Today. | Gimme Schalter №5
Today I made seven meals before breakfast. Today my wife and I bought lattes 45 minutes before either of us usually check our email. Today we took our three teenagers back to physical school for the first time in 524 days.
Today I set up our new-to-us pop-up camper, in a fashion not designed not to catch the eye of the neighbors who bought a new-to-them boat a few weeks ago and have conspicuously been shining it up ever since. Today I picked my son up from JV soccer practice at 5:00, made dinner, and drove him back out at 6:30 to help his coaches trim the soccer field because I’d convinced him of the power of showing up — and they took note when we were one of just a few families who’d bothered.
Today we got an alert that our eldest had missed a class and nobody knew where she was and we couldn’t get a text through to her and we had no idea what was happening. Today I laid a hand on my wife’s shoulder in a vain attempt to comfort her as she shook, crying under the strain of everything that was going on. Today my wife finished a presentation for her job’s annual board retreat, for which she’ll already have left by the time you read this.
Today my youngest told me she met up with the friend she couldn’t wait to see again and show off her new haircut, and the friend’s reaction was everything she’d hoped it would be. Today I told her three times in a row that I’m sorry, I’m on a call and my heart broke when she finally gave up trying to talk to me. Today I completed SafeSport certification on abuse, misconduct, and reporting and wondered whether her old gymnastics coaches would have followed the well-produced instructions about their abusive boss.
Today I did the Blue Rhino thing for the first time, loading up our camper with a fresh jug of propane. Today I said “…and propane accessories” out loud in a Texan accent for what must be the eight thousandth time. Today I spent 18 minutes sweating my brains out and feeling ridiculous as I tried to teach my son, in front of his coaches and teammates, how to start a gas-powered weed whacker with a gas-powered weed whacker that wouldn’t start.
Today I streamed an hour of Genshin Impact on Twitch, and managed not to mute myself this time. Today we finally got reimbursed for the $270 we spent treating and taking in a lovely stray cat before the vet discovered during a follow-up visit that they’d missed its microchip the first time and it had been reported lost and they legally had to take it away from our family and give it back to the people who’d been letting it run around outside without a collar or flea treatment.
Today I gave our tortoise a soak and he gave me the stink-eye because he actually wanted a walk, but I pretended not to notice because I didn’t have time. Today I attended a 90-minute live Zoom training, completing my requirements to be a U.S. Soccer-certified referee. Today I realized my eldest fell asleep while I was in the training, and I never even asked her how her first day at school went.
Today I did my dayjob, all eight hours of it, while my brain and heart and body were pulled and tugged and ripped and stomped in countless different directions. Today I set a personal record for crossed-off to-do list items in my Things app and still ended the day with more than I started.
Today my youngest agreed we should harvest the first of the herbs from her window herb garden, the one she’d gotten for Christmas and planted and watered and nursed for months. Today I carefully added the freshest cilantro I’d ever tasted to our celebratory first-day-of-school tacos.
- “What Do Fiction Writers Owe Their IRL Inspiration?” by Alice Bolin, for New York magazine’s Vulture
One of the benefits of traditional book and magazine publishing is the perspective gained by time passed. Books can’t be turned around like blog posts, and they’re all the better for it. And as great as an on-deadline story or column can be, a magazine trend piece that comes out weeks after The Disk Horse has been sent to the glue factory can be much more nuanced, insightful, and ultimately worthwhile than any flurry of viral yes-anding dunk tweets on the topic.
I’ve been following Mina, the bassist for the recently-broken-up-Jpop band GIRLFRIEND, for a while. A very funky player with impeccable technique, she often goes viral for playing the bass lines of anime theme songs and the like. Since GIRLFRIEND’s breakup, though, she’s been posting more and videos of herself holding down all the parts.
FAIR WARNING: Though I promised myself I wouldn’t pick up a guitar again until my novel is on submission to publishers, I’m planning on doing some videos just like this. Well, just like this except nowhere near as good:
- “Cockroaches, car camping, poverty wages: Why are minor-leaguers living in squalor?,” by Brittany Ghiroli for The Athletic
Minor-league baseball players chasing their life’s dream, they’re being adored and applauded by crowds of thousands every night, and their counterparts in the big leagues are routinely signing eight- and nine-figure fully guaranteed contracts.
Meanwhile they’re living off of $10–15,000 dollars a year, sleeping in cars or five-at-a-time in roach-ridden motels. Minor leaguers are specifically exempt from federal minimum wage laws, they are neither members of nor supported by the major-league players’ union, and minor league teams are specifically exempt from federal anti-trust laws. Read this excellent, important piece.
A great blue heron, a firefly drinking a dewdrop, a bee sleeping on a flower. These are just a few of the amazing shots my wife Kelly’s gotten in the last couple weeks while taking her morning walks. Bittten by the shutterbug when our eldest was born, she’s always had a fantastic eye — and the animals she loves so much in the forest she knows so well are always willing models.
More than worth a follow if you need a timeline cleanse.
Gimme Schalter needs YOU
I’ve already done a formal book review on here, and I’m definitely going to do more reviews: books, podcasts, articles, videos, video games, etc.
If you have a project that just launched, or is just about to launch, and you’d like me to give it a fair once-over? Hit me up at email@example.com.
I’m not gonna lie: Ty did not make much Pro on his NoWri since last issue. I’m still firming up the scene-by-scene outline and working on the lookbook, but, as you might be able to tell by the intro to this week’s issue, it’s been a bit of a week.
My wife is away at her board retreat Thursday and Friday, and once I get off work Friday I’ll be bringing the kids, cats, dog, etc. up to the lake where she’ll already be. A weekend of camping, chilling, talking and reading should set me up well for a great week of writing.