When you get home from a trip, sometimes you slowly, slowly empty your suitcases as if a part of you doesn’t want to admit that the trip is over. It’s a thankless task as you have to decide what to keep as a treasure, a memory, or what would be better left thrown away. This decision is especially difficult after a trip to the Happiest Place on Earth, especially if it dares to have the name “Disneyland” printed someplace on it.
That is where I am right now, doing my best to get back to normal life. Just look at last week on the site! To prove everything is back I wrote two articles on the art of writing. Two!
(By the way the art of writing is something I worked hard at NOT thinking about when I was on the trip.)
So… now that I am home and the suitcases are empty, as a final little bit of goodbye to that time, I thought I would share the links to some of the articles I have written on Walt’s park below. After this I am going to take a break from the mouse and Fantasyland (even though normal life can sometimes feel so boring without rides and jungle cruises). I hope you enjoy them.
There is this time when you are staying at the Disneyland Resort Hotel when you can have it all to yourself.
It’s quiet, with the faint hint of music playing in the hotel lobbies in the background. I first discovered it when I offered to grab my wife one early morning a coffee at the shop in the hotel. But the moment I exited the elevator (and the haunting overture from The Jungle Book was playing in the speakers), that I realized I had discovered something unique.
It was still dark outside and I was alone.
I walked along the pool, passed the Tangaroa Terrace restaurant (with its fireplace still ablaze). There is a smell to Disneyland that I have yet to put my finger on, but the blossoms around the hotel and the restaurant added to its intoxication.
It was so peaceful that I almost felt a tinge of regret when the coffee shop finally opened at 6 AM and I had to make my purchase and return to the room and the excited kids. Dawn was approaching, a new day of adventure. Holding sweaty palms, wondering about bathroom breaks, and taking a lot of pictures.
That pre-dawn walk became a little ritual for me during my stay, and I picked up a coffee for my wife every morning at the same time. She always said thank you, but she didn’t need to.
It was for both of us. Continue reading
So last night I had a dream where I met Paul McCartney at Disneyland.
I was standing in line at the Peter Pan ride with my family, and he was standing behind me with his family and some big bodyguards. I, of course, realized at once who this was, and when a pause happened in his conversation, I politely excused myself and said thanks. Thanks for everything since his music means so much to me.
Paul was very gracious in return and we lightly talked. He asked about me and I told him about my writing and how I listen to his music a lot when I create and how it is a soundtrack around our house. He seemed to really appreciate that, especially the idea of his music inspiring other artists. I even asked him if the rumor that The Beatles were approached to be in The Jungle Book was true (I don’t remember his reply, but in many ways that is only an urban legend at this point).
It was in this moment of the dream that my wife tapped me on the shoulder and asked who I was speaking to. I turned her around, and casually introduced her to Sir Paul.
…And then my wife fainted in a very dramatic fashion.
She even made a “whoosh!” noise as she collapsed, sounding almost like air escaping a tea kettle.
Now, my wife is not the kind of person to faint for any reason (I would faint before she would faint), and it was that realization that woke me up. So I didn’t get to talk to Sir Paul anymore, or even get on the ride.
All that standing in line for nothing. Continue reading
I have always had a thing about dentists.
It’s not a fear, more like a slight terror fueled by judgment and pain. Let me break that down a little more.
Cavities hurt and I dislike pain so I naturally associate the pain with the person who works in the mouth. I know it is like blaming the mechanic for my car breaking down, but I do it.
The judgment? Well, sometimes I feel like dentists harshly evaluate me and how I am overseeing the management of my own mouth. Has anyone else noticed this? When they are telling you what you are doing right and what you are doing wrong, doesn’t a part of you feel like you are being lectured? Now, I can’t point to a specific moment when a finger was wagged in my direction or eyes were rolled, but I sense it. I know it is there. The hidden eye roll is always there.
Because of all of this, I had been very relaxed on my visits over much of my adult life. And sadly, over the last five years this has come back to bite me in the ass… or mouth… or something. I’m just trying to say I hate my teeth right now and there is biting and occasional pain involved with it. The biting, I mean. Argh! Continue reading
When The Littlest Angel by Charles Tazewell was published in 1946 it was a holiday phenomenon. This “classic” story has since been published numerous times (with many different illustrated versions); made into movies (cartoon, musical, and live action); and in the list of best-selling children stories of all time (!) it comes up in the top 20.
Heck, even holiday crooner Bing Crosby sang a song based on the plot of it!
I remember the first time I heard this story. It was at catechism. and the teacher read it to us as if she was bestowing a great holiday gift on us children. I can still see her smile. While the other kids casually sat near me with crossed legs, I remember really being bothered by the story. I couldn’t put my finger on it then, but that reaction to the tale has never gone away for me. And that day, I raised my hand for I had some questions.
My hand is still up in the air.
The fact is, after thinking about it far too much, and being haunted by it like Marley’s ghost each year, I can’t escape my problems with this narrative. I have come to the opinion that this Christmas traditional yarn is… just awful. Horrendous. Possibly the worst holiday story. Oh, God, it is just bad.
Okay, it takes a lot for a story to be a worst holiday yarn than the appalling song “The Christmas Shoes” (which for those lucky not to know is the materialistic and disturbing ditty about an ignorant child who leaves his dying mother’s bedside to go shopping, assuming that the shoes he puts on her feet will go with her soul to heaven and there impress Jesus), but The Littlest Angel does it. It does it ten times over.
Grab a cup of hot chocolate and a Christmas cookie, snuggle in by the fireplace, and let me tell you why… Continue reading
I have over 30,000 Twitter followers. When I began this post I had tweeted exactly 10,400 times. No more, no less. Tweet #10,401 will be the first notice that I have written this post.
I am an author on Twitter and, honestly, I don’t think Twitter has led to many book sales really from the traffic. It does generate blog views, but never more than a third of what I get on a daily basis. The rest comes from subscribers and those who just seem to check me out from time to time. So what is this hold Twitter has on me that I keep returning and why do so many follow me?
For me, personally, Twitter is an ego trip. I admit that. Beyond the amount of followers, I get a huge kick out of sharing, retweets, and likes around my articles and books. And I especially love it when someone writes to me about my books usually to say they are reading one of them or enjoy it.
The fact is though I can’t imagine having a real friendship or relationship over Twitter. There almost needs to be a new word for the relationships built on this social network; somewhere below “acquaintance” but above “name recognition.” Yeah, it’s not like Facebook where a majority of my “friends” I have actually spoken to at one point. This is more like epic literary crowdsurfing for a writer. Like I am thrown to the sea of Twitter, riding my book like a boat. And there are thousands and thousands of other writers and readers like me on the rough sea in similar boats… and now and then we will see a Fail Whale. Making us at that moment the internet equivalent of Ahab.
Well, not this day. For on this day, for the first time in two years, I have decided to take a break and document my withdraw… Continue reading
Every night my children go to bed with cheetah cubbies that may be leopards.
They are cheap stuffed toys, the kind you see at the front of lesser family restaurants. Nothing extravagant, but wherever they go in the house, they are usually in the same room, many times next to each other. And each evening, they are needed for nighttime or there might be tears.
The cheetahs started with my son when he realized how fast they were.
My son has always loved to run. Back when he used to go to daycare and I would pick him up, on every nice day he would be in the playground racing with his friends. The teacher would just shout “Go!” and watch the kids run around and around again, not considering it was the parents that had to deal with the kids with sweat-soaked hair that would always need a bath later.
Now my son wasn’t always the fastest, he did good, but there were always kids a little faster since they might be older or just plan bigger. But that didn’t matter to my son, he would always tell me on the way home how he won… even when we both knew he didn’t.
He was Dash from The Incredibles for Halloween when he was four then the year after that The Flash. Whenever either costume was put on he would get this look in his eye, scream “zoom” and take off running around our house hoping to find a bad guy some place.
A red blur of speed!
Last Christmas, my daughter gave her brother a giant stuffed cheetah. (Well, actually the parents did but she happily took credit for it, she was one then.) My son immediately declared it was the mommy cheetah, and they both happily agreed. The cheetah cubbies were grabbed and quickly were reunited.
They are now a family of cheetahs. Continue reading
When you are growing up there is this myth we all buy into.
When you decide your goal, that’s it. Forever. Your life is locked in, congrats and here are the keys to your future.
Oh, if life was only that simple. Like a movie where the hero figures out their destiny and we know it is going to be okay. There is no conflict there after the decision. Bruce Wayne is going to be Batman, it is his destiny. So be it, here is the cowl, there is the Joker. Go to it!
Instead what I have found to be actually true in reality, for us non-superheroes, is that we decide every day, every hour what we want to believe is true, and what we want to hold us back. See, I’m not this person just because it is who I am, it’s also because I chose this. There have been numerous times I could’ve changed me, my life, but I didn’t want to then, and still don’t want to. The option is always there, it doesn’t go away. Frankly, most of the time, I like being me.
Yet, I still battle four thoughts, four burning questions almost every day. They can hold me back, make me question everything I have done in my life (from being a writer to a father to a husband to a human being), and sap all the energy from my system. It is not always easy to take them on, and sometimes I do lose, but they are always there. And I don’t see it ever changing. Continue reading
My clock has switched.
I’m not sure how this happened, but everything is upside down and it is the new norm I have to accept. I’m Alice in a world where the ceiling is now the floor, and that is just how reality will have to be. We are all mad here.
Let me explain this better: When you are young you are always counting up to experiences.
- When I am 16, I will learn to drive a car.
- When I am 18, I graduate and go to college.
- When I am 21, I can drink (well, I don’t like alcohol very much, so I watch my friends drink…. I just have never liked the taste or smell of beer or wine. Okay, I do admit I drink a little but the stuff I do enjoy, the mixes, usually involve chocolate or fruity flavors and they can come in glasses that some would find embarrassing. Well, just the color would be embarrassing for many to be near. So I keep to the soda when I am out in public, because I like to believe I have a certain swagger in my step and a coolness that I aim to keep, and the fruity drinks don’t help).
More counting! Then there is a wedding… and a house…the first baby… and a second… And suddenly, right there, when you have reached your limit on kids, and they begin to age out of diapers and clothes… everything turns.
It’s like in one of those cartoons from the 1940’s where the clocks have a face and the hands are attached to the nose and they spin in a strange fashion. Well, that is my internal clock, and now with 40 fast approaching, I feel the face’s confusion.
I have begun counting down to things… The outcome at the end, I don’t want to even imagine.
(I need a break, just a second. I have a soda around here someplace.) Continue reading
I had a spare grandparent. And this grandparent visited me every day, was interested in what I was doing, asked me questions, talked to me about my feelings and told me the coolest stories that involved a land of make-believe…
He also taught me how crayons were made.
For many, it was always easy to make fun of Mr. Rogers and his show Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, but I never could. Even as an adult, I look back on it fondly. Yes, I loved Sesame Street, Saturday morning cartoons, Donald Duck, Looney Toons, but Mr. Rogers spoke to me… directly to me.
I think one of the reasons I felt so close to the show is that my grandmother was a very popular kindergarten teacher. No, popular doesn’t do it justice, she was a celebrity in her hometown. When we would visit stores together we would have grownups of all ages approach her to say hi and give a hug. And my grandmother, with a skill I cannot imagine having, could always see the child behind the older eyes. She never got a name wrong, never.
When I think back on conversations with my grandmother, it always feels a lot like how Mr. Rogers speaks during the show. That patience. That unblinking interest. That humor that seems to hide behind the wink and smile. Continue reading