Thursday, April 30, 2015

A View From The Wing Seat

I let my son drive to the Guest House of Milwaukee last night in our Hyundai Santa Fe. We wanted to give him some downtown freeway driving practice. He's been harping that he wants to go to Milwaukee, (specifically to Ian's Pizza) for a few months now, so we thought this would give him a taste of the construction, congestion and traffic that lies between Waukesha and Milwaukee.

Now, I want to state one thing up front, right out of the gate. He did a good job, an admirable job, for a first timer.

Having said that though, I have to confess to my entire family that I now understand why they say I am a scary driver. It's because it's a WHOLE different world from the passenger seat, let me tell ya. Oh my goodness. When I'm driving and (seemingly) in control, things do not seem nearly as dangerous, fast moving, perilous, close or frightening as when I'm in the passenger seat. I see things and situations from the passenger seat that are absolutely NOT THERE when I'm driving. Or at least they're not the issue that they are from the passenger seat.

I still stand by the adage that "I didn't know I was a bad driver until I got married." Ever since, I've been constantly reminded of my driving limitations, shortcomings and aggressiveness. Come to think of it, my Mom did a pretty good job of pointing those out too. (Maybe it is me.) While Donna tries to remain cool - after all, she's been driving with me for 25 years - she's still a door handle grabber and does freak me out sometimes shouting "Jim!" when I'm brutally aware of what she is going to point out. She usually apologizes, but after yesterday, I now know where she's coming from. It's that Passenger Seat Fear Zone thing (PSFZ). You're a helpless passenger in a vehicle so everything seems like a threat.

Ben did a few things that were borderline frightening, but I blame them on the PSFZ thing. One of them happened every time I told him to move over a lane when he got a chance. From where I sat, it sure looked like he started moving over before he checked his mirrors in a sort of, "I'm comin' over dudes, get outta the way," maneuver. Of course from the driver's seat everything's cool. From mine, well, he was shoe-horning.

Then there was the time he was still accelerating less than 50 feet from a red light. "Stop, Stop, STOP sign up here, Ben."

He says, "Dad I see it. Relax!"

And I'm thinking to myself, Oh my gosh, I've turned into my wife.

When, in actuality it's just that from the passenger seat, Objects Seem Closer Than They Appear.

He'd seen the light all along, but from my spot in the PSFZ, he might as well have been driving with his eyes closed. Or so it appeared.

Oh, and that pokey speed limit driving kid I knew six months ago? Yeah, he's not around anymore. He's been possessed by a speeding maniac who seems to think you must get up to the speed limit in less than three seconds or something will happen. At least that's how the acceleration seems from the Passenger Seat Fear Zone.

So, now I understand when my wife hits the imaginary "chicken brake" on her side of the car. She also grabs the door handle and I'm not sure what that's about. I don't think bailing out at any point during the process is better than riding it out. In my old Honda Civic she had what she called the scream bar which was right above the door by her head. Maybe the door handle is the new scream bar, I don't know.

And so, I'll try and be more conscientious (if I have to) of what people in the passenger seat are experiencing. I'd even go as far to say as I'll be a better driver from here on out. But with driving habits at nearly forty years in the making, that's probably not going to happen.

So, scream away. And don't blame me for doing the same when you're driving.

Blogging off...

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Black Hole Years

The time is approaching when we will pick Sarah up from her first year of college. She is done near the middle of May and even though its only the end of April, she sounds like she's ready to come home. We miss her greatly. She's having a blast making her own life and I realize this is part of the whole growing up process, but that doesn't mean it's any easier for those of us who raised her for 18 years.

In our church every week, we got thrust back into the realm of small children. Because a few of our members are younger than us, we get a good number of kids ranging in age from 3 months to about 9 years old.

What this has done is make me realize how much I miss those little bodies, those tiny minds and the innocence that comes along with it. It seems like last week we were "in the trenches" like these parents are. The trenches for us meant diapers, and formula, and late night feedings, and naps, and snotty noses, and nuks (binkys), and lifting and setting down and lifting again.

Now, before those of you with small children offer to "set me right," I'll have to add that, while I miss those days, I don't miss them. I miss them in a "I miss the drive in theater" way, not a "I miss disco music" kind of way. They were some of the crazier, tougher days of my life. My mom refers to the child rearing years as the "black hole years." You're grinding it out every day, wiping noses, changing a zillion diapers, shaking formula, running kids to and from sports, schlepping diaper bags, strollers and car seats. Then after putting them to bed, you think, finally, some time for myself!

And then you nod off in your ice cream dish.

At the same time, those were the best years too. I will forever miss reading to my kids at night. One or the other of us did it virtually every night. Goodnight Moon, The Runaway Bunny, Curious George, Shel Silverstein, Where the Wild Things Are, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, The Foot Book, and all the rest. It is the one thing I think I miss the most. Watching their reactions and letting them pick their favorite book. Every kid deserves that kind of connection time with a parent. Not every kid gets it though, which is tragic.

So as we were sitting at dinner tonight with my deep-voiced 16 year old son tonight laughing about his working cohorts and the funny stories he brings home I realized how lucky we were to have such good kids. Not perfect kids, (do they exist?) but good kids. Compassionate, mature, hard-working, considerate, polite, smart, engaging kids. I wonder what we've done to deserve them? After all, we fed them chicken nuggets for like, seven years! Thank goodness they were able to rise above that little nutritional short-change.

And I think, well, we were there for them. We stuck out the hard times, we punted to each other when we were exhausted, we read to them, we pushed them in school, we gave them their faith, we set rules and boundaries, and we fed them chicken nuggets.

Well, nobody's perfect.

Blogging off...


Thursday, April 23, 2015

Grandma House

If you've read my poetry collection, Written Life, you'd know that I grew up in an old house. You'd also know that I live in an old house now, as well. By my estimation, at the rate I'm going, I'll probably die in an old house. To be honest, it may be an old house that kills me. If you've ever lived in one or, even worse, owned one, you know that they are a lot of work. Something is always backed up, leaking, creaking, leaning, crumbling, sparking, shorting, dimming, sinking, heaving, corroding, or just in need of a good coat of paint.

Our house was built in 1922. The house I grew up in was built in 1907. While both of them were built as solid as a rock, not like the cheap construction of today, that is not always a good thing. Solid as a rock in our case means plaster walls. While these are nice from a noise muffling standpoint, getting at things like plumbing is kind of a problem.

Outlets are strategically placed, but we always seem to be one short of perfect in every room. It's a blessing in disguise though, because the place was wired by a drunken, cross-eyed electrician, I think. This guy must have had two circuits to work with because 80% of our house is wired on one. Just last night I was vacuuming downstairs while a small space heater was running upstairs. Well, that little combination plus a computer equals lights out! My son was oh-so-happy with that little log off.

The house has lots of "character" on the first two floors. Built-in cupboards and lots of old wood trim give it a nice old feel, if there is such a thing. I replaced all of the windows in the place with vinyl a number of years ago. This cut down the wind speeds a bit in the winter, and I have to admit it beats having to use a hardcover book to hold the window open. Ah, the good old days.

The basement however, bears the bulk of the house's sin. Understand that when the rest of the house commands so much of your time and money, the basement becomes an afterthought. Besides, our basement is damp, dank and musty. People have said, "Why don't you re-do your basement?" To this I reply, "Why don't YOU re-do my basement?" My inertia is driven by the fact that it would go from a damp musty unfinished basement to a damp musty finished basement. In it's natural state it more closely resembles the "cave" that people talk about when they refer to a man cave. No stalactites yet, but there's some good spiders down there, let me tell ya.

To prove it's age, one only has to look at the large hole that once served as a cold air return. That, accompanied with the defunct coal bin, speak to an age of really-cold bedrooms.

Cistern
Then there's the cistern that was opened up to serve as a poor man's walk in storage area. I'm not sure how the whole cistern system worked, but hey, I got one if you need it.

Beam? ^^^
One of my supporting beams is more like a log than I feel comfortable talking about. I'm not sure why it wasn't a "finished" beam but I guess if it's held for this long, I'm not going to replace the thing. My guess is that some construction hack came up one beam short on an order and, well, his "buddy Larry had an old log out back'a his house," that served the purpose quite well.

Into all of this joy, you throw four inches of cellulose insulation in the attic (since augmented with 12" of rolled fiberglass), virtually no insulation in the walls, cast iron plumbing, and all kinds of other little niceties and well, there's no lack of work for the workin' man.

But as I say in one of my poems:

",,,But we love our Grandma house.
She keeps out the rain
and shows us the sun with her eyes.
We rest in her embrace
remembering with understanding

that, after all, she is ninety two."

--excerpted from Pushing One Hundred, --Written Life, 2015

Which about sums it all up.

Blogging off...


Sunday, April 19, 2015

Earth Day - Everyday

This coming Wednesday is Earth Day. Call me odd, but it's one of my favorite celebrations of the year. I am a huge outdoors enthusiast, so anything that recognizes the relationship of humans to their environment I support.

Earth Day was started by Wisconsin's own Gaylord Nelson in 1970. The Earth Day Network website says that "Earth Day 1970 capitalized on the emerging consciousness, channeling the energy of the anti-war protest movement and putting environmental concerns front and center." I think it's pretty cool that some guy from the Midwest took it upon himself to start such a movement. 

Of course there's a conservative, evangelical element out there that says we shouldn't worship the Earth, and I'm not saying that I do. I do however APPRECIATE the earth and RESPECT the fact that it would do very fine on its own without us here. We've made our mark on Earth so far, and lets just say much of it is less than flattering. 

When I lived on the East side of Milwaukee in the early 90's I used to take part in a Milwaukee River cleanup for Earth Day. It was usually a well attended event of volunteers, where trash bags were provided by Miller Brewing, and people flocked out and picked up trash along the riverbanks and in the park. There are some who would say that it was a "feel good" event, and merely a band aid on the much bigger, global environmental problems. 

To this I would answer that we have to start somewhere.

It's as simple as everyone taking care of not only their own space, but the space around them. I think of this every day when I walk the dog. I always make a point of picking up at least one piece of trash on every walk. (It's befuddling to me that people still drop litter in 2015, but I guess stupidity doesn't evolve.) 

The simplistic way I think of this petty little action is that if nothing else good happened on that day, I made the world a slightly better place. I know it's childlike and that I've probably become the creepy old guy picking up trash with his dog, but I couldn't care less. So to the person that dropped the empty Monster can yesterday I say, "You're welcome."

I can remember in the late 80's and early 90's when my brothers and I went up to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, we always packed out not only our own garbage, but always came back with a half a garbage bag of other people's garbage. It that beautiful environment there was no way we could paddle past something as offensive as a plastic grocery bag stuck in the brush, or a plastic bottle on shore. 

This was the way we were raised by our brother Tom. Leave no trace. It was, and continues to be a family mantra when camping or picnicking.
Earth Day, 2006


And so, when I had kids of my own, I wanted to instill in them an appreciation and respect for the environment. So, on a couple of occasions for Earth Day we'd go down to the Fox River and pick up trash. It was not an organized event, just a dad and his kids making the world a slightly better place. I hope some of the principles stuck with my kids. I think they did, as they both seem to "get it."

This past week, a friend of mine from grade school posted a picture on Facebook of what looks to be a lunchroom type area. I think one of his tasks is to take care of this area and his post showed a good example, albeit indoors, of the kind of people that make the world out to be their personal landfill. It's disgusting, sad and frankly, difficult to fathom how people can be such slobs. I think this carries through into the outside world though and you get the Monster cans and discarded McDonalds bags thrown from car windows. 

No words.
I guess my point is, let's try better. Try going outside your comfort level to make the Earth a better place. Bike or walk to work, shut off lights, don't waste water, don't fertilize your lawn (egads!), drive less, take shorter showers, give to environmental groups, pick up after your dog, eat less meat.

Who knows you may even start something like this guy did. He saw a problem and took ownership. Then word spread and the whole community took ownership. Check it out Here.

Anne Lamott whose writing I admire greatly tweeted once and I think it sums things up nicely. She said:

"If I want to feel God's love, and radical self-love, I flirt with old people. I pick up litter, knowing there will be more"

Exactly.

Happy Earth Day.

Blogging off...

Thursday, April 16, 2015

In the Quiet

A couple of people have approached me since my Written Life launch and mentioned how they enjoyed the reading. They also mention how comfortable I appeared and how entertaining it was. While I find this flattering it's also kind of mind blowing. I say this because my introvert self thinks that speaking in front of groups is so very not-my-thing. As my step-dad used to say, "I'm a quiet man." Never mind that he was everything but a quiet man - maybe the worlds best extrovert - but that was his tag line.

But I am a quiet man. Just ask anyone.

At least that's what I think of myself. I'm the guy who will switch aisles in a store if I see someone I know, just so I can avoid them. I don't think it's them that I'm avoiding, it's the small talk. It kills me. It's easier just to switch aisles and not have to engage at all. Is that antisocial? Probably. Is it weird? I think it is. I think of it as a shortcoming in my character - a defect. 

When I was a kid, I never liked sleeping over at friends houses. Weird? Yep. I didn't much like even going over to their houses. Kind of a homebody. Strange? Sure. I don't know what to tell you other than it's just how I was wired. Wired weird. 

The upside to this is that with things like the Susan Cain introvert movement, I am coming to grips that I'm not alone in these thoughts and that they are not weird or abnormal, but a bigger part of what makes an introvert different from an extrovert. 

But I digress.

My point was that I am always surprised to hear from people that I come across well in front of a crowd. 

Now, in my defense there are a few things that might help explain their comments.

1. When I'm talking about my writing I am channeling a passion that runs deep. Ask me sometime how my writing is going and then wait for me to shut up. It's because I love everything about the craft right now, and would be happy to tell most anyone what I'm working on, have worked on, or will be working on. So when I have a captive audience, it's like a switch flips. I can't tell you who that guy is, because it sure isn't me.

2. As I do more of these types of things, I get more comfortable at it. When I get laughter feedback from the people I'm presenting to, that helps ease the nerves a bit and I settle down and have fun with it. I've had to do some presentations at work too which, like my writing, is something I enjoy, so have no problem talking about it. Don't get me started on maps or writing. Just don't.

3. My wife would argue that I am shifting from an introvert to more extroverted. I can't argue too much, only because I find people's stories so interesting, especially lately. Maybe that's what age does to people. Part of me thinks that if we don't have connection with each other, then what do we have. But it has its limits too, in that I am a person that will never have more than a few very close friends. It's all I can give.

And while I get a bit of a high out of speaking about my writing, when it is over, I am done. Drained and sapped. I rally to talk to people afterward, because I do genuinely enjoy the interaction once it's scheduled and on my radar. It's those unannounced encounters that I have trouble with.

So when you see me in the grocery store and I appear to not see you, I probably actually do, but am pretending I don't in the name of recharging my batteries. 

I need to do that. A lot. 

Blogging off...

Sunday, April 12, 2015

It was the Best of Times

As you probably know, yesterday was my Written Life poetry release at Cafe De Arts. It was a day I've waited for for the past 4 months, since my book was accepted for publishing. Here are a few of the highlights:


  • My 82 year old mother made the trip alone on the MegaBus from St. Paul to go to the launch. When I look at that kind of resolve and commitment, it only makes me hope that I can do the same thing for my kids at that age. It was great to see her, to catch up, to reminisce and just spend some time with her.
  • I got a wonderful introduction from my writing instructor Kathie Giorgio. She detailed the history of my wading into the world of poetry and then presented me with the mandatory accessory of all poets, a black beret. People say I looked pretty good in it, but I doubt it will see the light of day on anything short of Halloween. 
  • I gave a background on my love of poetry including two of my favorites, Richard Brautigan and Shel Silverstein. These guys make everyone else look bad and they make me look like a guy with a Geography degree who likes to write.
  • The audience included Mary Jo Balistreri who was nice enough to give me a blurb on the back of the book. A gifted poet and musician, she was supportive and encouraging.
  • Other notables included All 4 of my Thursday Morning Cafe De Arts boys, Claude, Brandon, Nick and Bill. These guys have a knack for helping each other out, and it was great to have them come to an event they normally would probably not attend. 
  • I read eight of my pieces from the book. There was a little of everything included: introspection, humor, love, sadness, joy, sorrow and reflection. I've already had three emails from people saying how much they've enjoyed what they've read. It is overwhelming and humbling. Nothing means more to a writer, especially when he feels like he may be out of his comfort zone.
  • A number of my writing colleagues made it to the event as well. In essence, these folks wrote half the book. They took all my "crappy first drafts" and made them worthy. Then, they were kind enough to listen, laugh and hang out with me. I owe them the world.
  • I was told by two "insiders" that they would work to get copies of Written Life into the New Berlin and Pewaukee Public Libraries. These two ladies go to bat for me every time I publish something, and that is about as cool as it gets. Thank you Kathy and Natalie.
  • A couple of people that I met at the Southeastern Wisconsin Festival of Books made a point to come to hear me. People who I didn't even know 6 months ago are now friends on Facebook. Again, humbling.

There was so much good and fun about yesterday. It was one of the better days on recent record and I will never forget it. I can't wait to do it again.

Blogging off...

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Don't Look In The Junk Drawer

My mom is coming down from St. Paul for the book release tomorrow. I can't wait to see her and spend a little quality down-time catching up on things. She'll be staying with us, which works out really good having Sarah away at school in Minnesota. She'll have her own room and space which is something I always appreciate when we go up to Minnesota.

But there's a down side to having anyone stay in your house, and it has nothing to do with them.

It's the preparation that goes into getting ready for them. Now if you're like me when I stay in someone else's house, I am usually so grateful that they're hosting, I don't worry about what state their accommodations are in. I'd like to think that's what they think when they're staying with me, but I can't.

Because I'm concerned they're looking into all of my drawers, closets and unvacuumed areas. They're checking my medicine cabinet for expired meds, looking in horror at my "junk" drawer where only I know that I can find both a sewing needle and Super Glue. They're looking at the shelf over the basement stairs that I'm pretty sure only gets dusted when "company" comes.

So my wife and I spend the week leading up to an arrival getting the house in shape. Those of you who have been here know we live fairly modestly. Things are simple, not a lot of clutter. But still, one gets comfortable in their castle. Over time, things slip. Piles stack up. Demons get shoved into closets. Things get Jerry-rigged to make them work for a time...that sometimes turns into a long time. Sometimes forever.

The cleaning and organizing is always necessary of course. We tend to get overly comfortable in our domiciles and things tend to get lax. We've joked that we should have people over every few months just to keep us honest. Things that easily get overlooked like, say, tub caulk for example, suddenly become glaringly urgent causes to be dealt with.

There's laundry and raking and vacuuming, and dusting, and reorganizing and repairing and straightening, and cleaning, and painting. Oh, and don't forget the car. It too has to be vacuumed and the windows de-smudged. Because, Lord knows, a smudgy window can only mean the beginning of hoarding issues.

And let's not forget the garage. It should be tidied so that it looks like you always put things back right where you took them from (and usually cleaner than when you took them.)

While my wife has gotten much better at letting things go and just getting the big stuff done, I still struggle a bit with the every little thing. Usually by the time the people arrive, we are both exhausted and ready to drop in our tracks.

It's a sickness, really.

Because when you think about it, people are coming to see YOU, not your house. They want to sit with you and laugh, not take notes about the cobweb you missed in that far reaching place. If they love you enough to stay in your house, they probably are capable of extending a little grace for that Cheerio you missed underneath the refrigerator.

And so, at the moment, our house is in pretty good shape. There's some obvious glaring issues that I see that I just hope get overlooked. My mom is pretty easygoing when it comes to this kind of thing too. We both know our family's history in a household of six kids. We both understand that Slipcover Chic never goes out of style. Like us, she's had many yakking cats and shedding dogs over the years, so if anyone understands, it's her.

So the plan is to let it slide and enjoy her company.

Right after I vacuum one last time tonight.

Blogging off...

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Easter Morning, circa 1970

It is Easter morning. Early, early on Easter morning. Mom is sleeping in, but that doesn't prevent the flurry of activity by us kids. My sister Jane is the first to awaken and proceeds to wake the rest of us, me, Rob and Paul. Pat and Tom are clued into the no Easter Bunny thing so are sleeping in on this cool April morning.

I wake up, rub my eyes and crawl out of bed in my pajamas bearing number 40 which also happens to be the number Charlie West, the punt returner and defensive back for the 1970 Minnesota Vikings. West is a relative no-name among the ranks of the multiple stars on the Vikings, a lunch-pail kind of average athlete. But when you love football like I do, and are given a pair of pajamas with a random number on them, you find out who it was, and you follow them. Charlie West was my Deion Sanders.

I quickly shake the sleep out of my head and go downstairs to begin the hunt for my Easter basket. The magic of the Easter bunny is under a bit of scrutiny in my own mind at the moment, but now is not a time for questioning. I'm much happier living in the moment and searching for the dental nightmare that has my name on it.

The first place I look is the front hall closet. It seems like a logical place to start, being right at the front door where the big hopper would have to pass. Being no sign of anything there, I race to the broom closet between the kitchen and the living room. I find one of Jane's basket there, but being true to the family "don't ask, don't tell" policy I don't tell her.

After a couple more stops, I find my basket in the drum of the electric dryer. I recognize it by its green woven handle. The basket is piled high with chocolate and colored goodness. The best part is the foot tall solid chocolate bunny that serves as the anchor. A perennial favorite among us kids, we gnaw on them for days on end. It is not unusual to see half eaten rabbits in various stages of consumption sitting in our refrigerator at any given time during the week after Easter. Labeling them is not necessary, as we memorize the stages each is at. If yours was gone however, quick, unwitnessed gnawings from a siblings rabbit, is certainly fair game.



With some verbal cues for Paul who can't seem to find his, we eventually all find our baskets. The gorging before breakfast begins in earnest. Jelly beans, Peeps, malted milk eggs, and a peanut butter egg all go down before our bacon, eggs and Mom's specialty, Sara Lee coffee cake - a Sunday breakfast favorite.

After breakfast, we dress in our uncomfortable Easter best and Mom takes us all to the Cathedral for Easter Service. "Hurry up, it's Easter and parking is going to be a bear!" Mom shouts from the bottom of the stairs.

We park a half a block away on Summit Avenue and walk into the glorious, majestic God castle. It's high ceiling takes my breath away. I immediately look heavenward and admire the artistry and engineering of the architects, builders, and painters that created this for the Creator who created them.

It is magnificent. It commands reverence and awe.

The organ begins and with much pomp and circumstance the Archbishop follows the candles and crucifix up to the altar. The music, singing and majesty echoes off the poured concrete walls and even as a distracted kid, I cannot help but stop for a time and feel the power of God pouring out of the organ pipes, and the voices of the congregation.

The common man praising an uncommon God for an unforgettable sacrifice.

This is one holiday that the crucifix, with all of it's blood and gore, makes me appreciate the gift we were all taught about in the Catholic school system.

Being a kid however, the shock and awe wears thin about 20 minutes into the hour long service. During the drive to church, I'd eaten all the jelly beans I'd stashed for the service, so could do nothing but grind it out, recite my prayers and responses when I remembered and carry out the Holy yoga routine of sit/stand/kneel when cued to do so.

When it is all done, the choir closes with "Christ the Lord has risen today, Hallelujah," as they do every Easter. It is Mom's favorite part of the Mass, as she reminds us every year. As I sing along I understand why. It is melodious and beautiful and I can hear my mother singing with joy and sweetness.

At the end of the Mass, I realize that, while the sugar-coated gluttony of two hours prior was glorious in it's own way, it paled in comparison to the spectacle of God I'd just witnessed. It pitched temporary satiation against eternal comfort, short-term excitement versus long-tern expectancy.

As an eight year old kid, I was thankful for that comfort.

And I still am.

Happy Easter everyone.

Blogging off...

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Treadmilling

Well, I cannot believe it is already April. Time continues to scream by and today was the first day I actually worked up a sweat while raking the yard since last fall. One of those days it felt good to be alive.

With the release of Written Life behind me, I have begun to focus on promotion and appearances. Things are crazy busy from that standpoint and I'm not sure I'll ever get back to actually just writing again. Again, the need to promote books is a good problem to have, so I'm not complaining. One thing at a time seems to be the norm lately.

I wanted to run down a bit of what is coming/happening in the next month or so just so nobody misses anything. Bear with me for this post and I promise I'll get back to blogging about other things starting Sunday.
Written Life


Torrid Literature Journal XIV
  • Written Life Release Party: This will be held Saturday, April 11th, from 2:30 - 4:00 at Cafe De Arts in downtown Waukesha. Cafe De Arts is a coffee roastery that serves the finest Java around! The plan is to have a short reading, discussion/Q&A, followed by a book signing. There will be coffee and bakery available for sale during the event. Let's pack the place!

  • Torrid Literature Poem: My poem Written Life, was featured in Torrid Literature Journal's Volume XIV, titled Chaos. You can purchase it here on Amazon.
  • Woodland Pattern Poetry Feature: On April 14th, three of my poems will be featured on the Woodland Pattern Bookstore Blog as part of National Poetry Month. The three poems are NOT featured in Written Life, so you'll want to check it out on that date. 
  • New Berlin Library Poetry Reading/Open Mic: The details are still being fleshed out, but if all goes as planned, the New Berlin Library will be hosting an open mic poetry reading in recognition of National Poetry Month. Details are sketchy, but it should happen toward the end of April. Stay tuned...
  • Minnesota Brown Dirty Shirt Review: Aaron Brown is a public speaker and writer from the Iron Range area of Northern Minnesota. He has offered to do a book review of Dirty Shirt. It should be coming right after Easter on his Website. 
  • We Wanted To Be Writers Feature: Again, details are still being worked out, but there is talk of featuring one of my poems and a short blurb about Written Life on the We Wanted to be Writers website. Again, for NaPoMo. 
  • Racine Public Library Meet the Author Event: On April 29th I will be presenting at the Racine Public Library on Dirty Shirt and Written Life. Reading/Video/Slides/Discussion followed by a book signing.
  • Blog Radio Interview on La Literati: On May 26th at 5:30 This will be a radio interview on a literary talk radio show. I found out about it through a fellow eLectio Author. A great chance to plug my new book and talk a little about Dirty Shirt as well. 
  • West Bend Library: Details are being worked out for a Spring appearance here to talk about Dirty Shirt. 
  • OshKosh Library: Same goes for the OshKosh Library however, they are trying to coordinate it so I can get a cable TV interview in during the same trip. This one's a long shot, but I can hope.
So, as you can see, I've been busy as my own publicist. It's paying off big time, but is a full time job - that comes immediately after I get home from...my other full time job. 

As I said though, it's all good. I am incredibly privileged and blessed to be in the position I'm in. Again, I thank you all for all you've done to support me with your words of encouragement. I appreciate each and every one of you.

Blogging off...