Wednesday, November 30, 2011

"Put My Belly On You"


There are moments when you ask yourself, should I...

Most of the time, when faced with this level of introspection, the answer should be a resounding, ‘Hell no!’

I have poor self-restraint issues and my judgement, yeah, my judgement ain’t no great shakes, either. What I mean to say, and say plain, is that I know this a hell no moment, that I should move right along, forget the jolly but wayward voice urging me to continue, to get on with it, to go for it, already.

Your blog, big-boy. You can do as you like, that voice whispers, an almost taunt.

Like I said, my judgement...

...My wife is a beautiful woman, slim, but she doesn’t think so. She thinks she needs to be on a diet, to loose weight. We were in the midst of the South Beach diet (no carbohydrates, which is brutal) and my wife wasn’t loosing weight. I thought (and think) that her weight is fine. She is pleasing to look upon, I thought (and think) and there is no real need for weight loss. However, to say such a thing!

I give myself credit to at least know when to shut my mouth once in awhile and the weight issue is one of those times. If she thinks she needs to loose weight then nothing I say will change her mind. I kept my comments to myself and ate another green salad.

Then, while in bed (none of that, now! It ain’t that kind of blog), we were talking about the day and my wife rolled onto her side and said in a voice I wish I could replicate in words that did it justice, “I’m going to put my belly on you!”

I guess it was sort of said like the character Fat Bastard in the Austin Powers movie said “get in my belly”, only, funnier.

I suppose it was a random threat that popped into her head that she clearly was willing to follow through with because she then, indeed, tried to put her belly on me.

My finger hovers over the delete button, imagining what my wife will say when she reads this. I don’t mean to make fun or embarrass her. It’s a story, a moment, that captures who we are and one of many reasons why I love my wife so much. What other woman would threaten to “put my belly on you”?

A good woman makes that kind of threat, the kind of woman a man tries to keep forever.

Laughing in bed, talking about nothing or telling secrets no one else in the world knows, those are  moments that make living worth living, the moments that amke up for the trying times, the moments that become the treasured meaning of the simple words, “I do.”

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Writing Exercise



Writing exercise.

Leave your comfort zone. Go somewhere different than where you normally write, unless you normally write in a bus terminal or a coffee shop or some other public space. I think most of us tend to write at home, shut away from the world. I certainly tend to think better when I can shut off the world and concentrate without distraction.

For this exercise, it is necessary to orget comfort, to give up on your hidey hole where no one dare indtrude. You need to go out into the world. So go. I'll wait.

Okay. (I'm patient, but a few of you took your sweet time, not that I'm complaining.) Sit down with your pad of paper, your lap top, your fancy writing apparatus that I would name if I new what it was but being rather slow technologically, I am not certain what else there is for a writer to write with.

Be that as it may, we can begin with the exercise.


  • Set up the scene: What does the air smell like, what time of day, who is there with you, what are you surrounded by, are you inside or outside?

  • Remember, details matter: This is scene building, not plot building. See colors and shapes and sounds and show with your words, forgetting why these things are there, concentrating instead on their physical reality. 

  • Metaphors, similes, they matter, too: Start making connections. Don't worry about continuity. If you already described the soda machine, you can still revisit that machine if you have a metaphor that strikes you as apt. Revisit a third time if you want, don't worry. Maybe there's just something that strikes you about that soda machine that you keep coming back to, that you need to describe.

  • Forget the above point: Don't get stuck spending all day on that damn soda machine. What's wrong with you, anyway? If an object or person or the condition of light really strikes you, it probably will be with you for awhile. No need to spend too much time on this one thing- you will remember when you get home and you can expand this element more later. So move along There exists too much of a good thing.

  • Scene building is the first step, got it?: If you have the scene set, decided due diligence is done, then it is time to move on. Maybe there is an odd individual walking about, or there is an interesting position of objects that are out of the ordinary. Or maybe there is to much order or- you get the picture? Pick an element and then tweak that element. 

Who is that girl who seems so nervous? She was sitting, then pacing, then kicking that soda machine as if it owed her money. Now, is she crying?

Why?

  • Introduce your imagination: What if a man with a gun runs on scene? A dog who seems agitated and ready to bite? What if that soda machine starts to glow? Unleash the writer's eye onto your well-known (now) scene. How does everything play out, what are the interactions?

Go home, take what you wrote and see if you can enliven your own writing by including more detail, more showing, more scene setting. Remember we live in a world and so do your characters. Show it.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Monday With Mikayla Guest Post #1




What do you call a dog with no legs?
It doesn't matter he won't come when you call him anyways.

When you ask, you often receive, but you sometimes get something other than what you expected. Going away to New Zealand I knew I needed blog posts and so I thought, ‘Why not ask Mikayla. She’s going to school and this could be an excellent writing exercise.’

She’s nine, so maybe I should have expected the above joke, right? Plus, she is related to me, so...

What I didn’t expect was how, in my niece’s words, I would so suddenly become aware of how much she’s grown, how individual she is, and just how clear it is that she is a product of the same gene pool that created me. She’s one of us.

Heaven help her.

-Michael

Guest post by Mikayla, age 9:

My name is Mikayla and I am nine. I home-school. On Sunday I go to church. Monday nights I have Awana and I have guitar lessons on Tuesday.

When I was 7 and 8 I wrote my own newspapers. Michael bought me a real briefcase to put my papers in. This year I am writing a book. It takes a long time to write a book. I am only on page 4 of chapter one.

I read a lot. I am almost finished with all of the Little House books. I wish I could build a time machine and go back into the past to visit Laura. I know I would have to land the time machine somewhere where they couldn't see me because they might get scared if they saw the machine and shoot at me.

They could come to the future and see all the new inventions. Mary is blind but I could take her to the hospital and get her eyes fixed.

I could give them things from the future to take to the past. Things that would make their life easier.

It would be fun to have a friend from the past to visit and to visit me.

Last year I was writing a blog, not a real one. Just stuff on the laptop. I am going to to give
them to Michael for his blog.

The other day I wrote a poem:

My name is Ned. My head is red.
That is Fred. He is in bed.
Because Fred is DEAD! (Hee-hee )

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Rant, Gentle, Rant


I am away on my first real vacation ever. A sad thing to say, says I, considering that I am not exactly young- not old, either, but I’ve waved goodbye to my twenties and if I squint, I can see forty from where I am.

I have today a gentle rant, because I’m on my honeymoon and I’m feeling gentle and relaxed. But rant? Yes, even gently, I feel I must rant a bit.

But you’re on your honeymoon, I hear you say (yes, I hear the voices and respond, but this my blog, my rant, so admonishment will not stop me, not even a minor pause). Yes, I am on my honeymoon, living the life in New Zealand, my first full day here after an arduous journey. But still.

This is my first ever real vacation.

Why is that? Sure, I’m comfortable staying at home, reading a book, being a homebody, so there’s that to include in the equation. I don’t necessarily seek out travel. But mainly, the reason I stay close to home is a matter of money. It’s expensive to travel and I’m just a poor boy from Maine.

And there’s that as well, too. It costs money to get out of the state of Maine, just so you can spend money to get somewhere else. Flights are more expensive in Maine and it is at least five hours to get to Boston, which means paying for parking if you want to fly- another expense, another headache.

So, I hear those voices again, asking so what? What is this rant about?

I’ll tell you, then. I wonder how we can become culturally diverse when it is so damn costly to get anywhere. I have no solution, no demands, just this vague notion that the world isn’t getting smaller at all. Most of us can’t travel freely and all we can really hope for is that the internet remains vibrant and accessible and continues to grow in terms of interactivity.

Not that I would rather visit New Zealand virtually of course. I’m glad I’m here, but in the future, no guarantees that I will ever get the chance to return and that, folks, that is worth a little rant, don’t you think?

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Story Telling Runs In The Family

Guest blog by Rena Nickerson:


" Would you like to write on my blog while I'm on my honeymoon?" my son, Michael, asked.
"Ah-----------I'm not sure. What the heck is a blog, anyway? What do you write on this blog thing of yours?"
"I write about writing."
I laughed. Did he expect me to write about writing? For what  little I know about writing, he may as well have asked me if I wanted to perform brain surgery.

I considered my great grandmother, Cora, a writer, despite her inability to read and write. Why would I think of an illiterate woman as being a writer?

She was a woman with a great imagination, a way with words and an inborn talent for story telling.
Five acres housed four generations of my father’s family. My great grandmother, whom I called Big Grammie, lived in a two room, tarred paper shack, just beyond the apple orchard. I, a child of few years, was allowed to freely wander. Nearly everyday I followed the path to Big Grammie’s house.

No matter the weather, Big Grammie sat in her rocking chair in front of her wood burning cook stove.Her stockinged feet rested on the open oven door, while a haze of smoke, from her corncob pipe, circled her head.

I sat across from the oven door on a three legged, rickety, milking stool with a plate of oatmeal raisin cookies precariously balanced in my lap. I was there partly for the cookies, but mainly for her stories.
She didn't have a new story for me everyday, but there were plenty of my old favorites to choose from.
"Big Grammie? Can you tell me that one, again, about when you heard the voice growling in the sink spout?"
"Oh, child. I done told that story so many times already."
Technically true. But with each re-telling there were subtractions and new additions, making the story all fresh and new.

More often than not I would have a story of my own to tell. "Big Grammie, guess what? I made up another story all by myself! Do ya wanna hear my story, Big Grammie?"
She'd grin. She always wanted to hear my stories. "Sure do, child. Sure do."
Sometimes we made stories together. She would begin by saying, "You know, child, I been thinking. What if-------."
Ah, the what if game. My favorite way to pass an afternoon. Big Grammie and I sitting across from each other, me munching cookies and she puffing her pipe. We'd laugh as we let our imaginations soar, making a new story.

My family often said of me, "You can't believe anything, Rena, tells you."
Maybe so. I learned from a master story teller that if the truth is boring then fix it. The truth is always more interesting with a bit of embellishhment.
It seems to me that any intelligent person can learn to write well, but story telling is an inborn talent, that can't be taught.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Not Here, But Hope You Are, Readers


Like a ghost- not really here

I hope everyone will forgive me for my lack of engagement over the next couple of weeks. If I do not answer your comments, if I am absent from twitter, if it feels as if I am willfully neglectful, it is because of this; I am on vacation.  My honeymoon actually. For the next couple weeks, there will still be content, a few guest bloggers (my mother, bother-in-law, his fiancee and my nine year old niece), some regular features such as the POW, pick of the week, Sunday rants and lots of worry and angst.

Only, I will be largely absent, and I’m sorry about that even though, in truth, I am not. I will be enjoying myself in New Zealand on my honeymoon with my beautiful wife. The blog, you the readers, the interactions and the connections, are all important to me. However.

There are priorities. The next two weeks, my priority is my wife.

I hope you like the posts I have prepared (or had others prepare) and I hope you continue to comment. My brother-in-law is looking after things until I return.

Hopefully, when I return, I will have lots of stories to tell and, I hope, a renewed energy from my two week vacation.

Thank you all and see you live in a couple weeks!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving, POW


Happy Thanksgiving to those in the US, and happy Thursday to all the rest.

As the day unfolds, I will be in full travel mode, winging my way from the east coast of the United States to the west coast before taking the big flight over the ocean, on my way to New Zealand. My wife, who faithfully reads all my blog posts, will have to wait two weeks before she has a chance to read this, so I will admit, as we start our journey, that there are nerves working.

I joked with my mother that my wife and I would be over to her house to say goodbye- just in case the plane crashes, so we can have that final moment together. She didn’t think it was funny and you know what, folks? Neither do I.

I don’t fly. I’ve been trying to avoid thoughts of getting on a plane and spending 24 hours of my life suspended in air thousands of feet above ground and sea. What I’m saying is, I’m scared of the flight and my natural pessimism assumes the worst, like a horrible explosion.

Balanced as I am on this edge of fear, and on this day of Thanksgiving, I think of family and friends. Sorry for the gloom, and if you want, feel free to shake a fist at the device on which you are reading this post and curse me for a fiend. I deserve that, I know.

Sorry for the long preamble, the length it has taken me to get to any sort of point, but thoughts of finality, thoughts of holiday, thoughts of family, all these jumbled bits jostling for coherence and attention have scattered my focus. Thursdays have been my unofficial day to pick a Person(pick) Of the Week. I can’t do that this week. I want instead to choose people of the week, people of a life.

My family and friends keep me going on a daily basis, keep me functioning such as I do and they are the ones who I want to single out this week.

To my brothers, to my sisters, my aunts, uncles, nieces and nephew, cousins and closest acquaintances, to my mother, my in-laws, to my father who I think of always: I choose you, I love you, always.

Thank you.

Happy holiday, happy Thursday and most of all, a happy heart filled with affection for those in my life.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Taking A Snow Day


I’m taking a snow day.

I’m taking a packing day.

I’m taking a cleaning day.

The second significant snow storm of the season, a day before my New Zealand trip and now I’m nervous that travel will be an issue, that bad roads will slow, something will be fouled up and I will be disappointed.

I’m taking a manic-me day.

I can’t get my trip off my mind so I suppose, when that happens, you go with the it, right? Just like with any writing endeavor, really. Sometimes the book words don’t come, but the short story words do, or the blog words are slow and the poetry dost flow. Writing is fickle at times, so being picky, forcing words that aren’t there, sometimes that isn’t the best approach. Writing is about creativity and finding a way to produce positive word counts is aprt of the creative challenge.

New Zealand is on my mind, so why shake it, why forsake it, why deny what’s on my mind?

My wife and I will be going to Hobbiton, because, if you’ve read the blog at all, you know I’m a geek and what better way to add geekness to a honeymoon, than a visit with the Hobbits?

We’re going to have dinner in the sky.

We will ride the ferry to Picton and cruise the Cook Strait on our way to a vineyard where we will drink wine and relax. And perhaps we will go on a bike ride, or just sit all day on the back porch reading books and talking.

We’re not staying in Christchurch, which is a disappointment, but the earthquakes have been terrible. We hope to stop and have dinner and our flight to Auckland on our last day leaves from Christchurch.

We will go on a glacier hike just to remind ourselves of the snow and cold that awaits us at home.

In Queenstown we will play golf and dry not to be juvenile when playing hole four, called Nobby Dick (a loosing battle already for me, folks).

We might bungee. Check that, my wife might bungee. Not sure about myself.

Then we will see Milford Sound, a place some call the eighth wonder of the world.

Then, my wife and I will come home, come back to the snow and the cold and perhaps, come back to another opportunity for me to take a snow day.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Let The Dreamers, Dream


The Dreamer

I discussed a TED Talk I watched recently in which Ken Robinson, a former professor detailed his view of the problems public education faces internationally. He called the system a drawn out application process for higher education and a system that was trying to produce university professors to the exclusion of all else.

I agree.

Personally, I did well in school, tested well, was in the top of my class. School was easy and most of the time boring. Because I showed an aptitude for academics, I was placed on the college prep path and it was a given that I would go to college, and really, isn’t that the goal? Go to college, get an education, get a good job, get paid a higher salary and be respected above those trades people who couldn’t quite make it to college or through college.

There is an intellectual elitism, a friction, created and encouraged in the school system and that intellectual elitism is unnecessary and ultimately destructive.

I hated academics and realized that math was not my love when calculus showed up on the curriculum. I cared little for the specifics of science and if I could, I would have stayed in the art room all day long, painting and writing and reading. Art was not encouraged, and my other interests, working with wood and building, was not an option because, well, I was a smart kid.

The less intelligent, the non-college bound kids, they were shunted into the trade classes, the auto shop, the construction classes, the welding classes. I was told that would be a waste of my time. Though teachers and guidance councilors didn’t say it outright, I was pressured to stay on the path, to avoid trades and classes beneath my intellect.

Looking back, I wish I could have bucked the system, but I was just a kid and I did what I was told, what was expected of me. And truthfully, even then, I felt that I was too good for those other classes. I didn’t want to be with the dummies who could barely read and who had trouble with numbers over ten. I was an elitist in the making, high on my intelligence, thinking that life was mine because I knew the names of great writers, understood what higher math functions were, could discuss current events using words that those other kids had never heard of.

That’s bullshit.

My thirties have been spent so far learning the things that I should have learned years ago, doing the things I should have been doing as a teenager. I see the value in being able to build a house, which is just as important as being the architect who designs the house. Who gets the money and the respect? The ‘smart’ architect or the ‘dumb’ construction monkey?

Yeah. It isn’t the guy with the lunch bucket getting just over minimum wage. The working man who doesn’t have time for more than a half hour of the evening news, if even that, he doesn’t get the respect, not in this society.
I say, open the schools, encourage kids to learn to their ability and their talents. Let the kids who love art, create art, those who want to build, build and let the dreamers, dream.

Monday, November 21, 2011

3 Things Found Around The Web


I search the internet. Not like a fiend, like I have no friends, but I do like to Stumble around on occasion. When I do (this reminds me of the most interesting man commercials- please, do not believe what follows will in anyway qualify as most interesting anything. Sorry)

Anyway. Searching the internet. Finding stuff. Blah, blah, blah.

I found three interesting things this week (I know, slow week, right?).

One is concerned with writing, one almost is concerned with writing, and one is just cool in a geek kind of way. Here goes:

Five Reasons Why Book Marketing Campaigns Fail: Found this article on Best Damn Creative Writing blog and it is comprehensive, well-written and worth closer inspection (hint: I will probably revisit this one tomorrow in more detail).

The gist is that using social media is great, super fancy -fine and people should- if they know what they want,and if they know what they’re doing. A tall order really, when you consider the fact that if you’re like me (and many creative people) the business holds less appeal than the creation. If you want to promote, if you want to get into independent publishing, or even just help along your career when your publisher doesn’t have the resources to do so, then you must learn marketing.

Social media is the future. I believe that completely. So we have to learn to navigate or we’ll be crushed in the whitewater.

Top Ten Google Tips: So this has no value at all but it’s fun. You can make your search page rotae, make the results look askew, have the google search bar detach and fall to the bottom of the page. Like I said, no value, but hey, sometimes you just want to screw off, right? Right?

Or am I just a slacker and a geek?

Ken Robinson Says Schools Kill Creativity: This is sort of writing related as it touches on education and how we all became who we are today and that perhaps there was a better way all along. I am falling in love with the TED Talks. They are generally short and fascinating and cover so many topics that there is always something to watch.

This particular talk covers how creativity is subjugated to the bottom of the pile in the hierarchy of school subjects. Globally. Math, Science, languages are at the top, while art, music, dance are at the bottom. The speaker makes excellent points and one major point is that we are all different. I happen to agree with that. He also said that the education system is just a long application process for secondary education. I agree with that as well. I learned nothing of particular use as a student, and now, I find that I have to correct that problem just to stay employed.

Like I said, fascinating and it was funny, too. I’ve seen several TED Talks and they have all been engaging. Worth, viewing, folks.

So there are three picks, in no particular order. (As I write, I realize that maybe the Ken Robinson video requires further exploration. Not sure if making your search page tilt is worthy of a second look, though. Sorry about that.)

Good luck, happy searching and as Paul Harvey said, Good Day.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Salty Sunday Rant


Getting saltier every day

Sunday? It is when this is posted. A rant? Been working fine for me. Alrighty, then! (said in my most pathetic Ace Ventura mind voice):

I’ve been with  the same company for almost fourteen years and I believe that I’m ruined for the remainder of my life as regards to finding employment elsewhere. I ask myself, ‘How can you function anywhere but where you are right now?’

You see, folks, I’m damaged goods, unsuited for civilized work with civilized folks. In most things, I would happily claim similar traits with my father, who for example in thirty-odd years, never missed work except the three times he was hospitalized and forced to stay home (I have one sick day in almost fourteen years, myself). He worked tirelessly, all week, driving a tractor trailer for a construction company. He was loved by most everyone, could handle his truck like it was VW bug and never neglected his family up until the day he died. In short, he was a good man.

Then there was his use of the English language. He liked his adjectives with extra salt.

Despite my mother’s best administration of a bar of soap when I was younger, I’ve lost my civil tongue working in the maintenance department at my job. When I transferred to the department from my job as a child care worker, I was reasonable, swore infrequently, was polite and respectful.

Now?

A recent interaction between me and a supervisor:

Me: “F**k off.”
Supervisor: “Geez, Nick, you-”
Me: “F**k off.”

See?

I call one of the housekeepers a bitch almost every day. She in turn calls me a bastard. Fairly certain that this would be frowned upon almost everywhere else. The maintenance shop is raunchy and rough and I enjoy it too much, folks and I’ll tell you, even though I never used the same words as my father when I was young, I remember them all.

I’m adding my social deterioration to the list of black marks, the latest of many, against my employer. No raises for the sixth year, the termination of our retirement last week and the fact that our CEO in Pennsylvania likes to wear stupid, yuppie-type sweaters are other examples I would like to cite as well.

Now, I need to find someone so I can tell them where to go and eaxctly how they can get there...

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Chasing Twitter Followers


Forget the dark side and rock out, folks!

I f I do something, anything, I want to repeat the results, only I don’t want to repeat the results the same way. I want to do everything better.

Ride my bike to work? How fast can I do that? It took me 56 minutes yesterday, so today I want to go faster. I ran a mile in 5:15? Next time, I want to go under 5. 200 page views on my blog? I want 250 tomorrow and 300 the day after.

So on and so on, and the days they go on.

Mostly, I shrug off ‘failures’ and in general, competing with others, though I want to win, it doesn’t ruin my day if I lose. The person I’m hyper-competitive with, the person I hate losing to, is myself. Hate it. Can’t stand getting bested by my own accomplishments.

I find myself saying or thinking, I used to... which is silly because things like athletics, as I get older, will begin to slip beyond my ability to best. I know, and it’s not like I obsess and pout and stomp my feet. For some things, though, I do find  myself obsessing over to the point where I have to chide myself for a fool.

I start innocently.

Like with twitter.

I reached 1,000 followers on the 16th of September, which at this writing was almost exactly 2 months ago. 19 days ago I had 2402 followers. Today I have 4352.

I suppose I should be happy; and I suppose I am, but this past week, when I went over 4,000, I felt kind of flat. I think I have great followers, and most every one of them is a writer or associated with writing in some way and most are really nice. I enjoy meeting new people but there are just so many hours in a day, right?

I run into a time issue.

I run into neglect issues.

I run into the issue of ego.

I can’t explain this rapid increase, and I don’t want fewer followers. I think I just need to catch my breath, relax and reset. And I need to stop looking at the numbers and thinking, 1,049 new followers last week, 1,200 new followers this week, maybe 1,500 new followers next week.

Those are just numbers.

The reason I feel flat is because, in part, the number of followers has no impact on my ability to write or the quality of my blog. In the back of my mind, blog followers and twitter followers equal success, quantifies it somehow. That’s ridiculous, of course. My goal is quality but as quantity is so much easier to judge, I get far too caught up in the raw numbers. My concentration should be improving my writing, producing quality, becoming better at my craft.

But those numbers are so tempting... so seductive and thrilling. I’m afraid the dark side has possession of at least half my mind (which, by the by, I can ill-afford to just give away) and now I must battle for writing sanity.

It makes me think of Matrim Cauthon from Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time books,  who must give up half the light of the world, to save the world. I have to give up part of myself, that part that seeks perfection, in order to succeed. (No, not exactly the same as Mat Cauthon, but I felt the need to Geek Out, so there it is, a tenuous connection and I refuse to press the delete button on any of it!)

I think, when I return from New Zealand, I will further explore the numbers I’m seeing on twitter, break things down, see how they all fit. For now, though, I’m gonna be cool with just being, you know, me; Michael with no numbers attached.

Friday, November 18, 2011

How's Your Wife, My Kids?


Yeah. I'm still as cool as this guy!

'How’s your wife, my kids?'

'I’m not married.'

'Yeah, I know.'

Not every day, but more than a once a week, I had this conversation with one of the kids I worked with in my early days as a childcare worker. I was twenty-one. He was sixteen. It was a ludicrous conversation and one I tried to redirect, but eventually I admit to giving up and going along and playing my part. Back in those days, back when I was dealing with fights between kids, assaults on staff, bullying and trying to keep the kids I watched from running away, that bit of off color talk was no big deal.

I moved up in the company from those days and eventually became an assistant supervisor overseeing an eleven bed forty-five day diagnostic program. Then I saw the light, realized the futility of middle management and transferred to the maintenance department where I have comfortably stayed for the past six years. Sometimes I miss the early days, miss the action, miss the kids who would tell me to go eff myself.

Weird, I know, but the challenges with those kids made the job rewarding, made it fun. I was on the move constantly and I felt like I was helping kids, teaching them how to survive without physical fighting, without lashing out verbally. The greater challenges meant greater reward when they made progress.

Now, we have primarily autistic spectrum kids, kids completely unlike those jail-house kids I worked with as a fresh kid myself fourteen years ago.

The funny thing? The other day, I got to trot out the same conversation, the familiar conversation I had so often in my first days. This time it was between me and on of the staff, an overnight supervisor where I work, with a guy I’ve known for about a decade.

He likes to joke, for some unknown reason, that his two boys are really a product of me messing around with his wife. He asks on occasion for child support and the conversation plays out in much the same way, much as my early conversation played out with the kid I used to work with.

This time, my friend said to the room of people that it was terrible that ‘my’ kids had to grow up without a father figure because I was such a bastard due to my delinquency and lack of financial support. I waited for that heartbeat of silence that filled the room, then, (and I deliberated and struggled with myself in that briefest moment, really I did) I hit the slowly lobbed softball.

‘But at least they have two great mother figures at home’.  

Juvenile? Yes, I called him a woman and that is juvenile but I’ve never claimed maturity. He sputtered and hit me and then with a smile admitted his error, knowing that because I am immature, I will of course torture him for the next year for his misspoken words.

It wasn’t the funniest episode and certainly, reading this back, is one of those, ‘you had to be there’ moments, but it cheered me- quite a lot. I get nostalgic and this was a connection to a time when I felt better about the job I did with kids, when I was idealistic and thought I was changing the world; a time when I was young and ‘How’s your wife, my kids’  was funny shit.

I miss those days.

I guess it’s a good thing, then, that mentally at least, I can still channel that earlier me whenever I want. My body matures, but mind, my mind is still stuck in the eighties.



Thursday, November 17, 2011

POW: It's Lindsay Muscato!


I rely on my wife for many things and value her opinion, so when she makes a suggestion, I listen, pay attention and am always better off for doing so.

My wife sent me to a blog when we first started dating, the blog of one of her friends, a former coworker from DC. Though I knew even in the first days of our relationship that my wife was my perfect match, my experience with blogs written by friends and friends of friends, was that they tended toward awkward more than not. I thought, at the time, that this would be the same, a blog/ journal of a young girl writing earnest but poorly structured posts about, well, girl subjects of little interest to me or anyone not directly associated with the writer in question.


In short, I humored a beautiful woman I was trying hard to impress because I knew we would spend our lives together if only I didn’t screw things up.

I should have known that my wife was smarter than I am, and her taste impeccable.

I was wrong to doubt.

Lindsay Muscato is talented in a way that I can only hope to be, and I say that not as a way to flatter Lindsay or to impress my wife with insincere support for one of her friends.  It’s an honest reaction to talent and talent alone. I’ve never met Lindsay but her words have certainly captured my attention.

Lindsay does not post often, but she’s been blogging for ten years and has far more posts than can be read in one sitting. Don’t expect wild and outrageous, but rather ordinary made fascinating by the ability of a writing voice that is distinctive, creative and fun. She writes about life and makes it seem shiny, even when it isn’t shiny at all. Like when her bike was stolen.

I realize that I’m trying waltz with my words when I’m more the kind of guy who shuffles and throws his hands into the air randomly and seemingly without connection to the actual music or beat. What I’m saying is that rather than trying to be more than what I am in attempt to capture the word-grace Lindsay displays, I hope that you will read a post or two that Lindsay wrote herself.

I’ll get back to my shuffle and sway and let the dancers dance. We each have our place in the writing world and I’m happy that Lindsay fills her place so well.