Archive for December, 2009
I’m pretty good about keeping New Year’s resolutions. Whether it’s writing a book or two, shaking up the exercise routine, doing things that make me a better husband or father, I can usually look back at the year and see that I’ve accomplished most of them.
There is one exception to this rule—one that I’ve tried for the last three years with varying degrees of success: no more soda pop. As hard of I’ve tried, I’ve never been able to go an entire year without it. The longest I’ve made it without any bubbly was three years ago when I went all the way to September.
Since I don’t drink a lot of soda anyway, you’d think this would be an easy one to keep. The only time I usually drink it when we go out to eat (an Apollo Burger isn’t an Apollo Burger without some carbonation) or the occasionally family party. And avoiding carbonation during those times wouldn’t be difficult since there are always plenty of non-carbonated options to choose from.
Part of problem is that nearly a decade ago when I started running every day is that if I met my running goals for the week, one of my rewards was a 32 oz. fountain drink from a nearby convenience store. Even though drinking soda was went somewhat against the grain of the weight I was trying to lose at the time, it was still my reminder that I wasn’t giving up soda—but only drinking it after I had accomplished other health related goals. Nearly a decade later, I still routinely meet my fitness goals. However, I still want a reward for doing it. Hence the draw of at least having something carbonated to drink once a week. I’ve tried non-carbonated substitutes but so far nothing seems to work well enough to keep me off carbonation for 365 days.
It’s also become more difficult now that our kids are older. When Marathon Girl and I were first married, we never bought it. Now we buy it occasionally for the kids—usually as a reward for good behavior. This, however, creates temptations when we have it occasionally with dinner even though there’s plenty of other stuff I could drink. In the end, however, I have no one but myself to blame.
There are always other options available—I just choose to have the occasional soda. So this year I’m going to give it one last try and see if I can have the self control to abstain for at least a year. Hopefully by this time next year I’ll have good news to report.
December 31st, 2009
When Marathon Girl and I moved into our home five years ago, we went through the inevitable process of receiving mail that hadn’t been forwarded to the previous owner. We had her new address and forwarded the mail on to her. After a few months, we stopped getting her mail.
Then Christmas came. Holiday cards arrived in our mail box not only to her but two cards address to the Johnson Family. We had no idea who the Johnson Family was but figured it was the owner before the woman who sold her house to us. We Return to Sender on the cards for the Johnsons saying they were no longer at this address.
We forgot all about the Johnson Family until the next Christmas. Once again two Christmas cards arrived for the Johnson Family. And though Marathon Girl and I weren’t 100% sure, we were fairly certain that they were the same two families that sent cards the year before. Once again we sent them back and went about with our lives.
We’ve now spent five Christmases in our home. And each year two cards arrive for the Johnson Family arrive from the same two families. The last two years we haven’t bothered returning them. Whoever sends these cards either don’t get the cards back in the mail or have lost touch with the Johnson Family to the point where five plus years have passed and they have no idea where the Johnson Family lives. If it’s the latter reason, I’m somewhat surprised. In an era of email and social networking, it’s not hard to keep in touch with people or, at the very least, notifying them that you’ve moved. Our lives take us in a hundred different directions making it impossible to keep in touch with everyone. But you’d think after (at least) five years, you’d either find a way to contact them or hear through the grapevine that they moved.
As a writer, a collector of stories, and one who is fascinated by human choices and behavior, I want to know who these families are and what their ties are to the Johnson Family. Were they neighbors? Childhood friends? Casual acquaintances? Ex-lovers? There’s a story here and the storyteller in me wants to tell it. But the Johnson Family is just a name on an envelope. With no forwarding address, their story will never be told but maybe, just maybe, the seeds of a book have been planted.
December 28th, 2009
Sometime during the fourth year of life, Dad told my brother and me about Fidget.
Fidget was one of Santa’s elves that lived in our house. He watched us all day, every day and carried around a notebook where he’d write down everything we did. As Christmas time approached, he would send all of his notes to Santa for him to determine whether or not we were going to get presents.
Fidget wasn’t a normal elf, Dad told us. He was the fastest and smartest of Santa’s elves. If he was standing right behind you in the middle of the room he knew when you were going to turn around and would run before you could even see him. If you walked into the same room where Fidget was, he could hide before you could see him. He could also squeeze and hide himself into the tiniest places so no matter how hard you looked for him, you could never find it. And to top it off, no matter where Fidget was, he could see what you were doing and would take notes.
As Dad told the story I remember looking around the living room and wondering where Fidget was hiding. Was he hiding behind the leg of the couch just out of site? Maybe he was peering between the heating vents so he could keep warm while he watched us. Perhaps he was peeking from behind a corner only to run away as soon as I looked in that direction. Fidget was fast, after all.
Though Dad told us this story to elicit some better behavior from us during the Christmas season, my brother and I bought the story of Fidget hook, line, and sinker. We spend hours setting up traps hoping to catch him or searching our room hoping he’d never be as quick as Dad said he was. Proof of Fidget’s existence, however, came on Christmas morning. Not only did Santa eat his plate of cookies and milk and leave a thank you note, but Fidget’s ate the food we left for him and left a note of thanks as well.
The story of Fidget went over way better than Dad expected, so he milked the story for all it was worth. No matter what time of year it was, Dad would reference Fidget. If we were fighting or getting under his nerves all he would have to do is say “Fidget’s watching!” and we’d stop fighting. When we moved from Utah to small Colorado town that summer Dad assured us that Fidget knew we were moving and would make the trip with us.
Now, 30 years later, Fidget lives again.
A couple weeks ago, while trying to get Aidan, Steven, and Molly to behave, I blurted out that Fidget was watching them. All three of them stopped and gave me blank looks.
“Who’s Fidget?” Aidan asked.
“You don’t know who Fidget is?” I said quickly feigning surprise.
They all shook their heads.
“Come sit by Dad,” I said. “And let me tell you about the fastest and smartest of Santa’s elves.”
So far, the story of Fidget has worked just like I hoped. Sure, the kids still fight and argue like all kids do, but the mention of Fidget is enough to end the bickering—at least temporarily—and have them look around the room, wondering where he’s hiding.
My only hope is that Fidget is something I can use after this Christmas is over.
Like Dad, I want to milk the story for everything its worth.
December 22nd, 2009
I know. I know. Most of you have been on the edge of your seats, wondering when I’m going to make this big announcement I promised to make a while back. Life won’t go on until I let you know what it is.
Well, I can’t make it. At least not yet anyway. It’s not that I don’t want to. It’s just that I can’t make anything official until the other party in this announcement gives me the green light to make it public. (And no, RaeAnne, MG is NOT pregnant.) But when I do make it, I promise it will be with lots of bells and whistles and everything else. But if you do a careful search of my website, you could probably figure out what it is.
Hopefully this won’t drag on much longer.
December 21st, 2009
One of the side effects of using Twitter and Facebook is that I don’t blog as much as I used to. It’s not that I don’t have anything to say on my blog. Rather, with my free time at a premium right now, I simply don’t have much time to blog and find it much more convenient write a short message on one of the social networking sites.
But, since I have a few minutes, here’s an update of the last month or so of my life.
On the good side, I’ve been going over some publishing contracts that will dedicate most of my free time o to forthcoming writing projects for the next year or more. Just thinking about all the writing I’ll have to do to meet certain deadlines kind of freaks me out. I know I can do the work and meet the deadlines, but the actual thought of doing that much writing is a little intimidating.
On the down side, there’s been some instability at work. Though I still have a job, there’s a chance could be coming to an end this month. As a result I’ve been taking on some more freelance copywriting work and checking out other opportunities. If you know of anyone that’s looking for some freelance or fulltime marketing writing work, feel free to let me know.
Back to the good side: I’ve accepted an invitation to present at the largest writing conference in Utah in April. If you’re a writer and want to attend a worthwhile writing conference, I highly recommend this one. I attended last year and got a lot out of it. I’m excited to give a little back to attendees this year by presenting, attending some of the other great presentations and workshops and seeing fellow author friends again.
Finally, I’ll be making a big announcement in the next week or so. (It’s really cool!) If you want to be one of the first to learn about it, subscribe to my email list if you aren’t on it already.
December 7th, 2009