May in photos

Over Memorial Day weekend, Andy and I traveled to Los Angeles for the wedding of two of our best friends from college. We made a whirlwind vacation out of it, as we often do. Highlights include: The Getty, Santa Monica, the original Los Angeles Farmers Market (which is really more of a food stall market now), a Warner Bros studio tour, Joshua Tree (very cool but a looooong drive), the wedding itself, the Channel Islands, Disneyland, Manhattan Beach, and last but not least, U2 in concert. Enjoy!

I'm not a fan of hot sunny weather, but this guy is. #grumblepup Strange and lovely. #flowers

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And for your listening pleasure…

(Here’s the link for anyone who can’t see or play the embedded video.)

Things I am trying to be better about

Eating fruit

During my recent travels, I noticed that all of my friends eat fresh fruit every day. Apples, pears, bananas, oranges, strawberries, you name it. Honestly, I look at fresh fruit and think about all the washing and the peeling and the seeds, and I just get too lazy. Which is super, super pathetic. So I’m working on it.

Also: taking daily multi-vitamins, reducing my intake of sugary drinks, and reducing my dependency on ramen.

Not caring if things aren’t tidy

I’m not clinically OCD, but I do have… tendencies. Such as making my bed each morning, arranging our trio of remote controls at certain “random” angles, and struggling to focus when my desk is too cluttered.

Cleanliness may be a virtue, but I let it take up more mental energy than it deserves. So what if Andy’s socks are on the floor, or that stack of magazines is askew, or I haven’t vacuumed in a week? Is anyone judging me? Is this untidiness hampering my work or my life in a real way?

If the answer is no, then let it go.


I’ve spent most of my 20s sitting at a desk, and lately, I can feel that inactivity in my bones. It’s a different kind of hunger, in all seriousness. My body craves movement.

(My daily walks with Riley help but aren’t enough.)

Luckily, my good friend John followed his passion and started his own gym, Kinitro Fitness. I can only attend his classes when I’m back in Houston visiting my parents, but he generously created a few at-home workouts for me. (They’re a lot like this one.) For now I’m doing these “boot camps” once per week, and it feels great.

(Or rather, I want to kill John for about 45 min, and then it feels great afterward.)

I also play co-ed sports with my friends — flag football, softball, and even broomball — but that’s a lot more about fun than fitness.


I used to meditate when I was in when I was in high school. Just a simple practice of breathing, focusing on that breath, and imagining it flowing through me in different ways. I don’t know exactly when or why I fell out of the habit, but a recent post at Writer Unboxed reminded me of how much I used to appreciate it, and how easy it would be to start up again.

Now I have an alert on my phone that prompts me to meditate for just 2 min each day. Sometimes those 2 min fly by; other times it feels like forever. Either way, I think the mental exercise is good for me, and I would like to gradually work my way up to 10 min each day.

Writing every day

For some people, this is a rule. For me, it’s just an aspiration borne out of logic. I absolutely believe that writers can be successful and productive without writing every day. I am personal friends with many of those kinds of writers.

But me, I’m happier when I write, even if it’s just a few lines here and there. So why wouldn’t I strive to give myself that happiness every day?

Also, I am particularly susceptible to momentum. A body in motion stays in motion, while a body at rest stays at rest. For me, writing today makes me more likely to write tomorrow, which is always preferable to not writing tomorrow.

A race against what, exactly?

Everything feels so urgent sometimes, doesn’t it?

From Episode 38 of the First Draft podcast, in which Sarah Enni interviews Kristin Halbrook:

SE: “In the introduction, he [Donald Maass] says like, Most of the books that I would define as ‘breakout’ took the writers between 5 to 10 years to write. And I remember reading that and being like, Oh god.”

KH: “For every author that gets touted as this huge breakout debut, there’s a whole lot of hard work and years behind it, usually. That you never see.”

SE: “You have to get to a stage where it’s okay to take time. You can’t be an impatient author.”

KH: “Yeah, I spent the first few years of writing in a race. A race against… I don’t know what. A race against something. Just to get published. It was such a goal, and I just thought I could run toward it, run toward it, run toward it. But… you can’t run toward it.”

About Time


Rachel McAdams in a red dress, holding onto a man and laughing in the rain. Looks like a rom-com, right? It’s not. About Time does deal with love, but also with family, and growing up, and growing old, and getting second chances, and accepting what cannot be changed.

This_is_40Even though the two films have very different tones, About Time reminded me of This Is 40, because both stories revolve around the beauty and humor that can be found in living an ordinary life. That theme has become increasingly important to me over the years, both for myself and for my storytelling.

There are so many great little moments in About Time. These were my favorites:

  • Pretty much every scene between Tim (the protagonist, played by Domhnall Gleeson) and his father (played by Bill Nighy). But especially when they’re playing table tennis and pretending it’s the Olympics.
  • When Mary (McAdams) offers to take off one item of clothing for every decision that Tim makes about a big event they’re planning. It’s sweet and sexy and real — a side of passion that is woefully under-represented by Hollywood.
  • When Tim wants to solve his sister’s problems, and Mary says, “If it’s going to be fixed, I think she probably has to do it herself.” This is a deeply difficult lesson to learn, when you love someone. When you can see the smarter path for them to take, but you can’t make them take it. It’s something that I’ve been struggling with a lot recently.

Even though the movie is about a guy who uses time travel to correct his mistakes, in the end, About Time reminds us that part of what makes life so precious is that we can’t get any do-overs. There’s just the once. Whether you choose right or wrong, you have to move on. That’s how you learn and grow. And hopefully that’s how you come to appreciate and make the most out of every day. Go with time, not against it. That’s the real path to happiness.