Many thanks to all you guys for being so nice while I was away, this last week. In answer to the several emails and tweets I've received, yes, my trip went well. My dad is fine. No, we didn't have any contretemps over my underwear, again. I did have to teach my elderly dad how, for the very first time in his life, to use an ATM. It was an experience that required over twenty minutes—approximately nineteen and a half minutes longer than it really needed to have—but we got it taken care of in the end.
I think. I'm still anticipating the phone call in which he plaintively calls to ask why the ATM screen is entirely in Spanish, or why it ate his card, or some such technological failure as only my dad can really pull off with style. I suspect I'll get there, sooner or later.
Let's get to some formspring.me questions, so I can go type up some of the week's encounters for you guys. Again, thanks for hanging in there. And I'm glad to be back.
Writer's block. How to fight/get past it?
Sit down at your computer--or tablet, or notebook, or whatever. Turn off your internet. Ignore your emails and significant others. Keep pounding away at the keys or stare into space until you're bored enough that writing seems like a lot better alternative.
If you're seriously blocked, you might have some false starts and head in the wrong direction with your writing several times, but you'll at least be typing, and that's what's important. Keep going until the creaky pipes are flowing smoothly again.
When you write, do you do most of your research before you start or as you go along?
It depends on what I'm writing. If it's a non-fictional piece in which research plays a major role, I'll perform it and organize it well beforehand. If I'm just writing something off-the-cuff in which I'll need to check a fact or two as I go, I'll wing it.
How long do you wait before you give up on a trick coming over? And you've said before you double or even triple book tricks when you think there is a high possibility of flaking. Has this ever backfired and they all show up?
I wait a half-hour, generally. Sometimes an hour, max. I lose self-respect if I wait longer than that.
And no. I've never had multiple tricks show up, even when I've triple-booked a block of time in advance. Other guys have told me the same. There are many more flake-outs than follow-throughs.
Do you think men out east groom/preen themselves better than in the midwest?
I think they dress better in Manhattan. I also think they wear way too much cologne. In the suburbs where I live, though, everyone looks as if they've stepped out of an L. L. Bean catalog. I'm not really sure it's 'better'. Especially when the fashion involves grown men in flannel pants imprinted with mallards.
Men in the Midwest have a tendency to follow trends that are about five years gone for the east coast guys. They also tend to hang on to some old trends (goatees, for example) that are even older. Southern men are still wearing prepwear from the mid-eighties, though, so the Midwest guys should be congratulating themselves for staying ahead of that curve.
Did you get to say good bye to Scruffy before you moved?
Only via email. I know he got a new job he liked, and was happy about that, even as he was sad about me going. He's a good kid.
So what file are you on?
If you weigh 165 and I weigh 220, are you able to pin me down?
It ain't all about weight, son. I can pin you down.
Have you checked out local bathhouses in your new geography yet? I find the ones in NY very attitude-y but wanted to see your opinion
No, I haven't yet been to any of the NY spots (or really know where they are). I'll be happy to share my opinion once I go, but I'd be interested to know which you recommend and why.
Does anyone out east drive an American-made car?
No! Well, I do. So yes. But no! And it drives me crazy! My parents were union supporters when I was growing up, and I lived subsequently in Detroit long enough, that buying a foreign car is out of the question for me. Apparently here, people have no such qualms.