Archive for December, 2014

Focus: 2014 to 2015

Posted in Uncategorized on December 30, 2014 by tom

It’s the end of another year, and bloggers everywhere are writing their “2014 Year in Review” posts, or “What I’m Fitna Do in 2015” posts. Most of theirs will be better than mine.

One big goal for 2015 is to stop neglecting this blog. I have my book blog, and–while I haven’t read that much this year–I’ve kept up with that better than this one. I feel bad for this blog. Seriously. It has provided so much fun and support–and some awesome readers–going back to the good old Vox days. I started this thing in 2007, and really started taking it seriously that year when I was literally almost dead in the hospital. I miss this blog; I miss having snark, or making batches of Mental Chex Mix.

The fact is, my brain’s been broken for the past couple years, so I haven’t had much game, writing-wise, especially purveying quality snark.

So one good thing that’s happened in 2014 is that my brain has healed for the most part. I’m bored, quite honestly. Boredom is a good thing, for it means I need more stimulation. I’ve volunteered at a couple places, and I wish there were more hours available, just to keep me busier. I still take a goodly number of meds, but Dr. Ricardo Montalban and I seem to have hit the winning combination.

Okay, my psychiatrist isn’t really Ricardo Montalban. This is fortunate, for the State of Florida requires all practicing physicians to have medical training and a valid medical license. Also, physicians must have a pulse. God rest him, the actual Ricardo Montalban sailed off to his own Fantasy Island nearly six years ago.


Suave as hell, but not a psychiatrist.

Nonetheless, I’m sure he would have been an excellent psychiatrist.

No, my actual -iatrist (as opposed to the -ologist) sounds exactly like Ricardo Montalban, which is amazingly reassuring, especially when he’s writing large Valium prescriptions for me.

So Doctor not-Montalban and I have done good work the past nearly three years since my mind blew up, and I’m finally feeling bored, like I’m ready to move back into my life.

Last time I saw him, incidentally, I was having trouble maintaining focus on tasks. This was in October. He promised that the focus would come back on its own, and that I’d be as good as new focus-wise, sort of like after the astronauts fixed the Hubble, and it went from being fuzzy to clear:

Pre-repair  Hubble Image

Pre-repair Hubble Image

Hubble Image Post-Repair

Hubble Image Post-Repair

Sorry. I lost focus and got silly for a moment.

Anyway, in November, I participated in NaNoWriMo, where one is compelled to write a 50,000 word novel in thirty days. I passed 50K in twenty days, and finished my 54,000 word manuscript in twenty-four.

That was a wee dram of focus, as one of Darby Karchut’s Irish characters would say (nb: I don’t think focus is measured in drams, but it seems as good as any other unit of measure (I refuse to consider a cubit, deciliter, or dodecahedron as a unit of character (especially since a dodecahedron isn’t even a unit of measurement, but a geometric construct (you could presumably have a dodecahedron measuring one cubit in diameter, or perhaps a dram of dodecahedrons (holy shit, I’ve lost my original point somewhere in a mire of nested parentheticals (good thing I’m a master of nested parentheticals, or I could be lost in here forever (maybe the Hubble would have to be used to find me (okay, this silliness has gone on long enough, so I must attempt my nested parenthetical dismount (here goes nothing))))))))).

Whew. I stuck the dismount. Here it is again in slow motion, just in case you missed it: )  )  )  )  )  )  )  )  )

So I finished this 54,000 word manuscript, revised the piss out of it as much as possible (not that there was any actual piss in it), and submitted it to a publisher during an open submissions period. This is where they accept manuscripts from those of us poor souls who have no agents. Happily, my manuscript made it past round one without being voted off the island. And yes, I meant it that way: my manuscript was happy not to have been willed to the cornfield, where its existence would remain uncertain. The novel has taken on a life of its own, and it wants to take over the world, in its own insidious way.

I swear to you. I was just a pawn, no more responsible for its creation than was John Hurt in “Alien” when the alien crawled out of his abdomen.

Then again, to be perfectly honest, I can’t actually remember the original “Alien.” I’m sure I saw it, but I’m also sure I was really zorched on something, it having been during my college daze. I do know that something crawled out of his abdomen in “Spaceballs,” so that’s what I’m going with.

Anyway, where was I.

Ah. So, the novel made it to round two, where it joins a bunch of other novels to be poked, prodded, biopsied, hammered with mallets (hammered with mullets too, for that matter), and otherwise evaluated by a large group of readers. If they like it, it goes on to Final Jeopardy, or whatever it’s called.

Anyway again, where was I.

Ah! 2014.

So my brain focus issue seems to have been repaired, since there’s no way I could’ve written 50,000+ words about a single, non-Casablanca subject without having laseresque focusing ability.

Also in 2014, I quit smoking (finally), and I lost a lot of weight (also finally). Which brings us to 2015…

I’m not one for making huge lists of New Year’s Resolutions ™ (I mean, if “Happy Birthday to You” is copyrighted, I’m sure somebody owns “New Year’s Resolutions, LLC”). Typically, I resolve to do things I already don’t do. For example, I’ll resolve to quit participating in Iron Man triathlons, eating raw yams, and shooting heroin between my toes. That sort of thing.

For 2015, there are actually a few things I want to do.

First off, continue to lose weight. I shall do this by eliminating unnecessary carbs from my diet, and exercising.

Oh! I got a Fitbit Surge Wrist Alien for Christmas. This is basically a prisoner tracking device you wear, and it scolds you for insufficient walking, eating too much, sleeping for shit, or not drinking enough gin. I mean water. (Sorry. I lost focus momentarily) One thing that got me through NaNoWriMo was all the bar graphs, pie charts, and statistical data available on my dashboard. I mean, there it was, staring me in the face every afternoon when I sat down to write, so I had my target to shoot for every day, lest I incur the wrath of the pie charts.

The irony of the Fitbit’s pie charts is that I won’t be able to eat actual pie if I want the pie chart to look ever in my favor. Truth be told–and who ever prevaricates in their blog?–I don’t ever seek out pie. HOWEVER, if there’s a pie in the house, I feel it’s my responsibility to remove as much temptation as possible from my home’s other residents. It’s a family service kind of thing, this pie eating.

Second, I need to find a new job. This working from home/running my own crappy internet business thing isn’t working, so it’s time to go work for somebody else. I’ve worked for somebodys else since I was fourteen, so this shouldn’t be an issue, provided I can find a good job opportunity and slam-dunk the interview.

Third, I need to buy pants that fit, before I actually attend a job interview. My current ones could fit me and an Olsen twin inside them. (This would look odd, and make walking in a reasonably non-drunken-looking state nigh on impossible (slam-dunking an interview with an Olsen twin in your pants is definitely out, though probably entertaining for the interviewer and me alike))

Fourth, more exercise. I know this falls as a codicil to “First off,” but I need to walk more. Meaning outside walking, not just walking to the fridge and back. The Fitbit Wrist Alien insists upon this additional activity, so I may find myself powerless to resist, lest it smite me. (Fear of smiting is a great motivator for me)

Fifth, read more books, and write more reviews. In 2013, I read over 160 books–not Kelly-level at all, but still pretty good. I read books, posted reviews on Goodreads, Amazon, my book and movie blog ( Some reviews even made their way on to various bathroom walls, but only high-falutin bathrooms, like the ones at movie theaters and Sunoco stations. This year? I’ve maybe read thirty books, if that. Not good.

Sixth, write more in here, Dispatches from The Tom Zone. I need to use my acerbicity (and make up new words), and essentially try to make my writing sharp again. It’s been a long time since I blogged with any frequency, and 2014 was pathetic. I shall endeavor to be more attentive to the blog, as well as my tens of readers.

Seventh, I will try to stop ripping off Kelly (i.e., “…my tens of readers”). This is because it’s not right to copy from Kelly. It’s also because Kelly would either kneecap me or machete me if I piss her off too bad.

Kelly's Machete

Kelly’s Machete


So that’s it, basically. That’s my brief 2014 recap (vs. kneecap), and my plan for 2015. Thanks for bearing with me all these relatively dark and silent months. I hope we’ll have more fun next year.

Wherever you are, I hope you have a safe and happy New Year’s Eve–remember, it’s Amateur Night on the roads–and that your 2015 contains all the best things in The Universe (including pie–you can have my share). Happy New Year.

Oh. One more resolution:

Number Eight, know when to wrap up a blog post.

And that time is now.



%d bloggers like this: