If you waxed this, you’d get less smurf on your hands.

The last time I wrote about the van I drove for two years in high school, mockingly dubbed “The Smurfmobile” by friends, I noticed that I only recalled fond memories. This amuses me because when I was driving it, I wasn’t fond of it at all. Not ever. Not for even one moment.

When I was sixteen, I didn’t think fondly of “my” van because it wasn’t even my van; it was my Grandma’s van that she had bought for her drapery business and taken all of the benches out of except the one in the back. It smelled like an old van. It LOOKED like an old van. And to a sixteen-year-old kid, it was about as cool as Dan Quayle. I was perpetually “borrowing” it, even though my grandma had no use for it and had her own little Subaru that she drove regularly, it never EVER was “mine” by any stretch of the imagination.

Yet, I had no reason to despise it. It never broke down, it never failed me, it never caused any issue that I can ever remember. It just trucked along like the old, true-blue trooper that it was.

Memories of a van, a bonfire by a lake, and the music of 1992…

The Anticipation of Misery

There is no word in the English language that describes that moment when we know something we will not like is about to happen but we also have to make a brave face and happily march into the hail of emotional bullets on the other side of the trench we’ve dug ourselves into. It’s the perfect mix of dread and consignment and acting. No matter how much I might hate for her to leave, no daughter deserves a distressful send off as she prepares to make the five-hour trip across the country by herself.

Cute Pictures and Bad Poetry…

Saying something now…

…because I won’t feel like saying anything later.

For once, I’m trying to be realistic about what comes next. In under 24 hours (more like 17) Sarah will walk back down a jetway and board a flight back to her mother. I always try to convince myself that “I’ll be fine” and it won’t really affect me, the practical part of me knows that tomorrow I won’t feel like blogging. At all.

So, I’ve decided to ask my blog-friends for help. When you read this tomorrow (as I assume most of you will), would you please remind me to write more. Write something. Write anything. I always feel better when I do…and I’m gonna need all the kicks in the pants I can get to push me across the chasm between writing nothing and writing something.

I’ve got the genesis of a music-based post largely inspired by finding that picture of my 1974 Van, as well as the next few “What I’m Looking For” lines in various states of done (and by done I mean partial drafts and/or fragments) so I should be able to wrap myself around something.

Or I can just go off on my opinion about substituting “Young Earth Creationism” for science in school curriculum. I’ve got a good sized blog post about that built up after a week with Sarah and “I don’t need to learn that because GodDidIt” being a good enough excuse for a nine-year-old lacking a fundamental understanding of things like heliocentrism, what stars are, the minimal basics of biology, or the fact that atomic particles aren’t imaginary and just made up by scientists who refuse to believe in GodDidIt.

Anyway, I could (and just might) go off on that for quite the spiel but now isn’t the time.

Now is the time to ask for help. Tomorrow will suck, and I need people to remind me to do the things that help me get past the suck that I never remember to do when things suck.

So…please…start reminding me tomorrow. I will deeply appreciate it.

Pardon the Interruption, We are Experiencing Technical Difficulties

Last week I noticed something when I posted, my stats were all screwed up. Since I have like NO stats, that was both difficult to quantify and hardly important.

Then I noticed that comments were being erratic.

Then I installed the JetPack plugin (which I LOVE).

Then my stats are back, but the comments thing officially became a crisis (in the very VERY unimportant sense of the word crisis).

Apparently JetPack and Akismet have “a thing” and that thing makes prior approvals go boom. Which means if you tried to comment in the last few days, unless I happened to see your comment in a very narrow time period (of less than 15 minutes) your comment was tossed out of the spam filter and lost forever.

I know that Allison and Rachel had comments get trapped, and one of Rachel’s even wound up lost to the digital aether. What I don’t know is if anyone else commented. If you did, it’s gone. And I’m REALLY sorry, because comments are what I like best about my blog. I promise they didn’t get destroyed on purpose.

So, if you try to comment now, I believe that things are once again on track. If you have any issues, please let me know. I can always be reached at my “mybadpants” gmail address.

The other neat thing is that my RSS feed went, as they say, “all to hell.” If you read through a feed reader, then the last post, and possibly last two posts didn’t show up. While that’s not a huge deal, I just thought some of you might like to know.

Anyway, hopefully we’re back to normal operating procedures around here.

What I’m Looking For – Line 13

Felt the healing fingertips

For almost nineteen years I have been a liar. When asked about this, I have never told the truth about these events. Not even once. For about two months after it began, I thought about this all the time. After September 28, 1992, I have not let it cross my mind more than a dozen times.


Teenage boys spend a lot of time thinking about “First _;” “First Kiss,” “First Base,” “First Time,” …and we anticipate them in that order. I was no exception, but the summer before my Junior year of High School I still felt like I was a lifetime away from any of those. I’d had a couple of girlfriends in the “chaste hand-holding and going-steady when there’s nowhere to go” sense of the word, but nothing serious enough to even warrant a reasonable shot at that mythical moment of lip-locking that some of my friends talked endlessly about.

I constantly felt behind, which I know now is a pretty normal state of mind for a teenager. Personally, I had almost no first hand knowledge about “serious” boy-girl relationships; and all my second-hand knowledge was either bragging or hearsay, neither of which were particularly reliable even when coming “from the source.” Compounding that, in a private/parochial/conservative Boarding High School in the early 90s, no one who knew better was actually telling us “the truth.” It was like there was a big secret out there that we were all searching for, and none of us were smart enough to actually compare notes. How much we REALLY knew was a closely guarded personal secret, and discussing it put you at risk for exposing what you didn’t know, and the social tragedy that would ensue. Falling to the status of complete-social-outcast always felt like it was just one mistake away. No one makes a mistake if no one talks about it…so silence was the rule of the herd.

The first time I’ve ever talked about my first time

Slight Navigation Fixes


See, not dead! (and I know some of you suspected different.)

Ok, so this isn’t a post per se, just a quick note. I’ve watched several people visit this blog recently from my GoodReads profile and They tend to start with my navigation section on the left, hitting my Author’s Note, the Preface and Prolog, and then they start in on some recent posts. They usually find one of the last “What I’m Looking For” posts and then peter out. Mostly I blame the ridiculous length of my average posts, but I also realized (ok, someone emailed me and told me) that navigating within the larger sections is pretty much impossible.

So, I’ve added a top page for the “What I’m Looking For” series and stuck it in the Navigation Pane, and also put some line by line links in the posts. I’ll try to keep up with that as I add more.

Which brings us to the next point, i.e. adding more.

I’ll be honest, I’m struggling with this right now. Not because I don’t know what to say, or I have a hard time writing the next few lines…it’s because I don’t like what the next few things say about me. So far the sequence has largely followed events from my youth and teen years, and while I’ve really learned something from writing some of them, for the most part they don’t make a statement about who I am now. Mistakes or victories that happen when you’re a teenager (or younger) are meaningful, but they’re not necessarily indicative of who a person is as an adult.

I just finished reading an autobiography, and I was reminded of a quote a college professor once passed on: “Autobiography is when we tell the story of our life the way we want to remember it. Biography is when someone tells it like it really was.”

So far I’ve tried to be relatively true to my personal history, even when I don’t look particularly “cool” or “suave” or “with it.” Not being “with it” isn’t something that is particularly bad, or even particularly unusual; especially for teenagers and young adults. But what comes next is largely bad. And ugly. And I don’t get to hide behind the “I was just an awkward teen” defense anymore.

I once started to draft a post about all of this titled “The Lesser Angles of My Nature” that never got past paragraph one because I’m terribly disappointed in myself when I read back through it. But, I’ve started to recount my past, and what makes me “me,” and that means being true to the history, even when it’s not the Autobiography I wish I could write.

Bare with me, the next few lines are coming. Perhaps slowly, and with stops and starts, but they are coming.

[Word Count: 466]

Sometimes it’s not JUST an excuse

Ok, I know I’ve missed a few weeks of posting. I know I say “work issues” a lot as an excuse. I know a lot of you think “damn it man, how do we even know you’re really working?” Well, this last week I spent my time at a company retreat/working session/tech conference/happy hour [added that last one entirely based on a joke in an IM with essaytch; credit where credit is due] where we gathered as an organization from around the world (four continents and counting) and took over the Hilton in Downtown Portland. Aside from the Saturday night post-activities activities that will remain both secret and legendary, the highlight for me was the award dinner on Sunday.

I will say that organizational awards, like any peer award, carry a certain amount of politics. I will also say that there were others in attendance who deserved the award just as much as I did. I will ALSO say that it felt DAMN nice to receive. Oh, and I had absolutely NO idea I was getting it, so that made it a really nice surprise.

Anyway, from now on, when I say “sorry, I was busy with work” I’ll at least have something to look at and know that the people who pay my salary and write my performance reviews recognize my commitment and contributions. And really, that feels by far the best of all.

[Word Count: 235]

Repost: He Knows the Hour and the Day

[edit: This is another post brought over from Dead Charming, this one is relevant to some of the posts coming up in my “What I’m Looking For” sequence, so think of this as background material. This is not funny. This is not light-hearted in even minimal ways. This post is about the saddest and most challenging personal experiences of my life.

Many people have gone through far worse, and I’m certainly not trying to claim some kind of prize for a hard knock life, because I’ve had it INCREDIBLY easy…but to my surprise, this made a couple of people cry; and I’d never seen one of them cry before…so take that as a warning of sorts…or something. If you choose to skip this, please know I won’t take it personally. It’s long, it’s the worst moments of my life, and the new material at the end isn’t there to even remotely “make it better,” even with eleven years of distance from the events.]

During job interviews and on internet quiz memes there’s a question that comes up more often than I think most people really want to hear the answer.  I’ve avoided it many times before, but tonight I guess I’m finally ready to talk about it at large…to try and explain how, exactly, a reasonably normal white-child-of-privilege ends up in his early thirties, struggling emotionally just to climb out of bed every morning.

I’ve probably been asked “What’s the most difficult thing you’ve ever done?” about two dozen times that I can think of since July 24th 1999. I think I might have answered it honestly twice.

So, what follows is the most full and complete answer to that question I can compose with almost a decade of distance since the events began to transpire.

The worst days of my life…

A Voice from Beyond the Grave

This morning at 2:36 am (which also counts as “last night” in my world) I read the last page of my first book of 2011 and closed the cover. I don’t think I’ve actively stopped thinking about Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo since then. What I’m about to say will come as no surprise to about 90% of the people who’ve read this book, and that number totals in the many millions: I deeply loved it, and I found it deeply challenging.

As I really can’t say anything that hundreds (if not tens of thousands) of reviewers haven’t already said, I’ll try to explain why I think I initially felt the way I did, and and ultimately how I continue to feel now. Stated simply, I think it’s highly unlikely, no matter how hard I try, that I will read a better book this year; which is an almost depressing thing to realize midway through January.

A spoiler-free review and literary comparisons…

That was so 2010

I did a LOT in 2010. When I start to think back about what I accomplished last year compared to the year before, I’m actually quite proud of where I ended up.

In 2009 I racked up 68,000 frequent flyer miles with Star Alliance (United and Continental) and about another 32,000 with Delta/Alaska for about 100k in a year. It was miserable. There isn’t time for much in life when 80% of it’s spent waiting to board a plane, flying on a plane, or travelling from an airport to a hotel.

In 2010 I traveled to Chicago, Columbus, Minneapolis, Chicago, Bentonville (for the better part of 6 weeks on three subsequent round-trips), Dallas, San Francisco/Oakland, Huston…and then no more. In June we moved from Portland to Atlanta and I traveled exactly once since we got here, the first week we were here, for that final trip to Huston. For the last six months I have worked from my home office, and it has been wonderful.

The reckoning of a year as the sum of its parts…