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Showing posts from September, 2019

The Importance Of Friends

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It has been a week of reconnecting with friends. On Tuesday I got together with a group of friends I used to work alongside in a writing workshop. We keep in touch on Facebook, and it's been six months or so since we all got together that someone mentioned we should get together over a beer and see what each other is up to.

We gathered at a local microbrewery and talked and laughed about our writing projects, failures and successes and where we were at with our works in progress. The answers ranged from people who had not written since we'd been together last, to those with books coming out or in progress. We respected those who'd gone different directions and praised those who'd stuck with it. Writing is hard work and you can't force it. It comes and goes.

The reason I appreciate this group of friends and love getting together with them is because we can all talk like a bunch of writing geeks and none of us tires of hearing about the others' struggles. We also…

The Hallmarkiest of Days

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Today is National Daughters Day. I was unaware there was such a thing until I saw it all over Facebook this morning. It sounds a little like a Hallmark Holiday to me, but I'll take any chance to celebrate my daughter, or my son for that matter. (I am looking into whether there is a National Son Day, and if there is, I'll expect a Hallmark card, mom.)

A father/daughter and father/son relationship is incredibly important. Not everyone has a good one to speak of. I am painfully aware of this - due in part to my own experience. No parent has a rule book. We all just make it up as we go. Knowing that I did what I consider my best and, well, now she's on her own, and independent, and I think she's going to be okay.

I will confess that there are a number of moments in my life with her that I will always carry.

1. The ride home in the car in a blinding snowstorm the night after she was born. That was me crying like a big dope, blinded by snow. The weight of joy and love just s…

Bookishness

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Like my wife, I am one of those people that needs to have two books "in-progress" at all times. Books to me are complete escape, so if I can go to three different "aways" on any given evening, I'm all for it.

My reading interests are a little all over the place at the moment.

My Fiction Escape: I just finished "Copper River" by William Kent Krueger. He writes murder mysteries based in northern Minnesota, so there is a home connection too, which I love. I never thought I'd like mysteries, but I've found his style to be captivating. He not only has a wonderful descriptive style - one I aspire too, but may never achieve - but he has a way with introducing unexpected twists and tying characters together. Add to all of that, the regional appeal and well, I'm glad to have stumbled upon his books. (He has 18 or so, so I certainly have enough to get to, as well.
My Existential Handbook: I keep Thich Nhat Hanh's book, Being Peace around so I can…

Just What I Didn't Need

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On Monday, another rock star, Ric Ocasek of The Cars, died. Earlier last week, Eddie Money a rock star of my era also died. All of this has caused me some angst, as the death of a rock star does, apparently.
The Cars were my absolute favorite band for years in the early 80's I saw them four times over the years, 1979 to 1984. I idolized those guys. Ric went on to have a pretty successful solo career to, which I followed to a degree. So when I saw the news that he'd passed away I was shocked and saddened. I guess I didn't know he was 75, which is shocking in its own right. But the point is this kind of thing keeps happening and it's a sucker punch to me every time.
After I got through the initial alarm of it, I talked through the meaning of life with my wife and a couple of friends/ I said to my wife, "What's the point if everything in life keeps dying?" Her and I have had a lot of mortality talks lately, for some reason. I think some of it is has to do with…

Fixing The World One Cup At A Time

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Every Thursday morning I have coffee with 2 or three friends at Cafe De Arts in Waukesha. I look at this time as some of my favorite discussion time every week. It is a group I was invited to years ago by one of the regulars, and thinking it was another myopic Christian men's Bible study, of which I was still in recovery from, I rightfully declined. Within a week, I got another invite after running into another regular of the group at a different coffee shop.

I took this as a sign that maybe I should give it a shot.

Well, suffice it to say it was not at all what I feared. When I first joined, I found out that these guys sometimes did a book study, but with very loose rules to it. If you didn't get to the reading for the week, there was no shame, heck some guys never got around to buying the book. That's about as loose as you can get.

It is not always a religious book either. We've read books by Buddhists, hippies and recovering evangelicals. Put another way, we are NOT…

Working Up The Food Service Corporate Ladder

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In my work in progress book about my days at Cretin High School I talk a little about another job I had at The Lexington Restaurant in St. Paul. The manager of the place at the time, Don Ryan, actually lived across the street from us. His kids were pretty good friends with our family, so pretty much any of us who wanted to work there had a job if we wanted one.

I think it was late in my sophomore year that I applied and got the job as a dishwasher. Dishwashers were also called pearl divers, for some odd reason, but it was pretty much the starting position for any teenager at the place. You could work your way "up" to salad chef, busboy or even waiter if you worked hard and didn't piss off the management too much.

It was hard work, especially on busy Friday nights. Busboys brought in trays stacked with dirty dishes almost faster than you could clear them. There was always two dishwashers and a pot washer. The dishwashers would split duties, one working trays and the "…

Thoughts From A Cover Reveal

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So here is the cover to my forthcoming poetry collection. I can't say enough about how happy I am with it. It is perfect!

For starters I have to give full credit to the artist. His name is W. Jack Savage, a fellow native-Minnesotan now living in California. I have touted his work on my blog before, right here. You should check out his work if you get a chance. He is also a prolific writer and a Vietnam Veteran, making him a hero at many levels, in my eyes.

His artwork has always fascinated me and I am lucky to have a couple print copies that he has sent. One is in my office at work, the other in my home writing office. I'm not sure what you would call his style, but it looks Impressionistic to me, and I've always favored the impressionists. I don't claim to be an art expert or historian, but I know what I like.

I approached him and asked first for some pieces for ideas and secondly for permission to use one for my cover. He was gracious enough to both requests. He sent…

That First Job

My memoir in progress (MIP) is coming along well. I'm just over 70,000 words into it andI've got the chapters roughed out. Now the hard part of slogging through edits comes into play.

Tenatively titled, Cretin Boy, it is about my teenage years in an all-male, Catholic, military (JROTC) school in the late '70s. The book is not solely about the school, but also about all that comes with being a teenager and all the changes that life brings.

One of those changes of course is a kid's introduction to the working life. Once you hit 15 back then, you were expected to start looking for a part-time job. It was in part to keep you off the street but also a way of teaching you work ethic and helping take the load off of Mom and Dad's need to supplement your income (or lack of it).

In the book I talk about my first job at Tu-Way Car Wash on Cleveland and Randolph in St. Paul, Minnesota. I was a freshman in high school and my brother Tom worked there and got me the job. I think…

August Fondly Remembered

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Another August has gone by and the unrest has settled upon me again. This is always a weird time of year for me. If you know me, I am happiest in shorts, a T-Shirt and sandals, so any time that fashion feng-shui is threatened by the dreaded long pants and flannel shirts, well, you're going to get some blowback from me. If you're one of those "I love the cool fall weather" people, we probably can't be friends. It's nothing personal, oh, wait, yes it is.

Don't get me wrong, I love fall as well, all 3 weeks of it. The problem lies immediately following fall. Namely the 'W' word. In my eyes, Fall and Spring are equals, only spring holds the hope of summer following it. Winter, well, I'm going to stop saying it for now.

But as I said, Labor day weekend is the stake in the heart of summer. Around here. the Carroll University students are back in the neighborhood and with it, increased foot and street traffic. I don't mind that so much, in fact i…