“There must be a time
Between the well meaning
When the good will come out
And start the healing
You won't know
How well you've played
Until you've won

And if at first you find
You can't imagine
How good can heal
When you've got nothing worth healing
You won't know
How well you're made
Until you're done”

-          The Good Will Out, Embrace

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I don’t want to write right now. I want to be on my couch watching something non-Boston Marathon related; or lying down attempting to fall asleep reading, only to find upon waking up the book bent backwards beneath me; and I want to be drinking something alcoholic while I do any of these.

But instead I’m writing. Because my brain won’t shut off. Because I feel compelled to try to write some kind of decency and humanity and kindness into the world.

Today, two horrific explosions happened in Boston, two blocks away from my office building, at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, one of my favorite events, in front of thousands of innocent, happy, cheering, supportive people. A close friend, who also happens to be a runner, wrote me, “I feel a stronger desire to run than I have in a while, maybe to center myself, maybe in defiance.” Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to run the Boston Marathon, in reaction to the former director literally trying to drag her out of the race at mile 5 famously said, “I could feel my anger dissipating as the miles went by — you can’t run and stay mad!”

These may seem like runner-centric quotes...and they are. But to me they represent more: our inherent strength and perseverance as humans. People train eight months just to finish a marathon to prove their own strength to themselves and nothing more. To the “human insect or poisonous mass of broken sociopaths" (to quote Patton Oswalt) who orchestrated this, by choosing an event that is inherently inspiring to show your depravity and abject fear of humanity, you already lost. Goodness and decency always win out. People ran to the destructed areas to help those who were fallen; strangers and spectators dragged runners and fellow humans to safety; stranded runners and family are staying in homes of people who are acquaintances of acquaintances of friends. The Red Cross’ web site crashed because of an outpouring of donations and people wanting to contribute.


Yes, today was horrific, especially for those who were witness to it all. And there will be fears, anxieties, and traumas that may take years to unfold and recover from. But if nothing else, let today also be a reminder of the compassion and humanity and perseverance that we all have.

There is a lot of good in the world.

 
 


New Year's Resolutions.

I don't like them. I don't make them. Sometimes I tell a (bad/obvious) joke that years ago I made a New Year's resolution to not make any resolutions, and I failed. I do make goals, what I want to achieve on both a measurable and a subjective level. Last year I made a handful of goals. I achieved almost all of them, at least the objective ones.

But there is always room for self-improvement. Every year around this time, people across the country... nay, people around the world, will begin to make critical self-assessments, lists of what they believe they can improve, how they want to look, how the new year is going to be different for them, how everything is finally going to change, with a capital C. They'll include things like "lose 15 pounds", "start reading more", "call my parents more often", "exercise more often and maybe run a 5K or a marathon."

I'm calling bullshit.
 
Everyone making New Year's Resolutions now and waiting until the New Year to start them is going to fail.

I'm not trying to be negative. I'm just trying to slap you all across your self-defeating faces (via this little read blog). If you wait until the New Year to start the things you want to change about yourself now, you're going to fail. And here's why: you don't really mean it. You're going through the motions. If you really wanted to change these things about yourself, you wouldn't wait a few weeks. You'd start now.

It's a simple dictum: if you want to do something, if you want something to change, do it now! By putting it all off until a specified date, you aren't fully engaging in your goals or yourself. You're setting yourself up for failure. For example: "I know I really want to know what all the constellations are and I know it's mid-November and I have a high-speed internet access and I live in the countryside where the city lights don't ruin the night sky and that I'm sitting here watching youtube videos of people getting hit in the nuts or walking into poles, but I think that should be my New Year's Resolution. To learn the constellations." This person (and I've been this person before) is stupid. They could easily achieve this: go online to see which stars are prominent in their hemisphere at that time of year, then go outside to see if they can spot them. Are they going to do this? No, or they would have done so already.

We make resolutions so we can have other people hold us accountable, because we're afraid of holding ourselves accountable. We think that our friends are going to reinforce our lack of will and discipline. They aren't. That doesn't make our friends bad people or that they aren't emotionally invested or excited in seeing you reach your goals. It means that they have their own shit going on and will always (and rightfully so, I may add) take care of their stuff first.


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I have created new goals, some measurable, some not. Some are below.

- Qualify for the Boston marathon.
- Get two more long stories (over 3000 words) published.
- Read Virginia Woolf (I've always meant to) and Gravity's Rainbow. (I didn't say understand Gravity's Rainbow; just to read it.)
- Be more honest and direct with people.
- Stop making lists.

What are some of your goals?

As always, thank you.

 
 
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I did not realize it had been over two months since I last updated Scribblings & Bibblings. That said, I can't say I'm going to update it on a much more frequent basis. That would be like claiming you're going to follow through on every one of your New Year's Resolutions, or vowing to never do something again after you've embarrassed yourself. ("I am never drinking/watching Real Housewives/eating that many donuts/talking to her/him [fill your own blank] again.") But I will say that I will try to try to update this  more frequently.

As most everyone who knows me knows, I am training for a marathon in October: the Hartford Marathon to be specific. Back in November 2011, I posted what songs I usually go running to, or what songs I listen to before I go running. Since that time, I have added many songs to my running list, and some of those on the original post have gone by the wayside.

Listed below are the songs I listen to most often before I go running. There is a common thread of hyperactive electronic beats and fast-tempo melodies or guitar riffs. (Lyrics I tend to ignore.) As someone who is a minimal runner--I don't wear headphones or bring anything extraneous (watch, phone, key, beverage) with me on a run--I try to listen to one or two of these songs repeatedly before I go out. Presently, the Weezer and New Order tracks dominate my pre-run ritual.


As before, what songs do you go running to?


And, having updated this list, I'm now going to run.



New Order - Temptation

Of Montreal - We Will Commit Wolf Murder


1000 Homo DJs (side project of Ministry) - Supernaut

Weezer - (If You're Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To

Of Montreal - Heimdelsgate Like a Promethean Curse
 
 
_Running and writing parallel each other: we start off slowly, not knowing where we're going, wanting to stop after a few minutes, but refusing to give in to our more base quitting instincts, and we keep going and keep going convinced that after a while it will become fun, until our momentum takes over, and before we know it, we're lost in the woods or much further out than we anticipated, having lost track of time and thought and distance and pace--which is the exact moment it becomes fun as we've stopped thinking about how much fun we aren't having and think about whatever we're thinking about instead--and the only way to finish is to keep going. (I should explore this symbiosis further at some point.)

It has always been my intention with this blog to occasionally discuss running. I haven't done so.

With this post I am changing that. I decided a year ago to run a marathon in 2012. Earlier this summer I broke my foot, which put my training a little behind schedule. But, as of three weeks ago, I went for an extremely slow 2 mile loop, and have three times since dusted off the Asics, stretched and ignored the creaky whining of my hamstrings, and absorbed the quizzical looks of my roommate when I jog down the steps at 10pm. I still intend to run a marathon in 2012.

Darren Rome Leo, at his blog Thoughtvomit, recently posted about the soundtrack for his novel's protagonist. It is a common question on writer's forums whether we write to music or not and, if we do, what we listen to when writing. This same question is applied to runners.

The songs listed below are the songs I most often go running to and will be listening to a lot of over the next year or so.

What are yours?

 
 
A little over a year ago, I posted my reading list for the year 2010. I did not make it through all those books. I did not even make through ten percent of those books. However, this is not a post about my failure to adhere to my reading list, or any list for that matter. But it did get me to thinking about the nature of goals and lists. Trying to read every book on our reading lists is a near-futile act: new books are going to constantly pop up that we are going to want to read.
Despite this reality, however, I still have a to-read list for the year 2011, which includes most of the holdovers from last year. And I will address that reading list (plus the nature of trying to choose what to read next) on a future post (perhaps the next one).
I have created a goals list for the year 2011, consisting of mostly writing, reading, and running goals, and that I share with you below.

1. To have a total of at least 10-12 stories published. I am presently awaiting publication of my 6th story; 4-6 to go.
2. Submit at least one story a week for publication.
3. Complete a dozen new stories, including three longer ones that have been nagging at me for quite some time.
4. Run a half-marathon, in preparation for running an actual marathon in 2012. (side question: should I also create a marathon training blog/online journal?)
5. Read 104 books: 2 books per week. This has since been modified to 52: one book per week.
6. At least two blog posts per week.
7. Complete and write critical reviews and interviews with Jim Shepard, Steve Almond, and Dan Chaon (authors I have contacted in the past who agreed to an online interview format.)
8. Read about half of the books from my 2010 reading list.
9. To write something every day. Lydia Davis said in an interview in Bomb Magazine: "In the meantime, I started doing these very short stories to break myself out of the rut of not writing or resisting writing. I told myself: You have to write two tiny stories every day. It didn’t matter how silly they were, I just had to finish two one-paragraph stories." I feel that same way. But, when writing those silly one-paragraph stories, I can at least say I'm writing.

What are your goals for 2011? How do you plan to reach them?