Friday, May 30, 2014

Day CXIII: Used

"I like shopping at thrift stores because I like wearing other people's stories."

I do almost all of my book shopping at Magers & Quinn in uptown Minneapolis. Simply, it's the most remarkable bookstore I've been in. It's sprawling, for one, lined with shelves and shelves of books: fiction, nonfiction, children's, self-help, rare collections, this war, that religion. It's all there.

And as I am want to do, I make plenty of purchases, most of which are used books. Here and there, a new novel will make its way to my hands, and I'll have no choice but to bring it to the counter and hand over my lunch money. Usually, though, it's tomes that have already had their share of hands, of cracked spines, or dogeared pages. 

Every once in a while, I'll start a book with a whole new dedication on the title page. It happens so infrequently that it never fails to bring a massive grin to my face. A mother's encouragement, a grandfather's sentiments, a friend's inside joke. 

The possibilities are limitless.

I finally found a used copy of The Alchemist and was pleasantly surprised to find a little note when I opened it up at the Lake Harriet beach.


And, like that, the book is no longer a singular story. It belongs to me, to "Heidi," to "Christina." To us, a quiet, unknown group of readers, bound by words, by paper, by thoughts.


Thursday, May 29, 2014

Day CXII: Mosquito

One.

Left foot, big toe.

Two.

Left foot, big toe.

Three.

Right shoulder, smashed between left index and middle fingers.

Four. 

Top of right ear. Always the top.

Five.

Slight webbing between middle and ring finger on right hand.

Six.

Mirror of five.

Seven.

Left knee cap.

Eight.

Neck, right side, just up from the collar bone.

Nine.

Upper thigh on right leg. Short shorts are short.

Ten.

Right index finger. Through a scab from a cat scratch?

Eleven

Left knee cap. Again.

Twelve.

Upper left arm, bend of the tricep.

Thirteen.

Stomach. Just right of the belly button. Beneath a tank top. How?

Fourteen.

Knee pit, left leg. Sweaty and bloody and grainy.

Fifteen.

Left big toe. Three strikes, assholes.

Sixteen.

Right hip, on the bone. Through the tank top? Killed before I could tell.

Seventeen.

Left forearm. Smashed with right palm, just below the pinkie. Drop my phone in the process. Sorry Kirsten!

Eighteen.

Back of the neck, followed quickly by the familiar and fearful high-pitched chime of inevitable pain behind the ear.

Nineteen.

Behind left ear.

Twenty

Non-existent. You win this time, 'squitos.


Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Day CXI: Dolls

Category is: terrifying.

Who would have that the most popular item to receive for your twenty fifth birthday would be dolls?

Not me! But, as it turns out, I received two. 

The first came to me during the work day. My colleague and friend Colleen Dolphin handed me the tiniest little scrumpnugget. Surely you've heard of worry dolls? Well this minuscule toy (?) is traditionally a vessel for anxiety, for fear. You put the itty-bitty doll beneath your pillow and, magically, it extracts all your worries. I have yet to experience it's mystical prowess, but I am confident the next time any sort of turmoil finds its way in to my life: it will stop at my pillow.

The second doll I received this year came from one Mr. Garrick Stegner. Now, Garrick and I have a history of sharing the grossest creatures with one another. (You all remember Little Valentine Creature, right?) Well, he might have outdone himself this year. When I was crawling into bed on my birthday, I happened to brush against a papery package. Immediately, I thought: WINE! WINE! WINE!

But it was so much better--and so much worse. I unwrapped the paper package and discovered that two mason jars had been wrapped together, connected at the mouths, and, inside, was the most horrifying rendition of Winnie the Pooh I've ever been privy to.


The worry doll is adorable. Winnie the Pooh has a brown stain on his left ankle.

The worry doll looks pretty in green. Winnie the Pooh is missing most of one ear.

The worry doll has great complexion. Winnie the Pooh smells a bit formaldehyde-y.


The worry doll fits neatly beneath my pillow. 
Winnie the Pooh is possessed by a demon.



Monday, May 26, 2014

Day CXI: Haiku Review

As some of you are perhaps aware, I would describe myself as "a reader."

Perhaps all of you are aware of that.

Last year, I undertook the Goodreads challenge for the first time. Basically, you set a goal, a number of books you'd like to read in a year. You track your progress, rate your books, and--if you'd like--review them. Now, I don't know about you, friend, but between video games, blogging, reading, running, hiking, biking, etc: writing a full review for everything I read can be a little daunting.

There's just not enough time!

But I don't give up easily; it's not in my nature. So rather than not write a full-length commentary, I stick to nineteen syllables: a haiku!

For the past twenty weeks, I've managed to read 1.15 books/week, which means I am three titles ahead of schedule. For now.

I thought I would share my personal list of the books so far, as well as some selected reviews. Maybe, if it's your cup of tea, you'll join me on Goodreads!


Twenty Books In

20. The Death of Bees
19. The Gunslinger
18. A Hologram for the King
17. Shadow and Bone
16. Tenth of December
15. At Night We Walk In Circles
14. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles
13. The One and Only Ivan
12. Boy, Snow, Bird
11. The Circle
10. Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief
9. The Golem and the Jinni
8. The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.
7. We Were Liars
6. We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves
5. The Round House
4. The People in the Trees
3. Ready Player One
2. The Empathy Exams
1. A Tale for the Time Being

Even amidst her
remarkable self-doubt, each
essay leaves you floored.
-The Empathy Exams


To endure is an 
awfully big adventure 
worth every moment.  
 -We Were Liars

For anyone who
has had feelings: yes, we're all
neurotic messes.
-The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.


So compellingly 
readable even amidst 
so much discomfort.
-The People in the Trees

A terrifying 
look at the world and what it
might very well be.
-The Circle



Day CX: Face

I hated this winter, you guys.

It was long and difficult, truly the season of my discontent. 

Between unbearably frigid temperatures, endless gales of wind, and (more than) our fair share of snow emergencies, it's no wonder that the first nice weekend we have--and it was impossibly beautiful--every single person and their entire family was out and about enjoying it.

Myself included.

So I apologize, dear reader, I ignored my blog and my writing, my personal diary of thoughts and musings. 

I guess an interesting observation though: I missed it and I felt guilty. It was this weird mixture of feeling like abandoned my child and a sad sort of relief. 

In a strange coincidence, I am feeling the same way about my face. 


For the first time since January--6 months, you guys!--my scruff has vanished! Luckily, I am already a little bristly. I think the heat inspired me to give it a go. And while I think I prefer the scruff, it's interesting to see my face again. It looks largely the same, but I wonder what's changed in the last half-a-year. Perhaps not a thing? 

In any case, one thing is very clear:

"Shit, I look goooooooooood." -Vivienne Pinay

Day CIX: Snapchat III

Let's not pretend you came here to read an introduction. You came here for photos, for life, for moments captured with the world's most favorite photo messaging app. It's Saturday, after all.

So get into it.



Some of the best Snapchat art I've been privy to! Between the shirt, the filter, the lips, the mole: it's truly a work of art. And it was done with adult finger paint! Excellent work, Jessica Gjerde. It's a GD masterpiece.






The sun was hiding from all of us this winter, even our friends in California. Lindsay found a way to enjoy the beautiful rays and make a thoughtful comment on how shitty the year's worst season managed to be in 2014.





Bethany can always be relied upon for a good Queen B reference. This week was no exception.









WHO IS TONY REIS AND HOW DO WE BECOME HIM?

Chloe is on the right track. Let's all work together to figure this out.




Meanwhile, in London, Lauren is definitely starting her birthday trip off the right way. The littlest--and most important--extraction of coffee: an excellent choice.





Dat face tho





Why is it that fat cats are the most endearing? Wendy isn't a particularly massive feline, she's just a stout little creature.




And then there's Thor. Closing out the roundup with a rough day at work and an uplifting message for us all.

 Cheer up, Charlie, it's almost over!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Day CVIII: Night Film

In late 2013, I attended a reading of Night Film by Marisha Pessl. Here is my flashback for this Friday: a small review of an event I dearly enjoyed.

---------------------------------------------------------

“Mortal fear is as crucial a thing to our lives as love. It cuts to the core of our being and shows us what we are. Will you step back and cover your eyes? Or will you have the strength to walk to the precipice and look out?”

I was sweating, and no one was surprised.

Lit events always incite this unsettling mixture of excitement and anxiety within me. Is it the anticipation of the author’s reading? Is it questions of whom I might run into? Maybe it’s the perpetual nagging of an inner voice whispering: ‘the author won’t even like you!’ (That’s too neurotic, right? Can’t possibly be healthy. Like, who actually cares if an author is a fan of someone they’ve never met and, likely, will never interact with? Well certainly not me and I definitely didn’t fixate on Marisha’s failure to respond to either of my tweets about her killer heels even though she’s had plenty of time and it would have meant too much to me.) Whatever the case for the bundle of nerves I’d suddenly become before entering the shop, it only magnified when Pessl approached the podium following her brief introduction by the charming host.

Common Good Books is a delightful little shop. I love that they use every inch of their space against the walls by stacking books and books up to the ceiling. There’s a calming quality to the way they case their patrons in spines and pages and words. With such a humble atmosphere, I find it baffling—even now in reflection—that Marisha Pessl’s event brought out such an initial unease. Standing off to the side, petite and sharp-featured, her presence was imposing, but didn’t dip into menacing territory. And until she stood before us and spoke, I still felt so uneasy.

I wondered then, as she made her way to the front of the small, but tightly packed crowd, if she hadn’t modeled Ashley Cordova after herself: a charismatic, poltergeistesque presence commanding the senses of the occasional passerby and engaged event attendee.

But when she said “Thanks” and “Hi”? That’s when the anxiety managed to subside. Her author photo—specifically the one that graces the back cover of her first novel, Special Topics in Calamity Physics—is distant, slightly aloof, and cold. But the Pessl reading from her new literary thriller, this

Her reading voice was precisely what it needed to be, exactly how I imagined it: full and loud and enigmatic, rife with urgency, and oh-so-alluring. And even though I’d finished the magnificent Night Film already, it was remarkable to hear it in the author’s voice.

It was a privilege, also, to listen to her answer questions about her work, her life, and even her fears. She was confident and engaging, and rarely—did she ever?—veered away on tangential ramblings. The audience, the quiet few and massively interested, devoured her. Every face I caught in a quiet sideways glance looked completely enticed, dangerously attentive; what a complete testament to Pessl’s ability to corral a room.

I was happy to have the last question of the night, and I thought that such a turn of events might make Pessl more likely to respond to my inquisitive and lauding tweets. Alas, she remains as hidden from my feed as Cordova himself.

As with any author event, I found myself constantly concerned with the transparency of the writer. Is this person ahead of us, speaking with such confidence and vulnerability, is she the real human being behind the book? Or is it some author persona parading a personality and demeanor?

With Pessl, I found myself indifferent to the truth. I didn’t care so much if this striking and captivating woman was an illusion. I might even prefer her completely bewitching presence to be a trick.


 In Night Film she wrote: “It’s easy to be yourself in the dark.” Perhaps, under the guise of illumination, she was merely enchanting an audience that wanted to be a part of her presence. I’d wager, however, in the quiet hum of Common Good Books, we saw the real Pessl: an accomplished author who is rightfully proud of an exceptional work of fiction. 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Day CVII: Letter II

Dear Friend,

It occurs to me now, just one day after finishing your letter--the letter for you, not one I wrote as you, as in a facade--that, perhaps, you'll never come across its resting place. The internet is an awfully big home, after all.

So no hard feelings should you not find it. It's there, germinating, waiting for a gentle tap, a welcoming brush, a hand to help along.

And, perhaps, the followup letter serves no purpose but to aide in my own uncertainty. My own needy griping for connection. And for that I apologize. I wish no selfish thought for this letter. 

But absolution does not just find its way to fruition. It works, like roots, deep and powerful to the core of the earth before summoning the strength to build up and out and into the world.

Wherever it exists, it rests. And in rest, we wait. We wait. We wait. We wait.

With love,

Josh

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Day CVI: Letter I

Dear Friend,

I should have let you hug me.

I don't know why I didn't. I think it caught me off-guard, your willingness to embrace. It's unlike you.

And that's fine, not fine like it's mediocre or okay or sub par, not that at all,  that's not what I mean. I mean, fine like "I'm not blaming you," "there's nothing wrong with that," "it's just not me."

You're not a hugger, I get it. I've understood that for years now. So maybe it was just confusing to me, a little shocking, a little unreasonable. Like you felt like you had to extend your arms, like it was the right thing to do, even if it's not what you wanted.

But you wouldn't have tried if you didn't want to, right? No one was forcing you to do anything. It was your humanity and inclination to be a provider, a sentimentalist, a real, genuine human with feelings and emotions and compassion. And I am sorry I mistook that for obligation.

I am sorry to you, and sorry for myself. I didn't want you to think I was repulsed. And I could have used the hug. Desperately, maybe.

It was unintentional and instinctual to recoil with such vigor, such determination.

Why is it that we see such futility in gestures of kindness? Such uselessness in comfort?

Is it the weakness we see in ourselves, pouring like oil from a spigot, dousing those to whom we are closest? Shimmering on their bodies, reflecting our own insecurities back to our eyes, begging to be examined, demanding to be discussed.

An apology restated: I am sorry I shied away. And it probably isn't necessary, and (likely) too late, but it means something to me to tell you, to tell the world I am sorry.

Sincerely, with love, with respect, and all those other words I will always mean,

Josh

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Day CVI: Stubborn

Even as a good and happy child, I was stubborn. I'm not particularly fond of not getting my way. You could say it's something of a work in progress. Something that could use a little more attention. Something I've been reluctant to admit.

You could say it's something I've been working on.

And that would be a lie. Maybe not a lie. That sounds deceitful, ill-mannered, caustic. It's merely an untruth. A statement that's not quite correct. An inaccuracy. (How fun to have so many ways to convince ourselves that we're better than the very raw, honest, visceral reality of a situation. It's too easy to be self-convinced of our betterness, to conflate goodness with less callous qualification.)

Perhaps that is where stubbornness lives? In that dissonant canyon between the actual and the created, between the truth and suggestion. To dig into that space is difficult. To float in that chasm and examine our own inability to be sincere, to find the genuine: it's not an easy task.

It would be a lie to say I'm working on my stubbornness. Attempts have been made. Countless conversations between myself and me, between me and him or her have tried illuminating strategies to mediate the bull-headed, scrunched-nose presence of my own inability to concede, to compromise, to understand. They aren't frequent dialogues. I don't spend days fixating on what's creating aversion, what's perpetuating the misery of an inflated ego. But they happen, with assured return, at a rate I would describe as "when necessary." And, of course, there's another issue: the subjectivity of necessary. The subjectivity of honest. The subjectivity of fair.

In her novel, The People in the Trees, Hanya Yanagihara's unreliable narrator writes
Beautiful people make even those of us who proudly consider ourselves unmoved by another's appearance dumb with admiration and fear and delight, and stuck by the profound, enervating, awareness of how inadequate we are, how nothing, not intelligence or education or money, can usurp or overpower or deny beauty.
Immediately, I was struck by the ignorance of the words. Surely beauty is not so supremely overriding as to command even the most commendable of traits. Do humor, kindness, transparency, or vulnerability account for nothing? It is Yanagihara's awareness of the subjectivity of beauty that settles her assertion on such stable ground. By understanding her position is reliant on the lack of universal beauty, that no two understandings of beauty will ever be wholly alike, there is concession. There is admission. There is "maybe she's right."

So I wonder: is acknowledging subjectivity--understanding that there will always be an infinite number of reflections in the same piece of cracked glass--the bane of stubbornness, the kryptonite of the anti-concession? And is that different than empathy?

In the rigid expanse where stubbornness lives, rarely do we see a glimpse of the other side. Rarely do we allow our ego to become second to change. Rarely do we construct that bridge waiting to be built with just a few extra planks of humility.

You could say "at least he's trying."

And that would be the truth.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Day CV: Villain

Mondays will be an exercise in story. For twenty minutes, with one word to prompt me, I will be trying to write a cohesive, somewhat decent anything. Let's see how it goes, shall we?

#MinuteMonday
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

She was always my favorite villain, Maleficent. Horns spiraling up and out of her forehead, black cape billowing in permanent, unsettling rage behind her. That face, green as a serpent; not a wrinkle, not a line, not a thought. Bright eyes that said, "Fuck with me, my dear, by all means." And was she purple or black? Or violet or onyx or eggplant or obsidian? Was she blue, maybe? A sapphire or cobalt that just looked darker in the magic of technicolor.

Technicolor, ha! There's an idea I could get behind.

Now featuring: a spectrum of non-white-non-gray-non-black. Now presenting a new hue! Now presenting imagination!

And why didn't we just start with color? What is it about black and white that shows up when other colors can't?

Mom always said, "It's technology, sweetheart. Technology makes all the difference."

Well, fine. Give me a blanket statement. Tell me it's just "because." Tell me it's just that way. It just is.

Maleficent's lips. I like them. They snarl and twist like roots. Like knots in a rope or twine on a fence post or hair on a head. On my head.

A rat's nest, Preston says. A place where all the vermin that live in my house and cover my floors and invade my bed can find rest. He says: they sit and they play Parcheesi. He thinks the play on words with "cheese" is clever because he's talking about rodents.

I promise him it's not.

I say: You are not as smart as you think, Preston.

I say: You are a bully. You are a bully and screw you and your ugly sister and your Levis and your blue eyes. And your girlfriend, and all of her friends, too, and you again, all of you, just fuck you, you fucking oaf.

And I am bleeding.

And my nose is in two different parts, both still on my face.

And Preston is spitting on my face. It feels warm and wet and runs down from my eye. A tributary to the blood running from my nose. (We learned the word "tributary" last year and every part of my loves how it feels from the back of my throat to the tip of my tongue.) But there is this great, flowing stream of blood and spit and snot. There is an ocean of me on the floor. Against the tiled, grainy white it looks like an inkblot, a Roscharch, a test of what can be seen when not a single answer is wrong.

I hear a bell and the shuffling stampede of feet and feel hundreds of eyes on the trellis of locks emerging from my skull, on the swirling curls atop my throbbing heard. The feet moving passed me and through the hallway slow as they near Preston and a chorus of giggles and high fives sing his praises. My face begins to molt. It crusts over in a globby red stain.

Oaf.

Oaf?

Who the hell says "oaf?"

When I open the bathroom door, I look back and see the trail I've left behind me, a trail for no one. I think the tiny drops must be the worst tasting breadcrumbs any Hansel and Gretel have ever tasted. The door shuts slowly, swinging on its hinges like a pendulum. I am reminded of time. Of how late I'm going to be for math. Of how disappointed Mr. Tiger will be that I'm late. One look at my face and he'll know it's not my fault.

He'll say: Christ, kid, what happened?

I'll say: I said "oaf." I said "oaf!" and I'll laugh a little between his bewildered eyes and nervously shifting feet.

In the mirror I see that my nose is gone, that a grotesque and spiraling claw has replaced it. Crooked and reaching, grasping for any shred of decency.

Water from the sink splashes against my face. The pain doubles me over and I lose my lunch. I laugh. It's not like I've lost any nutrition. Did you know that pizza is still a vegetable here?

Tiny barbs have lodged in my cheeks and lips and eyes and begin to scrape away at the surface of my face. When the red is gone, washed into the drain with bits of cafeteria food--crust, cheese, tomato--the mirror glares like I've done something wrong.

My nose is black. Or maybe it's purple? I think, perhaps it is blue or violet and there's something wrong with the light. So I stand as still as I can. I don't move and everything goes quiet until the only noise is the plink, the drip, the splash of blood in the sink. A tear hits a tiny hunk of sausage.

Bullseye.

Dark. It is dark.

The only light is the gentle slit slipping beneath the door into the hallway, into the sea. The light is just enough fro me to make out a reflection in the mirror. I see a rat's nest, a claw, and two cobalt eyes. Or are they eggplant? I think, maybe technicolor would be easier to live without. Maybe all these colors would vanish and only shades of black and white would prevail and maybe I wouldn't spend so much time thinking about all the differences between them and why they matter at all.

Are they black?

In the twilight of the mirror, it's not important what color my eyes are.

I imagine horns spiraling from my head and a cape as majestic as sin billowing behind me. In shades of black and white my body beings to glow and reflect the slight slant of light creeping up and away from the floor.

In this moment, there is no technicolor. I raise my arms and in the motion of victory, the world is suddenly light and full of color. The sudden glory of the fluorescent room surges through my skin and a familiar, tingly warning skitters up my spine and into my neck and shoulders. A sneeze. My face rears back. My eyes lock with the lights above, pleading, begging the brightness to subside.

With a fantastic gust of blood and sickness, I collapse onto the floor in a shivering, beaten heap.

And I think: perhaps I am the villain.


Sunday, May 18, 2014

Day CIV: The Other Side

Someone once told me the grass is much greener on the other side.


On May 18, 2014: I sunbathed.

It was a Sunday that started like most others: Bull Run, coffee, tea, scone, book. Today happened to have one extra element that's been missing for the last seven months.

Warmth.

Sunshine.

Light.

After a bleak and miserable 200 days, we've crossed the threshold and reached the edge of summer. I'm not going to say that we've emerged unscathed, but, nonetheless, the other side has welcomed us with arms wide open.

And it's a reciprocal feeling, to say the least. 

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Day CIII: Snapchat II

It's understood, universally, that Saturdays are not typically nights set aside for reading. And that's okay, I get it, not everyone needs a book and a glass of wine to make a weekend complete. If you're a lonely spinster like your favorite blogging hero, however...

The first Saturday of #100MoreDaysOfJosh. Who's excited?! I think, for now, the last day of the week is going to be Snapchat Saturdays. Who doesn't like a little weekly roundup of joy. It makes for easy reading--hey, there's pictures!--and you get a teeny-tiny peek at the people who I photographically interact with on a daily basis. 

For tonight: six images, mostly centered around my birthday week. Throw in a little drag, and a little kitty love: we've got a blog post.




I made the very top of Kyle's calendar (for the day)! And, oddly, I found that very flattering. I know it doesn't have a whole lot to do with anything, but it's a nice gesture to see your name on a list, right?







My little precious angel, Laura Baden, sent a lovely little birthday reminder, complete with a party favor and some sweet glasses.



And I wish Kirsten could have joined us as well. The big, beautiful eyes of a fantastic friend are always going to simultaneously melt and break my heart. If only she could have been here in person!







Sometimes, work just crawls by. And over your lunch break, you just need to get yourself a little prettier than you'd planed. Those earrings...amirite?





Archie and Bernard and the best of friends, and the greatest of lovers. This is a daily occurrence. It's just nice to see throughout the week because they're usually so, well, energetic. And rude. And belligerent. But, god, they can be really damn precious when they like to be.






Kyle got a great tan while on vacation two weeks ago. I can't believe it hasn't faded in the time since he's returned!


Friday, May 16, 2014

Day CII: Sophomore

Well, dear readers, I am afraid you're stuck with me. We've officially begun the second phase of my multi-layered plan to take over the blogging world. 

Codename: #100MoreDaysOfJosh.

Pretty damn creative, yeah?

In this phase, the week is divided into seven days. On each day, I blog something new. Perhaps a poem, perhaps a memory, perhaps an observation. But always me. Now, I guess, on paper, that sounds pretty similar to the way the first one hundred days worked. And, mostly, it's true. There's nothing revolutionary about the way these next ninety eight days work. 

Well, there is one thing.

I am going to try and think of a new alliterative phrase for each day of the week so that there's a little more consistency to what's thrown up on this messy little website. Starting today. Friday. How does Flashback Friday sound? Freaky Friday? Fondled Friday?

Maybe not that last one.

We're gonna try #FlashbackFriday to start. Every Friday, I'll be pulling up an old photo for the world to see, and put forth my best analysis of what could possibly be happening in said image. 

So let's begin:

Boiz
This is a photo from my sophomore year of college. From left to right: Anthony Spain, Ryan Mather, and Josh Plattner (me). 

Let's take a minute to appreciate the following: Tony's necklace, our matching polos (?!), Mickey Mouse on Ryan's shirt, and dat hair. Remember when that was me?

Tony, Ryan, and I lived in an on-campus house during the 2008-2009 academic year with three other roommates, Emily, Shawn, and Abby. The five of them were seniors, and I was just a wee baby, a precious nineteen years-old. 

In this photo, it's a weeknight, who knows which, and we're at everyone's favorite Saint Peter hotspot: Patrick's on Third. One of the impossibly wonderful benefits of living with five older students, drinking at bars was never a problem. They had familiar faces to each of the servers and bartenders, so by the time I came around, there was no need to ask for IDs. I was just one of the seniors!

I was so spoiled. And by spoiled, I mean I was broke as hell and perpetually drunk. 

Let's just file that under "growing up." 

When I think back to that year, I can't help but recall the madness that takes place in a house of six giant personalities. The good, the bad, the impossibly ugly: all of it equally important. 

There are moments where living with them seems exceedingly far away, like distance and life have somehow formed a giant temporal chasm much larger than five years. And then there are moments, walking out of a coffee shop or hopping in my car after work, that I have to remember: I'm not going back to the Adolphson House, that life has changed and the world is not a snow globe on top of a windy hill in southern Minnesota.

I suppose every one of these flashbacks will summon some sort of frightful nostalgia. That I'll lose myself, however briefly, in fractals of "then" and "that-one-time."

And for that, I feel exceptionally grateful.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Day CI: Ranked

When I first started this journey to one hundred days of blogging, I had a great vision in mind for what the end would look like. And in one part, it was this: a ranked list of my favorite blogs. A top ten maybe. Ten selections that encompassed what I love about this blog, and why I've done it. But then I got to thinking: Why stop at ten? Why not rank every one of them?

I love a good list. And this little project has been so rewarding. Why not take it a step further with one massive compilation? The below selections are a result of their page views and my personal preference.

God, I love a good ranked list

#100DaysOfJosh

100     Day XIII: Taxes
99       Day XCVI: Sissy That Walk
98       Day XXIV: RuPaul's Big Opening
97       Day XXXI: RuPaul's Big Opening Part Two
96       Day LXXIII: Queens of Talk
95       Day LXXX: Drag My Wedding
94       Day LII: Snatch Game
93       Day XLV: Shade, The Rusical
92       Day XXXVII: Scream Queens
91       Day LXVI: Rupersized!

90       Day XVII: RuPaul's Drag Race Season Six Preview
89       Day LXXXVII: Glitterball
88       Day LIX: Oh No She Better Don't
87       Day XXVIII: Is It Cheating If I Just Snap a #SundaySelfie?
86       Day XXVII: Oscar Predictions
85       Day XXIX: Who Won?
84       Day III: TarotI
83       Day XXXIII: Disappointment
82       Day XL: Hangman
81       Day LXVIII: Revamped-Letters to You

80       Day LXXXIX: Aroma
79       Day LXIV: Music
78       Day XXXVII: Runway
77       Day XXXII: NFL National Qualifiers
76       Day XXXIV: Reading (Speech) for Filth
75       Day XIX: Stripped
74       Day XXXV: Fake Summer Sunday
73       Day XXV: Toys
72       Day XV: Salamander
71       Day XIV: Taxes Redux

70       Day IX: Why?
69       Day XI: Fish
68       Day XLIII: Paddy
67       Day XLIV: Deodorant
66       Day LXIII: Walk
65       Day LIV: Ride
64       Day XXVI: Escalator
63       Day XIII: Valentines
62       Day XLVII: Dog-sitting Part One
61       Day XLVIII: Dog-sitting Part Two

60       Day LXII: Nap
59       Day LXVII: Precious
58       Day LXXIX: Anger
57       Day XLIX: Bedmaking
56       Day XX: Reading
55       Day XLII: Rejuvenation
54       Day X: Melted
53       Day LXXXI: Beer
52       Day XC: Swords
51       Day LXXXVIII: Empathy

50       Day LXXIV: Three
49       Day LIII: Gloom
48       Day LVII: One and Only
47       Day LV: Before
46       Day LVI: After
45       Day XXXVII: Never Let Me Go
44       Day XXI: Brunch
43       Day XXIII: Archie's Birthday
42       Day LXI: Burn
41       Day VII: Lazy

40       Day VI: Ni No Kuni
39       Day II: Vacation
38       Day VIII: Snooze
37       Day V: Bernard
36       Day IV: Fatal
35       Day XXXIX: Inventory
34       Day L: Scatterbrained
33       Day LVIII: Morning Trick
32       Day LXV: Goddess
31       Day LXX: Dryer

30       Day LXXVII: Rise
29       Day LXXVIII: Rest
28       Day LXXV: Rock
27       Day LXXVI: Water
26       Day XCII: Sun
25       Day XCVII: Spirit Animal
24       Day XCVI: Mom
23       Day LXIX: Stroll
22       Day XCVIII: Faggot III
21       Day XCIII: Humanity

20       Day XCI: Snag
19       Day LXXXII: Sorted
18       Day C: Centi
17       Day I: Budger
16       Day XVIII: Old Man Meth
15       Day XCV: Success
14       Day LXXXV: Touch
13       Day LXXXIV: Diary
12       Day XXX: Condom
11       Day XCIX: Scrub

10       Day XLVI: Faggot II
9         Day XVI: CherylBeth
8         Day LXXXVI: Coffee II
7         Day LXXXIII: Tattoo
6         Day XLI: Absence
5         Day LX: Footsteps
4         Day XCIV: Snapchat
3         Day LI: Coffee
2         Day XXII: Faggot
1         Day LXXI: Versatile

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Day C: Centi

Centi- is a prefix we use the represent one-hundredth. I believe it comes from the Latin centum which actually means "hundred." If not, whatever, it's my birthday and you should just take me at my word.

So how fitting, on today, the one hundredth day of blogging, that "centi" be the title of this post.

Well, hold your horses. This centi is a little different. It's not about money, it's not about length, it's not about time. 

No, no, no.

This centi is about legs.

For anyone who knows me, this will not be a surprise: I am resolutely terrified of centipedes. In the video game "Dark Souls," there was a boss called "Centipede Demon" and I almost couldn't face it. Not because it was overly difficult or frustrating. No, it was solely horror that kept me at bay. 

So, of course, this morning, on today OF ALL DAYS, I was greeted by this sick fuck the minute I stepped into the bathroom:


You know those televangelists that say things like "the devil walks among us."

They're right.

That photo is proof. 

And I was very suddenly brought back to a moment my senior year of college:

I was rinsing a whole mess of soap off my face. I felt water splashing on my feet--as I should have, I was in the shower! But instead of washing quickly away, it was like the little droplets were sticking to my foot. So, naturally, I took a glance down to see what was keeping them on to of my toes.

HOLYSHITCENTIPEDE

And I literally pissed myself and fell over. In our tiny, college shower.

And because centipedes use black magic, he managed to stay upright in the water. I kid you not, he reared back on his haunches and spread his fourteen million legs for me to see.

He hissed. He hissed, you guys.

I collected myself and dumped, roughly, a liter of conditioner on to his body which carried him in to the drain. There's no way he died, though. That sick bastard is still in that drain, just waiting to frighten another soul.

So that's where my head was at this morning...deep down in the abyss of hundreds and hundreds of legs.

Hopefully I can climb out.

After all: it's my birthday!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Day XCIX: Scrub

Scrub     /skrəb/
verb
        1. Rub (someone or something) hard so as to clean them. 
noun
        2. An insignificant or contemptible person.


We're all bad at something, right?

Lemme rephrase that: you're all bad at something.

And I am...well, I am less than perfect at something too. 

And it happens to be a rather large something, at least in our household. In the scheme of things, it seems pretty harmless and increasingly silly to point out, but it's constantly thrown in my face and I've started to wonder if others have the same issue. 

(That's a blatant lie. I am an unreliable narrator today. I don't believe anyone else on earth has the problem that I do, especially with the same set of circumstances that make my problem so glaring. I mean, really, is it so much of a problem that it has to be quietly, deviantly pointed out to me every single time it happens? I am clearly never going to learn the grave error of my ways so why would anyone in their right mind continue to beat a dead horse with reminder after reminder after reminder? Maybe because they have more faith for me to grow and learn and become a better human being than I do.

Yes. 

That must be why. Otherwise, it's all this effort to reprimand and embarrass me for no other reason than to take advantage of what a neurotic mess I am when it comes to uncertainty and perception and disappointment. And if that were the case, then the person exposing my flaws and mistakes would be a TERRIBLE HORRIBLE NO GOOD VERY BAD PERSON.

And that's not the case...

Maybe.

No, definitely not. 

It's got to be that someday, maybe even someday soon, I will learn.)

Oofta. That's a parenthetical. 

You guys, I am pretty clean person. I don't care to live in filth or chaos, but I am also not a neat-freak. I like things to be livable and taken care of and maintained. So I vacuum, I dust, I wash, I sweep, I tidy. And I do them frequently. I take out the trash and the recycling. 

I do the dishes.

I do the dishes because running a dishwasher eats up a lot of energy. So Sibley, Kyle, and I just prefer to handwash them. It's just...


I am terrible at putting the scrublet/sponge/squishmitten back into it's holder. 

Apparently, when a moist, YES MOIST, soapy, and dirty little wand hangs out in a sink, it can get moldy? Can it though? I've never seen it happen. 

And lemme tell ya. There have been plenty of opportunities.

So, that's my thing. I leave the soap-wand in the sink all the time. Like, really, I do it all the time and I am not sure I will ever learn my lesson. But that's it! I am really lovely otherwise, and I think everyone can and will attest to that. 

If someone who does the dishes--I just forget the last step!--but has no other flaws, then, yeah, I'm your guy. 

If that spongey situation is a dealbreaker, though?

You'll probably just think I'm a scrub.


Monday, May 12, 2014

Day XCVIII: Faggot III

All the world's a stage.
-William Shakespeare

=        =        =

I came out when I was eighteen years old.

To my mother, first. To my brother after. To my father.

To my friend, Leann, over a text.

To my grandfather and his wife, Karen, in their foyer.

To my first-year roommate, Bobby, in a message.

To Amy. To Robert. To Sarah. To Aaron.

To Anastasia, my best friend, in an email, like a schmuck.

I moved to St. Peter for college. And I changed my Facebook profile to read: Male, interested in men.

And I stopped coming out.
=        =        =

The summer before heading to Gustavus, I ripped a piece of paper from a journal and wrote:
Regret is one of those words--"bam," "scone," "rubble"--that is exactly what it sounds like. A heavy, unarticulated pain. A moment in time that spends eternity in unresolved unrest.
In a small, plastic case, meant for files and folders, a collection of accomplishments and thoughts, I stuck the note inside and forgot about it. Did I write it as a reminder? Was it for someone? Black ink--and I remember that was significant because I only ever wrote in pencil. Tucked behind a photo of our family's black lab, Scout, it stayed dormant for some time.

Then, when needed, it found a hand, found a light, found a way to the surface.

=        =        =

I never felt out of place in my section, my freshman year of college. I lived in Norelius Hall (shorthanded to "Co-ed" around campus because it was a dorm for first-years only and housed male and female students). Split into towers A, C, E, and H, floors alternated genders. So, on our floor, the second, section C, there were two clusters of boys and two clusters of girls. It seemed more revolutionary on paper--boys and girls living together? How scandalous!--but was much more reserved in practice. We still had curfew, our sections were gender specific, boy sections always smelled worse. Always.

But, still, living as a commingled aggregate was interesting. It was unique, and the premise of it all sounded incredibly alluring.

When I checked yes to co-ed living, it was because I was afraid that living with guys would be difficult. Fragile, small-town, newly-gay Josh was terrified. Every wonderful thing I'd heard about the open, accepting, inclusive environment of a small, liberal arts college bared no weight when faced with the prospect of sharing a section of space with twenty two other men.

Orientation made one thing very clear: section 2C was going to be just fine.

=        =        =

I never came out to my grandma.

Not in the way that we recognize it today, anyway. There was no "I need to tell you something," no "just listen," no "please don't hate me, but..." None of that. It was always just an unspoken truth I expected she would understand, would tolerate, wouldn't give a second thought.

But that's not fair.

Nor is it true.

Memory distorts our thoughts in strange ways. It would be easier for me to write: I never came out to my grandma because there was no need; I knew she wouldn't bat an eye so why even bother telling her. But that's not true. I see it that way now, but that wasn't always the case.

You have to understand, I wasn't afraid of coming out to my family because I feared persecution or hatred. I was mortified of the disappointment. The shaking head. The upturned chin and crushing, unbearable silence. In many ways that I cannot vocalize, cannot get to paper, my grandma was (is) the person I feel the most pressure to impress. It's not placed there by her--I want to emphasize that. But living up to the perceived expectations of the most important people in your life: that unfathomable weight is, at times, unmanageable.

So I was terrified of letting her down. And the conversation we should have had, nestled somewhere between honesty and courage, just never did.

And I regret that. 

=        =        =

Peter smoked a lot of weed. Chris complained about toilet paper. Alex or (and?) Luke had loud sex next door. 

Chris was quiet. Ryan was not.

Garret studied. Dan slept. 

Bill whined. Donald laughed. 

Lance was cocky. James was cute. 

And Bobby and I were gay. But it was never that, not for any of us. It was never these words that made us up, that gave us presence, that set us in motion. We were all lucky.

We joked a lot, poked fun at each other often. Kidded around about our straightness or lack-thereof. We drank beer and rum and set traps for our CF. Every bit of worry, of neurotic turmoil I put myself through in the two months of summer before college began was for naught. Gustavus Adolphus College was everything I was promised. I felt surrounded, felt harbored, felt appreciated.

Until I didn't.

=        =        =

When my Grandma met my first significant other, it was under no guise of "my friend" or "roommate." He was my boyfriend. There were no skipped beats, no questioning glances. There was a hug and a "so nice to meet you." There were photos. And smiles. There was laughter. And relaxation.

And I have this memory. Dancing in small, staccato steps. Tapping a foot here. Tapping a foot there. In the living of my mother's infinitesimally sized home. My grandma and I. Was anyone else there? How many lights were burnt out on that tree? A brief, assuring whirl with this unconditionally adoring woman for whom I have so much appreciation: and that's all I can see. One small room, the glow of Christmas, and the two of us.

What is it in our nature to make ordeals out of nothing? To put on productions for no one but ourselves?

=        =        =

A sweaty night at the on-campus dance club, The Dive. A Friday like every other. 

Popular songs spun above our heads with the glimmering, dancing disco ball. Mirrors watched us from the ceiling, and, often, we did the same in their reflection. Against a tiled wall, my friend Nadvia and I grind to something filthy and moderately tempo'd. The song ends, the buzz does not.

I was in need of water--we all were, weren't we?--so I left the floor and found a cooler. Dain and Whitney leave in a slur of goodbyes and I think that may be my cue. I catch an eye on the floor, tilt my head to the exit, and walk out of the sweaty air and into the incredible October night.

"Faggot."

There's a word I haven't heard in a while.

"Hey, faggot."

Is someone fighting? My head was heavy, lolling side-to-side, trying to find a face in the trees outside The Dive. 

"Yes, you, faggot." 

And I realize he (she?) is speaking to me. Well, at me. A Gustavus sweatshirt with a head and arms and legs: walks up to and then passed me, edging toward the chapel.

"Fucking faggots. Dunno how you all fucking got in here."

=        =        =

I stopped coming out because my sexuality is not anyone's business but my own. 

I quit the facade of self-loathing and straight-acting because that's a really quick way to be miserable. 

I know. I did it for too long. 

That I did it all...that's another thing I regret.

=        =        =

The minute I got back to my room, I placed three phone calls. I flipped my razr open and dialed "mom" and immediately hung up. I called "Bobby" and hung up. I called "Granny" and I let the phone ring. And ring. And ring.

When the voicemail picked up, I snapped my phone shut.

I cried. I blew my nose.

I opened my phone and redialed the last number. 

I was a faggot and needed to get that off my chest.

I needed her to know who I was. Needed everyone to understand. Needed to hear, "I know and everything is okay."

It's funny the way clarity works. I wonder if it's the same for us all? In almost any messy situation or scenario, I can reliably point to the moment, the one instance when everything came into focus and the performance just stopped. When the second voicemail picked up, that was one of those moments.

This random passerby's hatred of me for some uncontrollable fraction of the person I am was immaterial, irrelevant to my life. It was one word, and it didn't define or control me. And I think that's why it no longer mattered, why I hung up the phone.

Why the conversation never occurred.

=        =        =

You know, clarity acts a lot like stage fright. One minute, you're living, breathing, reciting this representation of you that's in no way the person you are. And suddenly you're stuck, spotlit, your flaws and insecurities flooding out of you in waves and waves of vulnerability.

What is it in our nature to make ordeals out of nothing? To put on productions for no one but ourselves?

If we stopped the charade: does anything change? Do we lose a thing? How much more do we gain through exposure and honesty and sincerity?

The rewards are...intangible, numerous.

But we do lose something. 

We lose the heavy, unarticulated pain. We lose the moments spending eternity in unresolved unrest.

We lose our regret.

And then: we get to play ourselves.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Day XCVII: Mom

Here's something cute: I was born on Mother's Day.


And that's my mom. She's riding a skateboard in Colorado. Not bad for a sixty year-old, eh?

Kidding: she's forty five.

My mom is one of those people who doesn't give a damn what anyone thinks of her. She has butterfly tattoos and changes her hair weekly. Her regular use of the word "fuck" is a great indicator for the amount of time she thinks about what others have to say about her. I've always admired that in my mom. And sometimes find myself wishing a little more of that flippancy and self-assuredness found its way through the gene pool.

When I was younger, I dreaded growing up to be my mom. Don't we all? I was always told: "You must be Beth's son!" or "Don't you look just like your mom!" and I despised it. I hated that lack of originality and that a son, a male child, could be so similar to their female parent. Looking back, it's funny to recognize and observe that reluctance to be so frequently compared to my mother. Because now: I would be lucky to be half the person my mumsy is. She's dynamic and friendly, huge-hearted and caring. She's stubborn and driven, and doesn't settle for less than she deserves. 
At twenty four, my mom was raising a darling, charismatic, and dashing four year-old, and also my brother. Between my her and my dad, they somehow managed to raise two spectacular children, even at such a young age. If I had a toddler and another son in diapers at my age...?

Let's not even postulate. There's just no way.

So this is for my mother, my mom. 

No words will ever be able to express my gratitude and love for her, or even come close to giving back everything she instilled in me. I am one of the two most fortunate boys on this planet for having grown up with someone like her, constantly vigilant, always guiding our steps.

I love you, mom. 

And I will be forever full of admiration and respect for everything you've done, for everything you do, for everything to come.


#SundaySelfie: me and my godson, Bernard

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Day XCVI: Spirit Animal

Here's something not everyone knows about me: I sleep with an animal.


What do you think? Endearing or embarrassing? 

So it's not a real animal. And it's not even a stuffed animal. It's a pillow shaped like an animal with a rendering of a fox. Cute, no? Juvenile? Maybe. It's a little odd for a twenty four year-old to sleep with, well, a doll. It's not as if I cuddle up next to it every evening, or can't sleep without it. Hell, I don't even remember if it's lost in the blankets half the time. More often than not, the only time I acknowledge its around is when when I'm picking him off the floor in the morning. (What can I say? I'm a flailer.) 

There's something comforting about its presence. And I can't tell you why.

The fox was a gift. 

And also my spirit animal. A fox. A bushy-tailed, bright-eyed canine. 

To my knowledge, I've not brought havoc upon any farmers and their livestock and poultry. I've never starred in the saddest Disney movie of all time. Nor have I had a song written about me complete with a terrifying music video about what my vocal projections sound like. 

But that's not what spirit animals are. They aren't nature's replications of ourselves or some sort of mythological tie-in to our being. Rather, they're a behavioral representation of who we are, a creature outside of humanity that we feel connected to. 

I have a friend who is a cow: calm, quiet, not easily-provoked. Solemn, pleasant, giving.

Another who's a flamingo. Funny, smart, perhaps a little odd. Skiddish.

Or my roommate who's a lemur. Crafty, goofy, easily-distracted. Curious.

Foxes are cunning, playful, expressive. Tricky. Sly. And I like to think, in some capacity, each of those is a great trait of my own. Well, and handsome. Oh-so-dashing. Can't forget that one.

Finding my spirit animal was easy. A fox is a great avatar for who I am. It's not always so simple, though, and discovering your own spirit animal can be...difficult. 

The thing to remember is this: if you have to question it, it's not you. 

And that is another lesson all together. 

Friday, May 9, 2014

Day XCVI: Sissy That Walk

Well it finally happened, y'all. Darienne Lake sashayed away. And, for the first time in forever, I didn't think it was her time to go! I guess, taking every week into account, she was the clear fourth place on the night. But if it had been based solely on the performance during the challenge, I am not sure we'd have the same top three.

Still, the three queens left standing for the finale are all more than worthy of their positions. The came, they fought, they conquered. And even though it's a two-woman race (and barely, at that) it's nice of Ru to give three different girls a chance at the crown.

After performing in an acting scene and in a round of "sissy-ography," the queens pleaded their case for the crown on the main stage. 

4. Courtney Act (top three)

Well, we all knew she'd make the finale. It's been set since day one. As one of the strongest contenders for the crown in Drag Race herstory, Courtney Act joins an elite group of queens that never fell into the bottom two. On appearance alone, Courtney would have the title on lock. She's stunning. Her look on the runway was incredible. Between her hair and her body, I don't think a single person who hasn't watched her throughout the season could clock her as a man. She's polished: the house down. But in the challenge, Courtney was the weakest in every stage. Her speech was basically "I am the shit in Australia," and her acting was...not good. Or enjoyable. Her dancing was frantic. If there had been a bottom two this week--all four of them were asked to lipsync--her toned and tan booty would have been there. Alas, she'll make a great second runner-up.

3. Bianca Del Rio (top three)

Bianca is the first queen in the history of the competition RuPaul's Drag Race to never fall below the safe mark on her race to the crown. On that feat alone, I full expect--and will--Bianca to take the crown of America's Next Drag Superstar. She's been marvelous throughout the entire show. I cannot think of another queen that I loved from start to finish as much as I have Bianca Del Rio (well, I can, but she's a little further down the list). Her acting was campy and fresh. Her humor is ALWAYS on point. And as far as speeches on the runway go, Bianca was a class act. Seriously. She destroyed the other three. It was so vulnerable and heartfelt and classic. If and when she wins on the 19th, I will be elated. And so will the rest of the Drag Race fandom.

2. Darienne Lake (eliminated)

Honestly, I thought Darienne was one of the best last week. I thought she looked gorgeous on the runway--if not a little similar to how she ALWAYS looks. She looked classy and pretty. Just a big, beautiful girl in a big, beautiful gown. Her face is incredibly beautiful, of course, and her acting was expressive and delightful. There wasn't a moment this week with Darienne where I felt disconnected or like she had a bad attitude. I think she knew she had to kill it in every part of the week to make the top three. And, though she more than made up for her terrible recent performances, she managed to sneak back into my good graces. 

1. Adore Delano (top three)

I always find myself a little sad at the end of Drag Race season. And this year, I'll be just a little more in the dumps. Adore Delano is everything I love in a drag queen. She's charismatic, charming, beautiful, and vulnerable. She demands attention, but somehow manages to remain an open and honest connection to the audience. Her speech on the runway was SO Adore. It was remarkable. I felt like she was delivering straight from the heart, which has been on her sleeve since day one. Of course she's going to be someone I love. As far as acting is concerned, she slayed. Mopped the floor. Absolutely. The house down. Boots. When Adore comes in runner-up in two weeks, I will be sad. She will deserve her second place spot, but I will be disappointed with the outcome. She's an incredible entertainer--I cannot wait to see what the future brings for this one-of-a-kind diva.  

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Day XCV: Success

It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation.
-Herman Melville

Have you heard of the quarter-life crisis?

Twenty five is the new fifty.

When I started this blog, I did so with a goal. A few of them, really. First, to get back into writing. To make a daily habit of something I really, really enjoy. Second, a collection of one hundred days of writing would make an excellent birthday gift to myself. And, third, maybe through writing about it, I'd be able to get over my insane fear of turning twenty five.

Well, I can't speak to goals one and two--haven't hit day one hundred yet!--but I can finally say that I have beaten down the third goal. I am no longer terrified of hitting the first stage of my mid twenties.

A great deal of my anxiety in turning twenty five has derived from my inability to be proud of myself.

Fleeting moments of success linger here and there. Objectively, I can point to a few instances that have stood out as impressive in my short existence on this planet. Very rarely do I feel accomplished. There are moments, quiet and suppressed, that surface every so often and lead me to believe that, hey, perhaps I've done something. Maybe I have made a difference. An impact. Changed a life or two or, do I dare, three.

For whatever reason, over the last few days, I've felt that need to point and click at specific moments of success subside. You're all going to laugh, but I think the trigger was actually an episode of Drag Race from two weeks ago. When Ben Delacreme was asked to leave, she gracefully bowed out with the parting words: "It's not like I lost to a better Ben Delacreme..." It hit me, after watching the episode for the third or fourth time, that there's a great deal to be ascertained from that.

We are constantly successful--if we are good and decent people--because we progressively become better, more actualized versions of ourselves with every passing moment. If we are exerting the effort to be impressive, through whatever medium, in whatever activity, we're actively improving the person we already are. There is no way for someone to be a more impressive Josh. I get the rights to that title. And in crafting the best version of him that is possible, I am successful.

Today, we received two bits of amazing news at work.


First, a large big-box retailer bought 15,000 copies of Monster Needs a Costume and is still working on plan-o-grams for Monster Needs His Sleep and Monster Needs a Christmas Tree. For an independent publisher like Scarletta, where a print run is often around 2,000 copies of a book, the national exposure of this store is major.


Second, Ellen Prager's book The Shark Whisperer, the first middle grade title I had the pleasure of working as the Managing Editor on, hit #61 on Amazon's Best-Seller list for all books. Crazy, no? That's only forty books on all of Amazon between John Green's The Fault in Our Stars and our very own title.

Tonight, we're feeling exceptionally satisfied with our work. For the next few days, it will be remarkably easy to feel successful. We've worked hard and capitalized on great opportunities. We've created quality books and done the best work we could possibly do.

And that is great. And it feels good.

But it's not going to satiate us, satiate me for long.

Understanding that success comes from a lifetime of growth and effort, from intangible examples of becoming a realized human being?

That will keep us full.