Thursday, May 31, 2012

My Top 20 Summer Reads

Summer is upon us and if you are like me you are planning which books you are taking on vacation next month. Or maybe I am the only one who does that. I love to read and my idea of a dream vacation is to sit somewhere sunny, near water, with an icy Diet Coke and a stack of books and read for days. So if you are not sure what to read this summer, here are some of my tried and true favorites, presented in a fancy Amazon slide show (just click on the book to buy it!)

 Disclaimer: I have a horrible memory when it comes to inappropriate content in books. I read it and then promptly forget it. So don't go recommending these books to your grandma and then sending me angry letters when she is offended at the horrific penguin slaughtering scene, or because someone has an affair, or because someone says "Dagnabit" or other such inappropriateness. I just know these were books that moved me and I enjoyed one way or another. I make no guarantees that they are rated G.

What's on your list for the summer? Or what are your favorites from past summers. Weigh in in the comments and tell me what I need to get.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

scouting for trouble

I dropped Miles and Owen off for scout camp early yesterday morning. Even though it was 7:30 they seemed spry and ready to head to Zion's for a week, armed with a bag of beef jerky and some awesome new knock-knock jokes. I can't believe they are both old enough for scout camp; or that I ever looked that young or felt that grown-up.

When I was thirteen I was very involved in the Boy Scout Program. Not because I had any real desire to do scouts, but because all my friends at church did it, and we had some pretty pushy leaders. The best way to get your kid to do scouts, hands down, is peer pressure. If there's nothing else going on and all the other kids are doing it, you might as well work on your Citizenship in the Nation merit badge. It was a social thing for me; a chance to hang out and camp with my friends. I have great memories: that court of honor where the old blind man played the saw, that meeting where Ben Blair and Weston Spencer kept infuriating Brother Harris with their farting, the night I spent on Y Mountain nursing Brother Green back to life, that Order of the Area deal where we couldn't talk or eat for a full day and we had to wear loincloths and jump over a fire...the list goes on and on. I became an Eagle Scout without any real determination beyond the fact that I was turning eighteen and I was too close the deadline not to. But the scout program kept me engaged in a worthy activity; not because I was inclined to make trouble, but because it gave me something to do in the afternoon besides parking in front of the TV and watching Different Strokes with a giant bowl of popcorn.

One of our scoutmasters was Roger Henry. We had a love hate relationship with him. We loved him because he was a former surf dude and drove a classic red MG, and we hated him because he made us do scouting things we disliked and he called us on all of our bull. He never let us get away with anything. Whenever we were too lazy to, say, put up a tent or roll-up a sleeping bag he would tell us that the tooth fairy wasn't going to do it for us, and would wait until we did it. I think if I met Roger today he and I would be great friends, but at age thirteen boys are naturally distrustful of any adult who is more awesome than they are. I remember feeling that it was our job to be awesome, and that the adult's responsibility was to be gullible, fat, allowing, and to roll up our sleeping bags.

I remember one camp out in the West Desert, just west of Tooele. It was kind of a miserable camp out; one of those district ones where there are a million boys from all over the state and they all look like huge nerds. We never had any awareness that we also looked like huge nerds. We had some fun in the evening: they made us watch a really boring slide show about physical fitness and Ben figured out a way to keep unplugging the cords to the projector without being seen. That was super funny, and par for the course for the Ghost Patrol (our troop name.) But the next day it was hot and dusty and there was probably a ropes course and some skeet shooting happening somewhere, but we only wanted to sit back at the camp and complain about how boring everything was and how we wish we could watch Back to the Future all day.

Somewhere in the dust around the campfire I found a little plastic Smurf figure. One of the Smurfs holding his finger up, like he had a great idea. So did I! Brother Henry's yellow van had been splattered and smeared with mud and dirt on our way to the campground, and it had since dried in the desert sun. I took the little Smurf and scratched "BRO HENRY SUCKS" into the dirt on the side of the van. We all laughed at that a little. Then Ben took the smurf and drew a crude picture of a hand holding a middle finger up. This was even funnier; right there on the side of Roger Henry's van!

The thing was, Brother Henry didn't suck. We mostly liked him. We were just bored and it was a funny/dumb thing to do. But then, when we tried to wipe off the message, the mud wouldn't come off. Neither would the message, or Ben's special picture. So we panicked. We found some water and began scrubbing the side of the van with all the vigor and enthusiasm we had. Eventually it came off. OR SO WE THOUGHT!

The next day was Sunday and I wasn't feeling well, so my mom let me stay home from church. Just before the third hour, Roger Henry called me on the phone to find out where I was. I told him I was sick, and he strongly encouraged me to be in deacon's quorum that day. He was pretty emphatic. So I put on my finest bolo tie (80's) and headed up to the church on foot.

For some reason, we were holding our quorum meeting outside in the chapel parking lot. The reason for this became apparent when Roger Henry pulled up in his yellow van. Carefully he showed us that our special message and doodle had actually been scratched permanently into the side of the car. The jig was up! Brother Henry knew that he sucked, and that we wished to flip him off. He gave us this big speech about how he wasn't angry when he saw the message, just really disappointed. Truth is, he was probably really, really angry. I would have been! Freaking scouts. But disappointment always has better results in the guilt game.

I tried to blame it on Paul Gardner, who was my friend. He wasn't at church that day either, so it seemed fine to throw him under the bus. But Brother Henry didn't seem to buy it. And in hindsight I think he knew it was me all along. Why would he have made a big deal about me being at Deacon's quorum that day if he didn't at least strongly suspect me? Also, I'm sure he had enough of my handwriting samples from merit badge assignments and essays to do some in-depth comparison and analysis. Whether he blamed me for the middle finger was never resolved. Anyway, he made us do some fundraisers to pay for the paint job, and we had to apologize. And now I have spent almost ten years in the young men's program myself, and Karma sucks! (middle finger)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


Is it cliche for me to post one week about the birth of my newborn son and the next post about the complete and utter lack of sleep one gets living with someone whose been alive for a week? Well I'm sorry for the cliche, but buckle up it's gonna get real here. And you know, the real problem here is the two year old?! What?! Where does she get off waking up three times a night, I mean honestly, she is so thoughtless. So that brings us to the Russian Roulette of parenting, "Tonight, you take the two year old, I'll take the baby." And I only struck this deal because when we split the night at 3:00 am, I had two kids in my lap crying up until 2:58 am at which time they both passed out and slept soundly until 8:00. The universe is out to get me; it sees that I am not in a "Breast Feeding Situation" and so I am saddled with half of the feedings... I tell you I'm so progressive it's disgusting! If I was a father in the 60's, oh, you bet I would be sleeping! Breasts or no breasts I would sliding into my matching top and bottom pajamas and hopping into my own twin bed and sleeping so deep until the smell of bacon mingled with toast wafted up the stairs and under my closed door and into my well-rested nostrils. Sure I'd get cancer from all the smoking, and of course the kids would blow straight through the windshield at the slightest fender bender as there was nothing to stick them to their seats, but those were simpler times...for a man, I suppose...a white man, I suppose again. No, I love my 2012 life. It's better in every way, but I do miss sleep. What do you people who sleep do when you wake? You must have spotless houses and creatively and financially successful lives. I would. If I slept. I would be invincible. And you know, the real problem is that he's so helpless. I mean, honestly, if he were a giraffe, he would be walking by now. Any animal born in the wild knows how to feed themselves.  Sure they may have to rummage around to locate their mother's teet, but my son makes no such effort. The only effort he makes is to scream at the top of his lungs, which, again, if he were in the wild, that would be the absolute worst thing to do. I mean, there you are, so helpless and unable to fight off any predator from a cougar to a mushroom, your best strategy would be to lie still and blend in with the forest floor, but no, we scream, we announce (at any time of day or night...mostly night) we are helpless and apparently abandoned so either feed me or eat me, either way, I'M RIGHT HERE! I've been watching the BBC Series Planet Earth--you remember it was all the rage at Costco a few years back?--well my mother gave it to us for Christmas and I love it, but this last round of watching has only made me more disappointed in the human ability to survive, I mean, we are the most "Evolved" spices on the planet (I put scare quotes around "evolved," so don't get all uppity) and yet we are the most helpless until... when...30? 34? I have had thoughts, as I assemble bottles in the middle of the night, of my two year old fending for herself in the woods somewhere...not that I'm thinking of dropping her off or anything like that, I'm just thinking the same way I wonder how my Jack Russell Terrier could have ever survived as a wild animal before some caveman tamed him with peanut butter treats. I mean honestly, could you imagine:

         David Attenborough: "The grass bends slightly in the meadow and the birds grow silent.  Something has found its way to the glade. The trees steady their leaves against the wind to listen to the coming threat. The very earth beneath the bending grass holds its breath, frightened. Waiting. Watching. Then, some thoughtless and unknowing creature steps from the shadow. It's a rabbit. Fool. Then again, it was inevitable and perhaps the rabbit knew that. Perhaps he thought if I stay I'm dead for sure, but this way I have a chance, a slight chance true, but if a mistake is made, if a misstep is took I will have a chance. But a mistake is not made nor is it ever, and the rabbit knows this, even in the last moments of his life, as he gasps for life, he knows that no creature, once the beast has made up it's mind, ever escapes the clever and calculating jaws of the forest's greatest predator, the Jack Russel Terrier."

I mean, it's got two human names in his breed name, for crying out loud. How was it ever wild? So it was these thoughts that lead me to wonder about a band of two year olds emerging from the forest with squirrel pelts hanging from broad leaf diapers, mud and blood spattered across the faces of the tribe who picks their teeth with the bones of some unidentified specimen: perhaps its weakest member, the tattle tale.

This post is like a dream...from what I remember of them. There have been studies done suggesting that sleep deprivation is as bad as alcohol impairment. I can not cite such research, you google it if you want, but I'm sure you know what I'm talking about. They have not, however, studied the effects of blogging while sleep deprived...I hope I've helpst.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Highs & Lows

A dinner ritual for our family is that we go around the table taking turns recounting our “highs and lows” for the day. You know, the best and worst things that took place that day. Our hope was that it might spur some lively conversation and provide some insight into how each child feels about their stage of life, current events, and of course, have the opportunity to rat out their siblings’ bad behavior and/or tell weird stories about their friends. 

You might expect to hear something along the lines of, “Well, my ‘highs’ for the day included riding my bike, playing with Jo-Jo Marie – who told me that her dad passes gas when he’s watching TV – and having a dance party with Abbie. My ‘lows’ were cleaning my room and also…when Tanner wouldn’t let me play with his lightsaber!”

There have been some eyebrow raising discussions, of course, but for the most part, I’m beginning to see a pattern develop.

Becca, who is 3 years old, generally starts the discussion by reminding us about it. “Mom! Dad! Highsandlows! Highsandlows!” (Most anything Becca says includes exclamation points.) Then Becca will begin to give us not so much the stories of her “highs and lows,” but an itinerary of what she’s done that day. “Uhm, my highsandlows was, I eat breakfast…then I look at books…and my highandlows was, I played games with Connor…I made poops in the potty…and that’s Lucy, and I kiss Lucy, and that’s all!”

Next is Tanner, age 6, who rather indignantly states, “Don’t ask me what my highs and lows are. I’ve told you; don’t ask me. Every day is just fine. I like all my days. I don’t have ‘highs and lows.’” Then Katie will try to jump start it. “Well, what about when you played soccer in the backyard with Connor?” Then, with great conviction, “Yes. That was awesome. That was my high. But don’t ask me anything else.” So Katie strategically mentions all the things he’s done that day, item by item, and only then will Tanner admit that he had “highs and lows.”

Then it’s Roxanna’s turn. She’s 8. And as anticipated, Roxanna (possibly our pickiest eater) will look down at her plate and say, “Well my low is having to have two asparaguses…and kind of this salad, too…(then, moving her fork like a laser-pointer in a marketing presentation)…and my high is this chicken.”

Connor, age 10. Connor is a little more diverse, except that his list invariably includes Star Wars or Legos.  But if he has watched a movie that day, it will always be listed as a ‘high.’ No matter how poor the movie. “My ‘high’ today was watching The Berenstein Bears and the Messy Room.” Me: “No, it wasn’t.” “Yes, it was.” “That could not have been your ‘high.’ Do we even own that movie?” “Yeah…I don’t know where we got it. It’s pretty lame. But that was my ‘high!’”

Garren, age 12. Garren is at a magical age where he still thinks that doing anything with his dad is cool. Whatever we’ve done together that day, Garren will list it as one of his ‘highs.’ “My ‘high’ was picking weeds with dad in the front yard. Then a gang of bikers came by – you should have seen them – they got off their bikes and waved knives in our faces – they stole our minivan out of the driveway – they graffiti’d the house – they threw beer bottles at us – one of the bottles hit me in the head. And Dad and I were like, “Whoa!” Those were my ‘highs’.”

Abbie, age 14. Abbie will genuinely share her “highs and lows.” Her dreams, her disappointments. Her hopes, her fears. But not her crushes. Some things are just not for public display.

What are my highs and lows? My high is that my children will openly share their lives with me. My low is the thought that at someone else’s dinner table, their child is sharing that “Tanner’s dad says the word 'crap' a LOT.”

This is Lucy. Recently 1 year old. Currently has no lows. 

How about YOU? What are YOUR Highs & Lows?

Friday, May 25, 2012

Friday Link Round-Up

Courtesy of Brett Merritt, our first Friday Link Round Up!! Wouldn't this be a great weekly thing? Wouldn't you love to have Brett as a regular PTA contributor? (Loaded questions.)

Hello, everyone, and welcome to the Part Time Authors' first Friday Link Round Up. What is it? Well, I have scoured the Internet since Monday (or Thursday) for at least five minutes a day to bring you the "best" links from around the web. Today we have Fred Armisen championing being serious, apps for gas (not THAT kind), how to get your grill on for the holiday, and more. So, check out the links below. I tried to find something for everyone.

Can You Be Serious for 30 Seconds?

Andy Samberg Gives the Class Day Speech at Harvard

Charlie Kaufman Get His Own HBO Series

Check Out Some Gas Pricing Apps for iOS

Ever Wanted to See Which Simpson Scenes Are Like Movie Scenes?

On Becoming the Memorial Day Grillmaster

What did you find this week?


Thursday, May 24, 2012

It Hardly Ever Happens, You Know.

There was an eclipse this week and we, like every other family in America went outside to watch it and try and prevent our kids from burning their retinas out. (Sidebar: can looking at an eclipse actually make you go blind? Is it just the eclipse, or is it anytime you look directly at the sun? We take it so serious at eclipse time. One article I read said you would go blind so fast you wouldn't know it happened. That seems slightly panicky. End of sidebar.) The eclipse makes me think of a fond, childhood memory. No, not Stephanie Meyer's Eclipse. Those memories are slightly less fond.

Do you remember that old Disney movie, The Watcher in the Woods? It's allegedly a horror film, and I remember watching it as a child and being terrified. I was in my basement in the middle of the day and I turned on every light down there (even the ones in rooms I wasn't even in) just to be able to bear the sheer volume of terror pouring off the TV at me. It's the story of a girl, Jan (which is officially the most 70s name ever,) being haunted by another girl who looks just like her who disappeared during a mysterious ceremony the night of the eclipse 30 years earlier performed by her "friends" who were really into the occult apparently. I'm not sure why a bunch of high school kids were doing a weird eclipse ceremony and chanting things like "You must not break the circle! The circle of our friendship!" I don't think the movie ever bothers to tell us either. The girl who disappeared is named Karen and her name gets written backwards on the mirror a lot and it supposed to be super spooky. In fact on my LDS mission one of my companions was terrified of this movie. We would write "Narek" on the mirror while he was showering and he would scream like a little girl when he got out and saw it. (This was the same companion who would get dressed in the morning and put on everything, including socks, shirt and tie before his pants. Pants were always last. Maybe he reads this blog. Hi, Joel!)

Have you watched Watcher in The Woods lately? It's not scary. In fact, it's kind of funny and odd and goofy with awesome 70s fashion, overly dramatic music and stilted acting. It has Bette Davis as the spooky and enigmatic Mrs. Alywood, for heavens sake!

In high school this movie was part of our zeitgeist. We would watch it incessantly and quote the funny lines and watch the scene where Jan falls in the river and Mrs. Alywood pokes her belly with a big walking stick like a million times. To this day certain words or phrases will set off lines of dialogue in my head. I probably said "it hardly ever happens you know" (which is a line from the movie describing a solar eclipse) about 30 times on the day of the eclipse, just hoping someone should know the reference I was making (sidebar: no one IRL did but a couple of people on Instagram got it.)

I so wish this movie was in Netflix so you could watch it tonight, but it's not.
Why it's not is beyond me. What is Netflix for if not to watch campy shows from your childhood? But Amazon has it for $9. It might be worth it. Then next time there is an eclipse you can send one of your friends to another dimension in a spooky ceremony! You'll be glad you did (watched it, that is. You may regret tampering with the occult.)
We watched the eclipse through a welding mask. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

gross old dad drawer

 So now I have the unenviable task of having to follow Patrick's touching and beautiful post about his son, Milo. Not that Part Time Authors is a competition, but I don't have anything nearly as meaningful to say. I love my kids, too, but half of them look exactly like me and it's sort of tragic. Anyway, I thought the only thing to do is to simply do what I do best: write as shallow and as arbitrary a blog as possible! It's my special gift. So I thought I would tell you about a bunch of crap I found in my drawer.

When I was growing up my Dad had a special drawer that we would always pilfer for money or candy. It almost always delivered on both accounts, even if the money was just nickels and the candy was just Altoids. When we needed a fix, we knew where to go! But it was also kind of a gross drawer. You know, like a gross old dad drawer? For one thing, this drawer doubled as an underwear drawer, which was fine, but sometimes you would go digging for dimes and run across this nasty old stretched out jockstrap. Or sometimes you would find broken sunglasses, or a big stack of business cards. Sometimes we found cassette tapes and floppy discs. There was just a lot of crap in there. It wasn't fun to rummage through, but I always thought it was something dads did. And guess, what? I was right!

I realized this past week that I have the exact same drawer. The only difference is that my drawer is lower to the ground and therefore a little more accessible to my children, and I don't own a jockstrap (I wear Superman briefs from Target when I go running.) But you would be amazed what I found in there when I pulled everything out! It was a treasure trove of skeezy old dad things. Like Aladdin's cave! If Aladdin were a crazy old hoarder. Here is a sampling of some things I found!

1. An old watch. Also from Target! It doesn't work.

2. Three pairs of old glasses. I always save my old glasses thinking that I'll still wear them as "options." But I never do. I wear the same pair of glasses every day. So my old ones just lay in my drawer and get scratched up by random thumbscrews and pennies.

3. Something from IKEA called a "Metrik." Still in its packaging. What is it? Why did I buy it? I dare you to open it! It's probably just a Swedish jockstrap.

4. One of Hugh's socks. Just one!

5. A medal I got from Phoebe and Owen's piano teacher. It was like a "hooray for doing a duet" award. It was for a duet I did with Owen at his Christmas recital. I really appreciate it, and I know it took time and effort to make the award, but that was the easiest duet ever. I just thumped around a little in the bass clef. We practiced 5 minutes before the recital. Anyway, here is a picture of my kids wearing this kind of medal. After we took this picture I got one, too:

6. A giant gift bag for dental care. I assume my dentist gave it to me? I never opened it. It's in a fancy gift bag and it's full of floss and travel-size mouthwash and a new toothbrush. I must not have been very excited about it. Anybody want it?

7. My passport. You know how people are always complaining about how their passport picture makes them look creepy? Mine really does. It really, really does. Like I drive a rickety dangerous ice cream van.

8. Some optical wipes that come in little plastic packets. They fool you, because you think they are condoms!

9. Thirty-one actual condoms. Oh, condoms! Remember those days?

10. A Strength of the Youth booklet. Right next to the condoms.

11. A gift card for Lowe's to buy a new wheelbarrow. AWESOME!!! I've been looking for this!

12. A note Tara Chalmers found and gave me a few years ago, which I had written her when I was sixteen years old. At this time, I was working at our local market called Kent's. In this note I'm accepting her invitation to go to a school dance. On the outside it says OPEN IF YOU DARE and on the inside it says:

Dear Tara. I was so angry when I got home from Kents because I realized that the Top Ramen I wanted was actually SAMYANG RAMEN. What I was going to say was "Dear Tara I think you are (or maybe U.R.) TOP ramen." Now you understand my frustration. I can't make a joke about Samyang (racist.)

Anyway, I'm sorry I waited so long to answer, but you knew I was saying YES and so let's clog. I'm going on the father's and son's outing did you know that? Yee-ha! I hope you have a super Friday night. I hears J.S. is having a party (booze, babes) or maybe you could stay home and watch "Hair" again (w/ nude scenes this time.) I hope you enjoy the noodles. 

Love, Christopher (I'm so excited! I'm about to lose control and I think I like it!)

PS. Will you help me plan my church talk Sat. night?
PPS. Samyang Ramen is 7 for $1 at Kents

13. A mysterious piece of rope, about 36 inches. Deep blue. Maybe a drawstring?

14. Some Shakespeare gum. People are always giving me Shakespeare things. It's nice, but at the end of the day a lot of these trinkets wind up in my gross old dad drawer. I mean, it's just gum.

15. A lighter.

16. A TV clicker that we don't use, and probably don't have the TV for.

17. A box of vanilla tic tacs. (Hurry, kids! Three left!)

18. A funny picture Dave Tinney drew for me of a lady we work with being chased by a swarm of bees.

19. A root beer dum dum. Joke's on you, kids! That's the grossest flavor. Steal away!

20. A leatherworking merit badge.

21. A really small acorn.

22. Another dum dum, this one "mystery" flavor. Good luck, kids! "Mystery" means "no specific flavor."

23. Two paper clips, one Lego guy.

24. Two unidentifiable pills. Don't eat those, kids! They aren't candy, and they'll probably just make you grow hair. OR SO THE COMMERCIAL PROMISES. Also, lots of cough drops.

25. Nine chapsticks. I'm always complaining that I can't find any chapstick, so Lisa keeps buying me packs of chapsticks. And I put them in this drawer and then complain about how I don't have any chapstick. So Lisa buys me another pack. Wash, rinse, and repeat.

26. Money! Now this is wait you've been waiting for! I currently have $6.53 in change in there. I also have one dollar bill. But in addition, I also have 8.30 in British Pounds, and 3.70 in Euros! So it's a challenge, especially for Hugh and Margaret who might think that any coin is an American coin. It's a teaching moment. Because when you steal money from your dad you might feel sneaky, awesome and victorious, but how will you feel when you try to buy a Surf-n-Slurp with a Euro? They won't take it. I'VE TRIED!!!!!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

You Have No Idea.

 I've been thinking.  You may or may not know that my wife and I have adopted our daughter Daisy.  She doesn't look much like us, but she is ours through and through.  So, I was sitting in church looking at all the pews filled with all the families with kids that look just like they do and it occurred to me that they have no idea.  And most likely you are a parent of children that look just like you do and if you would have been sitting in my chapel that week I would have though that you had no idea either.

Having adopted I have many people come up to me and tell me amazing adoption stories and how they know that the children who were adopted we "meant to be" with the parents who adopted them.  And, you know what? They are right.  That is one thing I know absolute, even more then some of the real big questions, I know that my children were meant to be mine.  Because it's so easy to see, when the dust has settled after an adoption, both successful and unsuccessful, you can look back and see every bend in the road, that was out of your control, but that brought you here, to this moment, holding your child and breathing in his brand new breath. And he is your own. Well...not your own,  I suppose that an adoptive parent does share this child with more people then a biological parent, but in the end, after the settled dust,  he is yours.

And that was the idea I had, sitting in Fast and Testimony meeting.  Biological parents think that that because their bodies can create a body for a baby that means that child is theirs or them.  But that's just it, that's all the body can do, create a shell for a fresh little spirit to jump into.  And that spirit is not half the mom and half the dad.  It's all it's own. Whole. My wife and I can't make shells so we have had to partner with people who can in order to grow our little family, and that part is amazing and wondrous and I could spend pages telling you all the little road bends that wildly changed my life to get me in the right spot, at the right time, to be in the right room to hold my child.  But that's because it all happened here on earth.  The thought came to me, for every effort made from the heavens to bring my family together, every family has gone through as much, or more, to bring the right spirits to the right shells all before ever making it down to Earth.

I like to think of the bustling office building of Heaven (even my two year old can tell you babies come from office buildings not hospitals... at least in my family they do). There is, of course, a kindhearted but stern receptionist at the front desk, Bev,  who keeps the place whole place running ship shape. She would totally say things like, "Ship Shape" and "Spit Spot!".  She heads the long hallway with heavenly florescent lights illuminating doorways hiding loose neck tied men and messy bunned women hard at work putting the right spirit children with the right earthly parents.  After all we believe, or I guess, I believe that our spirits are created by Heavenly Parents who send us down to Earth because they are sick of the constant questions from their ever curious and precocious children.

I suppose that would make all children adopted, just like mine. Well... not just like mine.  I got to see all the magic and miracles and devastation that goes into building a family.  I've got to see the pain on a birth mothers face as she hands you her newest born. And the realization that a decision made 6 years before moved you just enough to the left on a map to let you be able to be this girls father.  Adoption is messy and hard and ultimately wonderful for half involved and devouring for other half. But so it was for every family once.  So perhaps, next time you are sitting in church and you look to your right and there are a mess of kids and then, at the end, your spouse,  just remember how little you had to do with the selection of spirits sitting between you.  Take a moment and close your eyes and whisper the same thing every adoptive parent has whispered since the beginning of time, "Thanks Bev."


 Also, I would love to introduce you to the newest member of our family.   After, I promise, many many bends in a miraculous road, last Tuesday, and forever, we brought home Milo Patrick Livingston.  

And he's amazing!


*He's the one on the left*

Monday, May 21, 2012

Corporate Challenge

If you’re wondering where I’ve been hiding the last several weeks, look no further than the our local Corporate Challenge! What’s this? You say you’ve never heard of this alleged social and physical cocktail of the business world? Well, pull up a pommel horse whilst I tempt your ears with tales of immense competition, tremendous physical feats, and pudgy middle-aged dudes who show up for the Speed Walk race in flip flops and black dress socks.

See kids, each year, for the past 27 years, the folks of the City of Las Vegas have slapped together this thing called Corporate Challenge, wherein local businesses from throughout the valley can fire one of their employees, use his annual salary to pay the inflated entry fee, make some un-wearable tee-shirts and have the chance to come together in amateur athletic events and make every attempt to not look as pitiful as the competition.

According to their website, Corporate Challenge promotes, enables, and supports teamwork, company pride, and corporate wellness. But more importantly, it gives you the opportunity to see what your boss looks like in shorts. That’s great ammo for taking him down a peg. The next time you’re up for your annual review and he says he’s not sure about your job performance, you just pipe up, “Well I’m not sure about YOUR performance on the soccer field, Mr. Falls-Every-Time-He-Kicks! By the way, were those YOUR legs, or were you riding on top of a chicken?”

Not sure you want to play soccer? Not a problem. Turns out Vegas is not only a morally free-thinking city, but is quite liberal with their definition of “sports” as well. Corporate Challenge offers 33 different events, including archery, bocce, golf, poker, tennis, swimming, volleyball, buffet eating, binge drinking and pole dancing.

Myself? The only sport I can play with any confidence where I will not embarrass myself is racquetball. And the pole dancing, but they don’t allow men to compete. Discriminating fatheads. However, the night racquetball was on the docket, I had a previous commitment. No racquetball for me. I was devastated. Rumor is I could have taken the whole thing. That rumor…was started by me.

Feeling that I’d let my company down, I signed up to participate in events that were not necessarily my forte, but that needed somebody with both a pulse, and an ability to talk trash to the competition. I assumed that even though I didn’t run, I could still compete, figuring that my regular regiment of racquetball playing must keep me in decent aerobic shape; plus, in the spirit of humility, I will tell you that I have strong legs and a bum that could crack walnuts.

My first event: The 5K. Despite having two parents who have been runners their whole lives, I did not receive that insanity gene. I loathe running. Unless a bear is chasing me, or Billy Ray Cyrus is about to take the stage, I’m just not going to turn and start running. No iPod mix or crowd cheering is going to motivate me either. My mom used to explain why she loved it. “It’s great exercise.” “It suppresses your appetite and you lose weight.” “It’s when I have time to myself and I can say my prayers.” Finally something we agreed on. Because when I run, I’m praying too. But mine usually go something like, “Please, for the love of heaven, don’t let me die out here! (pant, pant) Where am I? Please stop my heart from trying to shoot out of my chest like an alien. (pant, pant) Please…don’t let anybody I know drive by and see me face-down, drinking out of the gutter and grateful to do so.”

Yet, surprisingly, in the 5K, I came in fifth in my age bracket (which must have been 35 to 82).

Two days later was Track & Field. I have never run track, but I agreed to, because they needed somebody to run the 400m. My only stipulation was that I would not run hurdles. Those scare me. There must be 1001 ways to maim yourself on a hurdle, and most of them involve your groin. So, thanks, but I’ll just go on enjoying my voice at the octave God intended for it to be.

The competition started at 6 p.m., but with so many events, coupled with poor organization by the Corporate Challenge folks, I didn’t run until 9:30 p.m. And I hadn’t eaten since my delicious burrito at lunch. I tried to do some prep work beforehand and asked around about this enigma of the track and field events, The 400. Some people told me it was a sprint. Then others said it wasn’t. Then others asked why in the world I was running the 400, and they kind of wringed their hands together and cackled at my not-knowing anything about it. This made me nervous. Then somebody told me the 400 was an entire lap around the track! Then everybody else confirmed that! Then I wet my pants! It didn’t help that my lovely wife and our seven adorable children were all in the stands, watching and assuming that I would do wonderfully.

The air felt heavy, like it had eaten a big meal. I felt a knot in my stomach. I wasn’t sure what to expect, how to pace myself, and when to start praying. Then I got my smarts on and decided I would just pace myself based on the guy directly in front of me.

Then, fate pooped on my head. I took my place on the track, and found that we were starting in a staggered position. Fanned out. I was on the outer most lane, meaning that I started most forward. Meaning that there was nobody in front of me against whom to pace myself. Who could have seen that coming?

The gentleman shot the firing gun, and I took off. I mean I ran like a bear was chasing me and Billy Ray was saddled on his back singing “Don’t Break My Heart.” I didn’t look behind me. I didn’t look to the side. I didn’t look up. Silence fell around me, and all I could hear were my lungs. And man, were they ticked! They were yelling all kinds of profanity at me, including some Swahili words I didn't recognize. I kept sprinting, figuring if I slowed at all, I was never going to pick back up. Now my legs were pitching a fit. They were threatening to go on strike. And they knew the lungs would join them immediately. I continued to sprint. Now my stomach was about to show who was boss. “Don’t make me search for that burrito,” it said, “I’ll find it, and I’ll embarrass you right here at the 300 mark. Don’t think I won’t. I wasn’t particularly happy to have it here in the first place.” I kept sprinting. Only now, it didn’t feel like sprinting. It felt like that bear was going to catch me. My whole body was shutting down. Then, I was pretty confident I could taste blood in my mouth. But what scared me worse was that I was pretty sure it was blood coming from my bleeding eyeballs. Then, right at the end, I saw the guy in the lane next to me pass me. And then the guy next to him. And then, permanently disfigured by the 400, I crossed the finish line. Third Place. Some coworkers were there to congratulate and cheer, but it was hard to see them. Because I was rapidly losing my vision. Walking like an inebriate, drunk on his own blood, I strolled over to my family, not in a hurry to get there and have one of my children demand to be carried to the van.

This concludes the running portion of my Corporate Challenge sentencing.

Saturday was Horseshoes. I’ve never played. Not one. Single. Game. I didn’t think it was a big deal, because … who plays professional horseshoes? There are no endorsements, no ESPN coverage, and no photo on the front of a Wheaties’ box. On the other hand, there’s no running! But I’ll tell you what you might not expect. Getting hit with a horseshoe. Oh, the casualties! I saw an older gentleman get hit in the knee, a younger man catch one in the shin, and several horseshoes actually hit and shatter on the concrete. This was not your grandma’s horseshoe tournament! Actually, it most likely was. And my partner and I walked away with the Bronze for the Men’s Team, thank you very freakin’ much.

Finally, we have our Sand Volleyball tournament this Saturday. Remember the volleyball scene in Top Gun? We look nothing like that. For one thing, none of us are Scientologists. For another, Kenny Loggins has not agreed to provide us with a theme song. Billy Ray probably would, but we ain’t askin'.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Writers We Love: Kacy Faulconer

I was a fan of Kacy's writing before I ever met her in real life. It was back in the early days of blogging when EVERYONE had a blog (c'mon, you know you did.) and somehow I followed a link to Kacy's blog, Every Day I Write the Book. I was immediately hooked. She was funny and insightful and creative, all the things you look for in a writer. She says things about life and parenting that you intrinsically agree with, but have never been able to articulate yourself. Its amazing.

Little did I know at the time that Kacy was a good friend of one of my best friends (Topher's wife Lisa) so when my wife and I moved back to Utah last year we became fast friends with Kacy and her husband, Christian. Kacy recently embarked on a new journey, a daily blog about parenting from at I sat down with Kacy over lunch (I wish - it was via email) and asked her about being a parent, being a writer and being awesome.

Me: Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions, Kacy!
Kacy: These are fun questions. I wish people cared about me more so my answers were actually relevant to your readers--but since when do I care if anything I say is relevant!

Me: What would you be doing right now if you weren't answering these questions?
Kacy: If I weren't answering these questions right now I'd probably be working on my lats or my quads. (If you see me anytime soon and I'm less than tone, it would be rude to say something because it's your fault for asking me these questions during lat-quad time.) Or I might be watching TV while I answer these questions.

Me: How would you describe yourself as a writer/ Blogger
Kacy: I write about stuff that happens to me and things I like or hate. It might not seem like much, but it has kept me busy for the last 8 years. 

Me:You recently started writing a daily post at What has that been like? And how do you come up with something entertaining to write about every day?
Kacy: is a parenting website with a lot of information and blogs specific to different phases of parenting. I write for the Kid Scoop blog. I was nervous about writing every day, but once I started thinking about it and jotting snippets down I found that more ideas started coming to me. I've been doing this for two whole weeks so my process is very well-proven. The Babble editors don't assign topics, but they occasionally email newsy, parenting stuff out to the writers to see if we want to use it. 

Me: Much liket the Mormon pioneers who crossed the plains and had their babies eaten by wolves, you were an early blogging pioneer with Every Day I Write the Book. What inspired you to start blogging in the days before sponsorships and blog conferences?
Kacy: I started my blog in 2004--I am the grandmother of blogging. Initially I started it to say funny things to my sisters. That's still one of the main reasons for it. 

Me: You taught college writing for a while. Do you have any writing pet peeves? What writers do you admire? 
Kacy: In terms of blogging, I hate it when people talk about how they haven't blogged for a long time and how they feel bad about it. I think people (myself included) use the words amazing and awesome too much. (Editor's note: Guilty.) I think it's boring when people use cliches to talk about how much they love their children. I'm. sick. of. this. thing. with. the. periods.
When I tell stories on the blog, I try to be like David Sedaris because he doesn't seem to care if an anecdote makes him look bad. I'm reading EB White's letters right now and I love his style. I admire his writing and thing the tone of his essays and non-fiction writing is really applicable to blogging. Also, when he was reading Charlotte's Web for a book on tape it took him several takes to get through Charlotte's death without crying. What a guy. 

Me: You blog a lot about parenting. What is the best parenting advice someone has ever given you? The worst?
Kacy: My friend (who has wonderful adult children now) told me to make as many deposits in my kids as I possibly could because when they get older you ask more of them and sometimes have to be strict and make a lot of "withdrawals." I thought that was a great way to think about it. The worst? Oh, I don't know--anything that is crazy, elaborate, over-thought and overwrought--like making bento boxes for them every day. 

Me: You are a self-admitted nerd. Would you rather spend the afternoon with Harry, Ron and Hermione, The Scooby Gang from BTVS or The Avengers?
Kacy: Depends. Am I a muggle? Do I have super powers? Am I just my normal self or do I take on the characteristics of the group I'm hanging with? Am I in trouble? Is there a mystery to solve? Am I undead? I would only want to hang out with Harry, Ron and Hermione if I were (somehow) an integral part of their story--if I were Hermione, for example. I certainly don't want to be the 4th wheel they've never met before! It's really difficult to answer this question without more information. Short answer: Tony Stark and Bruce Banner, and Pepper Potts is NOT invited.  

Thanks, Kacy! If you don't already check out Kacy's blogs at Every Day I Write the Book and

Some of my favorite posts of Kacys:
Say Yes to Giving Up
10 Things I Hate About (Raising) You
Your Mom's Pinterest Board
The Mechanics of Becoming Lame
My Peeps
Zombies, So Vexing

click this link if you would like to hear me sing like eddie vedder


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Dear Paper, I hate you.

I hate paper. I said it. I'm a bit of a gadget-nerd and I really want everything in my life to done electronically. Paper is just cluttery and gets in the way and you have to deal with it and throw it away or file it and then remember where it was filed and I'm tired of it. I would like paper removed from the following areas:

  1. Paper's sent home from school. FOR THE LOVE, MAKE IT STOP! Wouldn't it be easier to make a class Facebook page, or google group or a web page? Then all of information is there to access at any time. I don't have to have a big stack of papers sitting in my kitchen to rifle through  to remember which day is zoo day, when the book project is due and what I need to bring to the book fair. These could all be on a google calendar, y'all!!
  2. Phone books delivered to my house. Who delivers these? Who pays for these and how do they make money? Does anyone actually bring these into their house and use them? Doesn't everyone just carry them right from the front porch to the trash? If I need the phone number of a plumber, I am not going to pull out a 1200 page book and flip through it. It's called Google. 
  3. Receipts. I hate them. I throw them away. I love stores that either store my receipt electronically (thanks, Target!) or email them to me (thanks, Apple!) 
  4. Checks. Is there anything worse than being in line at checkout and seeing the person in front of you flip open the old checkbook and click out their pen? It seems so weird and antiquated. I hand you some paper IOU and you give me goods and services for it?
  5. Any and all organizations that want me to fax something to them. Is it 1986? You mean instead of just emailing you a PDF I need to print something out, sign it, scan it and then fax it back to you? So that you can take the fax, scan it and then file it away? It makes no sense. 
I'm sorry if I sound angry. Maybe as a writer I should have some nostalgic attachment to paper and books, but I don't. I am much more attached to convenience and efficiency and sleek pretty gadgets.

Where do you stand? Are you in love with your filing cabinet? Or do you want it all in the cloud?

Monday, May 14, 2012

Other Part Time Stuff

Recently on this Part Time Author blog you saw some clips of Chris and Lisa Clark doing some part time acting – Chris doing both voice over work as well as excelling at his craft as he tried to sell us on food storage, and Lisa starring in a Deseret Book commercial and her own web series, Pretty Darn Funny!

So I thought I would let you know what my wife, Katie, and I have been doing, part time.

As of late, we appeared on a new technology program on The Mormon Channel, called Tech Savvy. There are two episodes currently available for viewing (it’s that new) and we are in the second one. It’s called Parenting in the Tech Age, and we appear with none other than the famous parenting duo of Richard and Linda Eyre.

Don’t believe me? Here is a photo!

I like to think that this photo captures the moment when the baton was passed from last generation’s New York Time’s Bestselling Authors (the Eyres) to this generation’s New York Times Bestselling Authors, the Craigs. I’d like to think that; but unless there’s a demand for books called Parenting by the Seat of Your Pants or Waiting for Someone to Call Your Bluff, then I’m not sure that we’re who you’re looking for.

Here’s a clip from it, which is actually now being used as a Mormon Message video! Or you can also watch the entire episode HERE

Also, Lisa Clark’s Pretty Darn Funny web series? Katie is in it. If you've watched it, then you’ve noticed a certain special lady auditioning to get in to the comedy troupe…by playing the recorder with her nose! Yep, that’s my wife. And yep, she is playing “Time to Say Goodbye” on the recorder. With her nose. And yep, she taught it to herself that very day, when I suggested that the song she had previously prepared, “We Thank Thee, O God, For a Prophet” might be less appropriate.

So, that’s been us, part time. 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Tube Storage

When you Google Image Search Tube Storage, this is what comes up. Perhaps  if I wrote a blog about how to store tubes, some of you would find it more interesting?
My friend Lisa coined the phrase Tube Storage a few years ago. Tube Storage is that thing you do where you DVR a show and don't watch it during the regular season. You save it to watch during the long, bright, hot days of the summer when the only things on TV are reruns of The Real Housewives of Atlanta and Big Brother 17. It's brilliant! Sure, some of you may spend your time in the summer "being outside" or doing things like "hikes" but I'm going to side with Patrick on this one. Hikes make me think of Doc Martens filled with blood. 

It's during this time of year that I start feeling the panic of TV seasons ending. Weren't you a little sad on Tuesday when you watched the last episode of New Girl? This week we lose Parks and Recreation. Next week, no more Glee (However, that does mean The Glee Project starts, which is better than Glee.) If you don't have your tube storage ready, the DVR starts to look like a cold and empty place.

Of course, in the age of the internet things like Netflix have almost replaced the need for Tube Storage. And while I think using Netflix to supplement your Tube Storage is a good idea (we've got The Vampire Diaries queued up.) I feel better knowing have have some stuff recorded and local. I mean, what if there was an internet outage and you wanted to watch TV? WHAT WOULD YOU DO THEN?!?!?!

So, what about you. Do you have anything stored up? Do you plan on spending the summer catching up on movies you missed? Or do you just really love The Real Housewives and American Ninja Warrior so you are not worried. Weigh in.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

hear ye! hear me

A few weeks ago I got all braggy on you and made you think that I'm a big star because I'm in a bunch of commercials. Well, nothing is further from the truth! I don't get to be in very many commercials, and when I do they have chickens in them. But I do get a lot of voice over work, and I think you might be surprised by that fact and fascinated to learn more! In fact, for every dollar I make doing something on camera, I make ten yelling about charter schools and Durango 4X4's into a microphone. But it's vulgar to talk about money.

When I tell people that I do a lot of voice over work, generally people seemed surprised. The assumption, of course, is that to get hired you need to sound like the action movie trailer guy. I've never had a gravelly voice and I'm not willing to start smoking just to get one. I would only start smoking to look cool, and that's it. But you might be interested in knowing that a lot of clients are looking for people who sound like people, and not the devil. So I get hired a lot! It's exciting. I remember a "friend' in college telling me that I would probably have a solid career in voice over because many people are looking to hire "flat, average voices." Boy, was he right! That guy was a regular soothsayer! And also a giant tool.

A second misconception has nothing to do with the way I sound, but how I look. A lot of video editors spend hours listening to my voice as they piece together tv and radio spots. When they finally meet me, they invariably tell me that I look nothing like they pictured. They never say "you're way more handsome!" But they don't tell me I'm way uglier either, so you know me! I assume the latter. I don't think my voice is all sexy or anything, and I don't think anyone is picturing Ryan Gosling when I talk, but it's possible that they do. Because people always seem a tad disappointed, as if they expected floppy hair or a fancy goatee.

Here is an example of some of the work I've done. In this spot I'm helping people become graphic designers:

So I'm not super handsome, and so I'm not super sporty. Lose the labels! I have a nice voice.

In this next spot, I show that I'm in favor of education for everyone. Even teens:

But let's move this party out of the classroom and onto the street!

These are just samples of the magical web I weave! I'm not saying I'm more important than anyone else, I'm just saying that a lot of people buy cars and take classes at the simple command of my voice. It's almost spooky the power I (assume) I (might) have. And it all takes place in a little padded both, or behind a simple drapery! Yes, just like the Wizard of Oz! L. Frank Baum must have seen our day.

Those Things There

Warning: The following contains explicit naming that other people use but I myself am above.

So, you may have noticed that all of us here at Part Time Authors are guys; we thought it would be nice to finally give the world a perspective on life as a white, married man.  I'm glad you like it, and we thought you would.  But there are holes in our vast blanket of wisdom and so there are times when we expect we can come to you, ask you questions, and receive a myriad of options from you so that we can chose the one that best suits our needs. This is one of those times.

Here's the thing: my wife and I are in the first months of raising a two-year-old.  She was great as an infant--a little slow in walking, but all in all just a joy to be around.  My wife and I talked extensively about how to raise our daughter so she would grow to become an incredibly talented, well-read, thoughtful, kind, and resourceful contributor to the world that she would inevitably preside over one day. However, in all the discussions of parenting styles and disciplinary options and reward systems we neglected to cover one basic question:

What are we gonna call those

By "those," I, of course, mean our "privates."

Perhaps we thought the day would never come that we would have to speak of them out loud in English, however, last week while sitting in the tub our daughter was playing with a large blue plastic spoon that she got for her birthday with a baking kit and she asked my wife if she could, and I absolutely quote, "Put it in her poops?"  It was a horrifying question as it stood, but a little further prodding from Mom revealed that "Poops" was the word she had named one...or both...of her lady bits.  Gracious! Can you imagine if we let this pass?!  She would be thirty-something walking around New York City in her Manolo Blahniks with her three stylish friends and she'd pipe up, "Sorry about lunch, ladies, I got to head to the Gyno and get a Pap for my Poops." I mean honestly!  How she made such a childish and, frankly, disgusting mistake is beyond me.   

This did, eventually, lead us to the discussion we should have had years before a child ever came into the picture and it turns out, we have no idea what to call them?!!

 There are a few schools of thought on the subject:

The Clinical:  Just call them what a doctor would.  This seems grown-up and reasonable, except that I really don't like my darling baby saying "Bird Poop" when that is exactly what she is looking at.  It's way too grown-up and she is always telling me things she sees and the last thing I want is her to point out that dog's penis in a parking lot, or comment on that cat's vagina as we are on a walk.  I just don't like it.  There are lots of times in life when you have to call things what they are, and I would like to push those times as far back as possible.  Also, Lisa Clark, don't you chime in about how your kids always called them by the clinical name, because I happen to know your girls called it a "Bagina" is not's cute.

The Cute:  There are lots of options for "cute" names for the pink parts.  'The Pee Pee', 'The Wee Wee',  "The Tah Tah's" "Peeny" "Weeny" "Winky" "Wi-Wi" "Tu-Tu" so on and so on and so on...the problem I see is the easability of rhyming on the school yard.  It's true, not a lot rhymes with Penis.  Also, even if you are doing research on nicknames for a penis, don't google, "Nicknames for a Penis."

The Vulgar:  My cousin was changing her 3-year-old son's diaper and he looked up at all of us and said, "Mom, don't take my diaper off, they will all see my pecker."  I have found a lot of people are using slang to describe these bits of the body. I guess we are all worried the subject will come up in line at Costco and a boy calling it his "Chode" is just as embarrassing as the word penis.  Serious, some families are calling it a "Chode."

The Dr. Seuss:  Perhaps we could call it a "Bampooziler" or a "Snitter" or your "Heffalumps."  After all, there is that song, "My lumps, my lumps, my lumps, my lovey Heffalumps."     

The Off-the-Wall:  I told my wife that we should just pick some words that have no association with anything and call them that.  "What's that Honey?  Your Ambassador hurts?"  or "Okay sweety, the doctor just needs to check out your Fandango and your kumquat and then you get a sucker." The trouble there is when she's sixteen and her sixteen year old date wants to order movie tickets!

When I was little we called it a "Wetter." It was the device for wetting the bed or your pants so we just called it a "Wetter."  My youngest brother was once standing at the toilet, he was small and so he rested his "Wetter" on the edge of the toilet, and some how the lid slammed shut.  I still can hear his 4 year old cries, "Mom! The toilet hurt my WEDDER!"

We must have just called a bum a bum. We called poop "Yucks," and I know we didn't call it a "Yucker," but were frequently asked if we had to go "Wets or Yucks?"

So, there you have it.  What are we to do?  It turns out, after a little highly filtered search, that this is actually sort of a big deal and people really do have a lot to say about it.  I hope you do. Otherwise my daughter will forever get her poops mixed up with her vagina...and I don't relish her reminding me every time we go on a walk to get the plastic bags to pick up the dog's vaginas.  

Monday, May 7, 2012

That's What I'm Talkin' 'Bout, Willis.

Folks, I don’t know if you’ve spent much time on this newfangled Internet thingee, but I’m here to tell you, it is awesome! And my prediction – it’s no fad. If I were a betting man, I would wager that this World Wide Web-a-ma-thing is going to stick around. You can quote me on that!

Anyhoot, if the Internet is a familiar place to you, then chances are you have occasionally received an email or seen a Facebook post or some such social communication where somebody of a certain age (read: over 30 years old) has written or most likely forwarded or re-posted some righteous indignation about how the world was a better place in the 80s, because we had Carebears and some old lady playing the role of Wendy’s mom would say, “Where’s the beef?!”

We also generally get a proclamation of how we rode in the backs of open-bed pick-up trucks and played out in the street until dark – and we managed to stay alive! So take THAT you wicked world of the 2000s! And nostalgia kicks in, and we defend this simpler, gentler upbringing of ours with fondness and reflection.

And we think to ourselves, “It’s true! I would no sooner let my children play at the park after dark as send them to use a bathroom in a half-way house!”

Whenever my mind starts making comparisons between these two eras, I think of a very specific incident from my childhood…

Me in 1978.

When I was 8 years old, my mom signed me up for a guitar class. It was held on Wednesday evenings in an upstairs room at our local YMCA. It was southern California, 1979.

The YMCA was far enough from our house that I wouldn’t have walked there on my own, but close enough that my mom would drop me off, head home, and come back to pick me up after an hour.

A lifetime later, and I can still remember sitting in a circle with about 10 other people; all of them older than me by a minimum of 18 years. There was a bumper crop of flared jeans, blouses with lace, massive Lindsay Buckingham hair, and a lot of people calling me “little man.”

“You can really play, little man!”
“Stick with it, little man!”’
“It’s just another brick in the wall, ain’t it, little man?”

There were posters on the walls of Fleetwood Mac, Pink Floyd, and…I think it may have been James Taylor. They all made me a little uncomfortable; and to this day, I am still oddly intrigued by Stevie Nicks. 

The lady teaching the class reminded me of one of the older sisters from the cast of “Eight Is Enough.” This comforted me.

And it smelled like a YMCA, circa 1979.

It was a lot like that scene out of the movie My Girl; where the 11 year old protagonist has a weird crush on her English teacher, Mr. Bixler, so she takes a writing course from him over the summer. She is the only non-college age person in the class, and you can tell she’s in way over her head when some “peace-love-dope” kind of a girl reads an inappropriate poem that she’s written about her and her boyfriend. That’s kind of what I felt like sitting in this class. It was not an age-appropriate environment, but nobody cared.

Anyway, I came home the first night and played a song for my parents. I don’t remember what it was, but I remember them being really encouraging. Not to brag, you guys, but I pretty much nailed it.

I think I went back maybe two more times. I don’t know if that was the predetermined length of the class, or if my parents got nervous about my “new friends,” or if they thought I smelled like a “controlled substance” every time I came back… but for whatever reason  – that was my short-lived brush with hippie folk-rock.  And nope, I’m pretty sure I would not send my kids to such a place in today's world.

Howzabout you? What did you do as a child that you would never let your children do in 2012?

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