to remember:

“Calgon, take me away.”
Bubble Up
One Step Beyond
Carbon paper and mimeograph machines

21 Jun
I once circled a scene for three months. I couldn’t figure out why I was stuck until I admitted I didn’t want to do what had to be done: break my protagonist’s heart. Once I admitted that to myself, it came unstuck. Still not fun to write, but at least the story progressed forward. It doesn’t take me nearly as long as three months anymore. I assume. Once I write again.

21 Jun
C: Why do people act so damned weird?

Me: Because they lose track of the fact that life is short and our time here is very limited.

21 Jun
I’ve been researching retirement options that last few weeks. They are: slim, none, and hahahaha.