best worst idea

Just went running in the rain — yes, on purpose — and it really is the best worst idea. Not crazy / lightning / downpour style rain, of course. Just a nice little summer-night sprinkling.

And, man, it feels good!

Skittish about damaging my iPhone, I didn’t bring along any music. I hardly ever run without headphones now, but once upon a time, it was all I knew. I even ran my first half-marathon that way (2 whole hours, guys! how? why??) and it was my fastest time so far, funnily enough.

Something about falling into the trance of the rhythm of my breath. Letting my mind wander where it wants to, without the helpful distraction of songs or podcasts. It’s meditation. (And can also be maddening, don’t get me wrong. Have you noticed how little time you spend alone with just your own thoughts? It’s a jungle in there!)

Within minutes I was transformed back to high school, in my earliest running days, looping the u-shaped pavement of our neighborhood, with nothing to listen to but my feet on the ground and the air in my lungs. (Didn’t have a Discman. Those things were bulky, awkward, and still skipped. We can all admit this now. It’s time.)

I started running back then to “stay in shape” (hahahahaha. Shut UP, perpetually size-4 high-school me. Shut your DAMN. MOUTH.) and I got the bug for real my junior year of college, which is also the first time I ran with an iPod. A bulky, first-gen brick-sized item by comparison now, and I had to carry it because I didn’t have an arm band or anything, but it was a revelation. (Didn’t hurt that it was my boyfriend’s iPod. Is there anything better than a little voyeuristic love-drunk music-snooping? The Garden State soundtrack was in heavy rotation that year, I can tell you that much.)

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There’s something so nice and freeing about a little rainy-day run. Leaving the house knowing I’m going to get rained on. Doing it anyway. When I first started running and writing about it, I was constantly finding little metaphors for life. I can’t help it! They’re right there! Tonight’s would be something along the lines of: Don’t always shy away from the potentially messy or uncomfortable things. Those things can also end up being the most peaceful and fulfilling, and almost always a better decision than staying inside.

And also puddles. Puddles are also fun.

Things to do instead of write:

The internet is made for lists and self exploration. So if you, too, need just one more reason to procrastinate, read on:

  1. Think about writing.
  2. Read a book about writing.
  3. Oh my! How the dishes have stacked up!
  4. Should probably do some laundry. And sort it. And organize the closet by color, ROYGBIV style.
  5. Fantasize about your long-lost elementary school crush.
  6. Try to find crush on Facebook. Despair that “AJ Foster” is such a common name, and 5th grade was so, so long ago.
  7. Same re: your long-lost middle school crush / science teacher, because “Tom Davis” might as well be John Doe. (Oh, I said it! Weird thing about this situation: He was probably younger in 1997 than I am now. There’s some fun mental territory to explore.)
  8. And since you’re already on Facebook, might as well take time to read that Atlantic article that looked interesting, even though you know it will most likely ignite some liberal rage.
  9. Have a snack. Liberal rage makes you hungry.
  10. Nap.
  11. Snap a photo of your cat, doing same.Jenksie cat nap
  12. Go for a run. Knock off those cobwebs.
  13. Energy! Clean all the things!
  14. Wonder for a minute whether it’s any less annoying and unoriginal to use the phrase “all the things” if one owns and has read Allie Brosh’s book. (No. It’s not.)
  15. Phone home.
  16. Phone a friend.
  17. Wonder for a minute about the fact that these two simple phrases are now ubiquitous pop culture references. Is that something? (No. It’s not.)
  18. Netflix.
  19. Netflix.
  20. Netflix.
  21. Think about writing…


Going Pro

Learned a thing tonight: “Procrastinate” comes from the Latin crastinus, meaning, ‘belonging to tomorrow.’ That’s kind of neat, right? (The meaning, not the reality. ‘Belonging to tomorrow’ is a terrible way to feel. But I feel it all the time.)

Tonight, for a bit, I got good and pissed at myself. Wondering, WHY is this thing, which I’ve chosen as my career, which I would claim to be the thing I love most in the world, also the thing I will go to such great lengths to avoid actually doing?

I know I’m not alone in feeling this way. Writers throughout time have written about this struggle. One quote I’ve seen attributed to several different writers (thanks, internet!) is: “The art of writing is the art of applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair.” No matter who said it first, it spits the truth.

Over the years, I’ve carefully honed my ability to avoid doing the things that I know are good for me. (Because, you know, I’m a person.) If I have a big deadline approaching, it’s often the case that one of two versions of myself come out to play: One is the Super-Anxious Avoider, the other is the Over-Active Achiever. Whether I self-medicate with Netflix and naps (the S.A.A.) or with cleaning my house and tackling any other to-do on my list (the O.A.A.), I am so very good at finding non-writerly ways to occupy my time.

I am so very good at driving myself crazy NOT doing the thing I want to do.

So I get good and pissed at myself. Wondering, WHY do I do that?! Who knows. I could talk to my therapist. I could read a book on creative resistance. (They’re out there; I’ve read a few. The War of Art and The Artist’s Way and The Creative Habit are particularly good.) Wouldn’t my Super Anxious Avoider just love to spend hours winnowing out the reasons why?

The important lesson I keep learning is that no matter what, when I finally make myself sit down—sticking the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair—and put in the time, I get the work done. It’s not about waiting for a magical moment of inspiration. It’s just about getting it done.

Writing. Wine. The Warner Brothers (and the Warner Sister).

And you know what? Once I do, I always feel so GOOD. Like I can conquer the world. (Or, at the very least, the next assignment.)