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 →
As we approach summer, it’s hard for students and teachers to focus. We’re all getting restless. With the innumerable state tests, administrative paperwork, and service hours that need to be handled in the next month, teachers earn their break.
In my situation, I’m transitioning immediately from a twelve-year career as a school teacher to a new opportunity as a full-time writer. My summer will be a little different.
I should probably start cleaning out my classroom–determining what needs to go home, what needs to be thrown away, and what should be ceded to another teacher. However, I can’t do it, not yet. My classroom may be an absolute mess, but it’s my mess.
There’s a certain finality to ridding my room of its excess. My retirement becomes more real and my purpose at this school increasingly obsolete. For now, I’m moving through the final weeks of school as if nothing has changed. Maybe next week, I’ll start taking the posters down.
Yesterday, the weather got interesting (also here). The tornado sirens blasted while I was in the middle of my turkey sandwich. As part of our “extreme weather” procedures, my Creative Writing class had to relocate to an interior classroom without windows. We had three classes worth of students crammed into a single room. Then the power went out.
If I ever find myself at a job interview, and they ask me about my skills, I will tell them about the time I kept order in darkened classroom filled with over 50 teenagers. I can do anything.
Fortunately, I wasn’t alone. Two other teachers were with me. Also, the students’ phones kept them entertained — and created a ghostly illumination to the otherwise dark room. Few had cell service, which was good and bad. It was good, because the panicked students begging their parents to come get them at school, tornado be damned, weren’t helping things. I tried to reassure these students that the school was built like a state penitentiary. It’s one of the safest sturdiest buildings imaginable. The worried students are sometimes worried merely out of a narcissistic fascination with their ability to be worried. Although, I can tell the routine wears thin on their friends. Having no cell service meant I was disconnected from April and the world. This was bad. It’s a double standard, I know. When service finally returned, I had a flood of texts from family asking if I was okay. Read more →
My daughter is interested in our Irish American heritage. My family is only a few generations off the boat (example: They played “Danny Boy” at my great uncle’s funeral). Kennedy asks a lot of questions about what it means to “be Irish” and I can’t always give her good answers. I default to stereotypes: beer, potatoes, fighting. We get to enjoy St. Patrick’s Day more than the average person. The “leprechaun catcher” is a cherished father/daughter tradition. Click here or here or here for more details.
Last week, she asked to eat at Bennigan’s because she wanted Irish food. Does Bennigan’s even serve corned beef and cabbage? I don’t know. We went to J. Gilligan’s, which is the best I could find in Arlington. To my surprise, they had an Irish folk band playing. Read more →