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I should have a ton to write about, but I guess I don’t. After going through all six songs tonight, I know I love them all, and know them all well. The lyrics from “I’m the only Living Boy in New York” capture my post tonight–it’s been a good day, week, month. Sometimes I feel like I might wake up from a very long dream, and sink back to where I was a year ago. I hope this doesn’t happen.

So why was it great? Why do I have nothing to do but smile? Last weekend was my 35th birthday, and for me, it was a complete blowout. It was amazing. Dinner with friends, bowling, drinking way too much, dancing wherever and whenever I wanted, hiking 24 miles over the course of 3 days, hearing from people I love, and regretting nothing from where I went from 34 to 35. In fact, it’s made me a little humble. It’s been a journey to say the least.

I am haunted by Simon and Garfunkel’s lyrics: “Half of the time we’re gone, but we don’t know where”. This is a fair statement for parts of the last year. I’ve come a long way–personally, professionally, physically, emotionally, literally. I’ve mentioned before the rough year career-wise, and making a major change in my health, which resulted in a great and permanent weight loss. But, the literal change, this last one is very important to me. Last November, I picked up my portfolio I created for my final graduate class at Bread Loaf–my first fiction writing class since being an undergrad. I worked my ass off in that class because I wanted to. I knew I would get an A, but I didn’t blow it off like so many others in our class. I put everything into my writing, and I guess I haven’t stopped.

The outcome by the end of the course were five very different short stories–most which began short at only 4 pages or so, but ended up between 15-20. I let them rest between August and November, and when I went to Chicago for a conference, I brought those to “work on” because I knew I would be dining alone for the weekend. I revised and rewrote, tore apart, merged, scrapped, and every other verb one can associate with writing and editing.

Next Monday, the 24th, I begin my first class since Bread Loaf–a fundamentals of fiction course through Stanford’s Continuing Studies program. I volunteered to go first to workshop a story that has consumed me for nearly a year and a half. I love that it has consumed me. I love that I’m not stopping.

It’s not in the right context, but if I could sum up my year in the line of one of tonight’s songs, it would definitely be The Shins’ line, “And I’d swim to the poles just to find the right satellite”, meaning, I will never stop searching for meaning in life, the right story to write, the perfect health to be had, the right smile that might not be on my lips at all times, but at least behind them.

Hey, I’ve got nothing to do today but smile 🙂

Rain–The Beatles

I know–Bob Marley and the Wailers

Hang ‘Em High–The Meters

The Only Living Boy in New York–Simon & Garfunkel

Turn a Square–The Shins

I want to Pay You Back–The Chi-Lites