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Tag: Year of 5000 photos and 50 short stories (page 1 of 9)

The Theme for 2012

It is that time of year again! Time to announce the coming year’s theme! And I know you’ve all been waiting patiently for me to have an excuse to ramble on wildly about my musings about creativity and my own personal journey with it. I know you all love it. Or at least the three of you who read these don’t completely hate it. So, that’s good.

In previous years, the themes have been The Year of 5000 Photos and 50 Short Stories (2009), The Year of 3 Music Videos and 12 Short Stories (2010), and, this year, The Year of 12 Projects (and Slowing My Roll) (2011). Of course, in previous years I had other themes—The Year of Trying New Things, The Year of Writing, The Year of Focus, The Year of Finishing Things, and The Year of Self-Care—but those have not been documented here on The Black Laser, so we’ll mostly ignore them for the purposes of this one-sided discussion. If you’d like to read more on my thoughts on previous years’ themes, go right ahead.

This year, The Year of 12 Projects, has been remarkably successful so far with 13 of my 12 projects completed at this point. I won’t go too much into my thoughts about the year as a whole yet—I’m saving that for its own year-end write up—but let’s just agree that it’s been great. And let’s also acknowledge that it’s the first time ever that I’ve met the goals I set out for myself at the beginning of the year.

Wait, that bears repeating. It is the first time in eight years of giving myself themes instead of resolutions that I’ve actually accomplished what I set out to do.

Holy shit.

Amazing!

I think a lot of what made this year such a success was that I allowed my brain to sort of go anywhere in terms of being creative. I wasn’t limited to one specific type of thing. I could do whatever caught my fancy, and, in turn, I got a lot done. That is great. In fact, a posting I recently read at NPR’s blog about Leonardo da Vinci’s to-do list seems to reinforce that allowing your brain to wander, to be unfocused, is beneficial for getting things done. Not that I am da Vinci, but I seem to have stumbled upon the same results. It goes against years of myself trying to focus on one thing, one goal, one idea. No wonder I was never able to do a damned thing; I worried so much about being focused, driven, single-minded about my creativity that I limited what I could be accomplishing otherwise. Knowing that I do better when I let myself be free is rather refreshing, actually.

While thinking about what I wanted to accomplish for 2012, I recognized that part of my creative palette that I have been really missing this last year and a half or so is my writing. I haven’t written any fiction at all in ages. Do you, avid reader of The Black Laser, recall the last time I posted fiction here? No you don’t. Do you know why? Because it was January 28, 2010. That is terrible. A couple (few?) weeks ago I tweeted, “Do you remember when I used to write stories??? Whatever happened to that, huh??” I wrote it as sort of a joke, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it is actually kind of sad. For something that was so important to me that I was going to give up a decent career twice for it, how could it have fallen so far out of my life that the last time I wrote anything of consequence was in January of last year? It’s like having a really awesome girlfriend and then suddenly you stop talking to her at all and then 20 months later you’re all, “Hey, where did she go?? How did she get away from me????” And then after you recognize that you’re all, “Damn, I’d better do something about this because I really miss her.”

And that is what writing feels like to me: an amazing supportive relationship with its ups and downs and pitfalls and triumphs. It has always felt so much more real to me than my ventures into filmmaking or photography or drawing or animation any of the other things I’ve dabbled in. Writing is challenging and because it is challenging it is rewarding like nothing else I’ve ever experienced. It feels good and it hurts and it is scary and I love it. I mean, duh, obviously, look at how I get going on things like this when I give a damn about them. I’m just blah blah blahing all up and down the East River like a crazy man with a garbage bag for a hat.

So that brings us to this year’s theme:

The Year of Writing

A question remains: how do I reconcile the success I had when I let my brain wander with the desire to focus on one specific kind of output? I thought of this, too. I think the key lies in not forcing “writing” to be any one thing, but allowing it to take whatever form I think I want to mess around with at that moment.

The astute reader will notice that this is in fact my second Year of Writing, the previous one being an abortive effort before I had any sense of how to structure these things for maximum efficacy. But I know how to do that now and that means giving myself limits that allow me to be flexible. Funny, right? Limits that allow me to be flexible. But it’s true and it works. Full open-endedness is daunting, but limit the creative sandbox a little and you’ll be surprised what you can come up with. Creativity is problem solving. Give yourself problems to solve.

So what are my limits/goals for this year?

  • 100,000 words – While chit-chatting with Lindsey on the IMs about what my goals should be for this year I recalled that at my peak output, I was writing at least 500 words a day. If I could maintain that every day of the year, my output would be 182,500 words. A massive amount. But I am not going to be so unrealistic and believe that I am actually going to write every single day of the year. Let’s don’t be ridiculous. There are going to be nights where I’ll have my face buried in the computer doing nothing but fucking off on the internet and nights where I am stuck at work late and nights where I just won’t want to write. And 100,000 is a nice, round number.

    What counts toward my 100,000 word count? Anything: letters to my brain, long articles on The Black Laser about whatever, anything for Vox Critica, any fiction, screenplays (who knows???). Basically anything where I give a damn about the quality of the writing. This encompasses quite a lot of what I do and should make hitting 100K for the year not such a daunting challenge. The only things that won’t count are when I’m bullshitting about music videos (unless I actually have something to say, my prerogative) and things like Twitter/Facebook/whatever. I mean, this thing is already 1200 words long. I’d only need to do 84 posts like this and I’d be done.

  • Dance EP – I’ve been talking about making a dance record for a long time. I love dance music. It’s so stupid and fun but can also be really beautiful in the right hands. Those hands are not mine, but that doesn’t stop from wanting to put my own music out there. And it fits under the header of “writing” quite nicely and is so different than writing words that it allows me to play around in a different medium but still be working toward my theme for the year. It will allow my brain to wander when I don’t have anything particularly meaningful to say otherwise.

    What constitutes a Dance EP? Well, as we all know an EP is longer than a single but shorter than an album, so like 3 to 5 songs. I think that is about right. I just want it to be a fun project that makes people want to move and shake their asses and do all that stupid shit that people do that makes them look really funny in photos.

There you have it. 2012, The Year of Writing. 100,000 words or whatever and a dance EP.

And if you think that I think about this stuff too much, I’ll just leave this little snippet of yesterday’s conversation here for you to enjoy.

The Space Pope
4:39 PM The year I did 50 short stories, I kept a word/story count by each date I finished one so I could graph the work.
4:39 PM Jeez, I think about this too much maybe. But whatever.
4:40 PM I could keep a spreadsheet of writing by wordcount/type/date

lfkaufman
4:40 PM You think about most things too much. :)

Now I’ve blown my little secret that I intend to graph my progress. Here’s to 2012!

I made a breakthrough today.

Last night I met up with my friends Ruth and Nik for a “hey we haven’t seen each other in a while let’s have a beer” beer. Ruth and I got to discussing our editorial methods (she is also an editor) versus those of others we have worked with. I remarked that I often found it strange that some people can just jump in and cut without having seen all the footage. That method isn’t wrong, of course, it just doesn’t work for me. I need to see all the footage before I can start putting things together. It’s part of the process. While watching everything and thinking about it, I start putting together cuts in my head. Once I’ve finished viewing dailies, I can slap cuts together with great speed because I feel confident that I am making the right choices. If I haven’t seen EVERYTHING, then I am not sure that I am picking the best takes or reactions or whatever bits I’m picking and that both slows me down and introduces doubt into the process. Again, doing it the other way is neither right nor wrong, I just know what works for me. Ruth agreed with my methods, adding that she feels as though the thoroughness involved with watching everything is an important step.

Today, I wandered off to the coffee shop with my notebook to sit and do some writing for the first time in months. Before meeting Ruth and Nik last night, I found myself in a powerful, crazy funk that I couldn’t shake. I pulled my notebook out and hastily scribbled a couple pages of text and instantly felt better for having purged that bit of anxiety. No, I won’t tell you what it says, but do know that it has been a long time since I’ve written anything of substance and that little writer’s high (I just made that up, feel free to use it) reminded me of how it feels to be productive in that way and how I used to feel during the Y.5k.P.50.S.S. when I was trying to crank out my quota—really really good. Really good. It inspired me to spend some time outside the house today reengaging with my lost love.

With the coffee at Milk & Roses making my blood simmer, I cranked out the beginnings of something that came to me this morning in bed before I woke up to find that my phone had reset itself to the factory defaults (fun). Between chunks, my mind wandered and I realized something: the block I often feel with writing come from the fact that I feel as if I need to know the entire story before I start writing. How stupid is that?! The whole act of writing is puzzling out the story from bits and pieces. If you knew the whole thing before you got started, you’re really just transcribing, not writing. Of course, we can argue about that for about a hundred years, but that’s not the point of this post. The point is that I realized I cannot approach my writing the same way I approach my editorial work. As an editor, there is a set amount of footage to use, a set body of choices to be made, but as a writer you can take your work anywhere at all. The closest thing to that as an editor is the editing of documentaries which can pull from a seemingly inexhaustible body of footage, but even there limits exist. There are only so many news broadcasts of a certain even, there is only so much football footage, there are only so many interviews with former presidents. Sure, you can go out and shoot stuff, but at the end of the day you’re left with a set amount of material from which to work and that’s it.

This is not true for the writer’s craft. Want to be in outer space? Of course you do. Boom. Done. The past? No problem. Want to have you character do anything, say anything, be anyone? Go for it.

You’re only limited by what makes sense in the context of your work. Does it make sense that your main character is a reformed alcoholic with a violent streak who pays his bills as a clown at children’s parties? It does? Cool. Does it make sense that the shadowy body working against your anti-hero protagonist is comprised exclusively of seven year old girls all named Agatha? It doesn’t? Ok, change it then. What should you change it to? ANYTHING. Therein lies the challenge.

But before I go further off on my tangent about what writing is and isn’t, let’s refocus on the issue at hand: how I think about the process. Basically, I just need to let go similarly to the way I’ve let go of my need to have the first draft be perfect. The plot needs to evolve. It is an organic thing, not something rigid and artificial. Let it come and the work will benefit from that.

So that’s my big creative breakthrough for the day. It may seem minor, but sometimes looking at a problem from another perspective is all it takes to fix things. And by sometimes, I mean pretty much always. Let’s hope that this bodes well for the Y.12.P.S.M.R.

Let us celebrate my new perspective with music.

[audio:http://www.theblacklaser.net/blog/wp-content/audio/breakthru.mp3|artists=Queen|titles=Breakthru]

An Analysis of 2009 – The Year of 5000 Photos and 50 Short Stories.

Now that February is clipping along rapidly, my application to Hunter is finished and submitted, and I have had a moment to think about the results of last year’s theme, the time has arrived to discuss 2009 – The Year of 5000 Photos and 50 Short Stories. I know that you were all super excited for yet another text-heavy Black Laser posting in which I muse about things that matter to me but probably don’t matter to you. Isn’t the internet wonderful?

In case you missed it, here is my original statement of intent for 2009.

2009 was wildly successful for my photo work. Not only did I hit 5017 out of 5000 photos, but I really do think that my photos got noticeably better over the course of the year. I’ve throw together a gallery of some of my favorites from the last year. There’s no rhyme or reason for the selections; I just went through 2009 and picked a bunch I liked. They are arranged in chronological order, oldest first.

[flickrset id=”72157623234441883″ thumbnail=”square” overlay=”true” size=”large”]

I took a lot of good photos and a handful of great ones. I feel much more confident with my tools than I did before. I learned and experimented and limited myself. Tremendous success. We’ll see how many photos I take this year. I’ve hardly touched my camera since the year began because I was working so hard on my graduate school application, but that will soon change. Making photos is fun and rewarding, even if I don’t make a damned dollar doing it.

Here are all the galleries I’ve posted on this site. Anything tagged “Year of 5000 Photos and 50 Short Stories” is, obviously, part of this theme.

The results of my writing last year are much less clear. In one quantitative manner, it was only a partial success with only 38 of 50 short stories being written. Even once I lowered my goals in terms of word count, I was unable to get as much done as I had strived for. There is no excuse really. I missed the mark and that’s it. It’s disappointing too, because once I really got down to it, I was able to crank out piece after piece. Between the middle of November and the end of the year I wrote 36 of my 38 short stories. If you do the math, that works out to an average of 6 stories a week for 6 weeks. Not bad at all.

And that’s the rub. More importantly than whether or not I met the quota I set for myself in December of 2008, in terms of my skills as a writer, I think that 2009 was a complete success. Writing as often and as much as I did undoubtedly helped my writing. “Duh,” you say, but it’s true. I believe that whipping through those short stories made me a stronger writer. It’s one thing to know that practice makes you better at things, but it’s entirely different to have experienced it. I am sure that the writing I did last year contributed directly to the quality of my creative submission to Hunter this year, which is quite clearly superior to the work I submitted last year. And that is awesome.

I’m still not that great with writing about myself, though.

Check out all posts with the tag “Year of 5000 Photos and 50 Short Stories” to see the work I did.

This year I’ve already written 1 of my assigned 12 Finished Short Stories. I’ve not yet done any real work on the music videos, but it is only February and there is time. I hope to continue the roll I started in November when I decided that all the worrying I was doing about the quality of my work was preventing me from doing any at all (stupid). I’ve got more writing to do and photos to make. It feels great to make something out of nothing, and I hope all you lovely readers of my tiny speck on the face of the Interwebs will continue to read and look. And if you don’t, at the very least, I enjoy it all and that’s really what matters.

Karaoke – 12/11/2009

It has been a little while since I last posted photos, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been taking them.

On one of the first really cold nights of the season, we all decided to going sing karaoke. It was totally epic. I’ll give you a million brownie points if you can guess who in the group was singing musical theatre. Hint: it wasn’t the photographer.

Here is a link to the whole gallery.

Here are a few of my favorite photos.

Don’t you want to come sing karaoke with me now?

38 – Mr. Spider’s Gift

The very next day, my friend and I were sitting on the deck.  It was a very sunny day, very fine, and we were enjoying the weather.  I was sipping on a cold Coca-Cola Classic, one of my most favorite things in the whole world.  Nothing seemed like it could go wrong.  

I thought a little bit about Mr. Spider from the night before.  I wondered where he had gone and if he were ok.  I sincerely hoped he was doing just fine out there.  It could be a scary world sometimes.  I felt where he had bitten me.  It didn’t even hurt, just a tiny bump to remind me of the gift he had given me.

I stared out over the placid, rippling waters of the lake.  Suddenly my ribs started feeling very itchy.  I pulled my shirt up to scratch and make sure there no ticks trying to get a free meal off me when I felt a patch of short, very coarse hairs, almost like sandpaper.  Now, I have to tell you, I am not a very hairy person.  I have just a few hairs on my chest, and they are all very soft.  So these new bristly hairs were something of a surprise to me!  I was concerned, but wanted to take a closer look.

“I need to go to the bathroom.  I’ll be right back,” I told my friend.

In the bathroom, I looked and saw a patch, maybe the size of my hand, where there a number of these tiny, black hairs poking through my skin where there had been none the day before.  Strange!  I thought that, perhaps, all the good clean country air was making me develop in a more manly way.  Nature has many secrets.  

All the Coca-Cola in me had worked its way through, so I made use of the bathroom for its intended purpose.  Killing two birds with one stone, right?  But when I peed, what came out was not the usual stuff, but a silky white substance that was very stretchy.  I wiped as much of it off my fingers as I could and flushed it down the toilet, hoping it wouldn’t clog.  That would be too embarrassing.

Back on the porch I couldn’t get the thought of the white sticky stuff out of my mind.  I thought about telling my friend, but I was afraid he would get the wrong idea about it and I think I had done something immoral.  I decided to keep quiet.  Just to keep an eye on things to make sure nothing bad happened.

Another soda pop helped me feel better.

“What are we going to have for dinner?” my friend asked.

“I don’t know,” I replied to him.  “Pork chops?”

“Yeah.  That sounds good,” he said.

“I, uh….” I started but then stopped.

“What’s up?” he said.

“Oh.  Nothing.  Pork chops sound pretty good, huh?” I said.

“Yeah,” he said.

Next door the neighbor’s dogs barked.  I found them to be pretty annoying while we were trying to relax, but what could you do about it?  Dogs had as much right to be dogs as I had a right to be me and as Mr. Spider had a right to be himself.

My jaw ached a little bit.  Maybe later I would go over and say hello to the dogs so they didn’t have to be scared anymore.  Yeah, that seemed like a pretty good idea.  It’s not fun to be scared.  

37 – Curtis Can’t Find His Phone

With the wind blowing snow into his eyes and freezing his ears, Curtis ducked quickly into the subway station.  Once down the stairs and in the lee of the wind, he sighed, releasing the tension brought on by severe cold.  Stepping through the turnstile, he reached into his inner coat pocket to feel for the chocolate bar he had hidden in there earlier, hoping that the cold had kept it nice and solid.  Unfortunately it was a big, melty mess, and instead of wrestling with it not to soil his fingers, he threw it into a trash can on the train platform.  Sometimes you had to sacrifice pleasures for the greater pursuit of virtue.  In this case, not to have filthy, sticky, chocolate-covered hands.  He hated dirty hands.

Absentmindedly he patted down his pockets to make sure he had not left anything at the diner while eating dinner.  Wallet: check.  Keys: check.  Chocolate bar shaped emptiness: check.  Cell phone.  Cell phone.  Cell phone?

Shit.

He doubled checked all his pockets, and then to be sure, checked a third time.  He definitely did not have his phone with him.

He could see where he had left it on the counter.  With his second bowl of soup in his stomach, he went to the bathroom to relieve himself before his long train ride home.  He left his coat and phone on the counter next to the check.  He didn’t want those guys to think he was skipping out on the meal, especially on Christmas Eve.  Curtis was many things, but a thief and a cheapskate he was not.  When he came back from the toilet, he put his coat on, dropped some cash with his customary 8.5% tip, and walked out the door.  He completely forgot to grab his phone.  

Shit.

He could go back now.  It’s only a few blocks between the subway and the diner, but the cold was nightmarish.  And, besides, he had paid his 2.25 fare.  Since losing his job, he no longer got the unlimited passes and each ride cost him.  He did not like to pay twice.  

The phone could wait.  No one was going to call him.  He had no family to speak of.  His only friends were the guys at the diner and he had already seen them tonight.  He knew he would be back there the next day for lunch.  He was sure they would just put it behind the counter for him.

But that did not stop him worrying about it.  A man in the station played the guitar.  Down the platform, another man was bent over looking through the gaps in the wall.  A pretty brunette read as obviously as she could, telling everyone to leave her alone.  And there was Curtis, a pathetic, sad sack, who had managed to worry so intensely about losing a 15 dollar pay as you go phone that he had broken a sweat on the coldest, bitterest day of the whole year.  And there was no one in the whole world to just give him a hug and tell him everything would be ok.

The train rolled up and he got on, feeling no closer to home.

Elsewhere, a lone cell phone, buried three feet deep in trash in a dumpster behind the only diner still open on Christmas Eve, rang.  When no one picked up, it went to voice mail.  She left a message, heartfelt, warm, caring, that Curtis would never hear.

36 – My Country for a Cookie

Samantha fought a losing war against her god damn, cheap ass, piece of shit stove that burnt everything she put on or in it no matter how vigilant she was with it.  Its temperature markings were wildly inaccurate, its range jumped from super high directly to medium-low with zero gradation between, its heat would be different at the same marking depending if she was raising or lowering it, its pilot light went out on a whim, and no matter how methodical she was with the nightmare it misbehaved.  These cookies weren’t just going to make themselves and this motherfucking stove was standing in her way.  Must it be so difficult to satisfy her craving for fucking chocolate chip cookies?  She worked hard.  Did she not deserve a chocolate chip cookie or fourteen once in a while?  Why must this stove stand in her way?  And it was new.  Her mind boggled at how bad the stoves in the apartments of the people who had lived in the building for 30 years must be.  Her landlord refused to do repairs on apartments people were only paying 150 dollars a month for, and she could understand that, but she paid market value and she thought it fucking sucked to be stuck with a bum stove.  Fuckers.  Can’t just buy a stove that isn’t a piece of trash.

Tonight, desperately needing cookies, the dough made, the first sheet dotted with mostly round balls of potential cookie, she wanted to kick the stove when it refused to heat.  The pilot was on, but it decided that, tonight, it was already too warm and did not really feel like getting hot.  

She opened a beer and contemplated just eating the whole bowl of dough.  She decided against it, though, not because of the raw egg, whatever, but because she would probably eat the whole thing and it would make her feel sick, completely defeating the purpose of cookies in the first place.  She considered putting the bowl in the fridge and trying again the next day, but she felt the urge too hard.  The need was too strong.  If she could not have cookies tonight, she would probably die.  Her life depended on eating at least 4 cookies with the milk she had picked up on the way home from work for expressly that purpose.  She hated when plans got derailed.  

Then she thought of that weirdo across the hall, what was his name, Jacob or something?  He would probably let her use his oven in exchange for a few cookies.  Giving away some of the cookies would be smart too since Yu Lee was God knows where tonight and if she had the whole batch, she would start tomorrow with no cookies.  Better to remove the temptation to gorge on delicious, buttery chocolate chip cookies up front where it can’t hurt her as much.  

Samantha knocked on the door across the hall, but got no answer.  Determined, she knocked again, more vigorously, after a moment.  

She heard heavy footsteps and grumbling approach from within the apartment and then the little spy window open.  Through it she saw a bloodshot eyeball that suddenly went wide.  The window shut again and she heard a chain being fiddled with and the deadbolt being thrown.  The door opened a sliver and Jacob poked his head into it.  

“Yeah?” he said.

“Uh, hi, I’m Samantha, from across the hall?”

“Yeah yeah, I remember you,” he said and opened the door all the way.  He was wearing paint spattered pants and a wife beater t-shirt that needed to be thrown out.  “What can old Jacob do for you, young lady?”

She hated being called young lady.  “My stove isn’t working and…”

“You want me to take a look at it for you?”

“No, it’s done this before.  It usually fixes itself after a while.  I’m over here to ask if I can use yours for a little while.”

“Oh sure, sure.  No problem.  Mine works just fine, I guess.  I ain’t used it in who knows, but it worked fine once right?”  He laughed at what she could not tell was a joke.  “What’re you making?”

“Cookies.  I’ll be glad to give you some.  For helping me out.”

“Cookies.  Wow.  We got a regular Mrs. Fields over there.  What kind of cookies?”

“Chocolate chip.”

“You got any milk?”

“Yup.”

“Well well, I’ll leave my door open then, and you can just come in and out as you want, ok?  I’m not doing a whole lot in there, just watchin’ a movie on the TV,” he said while adjusting his pants.  He needed a belt.

“Ah, yeah, ok.  I’ll be right back,” Samantha said and went back into her apartment.  She closed the door behind her and tried to shake off the skeeved out feeling she had.  God, his teeth were bad.  Then she looked at the cookie sheet waiting to be put into a 375 degree oven for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown at the edges.  She grit her teeth and sheet in hand, crossed the hall.

35 – Curtis Wonders

Curtis sat alone at the counter a diner hunched over a bowl of soup that was too salty.  Steam from his soup warmed his face, still half numb from the walk over.  He was not hungry, but he did not want to stand in the cold, so he had ordered the soup.  He had no intention of eating it.  His spoon had not left the counter.  Instead of staring at the chocolate cakes sweating under their glass domes and empty porcelain mugs waiting to be filled with coffee, his head was turned all the way to the right so he could gaze out the front window at the people passing in the street.  They all seemed so happy, laughing, holding hands, having animated discussions he could not make out.  Children scampered, playfully tossing hunks of newly fallen snow at each other, screaming joyfully upon impact, their parents taking all the mischief in good stride.  A man rushed by talking into his cell phone holding a brightly papered box under his arm.  A young couple passed with a Christmas tree.  Curtis wondered if it was their first.

Curtis stirred the onions from the bottom of his soup and made careful, slow whirlpools in the bowl.  He thought about the last Christmas tree he’d bought and about decorating it.  It felt like so long ago.  It was so long ago.  He loved the smell of a tree when it was first brought home.  Something about the contrast between his dismal inner city life and the rich green freshness of the tree made him feel as if everything was ok for the time being.  The smell of the tree was the smell of the holidays.  It was, for him, to the holidays what the smell of coffee was to the morning.  Just as his day could not begin until he had a cup of coffee, the holidays could not begin without the pleasantly overwhelming scent of tree in his house.  When he realized that his tree metric would mean that the holidays had not begun for him in nearly 15 years, he turned his face away from the crowds on the other side of the glass, living a life he had long since lost.

He pulled his old, barely functional phone from the one pocket in his jacket it wouldn’t fall out of and placed it beside his glass of water on the counter.  He flipped it open to see if he has missed any calls.  He had not.  No one ever called.  He thought about just getting rid of the phone all together, but while she was still out there, there was potential for her to call.  She wouldn’t, he knew, but something had to keep him alive from day to day.  Something had to make all the emptiness worth it.

After stirring his soup for two hours, he finally worked up enough hunger to actually eat it.  It was cold, but he felt like he deserved nothing better.  At least this diner was open, as he sat alone on yet another Christmas Eve.  There was a lot of night left.  He ordered another bowl of soup.