Resolutions (finally)

6 01 2011

I finally wrote all of my resolutions down this morning, obviously a few days late. It’s looking pretty ambitious. I went from having 21 goals for 2010, and I achieved easily more than half of those, to 31 for this year, divided into 10 different categories. To give a little example:

  • Family and marriage goals include taking the kids out at least once a week to something educational, keeping a standing Saturday night date with the wife, etc.
  • Health goals include making it to the gym (on about the same schedule I currently am on, so it should be an easy one), to cutting down on the number of “cheat” meals per week
  • Writing goals to include setting aside time to work on professional freelancing, fiction writing and regular dissertation time, plus one anti-goal: “Do NOT participate in NaNoWriMo.”
  • Reading goals including dramatically increasing the number of books I’ll read this year and keeping better track of them. I’m going to add a sidebar on this page, for example.
  • Personal and Spiritual goals like setting aside time to just think and plan (i.e., planning to plan) and to volunteer my time more often.

To which I have also a number of other goals that I’ll keep private, such as our financial plans for the year.

It’s probably too ambitious, but I figure if I hit half of them, I’ll be doing really great, though all of them are good goals to have. I should also plan time to sleep while I accomplish all of this, but alas one must make cuts somewhere. As far as this blog is concerned, writing and reading will be the big focus and it’s one I’m particularly looking forward to. I will, however, be trying to get a minimum of 4 entries per week up, which is sometimes more of a challenge. I’m tempted to share the short fiction that I write, as other really impressive writers on the internet do, but I’m just too guarded about it and keep it pretty close to my chest. Maybe, if something really strikes me as ready for the public eye. We’ll see.

Anyway, it’s a good morning, very little to do right now and I’ve had a successful week. It should be smooth sailing until Sunday when I really kick things off. I’m looking forward to it.



13 10 2010

Sorry for the lack of posting the past couple days and this is bound to be a bit of a disappointment, too. I’m having some serious productivity issues around here right now, most of it caused by the never-ending Beatles concert that we’ve been having. It turns out you really, really can get too much of a good thing and, boy howdy, am I ever there. I’ve probably listened to a subset of about 3 songs (especially Help!) around 983,234.56 times in the last two weeks. Nobody needs help like I need help.

If it’s not that, it’s just been that there’s always being overwhelmed by all of the piddly shit and constant distractions to getting anything done, which makes me feel worse about what I’m doing (and failing to do) and it’s a bit of a vicious cycle. The answer is clearly to plan better, but there’s just not much time to carve out.

Putting aside the anti-Beatles sentiment for a second (and I’m sure it’s passing anyway, but damn these kids latch on to things), there’s this in my head:

Out of college, money spent

See no future, pay no rent

All the money’s gone, nowhere to go

Any jobber got the sack

Monday morning, turning back

Yellow lorry slow, nowhere to go

But oh, that magic feeling, nowhere to go

Oh, that magic feeling Nowhere to go

Except for the magic feeling kind of sucking right now, that’s where I live at the moment as I try to balance the parenting responsibilities with trying to contribute financially and still stay productive creatively.

So far on my watch…

7 10 2010

Nevermind that I successfully got one kid from infancy to school already and I’m halfway to school age on this one. This has been my week of fail parenting. Je suis le Faildad.

Monday, my first day back on the SAHD job, my son grabbed a pill lying on the counter which belonged to my father-in-law, who is on various medications for various ailments common to a person of his age. I learn about this from my son running up to me and telling me that he ate one of “Papaw’s gummies!” Oh crap. So, I track down the remnants of it and discover that it’s only a harmless Fish Oil capsule and we have a little talk about how we stay away from medicines because they can make you really sick. The rest of the day I spend mentally picturing my son being rushed to the E.R., his liver failing, the most horrific nightmarish scenarios a guy can imagine. That kind of thing.

Wednesday brought a confrontation with the in-laws’ dog, a 12 year old, 18 pound miniature schnauzer who is generally quite lovable, but does not really understand little kids well. At some point, the two were in the hallway together and he apparently tried to pet her, which she didn’t like and she bit his hand (not hard), but also scratched his face up with both claws. One set of claws didn’t really break the skin but left light marks across his right cheek, but with her right claw she narrowly missed his eye and left a small cut which caught on the skin and left a fairly deep gash about half a centimeter long. No doubt this was the result of her claws having been clipped the day before, but still, it’s a nasty cut and I cannot help but think how lucky we are she missed the eye. So he cries for a bit, naturally, but I get him calmed down, get it cleaned up and he’s a real trooper. To get that far, though, I had to resort to bribery. By the end of it, he had scored the following:

This morning, he looks a lot like he’d been punched in the face and the swelling hasn’t gone down yet. I thought there might be some infection there, but there’s no real sign of it, just light bruising and the beginnings of a nice shiner.

Yeah, so, guilt had NOTHING to do with these purchases at all. I am sucking this week, so I’ve got to figure out how to rebound and we’ve still got two days yet. What fresh hell awaits, I’m sure we’ll soon see, but I really can’t wait for the weekend to get here.

It’s been that kind of week

6 10 2010

My son’s Beatles obsession continues to pick up steam and I’m proud of how he’s learned quite the repetoire of song titles that he enjoys. He’s also conflated the Beatles and the Wiggles and ranks them, often, in order of favorites: Paul, Sam Wiggle, Ringo, John. Everyone’s entitled to their opinion.

The unfortunate side effect is that I end up with songs stuck in my head all night long. Last night it was “Help!” and I found myself thinking over the lyrics and how they really do reflect where I am right now. It seemed that there was a long time there when I had a lot of people in my life and it was fun, but I didn’t need them quite as much. Now, however, since I’m alone a good part of the time, I really find that I need others even more for inspiration, guidance, feedback, camaraderie and sometimes even a little friendly competition. It’s hard to supplant all of that through discipline to a strictly made-up schedule, but this is the crisis of adulthood in a nutshell.

By the way, this is more random musing than call for help. On my initial read-through, it looked a little negative to me and I don’t mean it as such, but I didn’t see how to edit it around and still get the point. It’s more in the line of waxing philosophically about the changes in life and how you never seem to have everything you need when exactly you need it.

Governor’s School

26 08 2010

Way the hell back in summer of 1991, when I was a rising senior at Jacksonville High School in Jacksonville, Arkansas. I had the great opportunity to participate in Arkansas Governor’s School. My area of specialty was English and it was in there that I met my roommate for the then 6-week long program, a guy who would later become my roommate for my freshman year at college and the best man at my wedding. It was also at Governor’s School that I decided where I’d go to college: Hendrix, which is the campus where AGS is held.

I recently got an email from a life-long friend of mine who also went to Governor’s School herself regarding a survey of former AGS attendees about how it affected their life. I’d say ultimately it didn’t do much over the long-haul and was more of an influence in the general, big-picture sense much as how my elementary education shaped my life in ways that are, today, pretty much invisible. Yet, I would never had traded that experience for the world. It was a place that said I was smart and good at English, my favorite subject. I had a great time there. Most of what I remember is me being a complete idiot. I don’t think I was especially smart, but people kept telling me I was and that felt pretty nice. It was high drama with nerds. Fun stuff.

The email came about 4 days ago. Then, yesterday, remarkably, I ran into my “Area II” teacher from AGS randomly in the Nashville Public Library. His name is Bill Haymes and Area II was something I personally referred to as “group therapy.” It was the touchy-feely part of the AGS program, but was also an important experience. Bill was the perfect teacher for it, too. He’s the type of guy who seems so peace with himself. He’s a musician (2 CDs on sale here) and just generally a super guy. I had completely forgotten that he lived in Nashville, but now that I think on it, I remember running into him once before about 11 or 12 years ago when we lived here before. Regardless, I was floored by the chance meeting and despite a few awkward comments by yours truly-this is something I do; put on the spot, I have a tendency to say really odd things-I was genuinely happy to see him and have, for a moment, that connection to my summer experiences from 19 years before. Oh Library, is there anything you can’t do?

It’s so strange how a theme or an idea or the memory of a place can seem to randomly enter your life from multiple angles. No rhyme or reason to it, but it feels like the universe is nudging you in the ribs with a cosmic elbow and pointing dramatically and demanding to be acknowledged.

Philip Larkin and Early Mornings

9 08 2010

I just finished listening to The Writer’s Almanac podcast (which I do almost every morning) and one bit about those early morning thoughts resonated with me, even though I managed to oversleep yet again. Today is Philip Larkin’s birthday and, while depressing, I find the following thought very lucid and beautiful:

“I work all day, and get half-drunk at night.
Waking at four to soundless dark, I stare.
In time the curtain-edges will grow light.
Till then I see what’s really always there:
Unresting death, a whole day nearer now,
Making all thought impossible but how
And where and when I shall myself die.”

It’s depressing sure. I normally follow roughly the same habit, although I was too lazy to hunt down my cell phone/alarm clock last night and didn’t get around to getting up at my usual 4:30. Still, I was up early enough to catch the glimmer of sunlight peeking out around the curtains in our room which ordinarily cause a complete blackout. And I do lie there thinking. Larkin saw death with the beginning of each new day. It’s raw. I think it’s one of the great things about those early morning thoughts when your mind is clear of all the noise you gather throughout the day, that your thoughts just manage to cut through all of the bullshit and get to what’s real: mortality, feeling, life. It’s why I prefer to write early in the mornings aside from just the practical aspect of not having the kids hound me every 30 seconds. I think faster and more clearly at that time and I get to what matters instantly with no baggage.