Page 123

Mark tagged me for a meme. Pick up the near­est book, turn to page 123, and post sen­tences 5, 6, and 7.

The near­est book to my com­put­er is… (get­ting tape mea­sure, as book­shelf 1 is about as close as book­shelf 2)… well, they are both with­in the mar­gin of error, so… I give you two books.

On my left, from Home Com­forts, The Art & Sci­ence of Keep­ing House by Cheryl Mendel­son:

“Shop first for ined­i­bles, such as paper tow­els and soap. Next, pick out non­per­ish­ables: canned and bot­tled things and any­thing else that you will store out­side the refrig­er­a­tor or freez­er, such as sug­ar, salt, dry cere­al, flour, canned and room-tem­per­a­ture bot­tled foods. Next, buy refrig­er­at­ed things, such as milk, cheese, fresh meat and poul­try, and fruits and veg­eta­bles.”

On my right, from Mon­key, a folk nov­el of Chi­na by Wu Ch’eng-en, trans­lat­ed by Arthur Waley:

“It was now get­ting late, and the farm-hands set out tables and brought in sev­er­al dish­es of cooked tiger-flesh which they laid all siz­zling in front of their mas­ter and his guest. ‘I must tell you,’ said Trip­i­ta­ka, ‘that I was admit­ted to the Order almost as soon as I left my moth­er’s womb, and have nev­er in my life indulged in meats of this kind.’ The hunter thought for a while.”

I nev­er could stick to the direc­tions. It was a prob­lem in col­lege. I’m also not going to tag any­one, because, while I rec­og­nize that it can be fun, Mark tagged all the peo­ple I know with a blog (sad, isn’t it?) and plus, I don’t do that sort of thing. What a piss­er I am.

Feel free to do this on your own blog, com­ment on my books, or post your own Page 123 entries below.

Twenty years ago is a long time

My friend Aprille ((Aprille is awe­some, and you should def­i­nite­ly check out her site. She is a much more accom­plished blog­ger than I, and a more inter­est­ing per­son, too. We used to work togeth­er, sev­er­al cities and jobs ago for me now.)) did a 20-year post a while back, and when I read it, I thought it would be an inter­est­ing exer­cise for me to try. You see, my mem­o­ry is real­ly bad. I don’t remem­ber things. Impor­tant things. This morn­ing I could­n’t remem­ber if a friend of ours had two kids, or one and she was preg­nant. (Two kids, it turns out, and I have actu­al­ly met them both…) I don’t remem­ber stuff from my child­hood. I don’t remem­ber stuff from the child­hood of my own kids.

It’s actu­al­ly awful.

So this meme involves writ­ing about what you were doing at dif­fer­ent time inter­vals in the past, with twen­ty years ago being the fur­thest out. It will be a good exer­cise for my brain.

20 years ago, I…

…was start­ing my senior year of high school, in Madrid. Fall of 1987. This was a real­ly intense year. Until this year, I’d coast­ed through school as a nice kid, a nerd, an intro­vert, a com­put­er guy, a gamer. I’d nev­er both­ered with girls. I was the kid who used his free peri­od to eat lunch with one teacher or anoth­er. I had been a Boy Scout. I had been my class vice-pres­i­dent. But senior year, that all changed. I like to think of it as the blos­som­ing year that cul­mi­nat­ed in my fresh­man year in col­lege. I start­ed going out, drink­ing, with a whole range of the high school cliques, I was com­fort­able with the head­bangers, the nerds, the prep­pies, the all-amer­i­cans, even the natives a bit. I made up for all my girl-ignor­ing in one huge end-of-year acci­dent of love and lust and copi­ous diary entries and crushed friend­ships and drunk­en stu­pors (Hi Mom!). I lis­tened to Bob Mar­ley, I med­i­tat­ed, I read the Bible (Old Tes­ta­ment, for class), I swore off drink­ing after a Real­ly Scary Inci­dent (so far, so good). Essen­tial­ly, I did a whole teenager’s worth of emo­tion­al grow­ing up in about nine months. It was awe­some. I don’t rec­om­mend it. But that first year of col­lege was as good as this year was bad.

15 years ago, I…

…had just grad­u­at­ed from col­lege. Fall of 1992. Inter­est­ing­ly, anoth­er real­ly intense emo­tion­al time for me. I’d met a woman, we’ll call her Love Bun­ny (my col­lege friends know her by that name, coined by my good friend Oded), who lived in New York City, so nat­u­ral­ly, with no plans out of col­lege, I’d moved to the city. She was already in a rela­tion­ship, and con­fused, and so was I, but I was so in love, and in the end, after lots of hope­less meet­ings and secret jour­neys to (of all places) the top of the World Trade Cen­ter, she decid­ed that she was not in love with me. I remem­ber that par­tic­u­lar day inti­mate­ly. We were in my sub­let apart­ment off of Christo­pher Street, and she was break­ing it off. I can laugh about it now, albeit a bit bit­ter­ly, but at the time it was crush­ing. We’ve spo­ken once since that day, by email, a week after 9/11, when I had writ­ten to ask if she and her fam­i­ly were okay. They were.

10 years ago, I…

…had just got­ten mar­ried. Fall of 1997. We’d been in Iowa City for four months or so (well, she moved there a cou­ple of months before I did) and were mar­ried in the lit­tle chapel on the UIowa cam­pus. It was a love­ly wed­ding (we did just cel­e­brate our tenth anniver­sary, you know). We were liv­ing in an apart­ment, though we’d have our first house with­in a year. I was work­ing a part-time job at the Uni­ver­si­ty, hav­ing just quit a web design job in Cedar Rapids. I was young and thin and had a lot more hair.

5 years ago, I…

…was help­ing my preg­nant wife through her first trimester. I guess it was actu­al­ly the sec­ond trimester by now. Fall 2002. This preg­nan­cy result­ed in our first child in the Spring. We were also gear­ing up for my wife to begin inter­view­ing for jobs for the next Fall, as she was fin­ish­ing up her Ph.D. (yes, while being preg­nant). This time was actu­al­ly pret­ty peace­ful, as I remem­ber it. She was sick as a dog the first trimester, and we’d watched a lot of movies (using the then-fledg­ling Net­flix).

2 years ago, I…

…was begin­ning my last year of work at Creighton Uni­ver­si­ty, in Oma­ha. Fall 2005. My wife was preg­nant again, with our sec­ond child. She was get­ting ready to inter­view again, too, this time for teach­ing posi­tions, so it was going to be more intense than the last preg­nant-inter­view round. Our boy was doing great, but we were look­ing for­ward to leav­ing Oma­ha. The town just nev­er sat well with us. The whole time we were there it just felt like a time of tran­si­tion. We nev­er got set­tled.

1 year ago, I…

…was stay­ing home with my newish-born sec­ond son. My wife was in the first months of her new teach­ing posi­tion, and every­thing was pret­ty stress­ful. I was­n’t look­ing for work yet (and would­n’t start look­ing for anoth­er six months), but mon­ey was a bit tight already, our old­er boy was hav­ing some tran­si­tion prob­lems (from school to school, from only-child to broth­er), and the house we’d bought over a whirl­wind week­end trip was prov­ing a dis­ap­point­ment (we have since accept­ed our fate, and adapt­ed to the house).

So far this year, I’ve…

…not found work. That’s the biggest ele­phant in the room this year. I’m the clas­sic jack-of-all-trades, mas­ter-of-none, and that works real­ly well in my exact job descrip­tion, but does­n’t trans­late to oth­er jobs when my exact job descrip­tion is not avail­able. And it isn’t. We’ve real­ly come around on the house though, with some improve­ments we made over the year, and our boys have set­tled in very nice­ly to our cur­rent life.

Yes­ter­day I…

…ran a whole slew of errands that need­ed doing, while Grand­ma stayed home with the kids (she was up to help out with Hal­loween): I got dog food, made a groom­ing appoint­ment, looked for a leaf com­post­ing bin (end­ed up hav­ing to order one online), opened a busi­ness account at the bank, bought some exte­ri­or white, satin house paint, and went to the gro­cery store. Then I worked on this site a bit in the after­noon, while the kids (and Grand­ma) played around me.

Today I…

…am work­ing from home again. Grand­ma has gone home, too, and the kids are back in school/daycare. I’m writ­ing this, and hope to roll out a new design for this site today, maybe Mon­day. We’re hav­ing break­fast food for din­ner tonight (always a favorite) and I’m look­ing for­ward to some qual­i­ty Sweetie/TiVo cud­dling time tonight.

Tomor­row, I’ll…

…do a bunch of yard work, and go to the Home­com­ing Parade. Noth­ing like a win­ning sea­son to bring out the fans. Last year’s Home­com­ing Parade was almost crim­i­nal­ly small. We expect there to be much larg­er crowds this year, and the Gov­er­nor is the guest of hon­or (what do they call that in parades, again?). Our old­er boy is look­ing for­ward to the can­dy they throw from the floats, like he needs to top off his Hal­loween buck­et.

Done. Okay, so that was pret­ty intense, and I’m sure it was crush­ing­ly bor­ing to read. It strikes me though ‚the the tim­ing is uncan­ny. Had I done this last year, or next year, those 20, 15, and 10 year mile­stones would have been incred­i­bly bor­ing. (Even more bor­ing than they already were, you ask?) As it is, they hit on the most intense expe­ri­ences I’ve had, pret­ty much. Love, loss, chil­dren.