No one in the world ever gets what they want and that is beautiful.

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Yesterday I completely ignored the first Holidailies writing prompt because I ran out of time. I was supposed to introduce myself. There is a meagre attempt at an introduction on my “about” page that you are welcome to peruse, but I’ve long given up on this sort of thing, which means I am never going to become a millionaire because my elevator pitch about myself consists of, “Uh, I’m interested in things.” This is wildly accurate but incredibly bad writing because, as John Hodgman says, “Specificity is the soul of narrative.”

My Twitter bio is:

I am a #writer, spoken-word #performer, #librarian, #VR enthusiast, #runner, #fountainpen collector, Yankee #expat in Scotland, and other things sans #hashtags.

This is also wildly accurate but similarly bad writing because it attempts to dissolve my personality into easily-digestible chunks. Like hydrochloric acid.

I know! I’ll do a writing exercise: I’ll write around the problem.

As I attempt to tackle the 14 emails in my inbox requiring some sort of action on my part, I observe that there is only a slug of tea left in my They Might Be Giants mug. I have reused this mug twice now because I hate doing dishes and also there are exactly six purple mugs hanging in a beautiful line over the sink and if I use one of those it will bother me while I drink my tea. This TMBG mug is one of only four items of what one could call “TMBG paraphernalia” that are in my immediate possession. Two are very rare CD-singles, which were precious gifts. (I don’t play them. I don’t know how to play them, frankly, since the only CD-playing thing I own is a laptop and it might eat them. I haven’t tried.) The other is my brand-new Nanobots zip-up hooded sweatshirt which is the coolest zip-up hooded sweatshirt I have ever owned, narrowly beating out the one with the LOST meta-joke on it.

I’m not really a band-paraphernalia person, I guess. But also I packed up all eight of my TMBG t-shirts and then didn’t bring them with me when I moved to Edinburgh in 2011, which is strange. I still don’t understand why I did that.

Now I am questioning my use of “paraphernalia” and have looked it up in the dictionary: “miscellaneous articles, especially the equipment needed for a particular activity.” I suppose I’m using it correctly, if it is equipment needed to enjoy TMBG, but it isn’t. Maybe the second definition is more accurate: “trappings associated with a particular institution or activity that are regarded as superfluous.”

I don’t like where we’re going with this. But I do like the “Brit. informal” synonym it gives me: gubbins.

Before I disappear into the rabbit-hole that is the meta-question of whether or not the TMBG mug is TMBG-enjoying paraphernalia or tea-drinking paraphernalia, I am going to change the topic completely because by now you’ve either decided that I am interesting enough to follow (that being shorthand for reading my site on a regular basis; please don’t literally follow me anywhere because I rarely know where I am going) or that I am too dull, too awkward, too something and not enough of the thing you like. In which case, here is a link for you! It’s called start.io and it’s a start page for your web browsing that you customise with links to the things you like best. So you can go do that now. Bye!

OK, if you’re still here, you’re in it for real. I can tell because of the steely gaze in your eye (maybe even both eyes) and your hardened resolve. Perhaps you’re procrastinating real work, or avoiding doing the dishes, or waiting for the bus, and have estimated that reading this is going to fill that unit of time so you’re not left alone with your thoughts. You know the ones. The itchy, spidery ones that creep under your collar and settle on your shoulders and chest like a lead vest during an x-ray. Existential ones. Morbid ones. The “what would happen if I stole that forklift and ran it full-bore into the side of a building” ones.

The only problem here is that I pretty much consist only of these thoughts.

Which is why I write.

On a good day, I get up first thing and I write three pages longhand in a journal. These are my “morning pages” and I got the idea from Julia Cameron. In case you don’t know of her, she’s written books about the creative process, the best-known of these called “The Artist’s Way”. Sometimes her tone is a bit much for me but she knows some cool tricks. One of these is the habit of morning pages. I crack open my Rhodia dot-grid notebook and unscrew the cap of my Esterbrook Dollar Pen and I just write whatever comes to mind. The first week was pretty tough. There were a few entries in which I got two pages down and then copied in a random Mary Oliver poem (with attribution, of course). But I kept at it and now I really miss it when my daily routine doesn’t allow for it. Getting the garbage out allows me to sit down later on in the day and just get to the business of writing.

Also, thanks to morning pages I find out stuff about myself that was lurking very close beneath the surface but wasn’t immediately apparent, like the fact that reading Facebook posts makes me profoundly sad. I quit Facebook for a while but came back so I could do some basic networking in my new home and also to combat the isolation I was feeling from faraway friends and family. Nowadays I cross-post content to Facebook, but whenever I wade into the feed it just bums me out. Because of specific mentions of Facebook in my morning pages, I was able to pinpoint this feeling. Twitter doesn’t impact me the same way. (Google+ doesn’t either, but that is because I find the UI so incomprehensible I don’t spend more than 10 seconds at a time on it.)

So, uh, have we gotten past the awkward introduction phase yet? I think so.

Today’s prompt asks what my favourite holiday song is, and why. This is a tough one for me because my holidays have always been filled with lots of music, and I have plenty of favourites. I’ve narrowed it down to three:

  • “Angels We Have Heard on High” because I have fond memories of singing this with my mom and substituting “In Excelsis Deo!” with “Inexpensive gym-shoes!”
  • “White Christmas” because the way Bing Crosby sings it makes me feel the warmth of one hundred mugs of mint cocoa.
  • Although this isn’t a traditional holiday song, “What’s This?” from “The Nightmare Before Christmas” because I feel like this every December.

This December I am going to have to work extra-hard to be in the holiday spirit. FunkyPlaid is back in the States for nearly the entire month in order to help out at the store. I snapped this on the way home from dropping him off at the airport.

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See that big wheel to the left of the Scott Monument? I’m going to ride that soon and feel holiday-ish. But not today, not yet. I’m still feeling like the Grinch. So that’s it for me today. Go visit my dear sharks because she is participating in Holidailies this year and I’m already riveted. I’m also snagging her “writing from / listening to” line for my entries.

Writing from: my chilly flat in Edinburgh, Scotland. Listening to: “Don’t Let’s Start” by They Might Be Giants.

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6 thoughts on “No one in the world ever gets what they want and that is beautiful.

  1. Have you seen the chairoplanes thingie on St Andrew Square – it’s terrifying! Well done for having a go at NanoWrimo – it’s the attempt that matters, I think.

    On creative starters, an art teacher of my mother’s once told her class they should all scribble randomly with their left hand, I think on the basis that the left hand is connected to the right brain, and therefore all that lovely gubbins bubbling under the subconscious. Not sure how it works for southpaws like me…

    Look forward to your next post!

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    • I just saw the chairoplanes last night. They look impossibly high from far off, but not too intimidating while standing right next to them. I think I’ll have a go!

      Southpaws like you — meaning southpaws who are incredibly creative — are already more in touch with your right brains, damn you. The rest of us have to trawl for gubbins.

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  2. Claudia

    I love this post because it is so truly you. And because you have introduced me to a new favorite word: gubbins (no, Auto-correct, I did NOT mean “grub bins”). FWIW, my favorite holiday song is Fairytale of New York, by the Pogues. It cheers me up and makes me cry at the same time. xox

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