April has a list she does every year near her birthday. While I commend her for wanting to do “33 Things” before she turns 32, I’m turning 38 next year — and “39 things” is a lot of things, even if it’s just piddling things. I’ll be old, one day, if I’m lucky. And I don’t want to think of 99 things when I turn 98. Sorry. I’m sticking with 10. It’s a good number.
1. Print and distribute my short story collection.
2. Memorize a poem that I like.
3. Memorize some more Mark Twain quotes. (Everybody likes Twain quotes, right?)
4. Less Facebook. More books.
5. Shine shoes like a pro. Pop that rag!
6. Get my USCF rating to above 1400.
7. Finish “Improve Your Chess Tactics” by
8. Every week, work on my novel.
9. Get our garden going.
10. Meditate more.
Last Saturday, April was livid. Her outdated iPhone had failed her one too many times. The chief complaint was that it would not notify her when a call was coming. And what is an iPhone without the “phone?” (Actually, Apple already has the answer; it’s just an iPod Touch.) After a conciliatory conversation about the evils of planned obsolescence, I convinced April to take her losses to Tmobile. We have lived together for six years, and we would finally have a shared phone plan. At Tmobile, we were able to get an iPhone 5S without paying a dime upfront. Even with the increased installment plan to account for the pricey phone, we are still paying less than our separate phone bills from the previous years. An all-around win.
The only crisis came when we discovered April might lose the photos from her previous phone. Tmobile was having trouble with “the cloud.” Hundreds of photos, potentially lost. Fortunately, Dropbox did what iCloud could not, and the photos were saved.
Following this theme of “preservation,” on Sunday, April took me to Michaels to buy some boxes to store my old photos from high school and college. I was organizing everything in my new study/reading room/chess room, and I decided it was time to retire the Airwalk shoe box where I had crammed these photos. Scrapbook? Not happening. I just needed a nice box to keep the dust off my archives.
Time to play the game, “Back in My Day.”
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I got your letter in my P.O. box. I’m sorry I haven’t responded sooner. A few years ago, someone contacted Melissa, providing a more detailed account of what happened. While it’s impossible to know all the details, we found out that Danielle worked for a time as a stripper. That yes, there was a drug problem. There was also an issue with depression. And that she committed suicide.
You must have met her soon after I did. Melissa knew her in elementary. But I met her in high school. We dated for something like two weeks, and then quickly returned to “friend” status where we operated best. I will always remember her as a dear friend — although to quote Liz Phair, her “kisses were as wicked as an F-16.” (Is it insensitive to mention that of someone who has passed? But seriously, I did not know what to do with her as a girlfriend.) I smoked my first cigarette with Danielle and promptly gave it up an hour later. We liked similar music. She borrowed some CDs from me, moved and never returned them. Most of the time, we simply hung out, like teenagers often do. She had an incredible sense of humor, just hilarious and irreverent. She was kind to her friends, never cruel, and was protective of us in a way that was endearing. We went to the same church camp, Glen Lake. She befriended my girlfriend at the time, Susan, and really got along with everyone. We all loved her more than I think she realized. Read more →
Facebook played a dirty trick on me. Facebook removed my “Married to April Hopkins” distinction from the front page of my profile. This may not seem like a huge deal–but darn it, I work hard to be a good husband. I want the acknowledgment. Plus, I don’t want to confuse all the lovely ladies who might get their hopes up. Instead, Facebook had the command “Add your hometown” where my marriage status was previously.
Facebook was getting pushy because “hometown” was the one piece of my FB profile I’ve ignored for years. I did so on purpose. My hometown no longer exists.
I don’t want to sound too dramatic. Yes, from 1983 until 1996, I lived in Mansfield, Texas. It is where I grew up, where I went to school, where I made my friends, and where I graduated. I probably devoted hundreds of hours to riding my bike around this small town. Given the right equipment, I could’ve “Google mapped” my town from my bicycle. My parents would be dismayed if they knew how young I was and how far I traveled. Living in Mansfield, almost every day, I would walk to the 7-11. I’d buy the largest Coke slurpee available and play Strider in the small arcade. At the drug store, I bought my first packet of comic books. I spent my summers playing in the woods behind our house–exploring, hauling junk around to building forts, and destroying other kid’s forts. Yes, Mansfield was my hometown, but that Mansfield doesn’t exist. Not really. Read more →
2012 was different. Not bad, just different. After twelve years of teaching in the classroom, I left to become a full-time writer. There were a lot of mixed emotions involved in that process–fear, hope, anxiety, excitement, and an overall sense that it was simply time to move on. I’ll miss my students and fellow teachers; I was overwhelmed by the encouragement they gave me once I announced my plans.
Writing for a living hasn’t been this daily creative euphoria, but I didn’t expect it to be. Writing for a living hasn’t been an easy financial decision, but I didn’t expect it to be. It’s been hard, and good, and hard, and I shouldn’t be surprised. But even if you expect the hit, it still rattles you a bit. In 2012, I’ve worked with some incredible clients and publishers, and I’m confident for a good 2013. And of course, I couldn’t have done any of it without April’s support.
I’m ready to leave 2012 in the dust. While all these changes have been incredible in their own way, they can be exhausting. I’m looking forward to a new routine, a new pace, and new ambitions for 2013.
Previously: 2004 | 2005 | 2006 | 2007 | 2008 | 2009 | 2010 | 2011
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“It wasn’t until I started reading and found books they wouldn’t let us read in school that I discovered you could be insane and happy and have a good life without being like everybody else.” ― John Waters
Yesterday, I officiated my fifth wedding (Steven and Miranda, Wes and Amber, Shafer and Sasha, Wim and Brenda, now Willis and Elida). The wedding was at the Belmont Hotel. It was a beautiful day with the Dallas skyline as a backdrop.
For every ceremony, I try to write something original, something specific and personal to each couple. Here’s a portion of what I wrote for Willis and Elida’s wedding:
So what are we to make of marriage—this strange arrangement where two people love each other and make a public vow to stay true to each other? I’m not the kind of person to make bold pronouncements on what a marriage should look like. Every couple is wonderfully different and weird, and imperfect, and all deserving of happiness. While some would like to think there’s one correct path, I’m more comforted by the idea that you get the opportunity to define your own marriage. No one else should tell you how to be happy. You can find and blaze that path on your own.
I would however like to share some insight from my favorite writer. Read more →
One week on the road: Read more →
Kennedy has recently announced that she is “obsessed with X-Men.” As a geek/nerd, I’m familiar with obsessions, tracking and analyzing them in the wild. I know the tug of sci-fi stories, the allure of fantasy, the power of a good narrative. Kennedy’s interests have moved from Blue’s Clues to Dora the Explorer to Disney princesses to Shake It Up to Wild Kratts to X-Men. I may have missed a few properties, but that’s more or less the trajectory.
Her interest came when she started watching X-MEN EVOLUTION on Netflix. She devoured the four seasons and is now watching the series a second time. She’s read a few of the X-Men comics I have available. Her favorite character is Kitty Pryde aka Shadowcat.
This is the first time that one of her obsessions is one of my obsessions. I love comic books and super heroes, but I’d like to think my tastes are more varied and nuanced. I used to just read X-books. Now, I dabble in a little bit of everything. Read more →
In my classroom, we have a little basket. It was put there by the organization Friends of Rachel. My students are supposed to write on yellow strips of paper encouraging words about kind acts done at school. They then put the paper in the basket. At the end of the year, Friends of Rachel will create a massive paper chain from these strips. The chain should be able to encircle the school.
Sweet, huh? Here’s what my students wrote (unedited): Read more →