Thursday, March 30, 2017

Chipping Away

It is an interesting time on this writing road for me at the moment. Much is happening, though nothing is happening.

I am in the middle of my second edit of my "House Manuscript" for lack of a title. It is absolutely amazing to me how every time I go through this thing, I find more errors, redundancies or stuff that I just don't like. One of the things I find more and more frequently is what my Monday night writing friends call the "Word of the Week". It's amazing that sometimes you can use a word like "door" ten times in a page and not see it.

And then there are cases where, because these stories were written as stand-alone pieces, I refer to something three times in three different chapters. The same thing - spun three different ways - in three different places. Enough already, man!

But that is the nature of a good editing session. As a writer, you tend to fall in love with your work the first time out.

"Oh, this is so good. I amaze myself! People are going to love this part."

By the end of the second edit you're ready to change careers, because obviously this is not your thing.

Seriously though, I think I could look at this thing 10 times and still find stuff that is either nonsensical, wrong or that I simply hate. But I take it as part of the process. I am looking at it as a marble sculptor. You chisel out the rough outline first, then the less coarse pieces, and finally down to the point where you're sanding it smooth. This is done with the hope that you don't chip off the nose or a major appendage in the process as well.

But here's the kicker. I am REALLY excited about the book again. And that is a good thing. Because, like Dirty Shirt, I had my ugly fight with this book and told it it was not my friend anymore. I scolded it, called it some bad names and even stopped feeding it for a bit while I was dating my girlfriend poetry.

Poetry is like the Las Vegas call girl for a memoirist having a fight with his genre.

So, I owe a boatload of thanks to a good friend of mine in Michigan who said she was sad to hear me griping about an accomplishment as big as a "finished" book. She snapped me out of my "hate my book" funk and got me back into doing the hard work, the no-fun work of making a good manuscript better. And as I go through it I am getting re-energized about the prospect of finishing and getting the thing published.

The other big thing I'm still excited about is my poetry chapbook titled "On a Road" that is currently out to eight or nine publishers. It is only a collection of twenty poems, but I am super jazzed about the way it came out and think it is unique enough to draw attention from one of those publishers. If it does, I imagine life will become even busier in 2018.

And I'm okay with that.

A couple of literary dates to remember:

  • April 1st - I will be selling and signing books at the New Berlin Library for their Local Author Fair. Details Here

  • April 11th - I will be reading poetry as the New Berlin Public Library as the featured poet. Details Here.

Blogging off...

Sunday, March 26, 2017

The Crappy Paragraph

I am a firm believer of taking stock of one's life from time to time. I'm not talking about the New Year's Resolution kind of stock - looking back at the year - but rather just a day to day assessment of where I'm at, where I'm heading and where I've been.

And when I do that from the place that I am in my life right now, I see almost exclusively good things. The best gauge of all of it I guess, would be to rank my level of happiness. In my day to day life am I happy? If so, how happy?

To which I would have to answer, extremely happy. (Well at least lower case extremely. Ha!)

This is for a number of reasons.

  • I have been blessed for coming up on 27 years with a wife and friend who loves me despite my me-ness and puts up with all that I am not. She knows what I value and shares many of those same things. She is my rock and I laugh as hard with her as I did the day we first met.
  • Watching my kids go to college and prepare to go to college makes me incredibly happy. They are/will be experiencing what I remember as some the best days of their life. I want to relive those days vicariously through them. College was a time of awakening, learning and stretching. 
  • I have a family back home in Minnesota and another in New York that support and love me. My mom is still a source of great inspiration and I'm lucky to have her around. My Minnesota family has been a great safety net for Sarah as she attends the U of M and I'm grateful for that. At the same time, my New York family has been a great support system for my Father and Mother in-law as they deal with health issues. Blessings 750 miles away.
  • I still love my work and this year have become more involved on the board of a statewide organization that has reconnected me to the GIS community and brought a ton of new friends into my work life.
  • I have three published books (albeit two of them smaller poetry collections) and have another memoir well along toward publication (as well as a poetry chapbook that I am keeping my fingers crossed with.) 
  • Along with the above point comes the writing community that I am a part of. I've met so many cool, creative, fun writers these past seven years that it's hard to put into words. They are the source of my Monday sanity as we work through each others' words and put them right. 
  • I've got a good-not-great house in a great neighborhood that most days I don't hate. Could be worse, but I suffer house envy quite frequently.
  • My church community CollectiveMKE is the best. It's as unconventional as church can get I think, and I learn more from it every week than I did within the walls of conventional church.
I point out these positive things not to gloat or beat my chest, but rather to remind myself how lucky I am. It was all possible in part by the leg-up that Mom gave me in putting things like education and hard work as priorities for all of us kids. 

At the same time, I try and take notice because it's not all rosy all the time in my head. Most of the time I wonder when the other shoe is going to drop. Will it be a health issue? A death in the family?

Furthermore, each of these good things comes with it's own bag of worries. Mountainous college debt, fear of literary failure, health concerns every time I get a new click or pop, and worry that my kids will continue on a good and successful path. And there are concerns about impending changes at my workplace in the coming year, the upkeep and maintenance of two aging vehicles and a house that's 95 years old this year. Add to this aging parents, and the increasing list of things that I'm adding to my "wanna do but probably never will get to before I die," and, well, like I said, it's not all rosy all the time. 

But that's life.

I realize these are all first-world white guy problems, but I guess my point is, we can all get lost and buried in the last paragraph crap. Dwelling in that area knows no race, gender or age. And it's not to say that the last paragraph isn't deserving of some attention. It's all legitimate worrisome stuff - if you're into that. 

But if you want to live better, live in the bullet points, not the last paragraph. Focus on the richness of who and what you have and not what you don't or what you fear. That stuff won't go away, or at best will just change its face. 

Because life is too short to wallow in the crappy paragraph. 

Blogging off...

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Strawberry Roll Ups and Coffee

One of the cooler things I've seen people do on Facebook is call out or recognize a friend who has been either a good friend for a long time or someone who has carried them through a tough time. I have many of both, but want to make it a point to blog about some of them over the coming months. They won't be in succession, but rather periodically as I feel inspired.

I want to start with a long-ago friend who I still consider one of my best friends. His name is Pat and he lives in Minnesota. Pat and I went to St. Lukes grade school together, then on to Cretin High School after that. The two of us and a couple of other friends were inseparable in high school. In fact a couple of them even made it into my book, Dirty Shirt as part of the high school trip debacle.

One of the things we did with a fair frequency in college was "road trip" up to St. Cloud Minnesota after I got off work at 8:00 PM to go out for a couple of beers. We made the trip in his VW Beetle, which was likely quite a sight, as we're both over 6'4". Then, afterward we typically went to Perkins for a 1:00 AM breakfast which always included a pot or two of coffee. 

Strawberry Roll Ups for me, Granny's Country Omlette for Pat. Like clockwork.

We loved road tripping, even to mundane locations like St. Cloud, or Cloud-Town as we called it.

It was those late night hours eating and drinking bad coffee that I treasure as some of the funnest times in my college days. Pat was a Christian and a guy I still attribute to shaping my own faith. We talked about faith, girls, school, family, friends and a ton of other subjects over breakfast for hours. Everyone should have a friend like that - someone you can talk to for hours without even realizing the time that is passing. 

Pat and I had similar upbringings, both coming from big, Catholic families. But what drew me to Pat more than anything was his sense of humor. We laughed so hard some nights. We probably didn't take life seriously enough at that age, but we sure had a good time. 

About my sophomore year in college, Pat moved away to Tulsa, Oklahoma to attend a Bible college. It was weird not having him around, but he was restless at the University of Minnesota and not happy in the channels of a traditional University, so it was the right decision. He eventually finished his degree and became certified as a pastor. 
Me, Pete, Pat (R)

After college, I moved to Waukesha and while we didn't lose contact entirely, we didn't talk like we once did. He came to visit me, and I went to Tulsa to visit him. We were in each others' weddings, and every few years or so I'd get a call or send him a letter. He's the type of friend you can talk to and pick up right where you left off the last time you talked to him.

The last time I saw him in person was at the funeral for the mother of a mutual friend of ours. It was a brief outing over coffee, but really good to reconnect and find out how life is treating him. 

Thankfully, through the use of texting and email, we keep closer in touch now than the past 10 years. And while I have friends here, Pat knows me at a level deeper than probably any friend. That's what 40+ years will get you in a friend. And I hope there's many more.

Blogging off...

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Spell Check Insights

Saturday afternoons have become my "anchor time" for writing. It is these two to three hours every week that keeps my book on track. Sure, I write through the week, but it seems that I need time at the library or a coffee shop to really get stuff done. Weeknights at home are filled with distractions and it seems that by 8:30 lately I start thinking about how good it would feel to be reading in bed. So, Saturday writing it is.

This past Saturday I was going to start a complete edit of my entire 75,000 word, 240 page manuscript for the second time. What occurred to me though was that I had never run a spelling and grammar check on the whole document, so I thought that might be a good use of my time. It revealed lots of fun little things.

Things like:

  • When I'm writing dialog, I'll often drop the g's off of words. Words like coming turn into comin' and going turn to goin'. It's not wrong from a writing standpoint, but it pains me a little to even write bad grammar - even though I am guilty of using bad grammar all the time. Ya see where I'm comin' from?
  • For emphasis, I'll lead some words with a few of the first letters of that word and follow with a multitude of the trailing letters. So when someone is in trouble, they'll say, "Oooooohhhh!" for example. The problem is I am never sure how many letters should be on one side or the other. For all of the rules in the English language, and there are a crap-ton of them, why is there no rule that "When writing for emphasis, thou shalt use 7 primary letters and 6 trailing letters." Call it a writing Commandment if you need to. Just tell me if I'm using too many or too few.
  • I didn't realize how many sound effects I'd used in a single book until Spell Check caught each of them and pointed them out as errors. Again, there are NO rules about sound effects. I think writers have free reign to make up words based on how they sound to THEM. So when I say a truck says Roooooaaar Brrrraaaap, well, that's how it sounds to me. To you it may sound like Pachelbel's Canon, but to me more like Roooooaaar Brrrraaaap! I actually enjoy making up words for these sounds as is evidenced below with a few examples.
    • Caclang!
    • Pffffttttt!
    • Fwoosh!
    • Cathrack!
    • Cathump!
  • I also realized I made up a couple of words. I feel more comfortable doing this in poetry - in the name of freedom of expression - but it always feels just a little wrong in memoir. But I did it anyway. We'll see what the old editor says about Arsonic. Merriam Webster defines it as: A word first coined by Jim Landwehr in 2017 to describe the tendency toward arson. Waiting on the copyright.

There were a multitude of other weird things that came up - including the need to look up the word  Jetway (don't ask) only to find it is trademarked and needs capitalization. Who knew? I guess these are the kinds of A-ha moments that only a writer can appreciate. 

In any case, the truth of the matter is that I have a 75,000 word book that, while a bit rough at the moment, is getting closer to becoming a real thing and that excites me no end. I learned in writing Dirty Shirt that during the editing process, often times the book gets better by subtraction rather than addition, as it goes. So I did a little of that yesterday as well.

But I draw the line at subtracting Brrrraaaap!

Blogging off...

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Late Winter Yard Sale

I would consider myself a fairly active adult for my age. I fake my way through a 20 minute yoga routine every morning, walk or bike to work every day (3.2 mi. round trip) and do a fair amount of biking and kayaking during the spring-fall seasons. Winter is typically hard for me because I tend to dial my activity back and pack on a little winter fat. I might not show it, but trust me, I feel it. I carry around five to eight pounds every winter that I just can't seem to shake. Not a ton, but enough to make my pants annoyingly tight.

In an attempt to alleviate some of these issues and maybe keep the winter blues at bay, I got some new cross country skis for Christmas this year. I love to ski, but my old skis were just that, OLD.

Ironically enough, when I got them, I jokingly said that everyone could put away their snow blowers for the year, because it would mean no more snow - this prohibiting me from skiing. Well, it almost happened. Until this week, we've only had probably 3 inches of snow since New Years. So, when we got 6 inches on Monday, I wanted to get out on my skis.

Monday after work I did just that. The snow was fresh and the trails weren't tracked just yet, but it felt good to get out and schlep the old boards around a local county park.

Now, I have a dangerous love of speed that is inversely related to my ability to control my skis. It's one of the reasons I gave up downhill skiing. I love the speed, but am a weekend warrior on the skill side of things. Put it this way, I feel much more in control at the top of the hill than I actually am, once I hit full speed. Especially if there's a turn or two in the mix.

I got out again today despite the deteriorating conditions. My wife's parting comment was "Don't hurt yourself."

To which I replied, "I'll try and not fall and break a hip."

The trails were in "fair" condition with patches of dirt mixed in along the trail to add another variable that I probably could have done without. But, as I say, at the top of the hill, I'm king.

As I started out things were going well. Oh sure, there was the occasional wandering ski, but those were easily reigned in with great deftness. Until they both wandered at the same time and I faded into the brush like a runaway logging truck. It's not a preferred way to stop, but it's effective.

After I checked to see if anyone saw it I backed out of the shrubbery and resumed my route down the hill - allegedly wiser for the wear.

Well, before long things got going a bit faster than I would like - even with my adventuresome spirit. Not wanting a wander into the woods like a few minute earlier, I went into full snowplow mode. It wasn't a full panic at first, but quickly devolved into one.

Now, when I used to ski with a buddy back in the day, he turned me on to a term "Yard Sale." In skiing, a yard sale is a crash which leaves skis, poles and other items strewn about like, well, a yard sale. He and I had a couple of them back in the day.

Today I held my first yard sale in a few years. Somehow the snowplow turned into a face plant. Luckily I turned my shoulder and made a bad landing slightly less bad. And you know what the first thing I thought was?

"Oh no, I've broken my hip!"

Of course I was fine and got up chuckling to myself and looking around to see if there were any witnesses. There were not.

In typical Wisconsin fashion, after three days of good skiing, tomorrow we're supposed to get rain/snow mix. This means I'll put the skis away and save breaking my hip for another day.

But for today, it felt good to be young.

Blogging off...

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Time Well Spent

There are ebbs and flows to parenting. Times of high concentration and focus on one or the other of our kids happens cyclically it seems and with the prospect of an empty nest in our immediate future coming this fall, I am especially in tune with these moments with my son, Ben. During my wife and my Saturday morning coffee yesterday, we agreed on how nice it was to have a couple of one-on-one years with Ben, while Sarah is off to college. Despite the door always swinging with his comings and goings, the time we do have with him has been rich and gratifying.

And while I love both of my kids. this week was one of high contact with Ben and I have to admit it was what I needed. We tend to cruise through our day-to-days sometime and forget to stop and talk - catch up on where each of us is really at. So this was good.

It started on Wednesday evening when we went to the Journal Sentinel Sports Show. This has become an annual event for the two of us over the past five years. We usually go out to dinner beforehand and then spend a couple hours walking the floor of the sports show. I was joking with him that the sports show is kind of like my "shopping mall experience" where I go to dream about buying things that I don't need and can't afford to impress people I don't care about.

We hit all the usual spots like ogling the $45,000 boats, checking out the knives and guns, and challenging each other to the BB gun shooting range. He beat me again this year, as it seems one of my shots missed the target completely. This explains why I fish instead of hunt.

One of the funnest things we did was watch the lumberjack show. They threw axes, cut trees with saws and axes and finished up with log rolling. Ben actually said "I seriously only thought logrolling was done in cartoons."

He's a city boy like his dad.

Then, on Thursday night we celebrated his swimming career with all of his teammates at the Waukesha South/CMH swim banquet. The coaches and players all got up and talked about the season. This year the South/CMH swim team took the state championship, so it was an especially festive event.

When Ben gave his speech about being one of the "junior walk-on" players, I got a little choked up. I have nothing but admiration for his courage and effort to join a team that late and do the things he did as a JV swimmer. We also joked about how I'd always regretted not lettering in a sport in High School, and here he was a two-time Letterman for the swim team. He even offered to let me have one of his letters. Now I just need to get it sewn to a jacket. Ha!

It was a great night.

And finally, on Friday we went to Madison to attend the YourUW event that is held for all students that have been accepted as freshman. It was an informational tidal wave, but I am glad I went. In addition to some orientation kinds of things, we got to ask questions from experts in several different areas. It was cool seeing Ben get excited about things like the prospect of a writing fellowship, campus groups and the possibilities of an Honors program. It was weird standing back and letting my 18 year old ask the questions, but I realize that's what needed to happen.

The first course in college is Adulting 101.

After all was said and done, Ben mentioned he wanted to go to the bookstore and maybe get a sweatshirt or some spirit wear. We went to the Kohl center and got him a T-shirt and it occurred to me that this was a telling sign that this is where he'd chosen to be. So, I think my boy's going to be a Badger, and, after our day Friday, I am totally cool with that. More on this in a later post.

My wife mentioned at coffee on Saturday that a friend of ours was having a hard time at the thought of sending their first daughter to college. I though Donna's advice to her was excellent. She told the friend three things:

  1. Appreciate this time with the one student you still have at home. This is an unprecedented time if you think about it. The older child has ALWAYS been around with the younger. You've never had time with the younger one alone, so use it well.
  2. Take time to start dating and getting to know your spouse and friends again. This could include taking a trip or do other significant local things together. Time with both friends and spouses will soon become abundant, so you need to rediscover this person you married, these longtime friends. You need to remember why you fell in love with your spouse or became friends with your friend group in the first place.
  3. Don't visit your daughter or let her come home for the first 5 or 6 weeks. This is her/his time to meet new people, find out who they are as a student and get acclimated to their new life. This probably sounds a little harsh, but it's worked for us. 

So, it's been a good week to be a father to a son. It's part of a good life being father to a daughter and son who I am incredibly privileged to raise.

Blogging off...

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Lining Up Future Words

As part of my ongoing writing goals I try and keep things rolling with regards future projects. Of course, back when I first started writing this wasn't a problem. My goal back then was to write a story about the boundary waters canoe area. Then, the next week, write another.

In a weird chain of events, I am now a book and a couple of poetry collections into it and trying to keep the muse chugging along. I am finished with the writing of what I refer to as either the "Portland book" or the "house book," so am starting to look at what's next. I have a few ideas.

The first one came to me just the other day and is kind of unique, at least I think it is. I'm thinking of writing another memoir about my years attending an all male, Catholic, military high school in the late 1970's. The reason I think this would be interesting is mainly because when I tell people that as my high school experience, their eyes typically bug out - like I told them I went to Hogwarts or something.

We wore military uniforms and were taught by a mix of laypersons, Christian Brothers, and military men. We had uniform inspections every Monday where we were checked for well-shined shoes, brass, proper haircuts, etc. Part of our Freshman training involved going to the rifle range and shooting .22 caliber guns that weighed as much as the bumper of a 77 Chevy wagon and were at least as unwieldy.

I guess it was so long ago, and I take it for granted as my experience, that I never think much about how truly unique it was as a teenager to go through high school with this strange mix of Church and State. The whole thing was a trip and I think it needs a book. I'm still unsure if there's enough material there, but I really like the idea.

One of the other thoughts is to co-author one of the two books that my uncle has written that were never published. Uncle Jack passed away years ago and I would like to fulfill a dream of his and get one of them published. They are a little slow moving, so I would rewrite every chapter. I have requested to get the manuscripts from my cousin so I can scan them and look at revisions/rewriting. It's a big project, but I think the fact that it would be a posthumously co-authored book makes it kinda unique.

The final idea is to write about the courtship of my wife and I. Most of you have heard the story, but I would like to take some of the letters we wrote over those years and build it into a book. This would also be a tough challenge because I only have the letters to her from me. I managed to throw most of hers out. (I'm such a clod-man!) I'm not sure how I'd like to work it - maybe transcribe my letters to her and then try and rewrite hers. Or just transcribe mine and write about where I was at that point in my life. I don't know. If you have ideas, send them my way. I'm desperate here.

So, I have three possibilities without trying too hard. The fourth option would be to try and write a fiction book, which would be fun and a stretch for me.

My son is in the throes of trying to decide which of three colleges to attend next fall. One day he came in the house after school and lay down on the living room floor and writhed around saying "I don't know where to go to college..."

And it's funny because that's where I am with my next book.

"I don't know what to write about next..."  {Picture full grown adult writhing on floor}

Blogging off...

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Ode To Teachers

I am friends with, or related to, a number of Teachers. (I intentionally capitalized Teachers because I think their jobs are so important that they require a capital.) Both of my longtime closest male friends are Teachers, one teaches high school history and government (and is also married to another Teacher), the other is a physical education Teacher. I also have relatives on both sides of my family that teach. My father in-law taught math for more than 30 years.

I know I could never be a Teacher. It takes a special breed to do the job. Most will admit they do it for the love of teaching - the desire to make a difference in kids' lives if you will. And thinking about everything they have to deal with reminded me of a few Teachers that impacted my life. I think everyone has at least one that stands out. Some have many. Here are a few that made a difference in my life.

  • Wally Wescott - Wally was my sixth grade math Teacher. In addition to teaching, he also coached the football team, ran the school newspaper and organized a huge school-wide garage sale every year that raised thousands of dollars for the sports program. This guy was firm but fair. Out of the clear blue he started me, and undersized second/third string 8th grader, in the last football game of the season. He had no good reason to do it other than he wanted to reward me for giving 100% all year. I never forgot that. I even wrote him a letter as a thirty year-old and told him how much it meant to me.
    Wally Wescott, Upper left. Me, Front row, second from left
  • Sister Patricia - She was a nun who I had homeroom for for 4th through 8th grade. She was also firm but fair. She could be a little Kathy-Bates'-as-seen-in-Misery at times, but she always liked me. Nuns got a bad rap in parochial schools. I thought she did okay, considering who she was dealing with.
  • Mr. Tierney was our high school current events teacher. He was as progressive a teacher as I've ever seen. He taught school in a Network "I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it anymore," manner. He encouraged us to think outside the box, to question authority, to get involved. His mantra was "It's the Corporations!!!" We never quite stood on our desks like Dead Poets Society, but if we had, I'm sure he would have been alright with it.
  • Mr. Hughes, aka "Hondo the Magician" was my homeroom teacher for four years in high school. Once he found out my father wasn't around he reached out and tried to connect with me. He even took a friend and I to a Twins game once. Nice guy and an amazing Teacher. (Though I never had his math class - he taught honors, and I was no honors math student, Ha!)
  • Kathie and Michael Giorgio teach me at the writing studio I attend, AllWriters. I feel you should never stop learning, and these two have taught me more about the writing craft than I ever knew existed. They've taken me from a one dimensional flat writer to 3-D. It helps that it's in a subject I love, but their passion for the craft shows through as well.
Our kids have their own memorable teachers as well. I'll never forget the time we met with Mr. Kunkel, the gifted and talented teacher taking time out and talking to us and Sarah about her abilities. He was pretty much spot on with his assessment. And Ben has a couple of great teachers too most notably his swim coach, who I also sent a note to, thanking him for his mentoring and the impact he's had on Ben's growth.

Teachers today are up against more demands with fewer resources than ever before. Class sizes are bigger and with shrinking budgets, they are asked to do more with less. I think we need to recognize the importance of what they do and take time out to thank them.

Who was the teacher that made a difference in your life?

Blogging off...

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Almost Showtime

We are in the midst of a big decision for my son in the coming days. His most recent acceptance at UW Madison completed the trifecta of ideal colleges for him, the other two being UW Milwaukee and the University of Minnesota. All are great universities and none would be a bad choice, in my opinion anyway. I have friends and family that have been to all three and all have nothing but good things to say about each.

I can't help but feel my son's angst about making this difficult decision. Like me, he is an "experience person" who doesn't want to miss out on something - wants the whole experience.

He's even said, "I feel like if I go to Madison, I'll never get to experience where you, and my uncles and Sarah went to school. At the same time, if I go there, well, I really like the feel of Madison too."

I get that. Knowing both places like I do, there's huge things at both that I'd hate to miss.

And then I think back to when I was looking at colleges. At the time, Mom was still single and college, while seemingly expensive at the time, was still affordable. Tuition was nothing like how out of hand they have become since. It is shameful the debt we are putting on our kids just to get an education, but I digress.

Anyway, I really only recall having two options for college, the University of Minnesota and St. Thomas. Because St. Thomas was considerably more expensive, I really only had one choice. Tom was at "the U" and economically and geographically, it just made sense.

Along with all of the other details of getting accepted and choosing goes the whole FAFSA and Scholarship process. When your college costs the same as a new car, every year for four years, well, you need all the help you can get. Again because my college years were quite affordable, scholarships weren't as necessary.
Speaking at a conference as a Senior at U of M

Despite that, my freshman year I qualified for a BEOG (Basic Educational Opportunity Grant) which essentially paid my whole first year. When my Mom married during my freshman year, it put us into another tax bracket and that was the end of the BEOG. The saving grace is that I had a good job at Montgomery Wards and was able to pay off college as I went. I came out with zero debt. I think I might have been the last guy to do that...ever.

In any case, for the one academic year that Ben and Sarah overlap, we're looking at trying to juggle the financial burden of "two in college" and frankly it is mighty daunting. I have faith we'll make it happen, but I'm still kind of banking on that long lost Aunt Millie that will leave us a large inheritance. Aunt Millie, inbox me if you're reading this. We need to talk.

Until then, Ben is applying for every scholarship that is out there. It's pretty much a numbers game. Flood the market and hope for the best. Either that or the U will have to "cover me" based on my past record of never missing a payment. I know they'll jump at that one. Yeah.

We hope to have a decision in the next two weeks. This will allow us to start the ball rolling on housing and all the other things that go with signing on the line. Exciting and anxious times.

Badger, Gopher or Panther, he can't go wrong.

Blogging off...