New Year

I need a new calendar. And by that I mean a whole new way of observing the earth’s 365.256363-day revolution around the sun. I understand that the ancient Romans originated the idea of beginning each new year shortly after the winter solstice, so I’m blaming them for the frustration I invariably feel in January. Of course, it might also have something to do with living in Wisconsin.

I learned long ago not to make specific New Year’s resolutions. Still there’s a part of me that can’t help envisioning the beginning of a new year as an opportunity to take on new challenges and improve my life. Try as I might, I can’t get myself to think of January 1 as just another ordinary day. Continue reading

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I No Longer Stink: A Dog Story

I’m sleeping downstairs on the saggy couch with the dog again.  I wake up each morning with a wrenching pain in my back. But I’m all right with it. At least I no longer stink.

For a while it appeared that I would be returning to my comfortable queen-sized bed, spooning with my wife on a mattress that contours to my body and enables me to wake each morning feeling fresh and vigorous. But that would have meant putting down the dog and we just could not bring ourselves to do it.  Continue reading

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Reflections from a Weary Traveler

I’m staying home for a while.  I just did the math and calculated that we put well over 5000 miles on the family car this summer.  Yet despite meandering to places as distinctly different as Stowe, Vermont

   and Jackson, Mississippi I continue to be amazed at how homogeneous the United States has become. We encountered strip malls and Burger Kings, ESPN and Coca-Cola, convenience stores and excessively frosty air conditioning everywhere we turned.

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Indulge Me, My Children

Every so often my children ask, “What was life like in the old days, Dad?” They’re talking about that time in history when I was alive but they did not yet exist. As I am now advanced in years, the early 1990s are usually as far back as I can remember. It was a dark, dark time when we struggled through life without the Internet, iPods and stuffed crust pizza.

Maybe I’m getting nostalgic in my old age but despite the inconvenience of having to walk across the room to answer the phone, I cherish those pre-technological years with an ever-increasing fondness. When I tell my children that, in certain ways, life was better in those days, they stare at me incredulously. Continue reading

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On Father’s Day

 

My father was part of that generation of men who expressed their affection toward their loved ones not through words but chiefly through practical acts of provision. And so his first response upon learning that he had just become a grandfather should not have surprised me.

I, being of a different generation, did not once leave my wife alone during the grueling 16 hours of labor that led to the birth of our first child. When my son finally arrived safely into the world, I wasted no time phoning my parents, who lived 1000 miles away, to inform them of the thrilling news.

“You’re grandparents,” I enthused. “It’s a boy.”

I waited, as on the other end of the line, my parents digested this long anticipated announcement.

And then my father said, “What’s his social security number?” Continue reading

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Half as Smart, Twice as Happy

For the fourth time in a week my teenage son explains to me the steps for installing new software on my computer. “Why can’t you remember this stuff, Dad?” he asks. He appears genuinely amazed that an old man with a master’s degree cannot comprehend something any modern day first grader would grasp in an instant.

I inform my son that my brain is full. Having recently reached the age of 50, I can no longer process basic information. “See, if I were a computer,” I explain, “it would be like all my metabytes are being used. I’ve run out of space.” This, he can understand.

“Well,” he says, “you just have to delete some of the information you no longer need to make room for this new stuff. By the way, they’re called megabytes.”

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In Praise of Proper Expletives

 

Some people think that pastors, priests and other supposedly holy types never curse. Most of the ones I know do. And those who don’t would probably benefit from an occasional tirade of expletives. A 2009 study reveals that in moments of pain, such as banging your shin against a table, a cathartic outburst of curse words increases your endurance and makes the moment more bearable.

However, the same study states that excessive swearing over time renders curse words less effective in those painful moments when we most need them. To loosely paraphrase the writer of Ecclesiastes, who once claimed “to everything there is a season,” there is a time to swear and a time to refrain from swearing.  Continue reading

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How Does It Feel?

I began writing my novel Ash Wednesday back in 2004. At the time I had no idea I was writing a novel. Nor did I realize that the short story I had tentatively titled “Body of Christ” would consume most of my creative and psychic energy for the next 7 years. It’s been a long road to publication. Friends who know how hard I have worked ask me, “How do you feel now that you have finally achieved your goal?”

The first answers that come to my mind are “vulnerable,” and “a bit sad.”

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To Be A Writer

Whether or not you want to hear it, some people will tell you all about the exact moment they fell in love or found Jesus. I have a moment like that. It’s the one that comes to mind whenever someone asks me how I became a writer. So bear with me. I need to tell this story.

For about as long as I can remember I’ve been writing about something. My earliest school-time memories involve sitting at my desk during third grade composition time, oblivious to my surroundings, chronicling the adventures of various imaginary creatures that hid in the corners of my house. I relished those moments and even more so, the ones when my teacher returned my work with a bright red A++ on top.

Harold get an A ++

 

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