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Posts published in December 2012

The cat game.

I play a game with Sarah that has no name and very few rules. In fact, it might have only one rule, a rule which I have imposed upon the game myself: no repeats. Everything else is fair, but repeats are expressly forbidden. You see, what I do is every day around when I think she has a little lull in her day before peak-stress, I send her a funny cat photo.


The cat photos can be anything: funny cats in costumes, cute kittens, dumb looking cats, kids holding cats up like The Lion King, whatever. The only thing dictating the cat photo is my taste…and whether or not I think she’s going to like it. Therein lies the game.


See, I never really know what she’s going to like. I suspect, I estimate, I gamble, but I am never entirely sure if she is going to like one photo more than another. Some choices are more obvious than others, but there’s always a risk.


Because I am never sure, I’ve collected a huge variety of cat photos from all over the internet. Then I dole them out, one at a time, when I think the moment is appropriate.


I almost never get direct feedback on the game. I only know if I’ve hit a home run one of two ways. 1 – She posts the photo to someone else’s Facebook. 2 – She changes the lockscreen photo on her iPhone. The most common is the latter. Both make me feel like a complete winner.


So. The folder of used cats on my phone grows and grows (remember, no repeats is the only rule), and finding myself amazed at the myriad idiot, adorable cat photos the internet produces. It’s amazing. And startling. And a little bit scary. But they are out there, just waiting to be sent.

Thoughts on getting engaged.

During the night of October 30th, as we watched John Carpenter’s 1978 horror classic Halloween and hurricane Sandy raged outside devastating coastal parts of the city I call home, I asked my girlfriend Sarah to marry me. As the main theme from the film played in the background, I showed her the ring and told her that is was important to me that she know that no matter what happened that I would be there for her. That I was not going anywhere. That she could rely on me. I wanted her to know that no petty squabble or disagreement or fight was going to scare me away. I said some other, more personal things I won’t repeat here, but in the end her eyes welled up, she said yes, and put on the ring.

I texted my mom and she texted hers. Our moms were excited for us. The next day I was making my way through my myriad siblings and immediate family members when I saw that she had changed our Facebook status which led to a couple, “OMG U R ENGAGED?!?” texts. I followed those up with phone calls and felt satisfied that everyone knew and I could get back to finding out what the hell turmoil the hurricane had caused. Unfortunately, I completely forgot to tell my brother Patrick and he didn’t find out until I invited the whole family to the engagement party. Sorry, Patrick.

Overall the response was incredibly positive. Many congratulations, many ZOMGs, many questions about the date (we don’t know yet, chill out), but overall the weirdest reaction I got was, “Is this for real?”

Yes, god damn it, it’s for real. And if it wasn’t, it is an incredibly unfunny joke. Why would I lead people I care about to believe I’d gotten engaged as a joke? That is so rude. Granted, I post almost nothing on Facebook that reflects my real feelings about things or are indicative of my real character. For me, Facebook is a place to make jokes and fuck with people. Who takes that shit seriously? Why would I post something serious about myself there? So, yeah, I see where people were coming from, but I found the response (which came from a number of people) incredibly odd. Not enraging, just weird. I am not mad, it just stood out as a curiosity. Whatevers.

Regardless of how some people reacted, I am really excited about it. The idea of getting married was always a scary one. What if I picked the wrong person? Would I get bored? Do I secretly hate this woman? That sort of thinking was certainly the block in my last serious relationship. I could never imagine myself married to the woman I was with—through no fault of hers—so we stayed in this stupid holding pattern for years. In retrospect, she and I would have both been much better off ending the relationship halfway through the 7 years we ended up spinning in circles. But, hell, live and learn, right?

I knew this time that is was the right decision when the thought of marrying Sarah produced none of those questions in my oh-so-worry-prone brain. Sure, I was nervous and excited, but who wouldn’t be? The important thing was that there was no fear mixed into the emotional stew involved with this sort of decision. That was the key.

I remember the moment I initially knew I was going to marry this woman. I was in Los Angeles working on a Ford job. I spent the day with friends drinking beers, spent some time in the emergency room, went back to drinking beers, met my other friends, and then went to a very late dinner. As I was sitting with Paul and Ariel in some diner somewhere half nodding off, half picking at the food in front of me, I was talking talking talking about this girl I had been seeing. She’s so this! She’s so that! I described her to them as “smart and funny and beautiful and a little bit mean, in the right way.” Ariel laughed and told me that was pretty much how she would describe me too. And I said, “Fuck it, you know, I’m just going to marry this girl and bring her out here to California and it’s going to be awesome!” Then I fell asleep for a moment. When I woke up a moment later, still at the table, I remember thinking, Huh, well that wasn’t very scary. I guess it’s a good idea.

Besides, I really like her.

I suppose the 16 months between the dinner and the presentation of the ring were just months she and I both needed to get things in order for the proposal to make sense. Our relationship took a turn for the worst and then ended and then picked back up again for a much much stronger take 2. And now here we are. There were bumps in the road, but there always are. Some things have been difficult, but nothing that’s worth doing is ever easy. And there’s still a whole bunch of stuff to figure out, but isn’t that all part of the fun?

Keep your eyes peeled for further musings on this process of getting married. I am sure I will have a lot to say.

The Theme for 2013: The Year of No Pressure

Before I discuss my theme for next year, let’s talk about this year a little bit. Though I built up a little steam toward my 100,000 word goal, I only made it about a quarter of the way through before life got in the way and threw my ability to think about my writing to the wolves. Indeed, The Black Laser wasn’t free from that either. Loyal readers saw the quantity and quality of posts here gradually decline as life got in the way of things. But, you know what? So it goes.

I don’t feel bad about it.

Because the truth is I also did all sorts of interesting things personally and professionally this year; they just didn’t have a lot to do with writing. I made a bunch of dance videos with my now-fiancée. I edited all sorts of commercials for the old boob tube. I edited a death metal concert video and an experiment art narrative short film. I was made officially official at my company. I got freakin’ engaged! Holy crap!

So what if I didn’t write as much as I set out to? Who really cares? I accomplished a lot of things that made me really proud and I fed my brain with a lot of new experiences that can ultimately be writing-fodder. It’s not as if I sat around all year playing video games (though I did do some of that), wasting my time and feeling bad about it. I made things and friends and learned. I am very happy with 2012. I think a lot of that has to do with letting myself be free from my theme about halfway through the year. I remember consciously thinking, “Ok, I can grind out the next 75,000 words and be all stressed about not being on schedule, or I can just go with the flow and see what comes out of the year.” And that is exactly what I did.

In the past I’ve put a lot of emphasis on structure and deadlines, hoping that being beholden to something would keep me motivated. Go Head. Read about it. I’ll be right here.

Ok. All finished? Great.

To a certain extent being beholden to someone does keep me motivated, but I’ve learned that I have to be beholden to someone who is not myself. I just can’t do it. I make too many excuses for myself, and I find that I am always really willing to cut myself slack for those excuses. I am my own worst enemy and my own best advocate. A complicated relationship to be in with yourself.

This year I want to try a different sort of experiment. Though I have a whole lot of things I want to do this year, I am not going to put any pressure on myself to get things done by a deadline. Instead I am going to do things as they come and let my own productivity flow organically. I am under constant deadlines at work, so perhaps being more laissez-faire with my creative goals will allow me the wiggle room at the end of the day to do things as I can, not as I feel I need to. With that, I present the theme for 2013…

The Year of No Pressure

That’s right. No pressure. No pressure to hit a certain word count. No pressure to produce a certain number of stories. No pressure to do anything to a certain amount by a certain date. Just let things happen as they happen. That is not to say I don’t have goals for this year. Quite the contrary; I have a bunch of things, broad and specific, I want to accomplish in 2013. I just don’t intend to put any undue pressure on myself to get them done before they happen naturally.

What are they?

  • Get married – Giant duh on this. I asked her to marry me and now we need to figure out exactly how that is going to work. Apparently, people expect you to know the date you’re going to get married as soon as you are engaged. That’s news to me. Besides, I’ve neither been engaged before nor have I planned a wedding. There is a lot to learn.

    As a bonus for you all, my good friend Matt Toder of Vox Critica fame has asked Sarah and me to write a series of articles about our experience getting married. I’ve already started one on getting engaged, so keep an eye out for that, friends. I promise it will be good reading.

  • Rebuild my finances – 2012 was a very expensive year. During 2013 I would like very much to reign in my spending and rebuild the next egg I worked through this year. Don’t get me wrong; the money was spent for a very good (personal) reason and I would spend it all again in a heartbeat. Nevertheless, it is a priority of mine to keep to a budget and try to dig myself out of a bit of a hole.
  • Pick up the pace of The Black Laser – I feel bad when I don’t update for the 10s of you who read this site. I like to put my thoughts out and share cool things I find and I hope that you like it too. For 2013, I’d like to get this place back on track. This post is the first step toward that goal.
  • Pick up the fiction train – This ties into the previous goal a little as my fiction posts have always been a good source of original content for this site. And I like sharing that stuff with you guys because it scares the hell out of me to put myself out there and that is fun. It is fun to be scared. I have a load of fiction ideas built up, little snippets of ideas, barely formed thoughts, bad ideas, good ideas, stale ideas, fresh ideas. Whatever they are, I have a ton of stuff stewing in my brain that needs to be released. I’m going to release it at you all. Be ready.

I think that’s it right now, but I am not going to stress about adding or removing things from that list as I see fit. That’s just how 2013 is going to be. Stay tuned and get excited for it, friends. It should be a totally smooth, comfortable ride.