Posts Tagged ‘adulting’

So today marks the 13th anniversary of my bnei mitzvah, when my sister Adi and I were called to the Torah in official recognition of reaching adulthood in Judaism.* According to the Gregorian calendar, anyway: August 19th, 2006. The anniversary date on the Hebrew calendar falls on August 26th this year, and the Torah portion my sister and I read from, Re’eh (Deuteronomy 11:26-16:17), will be read in synagogues on August 31st. It’s a whole lot of complicated, I know.

The point is, the date I pay attention to, August 19th, 2006, has its anniversary today. Thirteen years ago. A full half of my lifetime ago, and close to half my own sister’s life ago.

I’m not doing anything to mark the occasion. The thirteen-year anniversary isn’t really that significant in Judaism, and I’m not in the mood to do anything special beyond maybe some ice cream and wine (the celebratory foods of the exhausted working grown ups). I barely remember that weekend’s festivities, truth be told, beyond going off-script and laughing like a lunatic during my speech (but it was poorly written, so it was probably an improvement). Still, I thought I’d at least talk about it.

Because honestly, I feel more like an adult now than I ever did at thirteen.

I don’t know when it happened. Becoming an adult became a gradual process, not just something that happened overnight. It started in college, while I was paying rent and bills while also balancing homework and trying not to stress out about my grades. And then I started looking for a job, had an internship abroad (which gave new lessons to the art of budgeting), came back and had the existential dread of living on my dad’s couch for eight months looking for a job. I found a job, started paying rent again, paid more bills, worked forty hours a week. I got a license and a car, I learned to balance fun and asserting my independence with work and learning to submit when necessary.

And I began to understand how the world works. How insane and nasty it can be, and how much we have to do to make it seem pleasant for more than a millisecond or two.

What did I know at thirteen? I was still wrapping my head around the idea that other people will never like horror or anime no matter how much I talked about it. I was sure I would be a famous author by age twenty and living in Beverly Hills by twenty-five. And I was sure the world was a mostly-good place where good eventually triumphs over evil, and the nastiness I saw everyday would eventually balance itself out.

Look how well that turned out.

Not to say I was completely clueless or naive back then. I did know one thing back then, and that I wasn’t an adult, no matter how well I read from the Torah or what my rabbis (aka my parents) said. I knew I couldn’t survive on my own. I had only so much understanding of my own finances, of how to take care of myself. I knew I would be dependent on my parents and others for at least the next five years. No matter what, I wasn’t ready for adulthood (though, like every teen, I couldn’t wait for the freedoms of adulthood).

I guess I can sum this up by saying I’m glad it took as long as it did for me to reach adulthood. I was able to enjoy being young while it lasted, and I wouldn’t be anywhere near as competent as I am now without all those years to learn and mature. At the same time, that slow change from kid to adult helps me be a better writer, and understand those younger than me (even if I have no idea what the kids are listening to these days or what video games are popular).

So I guess it took another thirteen years, but I can finally say, I’m a grown up now. And I think I’m doing alright.

*Just a note for those not familiar with Judaism and/or the Hebrew language: a bar mitzvah is for a single 13-year-old boy. A bat mtzvah is for a single 12-year-old girl. A bnei mitzvah is for multiple boys or a mixed-gender group. And a b’not mitzvah is for multiple girls. Also, many adults have bnei mitzvahs, especially if they converted in adulthood or otherwise were unable to have a ceremony in their teens. Just thought I’d mention it.

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Cover of Snake by Rami Ungar

As I mentioned before, today is my twenty-third birthday. Wow, twenty-three. Technically, I’m still pretty young, but I feel old. I’m already paying bills and rent on my own apartment and starting a job. Ah, adulting. How you make me feel older than I am.

And as I mentioned in my last post, it’s also been two years since I published Snake, my second novel. This book, which was inspired by movies like Taken and eighties slasher films, as well as all the suspense novels I read in my first year or two of college, is the story of a serial killer who goes after members of a powerful New York mafia family, and the reasons why he does this.

It’s definitely one of my more “what the fuck?”-worthy stories, as well as one of the ones I had the most fun writing. At the time I wrote it, I just wanted to create a very thrilling, violent story involving a serial killer whom people would find themselves cheering for (like I said, “what the fuck?”-worthy). I did a lot of research into serial killers and psychopaths, even consulting with a forensic psychiatrist who helped me figure out what an actual criminal profiler would say about the crimes, as well as a lot of rewrites and reworking of the plot. The end result was one hell of a bloody, exciting thriller-horror novel.

True, there are some things I would’ve changed in the final product if I could go back (technically I could, but I don’t do rewrites after publication unless absolutely necessary), but yeah, it’s a good novel. And that’s not just my own ego telling me that. Here are some reviews, a few of which are by friends and other authors [WARNING! Some of these reviews do contain spoilers. Please be advised]:

Well, I took yet another vacation where I made my family “just wait until I finish this chapter.” This page-turning read was another great effort by Rami. He is not afraid to take risks in plot twists and turns, character development and he takes the reader on quite the journey in this book. So looking forward to his next creation!

–Michele K

This book is another awesome creation by Rami. This book is scary and brings the reader to the depths of how evil the human character can be and how anyone can be driven to commit acts of torture. The author does a wonderful job of developing the plot and characters and there are certainly twists and turns. I highly recommend reading this book if you love a good frightening thrill.

–ENJ

Rami Ungar makes a promise to (the reader) in all his writings: he WILL scare you, and if he does “his job is done.” Snake will scare you. I am a huge Stephen King fan, so this should give you some idea of my tolerance level for gore, death and mayhem – I was scared. Rami takes you into places you would never have believed possible, and manages to pull his hero (and eventually his heroine) out of them against all odds. If you like to be scared. If you LOVE to be scared. You should read this book.

–Angela Misri, author of No Matter How Improbable

I really enjoyed this book. When I selected “dark” for the mood, it was almost a toss up with suspenseful. You knew early on who the mafia killer was, but the question of how he was going to find his girlfriend and rescue her was suspenseful. I ended up choosing “dark” because of the level of violence our main character used in getting to the girlfriend. But he was a complex character. Even though he definitely had the dark side to him, there was a surprisingly good side to him, too. You don’t really see this until later on in the book. So early on, you might think this is an unredeemable character. But one of the most intriguing characters are those who aren’t what they initially seem, and for this reason, I enjoyed this character. The pacing was just right. It wasn’t rushed, and in no way did I ever feel it dragged, which is awesome for a book that was over 500 pages in paperback.

–Ruth Ann Nordin, author of The Mistaken Mail Order Bride

I guess people really like it. Which is good, because I have plans to someday write a sequel. I just have too much right now to devote time to one. Though considering the experience I had with the first book, I’d probably have a blast getting the second one written and going back down that creepy-as-hell rabbit hole.

So if you would like to read Snake and see if it’s as good and as scary as these lovely reviewers have made it out to be, I’ll include the links below. And if you do decide to read the book, please let me know what you think. Positive or negative, I love feedback from readers (and it makes me a better writer to boot).

That’s all for now. I’m off to have birthday celebrations with my family. I’ll see you around, my Followers of Fear. Have a great weekend.

Snake: AmazonCreatespace, Barnes & Noble,iBooksSmashwords, and Kobo

The other day, I posted about my recent adulting experiences (how typical is it of the Internet era that the age and mode of responsibility is now a verb that I fully embrace as part of the English language?). Funnily enough, after I wrote the first draft of that post (yeah, there were a couple of drafts to that strange, slightly stream-of-consciousness post), I realized that during all the times I listed stuff I was doing that counted as “adulting”, I didn’t list writing. For some reason, writing doesn’t count as adulting.

This struck me as kind of odd. Why doesn’t writing, an activity that is essential to just about every business and so many different professions, not count as adulting? Well, actually it is. Typing up forms and reports, sending emails, writing a speech. Those are all adult activities, and they’re so important that the basics are taught to us from a very young age.

But creative writing–writing fiction, creating poetry, and maybe even journalism–are not treated as adulting activities. And I think that’s because, unless you’re making quite the income from these activities, people don’t treat them as a job or as an activity up there with paying your bills or making your own meals. I’ve talked about how people don’t see writing as a job before (too bad that post didn’t change as many minds as I would like), and a lot of the points I made in that post still hold true. People still don’t see writing as on par for a job.

There are a number of reasons for this. One is that people think of authors and see someone sitting in front of a notebook/typewriter/computer and magically bang out a story with little to no effort. Now, the reality is very different, but perceptions are hard to break, and the belief persists that writers are hardly expending any effort in their work. And as adulting kind of involves expending energy and doing hard work, the definition is at odds with the perception.

This isn’t considered an adulting activity.

Another reason that people might not see writing as adulting is because it’s filling a creative urge that most associate with our inner child. I know, this might be a bit of a stretch, but at least hear me out. At some point in your childhood, you likely sat at the table with a bunch of paper and paint or crayons and churned out picture after picture that your parents put on the fridge and treated it like a freaking Picasso. And after you learned to read and write and maybe understood some basic storytelling, you may have created short stories based on fairy tales or some giant robot anime (asking your parents on how to spell certain words) and then listened to them act like you’re the next F. Scott Fitzgerald after you told them those stories.

I think to some degree that urge to be an artist or storyteller when we were children stays with us as we grow older, and we creative types indulge in the urge, only we write/paint/create much better than we did as children (usually). So when writers are busy working on a story, people see it as partaking in a vestige of our childhood that’s somehow stayed with us through the years. And childhood is the exact opposite of adulthood, which means it’s has nothing to do with adulting.

Now considering all that, should writing be something we want considered as adulting? After all, adult things usually have some sort of prestige to them. Perhaps since so much goes into writing and publishing fiction, it should be an activity worthy of being called “adulting.”

My opinion: HELL NO! Why? Because of what constitutes as adulting already: paying your bills, handling moving into a new home, working a 9-5 job and enrolling your kid in that day camp so they aren’t cooped up with the Xbox all summer and you can go to that 9-5 job. These are activities that are either boring, or annoying as hell. You’d just rather not deal with them. So when writing isn’t considered an adulting activity, I treat that as a good thing. Because you know what? As difficult as writing can be, it should be fun! It should be something pursued for joy and for the sake of creation and connection, not because it’s a task that has to be taken care of at some point if we don’t want to upset our lives.

So let’s not call writing an activity worthy of being called adulting. Let’s just keep it as a fun, creative outlet that you can occasionally make some money off of, and leave it at that.

Do you think writing should be considered adulting? Why or why not?

What are some other activities that should or not be considered adulting, and why?

I move into my new apartment in a week. I’ve been running every which way getting ready. No one was available to help me move or rent a U-Haul, so I hired a moving company. Costs a lot, but it’s worth it for the service. Plus rent up front for the first month. Another big payment. And the new bed was a big payment. And the cable is also going to be a big payment. I don’t think gas will be that much, but you never know.

It’s a good thing I’m starting my new job on June 13th. It’ll be good to get working, earn some money and also make a difference. And this internship has a good chance of transitioning into a full-time position, which would be wonderful. Of course, I have to work hard, and make a good impression, and not screw up. And that’ll be a challenge, but I’m sure I can handle it. I just have to remember people’s names and hope they don’t mind that sometimes social situations go over my head (the stories I could tell, but don’t want to).

God forbid I should have to search for another job after this, because I like working and I hate searching. And with a new apartment, I can’t afford to not be earning money. So I must do my best in this new job and make the most of the opportunity.

Before all that though, I have to prepare for the move. I’ve already bought towels and sheets from Target. They were at a good price too. And the cashier at the register told me where I could go to get a garbage can at half the price of the store I visited, so I’ll be visiting that place most likely tomorrow. Saves me a trip to Bed Bath & Beyond or another trip to Target.

Still, not everything’s as easy as I would like it. I still have to figure something out with the furniture, because a lot of people are willing to let me have their old furniture, but all but one person says I have to pick it up myself. Figuring that out is going to be a challenge. Hopefully it won’t be another payment.

Speaking of payments, I’ve got cell phone bills and loans to repay and a credit card to pay back. I also have to pay groceries, cook my meals. I can afford to pay a bit more for quality food, but I can’t be doing too much or I’ll do myself financial harm. Still, need to eat healthy if I plan to live well past forty. And speaking of health, I have this weird back problem and should see a physical therapist for it, but I don’t know any, and they cost money, and without a driver’s license or a car it’ll cost money just to get there, I bet.

Speaking of that, I need to put more work into getting my license. Of course, that’s dependent on how much practice I get with my parents, and they’re not always available to do driving practice. Still, my sister managed to do it while working a full-time job and attending classes. I’ll just be working full-time. But even if I get my license soon, I’ll still need to afford the car. The point in my life where I’m ready to do that is still likely very far off, but it’s still something I should plan for and aim for.

Thank God I’m not in  relationship right now. I’m actually not sure if I’m even interested in having a romantic relationship, but I guess it would be nice. Still, no rush. Besides, who has the time or money when you’re trying to establish yourself as an independent adult? In fact, whoever feels I should make it a priority needs to keep their feelings to themselves.

Adulting seems to be making lists and getting items crossed off those lists. It seems like refining that mental calculator in my head that keeps track of my finances, making it that much more accurate and that much better at deciding what’s necessary and what’s not. It seems to be looking forward to taking a break or having a nap on a Saturday afternoon, something my dad does pretty regularly and which I never thought was my thing but now I’m starting to believe there may be more to the Saturday afternoon nap than I gave credit for. Am I starting to become my dad? God, there’s a scary thought right there.

I always thought that when I became an adult everything would be easy for me. Instead it’s a lot of working and worrying and making things happen so that I’m not running up the walls and into an asylum. I’m reminded of an article I read years ago in The Onion, about a man who almost has fun in a party but can’t because he keeps remembering all his obligations and worries.

I should print out that article and hang it out in my new office. Might remind me to chill every now and then and remember all the good stuff in my life, all the reasons to stay relaxed and not get too uptight. My family and friends. A good TV show or movie. All the books to read and all the stories to write. All the people who enjoy what I have to write, whether I’m blogging or putting it out in a book. My community. My faith.

Life changes. You grow up. You get older. You gain more responsibilities. You gain new responsibilities, and you drop a few by the wayside as well. But you still find ways to remember what’s important in life. and I certainly will do my best to keep all that and more in mind.