My dearest friends, and the Obnoxious Republican,

Before I begin this week’s ramblings, I want to say that I hate, hate, HATE that STUPID Levi Jeans commercial where the idiot narrator says, “Pioneers, oh, pioneers” repeatedly while a bunch of moronic half-naked young people parade about, drenched by rain and living life. You haven’t seen it? It’s ubiquitous. Thank you, Levi, for making me hate a Walt Whitman poem.

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It’s been a stressful few months, and visions of budget cuts and downsizing dance like sugarplum fairies in my head, keeping me tossing and turning at night. It is almost Christmas, but it doesn’t feel like it, due to all the work and stresses of life. I don’t get excited anymore when I look at Christmas lights, probably because I’m just exhausted when I get home.

This Sunday, however, Jameelah and I went to visit our little nephew, Nam, who is almost three. “’Meelah!” he said, grabbing her by the hand, “Come look! Christmas!” He pulled her to the window, where he opened the curtain and pointed to the neighbor’s colorful lights. “Christmas beautiful,” he said, “Beautiful tree!…But it’s cold.” He was so excited. It made me miss childhood and all the magic that came with it. Holding little Nam’s hand, I yearned for those days of driving around the neighborhoods with my parents, awed by the lights, then coming home and being forced to drink a glass of milk because Mom thought I was underweight and looked like a zombie and I would stay in the kitchen, bitter and resentful. That’s the magic of childhood.

For the past several months, I’ve been writing dialog for magical horses. Now, you might be wondering, “Huy, why are you writing dialog for magical horses?” It’s freelance writing. I’m doing a little work for a company that creates online games for girls that involve helping magical horses. Here’s an example of the dialog I might write:

Sandstorm (a magical horse): I’m so glad you’re here. My magical buddy Sparklewings just fell into the Darkwater Bog! Please grow a vine and pull her out.

Clever, huh? You, the player, now have to grow a vine and pull Sparklewings out of the pit. The company’s intellectual property people, who create the magical world and its inhabitants, are really creative and come up with some amazing story arcs. You might laugh, but I am really enjoying doing this work, which is so different from nonprofit management. In this world, the horses are sweet and good-natured, and every problem can be solved.

I am slowly trying to wean myself into the project managers’ good graces, so I can pitch my ideas for storylines that are a little more geared toward an older audience, with more complex characters and issues. For example, some magical horses accidentally left some sugarberries under their bed. Months later, the berries ferment, and they discover magical moonshine:

Nimbus:               Sandstorm, are you OK? You’re acting kind of strange.

Sandstorm:         Hic…What? No no, I’m OK. Have some of this sugarberry juice! It’s strange but really good.

Nimbus:               Whoa, you’re right. This amazing nectar makes me feel so…happy, like I can fly.

Sandstorm:         You CAN fly! You’re a flying horse!

Nimbus:               You’re right. A ha. Ahaha.

Sandstorm:         Ha ha ha.

Nimbus:               You know, I never told anyone this, but I’m really unhappy…

But I think I’ll take the cue from little Nam, and hold back from the realism for a while yet. The Darkwater Bogs of life are often unavoidable and inevitable. But we should try to hold on to our inner magical horse for as long as possible. Does that make any sense? I’m going to find time to drive Nam around the neighborhood, so he can look at Christmas lights, and maybe some of his bright-eyed wonder will rub back onto me.

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