Where He’d Rather Be

My first Sunday here in Virginia, my wife took me to a delicious pizza place to celebrate the move. Right after we sat down, an older couple arrived and sat in the booth next to ours. The woman seemed happy to be out with someone she loved, but the man started complaining immediately, about the server, about the menu, about anything.

At one point, the woman suggested that they get one pizza with different toppings on each half. This made the man upset — he loudly explained to the woman that you got charged full price for each topping and he didn’t want to “spend forty dollars” on one pizza. I grabbed my menu and did some sloppy math, concluding that if they got the biggest pizza and two toppings each it would come to about $22.

Anyway, when we left, Sarah and I analyzed the scenario like writers, trying to work out what would cause a character to behave so poorly on a lunch outing with someone special. One thought that I latched onto was the thought that you could write a character’s temperament at a given moment based on how badly he’d rather be doing something else.

Reflecting on my own behavior, it makes sense to me. When I’m out with Sarah, if there’s something I want to do back home, I’m less likely to suggest swinging by GameStop on the way back from Panera and I’ll be keeping my end of the conversation more concise. What would it take for me to become a whining child? Maybe some sleep deprivation or extreme hunger, but I could also imagine acting like a jerk because I just really, really wanted to sit on the couch and watch House of Cards for a while.

Obviously this isn’t a deep dive into human psychology, but it gave me another way to approach my characters.

Finding Rhythm

I’m in a strange new place. It’s a bit warmer than I’m used to, and there are hills everywhere. There are more bigots riding around with Confederate flags proudly displayed on the back of their red pickup trucks. I’m in the world capital of the type of fundamentalism I’ve spent the last decade extracting myself from.

It’s weird.

Instead of commuting to an office each morning, I’m remoting into the computer I was working on back in Michigan. That brings its own set of challenges, like what time to start working and how to deal with local distractions like my adorable cat.

Some of my stuff is 600 miles away. I’m not exactly sure which stuff. I do know that I have a guitar and a mandolin, so if I can find some microphones I might be able to put out a folk album.

Or maybe I’ll take myself out for coffee every night and slam out a novella.

It’s also a good time to play through Ocarina of Time again.

My days are starting to take shape, to meet the bare minimum standard of “routine”. It helps that my office is set up now; I have a space that is all mine, a haven, a refuge. There are still things to be done, but it’s functional and very cool. We’re managing to make it to the gym three times a week. We finally cracked and got a DVR, and now we’re keeping up on all the shows we want to watch.

Things are close to feeling normal.