Monday

I woke up this morning to my three year old in bed with me singing "Winnie the Pooh" and poking me, saying "Dada, wake up!" When I rolled over, he smiled and said "I love you, Dada." It's going to be a good day.

I have an interview today at 3, so I'm feeling hopeful. I got dressed and took my boy to Grandma's house, stopping for a cup of coffee on my way. He hugged me and said "Bye bye, Dada." It's going to be a good day.

I drive downtown to pick up a check and meet with an advisor at school. On my way I hit a pothole and spill coffee on my shirt. It's not going to be a good day.

Now my schedule has changed. I have to go to the mechanic to have a tire fixed and it's going to take 2 hours. I walk over to the dry cleaner and they can wash my shirt and iron it in an hour. I walk over to a nearby store for a couple things we need and I pick up a hoodie that's not too expensive. I go to the register to check out and it's 50% off. It's going to be a good day.

I walk to a coffee shop while I wait for my shirt to be finished - risky, I know. I sip some coffee and read the news on my phone before I realize I didn't charge my phone last night. My battery is almost dead, and I left my charger at the school on Friday. It's not going to be a good day.

I check my watch and see that I dropped my shirt off almost an hour ago, so I walk back to the dry cleaner. My shirt is drying, but the stain didn't come out. There's no reason for me to wait, so I ask to take the wet shirt and go. At least she didn't charge me for the wash. It's not going to be a good day.

I walk back to the mechanic and they haven't started on my car yet because they had some questions and my cell battery was dead. Of course, they want to sell me more work - to hear them tell it, the vehicle is likely to explode the next time I hit a pothole. It's not going to be a good day.

My car is finished around 12, so I swing by my mom's house to see if she has laundry superpowers the dry cleaner doesn't. When I walk in, my boy runs up to me and says "Dada, you're here!" He hugs my legs and drags me to the living room so I can play dinosaurs with him. It's going to be a good day.

The stain comes out by merit of mom's dark laundry magic, but it's too late for me to do anything before the interview. Instead, I put my boy down for a nap. He plays with my earlobe while drinking some milk as I sing some songs to him. His eyes close and he starts snoring softly. I hold him until I need to leave and I kiss him on his forehead and whisper "I love you, Bubba." He smiles. It's going to be a good day.

The interview goes well, and I have a second interview tomorrow. I went back to campus and met with an advisor. I have some prerequisites to take care of and can start the program Spring 2015. Dinner with my parents, followed by giving my boy a bath. I get him dressed in his pajamas and as I get ready to leave, he gives me a big hug and a kiss and says, "I love you, Dada."

It was a good day.

Beautiful

To me, this is beautiful. My neighborhood is nearly silent. The snow, largely undisturbed. The roads have been plowed and the driveways cleared, but there are no footprints in the yards, or snowmen, or yellow puddles from the dogs. It's as if a blanket has been dropped over my neighborhood and a hush has fallen all around. It's cold outside, but also incredibly peaceful. I love watching from the front porch after a heavy snow.

That said, I'm ready for spring.

Transient

Improving

“That sucks” is negativity. “That sucks, here’s why, and here’s how to fix it” is criticism, and it comes from a place of love. That’s the difference.

- via medium.com

I always hate hearing "that's really good" or "I didn't like it" when people respond to my writing. But telling me WHAT they like or WHY something didn't work helps me grow and improve as a writer. I'd rather have someone tell me why they don't like my work and strategies to improve than have someone just "like" my work without any real explanation.

The Best Christmas

It's no secret - I'm a humbug. I don't really like the holiday season. I don't like decorating the house or putting up a tree; I don't enjoy shopping and rampant consumerism; I find Christmas movies to be unnecessary, cheesy, and generally annoying. I'm at a point in my life that I don't need many things, and so I hate trying to come up with ideas for gifts. Occasionally, I enjoy baking Christmas cookies and going caroling with my dad (he plays trombone, I play baritone), but that's about the sum of it. 

This year, we aren't doing gifts for anyone except our son. Parents are still going overboard, but with siblings, we've simply exchanged cards. I haven't worked since mid-November, and things have been tight. But this has been an exceptionally great Christmas, despite the lack of gift-giving and gift-getting (or perhaps, because of it).

With my brother and his wife, we had the opportunity to spend some really great time together going to dinner and to a Pacers game. My brother and I got to laugh and talk and catch up, while my wife and sister-in-law had their own girl time. 

With my brother-in-law, I had the opportunity to spend several hours in the woods, tracking deer and hunting. He's a great guy with a terrific sense of humor, but in the six years I've known him, despite our overlapping interest in camping, hunting, fishing, and guns, we've never really had an opportunity to connect over a shared activity. 

We spent four days with my in-laws and had breakfast and coffee and dinner and watched movies. I spent several hours with my wife's grandfather in his kitchen, listening to him tell stories and talk about his life. 

With my parents, I've helped bake cinnamon rolls, drank coffee, went to see "A Christmas Carol," and took a whole family day to play games, listen to music, and eat great food. 

Really, the best gifts this Christmas have been the gifts of time. I don't think there's much better than that. 

Who Invented Wrapping Paper?

Stationery purveyors J.C. and Rollie Hall ran into a problem during the 1917 holiday season: Business had been too good at their Kansas City, Mo., shop, and they'd run out of the white, red, and green tissue papers that were the era's standard gift dressing.

Poking around the shop, Rollie realized they still had a stack of fancy French paper meant for lining envelopes. On a lark, he placed the lining paper in a showcase and priced it at 10 cents a sheet. The paper sold out instantly.

Now you know who to blame. 

Writing for Free

Tim Kreider, writing for the New York Times

The first time I ever heard the word “content” used in its current context, I understood that all my artist friends and I — henceforth, “content providers” — were essentially extinct. This contemptuous coinage is predicated on the assumption that it’s the delivery system that matters, relegating what used to be called “art” — writing, music, film, photography, illustration — to the status of filler, stuff to stick between banner ads.

Such a great article, and so many thoughts. First of all, I'm reminded of a professor and mentor in college, talking about never writing for free. He told a story of a student who invited him to dinner with his parents. The student's father, an attorney, had written a manuscript for a story that he wanted my professor to read and edit.

"Great," said my professor. "I'll bring my will and my writing contracts for him to review."

"Oh no," replied the student. "He won't do that for free. He does that for a living."

Another great quote from the piece:  

My parents blew tens of thousands of 1980s dollars on tuition at a prestigious institution to train me for this job. They also put my sister the pulmonologist through medical school, and as far as I know nobody ever asks her to perform a quick lobectomy — doesn’t have to be anything fancy, maybe just in her spare time, whatever she can do would be great — because it’ll help get her name out there.

I've made the mistake in the past of writing for free for this same reason - to drive traffic to my website or to get my name out there. These days, the only place I write for free is here. I go to networking events and hand out cards, link to people on Facebook and Twitter, and build real-life relationships that turn into paid gigs. But I don't write for free. It's never been worth the cost.