woke up in the rain and everyone turned over

The way I remember it, the last day of school was always the hottest day of the year, capping at least a week of warm and sunny weather that brought with it the promise of spending every day of our impending summer vacation by the pool or at the beach. I didn't care that my parochial school forced us to wear dark shirts and corduroy pants when it was over ninety degrees outside, because in just a few days, the only corduroy I'd wear for months would be in the form of two-toned OP shorts.

Invariably, the first day of summer vacation arrived under cloudy and cold grey skies, and June Gloom settled in and stuck around until at least the Fourth of July.

I always felt cheated and ripped off. Why did the weather tease us so cruelly, and with such unforgiving regularity? Moreover, why did I fall for nature's cruel tricks year after year, and why was I suddenly wearing corduroy pants to stay warm?

I thought about this yesterday morning, as Anne and I prepared to walk our dog around the Rose Bowl. Mornings are almost always cool and damp down in the Arroyo Seco, and fog is quite common, especially this time of year. 

"I think I should have worn long sleeves," I said to her as we got out of the car.

"No, it'll warm up soon, and you'll be glad you're in a T-shirt." 

Seamus hopped out of the car and thumped his tail against the side of my leg.

"Someone's pretty excited to take a walk," I said.

Upon hearing the word walk, Seamus began wagging his entire body.

We met our friend Marie, who brought her dogs with her. Seamus adores her dog Quincy, and always wants to walk shoulder-to-shoulder with him, which we don't mind at all because it's adorable.

It seems like everyone loves my dog. Almost all the people who came toward and then passed us made some comment about how cute he was, or how happy he seemed. 

"We really hit the jackpot with this little guy," I said.

"We really did," Anne said.

"I can't believe someone abandoned him."

"Yeah, people suck."

"Totally."

We walked around the Western side of the Rose Bowl, along the golf course. It seemed like every group I saw wasn't having any fun, which must have sucked for them because that course is expensive. I used to play golf about once a week at public courses that were close to La Crescenta, like Scholl Canyon in Glendale, De Bell in Burbank, and Eaton Canyon up in Altadena. Even though I was never any good, I still enjoyed it when I played with my friends. Most golfers took it way too seriously for my tastes, though, and getting grouped with guys who seemed to think that we were on the PGA Tour took all the fun out of it for me. If I play at all these days, it's usually at a 3 Par with one of my kids.

There's this saying that golf is "a good walk, spoiled", and I smiled to myself as I thought that I was on the better side of the fence between us, with little risk of anything spoiling my walk.

I guess we'd been walking for about ten minutes when I realized that the sun had burned off the last lingering vestiges of the marine layer, and my face and neck were warm. 

"Good thing I didn't wear long sleeves," I said.

"Told you."

While Anne and Marie talked about mom things, I let my mind drift and opened my senses to the world around me. I heard the familiar low drone of a distant lawn mower, the fairly regular tink! of metal drivers shanking tee shots, and the quiet white noise of the 210 freeway, nearby. I smelled flowers and chemical fertilizer and wet grass, and when I reached down to pet Seamus, I felt heat radiating off his black fur.

I've been working a lot, spending most of my days confined to my office when I'm not on the set for something, and I haven't made much of an effort to get outside and enjoy the world. I don't think it's coincidence that I haven't felt particularly creative or able to write much of anything narrative for my blog. Getting outside and experiencing a significant change of scenery, opening myself up to whatever sensory input I could, felt good; by the time we got to the clubhouse on the Eastern side of the golf course, just over two and a half miles into the three mile walk, I felt like my writing mojo was beginning to return.

"I'm going to write about this," I thought to myself. "I don't know what it's really going to be about, but I'm going to write about it, for the sake of writing. It probably won't be particularly interesting or entertaining, but if I'm going to get to the interesting and entertaining stuff again, I have to grind out some boring stuff."

I walked into the clubhouse to use the bathroom. It was cooler inside than it was outside, and the faint smells of sterno and banquet food lingered in the air. 

When I opened the bathroom door, there were two old white guys inside using the urinals. One of them leaned on a cane, nodding along as the other one said, "…and now that there's so darn many women everywhere, you can't just take a leak on a tree whenever you want to!"

He spoke with equal parts lamentation and indignation, and as they walked over to the sink to wash their hands, I knew that, even if I didn't have something interesting to write about, there was at least one small part that was going to be entertaining.

I washed my hands and went back outside to meet Anne and Marie so we could finish our walk. I told them about a world, forgotten by all but a few aging men who once lived in it, where every tree belonged to every man and no woman ever came between them.

"I'm really glad I came out here to walk with you guys today," I said.

68 thoughts on “woke up in the rain and everyone turned over”

  1. Not boring. Sometimes we don’t know what something’s about until we’re in the thick of the writing of it, right?

  2. Sometimes it takes mother nature’s caress to shake us out of our closed off little worlds.
    To quote Running Bear:
    Man’s heart away from nature becomes hard.
    Glad “mom” got you out of the writing funk you’d been in. As usual, very well written and lacking any sort of boring whatsoever.
    +10 to you sir.

  3. Growing up in Barstow that longing for the pool usually started a month before school was out, plus having that heat linger the first few weeks of class was cruel.
    Great narrative and it’s always great to find a way to recharge creativity.

  4. The peeing on trees made me smile. Why are boys naturally attracted to peeing on trees? When my boys were little, it was one of their favourite activities as they played in our backyard or near by forests. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if they still did when nobody was looking.

  5. Best.. Cure.. song.. evar. FWIW, you’re right–a breath of fresh air and a change of scenery can do wonders for creative cognition.

  6. Not boring at all. :) Isn’t it always the way: it’s when we say “I’m going to NOT write right now” and we get away from the computer (or notebook and pen) that the inspiration hits?
    Good post! I could hear the golf swings. :)

  7. I’m not gonna lie to you, Marge (see what I did there? hehe)… it’s those little things in life like a simple walk, a random snippet of conversation, even just something you have seen traveling from point A to point B that can spark a creative piece into existence.
    This post is a perfect example of that process. It is not something to fear or regret but rather to embrace, and to be honest it is something I personally need to embrace more as a writer myself. Thank you for sharing this with all of us and hopefully this will inspire others to just absorb the world around them and draw from all those experiences when they write.
    Ashes to ashes,
    DJ Pheonyx

  8. Okay, let me see if I can put the feelings that your post has brought up into words…
    I’ve also been having the hardest time coming up with blog posts (nothing for over a month!) or getting on with my fiction writing. I’ve also been unable to work out why. Normally with patience the inspiration strikes quite regularly and I have the energy to respond to it, but recently. Neither inspiration nor energy. Nothing.
    I think you’ve hit the nail on the head, again. I think it’s because I’ve gotten too locked down in the demands of work and study and haven’t had the mental space to think or the emotional room for inspiration to hit. The funny thing is, when I read your post I realised that I knew that but it turns out that even lessons already learnt can be forgotten. It takes someone, someone willing to share their own experience, to remind me to get out and enjoy the world a little. To take in the vibrancy of the world around me free of the internal clutter of my own worries.
    Thanks Wil.

  9. This is my favourite post since I started reading (about a month ago). It’s a whole new, romantic side to Wil, and I like it. Also it seems to be getting nice responses from your readers^

  10. I love it when a walk can stir up a bunch of writerly thoughts. I remember walking home at midnight once, and by the time I got home I just had to fire up my laptop[ and blog about it. About how I’d seen a cat staring at the river, and what do cats think anyway? About the clock striking twelve, and about my little sister, and what words are for.
    It’s a good feeling.

  11. Wil, Thanks for taking us on a walk with you. Reading about someone’s walk outside can be almost as inspiring as taking a walk yourself. Thanks for the inspiration.

  12. Thanks for sharing this experience Wil. I really love these kinds of posts. You definitely don’t waste your time in writing and posting them. Also, I know what you mean about jackpot dogs. I definitely hit the jackpot when I found a white dog wandering in my neighborhood. Lucy is the friendliest most special dog I have ever known, and I still can’t believe that anyone would have abandoned her. People suck, but at least other people (like those who run no kill shelters and adopt rescue dogs) are awesome. If Seamus is ever in Brooklyn, I bet he and Lucy would get along great.

  13. I always love the stories that are inspired from spending time with your Family, especially your Wife. My Husband and I celebrated 19 years on June 1st. It’s awesome!

  14. Hey now, that was a very good narrative. I think the relaxation implied by the prose began to ooze out of my screen.
    And totally understand the “June Gloom,” I still get it now: whenever I have a day off from work, it inevitably rains/is cooler/cloudy, even if it has been sunny for weeks. I think I’ve finally come to the conclusion that I just have to find a way to enjoy the rain. Your post reminded me to be appreciative of the little things.

  15. I have to say that these are some of my favorite posts to read. The everyday simple joys that strike a little muse…that’s where it’s at. Thanks for sharing.

  16. When I found out I was losing the ability to walk, one of my big regrets was not being able to go on long hikes in the mountains with my dog any more. I’ve always loved taking off when the kids were in school, hiking up to our favorite waterfall, lounging on a little-used side trail and smelling the mountain laurel and water fresh from the rocks.
    I live next to the ocean now, so no more mountains. Now my dog walks me, pulling my wheelchair in his purple harness. My husband was rather disgusted by the purple. He thought I should have gotten a “manly color” for our Dobie mix (also a shelter dog). I wanted the dog to match my chair, and since I was the one ordering the harness, I won.
    Dogs are wonders. They work for us, love us, give us their all in a way few humans will. It’s never pointless or trivial to take some time to just be with your dog. It’s all he asks of you.

  17. When I was in chamber orchestra in high school, all of my classmates were annoyed by the fact that we were asked to play simple pieces. Not alot of difficult phrasing, at moderate tempos, with predictable structure. At one point, annoyed, my teacher turned to them and said “If you guys can’t even play Mary Had a Little Lamb beautifully, then why on Earth would I want to try and give you Beethoven?”In a similar fashion, I think it’s the mark of a true writer to be able to make the most simplest of circumstances something wonderful and captivating to read. This was beautiful, Wil. You really need to write narrative more often. :)

  18. Wil, this is the first I have heard of Seamus; must be a new member of your family. I love your blogs on family pets; my favorite stories. Freeman :)

  19. It’s a good thing Seamus didn’t come to the bathroom with you. Those older guys might have envied his outdoor peeing prerogative.

  20. Hey Wil, nicely written,an d a little less belaboured and frantic than some of your stuff i’ve read (and enjouyed, FWIW) Speaking of which, when can we expect the next ‘Memories of the Future Book’?
    I’m looking forward to sticking with you, but don’t keep me on a slow drip (which, coincidentatly was my nnick-name in high school (SD for short))

  21. Wil- First I have to say growing up in Northern Minnesota we were just happy no snow was on the ground come the last day of school, but your post today totally brought back those memories!! You’re a really great writer. I just discovered your blog and found myself get really wrapped up in your stories! You have inspired me to write more! Hope you have fun next Monday when you get to Minnesota! (BTW the snow has melted)

  22. You know what some of the best parts of your blogs are Wil? The fact that you actually read and respond to as many comments as, I’m assuming, your schedule will allow. That is just awesome to me. That you’re just a regular, talented guy, who happened to be part of one of the biggest franchises ever, and has turned that opportunity into your own little geek empire, we nerd-lings here now serve under. I salute you and your good fortune sir. =-D

  23. Loved the story!
    After the bathroom experience, why did you say, “glad I came out here to walk with you GUYS today”? Nice to be with gals, or whatever other (non-pejorative) term you wanted. Not a criticism, just a thought.

  24. Wil, I wanted to let you know that I watched “Justice” tonight before I came to work. And I got excited (no, not at the camel toes EVERYWHERE). I want to make something, but I am wondering if (A) it has already been done and (B) if not, would there be legal ramifications if I did make it and posted it somewhere like YouTube.
    I know your stuff is under Creative Commons, but I’m wondering about certain video …

  25. Just realised you have a lot of hobbies + professions:
    * Blogger
    * Poker Player
    * Hockey Player
    * Golfer
    * Video Game Player
    * RPG Player
    * Actor
    * Speaker
    * Writer
    * Other
    I know you are a great blogger. I’ve only seen you play poker for 3 seconds on TV. Maybe you can rank them 1 to 10 ;) LOL

  26. I read the title, expecting the story to descend into The Cure-inspired Lovecraftian madness, but really enjoyed this anyhow! Nice details, a great meditation on the awakening of the muse, and a lovely way to describe a common walk in its own right.
    Brilliant stuff, Wil. Thanks.

  27. Oh crap! That totally caused me to go gigglesnortHA! and then a bit of a guffaw.
    Boys get all the fun. It just isn’t as easy for us non-penis types to mark out territory.

  28. Another nice narrative.
    It seems to be kinda like your old acting teacher told you about acting vs. auditioning. That you have to keep acting, no matter what, because auditioning won’t scratch that itch.
    The same I find with writing. You can’t have writing without living. You have to experience, and I mean notice, the world so that you can bottle it up and share it.

  29. Wil,
    Speaking on finding your muse, what is the progress/prognosis on MOTF Vol. 2? I am itching to start hearing more Memories of the Futurecast :)

  30. Hey Wil, just wanted say what a beautiful job you did on the special version of Happiest Days – just got my version (I orderd it about 12 or more ago, and get it sent to my brother-in-law’s address in the US, and he misplaced it until just now) and it is fabulous!! Can’t wait to start reading it, and hope that Memories vol II is coming along!

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