The Two Lists acknowledge that everything has a cost. Even junk like a free t-shirt takes up real estate in your drawer, saps mental energy as you actively decide whether to wear it each day, incites guilt as you throw it out, or wastes time as you bring it to Goodwill. It’s an easy concept to overlook, but not creating a List B could come at the cost of List A.
The other day, a friend and I taught Euchre to our partners. For those not familiar, Euchre is a popular card game in Michigan. Since my friend and I grew up playing it, we were blind to its strangeness until we tried to teach it.
and maybe prosper. Writing is scary because it’s unstructured: A writer has a sheet of paper and twenty-six letters to craft anything she wants. With so much gray area, freedom mutates into uncertainty, uncertainty leads to scariness, scariness leads to avoidance, avoidance leads to procrastination, and procrastination is the death of creativity.
Let’s understand gameplay. Euchre is a trick-playing game, which means players take turns laying a card from their hand, and the highest card laid wins the trick. For instance: If 9 of clubs, 10 of clubs, queen of clubs, and ace of clubs are played, the player with the ace wins.
I have a theory that multimedia—props, images, videos, audio clips—can be a crutch for unclear thinking, like copious salt and pepper masking the flavor of a gross dinner. For instance, slide-decks are often plagued by sloppy thinking but are sneakily digestible due to pictures and flashy charts. Although I’m a visual person, I like the challenge of explaining a complex concept with words alone. So, here it goes.
This summer, my dad and I visited Carlsbad Caverns. That place is the physical manifestation of cavernous: Cathedral-like ceilings, “bottomless” pits, and rooms the size of city parks. Stalactites and stalagmites decorate these caverns like statues in a museum. Stalagmites (the ones on the ground) are towers that formed one calcium droplet at a time. The plunk, plunk, plunk of the droplets echoed through the caverns—slowly sculpting stalagmites for thousands of years. This commitment was nothing short of awesome. It inspired me: If little droplets could create giant sculptures, why can’t a person write a book?
A Machiavellian businesswoman answers her own question: “How do you eat a whale? One bite at a time.” A middle-school teacher smiles at a poster beside the whiteboard: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” An old writer pens the advice of her deceased father: “Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.” A book is written one word at a time—nothing novel there. And writing one word isn’t hard at all, yet it’s easy to go days or weeks without penning a damn thing.
thought those plants might eat me after I printed all 276 pages at Office Depot. Months of typing into my computer now manifest in the physical world. Lots of paper, ink, and words. I didn’t know if they were good but holding them gave me a sort of validation. My effort produced something.
April 2021. Mount Hood, Oregon – A midnight alarm stirs me from my bunk at the Timberline Lodge. There’s a wall of snow outside the window, making the wood-walled chalet especially dark. A prime setting for a Stephen King novel (and incidentally the exterior filming location of The Shining). I fumble for the sink, and when I turn on the light, I cringe—expecting to find REDRUM scrawled on the mirror. Not today, I think, staring at the glass of murder movies. Not today.
I turned 28 last week. Late-twenties are an odd age—a major fork in life’s road. For some career-oriented urbanites, 30 is the new 20. For other family-oriented suburbanites, the biological clock is ticking. Men’s testosterone declines, s0 the window for fathering healthy kids shrinks. This mindset triggers a domino effect of activities: Marriage, home-ownership, career settling, and so on. While both the Barney Stinson and Marshall Eriksen views on age are valid, it’s a false dichotomy that leaves little room for the nuances that make life interesting. That said, there’s an objectivity to age.
The Palm Springs of Washington… While Miranda Cosgrove didn’t share this view, I appreciated the analogy. Yakima’s a little desert town, a quick weekend escape from a West Coast metropolis. When my girlfriend and I visited the other weekend, we enjoyed hikes on the rolling hills, a farm-based brewery, and the glacier-fed river that cut through town. I especially enjoyed my experience at a local espresso stand.