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My Day Off

I’d like to apologize today to anyone who has expressed that you look forward to reading my blog. I can’t write for you today. If you try to write anything regularly—and you have a life—then you know that sometimes it can feel like a grind.

You see, often when it’s time to sit down to write something creative, my well is dry, and I struggle to think of stories or ideas or concepts that I’d like to share with you. Sometimes I have plenty of ideas, but none of them are bloggable. Maybe they’re too disgusting, talking about things like garbage disposals in toilets. Or one story might inappropriately embarrass one of the characters featured, like say, if it’s about a 12-year-old boy dressing in drag to be funny for his brother-in-law, but making his mom angry in the process. Often, my ideas are simply just too naughty, and I’m not willing to go there (even if it’s truly funny). I like to keep within the PG range, although sometimes (I know) I teeter dangerously close to PG-13.

Since I’ve been writing for a living for going on twenty years now, of course I know a lot of handy tricks that can help me get unstuck. Other days, they don’t seem to work—even for me. :( I’m convinced that the human mind only has so much capacity for processing, based on a whole lot of factors: memories (of course), nutrition, opportunity for reflection, proper rest and sleep, bandwidth from dumping existing ideas, three tiny gnomes that I keep locked in a Darth Vader action figure case, consulting with the neighbor’s cat, and other things too numerous to mention.

One thing I do sometimes is mash up two disparate things. When my dear friend Natalie was stuck with nothing to write, I suggested what I thought was a simple solution, and it seemed to work for her. Sometimes I turn to my artist-friend’s blog and steal ideas or inspiration from her. Most of the time I just surf the Internet. Of course the Happy Friday Dance party is always nearby. (Blaine Hogan has several variations on this theme, so it’s hard to pick a favorite.) Also I run. If I have the time and happen to be in a slow season with work, I might take a nap. Or make a sandwich. And then another. And then another. Code Red loves me no matter what, and it never judges me. Sometimes it actually helps.

But what’s happened in the last couple of weeks is that I’ve just become overwhelmed. My sales cycle for the projects and freelance writing work I do is a long one. (TWSS) Usually I’ll meet with a client, we’ll go over everything, and then a month or two later they’ll get back to me with actual work. Two weeks ago, I had three meetings like that—which all resulted in immediate work, way more than I could do or keep up with. So for this season, I’m going to have to stay focused on that.

And that’s why I couldn’t entertain you today. Thank you for your understanding.

What do you do to get back in your groove? What keeps you from doing the things you know you should? What are some stories you know that I know, that you’d like to hear (read?) me tell? (Anything’s fair game, including embarrassing high school kind of stuff.)

Random Survey

So… Recently some of you have told me—and you know who you are, although you probably shouldn’t be too quick to act all smug, because you’ll think it’s you, but it’s actually been more than one of you, so you’re not the only one, and therefore you’re not nearly as special as you think you are, so stop thinking so self-importantly—that you would be more inclined to read, and perhaps even read it more often, if I posted with less frequency.

Believe me, I feel your pain. Sometimes, the burden of responsibility I feel to make certain that I provide you with ample obnoxious humor every Monday, Wednesday and Friday is almost more than I can bear some weeks. The pressure and anxiety has been sufficient that my investments alone are helping to keep solvent Pepsico, the manufacturers of the delightful Mountain Dew Code Red. Which, in a random aside, you know has to actually be really healthy and good for you, because just look at the picture of how fit this chick is on the Code Red info page:

Sweet Nectar of Life

So anyways, what’s up? I know the stuff I write is too many words. But that’s genuinely because in my opinion it takes a while to tell a good story—especially to tell it well. I have a target word count that I shoot for (and then conveniently overshoot by a substantial margin—except for this time, when I labored to hit it square on the nose; can you guess what it is?) each time I sit down to write for you.

So now it’s your turn to write, at least a little. I need your feedback. I need your help.  Please tell me: How much is too much? How often is too often? Would you guys be cool with just two posts a week? One?  What’s that magic number? (If I write two, it will most likely be on Mondays and Thursdays. If I write one, it will most definitely be on Monday.) If I write less often, I can write more. (I’ll bet you thought I was going to say “better,” didn’t you?) Well, maybe that, too.

Please either comment below with your feedback, or let me know on Facebook, or let me know on Twitter. And if you know other people who read, please let them know that I’m asking today. I want as many people as possible (or at least who care) to let me know how I can serve you.

Is three days a week too much?

Why do I always feel obligated to ask questions in italics? (It’s actually a strategy based on ample research, you know—the idea being to engage you with leading questions that invite you to participate and contribute your voice to a so-called “conversation.”)  Do you think that’s poppycock? Do you even know what “poppycock” means? Say it aloud, right now where you are, ESPECIALLY if other people are around. It feels good to say, doesn’t it? You’re very naughty.

Make-Believe Girlfriends

Several years ago, an attractive young woman began working in our office. When I say attractive, I’m speaking in general terms. It’s not like we sponsored an annual beauty pageant or anything. But this story involves only this particular young woman. She was special, unique, for no other reason than because she inspired an idea—a movement, if you will—that has endured for the other men who still work there, long after I moved on. And I suspect the concept she inspired shall be passed down as a socially awkward and testosterone-fueled tradition for years to come.

This young woman was 100% American, although obviously descended of Asian heritage. I couldn’t tell you her name. Not because I’m a class act who wants to protect her identity, but because I don’t know it now, and in fact I never did. What I can tell you is that she had dark hair that fell just past her shoulders and was clearly professionally cared for in expensive fashion. She wore designer clothes that smelled faintly of money (which suited her). She was tall and thin, striding with that quiet confidence betraying a woman who always knows where she’s going and what she’s doing. She would place each foot methodically, toes down first, turned out slightly, in a manner hinting she had likely endured thousands of dance classes as a little girl. The softness of her presence brought a faint light into the the otherwise bleak grayness of our nondescript, industrial hallways and vast cubicle maze.

One day, I was walking down the hallway with several of my coworkers (all men). I don’t remember the precise nature of our errand, but because there was a large group of us together, I rather suspect we were headed out for a traditional fast food lunch: sub sandwiches, cheap tacos, or perhaps even Greek. She passed us going in the opposite direction. After she was well out of earshot, and we all remembered to start breathing again, one of my friends said simply, “Wow.”

Without thinking, I said, “Yeah… You know she’s my girlfriend, right?”

About eight sets of eyebrows raised, and shiny teeth displayed all around me. “Reeeeaaallly?”

I’ve always thought fast on my feet, and thus was borne the inspiration. “Well, I mean, she’s not now. She was, but we broke up.” I then proceeded to regale my friends with the concept and principles surrounding the make-believe girlfriend. Make-believe girlfriends are the best kind—and in fact the only kind—morally available to a principled man who also happens to be married…

I explained to them how we had of course met at work (not really). She was immediately taken not by my looks, but by my dazzling intellect, rapier wit, innate confidence and deep sense of life purpose (whatever). We had long conversations about books we enjoyed (except that I don’t enjoy books) and about the meaning of the universe (also not really). She liked the same video games I did (what?), the same music (not so much), all the same foods (nuh-uh), and she didn’t care that I was a sloppy dresser. (That last one is very likely true because I suspect she didn’t actually know that I existed, let alone what I wore.) Our make-belationship sadly lasted only a few months, as I soon grew very tired of her affinities for shoes and candles and also designer cheeses. Although she adored me (pffft), she would never stop talking about herself (the pompous windbag). So I unceremoniously threw her over. It was easy because (a) it was all her fault, and (b) she didn’t know, so there was no messy emotional entanglement, no big scene with her crying and swearing at me, etc. In our pretend break-up, I had to pretend-remind her that nobody even knew that we pretend-liked each other. (This is another part that is actually true—unless of course she did actually like me. But that would be her problem, not mine. Also, since she didn’t even know me, that would mean she was some kind of weirdo or something.)

I suppose it surprises no one that some guys occasionally imagine themselves in inappropriate fantasies with attractive women. Let me be perfectly clear: This is absolutely not like that and is definitively not what I’m talking about here. Our faux-riendship was pure in nature, entirely comedic, and in fact the make-believe girlfriend idea had never occurred to me about this girl or any other before that very moment in the hallway. So just let go of that notion if you have it.

The beauty of make-believe girlfriends is that in fact the same rules can apply to anyone you choose. I’ve since had dinner with Bono (he’s funnier in real life, fatter than I expected, and his jacket smells like chamomile). Michael Jordan and I once shared a delightful car ride between Oklahoma City and Tulsa during which we discussed primarily economic policy (he’s actually even taller than you’d imagine, his jaw makes this annoying little click occasionally when he’s speaking, and he curses not so much like a sailor as like a pirate). As soon as I can, I’m planning to visit with Michelle Obama because I want both to raise her awareness of human trafficking and also to get her mother’s recipe for seven-layer dip.

Do you have any make-believe friends—girlfriend, boyfriend or otherwise? (Remember, the rules state that you can’t count them if they know.) What would you ask if you had just one question? Dr. Joyce Brothers once said talking to yourself is a sign of very high intelligence. Do you think she just said that because she did it and didn’t want people to think she was, you know, cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs?

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