Wednesday, September 30, 2009

More Exercise

Today was pretty eventful for being an uneventful day. I got to sit in a crowded conference room with no snacks provided except a box of Dunkin Donuts Munchkins. Krispy Kreme or GTFO. I attended my annual firm element training where it is explained that stealing money, forging signatures, and committing fraud is frowned upon not only by LFA, the company I work for, but by FINRA as well. Who knew? Sometimes I really get frustrated at Lincoln. Technically, LFA is distinct from all other companies under the Lincoln Financial umbrella, and they’ve decided that they should emphasize that difference by making me jump through paperwork nonsense hoops. “You gotta be f*-king kidding me!” was the sentiment in the room. I’m not going to detail because I’m in an “accentuate the positive” kind of mood. I had no energy today. I was sore. I was unmotivated. I got a recovery run in anyway. Today was truly one of those days where getting out of the house was the toughest part of the workout. I did a basic three and a half miles just to get the blood flowing. I ran outside in the middle of the afternoon and it was comfortable the whole way. The rubber on the soles of my shoes didn’t melt. I didn’t lose thirty pounds in water weight, and my heart rate didn’t spike. Not even when I sprinted the last two hundred yards. It’s the first time since late March that I’ve been able to do that. Fall is finally here. I noticed it this morning when I left for work. There was a crispness in the air. I wished that I could have run then. Running in the cool is easy, and I’m looking forward to at least ten or twelve cool mornings between now and next summer. I also have a new stretching routine. I stretch on the living room floor while LMJ watches a DVD. It may be bad parenting, but it’s the easiest way I’ve found to keep her entertained and to keep track of exactly how long I hold each stretch. A minute is a long time. I can only hope that my total body soreness assuages at least a little bit by tomorrow morning. I’ve got chest, biceps, and I’m thinking about running 8. Someone’s getting in shape.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


I can’t remember the last time I wrote about exercise on this here exercise blog, but the streak ends tonight, mostly because I don’t want to write about Roman Polanski. I took the last two weeks off from exercise. I didn’t really take them off, but due to scheduling conflicts and old fashioned laziness, the sessions were truncated. I ran a couple of times and my performance, or lack thereof, discouraged me, but after today I’m chalking my epic fail up to the heat. I did my back and an hour on the elliptical yesterday, and I did my shoulders and five and a half miles on the dreadmill today. I ran because I think the elliptical is putting a weird strain on my ankles. I was surprised at how well I ran since I had spent almost an hour lifting. The whole sixty minutes I cruised. I’m in better shape than I thought. I was surprised that I did anything at all. After yesterday my back was beyond sore. I ache from the back of my knees to the bottom of my neck. I struggled through every lift I did: my shoulders, my traps and my triceps. But it’s all worth it because I’m losing weight and being healthy. A couple of weeks ago I wrote about fitting into clothes that I haven’t been able to fit into for more than two years, and it’s happening. I have a stupid compliance meeting that I have to show up for tomorrow. It’s screwing up my schedule, but I’m getting repeated emails with words like “required” and “mandatory”. I hope I can squeeze in a session. Tomorrow is legs and I don’t know what I’m going to do. As sore as I am, and it’s going to be worse tomorrow morning, I’m thinking about skipping the weights and the running/elliptical, and jumping in the pool. I don’t know why I think swimming in cold water is going to be good for sore muscles, but it can’t hurt any more than squats and leg presses, and it’s more triathlon-centric. I don’t know. I do know that except for the excruciating pain, I feel great.

Monday, September 28, 2009

I Had To Write About Something

I was searching for a topic for tonight and MJ suggested I write about a conversation we just had. I was looking at the awful photo on my YMCA membership card and commented on my obesity and billboard sized forehead. It’s not a good photo. Even the demons at the DMV would have retaken it. It was taken on a cheap webcam and printed onto the card with a cheap printer. I was fat when the picture was taken, hence joining the gym, so it is what it is. The fivehead is something different. I’m not a Klingon. Anyway, the conversation started with me saying, “Damn, I was fat! And my forehead isn’t that big, is it?!?” MJ asked LMJ if I had a big forehead, and this is where the hilarity ensued – for MJ. We were both expecting LMJ’s standard “Yip”, which means “Yeah whatever, I’m doing something right now and I’m not interested in your questions” since she was engrossed in contemplating the emptiness of the Quaker Oats cylinder. Instead we got, “Yip, it’s REALLY big!” Like, damn! Y’all didn’t know? Daddy, you can’t even blame it on a receding hair line. I could show movies on that thing, in HD. Fortunately for me, I’m secure in my physical appearance. Actually, this whole thing was another opportunity for LMJ to use her adverbs. She makes a point to identify everything as “really” or “very”. It’s a lot of fun for me to watch her build her language piece by piece and word by word. I’m trying to do my part by using correct forms and syntax. I’m making a conscious effort to hold on to all of my G’s. She’s going to be a total geek when I unleash her onto the unsuspecting world send her off to kindergarten, but that’s fine with me. I’m not worried about her getting teased too much for sounding like William F. Buckley when she’s five. That’s what the jiu-jitsu classes are for.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Go Jags or Taking Money Out Of My Sister's Pocket

My pro football day today was much different than my college football day yesterday. The Jaguars were on the road, in Houston, so I was able to watch them on television. The Jags had a few of their habitual screw ups – they fumbled the ball on their side of the field late in the fourth quarter – but David Garrard and Maurice Jones-Drew played very well. Garrard managed the game while MoJo made big plays and put points on the board. It was a back and forth game with very little defense, and my heart was in my throat the entire time. Mike Sims-Walker has played well the last two games, with the exception of his fourth quarter fumble this afternoon. I don’t know if he’s forgotten that he’s a Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver or what, but he’s getting open, catching the ball, and running with it. I hope it’s not just a matter of time before he’s picked up for DUI or punching his girlfriend in the face. The Jaguars are second only to the Cincinnati Bengals in players arrested over the last five years. Thanks Jimmy Smith and Matt Jones and Reggie Williams and all the others. Way to represent the city. I forgot the best one! Kahlif Barnes got arrested at the bottom of an off ramp because he passed out fell asleep while waiting for the light to turn green. He failed the breathalyzer and field sobriety test. But that’s all negative stuff and this post is all about accentuating the positive. David Garrard didn’t get sacked a single time today, and the Texans have a very good pass rush. He also didn’t throw an interception. If Sims-Walker is actually becoming a good receiver, the Jaguars may win more games this year than they lose. Unfortunately, that may hurt them in the Tim Tebow sweepstakes (I’m still looking for that emoticon), and I was going to refer Jack del Rio to my sister, but he may get to keep his job and not need to sell his house.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

You're All Fired

Well, at least I didn’t watch a lot of the game. FSU tried to do its Lucy impression with me again, but this time I didn’t do my Charlie Brown impression. The Semis looked like world beaters last Saturday in Provo as they ran up the score on BYU. They played like they were a bunch of lesbians from California, but I knew it was a mirage. A week later in front of their home crowd, during a ridiculous “white out” where all the fans were encouraged to wear white t-shirts while the Semis wore all white uniforms (what’s the emoticon for dismissive wanking motion?), they rolled over for the University of South Florida. USF has been playing football for less than ten years. They have a $9 million football budget. That doesn’t cover the salaries for Florida State’s ASSISTANT coaches. I’ve turned on FSU. There’s a level of fail that’s not acceptable. I can stomach a loss to Miami. I can deal with losing to the Gators. Losing to the South Florida Bulls makes me feel like this. Florida State has eighty-five kids on scholarship. Thirty of them are going to play in the NFL, minimum. South Florida has eighty-five kids on scholarship. Five of them are going to play in the NFL, maximum. This is like Cuba invading the USA, and winning. I could handle it if Florida State asked anything of their “student-athletes” academically like they were Duke or Vanderbilt, but they don’t and they never have. They’re on NCAA probation for the biggest, most wide spread cheating scandal ever. There were players involved from ten different sports, including twenty players on the football team. If there’s cheating going on and the team still isn’t winning, isn’t it time for a change? It’s time for Robert Bowden to ride off into the sunset. It’s time for James Fisher to move to Venezuela where there’s no extradition agreement so he can keep the money he stole from the Florida tax payers. Robert and James can have their nicknames back when they leave or start winning. I don’t care which anymore.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Catching Fire

I finished another good book, which is relatively rare for me in that I don’t finish many books because most books aren't good. I was reading Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins. It’s the second book in her Hunger Games trilogy, and it’s right up my alley. It’s a young adult book about a strong teenage character with no taste for crap. If you haven’t read it you should. Collins is a very good writer. It’s set in a dystopian future that, unfortunately, isn’t quite implausible. Blah, blah, blah, REVOLUCIÓN! It’s sci-fi 101, but it’s done very well. I haven’t thought of any other stories while I’ve been reading it. It’s easy enough to come up with comparisons when I’m asked or when I think about it, but the comparisons all start with “it’s sort of like”. “It’s sort of like” is a huge compliment, especially in sci-fi. The Capitol is the bad guy in the book, sort of like Big Brother. The only downside to the story, if it’s even a downside, is that if the Capitol had gone in the exact opposite direction, it could have staved off rebellion. Doesn’t anyone watch Star Wars anymore? Princess Leia explained it perfectly to Grand Moff Tarkin in her half Boston half English accent that sounded different depending on how much cocaine Carrie Fisher had snorted, “The more you tighten your grip, the more star systems will slip through your fingers”. She was right. People will only be pushed so far until they push back. At the same time, fat people don’t revolt. If people are fed they will not only put up with just about anything; they will do it eagerly and whole heartedly (see Religion). Collins hasn’t even given the third book a title yet, so now it’s a waiting game, and just like Harry Potter, I’m really hoping the main character makes it to the end and lives happily ever after, but as I sit here thinking about it that’s going to be really tough to do without being Pollyanna about it. Martyring the main character is a lot easier. There’s no chance of me not reading the last chapter of the third book first.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Rein Sanction

We were out of coffee this morning so I had to make a run to the Bucks. I like getting there just as they’re opening. I don’t know why. Maybe I feel productive being up and out at 5:30 in the morning. I was waiting for my café Americanos – one raspberry, one toffee nut – when a fat guy started staring at me. He asked me point blank if we went to school together. I said I don’t know and introduced myself. He asked if I went to Stanton. I said yes and he told me his name. I wouldn’t have guessed it was him in a billion years. When we shook hands he gave me a dead fish, which I also didn’t expect. He was the coolest of the cool when we were in seventh grade. He was a tall good looking kid, who seemed on a one way path to being a yuppie. That didn’t happen. Somewhere along the line he found music, started a band, and dropped out of high school to become a rock star. His band, consisting of his little brother and a guy who now owns a very popular Avondale restaurant, had a modicum of success. They put out a couple of records anyway. I even went to see them play a club in Tallahassee in the early nineties. Then the rock and roll lifestyle chewed him up. He lived down the street from us a while ago. I can’t remember whether it was two years ago or ten, but I’d see him or his brother at a distance every once in a while. I ran into the restaurant owner about two and a half years ago in a Publix parking lot. I only remember that because I told him about LMJ. The two meetings couldn’t have been more different. Both took me back to the early nineties and mid eighties, but the Publix meeting was good, the Starbucks meeting was bad. When it sunk in who I was talking to this morning I thought, “Jesus Christ, what happened to you?” Drugs have stripped away all his social graces. He asked direct questions and gave direct answers. I learned that he’s quit drinking, that he’s never seen any money from Warner Brothers, that’s he’s teaching guitar and mowing grass, and he’s not interested in touring anymore. We spoke for three or four minutes and he didn’t smile once. He had a strange not quite blank expression the whole time. This has been a relatively tough year for me, and I don’t think what I felt was schadenfreude, but there was a little bit of better him than me, and maybe I don’t have it that rough and should stop with the pity party. I hope he’s okay.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


I had my musical world shocked this week. I wrote about music shocking people over twenty a while back, and how rare it is. This isn’t any different. I listen to wide range of stuff, a lot of it is eclectic, but Allan Holdsworth has left me almost speechless. He’s the first guy since I discovered Metallica twenty years ago that made me ask, “What the f*ck is he doing, and how the f*ck is he doing it?” Holdsworth is a geeky, space age, jazz fusion, guitarist who’s taken all the rules of music and said, “That’s all a load of tripe. We’ll do it this way.” I imagine he talks that way because he’s from Yorkshire, England. I don’t know if I like his music or not. I also don’t know if I’m upset that I’ve just found out about him. He’s sixty-three and he’s been releasing music since 1969. I’d heard Yngwie Malmsteen mention him as one of his favorite players but Yngwie speaks with a pretty thick Swedish accent and only mentioned him by his last name. About a week ago I was listening to an interview with Eddie van Halen from 1982, and Eddie gushed about Holdsworth for almost ten minutes, so I checked him out. I had to know exactly what the hell could be done with an electric guitar that would shock Eddie van Halen. I was expecting Steve Vai style “tricks” and a bunch of weird sounds, but it’s none of that. The music is undoubtedly weird, but it’s straight forward. Holdsworth just “sees” the guitar differently than anyone I’ve ever heard. I had to search YouTube for a video so I could see what he was doing because listening to it; I had no idea what chords he was playing. After watching him give a lesson and demonstration on how he approaches scales and how he builds chords I still have no idea what he’s doing. I don’t know if he’s ever been here before, but I’m going to see if I can get Riverside Fine Arts to invite him for one of our shows for the 2010-11 season. I know there are plenty of guitar geeks here that would be excited.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


A friend of mine had a letter published in the local fish wrap last week. He’s in his mid-seventies and one of about two white men from Florida that was a Republican before 1980. He’s smart, funny, and one of the nicest people I know. He’s also very well off and has been for almost half a century. I remember last year he was really excited because it was his fiftieth anniversary as a member of a country club, which meant he never had to pay annual dues again. His letter was about how much things have changed in Jacksonville since he moved here as a child in 1939. He gave a list of about fifteen bullet points of things that have sprung up in Jacksonville that make it a cool place to live, and he ended the letter by saying that not only was he willing to pay more taxes to keep Jacksonville growing but he felt it was the city’s responsibility to raise taxes. He gets a hard copy of the paper delivered to his door, which is strange because he doesn’t have a bird and doesn’t fish, so he didn’t see the comments on its web site. They were as stereotypical as they were ignorant. They’re the reason I don’t read the local paper, but I did because my friend had his letter published. It brought into sharp contrast the traditional pre-Reagan Republican and the dumbass that chooses a political party the same way he does a college football team. Jacksonville isn’t conservative. We’re not interested in smaller government. We’re interested in big government but we don’t think we should have to pay for it. Jacksonville is Republican and it’s killing the party. I write about this because I might be witnessing something historic, like when the Whig party went the way of the dinosaur. The complete disconnect from the idea that taxes fund government services, and fewer tax dollars means fewer government services. People here, educated people, don’t make the connection. I don’t care one way or the other. I’m a palm tree that will go any way the wind blows, but it’s interesting watching the collapse of an organization that had the world in the palm of its hand five years ago.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Back To Uninspired Boring Crap

I got almost a week’s worth of posts out of running through my family tree, but now I’m stuck. I’ve scoured the internets for inspiration but I didn’t find any. The only thing new in my life is that I’m trying to scale back the time I spend in front of my computer. I shut my machine down last night around five, and I don’t mean “standby” or even “hibernate. I turned it off, unplugged it, and put it in its case. I didn’t get it out this morning, and strangely enough I had time to get things done. I’ve complained time and again about not having enough time in the morning and finding it difficult to get out of the house, whether it was to go to the gym or to go to work. It’s all because the interwebs is a succubus draining my life away one Japanese porn site at a time. I’m like a heroin addict who’s hit rock bottom and has a moment of clarity. I don’t enjoy being on the internets, but it’s become something that I do. Unfortunately, because of my job I can’t quit cold turkey, but I am scaling back. Ever since my Failbook account got hacked I’m spending less and less time on it, and I don’t miss it. I didn’t get my computer out today until I got to work. I didn’t spend two hours waiting for my gossip sites to update. It took me five minutes to check them all when I got home. I think I might be on the way to completely unplugging. I think I’m going off the grid. I spent the morning drinking my coffee and reading a book, and I enjoyed the twenty minutes of reading a lot more than I do getting angry at stupid comments on message boards. I’m going to buy some land in Montana and organize the beef farmers that I saw on No Reservations.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

All By Myself

I’m the Ronin. I split my extended family into two groups, older than me and younger than me. I have a toe in both groups but I’m not really part of either one. I have a cousin five years older than me and my sister is nine years younger. There’s no one else around. I guess my older cousin, CMA, far right middle row, is in the same boat. She’s five years older than me and five years younger than her sister, top row second from the left. Outside the two of us there have always been bunches of children. My sister is two years older than our next youngest cousin, and after him there was a baby born in my family four years in a row. CMA’s older sister was the last of a group of three babies born within about eighteen months of each other. When I lived in Washington I was the baby for nine years. That’s how I remember myself being treated whenever we all got together. When my sister was born we moved down here, there was a population explosion, and I was the oldest. I have two distinct roles in the family. The only time the two worlds have collided was when my grandmother died. I was in my thirties and I got the “Oh! Look how Yodel has grown up” looks. We hadn’t seen each one another in more than twenty years, but it was still shocking because I’d been the old outlier among my sister and younger cousins for those twenty years. I’m the babysitter in one group and the babysat in the other. I think I’m the one to write this thing because I don’t think the two groups have spent much time together. By the time the younger group was up and running, the older group was into their careers and starting families of their own. Our parents’ generation is getting old. My mom is the oldest, she’s 67. My younger uncle is the youngest, he’s about to turn 50. Time is starting to become a factor. I’m glad I stumbled on to this. I may have finally found a project I’m passionate about. This is going to be fun.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Front Row

• My older uncle, Sheik Ali Mohammed Hakeem Akbar Khalid Shabazz el Hajj, is kneeling in front of his daughter with his arm around his mother wearing a sweater vest - a frickin' sweater vest. I guess that's terrorist chic. It was his camera on a timer that took this picture. Remember, it was 1980. Betamaxes were still being made. He’s the best story teller I’ve ever been around. I wonder what kind of writer he would be. Although he would have to sit still to do it, which is probably why he never did. He’s like a cross between Garrison Keillor and Ted Nugent. He fed me venison that he shot and butchered or dressed or whatever hunters call it. He took me to some weird party/barbecue where I had goat, and he let me drink all the Dr. Pepper I wanted. I was like Forrest Gump.

• My grandmother is to my uncle’s right. She was also an orphan that made good. Of all of my family she might have been the most stereotypically Black. She was like Aunt Esther from Sanford and Son if Sanford and Son had been written by David Simon. She wasn’t ignorant or uneducated. She just spoke her mind. She was also very well adjusted for having grown up a Black/Indian orphan in the 20’s and 30’s. She was always my sweet little old grandmother, minus the sweet part. I remember both my younger uncle and me, on separate occasions, mumbling that she made us sick. Her response was die and prove it. Her story really needs to be written and I need help with it.

• My mom is holding my sister. She’s the smartest person I know. She’s a walking encyclopedia and figures new stuff out very quickly. She’s also an amazing writer. She worked for way too long and needs to learn to ask for help. She’s the stereotypical oldest child who feels it’s her responsibility to fix everything. This whole thing, the chronicling of our family, was her idea years ago. She’s retired now, and these posts are my no so subtle pressure for her to get started.

• My sister was six months old in this picture. I thought she was superfluous, redundant, an extravagance. We had a cat at the time who felt the same way I did, and expressed her feelings by peeing in some flower pots. My parents started talking about getting rid of the cat, and I remember trying to sell them on the idea that it would be better to get rid of the baby. I can’t imagine that my sister remembers anything about Rockville. We moved down here when she was about seventeen months old. She’s the first real Floridian, while being the last family member not born here.

• Pimpin’s in da club. Check out my green corduroy Levi’s. Guess who gets his own post tomorrow.

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Middle Row

• Right below my father is another cousin and daughter of my older uncle. She is closest to me in age of any of my relatives. She’s five years older than I am. She spent a summer with us after we had moved to Florida. It was about five years after her older sister had spent the summer with us, and my perspective was totally different. Instead of us being a little boy and a young woman, I was a tween and she was about to go off to college. We ran in different circles. My sister spent more time with her than I did.

• Her mother is standing next to her. She’s the first person in the picture I’m not related to by blood. She’s also the first person I ever saw hit a fawty ounce – King Cobra. I never thought anything of it growing up. She would nurse one all night long. It wasn’t until I got to college and had one myself that I gained a new appreciation of why she nursed one all night. I wouldn’t mention this if I thought she was going to read it or if my grandmother was still alive. They say men tend to marry their mothers – just sayin’.

• Next to her in the glasses and blue dashiki (?) – the 70’s were no joke - is another aunt, my mom’s other sister. She’s a bit of a bottom liner. She’s also one of my favorite people. She gave me the shirt I’m wearing in the photo. She lived in Greenville, South Carolina at the time with her husband who’s standing next to her in a blue track suit – damn 70’s again - won’t get his own bullet point. I never really spent any time with him. He died of cancer in 1985. What I remember about him most – and it’s not really about him - is that before he got sick he lifted weights. He was a grown man and I was a fourteen year old boy. I had just started lifting and decided to test myself with what he left on the bench while no one was around. I got the weight off the bar and it started to slowly fall onto my chest. I was stuck. There were clamps on either side, for safety, so I couldn’t tilt the weight until it fell off. I had to roll it down my body and over my knees. It left a big bruise down my entire body. I got to know my aunt much better after she moved to Jacksonville. I won’t say she was an enabler to my late teens gangsta s**t, but she didn’t really deter me either.

I’m doing the bottom row tomorrow. I want to mention that we saw EJG play Andrew Carnes in O klahoma tonight, and it was a blast. You did a fantastic job E.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Back Row

• In the upper left is my younger uncle who was at UVA. He was always more like a big brother to me. He’s a secret agent or something now (4realz IRL). He’s a borderline psychopath guy with, what might be considered by some, anti-social quirks. I mean that in the most reverent way possible. He’s exactly who I’d be if I indulged all of my whims. He’s the tallest guy in the picture

• Next to my uncle in the glasses and purple shirt with a sash/tie/ascot is my cousin. She’s the middle child in her family and has inherited the job of keeping her family together. I never spent much time with her because when I was visiting Pittsburgh she was a teenager doing teenager things. She spent a summer with us in Rockville and we hung out as much as a seventeen year old could hang out with an eight year old.

• Next to my cousin with the Angela Davis afro is my aunt. She died of cancer in 2003. She was my first best friend. She would take me on all kinds of adventures from the time I was about LMJ’s age. I remember riding in her green Pontiac Grand Am. I think I was five or six when she upgraded to a black on black Chrysler Cordoba. This was before Ricardo Montalban was pimping the rich Corinthian leather. She was a scientist with Litton Bionetics(?) before she blazed the Florida trail for all of us. The world was a much better place with her in it.

• Next to her is the HNIC, my Pops. There is a lot more of him now, and as amped up as he is, he’s seriously mellowed. He’s the American success story: growing up a black orphan in Cleveland, ultimately earning a masters degree from Pitt, working in politics until about 1980 when I guess he got burned out, tried real estate, smoked and stressed himself into lung cancer in 1985, made that lung cancer his personal bitch, gained about ten pounds, did the Lord’s work for a long time running the Feed The Hungry program at the cathedral like it was important, put up with an inordinate amount of quantum level bulls**t from the author. Ran a parking lot services business, got his kids out of college prepared for the real world, and has now retired into harassing his wife, spoiling his granddaughter, and occasionally hustling some pool – allegedly.

I’ll do the next row, at least, tomorrow. I don’t want this turning into a two thousand word post.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


I was in fifth grade. Florida was where we went to Disneyworld. It never entered my mind that eleven months later Florida would be my home. My sister was still an infant. My younger uncle was back from college – I think he was a senior – with all kinds of tales. He was at UVA and I thought he was the coolest thing since ever, but I was nine years old. I remember almost having an aneurysm at the dinner table when he told the baby float joke.

How do you make a baby float?
Put two scoops of ice cream on the baby in the blender and turn it on.

I almost fell backwards through the sliding glass door. Now that I’m thirty-eight I see both sides of the college senior. He wasn’t cool. He was an idiot, just like every other twenty-one year old male. I bet he was also scared to death. He was getting ready to graduate into a job market almost as bad as this one. His mother, my grandmother, didn’t think the joke was all that funny. I still think it’s funny to this day. He was showing off for me by telling the joke in front of a bunch of “adults”. My older uncle always brought me the cool gifts. Usually, until I was about seven they were noise makers: drums, bike horns, referee whistles. Asshole gifts that would rate an automatic beating if someone gave them to LMJ or at least the gifts would mysteriously disappear. I remember the gift he brought me then was a glazed wrought iron paperweight that had U.S. Steel embossed on the front. He told the story of how he and a team of fellow engineers or whatever he did got stuck in South America because they couldn’t get through security. They all had “forgotten” to take off their steel toed boots and wound up having to stay an extra day on the company’s dime. My older uncle is in the lower right of the picture, looking like he should be in Al Qaeda. My younger uncle is the one in the upper left of the picture that looks like a Filipino disco refugee. They both had a really big influence on me growing up, which explains some things.

I don’t think I’m done writing about this.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


I’m in a nostalgic mood about my pre-Florida life. I have a lot of wonderful memories that involved my grandmother. I don’t know why I’m thinking about them all of a sudden, but I am and I might as well get some blog posts out it. While she was very loving, she was not what anyone would call sweet. As I’ve gotten older I’ve broken my view of her life into two periods: before she lived alone and after she lived alone. She mellowed after she got her own place. She was a strange contradiction. She was an absolute control freak, especially when it came to controlling her daughters, but she was happiest when she lived alone. Maybe it was because she got a lot more space and independence without having to give up much control when she moved out of our house. It was in the mid-eighties so she could track her three daughters down, and before caller ID so they couldn’t easily avoid her calls. But she seems to be at the center of memories before then. I remember traveling with her to Pittsburgh to see my uncle’s family. She and I were travel buddies. We made the trip to Pittsburgh from Rockville by planes, trains, and automobiles all before I was ten. I loved going to my uncle’s house. He had all the cool stuff. He had a dark room to develop photos. He had firearms. He had a pre-Atari video game system with Pong and a skeet shooting game that was at least three generations before duck hunt. He also had a great dog, Rusty. I loved going to Pittsburgh, and I’m realizing this as I write it, because I saw people who looked like me. They still lived in Homewood when I was very little and then moved to Penn Hills. I lived in Fallsmead. There were maybe four black kids in my elementary school – not class, school. My uncle would take me with him while he did all kinds of exciting stuff. Looking back it was borderline stuff. It was a lot more retired hustla than gangsta s**t. He was younger then than I am now. My favorite times were when the whole family got together. I remember the last time was Thanksgiving 1980. The whole Graves clan, only my grandfather was missing. It was all about the stories. My older uncle, the one still living in Pittsburgh, has always told the best stories, which his three sisters and/or wife would then fact check. I was nine years old and was seized up on the floor sounding like a dolphin, that’s how hard I was laughing. What’s weird is that I was living a classic example of the African-American oral tradition. Books are written about it, but in an academic, anthropological way. My mom has mentioned wanting to chronicle the Graves experience. You got a year from your retirement, which was in March I think, and then I’m going to start pushing a little bit.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Still Back In The Day

I’m watching Monday Night Football and still thinking about what I wrote yesterday. The Patriots and Bills are even wearing throwback uniforms. I loved the Patriots uniforms, but they just don’t seem the same. Maybe it’s because the weather isn’t cold yet or maybe it’s because the prescription turf isn’t really grass and isn’t Astroturf at all.

Side note: Strangely enough if Fred Taylor gets good blocking he puts points on the board. Okay, Jaguars fans good blocking is… never mind. I’m going to stop being bitter. I’m happy that Fred Taylor is most likely going to get to play in a Superbowl and it’s cool seeing him wear number 21 like he did in college. I don’t know who had 21 on the Jaguars back in ’97 but it wasn’t Freddy T. Who scored more touchdowns this year, Fred Taylor or Maurice Jones-Drew?

I’m still trying to figure out why football seems smaller now than it did when I was young. Maybe it was filmed differently back then. I don’t think there were as many wide angles in the ‘70’s because no one would be able to distinguish what was on the screen. Now since everything is filmed, broadcast, and displayed on the screen in digital 1080i high definition the director really can’t do any wrong. The football was also scarce. There was no ESPN or cable, let alone the interwebs. I couldn’t force feed myself football 24 hours a day every day of the year. It was once a week on Sunday afternoons at my grandmother’s place and then four or five minutes of Monday Night Football that I could see in the reflection of my bedroom window from the television in my parents bedroom. Actually, the MNF memories come from a few years later. It’s so weird how the general feel of being under ten makes everything run together. My grandmother moved in with us when I was six. Now I’m just freaking myself out. I’m breaking the time I spent growing up in D.C. and it was no time at all, but at the same time it was half my life. I’ll write more tomorrow.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

My Name Was Michael (inside joke)

This is the first Sunday of the NFL. It’s the only weekend of the year when I wish the weather was twenty degrees cooler. It always rains and when it stops it’s eighty-five degrees outside and humid. That’s not football weather. Football weather is cool and crisp. There’s an autumn smell to the air. We don’t get that down here until after Halloween. In the grand weather scheme of things, the trade off is worth it, but right now I want it to be cooler. Maybe I’m just jonesing for the change of seasons, or as close as we approximate in the South. I’m ready for it to be dark at five. Maybe I’m just nostalgic for the Sunday get togethers at my grandmother’s from when I was growing up. That was more than thirty years ago. That was before I moved down here; it’s the baseline for my football watching. We would go over to her place after church and the game – singular, no NFL ticket – would be on the air craft carrier sized, wood paneled, color TV – as opposed to black and white for those under thirty – with the pre-cable rabbit ears. She had the fancy rabbit ears that were about four feet long and came with an eight position knob that would turn the ears forty-five degrees per click. My mom, aunt(s), and uncle(s) would torment their mother, mostly because it was so easy and she begged for it. There would always be lots of food and lots of loud chatter. It was metro-D.C. so the Redskins were always on, but my mom’s family is from Pittsburgh so they didn’t care because they were all Steelers fans. We didn’t even really watch the games. They were just on. It’s weird because I remember the colors of the Redskins helmets so vividly. It’s physically impossible but the maroon and gold seemed so much more vibrant on her 1970’s television than they do on my 21st century HD television. Maybe that’s just part of being a kid, but I’m still trying to recapture that feeling. I just hope I can.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Off Schedule Saturday

LMJ decided sleep wasn’t really all it’s cracked up to be and was awake from about 1:30 until about 4:30 last night. That threw today’s schedule all out of whack. We started the day two hours late but were still one hour short on sleep, at least. She woke up at about 8:30, and if LMJ is awake then everybody needs to be awake. She started telling me to get up, and I told her I wanted to sleep. Six months ago she would have stage whispered, “Quiet, Daddy’s sleeping” in my ear until I got up. Now she tells me that I want to get up.

LJ: Daddy wants to sleep
LMJ: No, you want to get up.

It’s not even like we were talking about the capitol of Brazil or what state Kansas City is in, where there are two perfectly acceptable and perfectly correct answers. It’s like I told her the sun rises in the west. I was 100% wrong; even though I was 100% sure I wanted to stay in bed. I got up and after a discussion about what we should do about breakfast – should we go to Panera and Starbucks or should we eat and make coffee at home – we decided on the cheap route and I barely missed my sausage and egg sandwich. Since we got up so late the day was disappearing rapidly. MJ had work stuff she needed to do and she was all of a sudden in a time crunch. She went off with Grammy to work in her classroom while LMJ and I hung out. We played on a pirate ship and went to Disneyworld, which was all fun and games, but my goal was to get her back on schedule. I won’t lie. I used magic most dark to get her to sleep within her normal nap range, and was proud of myself for doing it. I was watching football by the time MJ got home, but I wasn’t enjoying it at all so I joined LMJ for the last hour of her nap. Naps rule. We woke up and went to Panera for dinner. I ordered poorly, but ate LMJ’s grilled cheese sandwich, which I enjoyed. After dinner the girls went shoe shopping and I watched more college football. I lost my temper when the Seminoles went in to half-time losing to Jacksonville State. Florida State has a $25 million annual football budget. Jacksonville State’s budget is closer to $25. I was so angry I changed the channel and got caught up in The Shawshank Redemption and watched the last ninety minutes of it. FSU managed not to lose the game, and I don’t have to drive to Tallahassee and kill people. But even if I did Stephen King showed me how to get out of prison.

Friday, September 11, 2009

It's Not A Blog, Daddy. It's A Journal

LMJ: What was that sound, Daddy?
LJ: I think it was Mommy taking off her shoes.
LMJ: No, no it wasn’t.

This has become the recurring theme, like a techno beat heard by sober ears. It’s easy enough to ignore the first twelve or fifteen million times but then it starts to grate on my nerves. I understand that this is one of the ways LMJ, as a two year old, is establishing her identity and independence, and it would be easier if she let me ignore a question every once in a while, but if an answer doesn’t come toot suite the question gets repeated until an answer does come. Then the answer is wrong. I’m starting to get the real feeling that she thinks I’m a clown. MJ is giving LMJ a bath right now and a truck with knobby tires drove by. The above conversation happened, but my part was replaced by MJ saying she thought it was a truck with knobby tires driving by. LMJ’s response was, oh. Mommy knew what it was. Daddy’s retarded. My baby girl is starting to display chick like tendencies. I’m positive this all goes back to Adam and Eve pissing off the Almighty.

And your wives and your daughters shall torment you with constant questions only to doubteth all your answers and so that you may be driven to madness and early death, which thou shalt welcome.

That’s how I translate the Greek anyway. She asks me about the titles of episodes of her favorite shows, and when I READ them to her, she tells me nooooo or tells me no and corrects me with what she thinks the title is. One of us is literate, the other is LMJ. It’s like an absurdist comedy, maybe a circle of hell that Dante left out. MJ and I switched places, and while I was watching LMJ play in the tub an airplane flew over head, guess what happened. I don’t know if I can handle this for another sixteen years. One day I’m going to show up for dinner wearing an overcoat and strapped with explosives.

LMJ: What’s that, Daddy?
LJ: It’s C-4
LMJ: No Daddy, it’s Semtex.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Frakkin' BSG

I got home from work today and found LMJ and Grammy sleeping and a copy of Battlestar Galactica: Caprica waiting on the table – a perfect storm. I didn’t even set up my computer. I immediately ripped open the envelope and fired up the DVD player. Caprica is an origin story about where the Cylons came from – this time. I thought it was going to be an allegory about the pitfalls of man playing God, and it was, but not in the way I expected. I thought it was going to simply be about power and greed, and doing something just because it can be done. Instead it was about loss and desperation, the desperation of fathers losing daughters. Caprica made me think about what I would do to hold on to MJ and LMJ if they were blown up on a commuter train. It was also about the nature of religion and its absurdity, which they tied nicely in to the main BSG story. There was an “oh, OH” moment. I shouldn’t have been surprised that I was surprised, and that I had no idea where anything was going. That’s what the people who write this stuff do. I never thought about how ridiculous the absolutism of monotheism would seem to a polytheistic society. The only thing I didn’t like was the racism and assimilation angle. I never expected, or wanted, the BSG universe to be the Utopia of the Star Treks but one of the things I loved about the main show was that race and gender weren’t issues. Everything was personal. There was a lot of stuff they can’t show on basic cable so I don’t know if they plan on cleaning it up and releasing it as a series. I’m BSG starved and I wouldn’t mind them taking us all the way up to the first nukes being dropped to tie everything up with a nice little bow. Now I get to sit and wait for Battlestar Galactica: The Plan, which tells the main story from the Cylons point of view.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Keep Chopping Wood And Taking Advil

Five miles was a bad choice yesterday. I’m in all kinds of pain. My feet and knees don’t hurt, which is great, but everything else… My hips feel like I gave birth. Gettin’ my Usain Bolt on at the end of the run yesterday was dumb on my part. I have to work up to stupid stuff like that. I can’t jump into sprints after a long running lay off, especially when it was so hot outside yesterday. I wasn’t supposed to be doing them anyway, that’s what I get. The agony helped me take things slowly at the gym, which was good – safety first. The whole session – weights and cardio – took almost three hours, but I had a meeting cancel at the last moment this morning so I had a hole in my day. It all worked out. I set my expectations very low, so I hit all of my goals, but it still took me twenty minutes to work the lactic acid out of my legs on the elliptical. I don’t understand how I always forget this stuff. Running hits the legs in an entirely different way than the elliptical machine. The plus side is that I worked hard yesterday and had a kind of recovery day today. That’s the way it’s supposed to work. Stretching also works. I never had to stretch when I was young. It would frustrate me when professional athletes, mostly in their thirties, would pull muscles and blame it on not stretching or warming up properly. I thought that was stupid. Now I understand. Now I stretch the way I’m supposed to stretch. A year from now I’m going to start a whole new aggressive yoga trend. I’m also continuing to drop the poundage, which is the main exercise of all this exercise. A week or two from now all the clothes that I outgrew when LMJ showed up will fit me again, and it’s going to be like I have a whole new wardrobe. I’m happy with myself for making progress on this fitness thing because it is beyond a bitch.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

I Had To Run Today

I was too busy with work to get to the gym this morning. I was really disappointed because today was chest and biceps and I’ve been making some gains in my lifts for both. I didn’t want to just give up and push everything to tomorrow so I decided to go for a run… in the middle of the day… in Florida… again. I didn’t have a choice. I guess I could have gone for a bike ride but I didn’t feel like it. So out I went. It was hot. It wasn’t quite as hot as it was in the middle of July but still hot enough to hurt. I cruised out for a half an hour with the goal of getting back in less than a half an hour. That crap looked good on paper and seemed like a good idea running down to the Y. My watch beeped at thirty minutes and I was happy that I only had to run two and a half miles back. Like I said, I cruised down there making sure to keep my heart rate under 150 like I had some sense. As soon as I turned around to start the run back, I realized that the whole trip out was downhill. I was still felling good so the realization that this wasn’t going to happen hadn’t hit. I’m me. I’ll tough it out. I gave it a good try too. I think I would have made it if I hadn’t gotten stopped at an intersection by traffic about half a mile from home. I had to stop, there was no where else for me to go, and once I stopped I couldn’t get going again. It’s funny how much running has to do with rhythm. Vince Lombardi said, “Fatigue makes cowards of us all” and it’s true. I could run about ten strides and my legs would say no. I was going to sprint the last tenth of a mile, because it’s fun, but all I could manage was eighty of the last hundred yards. I finished in just under an hour and two minutes. When I consider the heat and not having run in more than a month, I’m very happy with my performance, but tomorrow it’s back to the air conditioning.

Monday, September 7, 2009

It's Monday Night And I Need A Drink

I’m not going to be able to sleep tonight. I’m watching the Florida State/Miami game and my heart is in my throat. I keep trying to tell myself that the game doesn’t mean anything, but it’s useless. I get caught up in it no matter what I do. I’m writing during the commercial breaks and I know that there are going to be a bunch of them. I had lost track of time and MJ came in and turned the game on. I had completely forgotten about it, and when MJ turned it on the Seminoles immediately blew a coverage and gave up a long touchdown. Then the rage started to bubble up. They’ve had eight full months to prepare for this game and it took them less than three minutes to make a giant mistake. Fortunately, they followed it up with the best offensive series they’ve had in almost ten years. This is going to be a running commentary until I get frustrated or just can’t take it anymore. The Seminoles stand tall on defense. They need to watch the fake punt in this part of the field. Miami didn’t snap the ball in time so they’re backed up five yards. I’m kind of torn. I need to end this post so I can turn my full attention to the game, but I don’t want to jinx the Seminoles by changing what I’m doing. They just ran a dumb QB option. This is 2009. Getting your QB hit isn’t a good idea. There are a bunch of RB’s on the team that are there to do nothing but run the football. The Seminoles falter and have to punt. They haven’t made any huge mistakes on offense so far. Christian Ponder looks like he has a clue about what’s going on. I may have to reevaluate my black and bitter hatred of Jimbo Fisher. I’m turned around like an owl looking backwards at the television while I try to write this thing and my neck is starting to hurt. I’m done writing this thing at 8:46 p.m. and the score is tied 7-7. We’ll see how the football gods handle this.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Bitten By The Bug.

Today wasn’t the best Sunday ever. I think were all coming down with H1N1. It’s all my fault because I was talking trash about the swine flu. It’s nothing special. The symptoms are exactly the same as the common flu, but instead of attacking really old people and really young people it seems to be attacking people in the middle. The common flu actually kills a lot more people than the swine flu. It’s superior in every way, as far as plagues are concerned, but the American news media panders to our cravenly natures e.g. swine flu is da debbil, Bobby Bouchet. Anyway, my taunting of the swine flu seems to have come back to bite me. I don’t really think I have the swine flu, but whatever. I’ve got a stuffy nose and post nasal drip, and I’m not happy. I hate getting sick. If it is the swine flu, bring it on bitch. My immune system is up for it. I’ve had the flu before and I’ll have it again. If Ron Weasly can beat this bug, I sure as hell can. And if I can’t then I never deserved to call myself a heterosexual American male. We all have to die some time. I just hope mine involves fire, twisted metal, dental records, and a 21xx date. Yes, I plan on living until I’m at least 130 and only then dying a violent death. LMJ will be 94. My parents will be 159. We’ll have a huge funeral on the moon if we can. If we can’t, it will be in the Caribbean. Rum will be served no matter where the funeral takes place – lots of rum. Unless MJ has her way, and has me reanimated so she can tell me how stupid I was for racing hover bikes – there will be hover bikes or I’m going to be pissed – at more than 130 years old. I don’t know if I will die like this, but I do know a cotton candy ass virus named after bacon will not be what shuffles me loose this mortal coil.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Saturdays in The Autumn

I love the first Saturday of college football. I mowed the lawn to get the smell in the air – it needed it anyway. I had some beers. I watched the pre-game shows, and then four games back to back, almost interrupted. LMJ threw a little bit of a tantrum because she wanted to watch the Backyardigans. Not today sweetie. The first Saturday of college football makes me feel young. It’s all about hope and renewal, which is strange since it signals the beginning of fall. We’ll get ‘em this year is the attitude that is shared by every fan, from the 98 year old alumnus who hasn’t missed a game since he came back from the war to the 18 year old freshman who just finished his first week on campus. There are also the cheerleaders. There is little better on this earth than big school college cheerleaders. Even though I’ve had nothing positive to say about the Seminoles in almost a decade and I still don’t. I can’t help feeling positive about the game with the Hurricanes this Monday night. I’m like a little girl hoping against hope that this year is going to be different, that the Noles are somehow going to be well coached and disciplined, that they’re going to pound the Canes and cruise through the ACC like it was 1999, walk into Ben Hill Griffin Stadium while I enjoy leftover turkey sandwiches on the Saturday after Thanksgiving and drain the Swamp. The two sides of my brain are fighting a bloody battle. My right brain is giving me visions of the sugarplums I just mentioned, while my left brain is telling me “Fool me once shame on you; fool me annually for a decade shame on me”. I know that Florida State has had fantastic talent but hasn’t been able to figure out a way to translate that talent into quality football, but this year is different. It has to be. It’s the law of large numbers if nothing else. That should be the motto this year.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Snake Bit

Well that was fun. Thanks for coming. See you next year. Maurice Jones-Drew, the only Jacksonville Jaguar who seems to understand that scoring touchdowns is a good thing in football, got banged up in the last pre-season game. His lower leg was bruised on a play he shouldn’t have gotten the ball, in a game he shouldn’t have been in. They’re saying it isn’t a major injury, and I hope they’re right/telling the truth, but this is the Jags’ M.O. As soon as it looks like they have a true breakout star in the making he gets hurt. The Jags rolled the dice on MJD and let Fred Taylor go. So they don’t have a safety net any more, which is fine, but damn! the season hasn’t even started and the one thing that had more than a snowball’s chance in hell of keeping the Jags out of last place is banged up. I understand that they made some really stupid horrible ridiculous short sighted unfortunate moves last year that have pushed them into rebuilding mode, and I understand that since we’re in the second smallest media market with the lowest median income in the NFL rebuilding isn’t going to be as easy as it would be for a large market team, but give me something. Tory Holt is three years past his prime. The Jags have decided to start two rookie offensive tackles, and if they can’t run the ball, which they won’t be able to if MJD isn’t 100%, David Garrard is going to die a slow, brutal, excruciating death. Even if MJD is good to go, the Jags are going to be lucky to be .500 at the end of the year. If he’s not, they’ll be lucky to win three games. It looks like there’s a very good chance all eight home games are going to be blacked out, which might start a domino effect of lost interest and revenue, and lead the Jaguars out of Jacksonville and to some place like Oklahoma City. That’s going to suck.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

I'm Tired

Something is going to have to give. I’m exercising more and sleeping less. The main problem is the baby girl. No one is allowed to sleep if she’s awake, and she’s trying to kick her sleep addiction cold turkey. It’s not that she doesn’t go to bed. It’s that she won’t stay there. I’ve been getting to bed after eleven and getting up at half past five. Then I try to kill myself at the gym. Everything is fine as long as I’m moving. I’m like a shark. But when I stop for just a second I’m overwhelmed with fatigue. MJ thinks everything will be fine once we’ve settled into our routine – when the clocks go back to standard time at the latest. I hope I can make it that far. Today was leg day and a JU pitcher was doing the same tortuous leg exercises I was doing. He was also having the same reaction. This made me feel good. He was a kid. He wasn’t even twenty and he was having the same reaction I was. He told me how his strength coach told him to do the exercise, which also made me happy. If strength coaches are recommending it to their players then maybe I’m on the right track. I’m also encouraged because my legs didn’t stay numb as long as they did last time. I was able to walk like a normal person by the time I got home. I’m in groove right now and hopefully I can stay in it. I probably just jinxed it. I am feeling the fatigue of the weights and the cardio and the day in general now though. I’m writing this at about twenty till nine, and LMJ is reading quietly in bed. With any luck she’ll be asleep by nine and I can be asleep by nine thirty, but I’m not holding my breath. Tomorrow is my day with her and I’m already looking forward to our nap.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Rawk Out With Yer Cawk Out

I guess Sarah McLachlan wanted too much money and Tori Amos was too X-TREEEEEMEEE. It doesn’t really matter though because Dave Matthews Band is going to be ROCKIN’ IT as the official band of ESPN’s College Gameday.
This is the worst idea since McDonald’s suggested fornicating with its hamburgers. I wouldn’t be surprised if the same people were in charge of both decisions. I’m the most open minded person I know when it comes to music. I have everything on my iPod from Anthrax to Yo-Yo Ma. I’ve got bluegrass, outlaw country, gangsta rap, 70’s soul, and four hours of Disney’s Greatest Hits. I don’t have any DMB because I’m not a 35 year old white chick who lost her virginity to Crash as a freshman co-ed in the mid '90's. I’m also not a guy pretending to like DMB so I can score with said chick. I respect Dave Matthews as a musician. He’s truly original. He’s been incredibly popular with little to no radio play. He’s never compromised his music to sell more records. He’s followed the same path to success as the Grateful Dead and Iron Maiden, but we’re still left with a question. How does Dave Matthews Band fit with college football? I thought football was a fast and aggressive sport. DMB is the exact opposite of fast and aggressive. College football is the most confrontational sport there is. The players hate each other. The coaches hate each other. The fans hate each other. DMB is all about convincing a chick that being [bleep] buddies is a good idea, but that’s for after the game. I can’t think of a band that makes less sense for College Gameday. There’s no way Dave Matthews came cheap. People at the Gameday sight don’t care about the bumper music. They only care about getting on television. I can’t imagine that a bunch of people at home are big DMB fans, and his music is slow, methodical and doesn’t have “hooks.” There’s a simple formula for this. Get any pop country act or non-offensive hip-hop group and have them play their hit (see the NFL’s Kenny Chesney and the Black Eyed Peas kickoff concert). Why is this so difficult? I’d be excited if this had the chance to go horribly wrong and end in fire but it doesn’t. We’re just going to be left with the sense of “this sucks” before and after every commercial break, unless DMB has a version of Sweet Home Alabama.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Peace Sells But Who's Buying

The year is flying by. It’s been eight months since I started this ridiculous writing every day project. I really didn’t think I would actually do it. Usually life gets in the way at some point. One of us could have wound up in the hospital or jail. Actually, I figured I’d just say screw it at some point and be done with it, but that day never came, and now that I’m two thirds of the way into it there’s no way in hell I’m not finishing. Even if I get hit by a dump truck, I’m going to crawl out of my grave and continue to post every day. Sorry St. Tampa, just give me the code to the Pearly Gates and I’ll let myself in once I’m done writing. I wonder if he’d get the “St. Tampa” joke. Anyway, I’ve really enjoyed myself this year. Writing everyday is a discipline I didn’t think I had, and I’m proud of myself. I don’t know if it’s made me a better writer because these are just first draft mind vomitings. I edit for profanity and in some cases intensity but other than that the only checking I do is of the spell nature. I think that’s why it’s been so much fun. I think a possibly negative side effect has been that writing every day has made me a much more critical reader. Now instead of “this is boring” being my default critique, it’s become “This is boring and poorly written. How did this get published?” Some of my favorite writers have lost some of their esteem because I’m noticing hackery much easier. I won’t name them though. A few others have moved up the list. I will name them. I don’t understand how Shakespeare wrote the way he did, whoever he was. Martin Luther King was a great writer, much more than the Southern Baptist preacher I thought he was. I’m also noticing the artistry of J.K. Rowling’s two hundred word sentences that are somehow simple and clear. I haven’t’ decided yet if I’m going to do something special on New Year’s Eve or if I’m going to take my birthday off, but that’s four months and 120 posts away.