[I]n the six weeks since I took a self-imposed creative vacation since finishing work on the new Killing book, I had no desire to write at all. I was empty. Very little occurred to pull me out of the literary black hole that had consumed me — that is, until these last two days. . . .
I am well aware of my introverted ways, of which solitude is a key component. When my oldest son was turning twelve and decided to skip his final year of Little League baseball, he agonized over the decision — not because he would miss baseball, but because he feared that I would no longer have any friends if I left the Little League coaching community. In time he came to understand that a lack of friends is not the issue, but the lack of a need for friends.
I won my bracket. . . . Thanks to an iffy last-minute foul — and a non-call — I win. As champion, our punishment is that the loser now has to chug a six-pack of the beer of my choosing. Our group numbers several grown men who have achieved considerable success in a wide variety of fields, [b]ut when it came time to select a penalty for losing the bracket, we all resorted to the residue of our college days.
Back when I first started writing for a living, it was common to write a new piece, print it out, place it in an envelope, and mail it to my editor. This was especially helpful when missing a deadline, because it was easy to blame the US Postal Service for being late. That all changed with fax machines, but there was still the handy excuse that the fax machine was out of paper or some such claim. . . .
I have a complicated relationship with New Years resolutions. Like many people, I am filled with hope and a sense of rejuvenation as January 1 approaches, making a list of all the changes I'd like to make for a better me. I'm at something of a turning point in my life, making this year's annual resolutions something of a come-to-Jesus undertaking.
The detective handling the case was a solemn young man who spoke perfect English. His name was Mohammed. He called me into his office and settled behind his desk. "What is your religion?" he asked immediately. "Christian." He wrote it down. "What is your tribe?" What could possibly be the right answer? "The Californians," I answered.
By the time the sun rose, we were driving atop a mile-high mesa covered with thickets of pine and rangy eucalyptus trees. The road descended from there, taking us down into the border town of Tunduma. There was a look of edgy intensity in the town's residents, a look that reminded me of Tijuana's frenzy.