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  • St. Patrick's Day. Like it matters. Like I'm Irish. Like I'm gonna go to a bar and spend $50 on liquid poison to numb the pain from my meaningless, boring little life.

    Last night and while at work I read about John Steinbeck, about his diary he kept while writing Grapes of Wrath, for which he won the Pulitzer and eventually the Nobel Prize. Jesus, for a fucking book?

    The book was hard. No, the writing was hard. He struggled to sit down every day and put the words down.

    "Best thing is to get the words down every day. And it is time to start now."

    He is so self-conscious. "I'm not a writer," he says. "I've been fooling myself and other people. I wish I were."

    John effing Steinbeck. Winner of the Pulitzer. Nobel Prize. "I'm not a writer."

    See, even the best (according to who?) struggle with writing.

    Maria Popova, from whose website I found these quotes from Steinbeck, says that "he measures his success not by income or acclaim but by the day's work."

    What a great way to measure a day, a life! It reminds me of all the things I've heard in the past about success. Rob Bell, my Rabbi, says to "surrender the outcome." You pour yourself into your work and trudge through it and then put it out into the world and from there it takes a life of its own (or it doesn't).

    Elizabeth Gilbert talks about everyone having a genius, a muse that comes and inspires your work, and if she comes and makes it great then she makes it great, but if she doesn't come and the work suffers, hey, what are you gonna do? Your job is to sit down and write sentences. Just do your job.

    Charles Drew, who mentors 20-somethings in New York City says that even if nobody reads his words (the horror!), still he will have done his job. Because his job is not lots of book sales or success in the eyes of other people. His job is to be faithful with his work. That's it.

    And so that is all I can do: be faithful. Like Parker Palmer says, "Given my limitations and fallibility, cutting myself a lot of slack for my failure to do so, Did I use my limited lifetime to show up fully as I knew how with what I've got?"

    That is the question: how can I show up fully TODAY.


    Not at some future point when all the stars will align, because then I will spend my life waiting, as I indeed *have* spent my life waiting.

    I can't help it -- it's reality I'm after. I't's reality I adore and am drawn to. I say this knowing it's ridiculous for a hopeful fiction author to want nothing but reality, since fiction is just making things up. An argument can be made that fiction is TRUE. Well OK. I am open to that interpretation. I don't disagree. But in my own life I have just found that I must force myself to read fiction. Reading nonfiction comes naturally. It's what I'm drawn to.

    I've been trying to get myself to write fiction for years. Years! What a waste! I have one wild and precious life, according to the poet Mary Oliver. And I spend it WANTING to write. Waiting to write. Reading about writing. Oh bother.

    This experiment, or whatever it is, in which I write every damn thing on my damn mind is proving to be incredibly TIRESOME. Literally it makes me want to sleep! I write and write what's on my mind and it sucks my energy! Am I eucharisting? Rob Bell said yesterday that you open yourself up and pour yourself out for the sake of others. That's what Christ did on the cross and that is what you, as a human, are privileged to do for your fellow people. Be broken up and poured out, for their healing, for their joy, for their benefit.

    But this is my mind, my fucking mind. Does God bless a swear? Does God hide his face from foul-mouthed sinner-saints?

    Oh, what a world, what a world.

    My dad e-mailed me -- my dad, who was given 48 hours to live, placed on hospice, and sent home where he's been living for the past 10 months. He's mowing his grass, playing pickle ball, taking walks. Having sex? Oh God, brain, stop it. Let's get on another track. How about let's be thankful Dad is even alive after these 10 months. He died. Literally, he died at home last May. He was not breathing for 4 to 8 minutes. How is he not brain dead?

    I don't like talking to him on the phone. Mostly because we don't really have conversations, not really. He talks, I listen. And he talks about meaningless details. Just endless details, details, oh my word, details. I'm a big picture kind of guy. Just tell me the highlights. Two minutes and that's it.

    Am I a horrible son? I tell him I love him now after every phone call. I didn't used to say that. The prospect of losing him makes me cherish every dumb conversation we have. I can't believe he's still around.

    It makes me wonder what I will do with my 70 years. Dad is 68. It's not like I can start life over. I'm asking myself what will my legacy be when I die when I'm 70... well, what is my legacy NOW? Because I'm not 17 anymore. My life might be half over already. Already?! I can't fathom it.

    My girlfriend texted and said we might not be able to go to her boss's Passover celebration. She drunkenly invited us Friday night after we went bowling and then went to a bar. I wasn't sure I wanted to go. I'm an introvert, y'know. But Jamie promised there wouldn't be many people there. OK, I said, for a bit. So we went and sat at the end of the table. I sat next to the hottest girl I've seen in years, Beth. Holy hell such hotness. Jamie sat next to Elyse, her boss. But Jamie didn't like that arrangement. I looked so far from everybody. So she went to get me an extra chair. Can I tell you how thoughtful and considerate my girlfriend is? I'm thinking of how great Beth's ass is and my girlfriend is wanting me to be comfortable and included.

    So we switch seats and I end up talking with Elyse for over an hour. Her husband is next to her but he's talking about video games or whatever. Elyse is a few years younger than me. She is very good at her job, Jamie tells me. She's easy to talk to, I find. We talk nonstop for an hour. By the end of the night I get Jamie and I invited to Elyse's Passover celebration on the other side of the state. Elyse's uncle directed the Spiderman movies. No shit. Sam Raimi. He'll be at the Passover party. Maybe I can get him to shoot a movie with me on our iPhones. I'll co-direct a drunken Passover short film with the director of Spiderman 1, 2, and 3.

    Jamie texted a half hour ago and said there might not be enough room for us at the party. OK.

    I will go to the library to meet Jamie in an hour. Until then I will try to nap. And dream.

    What is one life, really? Amidst the chaos and the billions.
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