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The first page of my new novel, The Funny Thing About

I didn’t bring roses because Martha never liked roses. I made that mistake on our first date, and she never let me forget it. This day, I brought tulips, daffodils, sunflowers, the most colorful flowers I could find at Trader Joe’s. She liked color, to contrast with the gray and green grass and stones of the cemetery.
“You never even knew what those were called,” Martha said from the seat beside me, not for the first time. It’s true. When she was alive, I could name maybe five flowers. Now, I’d become an expert on varieties, what was in season and would likely last longer. Funny how things go.
I pulled up as close to the gravesite as I could get without running over someone’s grandma. The ominous clouds I’d been watching all morning had loosed a deluge, and the world was drowning under it.
“I told you to leave earlier,” Martha said.
“Yes, you did,” I said. “I’ll just sit here a little while. Maybe it will pass.”
“It’s only going to get worse, Ed,” she said.
“Story of my life.” We said that in u…

Peeling Potatoes

I had a classic parent experience yesterday. I made my daughter help me make French fries. She had to peel the potatoes. Well, she had to scruff 'em up real good while making sure I was aware of child labor laws. 
Before, during, and after she was, of course, telling me she wasn't going to eat any, therefore there was no reason to make her endure this senseless tragedy. She finally conceded that she would grudgingly take 2 out of pity for me. Why 2? Who can say. 
After the peeling, she had to get her plate ready. So, she filled up her ketchup bowl (It's...well, I can't win every battle, okay? The ketchup bowl is just...it's a small bowl, like for dips...let's focus on the French fries, okay?) and I think she got to thinking about the situation. I was making burgers and fries and the smell was alluring. 
We sat down to eat. She was just eating her apples, which I expected. I didn't say anything. A little while later, while I was carefully not watching, she surr…

Thankfulness

I was reading a story to my daughter yesterday. It was set in a school room, and an image in the story had a list of countries and their capitals on the chalkboard. We started talking about capitals of other countries. In order to make it seem more "real" to her, I talked about things that she's familiar with that come from these countries. We had just watched Ponyo, a Studio ghibli movie, on the heels of My Neighbor Totoro, which we both really enjoyed. So, for Japan, we talked about movies and cartoons she liked. We also talked about food. Italy was a good one for food. China is the birthplace of a former student who painted a portrait of my daughter when she was younger, and it's also where many of her toys were manufactured.

An overall goal of mine is to teach her about interconnectivity and how things interact. We recently read about an African and Asian bird known as a honeyguide, which will lead people to beehives. Once people have gotten rid of the bees or di…

Making Projects

The other day, my daughter and I were making a diary with a lock. My daughter said, "I'll paint it red so people will think it's covered with the blood of the last person who tried to break into it." I don't know where she got this from. I am actually usually pretty careful about not saying too much crazy stuff around her. But it was pretty funny, also. I didn't laugh, though. Instead, I just pointed out that this was kind of dark.

I was torn. On the one hand, that was a hilarious and creative thing to say. On the other, I worry that she'll be seen as an oddball.

"Let's put hearts on it," she added, "so they'll think it's pieces of the heart of the last person who tried to break into it."
That was it. I lost it and cracked up.

Sometimes, in situations like this, E will ask why I'm laughing. Sometimes, her feelings are hurt. I try to explain that I'm not laughing at her. I'm laughing because her creativity delig…

Wifi's Down. EVERYBODY PANIC

My daughter has a more active social calendar than me. This is probably as it should be. Summer comes, and folks remember they’re alive, I guess. Nine months (and a few years) later, we’ve got a class full of birthday party invites. They know me at Chuck E. Cheese, now. I’ve got a reserved spot in the ball pit. (Actually, apparently they don’t have ball pits anymore? At least the swanky CEC the parents of my daughter’s class frequent doesn’t.) (By “swanky” I mean, I guess, that it doesn’t have a ball pit. And it’s relatively clean.) When we’re not at parties, we go to the movies, or stay home and watch movies or TV or play video games because it’s still cold out and we are part bear, which means we’d rather hibernate. (This also explains why my daughter loves salmon.)
This last weekend, we had a big windstorm. School was cancelled, Friday, as was my work. The power went off in lots of places(a couple hundred thousand homes)—mine fluttered a few times, like a drunken butterfly—but it ca…

The Bonus Situation

A week ago, I snapped at my daughter. I told her that the thing she should be focused on most is her schooling. Not playing, not having fun. She's in the first grade, and she's been struggling. She's behind in reading and writing, and they send her to a special class to catch up. But the progress she's making has been slow.

I feel like this is my fault. She was in a private school before this one, where she focused on math because that's what interested her--she's doing great in math, doing great in everything except reading and writing and getting her work done.

I told her a story about when I was in school. When we learned cursive, my handwriting was the second worst in class, but partway through the year, the other kid left our class, and I became the kid with the worst handwriting. I would have to go off by myself and work on it. I don't know that my handwriting ever really became legible. So I sort of know what she's dealing with.

Partly, the situa…

Novel Update

I've turned in the final draft of a novel titled, The Funny Thing About... Since this is the final draft, I will probably only revise it 10 or 15 more times. The publisher is working on a cover. I'll start trying to get reviews soon. This will be my seventeenth book.

I've also been working on a collaborative project with a buddy. We co-wrote a poetry collection called I Never Promised You A Sea Monkey. This project is a little different. At its essence, it's something like a self-help book that probably wouldn't really help anyone. Anyway, it was supposed to be maybe a hundred pages and is now at least two hundred and steadily growing, so. This is a tricky project because it involves a lot of graphic design, and neither of us have any skill in that direction. So it should be a real treat.

I have a poetry collection that was accepted for publication but never actually came out. I'm working on trying to get it out, sending it to contests, that sort of thing. It w…