[Letter Talk] Mail Bag #60

Dear Journal,

It’s been a really odd year away from you. A lot of time elapsed since I stopped writing. The world went into lockdown, and then came out of lockdown, and then when into it again. I’ve been feeling very discombobulated for a while. Time has started to feel less like a flat circle and more like a box of old broken costume jewelry that someone is shaking like a meraca in a jug band. I’ve been thinking about how to keep busy, how to take care of myself, and tragically, how I’m going to tackle an endless to do list. I mean … also I’m just glad to be back.

Letter Talk is a short (~10 minutes) comedy podcast where a I write letters to anyone about anything, and I’d be honored to write one to you.


Dear Stephen,

Thank you for your handwriting letter, and I hope you appreciate this handwritten letter I’m writing back to you. I acknowledge your comments about my handwriting, and I think they’re valid. Honestly, I considered sending you only this letter (handwritten) just to know you’re squirming in your attempts to read it. But I figured that might be too mean, so I’ve enclosed a printed copy of the letter as well. I thought about also using my typewriter for an additional copy, but I’m already typing this on the computer, so it seems like I’d have just another step to typing this letter, so that would be not once, not twice, but Thrice I am writing you this letter. Seems like a bit of overkill, right? I’d have a different method of writing the letter for each sentence you wrote to me in your letter. It just doesn’t seem like a good ratio, honestly.

Or maybe that’s appropriate. This is clearly not the most productive podcast, as you can tell from my long absence. I find myself mired by my desire to be more productive only to find that I am still a human being with only 24 hours in a day, and I insist on sleeping for 10 hours of them if nobody stops me or I have nowhere to be. It’s very odd. 

What’s even more odd? Sometimes I sleep longer out of pure spite. Have you ever heard of anyone who uses sleep to fight their dreams? Not anyone in the dreams, but the dreams themselves? That’s me. If productivity hinged on how well you could fight your dreams, then call me David Allen. (Ok, I know this is a terrible reference that is likely not funny, because who knows David Allen? And I feel like I have to clarify that it’s not David Allen & Associates, a law firm I saw a ton of local TV commercials about while growing up in Reno, and then when I moved to Sacramento, I realized they were here, too. I’m not sure how long they’ve been here, but part of me likes to think they moved here when I did and it’s just a weird coincidence. No, I am referring to David Allen who wrote “Getting Things Done.” So now that I’ve explained the joke, I’ll say it again so you can reflect on it and have more context.) If productivity hinged on how well you could fight your dreams, then call me David Allen.

I learned to fight my dreams in adulthood. When I was a kid I had a shit ton of problems sleeping. I would sleep with the light on. Sometimes I would crawl into my mom’s room and sleep on the floor near her. The most common thing I did to make sure I could fall asleep ok was try to make sure I was never the last person awake, and my mother and sister knew this about me. They were really kind to wait until I was asleep before they’d head to bed on most nights.

One of the reasons I was afraid of sleeping was because I’ve always had lots of nightmares. I’ve made so many adjustments over the years to prevent the sheer amount of nightmares. And the adjustments helped, but the nightmares never totally went away. I started to just accept that they’re a part of my life. I used to write them down in my journal. I’m not sure that’s the most helpful thing I’ve done, because then I’ll skim over a journal and see that and be like “OH SHIT I FORGOT ABOUT THAT ONE. I HATE THAT ONE. BOOOOO. I BLAME YOU SPY NOVEL I READ BEFORE BED ONCE WHEN I WAS IN COLLEGE. FUCK YOU, PULP FICTION SPY NOVEL.” 

I started getting into what I like to call “spite dreaming.” I’d wake up from a bad dream, and in a half asleep stupor, my brain would utter something like “oh no you’re fuckin’ not gonna do me dirty like that, DREAM.” And I’d lay my head back down on the pillow, shut my eyes, determined to go back to bed to correct whatever fucked up thing I saw in the recent nightmares. Sometimes it worked. Most of the time, I wouldn’t remember any dream, and I’d just be like “wow, I slept an extra two hours.” It’s become such a weird habit that if no one stops me and I have nowhere to be, I’ll wake up naturally after 8 hours of sleeping, look at the clock, and think “ha-ha! back to bed for me. FUCK YOU DAVID ALLEN, the lawyer or the Getting Things Done guy! I’m going back to bed!”

Spite dreaming is just a thing I have in my toolbox. Over the last few years I’ve figured out something more helpful. When I wake up from a nightmare, remember where I’m at, and think “THANK GOD. IT’S MUCH BETTER HERE IN THE AWAKETIMES. VERY COOL. SUNGLASSES GUY EMOJI.” It’s like what people do in a sitcom, but I get to experience it all the time. On a regular basis, I sleep in out of spite, and on a regular basis, I get to be thankful that life is terrifying but less terrifying than how it feels to be inside a violent spy novel (unless you ARE in a violent spy novel, then I’m very sorry for my callous remark).

Anyway, thanks for writing in, Stephen. I have a hard time reading your handwriting as well, but hey that’s just part of the magic of writing with your hands instead of using the aid of a robot. 

Stay chill bro,


Hi there, I drive by your office all the time. I remember you all from your commercials in Reno. Have you always been in Sacramento or did you move here when I did in 2019? We could have shared a moving van or something, HAHAH. Let me know if you still want to, honestly. I have some boxes of books at my mom’s house still. Gotta get those.

Dear David Allen of Getting Things Done “fame”,

Hi there, how are you? I hope you’re staying productive, but like of course you are! You’re Mr. Productivity himself! I often wonder how tired you’re getting of receiving gift mugs with various productive slogans on them. “Most Productive Man” “World’s Most Productive Boss” “Kiss Me, I’m Productive” “Productive Cat Lady.” I’m not sure what else you put on mugs. I guess you can put anything you want on them, who’s gonna stop you? Go hog wild! Actually, “Go hog wild!” would probably be a highly selling mug. 

I’ve spent about a good nine months figuring out how to be productive during everything that’s gone on, and I still don’t think I’ve figured it out. Working from home and not going anywhere seems like it should be the most productive. I’m just in this apartment with my dog, my to do list, and the sound of FIREWORKS FOR SOME REASON? STILL? GUYS ARE YOU SERIOUS? ARE YOU GUYS FUCKING SERIOUS? WHY ARE YOU STILL LIGHTING FIREWORKS?

There’s something very unsettling about fireworks, too. Because depending on how many go off and what they sound like, they could sound like gunshots. And I’ve definitely been fooled in either direction. “Haha, don’t worry about it, it’s fireworks” when it happened to be gunshots, and “Oh crap, my dog is freaking out, was that a gunshot?” If I kept exploding fireworks every night like my neighbors do, I would at least do the polite thing and get a megaphone and yell into it, “Don’t worry, these are fireworks not gunshots!” promptly after lighting them. I’m not stupid, I know if you’re shooting a gun, you’re not going to yell that you’re shooting a gun. So if I was shooting a gun, I would do the same thing with a megaphone but instead I would say, “For clarification, these are NOT fireworks.” and then people can figure out where to go from there. 

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that it’s probably fine that things are taking longer, that life feels slower and smaller right now. Everywhere you move through life provides some weird balance, and it feels like whenever you reach some sort of balance at one point, you’re put into a position where you need to learn a new balance. I think that exact sentence is where the shoes got their name. They didn’t get it from me, but I’m pretty sure I’ve never had an original thought in my head before, or at least it feels that way given how I’ve been feeling for the last 9 months. I think it’s entirely likely that there are people who have gotten pregnant before physical isolation who have made an entirely new person, before they made an entirely new thought they were proud of. It’s the nature of the game.

What do you think, ol’ Davy Man?

Keep it productive!