Tag Archives: writing

The Chaos

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I’m still in the midst of playing catch-up after my New Orleans trip and getting a handle on my freelance work. The above page of doodles is something I dug out of a drawer. It’s from 2002 or thereabouts, and it represents, well, chaos. There’s also a rare hand in the middle there.

In the midst of my busy schedule and tapped mental state, I haven’t wanted to post just for the sake of posting. But every day that goes by without an update on this blog makes me antsy.

Today I had my son with me at the office for a spell, and then all three kids for a particularly busy stretch after a co-worker’s program crashed and took a chunk of work with it. It was a marathon day, a nonstop day. And now I have my work at home. Still, I wanted to post tonight.

Journalist Josh Levs is writing a book, titled Stretch Out, about “American fatherhood” and ways life can improve for families. I talked to him at length while in New Orleans, and he’s looking for more dads and moms to contribute to his research. You can find a list of questions here.

I was happy to be able to give him some potentially usable material, and I can’t wait to read his book. I’ll have to wait until 2015, but I have enough to keep me busy until then, I’m sure.

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Late Week: The Final Assessment

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Late Week was fun and all, but one of the reasons I picked the theme was to see the difference between focusing on posts at night and posts in the morning.

Things got interesting. I was literally falling asleep as I wrote this post: Saturday’s writing appearing finally on Sunday. It probably didn’t help that I was in bed. Here’s a line I went back and read after I woke up for a while, talking about writing at night vs. writing in the morning:

“While I’ve tended to do a little of both since launching this blog, I’ve found that I don’t so as well if my deadline for the day is actually that evening.”

It’s not overtly terrible, but it does produce a “huh?”

I’ll be going back to my regular method of posting this next week. Christmas might throw it off a bit, but in general, I’ll be back on track.

In Worry Wednesday news, I’m struggling to stay calm amid concern that my 6-year-old has appendicitis. She complained of pain, briefly, in the area where that would happen. I called an advice nurse and everything, but by the time I was dressed and ready to take her in for some tests, she said she felt fine. She never had a fever. She stopped complaining of any discomfort. She went on a bike ride.

We’ll see …

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Waiting Week: Freaky Friday

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This has been a busy week!

Well, they’re all busy, aren’t they? I’ve never liked using “being busy” as an excuse for falling behind in something, but that doesn’t stop me from doing so.

Still, it has been a busy week.

At this point, I’m just waiting for the week to end, as we’ve got a marathon of holiday activities planned for the weekend, including attending a holiday parade, a craft fair, a ballet, and a live performance of Mary Poppins, for which we’re skipping a potluck.

So it’s going to be a busy weekend, too.

I beg your pardon for not going too introspective or “themey” with today’s post. As happened with my spider/Internet post from yesterday, today’s image and the text weren’t planned to marry together—but unlike yesterday’s post, I’m not having a last-minute realization of a connection, no matter how slim or subtle.

My doodle today came from a conversation I had with my firstborn, when she was about 4 years old. I walked in to hear her declare to me: “Mom’s evil.”

I froze.

“Oh,” I said. “Tell me more about that.”

“I’m evil, too,” she said.

I didn’t know quite how to respond to this one. While I fumbled for the best way to continue this conversation, she added: “So, we’re the stepsisters. You can be the prince.”

Aha. Cinderella. This shows why it’s generally a good idea to wait after a kid says something startling, as opposed to knee-jerk reacting with something crafted from an adult’s logical and often cynical/world-weary frame of mind.

On a side note, I’ve traditionally heard those stepsisters described as “ugly”—which may not be fair, but it is tradition—but I suppose “evil” applies, too.

My girls have showed an increased interest in classic fairy tales lately, which delights me. My 4-year-old specifically requested “The Three Little Pigs” and “Little Red Riding Hood” for bedtime stories last night, and I’m so glad. These stories are some of the foundational building blocks for, well, storytelling, which is a subject very near and dear to my heart.

I’m a professional journalist, pretty much because it’s one of the best way to frequently and regularly get stories out to the masses. It’s why I fell in love with this line from The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck: “The story tellers, gathering attention into their tales, spoke in great rhythms, spoke in great words because the tales were great, and the listeners became great through them.”

I could just sigh at that line all day.

But I don’t have time for that. Sorry. In fact, I don’t really have time for this post any more!

What are some of your favorite stories? Or—to get meta on you—your favorite thoughts/words/quotes/ideas/stories about stories?

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Thanks Week: Wait Till the Morning Comes

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I think, “Maybe tonight will be a good night.”

I think, “Maybe tonight no one will wake up crying, and no one will have an upset stomach, and the baby will stay asleep, and we can all get some rest.”

I think, “I can’t remember the last time we all slept through the night.”

Having a baby means interrupted sleep patterns, of course, but this is something more. Lately, anyway, it seems like there are always nightmares, always sore throats, always problems. Among all of us.

My 4-year-old has been complaining of an upset stomach for a while now. For a couple of months. There are no other symptoms—nothing unusual going in or coming out, no fevers. We’re thinking it’s anxiety—causing the discomfort in her and thereby prompting it in me. She’d prefer to live on Trader Joe’s O’s and boxed mac and cheese, but, of course, we feed her more foods and healthier foods, which she picks at. I think she’s hungry a lot, too.

Late Thanksgiving night—or early the next morning, at 4:30, actually—I woke up feeling terrible. Like, hunch over the toilet terrible. The kids all woke up fine—aside from the usual complaints—at 6. We puttered around with my parents, then drove to my wife’s parents’ house for a second Thanksgiving dinner with her siblings and such. I was feeling fine by the afternoon, and my 4-year-old actually ate food. Plus, we loaded her up with buttered rolls—heavy on the butter—thinking it would fill her up.

She admitted that her stomach didn’t hurt as much. “That’s because you’re putting food in it,” I said, popping a few more pomegranate seeds into her mouth, since she decided she likes those, too.

The kids went to bed with no issues. No health issues, anyway. The adults actually all watched a movie together: Safety Not Guaranteed, which could be my life motto. Then, while walking past the room where the girls were sleeping, I heard an odd sound. My wife and I thought it was the family dog hacking, but it turned out to be my 4-year-old in her sleep. She woke up, sobbing, with this braying cough unlike anything I’ve yet heard out of any of my children.

I’ll admit that I looked at my wife and said, “I can’t take this anymore.” I meant the sicknesses. The late-night questions with no answers: Why is she making that noise? Why won’t she tell us what hurts when we ask? Why does it seem like someone in our family is always suffering from some ailment or another? What should we do now?

My wife sat with our barking daughter in a steamy bathroom while I started writing this post. Writing helps me organize my brain. Words are a way of taking some of the chaos of the world and containing it, constraining it, making it do what I want. When I put a word down, it stays where I put it. It means what I want it to mean. Let there be light, and all. Words have power. In the beginning was the word

The two of them eventually came out, and my girl asked—in a raspy voice, her breathing clear but ragged—if she could watch the Burninator, so I put on a string of Homestar shorts and the two of us fell asleep, her on a couch, me on the floor below her.

When I talked to her—bright-eyed, clear-chested, smiling her—about everything this morning, she said she had had no trouble breathing in, but breathing out last night was hard. It made a weird sound. Her throat hurt last night; it’s fine now. For the first time in weeks upon weeks, when I ask her how her tummy’s doing, she says good.

I’ll probably revisit this post during an upcoming Worry Wednesday, but for now I’m thankful that the sun came up, and my kids are now running around, playing, helping with chores, beautiful.

Breathing.

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Fight Week: Freaky Friday: Waaaay Too Close

Health Week: Freaky Friday: Waaaay Too Close

Well, my post about Man Cards went up on WordPress’ Freshly Pressed page this morning, and there are now a lot of new people wading around in the Shallows.

A note to new visitors: Please keep your hands where we can’t see them.

I forewent the usual creepy quote from my kids (OK, the scary stuff all comes from my firstborn) today because the freakiest thing about this Friday is that there’s a whole mess of people reading about and commenting on an opinion of mine regarding the nature of masculinity.

And then, in theory, these same people are perhaps browsing around and learning my daily underwear selection process.

One of the weirdest things about writing is that it’s such a personal, solitary pursuit, but it’s frequently—not always—intended for a wider audience of readers. The idea is to make a connection and maybe spur someone to action, whether that’s prompting them to reconsider gender-based stereotypes, help fight prostate and testicular cancer (I know you’ve seen my moustache, but have you seen my Movember page?), or choose Batman-themed boxer-briefs over plain, white jockey shorts.

Words, to me, are about connections, and my hope is that this blog would be a conversation, not a monologue. To all who’ve been reading since I started and to the folks who’ve just dropped in for a quick look, thanks for sharing this freaky Friday—and your words—with me.

P.S.—I’m also taking weekly theme suggestions.

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