Monthly Archives: November 2013

As I write this, I am sitting perched above a gorgeous home in the Hollywood Hills. I’ve got a great view of the city – of Santa Monica and Century City and the palatial homes sitting above the 101 freeway.

It’s really the perfect environment to write. It’s quiet, save for the soft hum of the freeway. It’s absolutely beautiful. I have a block of time squared away for just this – writing.

And yet I’m struggling. I’m finding it so hard to focus and get words on the page

I recently read Steven Pressfield’s “Turning Pro”, in which he speaks at length about the difference between professionals and amateurs. More specifically, he notes the different habits between the two groups.

I’ve wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember, but I know I still sit squarely in the “amateur” camp. I don’t take my desire or whatever talent I may possess very seriously most of the time.

In the book, Steven talks about the moment he turned pro. And the moment Roseanne Cash turned pro. And a few other examples of those key, pivotal times that people who knew they had a greater obsession, a fervent passion, went from being amateurs to being professionals. Steven notes that you’ll remember the moment you turned pro in the same way that you remember the moment you first heard about the terrorist attacks on 9/11.

I was so fired up when I finished the short book (and I highly recommend it!). I was almost sure that reading that book may have even been my “turning pro” moment; that perhaps I had suddenly made the internal switch from amateur to pro and would magically have the habits to support it.

It’s been a few days and I still think I have work to do. I suppose every day, even as a pro, you have work to do, but I know I haven’t yet rid myself of my amateur habits.

Last Friday night, I had the perfect opportunity to write. It was the first time in a long time that I had nothing to do and nowhere to go on a Friday night and it felt incredible. Freeing. There were so many things I wanted to do: I wanted to do laundry, I wanted to organize my room, I wanted to pack for a weekend trip to Palm Springs, I wanted to finish writing our wedding thank you notes, I wanted to wash and restraighten my hair, I wanted to read some of Twyla Tharp’s “The Creative Habit”, and most of all, I wanted to write.

But I didn’t do any of it. Seriously, not any of it.

I had three (at least) glasses of wine, looked at way too many pictures on Facebook, half-watched TV, and passed out in bed around 11pm. Not exactly the activities of a professional writer.

And it’s hard not to get down on myself when this happens. It’s hard not to wonder if I just don’t have this in me and I will always be the amateur on the outside looking in.

But I know I am smart and I know I am capable and I know I can get things done when I need to: I do it every day at work and in many areas of my personal life as well.

I may not yet be the “professional” writer, but I know that I want to be. I know that I want it so bad, it’s all I can think about for a good portion of my day, every day. And I am acutely aware of the difference between where I am now and where I want to be. I can make up that difference. I can make greater strides and try harder and do better. And sometimes, I’ll drink three glasses of wine and spend way too much time looking through the Facebook photos of someone I barely knew in high school instead. That’ll be unfortunate, and I’ll be pissed at the opportunity squandered, but it won’t be an indication that I need to stop; that I need to give up.

I fear I may always have some amateur habits, or that I’ll sometimes still slip back into them. But from what I learning, the professional in me won’t see that as an opportunity to stop. I won’t turn back.

I want to write. I am a writer.

Three years ago, on Christmas, I gifted Jenna with a trip back to Berkeley to watch a California home football game. She loves her alma mater and hadn't been back on campus since she graduated in 2007, so she was due for a pilgrimage back to her undergrad roots.

Fast forward to now: we still hadn't been to a game and she was beginning to think I had completely forgotten about her gift. We'd been to the Cal v. UCLA game here in LA at the Rose Bowl, but we still needed to head up north.

Now, as a die-hard Angeleno, I have a strong dislike for all things Bay Area-related when it comes to sports. Cal was no different when we first began dating. Since neither of my universities had football teams (shout out to the CSUN Matadors and Long Beach State 49ers!), I was a casual USC fan at the time, with an allegiance to the school for no other reason than I had a lot of friends who attended the university. When Jenna rightly brought up the fact that she rooted for ALL of my favorite sports teams just to support our relationship and keep her boyfriend happy, the choice was pretty clear: I'll take a size large UC Berkeley shirt and a 7 1/4 fitted Cal hat, please. I was the newest and most passionate California Golden Bears fan.

Another word to the wise: Jenna loves surprises. She also loves when she doesn't have to plan anything (that's not true, she LOVES to plan, but since she's a serial planner about everything...seriously, the girl has TWO 2013 planners she carries with her everywhere...she also enjoys when someone takes the planning over from her). So, a few months ago, I checked our schedules - everything was clear. Then I told her she was busy from November 1st-November 3rd (which also happens to be the weekend after my birthday, causing her to be even more WTF about the timing) and she wasn't allowed to know what we were doing or where we were going. My intentions were to let her know at the last possible second that she was headed to Berkeley for a game. We made it all the way through TSA security at the airport without her finding out. I even (with the help of her mom) packed her bag for her. She had NO clue where we were headed.

I had arranged to stay with our friends in Pleasant Hill (one of which was her favorite sorority sister from Cal and one of her bridesmaids), booked the flights, and we were all set. Even as we got through security, she still had no idea. So we walked over to the flight departures board where I asked her to guess where we were going. It went something like this:

Jenna: Portland!

Aaron: No...

J: Seattle?

A: No...

J: San Francisco!

A: Nope.

J (getting visibly disheartened at this point): Vegas?

A: Nope.

J: Fuck. Idaho?

A: Haha, definitely not.

J: Uhhh, that's all of the places up there...

A (walking away): No, it's not!

J: Where the hell are we going then?!

A: Oakland!

J (wrinkling her face as if someone cut the dirtiest fart in history): Oakland? Really? ...Have you BEEN to Oakland before?!

A: Yes, I have, and it's BEAUTIFUL this time of year.

So the location was out, and after a few more Q&A's she figured out we were going to the game and she was STOKED!

Mission: Accomplished.

What followed was a wonderful weekend with great friends, day drinking at the college bar, reliving glory days, and making new memories in a place that is near and dear to both of our hearts. Cal lost the game, unfortunately, but we'll never remember the score, we'll just remember our first trip back to her beloved campus in what will hopefully become a tradition we practice more than once every three years.

Go Bears!

I took the train to work today, which is always an adventure in and of itself.

As I was walking from my last stop to my office, I noticed a car had slowed in the street beside me. I pulled out my earbuds to hear what the driver was saying, assuming he needed directions.

"Are you Brazilian?" he asked instead.

When I shook my head no, he added: "I would have sworn you were, based on your shape and your soft face!"

"Thanks?" I offered.

"That's not always a good thing!" he shouted and sped away.

Happy Monday to me.