Sunday, February 23, 2014

I Am Who I AM

I am a fifty-two year old single male.  I live in the town I was born in, Pasadena, California.  I am a native Californian, a rare breed.  
This may give me a bias, but I think California is the best state out of the fifty to live in.  It has the best wine and the best almonds in the world, and I buy and consume a lot of both.  
I think of myself as an “Angeleno,” though most of my life I’ve lived around Los Angeles and not in it.  I’ve worked IN Los Angeles for most of my adult life, so I’m thinking that counts.  
I am a Dodgers fan.  I am a (Los Angeles) Kings fan.  
I am an Anti-Giants fan.  Throughout the world, I oppose any team named the “Giants.”  I discovered this on August 28th, 2007, in Yokohama, Japan when I saw for myself that the Tokyo Giants baseball team had uniforms styled EXACTLY like those from a particular baseball time that plays in a California city north of where I live.  
I am politically independent.  I am not a member of an political party.  My voter registration card identifies me as “Non-Partizan.”  I have come to agree with George Washington that it is the “interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain” the spirit of political partisanship.  Too often, I believe, elected officials of ALL parties will act in accordance with party principles than what is best for the country.  
I am a fiscal conservative.  I think it is stupid that my country is the only one in the industrial world where one part of the legislation determines what money the government will take in while a completely separate part of the government decides what the government will spend money on.  The “debt limit” is a device created for our country alone because Congress can’t say to itself, “this is what we have coming in, let’s create a spending plan based on it.”  
I am a social progressive.  By this I mean that most of what people want to do and how they want to live should be left up to them, without interference by any other group or institution.  If someone wants to marry someone the same sex as they are, or if they want to smoke pot in the privacy of their home, or change their sex, then I saw let them do it as long as they grant me the same courtesy to live as I want to live.  
I also think being a social progressive means that we should support those things which benefit all of us.  Education.  Access to medical care.  Crime reduction.  Protection of the state.  These are areas where the entire country benefits if they are well-funded and run efficiently.  Take a lesson in how the state of Utah has been combating homelessness.  Instead of arresting these people as vagrants and putting them in jail, they are renting them apartments and giving them counseling to overcome the things that put them on the street.  Read It Here.  And I should note that this is not in conflict with my previously stated fiscal conservative stand.  If you read to the bottom of the article you’ll see that the state is saving about 5,000 per homeless person by helping them instead of arresting them.  
I didn’t think this was going to become a political rant.  Moving on...
I am a nerd.  This doesn’t just mean that enjoy geeky, fan-boy things like science fiction, space exploration, comic books and the like.  Being a nerd mean that I obsess over those things I like.  AND...  That I look for opportunities to provide the knowledge I have on these topics to the people that surround me.  
I have been waiting for years now for the question to come up as to who is the only pitcher in the history of major league baseball to hit two grand slam home runs in the same game.  I have the answer.  I’m waiting to give it out.  The conversation just never turns that way.  
It may come out of my nerdiness, but I’ve often thought that I might be an alien.  A being from another planet that was stranded here.  In order to allow myself to fit in amongst the local population better, my thought processes have been altered by an implant in my brain(s).  It suppresses my natural, alien thoughts and channels my neural pathways to those that most closely resemble the neuronic activity of humans.  The implant is not perfect, and is long in need of an upgrade.  This is why some truly strange things will pop out of my mouth from time to time, and why some scenes in my head, of planets harboring odd lifeforms or events from other timelines, seem more like remembered experiences than constructs of my imagination.  Since I do not have any evidence to support this supposition, I can not formally add it to the list of self-identifiers I offer today.  But I do provide it for any one that may wish to pursue this line of inquiry.  
In the past, I have been called “Spock” by those catching on to my nerdy nature.  More recently, there are some that have taken to call me “Sheldon,” after the character in the Big Bang Theory television show, for similar reasons.  Like Leonard Nimoy, I am Not Spock and I am Not Sheldon.  I am me.  
I am a production manager at a legal services company.  I am good at what I do.  I find this odd.  For a very long portion of my adult life I have regarded the activity performed to provide myself with sustenance, a residence and transportation to be “Just My Job.”  There were other things that I used to identify myself to the world.  It is strange to me that I have become noticed and praised for something I just did.  It feels like I’m being patted on my back for breathing well.  But it is what it is, so I note it here.  
I am a writer of speculative fiction.  I mostly use the term “science fiction writer,” but I do write in other odd genres, such as fantasy, comic book and animation scripts, so I’ll broaden the term.  This is born by my obsessive nerdiness.  Or from my “true identity” as a stranded alien.  It is not enough for me to read or what the experiences I crave.  I have to create them myself.  And just like the information I’m dying to share in my head, I want to share these creations with as many others as I can.  It pains me that I have not been able to reshape the universe enough that this item of self-identification is not more widely known and recognized.  Maybe my implant is working subversively against me, keeping me from creating work with too great a fidelity with my “true experiences” in order to protect me from discovery.  
Who knows.  All I know is that it is part of who I am.  This is me.
Now then, who are you?
PS: It’s Tony Cloninger, while playing for the Atlanta Braves in 1966.  I just couldn’t keep it to myself any longer.  

Saturday, February 15, 2014

A Valentine's Day Recollection

I’m not a big fan of Valentine’s Day.  For most of my adult life, Valentine’s Day has been February 14th and nothing else.  There have been maybe three...  Four?  No...  Three times in my life when February came around and I had someone in my life that counted as a Valentine.  
They do things differently in Japan on Valentine’s Day.  There it is the girls who give the guys gifts of chocolate on that day.  And the chocolate is ranked, too.
First, there’s “giri choco.”  The ‘giri’ part comes from the Japanese word for obligation.  It is the chocolate the female gives to her male friends, co-workers and associates.  If your elementary school was anything like mine, you might remember the rule on Valentine’s Day that you had to give a card to everyone in your class.  Giri choco is something like that.  
There’s also “tomo choco.”  This is chocolate girls give to each other.  “Tomo” comes from the Japanese word for friend.  
The highest form of chocolate, though, is “honmei choco.”  This is the chocolate a lady gives to a fellow that she is romantically interested in.  “Honmei” is a term from horse racing in Japanese.  It refers to the favorite horse in a race.  The one expected to be the winner.  In the case of Valentine’s Day chocolate in Japan, it might be used because it’s given to the stud she wants to ride.  
Sorry.  That was crude.  But it was too obvious and I couldn’t help myself.  
The best honmei choco, they say, is hand-made.  This shows the lady’s sincerity in her feelings for the gentleman through her effort.  Of course, in our modern world, there are speciality stores in Japan that will sell particularly well made and decorated honmei choco to purchase and give to the man the woman buying the chocolate desires.  A small gift can often accompany honmei choco.  
When most of my American friends hear about this system, they often agree with me that it sounds ideal.  There’s a catch, though.  With women there always is a catch, isn’t there?  
This Valentine’s Day I found myself thinking about a girl who would have given me honmei choco had that been the custom in this country.  This was back in college.  I can’t remember her name.  She sat behind me in Directing Class.  I didn’t notice her at first.  A friend of mine taking the same class pointed her out.  
She was an attractive girl.  Very pretty.  She had a round, cheeky face and often sported this small, knowing, Mona Lisa smile.  Bronze-brown hair with clear blue eyes.  A genuine hourglass figure that my buddy couldn’t stop talking about.  “Jeez!  Would you look at those tits!”  That was closer to his exact words.  
Ironically, it was this same buddy that brought us together.  He had tried hitting on her, mercilessly, when we first started class.  When she remained aloof and cool toward him, he started drawing her attention to me.  I think he thought that if he couldn’t get her, he rather his friend get her instead instead of some random other guy.  He may have thought he would get some vicarious, karma sort of thing out of it.  
I don’t remember asking her out, but eventually we did start to date.  I found out she was very different from the cool and quiet persona she displayed in school.  She was given to making wry observations about the people and events that took place around her.  She giggled a lot when not in a group.  And she had a kooky, somewhat naughty, sense of humor.
One time, for example, just as I parted my lips to kiss her, she took a deep breath and blew her exhalation into my mouth.  Strong enough to puff out my cheeks.  When I pulled my head back to look at her in surprise, she gave me the most innocent of looks.  
“I tried to give you a blow job,” she said.  “Did I do it right?” 
I found out other things about her.  Her mom was from Central America and her dad was from the South, just like mine.  Her home life was not as pleasant as mine was growing up, though.  Her father had problems with drinking and gambling.  They lived in Commerce, near where all the card clubs and poker casinos used to be, when they were the only form of legal gambling in California.  She described her mom driving from one club and casino to another, each night, to find her dad.  Her mom would then drag him home, drunk and penniless.  
The relationship didn’t last very long.  I remember the day when I lost interest.  It was a Saturday.  She drove all the way from Commerce to the gas station where I worked on weekends to put myself through school in Upland.  Google might tell you that it’s a forty minute drive, but back then I remember it being closer to an hour.  She arrived just as I was getting off work after starting at 6 AM that day.  
As I was still getting to know her, I figured that I would ask her about her goals and dreams, and where she saw herself in the future.  I was filled with my new found passion for acting.  I had wanted to be a writer in High School, but thought that my characters were rather weak.  I started taking acting classes in college, thinking to reverse engineer the process actors used to create believable characters from what was written on a page in a script, to help me create believable characters I would put down on the pages of my stories.  The acting bug had bitten me hard, though, and I was filled with the desire to one day “make it” as an actor.  
“So...  You’re a directing emphasis, right?”  The school we went to, Cal State Fullerton, made all theatre majors pick an emphasis for their degrees.  Mine, as you might guess, was acting.  “What made you decide you wanted to direct?” 
She wrinkled up her nose.  “I don’t know.  They told me I had to pick something when I chose my major, so...”  She shrugged.  “I picked that.”  
Oh.  Ok.  Uh...
“But...  You do want to work in theatre one day.  Right...?”  
“I guess...”  Another shrug.  She smile at me.  “It would be a nice job to have, right?”  
I frowned.  “It’s a hard field to break into.”  
“I suppose.”  She lifted her shoulders again.  “I guess I’ll need to do something...”  
It went on like that.  I broadened the scope of my questions, trying to find something that interested her.  Some plan for the future.  Something goal that inspired her.  I was convinced back then that people weren’t really alive unless they were burning with some desire to do or achieve something.  
But I didn’t discover anything like that in her.  All of her answers were, “I dunno,” or “I guess...” or “not really.”  The only thing she seemed to have any interest in was, well...  Me.  And while flattering, it didn’t feel like that was enough.  
I didn’t ask her out again after that, though the relationship didn’t just end.  We still had classes together.  And she dropped her reserved persona, at least as far as I was concerned, making it obvious that I was the one she wanted.  My guy friends would tell me I was insane for not taking her up on her offer of herself.  My female acquaintances would tell me how nice she was, and how sweet and suggest that I continue dating her.  
“In Costume Design class,” one of them said to me.  “We were talking about our plans for Valentine’s Day and she said, ‘I thought I had a Valentine of my own.  I don’t know what happened, though.’”  
“If I took her out,” I replied, feeling a bit fed up with what I thought was no one seeing my side of the situation.  “It would only be for the purpose of using her for sex.  Would that be right?”  
“She’s so sweet, though...”  
That was years ago.  Lots of things have changed.  I don’t burn with that same passion to “make it” as an actor.  That ship ran aground years ago.  If you were to ask me about my job, where I’ve worked for nearly twenty years, and when did I decide to make being a production manager of a legal document company my career, my answer would be something like...
“I dunno...  It kinda just...  Happened that way.  Had to have a job, right?”  
I mentioned that the Japanese Valentine’s Day custom had a catch.  It happens a month from now.  On March 14, which the Japanese call “White Day,” the guys who received chocolate on Valentine’s Day have to reciprocate, giving gifts to the ladies that offered them chocolate.  The rule of thumb, I’m told, is that the gift has to be about three times the value of what the guy received.  
I wonder what would have happened if I had done that back then.  Given her back the gift of affection she was giving me.  It seems such a rare and wonderful thing now.  Finding someone who just wants you and no one else, sooo much.  
For those of you out there who have a Valentine to call your own, congratulations.   And, Happy Valentine’s Day and White Day, with hopes of many more to come.

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Replacement Anxiety

I am feeling very anxious right now.  I'm trying to figure out why.  Maybe if I write out the things I'm thinking about, that might help.
You wouldn't mind, would you?  No?  Thanks.
I read an article in Scientific American.  It was about how Google is changing how we think.  People automatically network information within their social groups.  They don't necessarily remember a fact they will want to know later, but they remember who knows that fact.  In our caveman days this translated to one person knowing most about how to make really good spears while another person remembered where to find the stupidest wooly mammoths to hunt and kill grazed. 
"Hey, Og!  Where can I find a really big, fat and tasty, yet easily fooled mammoth might be grazing?"
"That's easy, Ugh.  Just follow the stream up to the valley it comes from.  I'll show you how to set a trap for them if you show me how to make my spear nice and sharp."
"Nothing to that.  You have to start by getting a piece of obsidian about this big...  Here, we'll grab some on our way to that valley you mentioned."  
Google is changing that, though.  Instead of dialing a friend, or even sending him a text or email with a question we want answered, we use our smart-phones and ask a search engine to give us the answer.  In studies where they've done scans of people's minds where they were asked to supply the answers, some groups by remembering what they knew, others by being allowed to search online for the answer, they were able to see that our minds fire in the same parts of the brain as they do when we are contacting a friend of ours for information.  We are creating a relationship with the internet as if it were one of our personal contacts.  
The authors of the article came up with a term for it: Intermind.  
The thing that bothers me is that I have been that person that had the answers for other people.  
"Hey, Erick...?  Has anyone every hit two grand slams in the same inning of a baseball game?"
"Well, yeah...  Fernando Tatis did it playing for the St. Louis Cardinals at Dodger Stadium back in 1999.  He hit both pitches off of Chan Ho Park.  One went over the Dodger bullpen in left field, the other over the wall in left-center.  That's all the details I have, though."  
But with this growing relationship with the Intermind, they don't need to ask someone like me.
"Hey, Erick...?  Has any member of the '500 club' hit two grand slams in the same game?"  
"Yeah.  It was..."  
"Ah, wait!  My smartphone just brought it up.  Frank Robinson is the only guy to hit over 500 home runs in his career AND hit two grand slams in the same game.  Did it in 1970 against the Washington Senators.  Hey...!  Did you know that the exact same runners were on base for both home runs?" 
"Uh...  Yeah.  I did, actually."  
"Hmm...  Did you say something?"  
If people don't need to ask me questions, then they'll have no reason to talk to me.  Maybe that's what I'm afraid of.  
I used to think that my job was relatively safe.  It has proven itself to be recession proof.  When times get tough economically, people sue each other more.  When people sue each other more, they contact my company to get the records they want to use as evidence.  Since the "Great Recession" started in 2008, I've had to put out ads to hire new employees at least five times.  I hired my newest employee just two weeks ago.  Customer service hired one last week.  
And I certainly had no worries about my job being shipped overseas.  That would never happen.  Right?  
Technology has made it possible.  One of our competitors, I’ve discovered, hires a service in India to expedite their orders, calling locations to set appointments for the field agents to come copy records to use as evidence.  And there are now several companies that will do paralegal work overseas as well.  Evidence is just another form of data that can fly across the globe in an instant to be processed on your behalf.  
This is scary.  I have been a long-standing fan of globalization.  It provided wealth to poorer nations.  It reduced the chance of war.  Sure, there were some problems, here and there, but it was the same problems society faced as technology changed how we lived.  Where have all the buggy makers gone?  
But when you see it reaching out toward your job, that's different.  
My sister started her radiation therapy this week.  She has a cancerous tumor on her diaphragm.  It is the starting point of a tumor that grew into her left lung, forcing her to have surgery to remove the lower lobe.  They couldn't reach the tumor on the diaphragm to cut it out so they're relying on the radiation to take care of it.  She'll go every weekday for six weeks and then they'll see if it killed the tumor off.  
My sister is in good spirits.  She's certain it'll turn out fine.  She's faced every difficulty head-on.  When they told her that she had a very rare form of cancer, only 1 in 3 million people get it, and that the hospital she was going to had only handled 1 case before her in the last ten years, she contacted Duke University Medical center, a two hour drive from her house, which she discovered specialized in treating this form of cancer.  She got a second opinion that confirmed the best form of treatment for her tumor.  And when the insurance company balked at footing the bill, she got her doctor to call their doctor to convince them.  
It's odd, but she had to calm me down when we first started talking about it.  
Still...  It's more than a bit...  Anxiety making.  
I think I'm seeing a common thread now.  It's the idea of being replaced.  Replaced in my social standing.  Replaced in my job by someone in another country thousands of miles away.  Replaced by some other human being when I'm gone.  
Right now I'm sitting at a table at Starbucks.  Right as I got in, seeing all the tables were full, this group that were at the table I'm currently sitting at got a call from the restaurant they made reservations at that a table was ready.  They got up and left.  I replaced them here.  I thought I had lucked out as I put my stuff on the table and went to order my drink.  
But when I came back, Mario was on his knees searching under my table.  I mean Mario as in "Mario Brothers."  From Donkey Kong fame.  The guy had on the same cap, was sporting the same big moustache.  When he looked up at me as I stood there with my venti "Cool Lime Refresher" he said...
"I waza just lookin' fore-ah plug," in this heavy Italian accent.  It was as if the main character from Mario Brothers was kneeling before me, trying to be incognito and failing badly.  
After he plugged in his laptop and went back to his table, and I resumed my seat, it occurred to me that if that WAS Mario, then it meant I was living in a video game.  Moreover, it meant that I wasn't the POV character being controlled by the player.  That would be Mario behind me.  The best I could hope to be was one of the helper characters, the ones that follow Mario through his maze and hand him the hearts that give him extra life.  
At worst, it meant I was something like a big mushroom that he was going to jump on to reach the next level.  And after I exploded, I would be replaced by another mushroom further along the maze.  
I think I'm going to put my hat on now.  Just in case. 

Saturday, February 01, 2014

A Topic-less Blog Entry

This blog has no topic.  None whatsoever.  You can search every word and paragraph and you won’t find one.  I dare you to try.  
It has no topic because I couldn’t think of one.  Or because I had too many things to choose from and I couldn’t pick one.  Or because there were things I wanted to write about but couldn’t, because they involved things I need to remain quiet about.  
One or all of the previous statements are true.  Or false.  Or a mixture of both.  Like two chemicals mixed together which, if in perfect proportion, would explode, killing us all.
We have to be very careful.  
A writer friend of mine, Sara L. Card, tagged me in an online game for writers called called “Lucky 7.”  She posted an excerpt from the seventh page of a work in progress and invited seven other writers to do the same.  
I wanted to provide a link to Sara’s excerpt from the YA novel she’s working on, but she posted it in her January 19th Facebook status and I can’t see a way to link to that.  
Here’s something from the seventh page of a story I wrote called “Robot Boss”: 
“Oh.”  Another difference between him and Sunny.  Any job was only temporary.  The goal of most people younger than Dell was to earn enough money to drop out into the other, human-driven, economy.
Sunny frowned.  “You know...  What you’re accusing Cue of doing...?  It’s something Dell used to do all the time.  Covering up his mistakes...”  
“I didn’t make--”  
“Oh-kaay, oh-kaay...”  Sunny stopped and grabbed a length of her hair.  She started twirling it.  “But, you know...  Even what you asked me to do, the AIs don’t like it.  It’s something you have to get used to dealing with them.”  
“I suppose...”  Don found himself thinking about what Dell had said to him, while training to take over his position.  How he talked about the difference between AIs and humans, how they learned the job from them...  And that manifesto he wrote.  All of it a warning of sorts.  
Sunny opened her mouth to say something, but stopped when her phone rang.  A hard-hitting, electro-punk tune.   Don recognized it as something called, “Ball-n-Chain.”  It was her ringtone for when clients contacted her.  
She tapped the screen.  Her eyes went wide.  She looked up at Don.
“What--?”  The look on Sunny’s face could only be called “grim.” 
“The client knows.”
It’s more than just an excerpt.  It’s the entire seventh page.  Reading it, I can tell there’s a lot of background left out.  I can’t remember if Sara included background in hers right now, and I’m too busy writing this right now to check.  

I’m not actually playing Lucky 7 because I don’t know seven other writers to tag.  At least not seven writers that I feel I can tag.  Sara tagged two of the ones I would have tagged had she not tagged them.  Even if she hadn’t tagged them I still would have had to find five other writers who hadn’t been tagged.  

It’s a genuine quandary.  

I’ve been feeling positive recently.  It’s quite odd.  Especially at work.  That makes it even odder. 

I bought lunch for the people in the department I manage yesterday.  The person that manages the adjoining department bought lunch for them for the hard work they’ve put in this month.  Since my people work at least as hard, I only thought it was fair that they get lunch too.  

The department did very well in January.  We didn’t make the monthly goal but that was only because of...  Well...  Things not their fault.  If it had not been for those “things not their fault,” I know for certain that my people would have reached the goal.  No doubt.  I have numbers to prove it.  

So I bought them lunch.  Chinese food.  It was good.  There was an extra fortune cookie which I read aloud, saying it was for the entire department.  “Today is a good time to spend with a companion.”  

Here’s another segment from a seventh page on something I’m working on.  It’s from the novel I’m working on, Spell of 13 Years.  It’s from the first chapter of what I hope will be the final draft: 

“Enter and be Welcome!”  The greeting leapt from my lips as I turned to greet whoever it was that had arrived at the Two Doves Inn.  The rest of my greeting was forgotten when I saw it was Melodia, the most senior of the serving girls and errand boys that lived and worked at the house.  
“It has been that kind of night, hasn’t it, Master Enrico?”  She was smiling at me  A smile that said that she had once more caught me in one of her little teases.  Looking at her, that lopsided smirk of hers, her curls the color of newly minted copper Serfs, her ample bosom and wide hips, made my feelings toward her boil up inside me, rattling the lid that kept such thoughts to myself.  
Without thinking of appearance, I stepped toward her, a smile of my own on my face.  It was at that moment that Simonetta, a serving girl with quick and nimble hands, a boyish laugh and a somewhat horsey face, pushed past behind me, carrying a tray of dirty linens and plates to the kitchen for cleaning.  Her passage forced me to stumble forward, stepping into Melodia.  
My chest pressed into her bodice.  My heart, overheated already, now blazed like an oven stuffed with fuel.  The heat burned up the chimney of my neck to turn my cheeks the color of a cherry tart, piping hot.  My hands, which I had lifted, in Perfect Truth, to ward off any contact, now stole illicit caresses, like bribed watchmen turning into criminals.  
I jumped back, as if the heat I felt came from her and I was burned by it.  My fingers still tingled from the touch of her bodice where gray and blue ribbons, symbols of the Paoli family’s allegiance to the Ox faction, were sewn.  To hide from their crime, my hands grabbed the towel tucked into my apron’s pocket and wrung it as if it were the miscreant being hanged for their deeds.  
Melodia’s smile stretched even broader across her face.  I knew if she started to laugh, a sound like wind chimes in the summer that suited her name, I would lose all composure and admit my feelings for her then and there.  
“I have to wait,” I told myself.  “Once the inn is mine.  Once I have secured my future.”  I wrung the towel even harder with those thoughts.  To strangle any chance that the inn would be taken from me, despite the secret promise my brother had made to me.  
“A very busy and eventful night,” Melodia observed with a sparkle in her eye.  “Eh, Master Enrico?”
Again, some caveats.  The segment above started on page seven, but most of it comes from page eight.  If there was a Lucky 7 referee watching me while I cut and paste the segment, he might have thrown a flag for “Encroachment on an Out of Bounds Page.”  Plus I’m still missing those seven other writers to send a link to.  

I need to get out more.  Meet some more writers so I can play games like this better.  

I’m getting ready for Convention Season.  I’m planning on three this year.  Comic-Con in San Diego.  WorldCon, which will be in London this year.  And WonderCon, which is run by the same people that run Comic-Con, which takes place in the spring in Anaheim.  

I’ve been to Comic-Con the most, something like fifteen, maybe even twenty years in a row now.  I honestly can’t remember what year I started going.  I’ve tried to research it by looking through the various convention year books I have, but I just can’t pin it down, though the earliest it would have been is 1994.  

WorldCon I’ve been going to since 2007, when it was in Yokohama, Japan.  That was a combination of two desires (To attend World Con, and, To Go to Japan) that made it impossible to resist.  

I’ve been to WonderCon once.  It is like Comic-Con when it was smaller and more focused on comic books.  I spent one day there last year and decided I wanted to make it a regular event.  

Right now I have my badge registration for Comic-Con taken care of.  I have my hotel room for WorldCon taken care of.  I have nothing for WonderCon taken care of, though they haven’t sent out the registration info for that one yet, even though it’s sooner.  

There are competing interests moving about in all of this.  I feel it’s necessary to do more than just go to the convention when I go to London.  There’s a tour I want to take for a couple of weeks, but it is costly.  I also think I might need to buy a new car this year.  The one I have is thirteen years old, and my mechanic tells me that it may need to have a new engine put in “sometime soon.”  I’m not sure I can get a new car, which I need, and go to London, which I really, really, really want to do, in the same year. 

That means decisions need to be made.  That’s a part of life.  That’s what it means to be an adult.  

I’ve reached my word limit.  Done now.

See?  No topic at all.