"Ah, life is like that—sometimes at the height of our revelries, when our joy is at its zenith, when all is most right with the world, the most unthinkable disasters descend upon us."
--A Christmas Story
People sometimes ask me why I am occasionally prone to be perhaps the tiniest bit cynical and negative about things. I contend that I am not negative, but that I do have a healthy and hard-won appreciation for the way heartbreak can jump from around a blind corner, pistol-whip us to the ground, grab our wallets, then kick us in the kidneys twice for good measure before leaving us in a crumpled bloody heap in some sorry damp allegorical alley, gasping and gaping like a carp on the beach.
House odds do not favor the player in this joint we call Life, and if ever you find yourself riding a long winning streak, you'd better damned well bank some winnings while they are still yours to claim, as the worm will turn, my pretties, and when she does, she turns like a screw.
Coarse thread. Long and rusted.
The warning signs were all there: things were skimming along way too easily, way too pleasantly.
I'd returned from my most recent Hollywood fly-by a few weeks back with a dangerously and uncharacteristically upbeat outlook.
I'd found a cool new idea to work on which every LA player i've peeked it to has sparked interest with a wide giggling grin.
I'd discovered a great new card-based outlining program which was letting me free-stroke through the design and brainstorming process like nobody's business.
I'd been kicking ass and taking names for a solid week, and the outline was more than 80% completed with only the first half of the last act left to formally line out in written form. I knew where I was going, I knew how to get there, and I knew the twists and turns I'd likely encounter as I roared down the scenic route to that finish line.
Things were clearly going too good, and my Spidey Sense should have told me to keep my head on a swivel as that callous vindictive bitch named Reality was surely coming soon to slap some sense into me.
Well, yesterday, Thursday 19 April 2007, at approximately 4:19 pm CST, she showed up, fully lubed and ready for disco, baybee.
She smiled brightly, put a well-manicured hand on my shoulder, and leaned in close to whisper in my ear with that sultry voice she always seems to use:
Ooooo... remember me, baby?"
Then up comes the knee, square into the groin, and that too-familiar tide of nausea washes over you before all just fades to gray....
There are few things as deliciously evil, as perfectly frustrating, as a well-timed software failure.
38 notecards in an outline program—cards filled with loads of great specific line ideas and scene descriptions, something far more like a proto-draft than an outline, maybe 70 pages of material—suddenly goes "poof" and you remember all those times you've advised friends "remember to back up your work!"
Except this time I had. I'd made a duplicate of the file I was working on and had stashed it elsewhere on my drive so that when that bitch came a-knocking, I'd be protected. Safe-guarded. Ready to rumble. She'd do her nasty business, and I'd just smile and laugh.
Well, there was laughter, but it t'werent't mine, as this particular collapse overwrote my BACKUP copy with a backup of the original file which was being totally corrupted.
What specifically happened? Nobody yet seems able to say. The software people have tried to recover both files and they say "it appears the files have not been altered since 10 days ago," when in fact I'd been working like a demon those ten days. The net effect is that all work down since 13 April 2007 is gone—just gone, baybee. Like it never fucking happened.
So that cool new project I was skimming so happily along with? I'm back to square one. Well, not square one—more like square four or five—but given that only yesterday I was motoring past square number 39 or so, it still sucks muchly the same.
Now I sit here and whine lyrically about the raging anger and numbing depression the situation has stirred, but in my heart of hearts I already realize there are but two options today: either buck up or give up. March or die, soldier.
Contest season looms huge on the rapidly approaching near-term horizon—ten days 'til Nicholl, forty 'til Austin—and I sit here with no pages but only the muddled memory of a nearly-finished outline now lost at sea.
The options left to me now seem limited. Either I kick unholy ass in the next week, or I'm left trying to jump-start my stagnated career for the next year using what little attention I can garner by cold-calling and cymbal-banging. Part of me badly wants to grab a softball bat in frustration and just go use the cat for fungo practice, but instead I'll wax my moustache, button up my waistcoat and adjust the brim of my cap to a properly rakish angle as I remember one of the few worthwhile bits of Gallic military inspiration:
"Hard pressed on my right. My center is yielding. Impossible to maneuver. Situation excellent. I am attacking."
-- message to HQ from Gen. Ferdinand Foch
Fuckin ay, bubba. Once more into the breach.
Tenacious B (too big to kill, too dumb to quit)