2012 Review, or Most Cliche Blog Title Possible


Another year is ending.  2012 has been pretty awesome to say the least.  We learned of our pregnancy in early December 2011, but we didn’t say anything to family members until after we’d been to the doctor.  In January, Katy was around 10 weeks along, so we made the tour of family’s homes to relay the exciting news.  During these visits, two things happened:  most people stated their previous suspicions of the upcoming addition to our family, and my mom gave me a high-five coupled with her pleasure with the fact that I was going to become a father before I turned 40.


Being Photographed (Flash Nonfiction)


In the mid-1980s, my grandmother encouraged my brother and mother to accompany her to her church service each Sunday morning, and my older brother and I stretched our imaginations wider than ever in constructing a reason for us not to attend, especially once we both reached double-digit ages. In the fall, the church would invited families to have a portrait taken for the upcoming year’s membership book. For normal families, dressing up on a random Tuesday night and driving to church for a photograph is more than likely a relatively simple feat. My brother and I, however, were unfamiliar with that level of normalcy.

I can remember waiting in line from the middle of the building to where the photographer had set up camp in a partitioned-off segment of a rec room on the west side of the church. This room was usually reserved for adult Bible study meetings (which my mom attended, I’m now convinced, strictly to award herself sixty full minutes of being free from her sons’ constant irritations) and the annual Christmas tree decoration stations led by adult members of the church who had accumulated a seemingly endless amount of pipe cleaners and cotton balls. Any other time, the partition boards were squeezed off to the sides, leaving only long metal coat racks that lined the perimeter of the room. Anyway, while in line, my brother became restless after about seventeen seconds, so, contrary to our mother and grandmother’s wishes to “shush” or “just be still”, he filled the void by creating reasons to make me laugh. No specific joke or comment comes to mind, but I want to say the range varied from an unknown member’s loud outfit or obscene use of perfume to corny puns that a lot of nine-year-olds think are hilarious (e.g. “Steve, I don’t think that jacket suits him.”)  These jokes would build and build as we eased closer to the threshold of the makeshift studio. The photographer was always a bespectacled man who by the time we reached him had begun sweating, draped his blazer over a chair, and kept over-smiling, apparently to negate the stress of his job. Simple instructions such as “Face to the left” or “Chin up” were far more than I could handle by that point as well. Any reference to turning my cheeks forced my brother to remind me that the shaky photographer meant the ones on my face. What should have been about a hundred seconds of standing and smiling toward the camera became nine or ten minutes of me struggling to compose myself and my mother silently developing innovative methods to beat the hell out of us on the walk back to the car. Every year for about half a decade, she rightfully announced it was the last year we were doing pictures.

Last month, in the middle of a stuffy mall, my own family spent two solid hours from the moment we joined the Santa line to when the apathetic teen handed over our incredibly overpriced photograph. I’ll never not think about the church photos when we take professional pictures, and I’m sure if my mom is reading this that she’ll smile and say something about paybacks.

The House on the Highway (updated Nov. 2018)



Rain again.

The boy is sleepy

But becomes alert when reminded

Of school.

He’s dressed in minutes

His cowlick springs up

Over dry cereal at

An empty kitchen table


I cover a stained shirt

With a sweater

That fits tighter than last month.

We say goodbye

To a sleepy mama.

The missus

Misses coffee

But rubs

Her pregnant belly

And winces and ooohs.


She oozes exhaustion

Mumbles words of plans for plants.


Will the missus miss us?

Now we’re a mile away from her

When the first red light

Stifles our progress

Toward timelessness.

I hate

Being late.

The rain hardens, stiffens,


The sky sends pellets,

Mini-bombs onto my windshield.


Green light.  No movement.

The head of the driver

In front of me

Is visible

In his side


His phone’s more important.

I honk and say


He can’t hear.


The missus wishes

I wouldn’t say

when the boy is around.

Or ever.


Seconds pass. The guy looks

Up and eases forward.

Waveless and unapologetic.

Another point-eight miles of green lights,

Momentum rises,

Blades wipe away wetness.

The next stop is our turn.

The left-arrowed lane fills behind me

As the rest of the east- and west-bounders

Pound down the splashy path.


A long, loud transporter

Booms by on our right,

Bearing one-half of a modular home.

“Look at that house,” I say.

The boy, of course, looks

For a stable structure

On land

And sees.


Each letter filled with wonder.

“Is there people in there, Daddy?”

“Not likely,” I say.  

But I fixate on its

Its future inhabitants.

Where are they at this moment?

Waiting at the lot?

A few cars behind me?

Boxing up picture frames

And kitchen utensils

In another area code?

Did they pick that color?

Is this their forever home?


Will this rain ever quit?



The half-house punctured the flow.

The fractioned structured caused


I prevented traction.

I delayed the day.

The missus misses us.

We miss her.  

Work should wait some days.


Moving along, the boy bites

Into the lull.



“I’m glad you’re taking me to school today.”


My son really says this,

Just like that.


I lower my window,

Brave the rain,

And stick out a sleeve

To wave my apology

To the cars behind me.


Jokes with My Son


My four-year old son has discovered jokes.  At first he was trying to repeat the ones he’d heard on a cartoon.  Then, he began creating some, uh, original comedy.  An early example was this:

Q: What do cows eat for breakfast?

A: Cow poop!!

I laughed because the punchline was unexpected, which is of course an aspect of comedy writing.  However, I tried to steer him a little by picking up a kids joke book.

Example from book:

Q:  What do angry rats give out during the holidays?

A:  Cross-mouse cards!

This is an antiquated and extreme stretch of the pun.  Young kids in America rarely know the word “cross”.  And no one send cards anymore.

So, I’m trying to up his game a little.  He likes fast-food roast beef (We only go 1-2 times a month I swear!) so I gave him this one:

Q:  Where do pirates like to eat?

A:  Arrrrr-by’s!

He spat out a sympathy laugh and stared at his hands for a moment.  Then, he repeated his current original favorite:

Q:  What do panda bears eat for lunch?

A:  Human brains!!

This could take a while…

Day 12 – 1200+ words (dialogue-only argument between two characters)


Day 12 – 1200 words (dialogue-only skit b/t two people in argument)


Dad:  Did you do it yet?

Son:  Do what?

Dad:  You know what I’m talking—

Son:  In a minute, okay?

Dad:  No, son.  Now.   Please.

Son:  Why does it have to be this moment?

Dad:  Because I…

Son   Nope.  You can’t!  Remember?
Dad:  Wait…What?  Remember what?

Son:  Probably like…ten years ago.  I remember!  You sat me down one night.  I was probably like seven or ten or something.

Dad:  That math tutor sure was worth it.

Son:  You said, “Ahem, well, uh…listen son.  I want to do things differently…If you ever hear me begin to say ‘Because I said so’ you gotta just slap me and remind me how much I hated hearing it growing up.”

Dad:  That voice…that was supposed to be what I sound like?

Son:  Seriously though.
Dad:  I am serious.  I need you to do it…now.  Soon.  Your mother will be here any time.

Son:  And that’s my problem because…

Dad:  C’mon, man.  I can’t do this right now.  You’re almost a grown man.  It’s time to start taking…

Son:  Care of myself.  Yeah.  I get it.  You and Mom are ready for me to be out.

Dad:  Well, you’ve already finished one year of coll–

Son:  Save it, Dad!  I know!

Dad:  Whoa!  What’s with that shit?

Son:  I’ll do it!  I mean…Jesus!  Why does it matter so much?
Dad:  It just does.  I guess you’ll…

Son:  Oh shit…lemme guess.  understand better when I’m a father?

Dad:  I, uh..wasn’t going to say that.

Son:  Right.

Dad:  Okay, fine.  Just…please do it.  Like I said, she’ll be here soon.

Son:  Have you always been afraid of her?

Dad:  What did you just say?

Son:  I said, ‘Have you always been afraid of her?’

Dad:  What the fuck, man?

Son:  Touch a nerve?
Dad:  I’m about to…

Son:  Hey!

Dad:  College is changing you, son.  In ways I didn’t expect.

Son:  Wait.  Come back.  Dad!

Dad:  What.

Son:  I’ m sorry.  That was…out of line, I guess.

Dad:  Oh, you guess?
Son:  It was.  I’m sorry.

Dad:  I’m…sorry too.

Son:  What do you have to be sorry fo?.  I deserved it.

Dad:  No.  You really didn’t.  Not now.  Defnitely not when you were younger.
Son:  I’d…actually disagree.  It made me who I am.

Dad:  But you gotta understand, son.  It’s not something dads want at the top of their parenting resume.

Son:  What’s the big deal?  You spanked your kids when they acted up.  Who doesn’t do that?

Dad:  Well, your mother for one.

Son:  I meant dads.

Dad:  Well…mine didn’t.

Son:  But he wasn’t in your life.

Dad:  Uh-huh.

Son:  Okay.  Here’s my thing.  I mean, kids are going to test you.  Shit, Dad.  I just did not two seconds ago.  At least when they’re a certain age, you gotta set ‘em straight, right?

Dad:  Can I sit on that thing?

Son:  What, the bookshelf?

Dad:  No.  That?

Son:  Oh. Sure.  Lemme just….here ya go.

Dad:  Thanks.  Huh.  More comfy than I woulda imagined.

Son:  We got it worn in this past year, my roommate and I.

Dad:  I’d say so.  Wait.

Son:   What?

Dad:  Um…did you, ya know…with anyone on this?

Son:  Um…

Dad:  I’ll get a chair.

Son:  Sorry, Dad.

Dad:  It’s fine.  Glad I asked, at least.

Son:  Why don’t we just go get some coffee.

Dad:  That’d be nice…except you didn’t do what I came in here for in the first place.

Son:  Shit.  Okay.  I’m willing to do it.

Dad:  That’s remarkable.

Son:  Okay, okay.  I get it.

Dad:  Do you?
Son:  Ha!  Not really.  But I feel guilty now.  You know…your back, or whatever.

Dad:  Just don’t be in a rush to get older, son.

Son:  You kiddin’?  I’m never gettin’ old.

Dad:  Don’t let your mother hear you say that.

Son:  Ugh…she takes everything I say the wrong way.
Dad:  Son…she’s a mother.  She just cares.

Son:  I know, Dad.  I know.  But I’ll bet she only tells you part of the story.

Dad:  Are you suggesting that your mother would not be completely open with me?

Son:  What?  What’s that mean?

Dad:  I was just being a dick.

Son:  Ha!

Dad:  Okay.  I’m gonna get a chair.  I’d prefer not to sit on that bed…for obvious reasons.  In the meantime, please do it.  Begin it.  Do something to exhibit you heard her earlier and want to make her happy.  She likes that.

Son:  Being happy?

Dad:  You know what I mean.

Son:  Okay….Dad!  Don’t!!

Dad:  Why’d that happen?

Son:  I forgot those were there.

Dad:  You couldn’t even finish it?

Son:  Shit.  I forgot I put it down last night.

Dad:  Now we’re both in it.  She’s going to get here any second and we’ll be sopping up warm beer off that new carpet.

Son:  Shit.

Dad:  Dammit!  It was one of the imports too!

Son:  Yeah.  Lemme get some cleaning stuff.  Didn’t know you liked those fancy beers.

Dad:  I splurge from time to time.  Didn’t know you thought it was okay to drink in this house.  You forget you’re only nineteen?

Son:  No.  That’s impossible.

Dad:  Well, now we’re both in it.  The room’s not clean.  There’s beer on that new carpet.  She’s going to be triple-pissed.  So much for a fun weekend.

Son:  Dad!  Relax!

Dad:  Shit!

Son:  What’s wrong?

Dad:  Oh, no!!

Son:  Is it your back?

Dad:  Yeah, son!  I’m a grown man crouched on the fucking floor!

Son:  What can I do?
Dad:  Oh my god!  Goddammit!

Son:  Dad!  Relax!

Dad:  Shut up!

Son:  I mean, don’t let it tense up!  Here…sort of fall into this beanbag.

Dad:  But you…

Son:  Just do it, Dad!

Dad:  I don’t want to think about what’s rubbed up against this fucking thing!

Son:  Then don’t!

Dad:  She’d better have been worth it is all I’m saying.  This is torture.

Son:  Do you have any…pills or anything you need?

Dad:  In my…I mean…wait.  Lemme think.  I uh..put them…

Son:  Dad!  Think!  Where were you the last time you took them?

Dad:  Yelling at me isn’t going to speed up my memory!

Son:  Okay!  I’m sorry!  I’ve just never seen you…

Dad:  Nightstand.

Son:  What?

Dad:  For God’s sake…I took them a couple nights ago right before I went to sleep.  They must be next to my bed.

Son:  Okay.  Just…breathe…

Dad:  I’m not having a baby, son.

Son:  I mean…relax.  I’ll be right back.

Dad:  Check around the floor if they aren’t on there!

Son:  Dad?

Dad:  Did you find them?
Son:  Sort of.

Dad:  What?  Jesus.  Either you did or you didn’t.

Son:  Well, you were right.  They were next to your bed.

Dad:  Gimme two.  And some water from your bathroom will be fine.

Son:  The bottle’s empty.

Dad:  What?!

Son:  All I found was the empty bottle.

Dad:  How can that be?  I just filled it….lemme see…when did we go…

Son:  It says a refill is allowed but with doctor’s approval.

Dad:  Shit.  It’s Saturday.

Son:  So it can’t be filled until Monday?

Dad:  Fuck it.  I’ll just lay here face down in….ugh…whatever’s been on this beanbag until Monday.

Son:  Wait!  I hear Mom.

Dad:  We’re both fucked now.

Son:  What does that mean?

Dad:  I was kidding.  Go get the door for her.

Son:  Hey, mom!  Is that dad’s prescription?  When did you get that purse?

The Adventures of Summer Steve and the Curious, Alert-Way-Too-Early Boy!


It’s 6:33 EST on a Monday morning.  Two weeks ago, I was celebrating the fact that it was my last Monday morning (for a while) that I had to get up, shower, complete a short list of daily tasks, and go to school to continue my quest of enlightening American youths.  My son, clearly oblivious to my “insane” desire to “sleep” longer than five consecutive hours on any given night, is now able to see me more often, especially in the morning hours.  So far, one full week removed from my duties as a schoolteacher, we have developed the following morning schedule:

approx. 5:05–5:30 A cry emerges from the baby monitor beside my head.  Unlike a fire alarm’s screeching immediacy, this sound begins more like a drunken man’s slow gurgle and, over the course of about twenty seconds, grows into a “Get the F Up, Dad” squelch.

While enjoying his first meal of the day beside his mother  (whose inability to acknowledge his morning announcement is inconsistent with her ability to hear me say the slightest comment at any other part of the day), I bask in the glory of seventeen more seconds of shut-eye.  It’s probably longer, but whatever the duration is is exactly the amount of time it takes for me to fall asleep again.  Upon finishing his first breakfast, I take the reigns again and attempt to convince him that sleep is much more appealing than, say anything else imaginable.  Usually, this works, but there has already been one morning when my pride and joy seemed to believe it was a much more reasonable hour to be awake and alert.

7:02.  Again approximate, and this is only possible if he has fallen asleep again.  [That gives me about 20 minutes to finish this blog, btw]

We have adopted the routine of playing a Baby Einstein video once he’s finally awake-awake.  Judge if you must, but this 30 minutes (again, approximate) allows one or both of us to fully emerge from our own sleep states, sloppily make coffee, survey the apartment for tasks that must be completed, consume of said coffee, and perhaps have an opportunity to catch up with our friends via the InterWeb.

7:30ish  He’s clearly done with the movie for the day, and our morning begins.   The dog becomes thrilled to see me hoist the boy into the high chair because he (the dog) knows some remnants are sure to fall to the floor.   For those of you who have never owned a dog, please take into account that dog-owning parents do not need vacuum cleaners.   A full breakfast of a few of the following delicacies follows:

homemade applesauce

dry cereal bits

unseen lint formerly attached to the boy’s bib

itty bitty banana slices

torn-up pieces of silver-dollar whole grain pancakes

the boy’s own toes

water–sometimes consumed orally; the rest just soaks through his shirt/belly


Will you see anything like what you’ve just read in a parenting book?  Unlikely.  I don’t mean to complain; nor do I wish to present myself as anything short of stoked for being a Dad.  The simple point of this blog this morning was for me to express to you and to myself that I’m pretty sure my sleeping past 8am days are over, but that I will have approximately 90 minutes to write most mornings.


Have a great day!

PS:  This is an edit completed during his mid-morning nap.  For the record, he woke up again at 6:53.


Kid Tweets!


A million-dollar idea just came to me!  This is gonna be HUUUGGEEE!  I’ll make up Tweets that I think my kid (or other kids) might have taken the time out of their incredibly UNbusy schedule to type.  The craziest thing about this idea is that it is worth absolutely nothing and will be really unfunny by the time you finish.  ENJOY!

1.  My dad thinks I can read, but I just chew the corners and laugh when he does.  #dads

2.  Can’t believe the ‘rents don’t appreciate how I can wake either one of them up at 4am just to say “Hey!” (though it comes out “WAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!”  #alarmclock

3.  Hey, guys?  I’m not seeing the nutritional value in these blocks.  Thumbs down.  

Ya see?  I’m already losing steam.  But I’ll work on it and blow up your news feed with more gibberish.  At least for this week while I’m on spring break.   

More Unsolicited Advice to my Son


Okay, my boy.  It’s been about three months since you exited your mother and entered Terre Haute Union Hospital Birth Suite 5.  Right now, I’m absolutely in love with you primarily because you successfully went to sleep after only about 90 minutes of Mom and me doing everything in our growing book of tricks.  Don’t get me/us wrong:  we adore playing with you, reading to you, laughing with you and all of the other wonderful stuff that goes with raising a child.  It’s just…our sleep schedules aren’t exactly synced yet.  Again, we will never stop loving you but your resilience to sleep is Ghandi-like sometimes.  As i type this on a frosty Sunday morning, you’re currently swaying back and forth and Mom is getting some well-deserved sleep.  I’m typing this silly blog and wishing Starbucks delivered.  Anyway, I bought this new laptop the other day (yes, the one you will make fun of in about six years) and read through some old blogs from before you were born.  I’m going to add a few things to my list of things to think about/do as you grow up and become your own man.  Dads apparently do this stuff, so I feel an obligation.  Of course, you can always ask for advice yourself when you’re able to form words other than “Bhzghpl” and “Hiccup.”

11.  Don’t encourage us to carve the pumpkins too early.  There’s nothing scarier than a maniacal jack-o-lantern whose teeth are literally rotting.

12.  All that candy you will accumulate between now and the year that trick-or-treating becomes “stupid” or “medically disastrous” is for the family.   Think of it as your once-a-year contribution to the Lively Food Pantry.

13.  Never end a list of anything with 13.  It’s a stupid superstition, but you come from creative genes so just come up with more.

14.  You owe your mother….freaking everything.  It’s a simple fact.  So, this is less advice and more of an apology in advance in case I smack you in the head for being rude to your mother.  If we had the technology, we would have been recording everything so you can have an idea what she does for you every blanking day.

15.  Acting on impulse is among the most exhilarating aspects of being alive.  Just.  Be.  Safe.  🙂

More later.  I’m going back to my novel.  Or maybe get coffee.


Unsolicited Advice to my Unborn Son


This will be a list in progress.  It will consist of the things I think of as they happen/occur to me so I never forget.  Thankfully, the Internet is an excellent substitute for my short-term memory.  Thanks, Internet. 

1.  Never trust anyone who tells you he/she has “an incredible offer.” 

2.  Cross-contamination is a real thing and when cooking, you need to wash everything all the time.  Constantly.

3.  If your boxers hang above your pants line at a measurable level, I will disown you and you’ll have to live with one of your two creepy uncles.

4.  Country music blows.

5.  I never understood the concept of gutters either, but you should probably get them when you actually buy a house. 

6.  Same with guest towels.

7.  Let the charcoal cook for a while.  You’re not on television, and no one wants to interrupt a perfectly good meal with a trip to the ER only to have an overweight nurse tell you your eyebrows have been permanently singed. 

8.  Oil changes are really okay longer than 3K miles.  I’m not conspiracy theorist, but I know it’s not going to ruin your car if you go over that much.

9.  Wear gloves when you do yardwork.  I know it’s not manly, but even if you work for six seconds, you’re my son.  Thus, you’re bound to find the poison ivy.

10.  Stretch.  

I will continue this list later.  My pork chops are done.