500 Words Per Day: Week 1

500 Words Per Day: Week 1

I’m writing 500 words per day. I don’t know what about yet but I suspect I’ll figure it out as I go. How can I be a writer who doesn’t write every day?

Every situation is a lesson. I’m in the middle of the classroom with the bastard teacher that will never pass me anyway. I’m trying to think of something specific so you know what I’m talking about but I can never come up with specifics. Where do they go when I need them? These experiences are abstract paintings that start as vapor mysteries and then I grab them from the air so I can have them in my muscles too. The feelings come through vague geometric shapes and colors. I could never explain it to anyone. A thick metal bar running through a careen of pale blue paint, only it’s not gooey like paint, it’s thin like clouds so maybe it’s the sky. An orange block like a square, only it’s not actually a square, more how I imagine a square in a dream, I know it’s a square even though it isn’t really, which I also know. This square becomes rectangle that frays at the edges and evaporates into three dimensions. It’s anxiety. Red and orange maybe the tightening of my chest is like concrete that doesn’t have a smooth finish and I’m waiting by the train but any minute my teeth are going to hit the pavement and collapse into my face. The thing is, it hurts. Thing also is, I threw myself down teeth first because I needed my teeth knocked in at that exact moment or my skin would get too tight. It stings like aluminum brackets lodged against my temples being carried between two buses driving up the coast. They can’t pace each other correctly because the road is narrow so I’m clenching my jaw and closing one eye at a time because, to be honest, this is almost too much before I might pass out. Anxiety passes though. It’s just a shitty bus ride. The powdery grey and white carpet rumble through my eyeballs and scratch my back with my passed grandma’s nails. It’s juicy without having any liquid. I’ll take the break but it’s going to pass and I’ll be fighting something soon, will it be aliens? or just bad guys? guys with guns that want to hurt normal people. It’s so easy to hide from them and let it pass because the normal people are clueless and I’m trained in combat and I also happen to have a brain that was designed specifically for the end of the world. I don’t know what to say, I just know what to do in these situations. But that burn comes back and someone is having a bonfire inside my heart. It’s possible to believe that I am bulletproof now. I know it’s possible because I am. And through the crowd I march and I’ll kill every last one of those people before I wake up and it’s been ten years of war in my body and just one deep breath would be nice but I know the first six hours aren’t going to be normal. Every situation is a lesson though. The fire becomes the blue carpet because I want to feel wholesome in a moment that should burn. I can do that because it’s easy. The men don’t have guns. I want them to so I can kill them but I’ll just talk to them instead and we’ll be friends and nobody will get hurt. This works on most days, except for when I can’t live without some form of blood and they don’t let me at the train stop anymore because three times last week I hit my face on the ground.


Day 2

If I wanted to have a real conversation with someone, where would I start? Would it matter that I can’t yet have completely honest conversations with myself?

I don’t like getting down on myself because it’s becoming trendy. If I say I am bad at something that is supposed to make it ok?

With such ease I can craft a story. Good luck being a thought without a serious manipulation attached to it. Don’t think your thoughts are manipulative? You’re manipulating yourself right now. I’m talking to me. Not you so please don’t be defensive. It’s just a writing style because of dyslexia and a solid bout of ADHD.

These are the kinds of things that give me anxiety. I would hate to be a psychologist. All the theory. Theory makes it hard to do anything. Just sit there and think and be crippled by the thinking because it’s all so bad. Everything is stacked against us. From the moment we are born we are dying. I’m not being clever like some kind of poet, it’s true. And hell if I want to sit here and think about that kind of stuff. But hell if I can stop myself because at least now I can put the brakes on and lean on a friend’s shoulder and say, “Hey pal, life is just total shit isn’t it?” And that will have somehow been a productive use of time and he’ll nod his head like, “Yeah, it’s true.” And both of us will feel connected to a hollowness that we don’t want but we take it because it’s better than nothing and to hell with having nothing at all.

If I were to record everything that came out of my mouth in a day and listen to it at night before bed I would go to sleep hating myself 90% of the time. There would be the nuggets though, when I said something honest or not over thought and I’d fist pump it and give myself a quick nod of approval in the mirror, “You rule, bro.” And that would be that. But the rest would be shit. There’s no need to talk that much. It’s fine if I hate myself a little bit for knowing this. It’s the scene from I Heart Huckabees when Jude Law finally hears himself telling that same tuna fish sandwich story over and over, it’s mortifying. It’s mortifying to exactly see how we exist in the world because we ain’t putting on our best that’s for damn sure. When I say I hate myself I don’t mean it too seriously, I am still going to sleep and waking up and doing my work and enjoying my life for the most part. I have a good life, that’s not the issue. It’s just that I’m only partially doing it right. I’d listen to my words every night and remind myself in the morning to talk less. Just talk less and then I’d hate myself less. It’s a simple equation. Perhaps after a few months it might change to talk less = love myself more. I don’t want to jump the gun and talk love but it seems that it’s the inevitable successor to hate should someone decide they want to let go of the excuses and taste the pie for all it’s supposed to be worth.


Day 3

Just finished meditating. That puts me at about day 175 or so. Just thought about what I was going to write the whole time. Seems like a distraction but I actually find it quite stimulating to have something specific to concentrate on. Feels like coffee. I want to write in my journal that I meditated. But then I still have to write in my meditation journal that I meditated – date, time, minutes meditating, and location. Followed by a few sentences with the actual breathing techniques I used and what I thought about. Then there’s these 500 words. So by the time I finish all of this I’ll be exhausted. No wonder I never want to sit down and meditate. Someone might accuse me of missing the point, or the moment, by being so focused on journaling everything. It’s the opposite. I wouldn’t be having any experiences if I wasn’t committed to writing about them. A journal makes me meditate. A blog makes me try new things. A relationship forces me to be a better listener. All this criteria has to exist in order to be a good person.

I’m going to be working 12 – 13 hour days for about the next month. It’s good work and I’m learning skills but I don’t usually work for longer than 3 hours at a time. I work for 1-3 hours then do something else, come back and work then do something else, come back and work then do something else and I repeat this from morning til night and the ‘something else’ is generally whatever sounds appealing or necessary for my well-being at that time. I don’t have that luxury for the next month. I’m on someone else’s schedule and I absolutely hate that. I hate it because it reminds me that all this progress and development is circumstantial. I’m as happy as I’ve ever been in my entire life because I’ve changed all my circumstances to highlight my favorable characteristics. But take away those circumstances, even if just for a day, and I revert back to depression. I’m writing for an audience right now. This isn’t what I’m trying to say. I don’t want to try to say anything.

I’m in this mountain and I have a shit load of work to do and it’s overwhelming because I know I can’t walk down the street and grab a juice with my friend or say hi to the person working across the street because they know me by name and I have my own custom order and everyone smiles at me so goddamn hard like they really care. And my office, with its glorious windows and beefy wifi speeds, I miss it so much. Everything is connected and wireless and integrated and I can work at ten times my normal speed. And I get to work by myself. I can concentrate and listen to music and cycle through multiple projects until I cross enough things off my list to justify taking a 20 minute walk or making a phone call to a friend.

And now I’m being tested. I’m complaining about traveling the world and working long days with kids while they develop into good ass human beings. Cry.

I hate this right now. It’s not a stream. I need a topic. Something that I care about. Why is it so hard to think of things when you want to think of them? I don’t know what happened to my brain, it doesn’t always work how I think it should.

Novelty. I think that’s an interesting thing for me right now. I’m such a beast in the beginning. Eat life like a grilled cheese sandwich. And then I fade. Because it gets boring and my learning curve is fast. But also because I’m missing the point of everything. This is changing though. 10,000 hours.

Consequences. That’s another thing I thought of and then forgot but now I remembered. That makes me happy but more relieved, like ok my brain isn’t completely fucking useless right now.

In the moment one thing seems like a good idea, especially if no one else will know, and then later, one day, one month, one year, a lifetime even, it comes back. And it’s so easy to think I can outsmart consequences, that I can behave one way here and another way there and it’s fine because I have some excuse but when the same lessons keep showing up I have to make a choice. And it’s a hard choice because fixing them requires real work. The type of work that I can’t post about immediately on facebook and feel gratified. It’s the long game. Little pieces here and there that no one could notice, like a child getting taller, and then my uncle from across the US finally sees me three years later and he thinks I’m a fucking giant. Who’s watching anyway?

The long game. Real shit. It’s where everything is pushing me, the next step I suppose. I could stop now and stop here and I could impress a lot of people I’m sure but the long game is waiting for me to lace up and nut up and get to work. Are you with me? 380 days I’ve been writing in my journal every day, all day. Of those words, maybe 200,000 in total, I will use maybe a few or maybe 10,000 or maybe I’ll turn the whole project into a book or blog project but I cannot put a value on the result of such focused introspection. I’m a different person today than I was a year ago. In fact, exponentially different and I know it’s because of the journal. It made me live a more interesting life, it made me look at my behavior objectively, and it forced me to see the gaping holes in my attitude. What a fucking slap in the face when you measure yourself on actions instead of words.

So do something about it, I told myself. Fuck you, I am, I replied.

This is 1,000 words already. It took me sometime to get to anything good. Question is, do I go back and delete the beginning because it’s like baby puke? Or do I leave it because it’s honest and this whole thing is about progression and the actual work required to do things.

I want to make a statement. I want to prove that if I approach anything with consistency then it (I) will become accepted and maybe even appreciated.


Day 4

Which story would you rather read?

Story 1

Day 4 and I’m already dreading this writing process. I hate sharing these journals because I feel like they are not very useful to anyone other than myself. I’m having my doubts about this 30 day project.

Story 2

It’s day 4 and I’m just starting to find my groove. I look forward to writing these journals every day because I’m spending my time doing something new. I have no idea where this is going but I can be guaranteed that my life will be different because I decided to do something different. Even if it’s just 500 words per day it’s still meaningful.

Camp was much more enjoyable today. I’ve had a few questionable moments being away on this trip. I’m a year in and have seen and filmed some of the pieces so many times that I recite the script in my head when I’m taking a shower. Redundancy is like an itch on that one part of my back that I can’t reach without dislocating my shoulder. But these last 2 days I’ve been more involved with the students. Part of it was me deciding to engage with more humans (less camera and computer screen) and the other part was that the modules required my participation.

And it brings me back to this lesson that won’t leave me alone – I am a fat, lazy kid trapped inside an ambitious adult’s body.

Make no mistake, I hate working. The idea of it. It terrifies me and forces me to act rebellious.I go as far as getting depressed about the idea of being forced to work, like I am a slave. But here’s the funny thing, once I start working I could never be any happier. I know this. Still I choose to forget, or temporary misplace the information, the consistently proven fact that I think too much and it ruins my life.

Then there’s Greg, who somehow manages to be simple and a genius at the same time. He’s never off, always producing, never compromising integrity, and thinking differently than anyone else I know. If I were smart I would follow him around with a journal and write down what he says instead of spending so much time being obsessed with myself. He must have made a decision one day, maybe when he was born, but he must have decided that he wasn’t going to give into the suffering caused from mind games that the other 7 billion of us put ourselves through. 300 days I spent with him last year and not a chink. I don’t get it. But I’m certainly trying to emulate. With some success. But mostly not.

I can’t look at white rice anymore. But I’ll eat it again tomorrow. I eat plate after plate and still feel nothing, except somehow fat and starving at the same time. I think of green juices and my insides cry.

Back to the stories from the top. Nobody wants to hear people whine. They listen because they feel like they have to. The world doesn’t want more excuses or battered souls, it wants heroes.


Day 5

Twice today I had good thoughts and I did my normal routine, “Alright remember this you little shit. Say it over and over and memorize it. Keep saying it. You don’t need to write it down if you keep repeating. It’s good for your brain.” And three minutes later both thoughts were gone. And these were good thoughts. The ones I really want to remember. It’s a more pathetic mental tactic then saying someone’s name over and over in my head when I first meet them. There is not a chance I’ll remember their name and even when I’m sure I know it I still won’t believe myself that it’s the right name. Take one of my aunts for example, I’ve known her my entire life and one Christmas I brought a high school girlfriend home and when it came time to introduce her to my aunt I completely blanked…. “Elizabeth this is….um…this is my aunt.”

Part of why I started journaling is because I literally can’t remember things. Unless it’s a very specific detail that is completely irrelevant. Like the license plate of the kids that were burning doughnuts on the neighborhood lawns when I was 15. GDAX37. That one is locked in there. Or my Fifth Third Bank debit card number too (5424….). But those are from years ago, before my memory started becoming unreliable.

My phone, my main journal, the index cards scattered in right angles all over my desk, post its, the white board, and my ‘ideas for movies’ journal are all used to capture these thoughts now. When I have them, I write them down, knowing that there is not a single chance that I will remember them 5 minutes later.

It’s a bit of a problem though, because someone will be referring to something that I said, from an incredibly meaningful moment, and I’ll just kind of smile, like, “Yeah, what movie was that from again?”

I try not to write down the numbers for the bulk foods. Those I memorize. That is my strategy for fighting this memory breakdown. And for whatever reason, I can do well with the numbers. It’s words and structured thoughts that are lost before they even grow fingernails.

But even writing these things down is not reliable. It’s brilliant when it’s inside. It sounds good, it feels good, the texture is right, and the context is perfect and then it’s as basic as a pillow by the time it hits the page.

I wonder, can I become the first person in history to write exactly how I think? That is my focus but is that even a reasonable expectation? I need to do some brain research and talk to some smarter people. I need to know the process of conceiving ideas and then committing them to word form. There are other players involved i know, and once I find out who they are I can set up some stakeouts around their general vicinity to see what the hell is going on. I feel these things, or people, or ghosts, are sabotaging some of my best work. If I could just get a camera inside my head and automate this whole process I would be a lot happier. Which goes back to the laziness. I want to be a one book wonder. Write one best seller and then slip away into sustained and exciting travel and/or drug use. What do you do after you’ve been successful at something? They say start over. All I want to do is make it and then quit, or I’ll say retire because it’s classier.

“Don’t you want to do anything else,” they’ll ask?

“Not particularly,” I’ll say.

That’s not true though. There are many things I want to do. I just don’t want to actually do them, you know, myself. I want that creative dream team that follows me around with a notebook and a laptop and when I say something like, “Hey we need a new logo design for our verbally abusive, inspirational tea company,” they’ll start hammering away at the keyboard and jumping on conference calls until my desk is filled with stacks of proposals and samples at which point I’ll say, “Sort through these and bring me the best five,” and they’ll scramble again with their headsets until there’s five very clean and incredibly brand new manila envelopes on my large wooden desk, which just so happens to be the only piece of furniture in my entire loft office space, and I’ll look through the envelopes and pick the one I want and say, “This is great, offer them 65% of what they’re quoting and tell them we need it tomorrow.”

That’s five minutes of work that I would do every day.

Am I wrong to think that I’ve put in a lot of hours, and that I’m ready to retire? Yeah, probably. I mean people over fifty would say I was a dipshit but that’s why I don’t really talk to people that old.


Day 6

Sitting in the open air lounge at Cherengin Hills in Janda Baik getting eaten alive by misquotes. And not little bitch Michigan misquotes, these are the indigenous mountain variety that eat steaks in between sucking my blood.

Fine, I brought my lavender essential oil, I’m not worried about a few bites. But when a kid went down hard today with Dengue Fever I started to get a little paranoid.

“What does Dengue feel like? My head does hurt.”

A lizard just peed on Justin and Greg so the elements are certainly closing in on us. Still, this is the only table with wifi and I can always shower.

I broke today. Day 4 of mountain life. 10pm, just filmed a really emotional set of interviews with the kids, and son of a bitch comes in with bags and bags full of chicken nuggets from McDonald’s down the hill. Normally I wouldn’t flinch at this but after 4 days of eating steer kneecaps I had a weak moment.

I shouldn’t have done the French cheese sauce though. I had a choice on that one.

We send the kids off tomorrow, and I’ll admit, some of them are growing on me. After a few days of personal development they start to love each other. It shows up in hugs and selfies but my favorite is the dancing. They hear a song they like, and yeah it’s usually T Swift, and they pour their hearts into it without thinking much. I get the chills every time. Did I miss those years when I was younger? I feel like I might have.

I’m dragging here because it’s already midnight and I still have to run myself through bedside bootcamp and meditate. I put together a 2 day streak of exercise to combat the Malaysian fat suit I’ve been not so slowly climbing into. I just want to eat a vegetable. That’s all I ask. And maybe take a dump that doesn’t cause me a hernia.

It’s breezy up on the hill tonight and temple chants are playing on the speakers overhead. It plays early in the morning and late at night. I like it. I also feel guilty that I’m not more religious.

As a scientific experiment I would like to note that writing out here in this public location is a huge distraction and I can’t focus for shit. But also the distraction adds chaos to my train of thought and could introduce an element of mystery to the writing.

Apparently they cured Alzheimers at Stanford the other day. I’m scared that we are going to live to be 150 years old.

I’m not sure I can tie this one back to a takeaway. I think the message was lost before I started. I think I should have gotten off my bloated ass and gone into my room to stick to routine. Now that I’ve introduced a new variable I don’t know who to trust anymore. This was a waste, I learned very little, if anything at all and I’m filled with nuggets that are going to give me nightmares tonight because that’s what happens to people who eat McDonald’s.


Day 7

It’s my mom’s birthday today. My family FaceTimed me in while she opened her present. It was a photograph of her dad from before WWII. He died when I was two.

Had dinner tonight at Baan 26 in Changkat with the crew. Long week of camp and a nauseating ride down the mountain dodging little monkeys in the street and engaging in feverish whatsapp messaging.

And now I feel guilty. Majorly guilty. Because Greg is going out for an hour with the new guy to listen to music and I ditched to watch a chick flick at the apartment. My heart is here with Keira and Chloe but I also feel like I was supposed to make a bro move and hang out.

I made a half-assed effort to call down to the lobby and see if the large white man was still standing there but he had left, with Bucky.

Now what?

Sit here and watch this movie or throw some matte wax in my hair and put on my skinny jeans?

90 minutes later…

I laced up my Nikes and tracked them down. They weren’t on Jalan Mesui at the jazz club. I walked laps through a few more spots before I was ready to give up. But who will have witnessed my efforts?

“Hi. Have you seen large white man and other large man that is half Japanese and half something else?” I asked a few more hostesses.

Then Greg texted me, “We’re next to the Thai place.”

Filipino rock band, soccer game playing on the flat screens, cigarette smoke hovering around my clothes, beer bottles stacked next to half eaten pieces of cake and empty packs of smokes, sweaty women laughing, men trying to dance and failing miserably, but likably so, low lightning with flashing green strobes, me taking a leak in a 4×4 cement bathroom with 5 urinals and 4 other guys laughing at each other like good friends while their other friend leans his arms over the stall door and chats us up like we’re at the super market, bodies bumping into me and maybe I’m peeing on the floor for a second at a time but it doesn’t matter because my shoes are sticking to the ground already, and walking out to Asian Santana fingering the smoothest guitar solo I’ve seen in a long time.

Of course I’m going through my normal protocol to remember a moment – do a little “drop in” thing where I become body and senses oriented and then imagine it’s my first time in this situation. “Feel this,” I say. Fortunately, during travel, things happen for the first time very often. Which is why traveling is so appealing to those not inherently content. Then I took out my phone and made some notes since I left my journal behind. I would have lost the specific details of the scene for memory reasons previously discussed and that would have been a shame because my version of the retell would have been shit.

Now we’re back at the hotel choosing flights between Air Asia and Malaysian Airlines to head to Krabi, Thailand in a couple weeks. I can’t help but think about my mom when I travel on these airlines, being that they occasionally disappear without explanation.

I am most likely to want to travel to a location just after a natural disaster or a terrorist attack or the collapse of an economy. While it seems dangerous it is actually the best time to experience stripped down people that are going to give something of themselves other than an empty hello and goodbye.

One Reply to “500 Words Per Day: Week 1”

  1. I DON’T WRITE EVERY DAY EITHER! Actually, I do, but for clients. I don’t write what I like to cleverly call, “my own stuff.” My own stuff. You think I could do better. Me writer.

    This titled grabbed me because earlier this week I scratched off my daily “Write 500 Words” goal from my calendar & said to myself, “I’ll just do that on Mondays for a while, see how it feels…” 500 words a day is a tall order.

    “These experiences are abstract paintings that start as vapor mysteries & then I grab them from the air so I can have them in my muscles too.” Now that’s a cool line. So cool that I couldn’t even shorten it to put on Twitter.

    I like the continuing sentence with the question marks & the no capitalization. Styled. I like it.

Leave a Reply