Sunday, February 28, 2010

Same word count, less interesting novel

I turned 48 today. Big deal, right? In the world of age-group racing, is it really a birthday if it’s not a multiple of five and you don’t age up?

In my case, it is. I use my birthdays the way other people like to use New Year’s Day, as a chance to reflect on what I accomplished and where I fell short and to look ahead and set a few goals, dream a few of those, and maybe even make a resolution or two. It’s like a performance review without the bullshit.

Most of my resolutions are nobody’s business but my own, and given how quickly I forget them they apparently don’t have a strong connection to my own business. But I think I’ve got one today that might stick. And if you keep reading my blog, it’s even kind of your business.

Before I even started having birthdays, someone made a bar bet with Ernest Hemingway that he couldn’t write a novel in six words. I’m assuming Hemingway didn’t have to pay for his beer that night (as if he ever did); he wrote, For sale: baby shoes, never worn. Smith Magazine picked that up and ran with it in more recent times and asked writers of all colors of fame to distill their own lives into a 6-word memoir. Good call. The fourth collection, “It All Changed in an Instant,” is in bookstores now.

I don’t see where it can hurt me to start each week with such a drill. I might even get better at organizing my thoughts, and God knows anything that stands a chance of teaching me to write quicker or tighter is worth a try.

Since I’m starting it on my birthday, maybe that’s the theme to run with. Something like,

48 already? I’m just getting started. Or

I bought some khaki pants voluntarily. Or

Carrot cake’s permissible once a year. Or

When did everybody else change ages? Or

The house still smells like skunk. Or

Years, days, seconds … all finite. Capitalize.

I could use up all 52 weeks’ worth on the birthday and aging theme alone. (I know the skunk one doesn’t fit the theme; it’s just hard not to think about lately for some reason.) So I’ll just pick one and move on to the next adventure, the next improvement, the next discovery. Which is why this is the one I’m going with:

Middle age: a synonym of Renaissance.

You'll recall in an earlier post titled I Heart Golden Harvest that chef Zane warmed my cholesterol-burdened heart with six words of his own: "Oh, I make a mean oatmeal." This morning I went back to make sure. Here's my 6-word review: "Mean as Dick Cheney on steroids." Yes, that good.


La Professora said...

Happy Birthday!

If it helps, you're only 30 in hexadecimal....

Jesse said...

6 words, huh? I gotta give this one a shot...but first coffee...;-)

VickyTH said...

Here's another: Spandex reveals all manner of sins
Many happy returns of the day and here's to a great summer of racing!

Anonymous said...

Hello Jef:

It's like doing daily haiku poetry.

Your present is coming!


Anonymous said...

So many choices; so few options.

Jef Mallett said...

Oh, I like what I'm seeing here. This could get good ...

veloben said...

Happy Birthday

Training makes it possible, not easy.

Judy T. said...

Happy Birthday Jef!

Watch out for sharks to Alcatraz:)

Judy T.

Liz said...

There's a website now that does 6-word memoirs. I stopped to read a few once. An entry that stuck in my mind was, "Goth girl. White dog. Lint roller."

I'm thinking there's a week's worth of Frazz strips in there as everyone at school gives their version.

Purplestate said...

Happy Birthday!

"Flip turns? No walls in Triathlon!"

Anonymous said...

Oh cool, I didn't realize we share a birthday, although you're seven years older than I am. :)

Claudia said...

Happy Birthday! Greetings from Brazil!