Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Life (and how to live it) . . .

. . . questioned?

(h/t, btw, to the R.E.M. song referenced in the post title.)

So, here we go again, with another installment in What's Wrong With David. My life isn't so bad, so why am I (slightly) questioning it.

As usual, I think I have expectations that are too large for me to meet.

What do I mean?

Well, I just am (a bit) bothered by the notion that I don't/haven't/won't accomplish much. Here are some pathetic examples (and when I mean pathetic, I am NOT calling the people providing these examples or their actions pathetic. I am calling my childish reactions to them as being pathetic. I admire these people greatly and call one of them friend. Well, anyway, on with the patheticness . . .)

Example #1: Lulu's very interesting post on farming practices. Here is a post about something that matters, a post that provokes thought, challenges opinions, requires a consideration of daily life. My posts are pedantic and stupid by comparison--random toss-offs about some TV show usually. I am not ignoring (what I hope to be) valuable inspections on my relationships with my children, posts I am proud of, posts that challenge me to improve, posts that (hopefully) document a time I won't be able to remember one day. I wouldn't take those away . . . but beyond those, what value lies within?

Example #2: (Please bear with me. I know you're all tired of this, but it is a reflection of this period in my life.) Melissa Anelli's just-launched book site. Melissa, as you can see if you visit the site, has been running The Leaky Cauldron.com, a Harry Potter fan site since 2000. She has ridden the wave of increasing fandom and media exposure since the release of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, when the HP phenomenon exploded from a series of interesting books to something beyond. Her new book, Harry: A History . . . touches on her own experience covering this phenomenon and how it has become a part of her own life.

I am affected by this because I came into the HP universe around this same time. I have fallen further into the fandom than I would have ever guessed when I first read the Newsweek excerpt of Goblet of Fire chapter 1. (I can't link to the original excerpt from the Newsweek archives--which isn't really a tragedy because you've probably read the chapter anyway. I can, however, give you the accompanying cover story.) So, in my deluded, temporarily deluded mind, I can see what Melissa has done with years of hard work and I compare myself to her--even though there IS NO comparison to be had. She has training in being a professional writer. She has been uniquely situated to best experience and report of the phenomenon of her book and she took great advantage and dedicated her life to achieving excellence at that. I had none of that access and made no effort to do so.

Put baldly, I am jealous and irrationally so. Lulu doesn't post all that often, bu when she does, she has a reason for it and she takes the time to do it well. I thank her for those moments. Ms. Anelli has done nothing but work hard for herself and in the process has given many people (me included, though I am sounding churlish about it now) information for our enjoyment.

My jealousy is hard to admit in such a forward manner, but I am trying to be honest here. I want to use this blog--for all of its frivolities and shortcomings, as an honest outlet of what I am thinking. Often what I am thinking is of little importance to anyone--even to me ten minutes after I have written it. But, it compelled me at the time. I guess I have no control after that.

This post is childish, and I am a bit ashamed of it, but it was begun this morning with honest feelings. And I am here, this night, trying to put an end to it--after several hours of picking up kids, fixing dinner, travelling to Hilliard to meet with friends, and whipping up a white chocolate cheesecake to take to work tomorrow. These are the quotidian details of my life . . . and while I sometimes wished it were more dramatic and meaningful, I guess I should know by now that meaning is assigned to something after it is over. I guess if I am dissatisfied with some aspects of my daily routine, no one will address it but me. I've just got to determine what those aspects are and then decide how to made the adjustments.

Titletown, USA--VALDOSTA??!!

In one of the more stunning upsets in sports today, my Tifton, Georgia hometown rival has been voted ESPN's Titletown, USA.

Valdosta (where Lynda spent most of her formative childhood years, incidentally) is home to two high schools. The city school (Valdosta HS) was a football power, beating everyone else regularly and providing the local moniker of "Winnersville." I was always more concerned with the county school Lowndes HS, because it was the rival band powerhouse--alongside my own Tift County Blue Devil Brigade. I didn't care what football team won--in fact, as a member of the band, I'd often be riding on the bus to an away game during a Friday night and I wouldn't even know where we were headed.

But, Valdosta has beaten out the likes of Green Bay Wisconsin (the original, pre-Internet "Titletown," Ann Arbor, Columbus, and so many other places besides. The full list of nominees can be read here.

I'd say congratulations to Valdosta, but my high school self won't let me.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Stronger, Faster, Surlier

I like Seth Stevenson. He writes lots of great articles in his Ad Report feature for Slate. But he went and slandered the 1996 Atlanta Olympic games.

I KNOW that the Atlanta Games were disappointing--especially to disowned former IOC fuhrer Juan Antonio Samaranch. I know Coke had too much say in that (and every) Games. I KNOW Izzy the mascot was one of the most spectacular mascot failures ever--as you admit all Olympic mascots. I know, to my shame, that Chevy trucks were prominently featured in the Opening Ceremonies.

But, for Seth to call Atlanta "a backwater of a town smaller than, I'm not kidding, at least 25 Chinese cities you've never even heard of . . ." well, that's going too far!

Seth, haven't you seen the Futurama "The Deep South" episode? Don't you know that Atlanta is best described as follows:

"Atlanta was a city, landlocked, hundreds of miles from the area we now call the Atlantic Ocean, yet so desperate the city's desire for tourism, that they moved offshore, becoming an island, and an even bigger Delta hub, until the city over-developed and it started to sink, knowing their fate, the quality people ran away, Ted Turner, Hank Aaron, Jeff Foxworthy, the guy who invented Coca-Cola, the magician and the other so-called Gods of our legends, though Gods they were, and also Jane Fonda was there."

"So, Fry, Atlanta was an American city in your time?"

"I think it was just an airport. They had a place where you could buy nuts."

"No! Ancient Atlanta was more than just a Delta hub. It was a vibrant metropolis, the equal of Paris or New York."

"That's right, honey! Whatever you say."

"Look at these fabulous ruins. Turner Field, the Coca-Cola bottling plant, the, uh, the airport."

We're all deeply sad that the Olympics didn't meet the high standards of the crooks and swindlers that run the IOC. But only us rednecks are allowed to criticize Atlanta, and then we confine the complains to the temperature, the traffic, and Mike Hampton.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Ants and Emergence

About a week ago, I was listening to a This American Life podcast on the theory of Emergence--which I will paraphrase to mean a scientific theory that says crowd full of individually "unintelligent" beings can collectively achieve task greater than their ability to comprehend.

One theory given was about ants--mindless insects that have no awareness of self or individual intellect. Yet, as a group, they make things happen, without knowing or understanding that they are doing so.

Think of it this way--as someone described it on the podcast. A big swarm of ants is on a table, each randomly moving about trailing their pheromone scent trail. One ant happens to stumble onto a pile of sugar. That ant isn't thinking "FOOD! Must tell others!" but his scent trail is there. Another ant randomly--without willful choice to do so--follows the same trail to the sugar. Now the sugar trail doubles in intensity. Another ant makes the scent triple in intensity, and so forth. Soon--although none of the ants wish it to be so, the crowd of ants are all going to the sugar and are carting the food home for the larvae.

Since I was at work while listening to this podcast, I naturally saw the parallels between ant Emergent theory and the mindless, often random, certainly inscrutable way that decisions get made at my office. Often things are done by lots of people, but individually they might not be able to explain how or why the original decision was made. "It's just always been like that . . . right?"

Anyway, to celebrate my insight, I put a few pictures of ants on my cubicle walls. Naturally, everyone asks me what the pictures are for . . . but I can't really go into it or I might offend the wrong people, right? wrong? Well, you know what I mean.

I found a video on Slate that helps illustrate the whole idea a bit more.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Tom Cruise hates cheesecake

Why else would he go after Estelle Getty, who died yesterday?

Or perhaps, Scientology has some teaching against mis-representing your age? Does it affect the thetan levels, or make you less clear?

In any case, those of us at work need to watch out. I've seen signs posted around the office for a cheesecake recipe contest. Given this new bit of information, we might want to change the contest to best lemon poppyseed muffin contest.

We don't want to get Tom angry with us.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Sarah the VIII

Two stories from your birth--

First: Mom and I spent the entire day (7 am is when she started going into labor--a process I'll explain to you . . . or maybe your mother is best equipped to handle that discussion . . . anyway, labor began slowly around 7 am on the 21st. Yep, it was the day before you were born. This stuff takes a long time. So, we're spending the day home from work, monitoring how she feels. We go to the Hilliard mall (or was it the Southland Mall?) and walk around, talking, breathing, discussing the plans and procedures and what we've prepared for--and we've prepared . . . at least we thinks so (more on this later--this is a writing technique called foreshadowing).

And we spend the whole day and the labor is slowly intensifying, but nothing significant, meaning nothing that demands a doctor. So, night comes and we go to sleep . . . with the bags packed and everything set. It was around 1:30 or so in the morning (now it is today--July 22--but back in the Year 2000) and Mom wakes me up to say that she is beginning to really feel the contractions and we should go to the hospital.

We grab the bags, get in the car and drive. Here is the real focus on this first story. We are driving in the early morning hours, in the little Escort that you and Grace always called The Red Car. I'm driving and Mom is trying to relax and breathe. We get off of the interstate at the Grandview exit and begin driving through downtown Grandview as our path to get to Riverside Hospital. (I'm sure that was a better way to go, but the highways were configured a bit differently then and we still lived in SW Columbus, and I'm a creature of habit, so I went the way I knew best in my head.) \

ANYWAY . . . we're driving up Grandview Avenue and it's about 2 am and we stop at a red light that is (for some reason) not flashing as most traffic lights do in the early morning when traffic is light. So, we're stopped at a functioning red light and the car is idling and suddenly Mom notices someone walking toward her side (the passenger side) of the car, stepping off of the sidewalk into the street. There was a crosswalk at this intersection, so I can't confirm that he was intentionally walking towards us, but it's 2 am, Mom is in labor, the bars have just recently closed down, Mom is in labor, and it's 2 am. We make sure the car doors are secured, but we don't drive away because the light is still red--and we're good citizens, I guess. We'd rather have a baby (you) in the car of our small Escort with potential drunks observing in the windows than break the law? Sounds about like us.

Mom has noticed the man approaching; I have noticed the man approaching; we've locked the doors; the light is red. Mom is getting a bit tense, but luckily . . . the light turns green and we pull away calmly like nothing untoward was happening. And perhaps nothing odd was happening at all, but it felt a bit weird in the car. So, I'll always remember that part of your birth.

Second: After the labor and delivery (which I won't get into here, as that's another discussion we'll have on another day)--likely due to exhaustion and relief that you were fine--Mom and I made a decision. All day long we were calling people on the phone to tell them the good news. Mom was trying to get some rest, but you don't get a lot of rest in a hospital, what with the nurses coming and going. And Mom had a lot to learn about proper nursing techniques and I had tedious paperwork to sign and we both had to say hi to friends and visitors that dropped in throughout the day. So, eventually evening came.

Being first-time parents (and therefore naive and untutored), we told the nurse that we would keep you in the room with us that first night. We thought, well, you know, you were our responsibility seeing as how we'd decided to have you and all . . . so, why not start right away, right?

You didn't know any better, being only half-a-day old, so I don't hold a grudge, but you cried a lot that first night. And, as I said, we were tired. We struggled through that first night as a trio--I don't really remember how. The next day--July 23rd--after almost two days with little sleep and plenty of drama, we faced a new morning with a tired and cranky you.

There was this one moment (the point of this second story) when Mom and I were sitting alone in the hospital room with you in our arms--I forget who was holding you. And we just looked into each other's puffy, exhausted eyes and we started to cry. You might think we were crying for the life we were leaving behind or the life we didn't understand ahead. Maybe we cried for happiness we couldn't really explain. But fundamentally, we were bone tired and we had stupidly prevented the nursing staff from taking you away to give us some rest time. (Needless to say, this was the first thing that you taught us about being smart parents and gratefully allowed the nursing staff to wheel Grace and Hannah away that first night.)

Anyway, those are my two favorite stories about the day--this day--that you were born. I eagerly await many more stories in the future.

Happy 8th birthday, Sarah.

Monday, July 21, 2008

A note to fill the void

Apologies for being textually absent the last several days . . . I just haven't had much interesting stuff to discuss and I figure if I can't get excited about something for long enough to do my crappy written overview, then I'm saving you the opportunity of wasting your time reading pointless stuff . . .

. . . like that sentence right there.

But, I'll do a bit more than just apologize. I'll give some quick hits of stuff I have liked, but haven't written on.

1. The Dark Knight was excellent. LOOOONG, but excellent. I could spend time apologizing for liking comic book movies, but I'm not going to. You already know that's who I am, so I am going to let it go. TDK really was The Joker's movie, and it was very well written. Best bit? The auditory whine used during Joker scenes that slowly crescendos throughout. Builds up the tension in a very simple, very effective way. Smart film-making.

2. Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog was very funny also. (www.drhorrible.com) NPH was good, and a good singer too! Nathan Fillion was self-centred, lunk-headed, and sang pretty well. I felt sad at the end, so it was effective.

3. I'm trying to finish "Word Freak," a book about competitive Scrabble by Stefan Fatsis--he of the occasional NPR segments about sports. I've always liked Scrabble and thought I should play it more, but it is a very frustrating kind of game. I do know I would NEVER be able to play this robotic type of game that is necessary to win in tournaments. It's pure anagraming and letter construction. Definitional sense has no utility in it and I don't like that much--not that I'm a walking dictionary at all.

4. Work is cruising along at a steady pace. I've got another longish weekend trip with the family approaching, so I've got to work ahead just a bit to stockpile a few items in my short absence.

5. We are also moving along with our landscaping plans for the backyard. Had to plans submitted and we chose the cheaper one. We put down a deposit and hopefully work will begin in early August. I hope it doesn't get so hot that everything planted dies. (I guess that will be up to me? gulp) I'm ready for anything, though. Our yard is frustrating and shame-inducing. The back is still a mess from the patio. The side (where workers drove to put in/pull out stuff) has been shocked into something . . . roots damaged, plants dying. Also, the city has begun cutting down old/dying trees as part of the sidewalk repairs. It's funny that when trees are removed, the spatial void reshaped the way you see everything that was there previously. It makes me reevaluate the remaining trees and the way their limbs are. Bottom line, I've got lots of pruning to do--hot, sweaty work that I don't much enjoy. But clearing things and trying to bring some sort of order to nature is diverting and the end result is satisfying--if ultimately futile, I know.

6. Speaking of tree pruning. Another random though I had when doing some previous pruning a few weeks ago is that tree limbs look really alien when divorced from the plant. Suspended in space, the myriad branchings create a pattern that is satisfying without invoking much distracting thought. But once on the ground, those spokes seem to jut out every which way, threateningly (especially if it is a dead limb without leaves to soften the hard pointedness of twigs). It's no wonder that back in the old Star Trek: Next Generation episode that featured the Crystalline Entity, it looks like a multi-branched thing. Alien.

Anyway . . . that's it for now. Enjoy your day; whatever day this happens to be for you.

Monday, July 14, 2008

The Shaving

(Click on the graph to see the aforementioned awesome 'stache that I kept for a few minutes of cringeworthy hilarity. If I intended to pursue a career as a '70s era porn star, this look would be the way to go . . . but as that's not in the cards, I quickly removed it. WARNING: This is NOT for the faint of heart, and YES, I am serious about that!)

Friday, July 11, 2008


Several years ago I wrote a brief (I thought humorous) piece about the random things that had accumulated in Lynda's purse. Lynda, I guess understandably, wasn't a big fan of the writing, but she's forgiven me about it.

So, the natural thing to do is to do it again, right?

Contents of Lynda's purse:

  1. makeup
  2. chap stick
  3. flash drive
  4. 3 hair clips (all belong to Sarah and Grace)
  5. Hannah's hospital band (Hannah is now almost six months old)
  6. ultrasound pictures of Hannah (These pictures are now over a year old)
  7. work identification card
  8. cell phone
  9. 6 crayons (from a restaurant visit that was not at all recent; this is a perk of having children . . . you never have to buy crayons again)
  10. nickel (The standard issue coin minted by the U.S. Treasury Department. Lynda is not holding onto a piece of the metal ore.)
  11. her key chain, plus a spare key to the car we sold last summer (She didn't remember she had it.)
  12. allergy medicines, nasal sprays, plus doctor's receipt from recent allergy test
  13. check stub
  14. blank checks and check register
  15. 2 obsolete grocery lists
  16. Lemon Twist Hand Cream
  17. many, many business cards, membership cards, old airline cards, and other obsolete cards of many varieties
  18. $$
  19. credit cards--which I kept from the camera's view in the small zippered pouch
  20. various bits of unidentifiable/uncategorizable trash
  21. Jr. Frosty coupon from a different visit to Wendy's.

But that isn't where I ended it. In the process of making a spectacle of myself, standing on chairs to better take overhead pictures of the purse stuff, Grace and Sarah saw what I was doing and informed me that they had purses as well. So . . .

Contents of Sarah's purse:
  1. Enormous pen, pencil, and two drawing markers
  2. Grocery list (the content of which are as follows: body lotion $5; milk $2; eggs $2; bacon $5; cereal $1)
  3. a sunshine design "wallet" with "dollar bills" inside
  4. a video-style iPod player
  5. what appears to be a graphing calculator
  6. a cell phone that is capable of playing a DVD

    Contents of Grace's purse:

    1. beaded necklace
    2. drawing makers
    3. 2 hair scrunchies
    4. Kim Possible brand communicator, which I presume is standing in for cell phone?
    5. video iPod, showing intricate map display (It's beside the plastic communicator. Who knew that the iPod was GPS capable? Perhaps Grace has the new iPhone G3?)
    6. paper fan (??)
    7. bottle of skin lotion
    8. wallet pouch
    9. multi-colored pen
    10. big flower blossom ring
    11. Cinderella coin pouch
    12. two other papers that I don't remember what they were for (I'm guessing that one of them was supposed to be a grocery list. The other one looks suspiciously like an actual print out of something that Lynda or I used, that got appropriated for the kid's use. If you can recognize it, chime in.)

    Thursday, July 10, 2008


    "Daddy, I sometimes don't want to go there."

    Though I know where there happens to be, I ask anyway.

    "What do you mean by there?"

    "You know, where we are going now." [The writing workshop. It's the start of day number three, by the way.]

    I wait a beat, and avoiding the voice tones of weary resignation or anger, I respond by saying something about how the workshop is only for a week and we've already reached the halfway point. I try to remind myself internally that she just got back from seeing a morning movie at the daycare. She probably didn't eat a full serving of anything at lunch.

    1 2 3 4 5 . . .

    . . . don't get upset.

    You can tell from yesterday's post that I'm interested in this writers camp. But is that just because it offers me a break from my ever-so-familiar routine? (yes) Do I really think that Sarah can get something out of it? (Yes, I do . . . but she is only 8-years-old.) I'm sure that my level of investment in this is higher than hers, but I'm hoping that when all is said and done she will have something worthwhile to take out of it. No, I don't expect her to be penning novels or anything, but I do hope she'll have some fun. And she HAS had some fun. She's spoken well of the first few days. But I guess everyone can have a bad day, not feel 100% invested in every minute. Just don't give up, please!

    I hold out hope that she will find value and maybe she'll want to do this again next year. If she ever wants to carry through someday (a LONG way away, to be sure) of being a professional writer, these kinds of experiences can help her. She doesn't understand that yet, and so I don't bother to say it . . . but you don't just stumble into a skill-based career based on dumb luck and any sort of innate ability. You have to work for it. She doesn't understand the notion of working for it, and maybe I don't either . . . really. But, these are things that she isn't going to hear right now and won't understand until later, if it ever becomes something that needs remembering and understanding.

    I love Sarah's talent and I see that she is good at what she's doing. But what do I know? I'm absolutely the last one in a position to best evaluate her efforts--because I'm not a professional writer and most especially because I'm her father, with all of the rose-colored glasses that position brings to the situation. I've praised her in the past and will continue to do so, but I want other, more objective people to give her a sense of what she's doing, not doing, might need to do . . . perhaps (probably) this is not what is going on at this level of the writing workshop, but you've got to start somewhere. And if you don't follow through with the starting, then you'll never be able to reach the level where such feedback can be gleaned.

    I am not a stage parent. If she doesn't want to pursue this next time, I'm not going to force her into it.

    She took a drawing class several years ago and liked it just fine, but didn't seem jazzed about going on with it more.

    We've done some swimming lessons, gotten the basics covered and moved on. There has been no discussion of swim teams.

    We've dabbled in dance and tap. She did it for a session or two but then it was over.

    We did one season of soccer. I began to hope that she might find a liking for this and want to pursue it more long term. As the season wore on and the losses mounted, however, she seemed less enthusiastic. Maybe a different team with a different coach would bring forth any latent soccer-based desire? Who knows? We asked if she wanted to participate in a summer camp and she demurred. Will she have any interest in trying again in the fall? If so, how does she fit in with other kids who are more consistently playing and advancing in skill level?

    We're currently involved in gymnastics. She likes it so far, but it's only been two Saturday morning meetings. How long before the thrill of the leotard wears off? Will that time come?

    We always let her make the decisions about continuing on. Between payments and commitments, the choice is hers. But once we block it off and pay for it, we want her to finish what she started.

    I haven't nagged; I am not expecting perfection; I just wonder if she'll latch hold of something and really find excitement in it.

    Perhaps tomorrow will be different?

    Yeah, it probably will.

    Wednesday, July 09, 2008

    My provential suburbanism

    I live outside of a Big City. I am not a part of that City. It is theoretically possible for me to partake of the life that the City engages in and occupies its time with, but more often than not, this remains a theory untested.

    Let me explain . . .

    Yesterday, Sarah began a Summer Writing Camp sponsored by The Thurber House. This is a good thing, to be sure, as it gives Sarah the opportunity to work on her writing with other children and gives her perspective on her own writing, the life of writing, and (maybe?) introduces some skills and techniques that can make her a better writer. Yet, the Thurber House is located in downtown Columbus, the aforementioned City that I orbit and bounce against from time to time.

    The week of the camp, I take off work at noon, pick Sarah up at her summer daycare and take her down the Interstate to the Thurber House. The workshop lasts three and a half hours, so I decided to take this opportunity to live within the wireless office that we hear so much about. I would take my laptop--the device that allows me to work remotely with my work files from wherever I choose--outside of the building, living the hip office lifestyle that is so often depicted on the wireless network card commercials that I see on the TV every night.

    And yet . . . and yet . . . I am not of the City. I am a suburbanite. I am a neophyte in the ways of urban authenticity, parking garages, parking meters, one-way streets, skyscrapers, and the like. I am an adult, to be sure, and I spent a few years of my life on the OSU campus, which is close by to the urbanity that I am attempting to inhabit this week. But, the campus is its own fortress, separate from the City. You won't be surprised to know that when I was on campus daily, I rarely ventured from it, living within that other enclosed environment away from The Other.

    But, I can deal. I'm not afraid (as I once was many, many years ago) that I could not find my way around in cities. I know how to read signs, anticipate lane changes, go with the traffic flow, adapt. Even so . . . after I dropped Sarah off Monday afternoon, I set off.

    I figured I'd try out the downtown main branch of the Library. It's large, it has WiFi. I could link up to the office, settle on an upper floor overlooking the windows and Do Some Work. But I had not doublechecked my directions on how to get to the Main Branch. I had no printed map. I was relying on old memories and instinct. You can guess how that ended up.

    I was in the area, I knew. But the one-way streets and the unique rules of downtown confunded me and I found myself drifting away from the area I knew I needed to be, being pulled by the current of incompetence and incomplete information out of the City core and into areas less known and on ramps unwanted. Many times I doubled back, determined by sonar or some unknown memory sense to stumble my way to the Main Branch. But I failed yet again.

    Soon I found myself carried toward areas I recognized as Campus-related. I knew that I could swerve my way into a local Campus parking garage, find a WiFi enabled coffee shop and reassess. This I eventually did and I bought a latte, hooked up the computer, and called up the needed directions to get me from where I was to where I wanted to be. I also got directions from Sarah's class to where I wanted to end up later in the week. At last! I was armed and ready to re-enter the City. But before I left the coffee shop, I checked in with the office email, ensuring that I wasn't cutting myself off from the crises of the day. All was calm.

    I paid my parking garage fee and confidently struck back on the road. Very quickly, I found the Library, right where I KNEW it was. I parked, got out, and found my way to the table that I had seen in my head, overlooking the urban landscape that had so recently mocked me. I turned on the computer, connected to the Library network . . . and found that I needed a library card number to sign into said network! Well, okay. I HAD a card, but it (like me) belonged to the suburban library and was not part of the urban network. I had another card for a branch that I thought was part of the main network, but there was another problem . . .

    I had left my wallet back in the car, parked below me in the garage four stories down. I had pulled the wallet out when I paid the first garage fee outside the campus-area coffee shop. At the time, I had made a mental note to myself to remember where my wallet was . . . but promptly shoved it aside as I consulted maps/directions/twists and turns.

    I could not remember my alternate card # and I suspected that this card was out-of-date anyway. I guess I could have packed up all of my stuff, gone downstairs, retrieved the wallet, come back upstairs, and tried again. But I really didn't feel like it. I had some paper-based work I could do and I would just have to trust that emails could wait. I would check them when I got home later that day.

    When I finished my time at the library--about an hour and a half less than I had anticipated and not nearly as productive as I had imagined--I got Sarah and headed home. Naturally, my remote connectivity with the office didn't work at home either (why? don't know) and so I had to further trust that any office-based problems could wait until Tuesday.


    Even though Monday wasn't a great time, I was better prepared on Tuesday. I had my directions. I had doublechecked my laptop with Tech Support. I figured that all things were ready. So, I dropped Sarah off, hit the library lickety split, and set up shop with a newly renewed card and the appropriate username. Wireless was on, time was well spent . . . and my remote connection continued to fail.

    So, the office remains distant. Potential crises must sit unresolved. I can continue to work on paper-based work, but beyond that, I am impotent. I still have not achieved the effortless urbanity that I desire. I am not part of the paperless world. I need help.

    Perhaps the new iPhone is the answer?

    Hmmm . . .

    Tuesday, July 08, 2008


    The unluckiest number? Not when it signifies thirteen years of happy marriage.

    Lynda and I were married on July 8, 1995 in Valdosta, Georgia. As I've noted in this space before, both explicitly and implicitly, it was the best decision that I ever made (or will ever make). And what if it hadn't occurred?

    If I had not met Lynda on that September night in 1991, if she had not been mesmerized by my odd hat and suggestive Pylon t-shirt, if I had not talked to her all of that night--even after she was convinced I was spiking her drink (I was NOT), where would I be right now?

    Most likely, I would not be blessed with the three wonderful children that I have right now, who are up in their rooms, drawing, reading, sleeping. I would not be living in Ohio . . . almost certainly. And I would not at all resemble the person that you know and read about.

    Lynda's acceptance of me and her love gave me the incalculable confidence in myself that helped transform a shy, worried kid into the beginnings of the less-shy, less worrisome man that I am. Her strong vision of herself and of who we are as a couple helped guide me along in all of the decisions and crises that we've had to face in our many years together. Sometimes she's the strong one, sometimes its me. Ultimately, we have been committed to each other and the belief that together, our partnership makes us stronger than we are as individuals.

    Where would I be, if not for her? Maybe still in Georgia, possibly teaching . . . if that original life/career goal followed through. I might have met and married someone else, but I can't for the life of me imagine who that person might have been. It certainly would not have been someone else that I knew before Lynda or during the years we shared college experiences. From the moment I first met her, I was compelled by her--and I can't for the life of me explain why or tell you what made it seem right. It just was the thing I knew I had to do and the path that I knew I needed to take. Other paths jutted off in the life we have shared, but the path with her was the straight one, the widest, the most sure. It's had it's ruts, its potholes, its bumps. But it has never been wrong.

    As always, these posts are pale imitations of what I imagined them to be in my head. So, Lynda I'm sorry for that. But, since we're both busy with vacation decompressions, writing workshops for kids, jobs, groceries, kids, dinner, lawns, leaking pipes, holes in ceilings, and everything else that defines our very normal life--and since neither of us found time to buy a card . . .

    Happy Thirteen Anniversary. I love you deeply and I thank you sincerely for who you are.