Archives for posts with tag: Life

I’ve taken three weeks off work (unpaid) thanks to a Minnesota State Arts Board Grant. One of the best and most unexpected things about Minnesota is how supportive it can be of artists. Who knew? I just came here to get an MFA and find a wife. The grant is just icing on the cake.

Anyways, like a said, trying to write a book. I thought it might be good for me to have a little accountability. Thus, I’m going to try to write a little blurb here – if you’ll be kind enough to indulge me – every day or every other day, most days let’s say. Ok deal, most days I’ll check in. Since this is day two I’ll catch you up.

Day One :

I managed to make word inaccessible in on my computer. Yeah. Seriously. I don’t know. Let’s call it self-sabotage. Let’s call it idiocy. Thank goodness for the folks at Best Buy who promised to fix it overnight.

In the meantime, the poodle and I read in the sun:

poodle_summer15

Day Two:

Computer is back. Great. Now I have to write. FUCK. Ok, that’s ok. I have a degree in this. It’s what I supposedly like to do. Writing is fun. Writing can be fun. Writing isn’t so bad. Oh I should mention I’m also trying to get to my new crossfit gym five days a week during this three week period. Is it avoidance or does it add structure to the day. I’m not sure yet.

We can talk about that tomorrow. Thanks, as always, for listening, sweet blog-friends.

Three years ago my step father, Frank, passed away from complications of ALS. The disease robbed him of his speech, his ability to eat, and the use of his arms before it eventually took his life. I’m still not very comfortable talking about how cruel ALS proved to be when it struck my family.

As the #alsicebucketchallenge grows exponentially it seems necessary pin down how I feel about this social media madness. I feel annoyed that my newsfeed is overrun with these posts. I feel embarrassed for all the people that drop the bucket on their heads. I feel a pull at my chest each time I hear or read those letters “ALS”.

That’s where I get stuck. That pull at my chest. ALS feels like a swear word. I don’t like saying. I don’t like hearing. It doesn’t sound like any other disease to me. It sounds hopeless. People forget when they post these laughing and shrieking and even stoic declarations of support that real people have ALS. Friends and family members of ALS victims see these posts.

This man doesn’t know ALS will take him before he turns 60: Frank

On the other side, as I’m sure Frank would argue, this has generated a tremendous amount of money and support for the cause. For all the pulls at my chest and all the annoyances, that’s certainly worth something.

If you’ve been challenged or you’d just like to donate to a good cause let me suggest donating to the Robert J. Packard Center at John’s Hopkins University. Their focus is research over awareness and that research is damn impressive. 

Who says silliness can’t benefit a good cause?

 

Seventeen years ago a generation of cicadas crawled from an underground slumber in the Iowa soil and screamed for months. They flew about like tiny drunk pilots, slamming into humans and agriculture alike. They ruined a summer’s worth of outdoor picnics. Then – goal accomplished, I assume –  they mated, laid their eggs deep into the ground, and died.

Their babies have arrived. I assure you they scream just as passionately as their forefathers.

The poodle met a few of these new cicadas this weekend. Like most living creatures, they baffled her. She batted them about. Sniffed and snorted. Eventually she took a bite out of one and the screaming stopped. Here, I have photographic proof of the poor bastard:

CicadaHe’s kind of beautiful. Now that he’s quiet.

The poodle feels no shame. She seemed rather pleased with herself and the conquering of an invading army – or at least one enemy soldier. Here she is immediately post-kill:

HappyPoodleMy sweet little happy killer.

 

Growing up, I was one of those Midwestern kids who said I liked all kinds of music, except country of course. Anything but gross, stereotypical, tractor-lovin country. Then I grew up, apparently used my sense of hearing for the first time, and realized how naïve I had been. Country is awesome. Well, some country is awesome. Patsy Cline, Dolly Parton, Johnny-Fucking-Cash.

Recently I came across this slowed down version of Dolly Parton’s song, Jolene:

It’s haunting. It’s heartbreaking. It’s lovely. Then again, so is the original:

Jolene tells a better story than half the books I’ve read recently. Our dear narrator, Dolly, doesn’t have the bravado one would expect of this genre. She’s been bested. She’s humbled.  “Please don’t take him, even though you can.” She’s fighting for her man by begging the green-eyed, auburn locked, adulterer to have pity on her. She isn’t condemning the other woman. She isn’t threatening her. She begs. That narrative kills me every time!

That is all.

My wife and I got married because we love each other. We got married because that seemed like the next step in life. We got married because we could. (Thank you Iowa and Minnesota) Like a good modern couple the cohabitating, dog adopting, and mortgage came before the marriage. The wedding felt like a mere formality. An excuse to have a party. We didn’t think it would change much.

But it did. It changed something huge and intangible.

We aren’t dating any more. She isn’t my girlfriend. We are married. She is my spouse. She is my wife. These are words society at large understands. We don’t have to explain that our partnership is deep and true and real, these words do it for us.

Also being married got us a post on A Bicycle Built for Two. That’s kinda fun.

I love this girl.

Loves

This week we saw grass for the first time in months. Snow mold spotted our yard like bits of fur or feathers from a hawk attack. I’ve got that bird on my mind since I walked around the front of the house last week to see him sitting on our brick walkway. We stared at each other for a moment, this hawk and I – a moment longer than felt comfortable – before he flew up to perch on the street light. He stayed there while I chopped at the ice, made a path for the draining snow, and thought about the grass underneath.

Last night seven inches of snow buried all that work. All that grass and mold and possibility. Minneapolis, yet again, is covered. Even this lovely new sculpture by physicist turned artist, Julian Voss-Andreae, has been engulfed:

Spannungsfeld-MN

No one in my office is talking about snow. Usually, as good Midwesterners should, we like to talk about the weather. It shapes our lives, our thoughts, our concept of reality. This winter has sapped that desire to discuss and dissect. Snow is no longer interesting or beautiful or festive. Snow is oppressive. There is nothing more to say.

We’ll talk about the next kind of weather when it arrives. Just wait for that first thunderstorm, that first clap of thunder. You won’t be able to shut us up. God that sounds nice.

We are on the threshold of spring, the edge of that conversation. I hope.

My current job involves being in an office for the most of my workday. Six out of eight hours most days. Mind you, I’m not complaining. Compared to many of my coworkers who spend their six hours in cubicles, I got lucky. This office has a door that I can close and a window where my sweet little plants can get some sun.

Even on a snowy March day like today:

Office Plants

Plants to improve my day, my experience of the workplace. HuffPo agrees.

I am content in my job. The hours aren’t bad. The pay is reasonable. Sometimes I get to help people with problems that seem big in their lives. The aforementioned plants seem happy here. But I’m not entirely fulfilled. This is not my dream job. I have not become what I wanted to be when I grew up (which was actually a comedian – that’s a story for another post).

Maybe that’s okay.

Instead of actively looking for a new job, I’m considering how much I need to be fulfilled by my job. Perhaps my fulfillment doesn’t lie with my career but rather with my family and my writing and my garden and my life outside of this not-too-bad office. Maybe contentment is exactly the level of fulfillment I need.

Then again making a little more money would be nice for all those other life events…

Daily Post

With students away on spring break the campus where I work is blissfully still. Halls quiet. Bathrooms clean. No line at the coffee shop. No need to dodge the ear-budded crowd who can’t look up from their phones and iPods even for a moment.

This also meant Woodstock the therapy chicken had some free time:

therapy-chicken

Yes, we have a therapy chicken. Woodstock is a part of the University’s “Pet Away Worry and Stress” (PAWS) program. She and a room full of patient dogs (who are mostly plotting ways to eat the aforementioned chicken) hangout here on campus for a few hours every Wednesday afternoon. The concept of this program melts my heart. Student who rarely look up at the world around them need this connection, a sweet, calm chicken and some lovelorn pups. A moment to step outside themselves.

The wife and I dutifully listened as Woodstock’s lookalike handler explained all things therapy chicken:

therapychicken2

I’m listening in that picture, really, but I’m also wondering if the twinsies look is intentional. Did the lady choose the chicken because they have the same hair color? Did the chicken choose the lady? Is her hair permed to match Woodstock’s glorious fluff? Maybe it’s all natural. Maybe their pairing is fate. I pet Woodstock like I’m told, gently and down her back. We don’t know each other well enough for a head-rub. Then we’re on our way.

Not a bad way to end the work day.

The wife and I made the Wall Street Journal’s Life and Culture section today. Seriously. Featured image and everything. Here’s the link:

Jewelers Woo Engaged Same-Sex Couples – WSJ

andrea_elizabeth_00424

Our story opens the article:

wsjquote

Close enough.

As far as I can recall, this is the first time I’ve been quoted. Mentioned maybe but never quoted. It’s an odd feeling. The words attributed to me don’t ring false but I can’t help raising an eyebrow. Is that exactly what I said? Does this story, this little blurb of my life, really represent me? Does it accurately represent my marriage? Not really.

This article doesn’t show much about us. Barely a glimpse really. You can’t see the grit that makes up our daily life: the mortgage and walking the dog and making dinner and shoveling snow at six in the morning. These few sentences don’t show the love that drew us together, the marriage that’s simply awesome.

But that’s ok.

In this anecdote, we’re an example of the new normal. We sit on that fence between normal and unknown. Like any engaged couple we needed to buy wedding rings. Unlike that other couple (that straight couple), we also needed to explain ourselves. Fine. Hopefully what we did in that store, and with this article, is have that mildly uncomfortable conversation for other couples. Hopefully we took one for the team.

That’s love.

As a fourth grader, during a winter much like this one, I sat in my elementary school gym. The PE teacher – missing two finger tips from his days as a shop teacher – explained the rules of our next game. The kind of complex game a brutal, hibernation worthy winter necessitated. Stay on the lines. No passing. Save your friends from jail. On and on.

A classmate asked a complicated question about the complicated game. I just wanted to play. I said, “That’s like asking what do I do if a burglar comes and the house is on fire and I can’t find my shoes and there is a tornado outside.” Everyone laughed. That’s how I got my first laugh.

I was an awkward, unpopular kid. Knock-kneed and a little chunky. A little nerdy:

awkward2

That laugh filled my chubby little chest with joy. I felt like I fit in. Something I said had changed the feeling of the room. The tension lifted and even the butt of my joke smiled.

Making people laugh feels like you have a superpower. For a moment, time stops. You can see the space between words. The timing of the room. During this pause, your reaction has the power to spread joy like a little bolt of lightning. Something unexpected. Something that fits within that unseen space. The joy bounces from the listener back to you. God it feels good.

Last night, at my grown up gym, I made some people laugh again. A quip about the weather. Hating my life not the workout. Funny on the basis of shared suffering? These people who were grimacing against their effort smiled and laughed. The mood lifted.

Maybe I’m over analyzing it but I sure do love making people laugh.

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