My Week Without Coke Zero

The bad boyI am not a man of vices.

When compared to other writers I would be considered very tame, like comparing a cocker spaniel to a mountain lion. If I do luckily find any success for my books and someone decides to write a book about me, I pity them the experience. Seriously, there is just nothing there.

  • I don’t drink or hunt or act suicidal like an Ernest Hemingway.
  • I have never done drugs or partied like a beatnik writer.
  • And I have not left a trail of scandalous relationships in my wake like a romantic poet.

I’m just a boring normal Joe, happily married, who just happens to be an author as well. Sorry. Heck, I didn’t even enjoy the occasional drink until recently when my wife and I discovered the great mix book Tequila Mockingbird by Tim Federle (my current favorite drink being “Crime and Punish-mint.” Seriously, check this book out). Again, future biographers- sorry.

The only vice I could ever be said to have had is so minor that I’m sure Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda would have laughed at me. Nope, I’m not talking about my fandom of Doctor Who or Final Fantasy video games. Or my interest in bow ties. Or maybe my possibly embarrassing fascination with Disneyland or collecting Peanuts comic books.

No, no, no… I’m talking about Coke Zero.

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The Happy Bliss of Dentistry

The Happy ToothI 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

The Questions I Struggle With

The Approaching trainWhen 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

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to My Vasectomy

This was my end of the bargain.

My wife would have our two lovely children and when she was done I would go to the guillotine, as it were. I would be Sydney Carton from A Tale of Two Cities, with both hands tied behind my back being led to my destiny while reciting, “It is a far, far better thing I do…”

That sounds strangely noble in theory, but in actuality, I must admit, with the birth of our second child I had been avoiding this doctor trip like the plague. I had postponed the visit two different times (scheduling then rescheduling… twice), but after a year, I was running out of excuses for myself.

On the day of the appointment, I was freaking out. I tried to explain this to my wife, but, as sympathetic as she tried to be, she didn’t get it. And comparing it to what she had to experience in the birthing of our children, didn’t help. Yes, I am sure birth is a bigger life changing, panic-driven, and painful experience. But for a guy, this is something. Yes, it means something, and it’s not something that can be easily explained, it’s in the gut, it’s in the animal part of the brain. It is part of what defines us as male. Hear us roar!

I ended up making a quick excuse to run an errand, and then in a parking lot called one of my oldest friends to talk me down. I was the guy on the edge of the building preparing to jump, he was the understanding cop with the bullhorn explaining to me that I still will have a lot to live for.

I was going to be fine… I was going to be fine… I stepped away from the ledge. Continue reading