Meet Mojo (or as the wife insists, MeauxJeaux). He’s an eight month old pit-mix from the Jan Reese SPCA shelter in North Texas. We’re not sure what he’s mixed with, but from the size of his paws, I’m thinking mastodon or draft horse.
Cher’s glad to have someone to run around like a maniac with, which is nice. They spent a solid twenty minutes roaring around the back yard in circles, which I’m sure will turn into some kind of furniture demolishing obstacle race before too much longer.
He seems glad to be with us, and to have a home. We couldn’t be more delighted.
Chefs famously ask each other what they would eat as their last meal. Invariably, when they give their answers, eyes full of wonder and ineffable memories, it’s some simple thing done perfectly, usually from their youth. For me, it’s a meatball poboy from Anthony’s Italian Deli in Baton Rouge.
It doesn’t look like much, does it? You can’t really tell how hot and crisp the bread is on the outside or how perfectly soft it is on the inside. You can barely make out the legendary handmade meatballs and mozzarella, and you certainly can’t smell the tang of the heavenly marinara sauce. But if you are ever able to put one of these in your mouth, it will change your life. It’s so hot you can barely pick it up and the combination of crisp crunch and molten creamy interior is astonishingly luxurious. A complex, deep, sharply defined flavor that is far more than the sum of its parts follows and goes from intense to a mellow finish with each bite. There are very few food experiences that can match it.
The same good people own and work in the tiny deli today that were there when I was a teenager. One day that won’t be true, but today it was. And the meatball poboy was just as good, just as transporting and sublime as it has ever been. Sometimes you really can go home again.
Back in Louisiana visiting family for the holidays, taking a walk in the woods. Cher, being a city dog, was thrilled to discover rabbit holes and deer tracks and spent the whole time trying to smell everything in a frenzy.
Had a great walk down to the lake with the wife. It’s not particularly cold and there’s zero chance of snow, but it finally feels like Christmas.
You know what really tires you out? Eight solid hours of napping.
Honestly, at this point I think she’s just rubbing it in.
Whew. That was a close one.
Image via Reddit!
Fun fact number one: writing is a sedentary profession. The first tenet is AIC or Ass In Chair. This often means 4 to 8 hours of near motionless staring and typing.
Fun fact number two: your brain hates that and will retaliate by stabbing you right in the creativity. Like it or not, your brain is a physical organ that is heavily influenced by the rest of you. Fitness in general and recent exercise in particular have a significant impact on cognition. There are a bucketload of studies that demonstrate this, if you want to read up on it.
Fortunately, fixing this is pretty easy, even for those of us that like to count coffee cup raises as ‘reps’. For those that are wondering what the absolute minimum effective dose is, it’s about 30 minutes of brisk walking three times per week. But frankly, that’s pretty weak sauce. For best results, you want to hit 20-30 minutes of cardio per day, where your heart rate is some distance above from it’s resting rate.
You can get a basic idea of a good heart rate target here. It takes about three seconds to figure out. A metric is good, but now you need to measure. If you have an iPhone, here’s an excellent heart rate monitor that uses your camera (similar to the way throwaway hospital pulse monitors work). Here’s the Android version. I’ve tracked these against a dedicated device and they’re surprisingly accurate.
The excuses for not exercising come from the same pool of suck as the excuses for not writing. What works for me is combining the two into a single event. Start your writing with a walk/run/chin-up marathon/burpee throwdown/whatever, and use the time to not only get your blood moving, but also as a chance to get away from your desk for a bit and clear your head.
If you follow Neil Gaiman’s blog or tweets, you know he frequently goes running to work out sticky bits in his stories. It works. Part of it is just letting yourself think about nothing in particular. If you’ve ever had an epiphany in the shower or while driving, you know what I’m talking about. But doing it while exercising works even better, since thinking while moving is what humans do best.
The results are non-trivial.
This is something that I’ve been aware of for some time, but it really hit home in the last couple of months. I’d let myself fall out of the habit of regular exercise sessions since I was putting in a ton of hours on the final draft of Liar’s Harvest. Priorities, right? I’d just let it slide. Huge mistake. I wasted a ton of time staring at the screen and making crappy revisions.
Fortunately for me, while casting about for a way to procrastinate and avoid more painful writing sessions, I picked my exercise routine back up. Guess what? I had to stop my first workout before I was finished to run downstairs and jot down a fix for a passage I’d been struggling with. I kept my daily routine up through the completion of the book and it made a world of difference. Higher daily word counts, easier to get started, less time feeling stuck on a difficult section.
Oh yeah, and I feel better. So there’s that, too.
There are ton of reasons why you can’t find half an hour to exercise every day. But none of them matter as much as the reasons why you should.
Right in the feels, but in a good way.
My kids are pretty musical. My son plays viola, piano, and guitar, and my daughter plays flute, piano, and the electric bass. They’ve been heavily involved in various music programs for a while now and they get a lot of joy and self-satisfaction from it. The video below made me realize just how much I take for granted access to instruments, instruction, and social structures that make this possible.
Watch the video. It’s amazing and uplifting and just the thing for the holidays, especially in view of recent tragedies. There’s still light and goodness in the world.
You can visit www.facebook.com/landfillharmonicmovie to support them if you like. Please do.
The paper edition of Liar’s Harvest is now available to be grasped and fondled!
Try that with an ebook! (But not where I can see you, thanks.)
I don’t know about you guys, but I could really use a donut today.
via @erikmelander on Twitter
Got a lovely Christmas card from my cover artist this morning. It really made my day, so I thought I’d share. Best use of that perennial stocking coal EVER.