It’s day four of a week-long trip to Miami Beach and I stayed up till one in the morning reading a novel about the end of civilization, and then a thread on reddit that made me wonder (again) about my daughter; something about how to grow a durable inner confidence, teaching her that she can say no, can defend herself. Thinking about the one and then the other — book, reddit, book, reddit — I’m waffling between preparing for the end of the world and wondering what it will be like if civilization ever actually does happen in the future because, for real, has it even started yet?

It’s a vacation when you can mull over the problems of the distant future.

We also watched The Godfather for the first time last night.

Maybe I do need to get a gun after all, or at least learn how to win in a fight when it comes to that. How can I ask my daughter to learn how to win in a fight and have any kind of credibility? I’ve never had to stand up to anyone. How long can that last? I’m an anomaly in history; in my own time, even.

Somehow I managed to plan a badly needed/frivolous trip to Miami Beach over the same weekend as the largest writer’s conference in North America comes to my town. I’m not going to say it happened for a reason but there’s a poetic kind of bumbling to my literary aspirations. A couple years ago, I would have agonized about going until Jess pushed me out the door; I would have showed up hoping for something good to happen and left without talking to anyone about anything. As it was, from the beach I tuned in to a Periscope broadcast from a talk about overcoming “imposter’s syndrome” and it held my attention for about eight seconds because I felt like I was right there in the lecture hall with everyone listening to the guy read a motivational quote from Flaubert, and it made me uncomfortable in a woolen-pants-on-Easter kind of way. Easter service is one of those itchy, tedious things that gives us a good excuse to enjoy each other’s company, and writer’s conferences are no different, including the fact that if you only attend service on Easter it’s even less enjoyable. Easter totally slipped my mind this year, and here I am rubbing aloe into my sunburnt shoulders and daydreaming about becoming a bishop or a cardinal — when life will look exactly as it does right at this moment (beach, sunshine) except it will last as long as I want it to instead of just a week. And I really never will have to fight anyone or gut a deer, even though my daughter probably will still have to do both.

But the end, or maybe the beginning of civilization is coming, and the important thing, if you do have the rare distinction of genuinely wanting to produce art without the tedium of networking or schmoozing, is not to do it in a way that can be preserved through the apocalypse but to produce it as fast as it comes to you, leaving nothing out, infecting as many people as possible before something else comes along or the internet ends or really gets going.