Tuesday, July 21, 2009


In Which We Spin The Wheel...

And so, full circle, back once again at the Magazine Mansion.

I'm sorry if I kept any of you waiting or worrying. I've had an eventful six weeks. Oh, my first month or so in New Hampshire was slow enough, alternating between writing and continuing to clean out my parents' (now my Big Brother's) house and throwing out as much as I could when BB wasn't looking. I'm satisfied with my progress on both fronts—I averaged 10,000 words a week on my writing and smuggled six truckloads of useless crap out of the house and into the local landfill.

Then I left to go retrieve Thomas and bring him back to my home state for a week of camping and hiking, and that mostly in the rain. But he enjoyed it and I may tell more about our adventures, but for now I'm just trying to get back into the swing of things.

If you were to illustrate my working life (such as it is) and the way I prioritize it (such as I do) you'd find it would resemble the mutant offspring of a pie-chart and a roulette wheel, with about 50 percent of it devoted to finding freelance and 40 percent devoted to my own personal writing projects. And every day, Fate spins the wheel. For most of the past month and change, the wheel has been stopping in the 40-percent zone, and when I got back home last week, I knew the wheel would turn round and I'd find myself shifting away again toward the generating-freelance spots.

And then I got a phone call that made everything spin wildly, and when the wheel came to rest, it was on the remaining 10 percent that you thought I wasn't going to mention. Though it represents the smallest slice in the weird wheel, it's an area I always leave open in my life, an area that allows me to cram in all my dream opportunities that I used to fantasize about. When I was younger and the wheel was in constant motion, dream opportunities occupied, naturally, the biggest area of the wheel.

But as you get older, and your sense of reality hardens to a thick shell, you understand that most of these things are never going to happen. Most people I know just write these dreams off, chalk them up to childish whim and forget about them. I give them the last sliver of the weird wheel of my life.

Some of these opportunities include:

--An international job of some kind (hey, I never said all these dream scenarios were specific)

--A chance to volunteer for any experiment involving time travel (pretty much given up on that one. I mean, if time travel was ever going to be discovered in my lifetime and I actually got to go, I know I'd leave/will leave/will have left myself a letter or sticky note--just a few words of encouragement, and possibly a lottery number or two, as proof that I made it--and I've never found such a note)

--A shot at running my own newspaper or magazine (I think my last few months at the Really Big Magazine cured me of that one)

--The opportunity to write a script (for comics or a movie, doesn't really matter)

The list goes on, into ever weirder and more embarrassing territory, but you take my point, I think. Keeping the list, allowing it 10 percent of the wheel doesn't mean I think any of them are ever going to happen. In fact, I allow that these would be possible for me only through blind luck, or circumstances for which the phrases "once in a lifetime" and "all the planets in alignment" were created.

The phone call was blind luck, pure and simple. A person I met exactly once, about 5 months ago, passed my resume to the Mystery Caller. This Mystery Caller also happens to work with a friend of a friend of a former colleague of mine who by sheer coincidence also mentioned my name in passing. So the Mystery Caller took a hint and phoned me, 24 hours after I returned from New Hampshire. We talked, and 10 minutes later, I was packing a bag and driving across the country (again) to meet with the Mystery Caller, I was that intrigued with the opportunity he wanted to discuss.

Which, if you haven't guessed by now, is an opportunity I can't tell you about yet. I hate when people do that to me, so I hope you believe me when I tell you how sorry I am I can't reveal more yet.

(I'll make it up to you by posting--in the next day or so--a few of the 20,000 words I wrote last month. Fair enough?)

I can tell you this is something I've always wanted to do, at a place I've known and admired for most of my life. When I told Her Lovely Self I was getting back in the car and driving off into the unknown, I expected her to try and talk me out of it--it really is a long shot. But she just smiled.

"I know you too well," she said. "You'll go and find out more because it's a long shot. And I think you should. Don't you?"

"I guess so," I said, stuffing a handful of socks and underwear into a satchel and throwing toiletries into a shaving kit, and trying to do about four other things at once. "It's one of those things I always leave a possibility open for. You know, in my weird roulette wheel, the 10-percent part, where it's--"

"Once in a lifetime, all the planets in alignment," she said, nodding. She's read this post before. "And how many planets would you say are in alignment right now?"

I stopped then, underwear in one hand, a toothbrush in the other. "Honestly, maybe four or five," I said. "There's a chance--a small one, but still. There's a chance this might happen."

I should know more soon. But meanwhile, you should know that I'm alive and well and bouncing off the walls. If this thing happens, it'll probably happen in the next 48 hours, and after that, the weird wheel is likely to spin off its axle and leave me wondering what the hell I'm supposed to do next.


For the first time in a long time, something massive and celestial is in the works. I can see them in the twilight, Mercury, Venus, Mars, all of them, spinning slowly into place.

Am I hopeful? Am I excited?

You bet Uranus.

From Somewhere on the Masthead

Now that there's only 8 planets, it's probably easier to get them to align just so...

Here's hoping, for your sake.
Good luck on your super secret mission!

It is GREAT to see you posting again, and I can't wait to hear how your trip went, and to read some of your 20,000 words :)
It's always best to approach one's impending celestial karma equipped with clean underwear and toothbrush in hand. Your momma would be so proud.

I'm assuming that was clean underwear......
Excellent! My husband is likewise on the possible verge of something the he would have never considered a year ago. But unemployment can certainly concentrate the mind.

Good luck.
If you're in Hollywood call me. We'll do lunch.
YAY! sending you karma flakes.
May the Force be with you, MM. Thank you for taking the time to pause and give us an update. I'll be anxiously awaiting the results. If you end up in the DC area, I'd be honored to buy you a beer and/or give you a tour of the Pentagon.
Oooh, exciting! Good luck on Mystery Endeavor :) They'd be crazy not to let you do whatever it is, because you're awesome!

That's really all I can say until you get more specific, but I do actually mean it. Love your writing and can't wait to see your name in print somewhere again.
So, something on your Bucket Fantasy List might be in the midst of coming true for you, huh? Well, I can't think of a more deserving writer-type person to have that happen to! Finding any kind of work in virtually any specific field is pretty crappy dealings these days but to have something that has the potential of fulfilling one of your bucket list items -is simply fantastic! And, I'll be looking forward to reading some of your terrific prose too in the next couple of days as well. Now, that's something that's always on my bucket list, ya know. You're the greatest and here's hoping this friend of a friend of a former co-worker's friend, etc., sees all that talent you have to give him!
good luck on your mystery thing! spin, spin, spin the wheel!

i'm glad you posted - i've been wondering how you're doing.
Welcome back and here's hoping the planets align.
i feel like i need to make one of those lists now, just so i can put it in the 10% slot on my roulette wheel of life, just so maybe it can come true...

here's to crossing my fingers for you!
So glad for an update. So glad your trip back home was productive. So glad the planets are aligning for you.

Thanks for the post and good luck to you, MM.
Nice to see you survived the summer vaca with BB there, MM. Good luck on the Mystery Wheel Project! Fingers crossed for you.
Oooh...I'm intrigued! And glad to hear from you again.
Wishing you all the cosmic good luck...
Glad you are back but am just dizzy wanting to hear the "rest of the story". Got a good feeling about this.
We are waiting here.
Thanks for the update. Fingers crossed! Prayers too!
LUCK is coming your way!
Cool! Best wishes!
Here's hoping that Mystery Wheel stops spinning in the perfect spot!
Good luck!
I won't hazard a guess, lest I get it right and somehow screw up your chances by inadvertently revealing a confidence.

(With my track record as a detective, this is highly doubtful, of course, but still...)

Best of luck! Prayer said for the planets to stay in alignment!
What great timing- on a solar eclipse sandwiched between 2 lunar eclipses - the stars are aligning! Celestial wishes for the perfect spot for you. Lizardmom
Hoping all the planets align for you, MM!
Fingers crossed, planetary--and blog--watching commenced.
Good luck! If it doesn't come through, it just means that something more exciting is down the road; but if it does, well, then you get to do the Dance of Joy, Balki-style.
Glad to "hear" your voice again!

Got a chance to read the Really Big Magazine article and you did a fantastic job!

Hope your trip was fruitful!
"--A chance to volunteer for any experiment involving time travel (pretty much given up on that one. I mean, if time travel was ever going to be discovered in my lifetime and I actually got to go, I know I'd leave/will leave/will have left myself a letter or sticky note--just a few words of encouragement, and possibly a lottery number or two, as proof that I made it--and I've never found such a note)"

It'd be ironic as hell if you actually did leave yourself a note and accidentally gave it away with the CRAP

You know what, that might make a good script...
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